More Protection than Guests: Airbnb is Untouchable

We booked a stay in Ha Noi, Vietnam, by the beach based on the blurb and pictures posted by the host. Although their ad left us a little confused as to what it was exactly – a homestay or bnb or hotel or ? – in both the written word and in the pictures, it had ticked enough boxes for us to send the host a few questions about connecting rooms and shared amenities, etc. The host was a little vague but sounded genuine enough for us to make the booking. Some six weeks later the host contacted us stating that several recent guests had complained that the hosts had not advertised what they were offering correctly and that we might want to cancel the booking. So, we asked some very specific and clear questions about the accommodation, always being mindful of the difference in languages. The responses were even more vague than our earlier attempts. It made us feel very uneasy and we asked the host to cancel the booking, which the host had suggested in their correspondence, and tried to find a way of contacting Airbnb for a refund.

When we found out that it was not going to be possible to contact Airbnb about this matter we wrote to the host. Disappointingly but predictably, she wrote back telling us that she could not and it would be up to us to do so and chase up a refund. At the end of all this I find myself $80 out of pocket, but even worse very disappointed in the completely unethical manner in which this huge company – Airbnb that is – hides behind the Internet curtain of anonymity. I cannot in good conscience use or recommend a company that has carefully engineered a site that supports a modus operandi that leaves aggrieved users out of pocket and doesn’t even give them a chance to sort out problems that were not the guests’ fault. In my case they will lose much more than the $80 I lost in this unfortunate deal.

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


  1. We were in a similar situation 3 years ago, renting a place in East Village, Manhattan> And we did dispute the whole amount, about $700, through our credit card – it was the the only way it worked.
    I am also hosting with Airbnb (no big accidents so far) and I should say that with all the good people around, on both sides, the hosts and the guests, Airbnb should be hold responsible, when it doesn’t work out. Airbnb is greedy, drops the ball when people need their help.
    Fun interface and hefty fees is all Airbnb cares about.

  2. Why didn’t you dispute the charges via your credit card or Paypal???? You have 60 days to submit a dispute and Airbnb has to respond. Typically, Airbnb will just refund the amount in dispute because they don’t want too many disputes or charge reversals posted against them.

    Come on… this is online payment 101 stuff.

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