Mislead by Rental Description of ‘Entire Home’

At the end of January 2022, I reserved this place under the search setting “entire cottage.” I expected this cottage to be entirely available to us for two weeks.

At the time of the reservation, there was no mention on the description that this was a four-bedroom apartment on the main floor of a house. There was still no mention in this description of a tenant living upstairs. This was information buried under a large amount of text under “house rules” at the bottom of the page.

On the reservation page, the description said only “entire home”, “entire cottage” and ” you’ll have the cottage for yourself”. The picture of the entire cottage was there on the main page. The rental also came up under a search for “entire home”. There was no mention, in the description, at the time of my rental, that this was a four-0bedroom apartment on the main floor on a house.

After a few days, I accidentally found out on the web, looking for the address, from an old sale listing, that the cottage actually has two apartments. I went back and searched on the site of the cottage and I found the “house manual” where it was indeed mentioned under a long text about house rules that usually is read just before checking-in that there was another apartment upstairs with a live-in tenant.

This is not what I wanted to rent for two weeks as a cottage retreat. By then the cut-off for free cancellations had passed by a few days. I contacted the host and told her that unfortunately the cottage is not what I had in mind when I rented, and that I would like to cancel. She said it was fine and I went on and cancelled. Then I asked if she could confirm that I can be fully refunded, given the situation. The host did not answer for three days and then I requested the refund through the resolution centre.

I was charged 1,600 Canadian dollars although I cancelled 23 days prior to check in date and the host rented the unit for the majority of the two weeks to other people. I cancelled three or four days after the cut-off date and I explained what the misunderstanding was. I was left with this huge bill for nothing, while the host got $1,600 and rented her cottage for additional income during that timeframe.

What followed was a two-month long exchange with different employees from Airbnb: ambassadors, supervisors and I was told a manager, although I could not verify that I was indeed talking to a manager. I have asked to escalate the case further at each step. I have now waited for almost another month for someone to contact me to no avail. At all these levels I was told that the host did nothing wrong, that Airbnb allows for such important information as the type of the house to be under “house rules” and that I am to respect the Airbnb cancellation policy and that Airbnb apologize for the “inconvenience” — the inconvenience being that I am left with this huge bill.

I have been made to wait, to start talking with ambassadors all over again. In one case I had to insist to have my case escalated and in the last instance the case had been closed even though I had requested to talk to a higher employee. It has been a nightmare to deal with Airbnb employees for the most part. I have asked for verification that the description did not contain the information “apartment on the main floor of the house” at the time of my rental. Nobody followed up on this.

I find this situation deeply unfair to me. I have been an Airbnb customer for ten years, have excellent reviews, and could very well be called a “superguest” if such a category existed. I know how to look for rentals on Airbnb and never had any problem. I was misled by the description on this rental property. Never in my ten years of experience was such important information — the type of lodging and whether there were other tenants — hidden under house rules.

A quick look at this category over other rentals showed that usually house rules are additional rules for when entering the house, while the description part — at the top of the page, right next to the rental details — contains all that is essential to know. I have never expected a cottage listed as “entire cottage” to have another unit in the same house.

While I understand that the host is protected under the Airbnb policy, I feel that customers are not. This is a case that might be okay by the Airbnb book, but it is a case that shows how some loopholes in the Airbnb policy can be used, intentionally or not, to mislead customers. If the host is not at fault in this case, I feel Airbnb should take responsibility and reimburse me. I also feel Airbnb should apologize to me for the way I was treated: lack of transparency for the most part, having to go in circles and explain my case all over again, no follow-up of simple verification demands.

It’s been three months of dealing with incredible frustration, loss of money, long wait times and frankly quite poor customer support and understanding.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

3 Comments

  1. the Guest Manual is “buried” by airbnb, not hosts. Trust me, we want it to be more prominent! It clearly states in the house rules (not the same thing as the Guest Manual) and readable before you make the booking, that she has a tenant upstairs, and that’s why she has a noise restriction in place.

    You didn’t read the listing properly.

  2. What you rented was a entire home rental. You are not sharing a kitchen or living-room with other guests. You rented 1/2 of a duplex. This is no different than renting my condo which is an entire home but shares a roof with 9 other homes.

    I’m guessing you didn’t read the disclosure of duplex or condo or shared parking.

  3. So you didn’t read the fine print and then wanted to cancel with impunity? Is that what I am reading?

    You are responsible for the burden of not reading the entire listing. Start to finish before booking.

    Airbnb buries a lot of information. Use them at your own peril.

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