Airbnb Complicit with Hosts on Bait and Switch Fraud

These are the facts regarding two identical occurrences over a 10-month period where Airbnb was complicit with hosts in a fraudulent bait and switch business practice. The first instance cost me $2,000, and the second instance cost me an additional $600. If you are a lawyer reading this and are interested in a lawsuit against Airbnb, class action or otherwise, please contact me.

I’ve spent hours upon hours communicating with the overseas customer support center. On the first occurrence Airbnb admitted to their wrongdoing. On the second, no admission. I have pages upon pages of these communications and the lackluster efforts of Airbnb customer support.

First I made a booking and sent payment to Airbnb. A receipt of the transaction was provided to me. Then the host cancelled with no explanation given. Eventually a refund of payment was issued by Airbnb. Immediately after the cancellation, for the exact time period of the booking, the host raised rates, and was allowed by Airbnb to book new guests at the raised rates.

I was told by Airbnb customer support to find a new Airbnb to book, as there was “nothing they can do.” Airbnb and the host both financially profit more from the new bookings at the higher rates, after my cancellation. Per Airbnb’s policy regarding host cancellations per the company’s website, the following actions did not occur.

A. The host’s calendar will become blocked and they won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the cancelled reservation.

B. If the host cancels before the day of check-in, an automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile. These reviews cannot be removed.

C. “Superhost” status was maintained, although neither listing met the 1% cancellation rate threshold at the time.

D. In neither instance was an Instabook used, which gives the host wiggle room to avoid penalty under an “uncomfortable with reservation” loophole.

So to summarize, Airbnb and the host both benefitted financially at my expense due to the host’s post-cancellation rate increases for the same exact time period. To me, this is a clear cut bait and switch fraudulent business practice. It was communicated to me but Airbnb customer support found another Airbnb reservation, the host’s “Superhost” status was not revoked, and in my opinion this is a complete fraud of a designation. The automated message in the host’s reviews detailing the cancellation was never posted to warn future guests of the risk they are taking with a particular host. So the reviews you read are not inclusive of cancellations, and in my opinion, fraudulent.

Avoid Airbnb in Bath That Refuses Refunds

In January we booked an Airbnb in Bath for two nights. The venue was booked so our family and friends could celebrate an uncle’s 70th birthday. We paid £1,960.85 including an exorbitant service fee of £262.85 (for what we have no idea).

Due to circumstances beyond our control — i.e. COVID-19 — we had to cancel the booking and did so in May. The guest of honour who lives in Ireland was not able to fly to England for the party due to flight restrictions caused by the virus. Consequently, we cancelled when we did in order not to lose the full amount. Had the coronavirus not happened, our party would have carried on with the booking as planned.

We received a refund of only £849.00 from Airbnb (50% minus the service charge). Our party of ten had hoped under these unusual circumstances, the host would have given us a full refund. The owners did say that if their B&B was rented during the weekend we booked, then a refund would be issued. No surprise that this did not happen so we didn’t receive the other 50%.

Losing this amount of money through no fault of our own was devastating for our financial situation which, because of the lockdown, is precarious at best. We appealed twice to the owner’s sense of fairness and compassion by asking them to send the other 50% refund (£849) realising that the hefty service fee Airbnb charges is likely beyond their control. This did not happen nor did we ever hear from them. Consequently, they have £849 of our money for doing absolutely nothing at a time they couldn’t have rented their place anyway.

We also appealed to Airbnb but they were useless in resolving this issue. This Airbnb in Bath did not act in good faith and if you are looking to book this venue in the future, buyer beware – the owners have no scruples and will take your money and run if given the opportunity. Our advice is not to book this place now or ever.

Not Traveling to Hawaii Just to Quarantine

I rented an Airbnb house in Oahu, Hawaii for 12 days on April 17. Just two weeks ago, the Governor of Hawaii announced that he wants every tourist to keep quarantining for two weeks until at least September and that they might extend this requirement past September.

I contacted the host and explained the situation, and she agreed to cancel my reservation and to authorize a full refund. It has been almost two weeks since she authorized it and Airbnb doesn’t want to refund me or cancel the reservation. The host has explained that they have the money and not her and that she authorized it.

I have called Airbnb multiple times and messaged them multiple times. Their response each time is that they will transfer my case to someone that can help me and no one does. I am at my wits’ end. I do not know what to do with them anymore besides dispute the charge with my bank. I can not travel with my two kids and husband for 12 hours on a plane to stay locked up in an apartment for 12 days.

Airbnb’s Dishonesty Over COVID-19 Cancellation

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.

Cancellation for Employee Working on COVID-19 Response

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.

Airbnb Hung up When I Asked for a Refund

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.

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.

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?