How Airbnb Tried to Leave me Homeless in Two States

I have used Airbnb on several occasions before and always gushed about how great they are to anyone who will listen. After this week I won’t be making that mistake again. I’m currently on holiday in the USA (from Australia). I had a place booked in Chelsea, NYC with a male host and another booked with a woman in Washington DC.

The NYC host hadn’t responded to any of my emails before I came to the US but as I’d never had trouble with Airbnb hosts before I just figured he was busy or had forgotten; the booking had been accepted and Airbnb took my money so I had no reason to be worried… or so I thought. The day I was flying to New York I called him. As soon as he heard me say Airbnb, he hung up on me. He then diverted all calls from his phone so I couldn’t reach him again.

I called Airbnb customer service and they told me they’d try and get in touch with him on my behalf. I then hopped on a flight from LA to NYC and figured it would all be sorted out when I touched down. My check-in confirmation email had come through so I tried calling the host again to let him know I was on my way… again, the call was diverted. I rang Airbnb back and proceeded to have the most painful “customer service” experience of my life.

I had to repeat the most basic information over and over, and it was only after half an hour of having to talk to the representative like an intellectually challenged five year old, only after I lost my patience and started yelling into the phone in the middle of JFK airport, only after all of this did I finally pry out of her that he’d cancelled the booking while I was en route from LA. They’d already processed a refund which I was told would take up to two weeks, so I had to shell out $1300 from my holiday money to get new accommodations. Anyway, I was cranky and poor three days into my holiday but I decided to move on with life.

A week later, the day before I was due to get a bus to DC, I messaged my next host. There was no answer from her and I got distracted doing touristy stuff so I forgot to follow up until the next day. I called her before I jumped on the bus and she was shocked that her listing was still online because she hadn’t used Airbnb in a year and didn’t even live in DC anymore. I called customer service again; they told me to make another booking and they’d transfer what I’d paid. I went nuts because that option hadn’t been given to me a week ago. I made the booking, paid a little extra to make up the difference and then went without wifi access for a few hours.

When I got to DC, I found out the replacement booking had also been cancelled. Cue a very angry call back to Airbnb where I finally got someone who wasn’t completely useless and she found some options for me to choose from. With all my holiday money sunk into these cancelled bookings I didn’t really have a choice; I’d originally wanted my own place but I had to settle for a room in someone’s apartment. It wasn’t ideal, but to give credit where credit is due, my host was super friendly and accommodating so that removed heaps of stress. Still, after the past week you couldn’t pay me to risk ever booking through Airbnb again.

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