Airbnb Fails to Follow Its Own Guest Refund Policy

blankblankblankblankblankblankblankblankblankblank

I rented an Airbnb for a four-night, five-day stay at a cost of $1906.76. On the host’s Airbnb primary webpage, there was nothing listed about the host having dogs that frequently barked, and one described that ‘may’ bite. Nor was there anything to indicate that the host might not be present at the property during the stay (as we had assumed).

The dog disclosure was only evident when one clicked on ‘show more’ in the ‘Health & Safety’ information, at the bottom of the web page. This is deceptive, as there are four or five health and safety issues listed at the bottom of the first page, but apparently the other more significant issues don’t ‘fit’ on the page, hence the need to ‘show more.’ How creative of Airbnb to do that. At any rate, the hosts are not fully transparent about having pets, as nowhere in the listing’s primary description page does one read anything about pets being present, let alone pets that bark and ‘may bite.’

The evening before the rental was to begin, the host messaged us that they were delayed coming back from Portugal, and that their ‘house sitters’ were leaving the property earlier than scheduled, resulting in them having to place their two dogs in a garage (directly above the area that we would be occupying during the rental), and that we might hear some barking. The host suggested that if we were disturbed by this, to simply turn on a TV, a stereo or a white noise machine (they’ve tested them – indicating this has been a problem for prior guests). It is our opinion now, that the host did this as a CYA [cover your ass] tactic, specifically so she could deny a refund should a request be made due to this issue. And congratulations, it worked.

We messaged the host that this new situation was not okay, that we did not know they had dogs that barked and might bite, and that, given the new information which had the dogs staying in the garage and barking, we did not want to stay at the property. I messaged her that we wanted to cancel and receive a refund. The host ignored this request, and refused a refund. We were scheduled to fly to Colorado Springs very early the next morning, and since it was already 10:00 PM, we made arrangements for another booking with Airbnb.

We had to get up at 5:30 AM to go to the airport the next morning, and did not want to continue a back-and-forth message session with the host, as the host also indicated that they would be flying international back to the USA, and could easily be out of communication with anyone. The host messaged us at 3:00 AM that morning (which we did not see until the next day) indicating that she would be able to get someone else to take care of the dogs. For us, this was too little, too late. This was her problem, but she made it our problem. We value our peace, security and safety, and did not want to risk a stay at a property without the hosts being present and with two dogs that might be kept with no supervision, barking.

We escalated this issue to Airbnb on the evening of the 7th (before the booking was scheduled to start), and spoke with seven representatives by phone and three by Airbnb messages over the course of the rental period. The first Airbnb representatives we spoke with on the phone told us about the dog disclosure under ‘show more.’ He was almost proud that he could do that, as if he had practiced doing it and had done it before. It made his day to be able to prove that we had been advised of the health and safety condition in advance, even though it is not immediately apparent that one has to do this in order to be fully informed.

However, we had also read Airbnb’s policy for hosts who keep ‘potentially dangerous’ animals on a rental property, and found that it stated that a secure enclosure had to be provided for such animals, so that they could not get out and threaten a guest’s safety (i.e. bite them). We shared with the Airbnb representative the host’s own ‘check in’ instructions (now curiously removed from the host’s website, but a screen shot has been added to this review). The photos in the ‘check in’ instructions show the guest being directed right by the area where the dogs are kept outdoors (yellow arrow), and more importantly, show the type of ‘enclosure’ provided by the host.

This ‘enclosure’ is nothing more than a portable ‘puppy’ fence, only two feet high (see attached photos). We did not believe this enclosure to be secure, and did not want to risk having my wife bitten by one of the dogs, who in our opinion, could easily knock down, jump over or escape the flimsy outdoor ‘enclosure’ (see photos). Not to mention we did not want to risk staying there, and having new issues arise with the host not being able to get home from overseas, or not being able to have a third party come to the property to ‘quiet’ down the barking dogs.

One has to wonder about the ‘intelligence’ and ‘foresight’ of any host who would own a dog that has a propensity to bite, place that dog in a non-secure enclosure, and then direct guests to walk immediately by that same enclosure every time they were coming and going from the property. This particular host is asking to be sued by a family with a small child who is bitten, and with the type of arrangements indicated by the host (in writing no less), they would easily lose that lawsuit. It was our opinion that the host lacked good judgment, and we did not want to risk discovering additional areas of poor judgment on the part of this host. This was a safety issue.

All of this was clearly explained to the Airbnb ‘investigative’ representatives and case managers/ambassadors/supervisors assigned to review our case. Screenshots were taken of everything. The host’s check in instructions were shown to an Airbnb representative. We were repeatedly told by Airbnb not to cancel the rental. When we asked one of the representatives if we should check in to the property, given the safety issues we had identified, the response was, “No you need to wait until the rep gets back to you with instructions.”

Their only messages to us were that they were in the process of communicating with the host, and then were escalating the issue (again) to a supervisor. Meanwhile the host had been told to message us ‘check in’ instructions, no doubt so she could claim us as a no show, and claim she had done ‘everything possible’ to accommodate us. The money was more important to her. Remember that about these folks, and wait until you see what she does at the end of this.

The time to check in came and went, and we were already staying at another Airbnb. It was not until the last day of the rental that the Airbnb supervisor indicated that we would not get a refund, and he added insult to injury by stating that we were denied a refund because we had not stayed at the booking.

I actually asked one of the Airbnb representatives this question on the day prior to the rental. Specifically, we asked if we would be considered a ‘no show’ if we did not cancel or check in, and were told, “No please do not worry, we have escalated this to the investigation team. They will contact you and let you know the status of this.” This was deliberately deceptive on the part of Airbnb.

I then requested that the decision be appealed, thinking that it would be viewed by another Airbnb management team member, higher up than the supervisor. No, it was the supervisor reviewing his own decision. And he did what he is good at: he lied to me a second time. I had been requesting all along that I speak via phone, directly with the rep and then the supervisor. Each time I requested this on the phone with Airbnb reps I was told that the rep and then the supervisor would be calling me. Neither of them ever called. We know our phone works, because we have received calls from Airbnb reps before, on the same phone we have in our profile, the same phone that is verified.

The supervisor lied and said that he was going to call but could not, because the phone listed in our account was not verified. The supervisor really should be fired for that. At any rate, the supervisor denied the appeal of his own decision. We hope his supervisor read this review.

We followed the advice of Airbnb customer service, and requested a partial refund from the hosts. They denied the refund. We were amazed that they simply ignored our original request to cancel the booking on Oct. 7. The hosts must be having a hard time paying the rent on their $800,000 home in Colorado Springs, that or their trip to Portugal must have been very expensive. The host was told that, in our opinion, what she did constituted ‘theft,’ specifically as a breach of contract, and a form of ‘unjust enrichment.’ She should have done the right thing and realized that they as hosts:

  • Deliberately do not state anything about the dogs on the first page of the rental. They don’t want you to know about the dogs because that might negatively impact their cash flow. It’s great to have dogs. But you know what, you really need to tell people about them on the first page of your rental description. Why are you hiding that information? Has one of your dog’s already bitten someone? That would be our guess.
  • Deliberately direct guests to walk to and from the entrance to the rental immediately by the non-secure ‘enclosure’ (that she says is a fence) every time a guest walks to and from the required entrance to the rental, subjecting the guests to barking and a potential dog bite each and every time. Why don’t you take some of that rental money you are making a build a proper enclosure? What would happen to one of your dogs if their head got stuck in that puppy gate when you weren’t there? Answer, they would likely strangle themselves or at the very least become injured. Ever hear of animal cruelty?

The final insult came after the host was told that it was our opinion that what she had done (not refunding the money) was wrong (i.e. theft), and that we would be posting a review of the experience online. Airbnb had removed our review of her property because they indicated we had not stayed at her rental. How convenient for the hosts. Remember, it was Airbnb’s own customer service representatives who said we should not cancel and not occupy until the safety issue was resolved and we received a call from the rep.

The host then threatened us in her final message, indicating that we should be careful because, “You don’t know us or who we maybe connected to.” We filed an extortion/threat complaint against her with Airbnb, which was summarily ignored by Airbnb, and the ‘investigation’ (if there ever was one) promptly closed.

We have utilized Airbnb six times in the past eight years. Every rental was a joy and a treasure, and we always had a wonderful experience at every property we stayed at. Every host we stayed at was very complimentary of our behavior as guests at their property. And most of those experiences were us travelling with our own dogs. Keep that in mind. We are excellent guests and excellent dog owners.
Probably why it is so easy for us to spot ‘bad’ dog owners. But this final experience with Airbnb was a true eye-opener for us.

Airbnb management did not have our back on this, and was deceptive and untruthful. We will never use Airbnb again.

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

One Comment

  1. Consider yourself lucky that you had 6 previously great experiences. As a former host and guest, I think you should have read the listing in its entirety. That being said, them not having made arrangements for the dogs before your arrival was absolutely wrong. Charge it back on your credit card and move along. Airbnb will not give you credit and the host will not offer any reimbursement. Tell your friends, family and work colleagues to not use the service. There is nothing more that you can do.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.