I’ve used Airbnb around 40 times as a guest since 2013, and have never had too many bad experiences. Sometimes rooms aren’t as nice as described, and amenities are limited to the letter of what was promised (watch out for rooms that don’t come with “essentials” – I’m pretty sure you can get away with not having a shower curtain). Sometimes you make arrangements with hosts and then they don’t answer their phones when you want to pick up the keys. Some hosts think they can charge seriously premium prices based on their location, and then not do the slightest bit of upkeep. When you stay at Airbnbs as much as I do, you’re bound to have a few disappointments. Basically, it’s let the buyer beware, and for the most part hosts have been fantastic.
So overall, you could say I’ve been a very satisfied Airbnb user for almost four years. After my last Airbnb stay, I logged into my account to discover that I was locked out. Airbnb offered only a message:
“To help protect your information, we’ve temporarily disabled your account. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue.”
There was no explanation of why the account was disabled, what “temporarily” means, or how to get it unlocked. I emailed that email address a few times, but never got a response. A week later the account remained disabled. One note about Airbnb customer service: if you’re familiar with this site, you can probably see it coming. Airbnb does everything it can to push the resolution of customer service issues to its online help system. But if your account is locked out, you can’t use the online help. Even the “contact us” page says “please log in to your account to access help.”
Fortunately, Googling for Airbnb’s phone number turned up a help desk number: 1-855-424-7262. You can call that number, but the help desk staff can’t actually do anything to help you. I’ve called multiple times already, and obviously my account is still disabled. If you do call, they’ll ask you for your name, email address, phone number, and associated payment information. But all they can do is put your issue in a queue sent to a technical support group (which “doesn’t take phone calls in or out”). And as you’d by now expect, that group is completely unresponsive and ineffectual.
Some lessons from this experience:
- Your Airbnb account is the property of Airbnb, and they may take it from you at any time with essentially no recourse.
- Do you need access to message your guests/hosts, upcoming reservations, billing receipts, or even Airbnb’s online help? Without access to the Airbnb website or mobile app, you’re essentially out of luck.
- If you do get locked out of your Airbnb account, take action immediately. The “temporary” lockout will not go away on its own. Call Airbnb (1-855-424-7262) as soon as you discover your account is locked out. Tell them you are trying to make a new booking for an upcoming stay in the near future. This will flag your issue as high priority. Which may or may not help, but it can’t hurt. I’ll keep this post updated if I make any progress.