Airbnb advertised availability for two nights lodging on its website for Kiruna, Sweden for June 8-10. I booked the lodging. Airbnb collected the money. It did not deliver the product, the lodging.
Airbnb’s advertised host did not give me good directions to the site. It took me 60 minutes walking to find it. When I found it, Airbnb’s advertised host did not answer the door. He told Airbnb customer service later that he did not hear me. Yet he knew I had a reservation, and that I was coming, and had received my money.
I purchased the accommodations and paid for them through Airbnb’s website on May 22nd and relied on the Airbnb advertisement on its site that its Airbnb host would provide lodging. He did not. I communicated with the Airbnb host ahead of time, telling him my flight would arrive in Kiruna at 8:20 PM.
I arrived at his front door at 10:30 PM, after asking three different people how to get to his address, as his directions were vague. I knocked on his door twice, loudly. No one answered. As I did not have a phone usable in Sweden, I knocked on his next door neighbor’s door after Airbnb’s host did not answer.
His next door neighbors confirmed that he lived where I knocked. They would not, though, call him to let him know I had arrived. I returned to his house and knocked loudly a third time. No answer. Then I walked to a convenience store a half mile away. The clerk there called him at his advertised number and handed me the phone. There was no answer.
I was stranded in a foreign city I had never visited, knowing no one, without lodging, at 10:45 PM. This was traumatic. Kiruna is in the Arctic; it was cold there. I had only arrived in Sweden that day. This was to be my first night ever in Sweden.
I had to hire a taxi to take me to two different hotels before finding one with availability, and then also find a hotel for June 10th. I had almost no wifi on June 9th as I was traveling on Arctic trains which had very spotty wifi en route to my June 9th stay in a small northern Arctic mountain community with no wifi.
I contacted Airbnb on June 10th and canceled the second night I was to stay with its host, requesting a refund of my fees paid to Airbnb as I could not rely on its host to answer the door for my planned stay there, reimbursement for the replacement lodging I had to find, money for the taxi, and compensation for my inconvenience, worry, stress, and time dealing with the problem.
After writing Airbnb customer service, on June 21st Airbnb refunded me $21 cash. They have refused to refund me or pay for my expenses beyond that, other than to offer Airbnb coupons, which I do not want. On July 1st, I wrote Brian Chesky, Airbnb CEO, an overnight letter again requesting a refund. His office received my letter on July 2nd. On July 8th I called and left a message for Mr. Chesky with his staff; I also emailed him directly on July 10th. Neither he nor any of his Airbnb staff has responded to my July 1st letter in the past 18 days.
The problem caused me worry, stress, lack of sleep, sleep disruption, and inconvenience during the trip, with a loss of 5.5 hours of time in Sweden on my trip, and 7 hours spent trying to resolve this Airbnb problem after the trip, including emails, phone calls, the CEO letter, and complaints to the California A/G’s office and the Better Business Bureau. It should not take seven hours after a trip is done to resolve a lodging problem during the trip.
Airbnb’s competition is hotels. A hotel would have resolved this situation immediately. I have averaged five Airbnb lodgings per year for the past six years. This is how Airbnb treats its long-time customers. When you need help, they show their real interest (zero) in you and your problem. It is all about the money for them, and all about ignoring problems for them.
My research shows other Airbnb scams/fraudulent activity due to no-show Airbnb hosts. These other Airbnb hosts also stood up other people using Airbnb’s web site like me. These other victims of Airbnb no-show hosts, also making advance payment for lodging as required by Airbnb, were for lodgings in Barbados (2019), Portimao, Portugal (2018), Majorca (2018), and Florence, Italy (2017). In each of these other cases the scam/fraud victims similarly had trouble getting compensation from Airbnb.
This type of continued Airbnb scam/fraud is wrong. Their lack of resolution of this problem, especially for a long-time customer, is despicable and outrageous. It seems like a pattern of fraud/scams on Airbnb’s part, to improve their bottom line. I am willing to and prepared to take them to court if need be.
Moral of this saga: You often save some money with Airbnb vs. a hotel. But if there is a problem, and you booked with Airbnb, tough luck. You are often just plain out of luck. They do not care, unlike hotels. It apparently is Airbnb’s direction from the top, from the CEO on down. Once they have the money, they do not care about helping.