No Refunds, No Matter What? An Airbnb Guest Weighs in

It was my first time using Airbnb and I was excited. After researching and looking at over 20 places in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I found a place that looked amazing (which it does, in the pictures). But this is not about how amazing the place is or the conditions of the place once I arrived. This is about eight hours later booking the place for a last-minute trip.

Once I booked, a few moments later I got really sick, and it seems I got food poisoning. I’ve traveled around the world for work and always enjoyed using mainstream hotels. Because of this, I never considered that there would be a subjective and erratic refund policy where one place gives you a 48-hour full refund with no questions asked and another just plain no refunds… period.

I was finally able to get a hold of the host, and they advised me to ask Airbnb to resolve this. After finally getting someone with Airbnb they said they couldn’t do anything and the host was the one that could refund me… It turned into a ping pong hot potato game and was getting nowhere. At this point I was vomiting and feverish with a rash all over my body.

They said, “Well, it was on the refund policy when you booked.”

I was confused since I did not see “anything” about this anywhere, so I looked. After running a search on the page in the browser, I found it past “everything” including the reviews at the bottom in the footer area of the page.

At this point I spoke with my business credit card company and will need to wait for the charges to post, so I can submit a claim. This is absolutely unethical and in a world where most services are customer-centric I am baffled. I spent some time reading about nightmare situations from hosts here. Airbnb seems to be based on an overall unethical business model. I’ve had people rent my home and destroy it to the point it cost me $30,000 to repair, so I understand the side of being a host. It seems the business model is focused on a win-win model that only Airbnb can win.

Do not use Airbnb unless you are comfortable losing money. Look for the refund policy, which is randomly set by the host. Airbnb is not there to protect you as a consumer. They are there just to make the process easier for you to spend money and not be safer.

If you are a host, you need to be comfortable in being able to resolve issues without Airbnb being involved or have insurance that covers vandalism. You are playing in their sandbox, and they hold all the cards. Unless you are one of those individuals that have the time to go after them and get pleasure out of it… your time on this earth is better spent elsewhere.

To my friends and people in Puerto Rico: you are the reason our reputation at Airbnb has fallen so low. I am deeply disappointed. My time is worth more than your petty no-refund unethical smoke screen expense. As a business owner, I know personally you will pay a hefty price, and it’s not always in money.

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One Comment

  1. As a former Airbnb host and also guest, I have had many good experiences but how Airbnb handles the bad apples in the bunch is really beyond my wildest imaginings.
    I have had to call the police, was assaulted by a guest, had things stolen etc but the experiences that I had as a potential guest in an illegal listing in NYC soured me from the site completely. They absolutely know many of their NYC listings are outright illegal and still market them.
    I decided to cancel my reservation before staying and was fortunate to receive my money back from American Express.
    I would never book through them and risk being without a place to stay during a holiday or work trip.

    I think one property hosts at this point are all one guest away from leaving the platform. This site is just geared for property management companies who have housekeeping, security and concierge teams able to handle all the situations that come up along the way

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