Airbnb Complicit with Hosts on Bait and Switch Fraud

These are the facts regarding two identical occurrences over a 10-month period where Airbnb was complicit with hosts in a fraudulent bait and switch business practice. The first instance cost me $2,000, and the second instance cost me an additional $600. If you are a lawyer reading this and are interested in a lawsuit against Airbnb, class action or otherwise, please contact me.

I’ve spent hours upon hours communicating with the overseas customer support center. On the first occurrence Airbnb admitted to their wrongdoing. On the second, no admission. I have pages upon pages of these communications and the lackluster efforts of Airbnb customer support.

First I made a booking and sent payment to Airbnb. A receipt of the transaction was provided to me. Then the host cancelled with no explanation given. Eventually a refund of payment was issued by Airbnb. Immediately after the cancellation, for the exact time period of the booking, the host raised rates, and was allowed by Airbnb to book new guests at the raised rates.

I was told by Airbnb customer support to find a new Airbnb to book, as there was “nothing they can do.” Airbnb and the host both financially profit more from the new bookings at the higher rates, after my cancellation. Per Airbnb’s policy regarding host cancellations per the company’s website, the following actions did not occur.

A. The host’s calendar will become blocked and they won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the cancelled reservation.

B. If the host cancels before the day of check-in, an automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile. These reviews cannot be removed.

C. “Superhost” status was maintained, although neither listing met the 1% cancellation rate threshold at the time.

D. In neither instance was an Instabook used, which gives the host wiggle room to avoid penalty under an “uncomfortable with reservation” loophole.

So to summarize, Airbnb and the host both benefitted financially at my expense due to the host’s post-cancellation rate increases for the same exact time period. To me, this is a clear cut bait and switch fraudulent business practice. It was communicated to me but Airbnb customer support found another Airbnb reservation, the host’s “Superhost” status was not revoked, and in my opinion this is a complete fraud of a designation. The automated message in the host’s reviews detailing the cancellation was never posted to warn future guests of the risk they are taking with a particular host. So the reviews you read are not inclusive of cancellations, and in my opinion, fraudulent.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

One Comment

  1. I am dealing with a similar issue that I am waiting to have resolved by the AirBNB customer service team.
    I am planning a couple’s retreat trip to Denver in early March. Last week, I booked a Lake house that could host 8-10 people from a “superhost”. Before confirming my reservation request, the hosts reached out to me via the Airbnb message app to make sure I understood all the house rules. We messaged back and forth a couple of times and I explained why I was booking the house, some info about me, etc. The next afternoon, the hosts confirmed my reservation.
    I sent the reservation confirmation to the group, only for the host to contact me 20 minutes later in the app messages claiming that the house was already booked. I responded, “yeah – by me.” The host then claimed it was booked via another site. I know the house is listed also on VRBO as I had them saved on my account there, but chose to use Airbnb because the VRBO listed also included a $200 “refundable” security deposit. I told the host I understood and would give them an hour to make adjustments in Airbnb to reflect that their home had been booked. I knew better than to cancel (because I would not get refunded) and I wanted to place. So if they confirmed me by accident, they would need to own up to their mistake and cancel the reservation.
    They didn’t cancel my reservation. So I reached out to Airbnb customer support about the issue. At this point, I’m worried that this may be a discrimination issue as they are now able to see my profile picture that indicates that I’m a person of color and they had no problem with the listing until AFTER they confirmed me. Airbnb said they would reach out to the host to understand what was going on. I gave them the weekend to respond to me. Airbnb then canceled my reservation and said I should have a refund on my card within 5 to 15 business days.
    Now that I have to find another spot for the retreat, I started looking up places again. I see that the Lakehouse is still available via VRBO. I check Airbnb, those dates are grayed out, but a day later they are back on the market. My cancellation is nowhere on their reviews, and they still have their superhost status. I’ve reached out to Airbnb again this week asking how these hosts managed to not deal with any of the consequences of canceling on a confirmed reservation with such an obvious lie that the dates I requested were “booked.”

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