Airbnb’s Dishonesty Over COVID-19 Cancellation

VRBO

In February I booked a house in Manly Sydney for two couples from within Australia and New Zealand. Then came COVID-19 and with border closures flights were cancelled and borders closed.

I contacted the owner and was told cancelling would not be a problem and I would get a refund. I duly did so and it read that I would receive AUD 450.00 which was slightly less than I had paid. Then I received a email from Airbnb informing me that I would get no money as company policy was since I hadn’t paid in full, there would be no refund. I asked about a voucher but the answer was no.

Their blurb said if COVID-19 was the reason for cancelling and a booking had been made prior to shutdown then they would refund but actually that’s a lie. A lot of messaging between myself, the owner and the company was a waste of time. The owner blocked any communication and then Airbnb stated that due to COVID-19, property owners were struggling with their own debt hence the reason for no payment. They too refused to accept any further communication. The host did say that any reimbursement was out of his hands as Airbnb didn’t pay him until the date of the booking.

It is saddening that this company can take money from people and not return it when it’s a genuine reason for cancellation. The airline returned the full cost of tickets without even requesting the same but Airbnb is cheating us of our funds.

Airbnb has lost me as a user and I’ll stay with other honest short-term holiday rental companies that have been reliable in the past. I only used this one as it was exactly what we wanted and located where we wanted but I’ll look elsewhere and trust the company of choice. Use Airbnb at your peril but never again for me.

VRBO

Cancellation for Employee Working on COVID-19 Response

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Airbnb claims to be compassionate and supportive of people impacted by COVID-19 but my situation is quite the opposite. One of my staff was scheduled to attend the CSTE conference at the end of June in Seattle. However, she was pulled into the public health response to COVID-19 in our county.

We have been fighting with Airbnb for months about this and it’s still not resolved. All over $400+ dollars. Not only have there been numerous communications with Airbnb where they have refused to refund the money but my organization has also spent considerable time trying to resolve the situation. It’s spread like wildfire in our organization and we will no longer be using Airbnb for work and for personal travel.

VRBO

Airbnb Hung up When I Asked for a Refund

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My daughter and her friend were going to go to Santorini and I paid for the reservation. We fit right into the COVID-19 extenuating circumstances policy with all of the dates. I tried to get a refund through AMEX because I could not get through to Airbnb in early April.

I tried again today but could not get through. I called this afternoon. I had tried through my daughter’s account to find the cancellation button but could not. There was a 45-minute wait. I asked the rep if should could refund the amount. She would not give me a simple yes/no answer.

I asked for a manager per this site. She said I had to be verified. Then she said I had to go through my daughter’s account. I told her I wanted a manager as I had paid for the trip. She said she would need to hangup on me. I again asked for a manager as I had the reservation number dates, etc. She hung up on me. That is not customer service.

I went back online and found the cancellation button. The only option was a refund on half or full travel credit. Never again. Airbnb is the worst. This is our second horror story.

VRBO

Airbnb Host Offers no Flexibility During Pandemic

This was the worst Airbnb I have ever stayed at in my life. It was like walking on eggshells. I can’t believe I stayed here and extended my stay. I was manipulated and taken advantage of at the same time as well.

Since I was trying to save money in the middle of the pandemic, I figured I should probably stay in a cheap place with a kitchen. I was hesitant with booking with this host since the kitchen was not allowed. I figured she might be able to make an exception so I decided to message her first.

In our conversation, she told me “light cooking” would be okay. Unfortunately, that was my mistake. “Light cooking” was her way to get me to book the room so that she could make some extra cash during the pandemic. Apparently sautéing was not considered to be “light cooking”. Light cooking to her was considered to be making a sandwich, which is not really cooking at all. Because of this miscommunication, I had to throw away $30 of groceries.

My host also came into my room and moved my stuff around so that she could tidy up one day while I was gone for the afternoon. If I can’t come into your room I would really appreciate it if you didn’t go into the one I paid for when I’m not in the apartment. I mean how do I know if my stuff is safe in the room?

I can also see why previous guests were complaining about the bed. I had to fix the bed frame several times since it’s made out of wood. On her listing, it also says that a laptop friendly space is included. When I was at a desk typing on my laptop I was told to go to my room because “the living room wasn’t an office”.

If you’re a tourist and you’re not in the apartment a lot I can see why you would leave a good review but this was not my experience. I’ll never use Airbnb again.

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Host and Airbnb Contradicting Each Other

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I booked a five-month reservation with a Superhost through Airbnb. After 24 days, I cancelled the reservation for multiple reasons: the dirty TP in the bathroom; my food being eaten; and when the host said one of his employees had been exposed to someone with the virus.

The host said there was a 30-day cancellation penalty, which would be about $1100. Airbnb says that the amount of the remainder of four months’ time cut in half is how their system calculated the cancellation, for roughly a $3200 cancelation penalty.

I messaged the host who said, and I quote, “Again: you are not responsible for any cancellation fee. If they try to pay it, we will refuse it.”

After two months of trying to get Airbnb to respond to my calls the host is now saying they are charging a cancellation fee. This comes down to the host directly lying to me and to Airbnb. Airbnb refuses to even read what the host says or respond to me.

Thankfully I have had legal advice that said to save all messages and if Airbnb tries to do anything, I am completely covered. Airbnb says the original case manager is no longer with the company, and a new one is assigned but still not responding.

I have reached out over a dozen times over the past two months and still am being ignored. A representative the other day said that when a case is opened it could not be closed without a resolution. The helpbot closed my case the other day, after two months of being open and no resolution.

Not a good place to stay and Airbnb is hiding reviews on them so they can remain a Superhost.

Airbnb Refused to Give Full Cash Refund

Airbnb’s COVID-19 cancellation policy says I will be offered a full cash refund, as my situation fits the criteria. I am eligible for a full cash refund. Was I offered a full cash refund? No.

I was offered less than half my money as a cash refund, or I could accept a credit of the full amount. As I was confident Airbnb would fix this error, I took the credit. I was living in a dream world. They have all been rude, dismissive, disdainful, from the juniors to the ‘senior’ consultants. One was decent enough to tell me the truth, but did nothing.

They have completely ignored the topic that the system made a mistake to not to offer a full cash refund. They say they will never give me the full cash refund. They have the gall to quote the policy to me saying that I took the credit, so I should shut up and crawl back under a rock.

The next indignity is that someone fraudulently used my credit. Who or how they used my credit, I don’t know. There were no apologies, just a new credit reinstated, but not the full value. They decide to ‘round down’ the credit amount.

Isn’t that theft, to take money off someone without their permission? Yes, they let someone steal my money, then they stole some of my money. Unbelievable. How do they feel about it all?

I asked the ‘senior’ consultant to ring me. He completely ignored me, and sent me one of the endless generic emails saying the same thing as the last fifty emails. Thankfully it didn’t contain the ‘slap-in-the-face line,’ that they will now close the case as they feel it has been dealt with sufficiently. They sent that one to me one too many times.

I have asked the NSW Fair Trading department to help. They are kind and supportive. As yet we have had no success in getting Airbnb to abide by their own policy. They have shown themselves to be incompetent, but worse than that, dishonest and completely dismissive and disrespectful of their customers’ feelings and rights.

The true test of customer service is how the company responds when things go wrong. When things go well it all looks good, but my situation has tested these people and they fail in so, so many ways.

I am sorry to all the lovely hosts who have made our Airbnb stays so memorable. You make Airbnb look good, but it is rotten to the core. There are plenty of other accommodation websites that offer the same style of accommodation and service. I hope you will all join me there, and we can again enjoy our carefree holiday travels.

Not Happy About Airbnb’s Cancellation Policy

My son was due to be married in NY in August. I had paid $3800 to secure an Airbnb accommodation. I am in Australia. The wedding has been postponed for one year and travel is not allowed.

The host has been lovely. However, as I cancelled, Airbnb is holding $901 in fees. They say this is fair, as my cancellation is not covered by extenuating circumstances. The host is also angry, but it doesn’t seem to matter. I regret not asking her to cancel the booking as I feel perhaps I would have been better situated? Message after message, case manager, phone call but no refund from Airbnb. I am devastated.

Any suggestions?

COVID Refund Nightmare Over France Airbnb Cancellation

My family of four was supposed to travel to France at the end of June. Clearly with the state of things we can’t go. I cancelled the reservation.

On my host’s page, it clearly says that I am entitled to a 50% refund minus the Airbnb service charges. When I talked to Airbnb, they told me that the host had refused the refund due to her “strict policies”. The host told me (albeit with a language barrier) that it was Airbnb. I also received a message after cancellation stating the amount I was to receive back. I have verified this with a lawyer in my family.

Now Airbnb won’t answer my messages and I am totally stuck. There’s no way that anyone will be travelling to France anytime soon, but I am so angry that I want my money back on principle. We even offered to take a full credit to use another time but they refused that as well. The blame game going on is astounding. This is the worst customer service I have ever received, and we are both in the hospitality industry so know a thing or two about this.

Any suggestions?

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Unable to Get a Full Refund Due to Airbnb Policy

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Airbnb customer service was unable to approve or give out a 100% refund due to me cancelling the reservation before their policy updates on April 1, 2020. I made the cancellation at the beginning of March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now my country Malaysia has to prolong the country lockdown until June 9. Airbnb said my criteria met their policy, but because I cancelled the reservation and got a 50% refund before April 1, I’m not eligible for the 100% refund.

It’s not right; it’s not logical. This policy should be amended, and not be biased.

Not Impressed with Airbnb Experiences Overall

I stayed in a few Airbnbs over the world in 2016. I decided to try Airbnb because I wanted the experience of living as a local would. I wanted the experience of getting to know the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting on an authentic level.

I wanted to stay in places that had some character and didn’t look like generic corporate beige. I wanted to stay in residential neighborhoods rather than in the middle of a tourist trap. More importantly, I wanted to save money on staying in hotels/motels and also on food by being able to have access to a kitchen and prepare my own meals. These are all things Airbnb advertised at the time and I was very interested in being able to travel that way.

The first thing that I was struck by when deciding to rent an Airbnb was how expensive they were, even in comparison to local motel rates; many were the same and some even more. The second thing that I was struck by was how inaccurate the descriptions were on the majority of the listings. The third thing that I was struck by was that many of these listings were places other people lived most of the time but were just renting out when they were not there, and were not designed with the guest’s comfort and enjoyment in mind.

The first place I stayed at was in the U.S. and it consisted of a bedroom in a house with half a bathroom. Again, the price was about the same as a local motel. The washer and dryer didn’t work, the floor was chipped and cracked and the window screen was broken. The floor was stained and dirty. It wasn’t like I had access to the entire house — just the room. The owner was not available most of the time and didn’t answer or address any of my needs the entire time, even though they got paid.

The second place I stayed was a room in another house. The lady who owned it was actually super nice. I went to an ecstatic dance event with her and we had a great time. She had children and one of her kids was in camp, so I was staying in her son’s room. Again, she was a lovely woman but it was weird sleeping in a kid’s room with kid’s sheets. It was clear she was a struggling single mom who was trying to make some money for her mortgage, so I felt like overall it was something I didn’t have a problem with. However, I wouldn’t ever stay there again.

The third place I stayed in was in Denmark. That was the only Airbnb where I had access to the entire apartment that was clean, orderly, and as described on the listing. The owner was helpful in helping me rent a bike. The price was also reasonable and I was able to actually save money with food because all the kitchen equipment actually worked. That was the only place that I would ever stay again.

The last place was in Germany and that was the last time I ever rented an Airbnb. The description was completely inaccurate; the apartment was located way on the other side of town. I had to walk two miles to with my luggage. The owner met me and he seemed nice. He gave me the key and talked about the town for a few minutes before he left.

The apartment didn’t have much working in the kitchen and not even a working microwave. The bathroom was filthy, with a piece of dirty duct tape on the floor holding it all together. The sheets I’m pretty sure had not been washed and the only appliance that worked was the TV.

The day that I left I got locked into the building and wasn’t able to leave since I had given him back the key. I knocked on some random apartment for someone to let me out. After that experience, I checked the local hotel and motel rates in the city itself and found that they were comparable and in some cases even less than what the Airbnb host was charging.

For the same price, you can get a hotel room with clean sheets, clean towels, a clean bathroom, a safe, and someone to clean your room. A hotel will generally be up to standards and have good customer service, but this is not the case with Airbnb.

You just get the feeling that many of these Airbnb hosts are far more interested in making additional income to pay their bills than they are in providing a valuable, guest and customer service oriented, hospitable experience. They aren’t obligated like hotels are to abide by certain hospitality industry standards. They aren’t even obligated to abide by certain safety codes and are not subject to inspection.

According to some of the reviews I have read on this website, many Airbnb listings are not even required to actually exist. Many of them are fake or are dishonest in their listing description.

I’m posting this because everyone talks about how great Airbnb is, but that has not been my experience overall. You really are not saving any money and you’re really taking a gamble on whether or not the place you are renting from even exists. If it does, will it be up to code, or is it a fire trap? Is it going to be clean? Will your host cancel your reservation right before you arrive? Is the host an ex-con, a rapist or murderer? Of course, this can go for the guests too.

Airbnb has some potential but it needs much more oversight. The listings should be subject to certain local laws to ensure they are complying with safety standards. They should be subject to inspections and paying fees to local governments so that they do not displace local residents.

As it is practiced today, it is a bad idea and really should be banned. Many people can’t access affordable housing and it is largely due to Airbnb being turned into short term rentals which can charge a higher rate. Guests coming in and out of the neighborhoods are not required to register their status if they are ex-convicts or sex offenders.

Is it really worth any of the savings if you don’t know if your valuables will be safe or if the host is safe? If the kitchen equipment doesn’t work, and you have to dine out anyway? Are you really “living as a local” if the place you are renting is on the other side of town?

In short, think about it before renting an Airbnb. Is it really worth the risk? Maybe have a back up plan like a hotel booked which has a 24-hour cancellation policy just in case. Or just stay in the hotel and forget Airbnb.