To start off, this was a last minute booking. My friends and I were on a road trip to Asheville, NC when we suddenly found ourselves off course by four hours. We decided to get a room and figure it out in the morning. I booked this lovely place. I know, it’s cheap, but we were just wanting a place to shower/crash after a night out.
We were still about a little over an hour away from the address after I booked it, and didn’t think much of the host not saying anything, as my booking had already been confirmed. Once we arrived, it was clear he had no intention of returning any of my messages or answering his phone.
I immediately tried contacting Airbnb, but their phone lines were down, and couldn’t be bothered to reply to any of the messages I sent them through the app. Incredibly annoyed, and in desperate need of a drink, I canceled my booking and requested a refund. The next day the host ignored my request, but luckily the phone lines were back up.
The first customer service rep was very friendly, and helpful. She promised to contact the host, and that if he decided to continue being a horrible person, Airbnb would provide me with a refund. The next day, around the time she promised, she contacted me to let me know that the full refund was coming through, and it should take about five business days for me to receive it. I was thrilled to have that burden completely lifted from me. I thanked her for her time and everything else she did for me.
I wish this story ended there. Fast forward five business days, and the refund still wasn’t in. I didn’t worry too much about it, thinking it was probably just a little late, thinking surely Airbnb done their part. I checked the app, and I had a message from the host declaring he had denied my refund. Okay, that’s what horrible people do, so let’s find out more. I clicked “view details” under the canceled reservation bar, and it brought to a page that read this:
“Your refund is on its way. We issued a refund of $0.00. While this refund is immediate on our part, you might not see the money reflected in your VISA account until five business days later. Please contact your payment provider for additional information.”
I immediately called customer support again. The representative apologized and explained that this was a small clerical error, but she had no authority to do anything about it, and that a case manager would have to review it, and get back to me by the end of the day. This never happened.
After a full 24 hours went by, I decided to try and send a message asking for an update. No reply. I called again and explained to a third person why I deserved a refund, and wouldn’t you know, out of pure coincidence a case manager magically replied to my written message, so the rep hung up. This is what I read:
“I finally received a response from your Host, on the reservation in question. However, your Host said that he’s not aware of your refund. Did your Host agree for you to receive a full refund after you cancelled your reservation with him? Awaiting your response. Regards. “
I know it’s not her fault, but I’ve never hated a faceless stranger more in my life. I quickly typed out, and explained to the fourth person why I deserved a refund that had already been promised to me.
“Thank you for letting me know of that information. Let me review the previous tickets on your account and on your Host end for me to confirm everything and also to help me fully understand why you’re requesting for a full refund. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you.”
Internally I was screaming at the top of my lungs. I still haven’t heard anything else from them.
Thing is though, if you instant book a hotel, a real bed and breakfast or even a hostel, you’re pretty much assured of a place to stay
Like The Dexter said, instant book is not the way to go with a last minute reservation. Communication with the host is important for all Airbnb rentals. Hosting a rental is a second job for most hosts. Hosts are given 24 hours to respond to rental requests & inquiries. They can also cancel an Instant Booking request during that 24 hours so you really don’t have the booking.
Unfortunately I think Airbnb is not at all customer oriented. They have this canned response, and bottom line Airbnb could NOT care less.
Here’s what I think. You Instant Booked instead of contacting host first. Instant Booking last minute is fraught with uncertainty unless the host has set up self service check-in perfectly with a good online house manual.
Now you know.