My husband and I checked into our Venice beach studio late for a five-night stay. Exhausted, I fell into bed, but thought “This looks like a 3-star place, not 4.82.” The photos showed a bright and sunny room, but the reality was tired and sad: old bathroom and kitchen, tiny room sparsely furnished. We didn’t plan to spend a lot of time inside, so I didn’t think much of it.
The next morning my husband called “first shower,” but quickly retreated. The bathtub was covered in dried human feces. I immediately called the host and told her we were checking out and wanted a full refund. She agreed and we left immediately and checked into a much more expensive hotel. I tried to call Airbnb, but after a half an hour wait I was cut off.
That afternoon, as instructed by my host who said she could not issue a refund until I had cancelled the reservation, I cancelled online. The next day I filed a formal request for a refund with Airbnb’s resolution center. My host had 72 hours to respond and despite my repeated requests, she was radio silent. Finally, my host wrote that she had spoken to Airbnb and was under no obligation to give me a refund, but “out of the goodness of my heart” would refund less than half of our $1,226.
Then I entered Airbnb Hell. I filed a complaint with Airbnb, twice, and only got the response “Here are some articles that might help you.” I wrote to Brian Chesky and several people high up in Airbnb. No response. I DM’d Airbnb through Instagram and got an immediate response: “We are going to assign you a Support Ambassador, a specialist assigned to your case.” For eight days I awaited word from my Support Ambassador (and yes, I kept DMing Airbnb through Instagram and kept getting reassuring responses that they were very concerned about my case).
Eventually, a canned response came from my Support Ambassador which said, in essence, “Sorry. Not our problem.” In the meantime my host was again running the clock and although I did not post a damning review of her studio (or any review), she slammed me with one implying that I had caused the plumbing problem, that I had harassed her, didn’t wait for the problem to be resolved before leaving, and that she had issued us a full refund. Her last ageist jab was: “Cranky old lady. Don’t host her.”
This cranky old lady is also an experienced travel writer. Airbnb says the first thing when there’s a problem is to contact the host. Done. Then Airbnb. Done through the Resolution Center. Bad experiences can happen. Airbnb can be a crapshoot. But why won’t I use them again? Because they take no responsibility, despite their exorbitant fees, for their product. Brian Chesky was just listed as one of the wealthiest people in America. Let the attached photos speak for themselves.