Feeling Like A Freak, Felt Discriminated

I’ve never been able to use Airbnb. The first time I installed the app I was asked for a picture, driver’s license and credit card. I submitted everything, but I never received an approval nor an email, nothing. Since this was some months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico (2017) and we were surviving with the Google Loons, I thought that it was the lack of a good internet connection and forgot about it.

A year ago, November 2018, I wanted a place for a surfing trip. To my surprise all my information was in the Airbnb account: my ID checked, my profile with a picture, my Amex approved as payment method, all cool. When I tried to reserve something, I wasn’t able to do because my credit card needed to be checked (again) and since I wanted a place for the next day (swells don’t wait) I forgot about Airbnb.

In the last couple of weeks (October 2019) I started looking for places to stay during a surfing competition. All my information was there on my profile, and when I tried to reserve a place I wasn’t able to. The message from Airbnb was that my card needed to be verified. I agreed for some debits to be made to my credit card to confirm.

I had been a front desk and reservations agent for Hilton and Hyatt. This was kind of a strange procedure, but I decided to wait for the approval. I started receiving emails, text messages, and messages in the account inbox on the Airbnb app, all messages pressuring me to reserve, the property owner greeted me, but guess what?

I wasn’t able to reserve anything. Now they were asking for a picture of my credit card statement. “No way,” I said to myself. I kept receiving messages from them the whole night.

The next morning I had notices to reserve because I had a pre-approval from the owner while they verified my Amex. I tried to book, and once again I wasn’t able because they needed a picture of a recent credit card statement. Nervously to the maximum extreme, I took the picture and sent it.

A couple of hours later I received an email message through the app and a text message to hurry and book because I had been approved and verified and the property was being held for me for a couple hours more. But as you can imagine already, I wasn’t able to book. Now the nightmare begins.

I decide to review all the messages before contacting the help center and all the messages on the app were gone. My credit card information, gone. I wrote the help center and when they answered hours later it seemed that they thought I was hallucinating or something. They told me they were transferring the situation to customer service (the chat with him was customer service).

I explained the situation over and over to different customer service representatives who contacted me. My main concern was what happened to the information I was providing them. Had I been scammed? Was this procedure normal each time that you tried to book? They wrote me back each time: “Enter your credit card information on your account and wait for it to be verified.”

I couldn’t believe it. Were they morons? I breathed and breathed each time I answered back to be polite and well mannered and to restrain myself from saying what I just said. I even asked if I was talking to a computer. I wrote that I wanted to communicate with a supervisor. I was feeling very angry because I thought he was making fun of me for being a middle-aged Hispanic woman.

I was completely ignored now. I told them I would report them to Consumer Affairs. I was feeling like a freak. I couldn’t believed what happened. Was I overreacting? I took screenshots of this last conversation before they disappeared again.

Looking for their corporate information and willing to even write a classic certified letter, I found this blog. Now I know I’m not a freak. Airbnb customer service is the most inefficient, disrespectful and inconsiderate that I’ve ever seen.

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