Systemically Sick Customer Service at Airbnb

As a really respected and successful Airbnb Superhost, when I hit the road, I bring a serious set of expectations to the traveling guest side of the equation. As long as everything is perfect and there is no wrinkle in the reservation or use of the selected Airbnb, I have to admit that I generally enjoy exceptional experiences.

My only hedge in ensuring that outcome is picking properties with Superhosts at the helm. I know what it takes to get that status and keep it and it involves a level of commitment that should be the minimum requirement for being an Airbnb host. I wouldn’t have to be wasting a perfectly beautiful afternoon writing this if that was the case. It’s not.

One-hundred percent of my contact with Airbnb support over the last five years has been a nightmare. The level of competence can only be described as several sandwiches short of a picnic. Powered by the deadest batteries in the bunch. Problem solving individuals need not apply.

The sad part is that the robots Airbnb puts in these jobs didn’t start as robots. They are first people that have a brain and heart. However, after being held accountable to uphold and execute the policies Airbnb has in place to resolve the simplest to the most complex issues, they turn into idiots, non-thinking livestock that salivate when the phone rings and they fire up their prepared scripts, emails, messages that all say the same thing: “We can’t help you, it’s not our problem, it’s yours…”

This happens every painful time I attempt to get “support.” They are racing Comcast to the bottom on this one.

Example #1 – Travel Disruption (TD)

This topic is a multilayered nightmare when it rears its ugly head. Every organization I deal with in the “real travel industry” has solid plans and strategies for dealing with TD. It comes with the territory. Try getting Airbnb to help when there is a TD in your plans and you might as well go back to the alternate universe you apparently came here from. Airbnb is not a travel company; they only masquerade as one. You have an Airbnb problem? Good luck, because they have a policy that alleviates them from any help. Incredible. You’re on your own.

Example #2 – No Airbnb

This is different from a travel disruption because it precedes it and is directly caused by Airbnb and their blatant distancing from the false environment they’ve created. They don’t own any of the properties, so why should you expect them to manage them? You shouldn’t but you also shouldn’t have to pay for them when they don’t exist and you have a contract with an organization that says they do. The system is flawed, so buyer beware. Have that direct line to the credit card charges dispute line on your speed dial. It’s the only way to combat the incompetence built into the system to handle anything but a perfect rental.

I could go on, but the real work needs to be done a systemic level within the Airbnb organization, instead of wasting resources on “animal stay promotion” or “experience” sales. They make enough money on the float from the transactions, obscene amounts that haven’t been seen since American Express was in the check printing business.

There are no shortage of travel companies that could be used as a model for Airbnb customer support. Marriott and Westin come to mind. Avis and Alaska Air work. Don’t hold your breath. Airbnb is building a Part Patrol that will be as ineffective as the rest of their organization when it comes to service…

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