Ransomware Attack Doesn’t Qualify as Extenuating Circumstances?

My family booked a trip in the mountains for North Carolina. Three days before our trip, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked and held for ransomware. This lead to a gas shortage and state of emergency that was declared in the state. We contacted Airbnb customer service to see if we could cancel our trip due to the state of emergency and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to make it to our destination. They told us they would look into it.

We reached out to them every day for five days, and continued to be told they were looking into it. Finally, after our trip was scheduled to be over, they came back and said it wasn’t covered under the extenuating circumstances policy but wouldn’t tell us why, even though a government-declared state of emergency is clearly listed as part of the policy. We asked for a manager to give us a call, so that they could give us a better explanation.

Instead of a call, a manager that was based in Europe emailed us to let us know that the decision was final and that she couldn’t call us in the U.S. because of the time zone difference. We asked for a manager located in North America or more specifically in the eastern time zone. She came back and said if we want to talk to someone, we can call the customer service line again and start over with a new ambassador. We still believe that our claim falls under the extenuating circumstances policy and would really like to talk to someone that understands why the decision was made to deny the claim.

Airbnb Host Tries Bait and Switch Over Memorial Day Weekend

This is the letter I wrote to Airbnb about my experience:

I am writing to tell you about my horrible Airbnb experience in the hopes of getting some resolution. My family and I have used Airbnb several times and never had a bad experience before now. We are so devastated by what has happened to us that we will never use Airbnb or VRBO again.

I have reached out to customer service three times with no result. I get the impression that I am calling a call center in another country and that the people that are answering the phone are just telling me that my issue is being investigated with no result. I have reached out to the Better Business Bureau, the Virginia Beach Police Department, and the Virginia Beach Housing Authority. I will be seeking the advice of my attorney. I have also discussed the situation with my bank’s fraud department and they are conducting their own investigation.

We booked a condo on May 13, 2021. We planned to take our 16-year-old daughter to Virginia Beach to see the beach, aquarium, and Norfolk Botanical Gardens. As we were leaving around 8:00 AM on May 28 I looked at the listing to see what the check-in procedure was and it said there was a lockbox. I messaged the host on the Airbnb app and she asked me to let her know when we were an hour away.

I messaged her again at noon to tell her we were an hour away. She said the house wasn’t ready and check in was at 3:00 PM. I told her no problem, I was just letting her know when we would be arriving in the area. Then she called my cell phone and said something about how she was waiting for a delivery but she would try to get the house ready for an early check in.

We arrived at the condo at 2:30 PM. We called the host and let her know. She sounded flustered and said that the toilets were broken at the condo and that she was waiting for a couch to be delivered. She told us she wanted us to stay at her other property, that it was brand new and we would be the first guests. She gave us the address. It was 15 minutes away.

When we arrived we were shocked and disturbed. The apartment was in an unsafe looking neighborhood in what looked like Section 8 housing. When we walked into the apartment it was hot, there were boxes of her personal belongings in the middle of the floor, the furniture was unplaced and still had tags on it. There was only one bed and only one bedroom was furnished. There was no TV.

She offered to blow up an air mattress for us. She said that she was waiting for a bed and mattress to be delivered. She called the delivery company and put them on speaker phone. They told her they didn’t know when they would arrive. She instructed us not to tell people that this was an Airbnb and to tell people that we were her friends. We told her that we were going to get a cold drink and called Airbnb and spoke to a young lady and told her what was going on. She said someone would email us.

We went back and told the host we were uncomfortable and asked her to cancel. She said she didn’t know how and suggested that we call and lie and say that we were cancelling due to COVID. At one point she handed me her phone and asked me to help her figure out how to cancel. When I cancelled the trip on her account it said that the trip had been referred to a support team. She then said that the toilets were fixed and that we could go back to the original condo if we wanted to. We didn’t believe her and didn’t feel safe interacting with her anymore.

We left and as it was a holiday weekend it took us two hours to find a hotel. I called Airbnb again that night and spoke to a young man who informed me that he may not be able to help me because we didn’t take pictures, but that he would try to help me. He said he would contact me with updates. I never heard from him again. I called and spoke to someone the next day and she said that she would investigate and update me. I have not heard from anyone.

I am a social worker in private practice and my husband is a mechanic. We cannot afford to lose $828. This has been an incredibly upsetting experience for us, particularly as the whole thing happened in front of our 16-year-old daughter. This trip was a treat for her as she has been cooped up in the house for a year doing online learning. I am appalled at the customer service I have received from Airbnb. I implore you to help us resolve this issue.

Host Lied About Cleaning Filthy Airbnb During Pandemic

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I have used Airbnb for years but never again. My pictures will show that this new host had no concept of what was clean and had not cleaned let alone touched high contact areas. It appears a long-term renter had been there as we were unfortunately the first guests in what they say was a newly refurbished property. They had painted bedrooms but left the kitchen and washing machine cupboard untouched: door handles were sticky, light switches filthy, dirt built up deep and when you opened the fridge door you could see the dirt build up.

The kitchen stank so badly of cat spraying and wee, it also smelt like something dead like a mouse. I told them and sent pictures. They blamed a cleaner but wouldn’t tell me who that was so I could raise a complaint and they said they would clean the next day, a day into our trip. We stayed out all day in the hole so they could do a deep clean. We couldn’t find anywhere else to stay.

We got there late the first night with our son who has Crohn’s and is a higher risk. We couldn’t get anywhere else as everything was booked and we were complying with Airbnb and giving them and the host a right to respond. Airbnb said not to cancel — it had to be done by the host. Anyway, we got back and found that only superficial cleaning had been done: no hoovering the dirt in cupboards, no cleaning next to the washing machine or the machine.

I had such a bad night with my severe cat allergy and knew something was really bad in the kitchen so I tried to find the issue. The photos of the fridge, floors, washing machine, and cupboard are after they had the chance to clean. I was fuming and told the host I sent photos to Airbnb. The host said they would refund me but are now refusing and changing their story because I left an honest review. I am still waiting for Airbnb and I will be taking legal action. The host has now posted defamatory statements about me in their reply to my feedback.

I am at a loss how people can be like this and rip people off and lie so blatantly. I have photos, I have their emails admitting they didn’t clean, admitting it’s wrong, admitting they would refund me and now because I didn’t play the game and lie on my feedback they are refusing. Had I lied I think they would have still refused, and they would have said my feedback showed I’m happy. The biggest issue for me is Airbnb and this is not fit for an enhanced cleaning program. A host gets a badge and is shown to be COVID safe when they are not even doing basic cleaning. I would love to do a class action on Airbnb to look at this and the facts.

Airbnb Verification Process and Dysfunctional Customer Support

I am an established Airbnb guest. Over a month ago I reserved a beach house near Charleston. All seemed fine and they had no problem taking 100% of the funds from my credit card. A few days before checking in I got an email at 11:00 PM demanding that I provide a photo of my driver’s license or passport plus a selfie for “verification”. The email threatened that my reservation would be cancelled if I did not comply within 24 hours.

I don’t mind the verification process and understand the safety/accountability issues, but waiting until days before my reservation to spring this on me is absurd. Worse, the 24-hour window is egregious. I don’t check my email every day, much less every hour. I had family from three states joining me and now it was all in peril. I submitted the required info and photos on time only to get a vague “we are working on your verification” that lasted two days before I called Airbnb customer service to resolve this absurdity. The rep was pleasant but clueless and powerless to resolve since he “did not work in the verification department.”

I asked to speak with supervisor or someone in the “verification department” and was told that was impossible and that I must wait for an email from them telling me my verification was confirmed. All this a few days before check-in by my entire family and weeks after making my reservation and paying a large sum of money. Thankfully direct contact with host allowed me to go around the Airbnb insanity confirm the reservation. To this day I have not received any verification confirmation from Airbnb. I am shocked this company is so popular given its incompetence, indifference, arrogance and dysfunction.

Xenophobic Airbnb Host Harasses Guest After Stay

I am a college student whose lease started after the school was scheduled to close. This meant for the few days in between I was on the brink of being homeless. I had finally found a way to move in early but I still wasn’t given a consistent time and date. My Airbnb host knew this and offered to store my things from my dorm room. He changed his price, but I did not mind or rather had no choice to because there was no available storage left in town that I knew of.

From the beginning, I felt uncomfortable. He was telling me what to do, and I felt extremely rushed. Later on and even before he was very confusing on what he meant by storage. We eventually agreed on storing my stuff in his car and he would deliver to my place at a price. This was fair to me. Overall, our personalities did not match, but I was willing to ignore that because I needed a place to stay and that’s ultimately what I was there for.

We had made an agreement that he would drop my things off at my house at a certain time. I tried to express to him multiple times that my property manager was not very responsive and he kept pressuring me to reach out, call him, and check my phone. It felt like I was caught between two men who wanted different things and my literal living situation was on the line. He told me he would drop me off at a certain time and I agreed to that because it was mainly congruent with the time my property manager gave. He also told me I could remain in the house until it was time to leave. He changed this very last minute and I had to leave earlier.

While I was waiting for the call to move in, he asked me what I wanted my occupation to be. To keep it brief it had to do with immigration and helping immigrants and native citizens with integration; this is a very incomplete explanation of it. His political views definitely differed from mine and he verbatim was quoting what seemed like Trump tweets. I constantly told him I was not having the conversation he wanted to have and he continued to talk about it despite my statements and clear discomfort.

I may have accidentally left something in his possession and he was reluctant to help me because he said I was “cold” after he helped me. I paid him for all services outside of housing such as delivery and picking up my stuff. He also made me uncomfortable by asking which exact unit I lived in after he was done.

When I made my review it was 4/5 stars for my comfort and he responded with it dismissing my comfort with his “good reviews”. He’s blocked me and I have blocked him, but there’s no telling if he has my possessions or not because he isn’t compliant. At first it seemed like he was going to help me but after I said thank you for looking for my stuff and I may have just misplaced it he really went out of line with being like: “I’m shocked you asked for help after being so cold” and accused me of getting my feelings hurt like he wasn’t the one calling me “bent out of shape” and overstepping my own boundaries.

It was honestly the most uncomfortable experience ever. I am missing a small pouch and the fridge I let him handle has a piece missing from the back I believe. I am hoping the pouch is just lost within the bins that haven’t been fully unpacked. I’m not trying to accuse him of anything but for someone who handled me so wrongly he really handled the situation poorly. Talk about hurt feelings. I doubt you’ll enjoy staying here.

Account Deactivated Over a Dismissed Felony Charge

I recently started an account with Airbnb for a reservation for my family and myself. I paid for it, got the email confirmation, and was so happy. Thirty minutes later I got an email saying that I did not pass the background check. The problem was they had a DUI from over seven years ago on there three times. The real kicker is, a felony theft charge that was dismissed is what ultimately got my account deactivated.

This is completely unacceptable. This is discrimination and they are treating me as if I was found guilty. United States law states you are innocent until proven guilty. I was proven to be innocent; the charges were dropped yet Airbnb is treating me as if I was found guilty. I’ve called Airbnb and gotten no help. I called the third-party background check vendor and of course they are getting the process started. It will probably take 60 days before the situation with my DUI is corrected. However what ultimately will count me out with Airbnb is a dismissed case.

This is completely prejudiced of Airbnb. I have never been treated or excluded from anything in my life due to that dismissal case, and I do hold a professional license in the medical field. Yet Airbnb does not care to rent to me. This blows my mind. Part of me absolutely wants to contact a lawyer.

Host Left a Bad Review Because Kitchen… Smelled like Cooked Food

Let me start by saying I have OCD and am generally kinda fussy about other people’s space, so I clean pretty much everything before I leave wherever I’m a guest, whether it’s a hotel room or a friend’s house or an Airbnb. I’m a total rule follower (I admit it) and my goal for wherever I stay is to essentially cause as little bother as possible. So all of my Airbnb reviews have been stellar, with one exception.

I stayed at a cabin in a fairly rural area with my wife for a long weekend. The day we checked out, I got up and made breakfast, then cleaned up, packed, and left. The trip was completely uneventful, and I left a positive review. The host left me a lengthy negative review because she went into the cabin right after we checked out and found a problem: she smelled cooked food in the kitchen area.

It was a tiny, one-room place where the windows didn’t open, and even if they had, it was January. Also, there was no vent system on the stove. Everything was put back where it belonged, we followed all the rules, the dishes were clean and put away, the pots and pans and utensils were all clean and put away, I took the trash and recycling out, and even cleaned the stove, countertops, etc. But none of that bested the part where it still faintly smelled like scrambled eggs and bacon (it wasn’t even smelly or unusual food, or something that permeated even the entire cabin — just the kitchen area, by her own admission).

The review went on and on about how offensive it was that I had left the air dirty, I guess? I actually contacted Airbnb, just because this was my first negative review and I was fairly baffled. The customer service rep was audibly suppressing laughter and finally said (this is not a direct quote): “You didn’t do anything wrong, but also we can’t take the review down because there’s nothing false in it.”

I don’t disagree with this — nobody broke any rules, it’s just petty, and hopefully that CSR at least came away from it with a funny story. I’m probably never going to use Airbnb again for other reasons — just because nothing bad has happened to me doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore what happens to other people — but if I did, I hope future hosts look at my reviews and get a good giggle out of the only negative being “the air smelled kinda like food in the kitchen, an hour or so after somebody cooked.”

Anyway, I just wanted to share a story where no one’s life got ruined and nobody got scammed out of a ton of money. Turns out you can do everything technically correct and your host can still get salty because you didn’t clean the air.

A side note: my parents gave me a fairly androgynous name that a lot of English-speaking people assume is male, especially online, so it’s possible she didn’t realize she was renting to a lesbian couple until we showed up. But I don’t want to assume it was ‘homophobe looks for things to be mean about’; that’s just the only thing we could think of that might’ve made her weird towards us specifically, as she had been completely normal and friendly until she saw us in person.

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Honeymoon Ruined Thanks to Airbnb and Croatia Host

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We had an awful experience with Airbnb, and would not recommend it to friends. The short story is we booked a month for our honeymoon and had to leave two weeks early because the conditions were unacceptable.

The air quality was so bad, that our brand new white foam pillow we bought that first week looked like a yellow cigarette bud when we left. The place was very dirty, having paw marks in the dust under the bed along with random socks and other trash, and even a black hand mark on the mattress. The bed was broken and never fixed even until the day we left. Even after bringing up all these issues, the host would not even refund the unused two weeks.

I traveled 14 hours from the United States to Croatia for our honeymoon. From the moment I got into the apartment, it smelt bad. I thought it was because it was poorly ventilated and the host had a weird smelling fragrance in the house, I had to ventilate it and buy things that made it smell fresh (I should not have to do this). When done, I had to go to the Airport to pick up my wife, since we came on different flights, and arrived to the apartment late.

We were both very tired and jetlagged, waking up late and missed the very narrow 24-hour window that Airbnb has to report any problems. We would later find out that this is the policy that Airbnb uses to wash their hands of any problems and not help you in anything whatsoever, even when we checked in a day later and had photographic proof of the issues.

We thought we were just experiencing jetlag, and that the pillows were uncomfortable, so we bought a nice memory foam pillow, but after a few days we noticed that it was the bed that was sinking. We had back and neck problems because of this through our whole stay: having to sleep on the couch as an alternative, then placing mattress and sleeping on the floor.

We contacted the host but they said everything would be addressed “tomorrow,” which could sometimes take more than two days and even then I just got excuses that the bed was just soft, and got a thin bed cover to fix the issue. Nothing really began to be fixed until I checked the bed, and noticed the the middle legs were broken, and sent the pictures through Airbnb. By then it took another four days, and two more attempts to fix it. We were also waking up congested and our nasal passages full of mucus. We would snore during the night and we did not normally snore.

Only when we had been out walking for hours and came back, did we realize our clothes stank, but that trash was so engrained in our noses we could not tell. After leaving to another apartment we realized all our clothes stank like cigarettes, even the ones in our luggage that we had never used or taken out. We had to rewash everything and our brand new $100 pillow we just bought not only stank, but was yellow on the end that the pillow cover did not reach all the way.

This might not be an issue for you but we also had to call the host because two out of two bulbs were out in the bathroom. We moved the couch so we could set it up to sleep and found an unknown civilization of dust bunnies which we had to clean. Because of this we tried to peacefully ask Airbnb to refund the unused two weeks as they had pictures of these issues and proof we had already rebooked. In any situation, this is a terrible experience. Specially when you are in a foreign country and are dependent on intermediaries.

The host refused, and Airbnb washed their hands of any wrongdoing because we “failed” to report things within 24 hours of our booking. We booked for the 22nd and did not check in until the 23rd. Then all of this happened. You judge what is correct and what you want to gamble on, but I would definitely not recommend this stay. Be an Angry American and complain about everything you see and smell the first 24 hours to Airbnb. If not, this garbage could happen to you.

Airbnb and Host Misrepresented Cancelation Policy — I Lost Over $2200

I appreciate this website as a voice to expose Airbnb’s dreadful behavior. At the end of my missive, I have two questions, and would appreciate any advise.

This last fall, my wife and I wanted to rent a house in Florida, while we considered buying a condo. Before booking, I wrote the Airbnb host and asked about the cancellation policy, as we didn’t want to lose our deposit if we ended up buying a condo. The host wrote: “Please check the cancellation policy for my listing on Airbnb for the exact details, but it’s basically you get a full refund if you cancel five days or more before your check in date.”

Before booking, I searched the Airbnb website for the cancellation policy and was directed to a page that said, “on Airbnb, hosts can choose which cancellation policies to offer to guests, and guests can review them before booking.” The web page even mentioned five days — I have a screenshot. I booked. We ended up buying a condo, and I immediately wrote the host and let her know we would not need the rental, and to please return the advanced deposit, since we were still 31 days from the check-in date. The host refused.

On appeal to Airbnb, they told me there is a clause in the terms and conditions that says for stays longer than 28 days (mine was planned for two months), the host does not set the cancellation policy, and they will not return my deposit. Classic bait and switch. Then the host lied and said “When you asked about my cancellation policy, I did not realize you were making a long-term reservation.”

The truth is I told the host my length of stay was two months, in the very first communication. Airbnb and the host both continued to keep the money, and refused to honor what was clearly promised. I have formally appealed to Airbnb management and they will not consider returning my money unless the host agrees. Dead end. I have complete records of all communications, receipts and screenshots.

I’d like to post a review of the host on Airbnb website to alert others, but Airbnb does not allow reviews unless you physically stayed at the rental. Does anyone know how to leave a review in my circumstances? I also plan to post on BBB. Any other suggestions for recourse?

Lost $900 Because of Airbnb’s COVID Policy

I have tried getting Airbnb’s help over the phone, I’ve tried getting help from the host and I have messaged four senior executives, including the CEO. I have not received a positive response so far. So now I’m sharing my issue publicly, to see if the company does something about it.

I booked a trip to Istanbul from May 7 to May 12, and made a reservation with an Airbnb host for all those days. A few days after I made the reservation, the government in Turkey has announced their first full lockdown. Although tourists would still be able to walk around, I’m sure you can understand that traveling to a place that has just entered their first full lockdown is not ideal, for many reasons. The main one for me was the possibility of being locked in Turkey and not able to travel back to my country of residence, Dubai.

Once we heard the news, my husband and I decided to postpone the trip. I messaged my host and politely asked to change the dates of my trip. He refused. I then asked for a refund, as I spent $900. He refused. He refused any refund whatsoever… not even 10% or 20%. I lost $900.

With that, I called Airbnb, who informed me that they have an extenuating circumstances policy. It says that trips booked before March 2020 could fall under this policy, but since I booked my trip two weeks ago, I’m not entitled to it.  Obviously, Airbnb is entitled to define its cancellation policies, but in my opinion, I believe this extenuating circumstances policy is completely outdated.

During COVID, all the major players in the tourism business, like hotels, airline companies and travel agencies have implemented much more flexible cancellation policies to encourage people to continue traveling during the pandemic. Today, if I buy a ticket with Emirates for example, I can change the dates without no extra charges. If I book a hotel, I can most likely change the dates or get a refund.

I had no issues at all changing the dates of my flight to Istanbul, the dates of my flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia or canceling my hotel reservation in Cappadocia. None of them have charged me anything for it, because they all understood the situation in the country.  Only Airbnb couldn’t be flexible on their policy and its host couldn’t offer new dates or even a partial refund.

I don’t think this is fair. But more than that, I don’t think this is smart. I would love to hear something positive from Airbnb, to help me get my $900 back. Is anyone interested in helping?