How Does Airbnb Handle Accusations of Racism?

I had traumatising and frustrating experiences with Airbnb. I had been a successful guest many times then a host started persecuting me. She had mental health issues. Dealing with Airbnb’s overseas call centre led to extreme frustration and going around in circles with promises to escalate my calls, but ending up circling back to the same useless agent refusing to address the bizarre and inappropriate behaviour and actions. The host started leaving parcels at my door and ringing me after I had left, and it was all super scary and odd. Airbnb showed zero interest.

My second issue was as a host I complained about extremely poor customer service with Airbnb. Rather than actually investigate my complaint, I received an email from Airbnb accusing me of racism. It took twenty emails for them to even begin to provide information on this accusation.

This was my very first potential hosting experience. A prospective guest only wrote to me in a Chinese script and in very incomprehensible and confusing English. Airbnb said they would translate, and did nothing. I was falsely accused of saying if someone comes to Australia they need to speak English. I was also accused of expressing frustration about an agent. None of the language was racist; I complained about the ignorance, aggression, and stupidity of the agent. If I’m complaining about the agent that is different from abusing an agent.

Thirdly, the comment that I said that someone needs to speak English in an English-speaking country is absolute rubbish. Airbnb repeatedly said “it’s an international platform”, I had no right to expect English correspondence or communication, and I was going to lose my Superhost privileges. It was then that I said that if someone is staying with a host in their private residence in Australia then they need to write to the host in English. I was receiving correspondence in a Chinese script and in incoherent English that made no sense. This was vital information such as when they would arrive, who was staying, etc. I said I should not be penalised as a host if I have not received any comprehensive communication.

What I said was not racist. I said I would host the guest when Airbnb finally agreed to provide translation, which they never did. I only finally refused the guest when they rang me and made loud strange noises and hung up – and it was a third party booking.

Airbnb offered to terminate their stay as they broke the rules then turned around and accused me of racism. My housemates are Taiwanese. One of them speaks minimal English but his partner speaks well enough so there are no issues communicating – so to accuse me of racism is completely bizarre. Airbnb has proven that nothing I said is racist.

This is on top of glitches fixing my DOB on the app. I still can’t do it, which has resulted in the miscalculation of my payout from a guest, issues uploading pictures, and issues getting a photographer. Airbnb insists that I haven’t verified my email despite having had an active guest account for years. My complaints against Airbnb remain uninvestigated.

I spoke to an Airbnb representative from the USA office. He refused to try to pronounce my name correctly. I asked him to try again as it’s six letters and two syllables; I shouldn’t have to repeat my name to people who insist on not even reading it. This led to a huge exhausting stand off whereby he repeatedly refused to give it a go. I said he was able to employ his reading skills in any name even a “foreign” one, which he twisted into me saying he couldn’t read.

I ended up speaking to his supervisor about the experience of being accused of racism. She was extremely cold hearted, aggressive, and just a very deeply unpleasant person. She spoke over me in a monotone the whole time. She told me that the email that was sent to me was a warning based on a customer report. She told me that the terms and conditions meant that any customer could make any allegation and Airbnb would back them up and send out warnings. I said to her that every correspondence and interaction I’ve had with the customer has been through the Airbnb messenger platform so they can have a look at that and advise whether I have actually been racist or not. She told me it doesn’t matter – if the customer feels that I have been racist, it doesn’t matter if the messages back that up or not.

She continued to speak over me repeatedly when I asked her why I did not receive this explanation from Airbnb earlier. She refused to answer and just cited fine print in terms and conditions. She was cold and aggressive, just spoke over me, and dominated the whole conversation. When I asked her why this was not investigated by looking at the messages she said it doesn’t matter what the messages say – if the customer says you’re being racist, we will send you out a warning. I said I never once spoke to the customer or even met her. Therefore the customer could only have been basing allegations based on what I wrote; why didn’t Airbnb investigate that?

She kept going around in circles, telling me that Airbnb can send out official warnings no matter what the investigation says and then she circled around and said that it had been investigated. That’s why I wasn’t kicked off the site. I asked why I didn’t receive an email saying that to me and retracting the warning. She refused to answer the question but would just aggressively change the subject and speak over me.

I asked her to put in a racist complaint against the customer then – she said she “didn’t have a problem doing that” but she didn’t say that she would. I don’t believe she would’ve done that. I then asked her to put in a racist complaint against her and the other representation to whom I had spoken, and she said that she would put something on my file. I said “no, I want you guys to be sent an official warning based on my feelings just as you sent me an official warning. I want the official warning to be on your file the way you have an official warning on my file.”

She just spoke over me and started throwing terms and conditions at me. She was very aggressive, very dominating, and domineering in the conversation. She spoke over me the whole time in a cold, almost sociopathic monotone. When I asked her to get a supervisor to call me she point-blank refused to guarantee that and said she would ask her to try to call me – but I don’t believe she will. There has been no response from the founders or the supposed customer service chief.

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5 Comments

  1. Ever heard of google translate ?

    I also had a few guest writing to me in Korean and Japanese, I google translated their message and got then info i needed, I answered back in English explaining I don’t speak their language but confirmed what I google translated … and all went fine, some wrote in a poor English but it’s ok we can’t expect everyone to be fluent in English.

    I even stayed at an airbnb in Mexico where the host only spoke Spanish, I was writing in English, she was answering in Spanish and I had a wonderful experience at the end.

    Could you send the message your write to that guest and his messages so we can also judge if anything sounded racist or was impossible to google translate ?

  2. I have been concerned about contracting with airbnb in other languages. Do the messages have a translation feature?

    If there is a dispute only in written communication, what other considerations would there be to investigate?

  3. And yet people can travel all over the world not knowing a word of the language of the country they are visiting and get by ok?

    If you don’t have the capability to make any kind of effort to host a non-english speaking guest on this worldwide platform then you simply shouldn’t be on it.

    Tip: google translate.

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