I have a story for everyone in the Airbnb community. I am a superhost with over 180 glowing reviews and have listings – had, actually – in Quito, Aruba, and Miami. Last month I received a request from a group of first timers: no reviews; two women, one man. The interaction during the booking process was strange but I figured someone has to give people their first chance. They requested one night. They arrived at 6:00 AM when check in is 3:00 PM, spent all day out, and left early the next morning. The following week one of the women wrote to me: “Hi, your father touched me inappropriately. I am offended. Refund me.” Mind you, my mom and dad are in their 70s, married for 50 years, and there is a full-time maid at the house. I contacted Airbnb customer support to ask them to handle the extortionist and I did not engage with her anymore. The guest kept asking for money several times.
I received a message from someone at Airbnb saying something along the lines of: “I am a neutral third party, an innocent and nice person. Oh, and we are canceling all – yes, ALL – your bookings for the next month while we investigate.” I wrote back and told her such action was not neutral. I really dislike hypocritical polite statements. I work for a large airline so I know better. I kept calling for updates; they claimed they were having technical difficulties and I should call back. I wrote to the representative telling her it does not make any sense to shut down listings in different parts of the world; if anything, I could understand they might remove the listing where the complain happened “while they investigated.”
Nothing happened for another week and I called some guy at Airbnb’s office in Ireland and gave him a piece of my mind. I told him they failed to protect their most valuable assets, a host like myself. I demanded the issue be addressed immediately as I was suffering undeserved consequences. I asked to what degree the extortionists were being investigated. The next day I received an email saying: “We are now canceling all your future bookings, removing the listings of your properties, and preventing you from contacting guests.” Fortunately, I had already printed all booking details and told my guests we were in the middle of a dispute with Airbnb; there would be a chance we would migrate elsewhere. It was the smart thing to do given the very strange behavior of the people in charge of our safety.
One representative wrote: “We are under no obligation of explaining our decision to you. Goodbye.” Fine, I am taking my bookings with me, and I have already recovered over $12,000 of what they canceled… and counting. I’ll make sure my guests have a fabulous experience. It is surprisingly easy to take my guests back… it must have something to do with Airbnb not being the owners of any property, not being the hosts nor the talent. They have no product. We are the product. Anyways, I will just take my $50,000 in bookings elsewhere… a couple places actually, as a precaution. It’s not good to keep all your eggs in one basket.
My advice to people after this glorious experience is to list your properties on sites other than Airbnb in case you host an extortionist or any other vindictive person. Happy hosting.