Left Stranded in NYC with Only $500 Because of Airbnb

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I am writing Airbnb an official complaint regarding their handling of my three-week reservation that was cancelled on the day prior to checking in. I understand that this cancellation may have been out of their control but the following steps towards fixing this was just a blatant failure on their part.

I’d also just like to point out that their lack of severe penalties to disincentivise this behaviour is also a contributor so let’s just make sure they’re aware that this is what can happen when policies are designed extremely poorly. I’d like to chronologically recount to you my 8-hour ordeal (to which at the time of writing, being 2:00 AM, the issue has still not been resolved and I have no accommodation for the next 22 days in NYC).

On the first call to Airbnb’s helpline, a complaints representative told me the host who cancelled on me was obligated to help me find other suitable accommodation and I should sit tight and wait for a call within 10-15 minutes. When I pushed back she said “Sir, you need to trust the process…she will call you”. She did not.

For the second, third, and fourth calls I was constantly told to call back until I was finally redirected to a case manager. He could only provide me a 500 AUD coupon to supplement my next booking. All subsequent bookings in a similar area range cost at a minimum 1000 AUD more. This was not good enough and I asked him politely if he could escalate this to someone who could do better. He escalated this urgent request over email and then his shift ended – with no further correspondence or reasonable handover to another manager. This is not okay.

On my fifth call I had been informed by my new case manager that the other case manager cannot be reached and that he will endeavour to look for another suitable accommodation that would work with my budget and transit requirements. He proceeded to then send me a haphazard “Brooklyn” search and asked me if I had “looked” at the listings.

It took me ten minutes to convince him that what he had sent me was all in USD and that if you convert to AUD it would be much more expensive. He then proceeded to tell me he needed to restart his computer (due to computer issues) and that he promised he would call me back. I waited another 30 minutes before I decided to call back and repeat the process.

Call number six was with a “resolution specialist” who looked for other accommodation for me after reassuring me that she will be able to help. The listings she provided were also in USD and when converted, finances were unfavourable. On top of that, the listings she provided were so inadequate for my transit needs (to school in midtown) that I just gave up calling for help. I have since messaged Airbnb on Facebook messenger and they have also asked me to await another “case manager” to address my issue.

As you can see, a lot has happened and there is no resolution to show for it. On top of that I’d like to highlight some key failures on Airbnb’s part: poor escalation of issues as each “manager” or “specialist” I spoke to wasn’t really a manager or special enough or had enough authority to increase the limit or convert the coupon to a currency/amount that actually made a difference.

I’m surprised that the response approach was so varied. There are smaller banks in less developed countries that have better authority limits and remediation procedures than Airbnb does. The suggestions made by Airbnb’s specialists very clearly point out to me that they have no understanding around the context of my situation and the context of the area in which I’m trying to stay. If I knew that was the case I would not have called so many times as they were not helpful in the slightest and just wasted my time.

The amount Airbnb refunds and additional coupon offered does not match or reflect the additional accommodation costs I will incur due to my last minute booking circumstance.

Finally, I’d like to point out that this is my first time in New York and due to Airbnb’s inability to resolve issues promptly and adequately, they have made me miss my first Broadway show that I had booked, ruined my first New York experience and have broken my trust. They are a company that provides a service that I’ve constantly recommended to others and I was always a huge supporter and fan until this atrocious experience.

All I ask for at this point in time is some accountability and fair compensation for an extremely poorly handled interaction. I will take further action if necessary as the way this case has been handled is completely unacceptable.

An update from later the following day, four hours after I had to check out from my previous Airbnb accommodation. Please see attached photos of my conversation with yet another case manager. I would honestly just like to speak to someone that isn’t offshore and has some semblance of logic and reasoning.

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2 Comments

  1. Good luck, and be prepared for disappointment. It took me almost 2 months to resolve an issue with Airbnb.

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