Airbnb does not have your back when things go sideways

In July 2015 I found a large Victorian in a small foothill town for an upcoming girls weekend in October. It looked great, and I contacted the host. She wrote me back and said she’d love to have us if we were ready to book. I told her it was 5 women and a small dog–under 50 lbs and asked if that was okay? She wrote back and said she had a “pet approval policy.” I wrote back asking for details of her pet policy and waited for her reply which never came. Foolishly, I went ahead and requested to book. Later that evening we were approved and I got a text from the host saying she would need a $1200 pet deposit — in cash or check — upon arrival. This sent up a huge red flag for me and my friends. We then discovered the hostess has a “Strict” cancellation policy, which meant that if we wanted to cancel we would lose 50% of our money– $616. We had no intention of handing over $1200 for any length of time to someone we didn’t know and who was acting out of the normal protocol of Airbnb. I called an Airbnb agent and reached someone by the name of Jacob who promised me that he would have a trip specialist contact me and that the company would cancel our reservation if we wanted that, and no fees would apply. I waited 24 hours, then called again. I got another very nice agent who said she would expedite our call and have someone call us back regarding the refund. Long story short, I had to call EVERY DAY for 6 days, and every time I called a very nice customer service agent would tell me “I’m sorry for the delay” and “your case has been elevated to ‘urgent’ status.” My friend had put the a $616 deposit down on this booking and I wanted her to get her money back. But it appeared that no one from Airbnb considered our case urgent enough. Apparently “urgent” with Airbnb means you may hear from a specialist within 2-3 weeks. We were finally contacted via email by someone named Charlotte who apologized and said “It was all a misunderstanding and Elizabeth would love to host you that weekend.” Again, our request for a cancellation was ignored!! I then wrote her back and explained that at this point, we no longer felt comfortable staying with this hostess and wanted to cancel this booking and receive a FULL refund as was promised by Jacob. She finally wrote back, 3 days later (now a total of 2 weeks later from our original request) and said she would credit us in full — that we would get $249 back from the host and $341 back from Airbnb, who was covering the remaining balance since the host would be getting paid in full. She told us to allow 10 days. 15 days later, only half the refund is here. We emailed Charlotte this morning and got an email back saying she had processed the refund but there was an error and it would be another 10 days before it posts. We are now at 6 weeks past our original complaint date! We have contacted the credit card company to cancel the charges. Thanks for having our back, Airbnb! You are re-writing the book on ‘customer service’.

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