Steal our Money, Cancel our Reservation, Then Ignore us

Last night my family had the beginning of the Airbnb experience from hell, which we are in the middle of. We had a 30-hour journey from Chicago to Bali, for the first time with our baby who is nine months old, and we had planned to stay in Airbnb accommodations.

We booked nearly a year in advance but yesterday we got an email that our reservation in Ubud had been cancelled due to me not updating the payment information. I was alarmed, as I had updated my payment information last week on my account.

I called Airbnb, and they told me there was a glitch in the system and gave me incorrect information. I can just simply “make an inquiry to the host and have the host send me a special offer.” This is incorrect, as due to the glitch in Airbnb’s system, it looks as though I am the one who cancelled the reservation and there is no ability to just make an inquiry.

Airbnb customer service was condescending to me and was eager to get me off the phone without helping at all. They told me there was no way to reinstate the booking. I called back and spoke to another equally unsympathetic and unknowledgeable associate who gave me further incorrect information and told me that “all we can do is wait now.”

I then asked to speak to the manager who was completely unhelpful, had the delusional idea that the host (who has a strict cancellation policy) would completely refund the money to us and then allow us to rebook (no host in their right mind would do that). He promised me he would get this resolved, fix this for us and absolutely nothing has been done and no follow up whatsoever.

Airbnb has completely screwed us. We trusted that the money we paid would be used for our accommodation, but they left us in the horrible situation of taking our money, cancelling our reservation, and we are about to get on a long haul flight with 30 hours of travel with a baby. The host in Ubud has our money and we do not know where we can stay.

We have spent over three hours on the phone with rude, unhelpful associates who forget about the BS that Airbnb has left on our doorstep and expect us to deal with, when we should be packing and being excited to go on holiday. We are going to a foreign country with a baby and no accommodation, due to a “glitch” in the system.

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


  1. Ugh similar story here. We paid the deposit, then had fraudulent activity on the credit card used, so the next payment failed. I got an email to update payment detail. I did. The airbnb system would not allow me to delete the card, so I changed the default card, but they charged the old card again for the second attempt (which obviously failed) so I updated the detai for the last attempt assuming I made a mistake… They cancelled the booking, and I got no money for the deposit even though I followed their instructions for updating payment details and they didn’t let me remove the card that the kept trying to transact on. Now I need to cancel my future dated bookings as its the only way I can see to stop the same cycle. Customer service were focused on the T&C basically saying its my responsibility to provide correct payment details…

  2. 1. You have a nine month baby and you are going to travel over 30 hours? Are you insane? If you can’t afford a decent flight, don’t go.

    2. You need to contact a lawyer and sue AirBnB.

  3. I’m so sorry this happened. I hope you were able to find suitable accommodations. A tip for communicating with Airbnb because calling customer service is frustrating, I hear Airbnb seems to respond better to Facebook & Twitter requests for assistance.

  4. Hallo there,
    Your storey is terrible.If you are coming to Bali either call me on +62361731006 or +62818551107 and we will try to assist you with helping you find suitable accommodation and relieve the stress this organisation is starting to create…..kind regards..Tonno

    • Airbnb’s process for handling payment from guests can be complicated:

      1. Rental payment (1)-Payment in full MAY be made at time of booking. If there is a problem, the guest has 24 hours to input a working credit card or the reservation automatically cancels.

      2. Rental payment (2)-Depending upon the total price of the rental & how far in advance the rental is made, the guest may be given the option to split the payment into two payments. If the second payment does not clear/process, the guest is notified. They have 24 hours to input a working credit card or the reservation will cancel.

      3. Security deposit(1)-Airbnb MAY place a funds hold on a credit card when the guest prior to guest check-in. If the funds hold will not process, Airbnb will notify the guest. The guest has 24 hours to input a working credit card or the reservation will cancel.

      4. Security deposit (2)-if the host finds damage, the host has 48 hours after guest check out to submit a claim for the damage repair to be reimbursed via guest security deposit or the Airbnb host guarantee.

      5. Payment to host-Occurs only after the guest has been happily in the rental for 24 hours.

      6. Airbnb states that it may take 30 days for a cancellation refund to process back to a credit card.

      7. Flexible or Moderate cancellation policy – The guest should receive a refund of rental & taxes (not the Airbnb fee) for any cancellations made more than 5 days before check-in.

      8. Strict cancellation policy – I think any cancellation made less than 48 hours after booking will result in NO refund. The host should receive payment for the collected rental 24 hours after the planned check-in.

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