Reservation Cancelled, Host Selling the House

Airbnb has over $1600 of my money. They have had it for three days, but I don’t have a reservation. I spent hours pouring over the rental choices and finally settled on a place. I gave Airbnb my debit card information and immediately received a message that my reservation had been accepted. A few hours later I received an email from the host – not through the Airbnb website, but just through Yahoo mail saying that the house was up for sale and they didn’t think it would be available for our dates. I waited a day and didn’t get a notice from Airbnb. I contacted the host and she said she was in an area with bad wifi reception and her emails to Airbnb kept getting “kicked back” (somehow she was able to communicate with me, though). I contacted Airbnb by phone (had to Google the number because they don’t make it easy to find them on their site). A foreign-sounding customer service representative said he would forward my case up the ladder. There was no word later that day or the next. I called again and they said it would be 48 hours. All this time they were holding my money and I couldn’t rent another place. In the banking business this would be called check kiting and it would be illegal. I’m not sure why Airbnb is allowed to do it. About a year ago we had a rental in the Napa Valley area and the host cancelled without an explanation. I looked around online and saw that the place was in escrow. This has never happened to me with VRBO, HomeAway, or Tripadvisor vacation rentals. I recommend avoiding Airbnb if you can.

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