I had an Airbnb account for years. When I left town for a couple of weeks, I contacted all of my guests with information on how to get into my place. During the time I was gone, Airbnb contacted me (from email, etc.) as they were requesting a provide a new ID. They needed it immediately (for whatever reason) and cancelled my account while I was gone. I returned to find my guests were stranded – numerous guests; I had lost income. Worst of all it has been months and no one at Airbnb can seem to resolve the issue or even figure out how to reactivate the account. Hours on hold, no contact numbers or email addresses to reach out. They are the worst.
I booked a room on Airbnb on September 13th for $603 in downtown Las Vegas. Everything went through and I got in contact with the host. He was awesome. Today when I woke up I just so happened to check my email around 6:00 AM and discovered my room and account had been cancelled due to a violation of terms, when no terms were violated. I called and was left on hold for about 30 minutes to be told it was an error in the system and someone would contact me. No one did.
I called back at 8:00 AM, spoke to another representative, left on hold again for another 30 minutes, and was told my case would be marked urgent; someone would call me as soon as we ended the call. I never got a call. At 11:30 AM I called back, was left on another 30-minute hold, and requested a supervisor after 45 minutes on hold. Before anyone answered, he was no help; he said there was nothing he could do but contact technical support.
I waited a while and called back to check on the status. At this point I had 45 minutes to cancel my flight which would still cost $150 in fees out of the $355 I had already paid. My birthday was ruined. My bank won’t credit my account for 5-7 business days and I’m basically out $1000+. This has been the worst experience. I will never book with Airbnb again. I still haven’t had any contact from Airbnb, and no terms were ever violated.
I’ve been blocked from Airbnb for discrimination, mainly because I mentioned the canceled guest’s country of origin in trying to explain that normally someone from 7,000 miles away doesn’t book in our tiny town, and that the person could not tell us why he booked here. On an afternoon this summer, a guest had booked for a stay starting three days later. We are in a town town in the middle of the Midwest, so there are specific reasons people usually give when they book.
This guest was coming from a place literally 7,000 miles away. I asked what brought him to the area, and he said “we are tourism” and would arrive in three to five hours. It seemed pretty odd that someone would arrive in less than five hours from somewhere 7,000 miles away. I responded and told him that he had not booked that day. He said he meant three days from then. I asked other questions (which I have screenshots of), but he did not and could not mention specifics regarding our area.
I checked his three reviews, which were brief and vague: “… was a great guest”; “very polite, friendly and clean person”; “excellent guest and well spoken and easy to communicate.” That was it. Normally when I check someone’s reviews, they’re pretty specific about the visit, so my weirdness radar had kicked in.
I called the Airbnb help number within six minutes of the booking to ask for guidance. The customer service representative I spoke to said that there were reviews on the Airbnb user and that he didn’t see anything odd with the guest, but that there was a policy that a host could cancel at least once (maybe twice?) without repercussion, and I had not done so before. I contacted the person who booked to try to elicit a better explanation, which is when he said he was going to be visiting a major city more than 200 miles and four hours from my Airbnb location.
It seemed odd; Airbnb’s website says: “Trust your intuition: If you don’t feel right about a reservation, don’t accept it!” It encourages guests to explain themselves and their trip to put their hosts at ease. This was not happening. The entire length of this booking was for about an hour; I try to respond to people as quickly as possible in regard to their travel. This was not a last-minute cancellation of something that had been booked for a long time. Suddenly, someone called from Airbnb (but actually probably from the arbitration company). This is when I should have had a lawyer right by my side, or just not agreed to talk on the phone.
I honestly could not even understand at first what would have caused the claim of discrimination against a nationality, because to me it was a decision based on multiple reasons, none of which were the specific country the person was from – it was the distance, the vagueness, and the indication that he would be visiting somewhere completely different, nowhere near my Airbnb. At the time of Airbnb’s initial indication that they were looking into me being discriminatory, there were two standing bookings at my property, and I conveyed my concern about those to the person who had called me from arbitration.
My account was delisted but not deactivated, so I assumed Airbnb would at least allow me to host the last two guests while making its decision. I heard nothing from Airbnb and lost a couple thousand dollars in income. At this point, I felt so personally gutted that I decided even if Airbnb were going to let me keep my account, I would never use them again because of the awful assumptions it made about me even though their employees could easily see, in messages, how weird the whole transaction was.
I got to host one of the two already-booked guests, but here it is five days before the last booked guest (who had a special need of having a place that accepts more than one pet), and my account has been deleted as of now and forever. Why would a company do that? I don’t even know what happens to that guest now. Is she totally out of luck? Where will she stay?
Of course, Airbnb uses forced arbitration clauses that give me no rights to even present the evidence I have of the person giving vague and incorrect answers to any questions I asked, nor did Airbnb apparently review a recording of the customer service representative telling me that I had a free cancellation to give. Would I have canceled without Airbnb’s permission? Likely, because of my gut feeling about the booking, but that certainly seemed to me to imply the company’s consent.
While waiting for the complete cancellation of my account, I’ve researched the legality and the common occurrences of Airbnb just leaving people high and dry for no reason. I understand they have to protect people from discrimination, and if I fit that category of one who discriminates, so be it; that’s apparently in the eye of the beholder. However, Airbnb seems to have totally erred on the side of caution when the word “discrimination” is invoked. I would try HomeAway or another company, but my Airbnb is not in a tourist town at all. One of the reasons I’d been booked every weekend is because I was one of three Airbnbs in the whole area. It’s very painful to do so much to tend to every little detail, build up a perfect rating from really happy guests, then have the rug pulled out from under me.
I’ve always wanted to be barred from something, maybe kicked out of a bar for participating in a drunken dust up, or driven to the edge of a small western town by the sheriff and told to never show my face in those parts again… or else. This could be because of all the great forced and unforced exiles throughout history. I think of Victor Hugo and Napoleon on their islands, or Nabokov in his hotel and there is always this opulence to their defiance — a protest and a point being made against a government, an ideology, but all couched in this luxurious righteousness. In my mind, this exile is the result of long perceived injustices. There is always one last straw, one line that can’t be crossed that gets crossed. However, never once in my life did I think that I would be banned from an app. It’s almost as cool as getting a cut above your eye not by jumping between rooftops chasing down a criminals or defending a beautiful woman from a catcall, but from something innocuous like touch football.
My wife and I were not banned from just any old app. We were banned from a very popular app that is looked at as a darling of the sharing economy. One that since it was founded has changed the way we travel and experience a city or place. An app we were considering to be the foundation of our upcoming trip around the world. Of course I’m talking about Airbnb. We had recently sold our house and 70–80% of our possessions and said farewell to Minneapolis and its beautiful winters, where we had lived for 14 years. The idea was that we would travel slowly around the globe, staying for extended periods in different countries so we could learn about culture and food and customs and really become ingrained in neighborhoods previously inaccessible to casual travelers. And we would do this by using Airbnb. We already had a history of using the site. A great one in fact.
Before getting exiled, we had successfully logged 13 stays in 5 countries and received very favorable reviews from all the homeowners we encountered. One in Seattle was even amazed that we took the time to set her clocks to daylight savings time. We are those people. The words used by these homeowners to describe us as guests ranged from “amazing” and “polite” to “extremely polite and educated, really quiet, and great to talk to.” In Louisville after a conversation with the owner, he described our interaction as “one of the best conversations… that I have ever had in the Pearl.”
We are polite and quiet. We are what they say. We like to leave things in a better place than we found them. We are conscientious to a fault. We even stack plates when we dine at a restaurant to make it easier for the staff to clear. It’s almost a sickness. It may seem like I’m living that song from Flight of the Conchords about the prettiest girl on the street, depending on the street.
While the review system on Airbnb is flawed like any review system online, we began to believe that we wouldn’t have a negative interaction with a homeowner — we were homeowners ourselves, after all. So it came as a surprise when received notice that the owner of the property we just visited was charging us $1,000 in damages for forcibly entering the house, and by doing so destroying his lock and door. What really happened is that we couldn’t get into the house using the key provided as somebody had thrown deadbolt from the inside and our key only worked on the bottom lock.
I sent a few texts to the people in the house and shouted through some open windows and rang the doorbell before we were let in by one of the housemates. He assessed the situation and determined what we already knew — the key doesn’t work for the deadbolt. It was decided we would not use the door again. We retired to our room and in the morning checked out as planned and left through the front door. We became homeowners for the first time when we were 22 and 24 respectively, and have bought, remodeled and sold two more homes since then. We know how personal a home is, and we know how to care for one. That’s why we are so careful when we are invited as guests into another person’s home. It’s as close to a sacred space as we can imagine.
The homeowner in his opening statement said that he was willing to negotiate and would settle for a couple hundred bucks, which is way more than a broken deadbolt is worth. He was clearly just looking for money, and knew how to work Airbnb. Sadly we were not so experienced, but were about to get a crash course on how they arbitrate between two parties. I’ll save you some time: they hold up their hands, shrug, and say “you guys work it out.”
The owner submitted more of his investigations into the situation. He claimed to have reviewed messages between me and other housemates and interviewed the other guest staying there who said we were “paranoid” and disobeyed the house rules. He also claimed to review the “home security surveillance system”, but this failed to reveal anything. Nobody else was able to see these tapes, and given the state of the house, it’s doubtful they even existed. If they did, they would have revealed no more than me retreating a foot into the air when almost stepping on half a mouse near the garage. I’m sure it would make a lovely GIF.
Airbnb customer service was reviewing our case and had told us that if we didn’t reach some sort of consensus with the owner, we were risking having our account put on hold. Since we were on our way to our next stop on our road trip, this was alarming and we asked for more details. Once Airbnb found out that we were not going to negotiate and pay any of the fees, I received a notification that our booking for the very next night was cancelled and our money had been refunded. I couldn’t log into my account. We were formally exiled from Airbnb. We moved through the next few days in a ragged haze while making other plans for our immediate roadtrip needs while thinking about the next 10 months of our trip.
Does this mean we are relegated to using hotels again? That likely means no kitchen and eating every meal out. This means no laundry. This means we will have to stay in urban centers within easy reach of restaurants. This means our budget is shot. This means a big hole in the budget. Could we travel for so long when paying exponentially more per night for food and lodging?
Fast forward 8 months. We are Japan for a month before heading to Beijing and London. We’ve visited 13 countries since being exiled from Airbnb. We’ve stayed on olive farms in the hills of Croatia and apartments in the middle of urban centers found on sites with policies that actually consider the renter as an important part of their business foundation. We don’t consider ourselves exiles anymore, because let’s be honest, we would never go back to Airbnb.
Writing this won’t change the homeowner centric policy of Airbnb, and it won’t change their lousy customer service. The temptation is still there. We still get their emails despite trying to opt out numerous times. I’ve deleted the app from my phone, but am reminded of our exile every time there is an article about their greatness, or a friend posts pictures of their amazing kitchen in Oaxaca. It’s enough to make us consider trying to get back in, but only briefly. Because let’s be honest. The interface is great. Their stock is enormous. It would be easy. But their “guilty until proven innocent” stance on a platform that doesn’t allow you to properly defend yourself against unfounded and slanderous charges keeps us from trying too hard.
Airbnb ruined my life in 2015. I had two reservations as a guest, and since 2011 I have had nothing but positive reviews. I began to get stalked by some actors and a producer, as well as online trolls. That wasn’t my fault. After showing up at a host’s apartment, I noticed he gave me the wrong address; none of the neighbours knew him, there was something set up in the area to insult me, and the host didn’t answer the phone. I had to cancel but found two great hosts thereafter. Then my Airbnb account kept getting disabled; I couldn’t reserve any property.
I contacted Airbnb about this and asked politely if this was one of the individuals who had harassed me. Instead of clarifying this, Airbnb just closed my account leaving me stuck looking for accommodation during peak season with all affordable hotels and hostels fully booked. I had to buy a last minute flight and leave the country as I couldn’t find anywhere else to stay.
Recently I have been desperate to find a place to stay, and called Airbnb to see if they could reopen my account. They told me they deleted it permanently so I would lose all my hosts’ positive reviews. Since setting up another account, either the hosts and trolls or Airbnb began to post some extremely disturbing pictures for their properties which have been passed on to the police, USA Housing complaints commission, BBB and various other consumer rights advocacies. In one they had an illustration of a crucified woman naked that looked like me, in another had a room with wall paper that was tin foil with nothing else in the room but a hospital stand and a black condom hanging, and in another they were posting even images of women that resembled me. Another showed a tent in a public park charging $54 per night.
I have been cyberstalked since and left homeless. The police don’t want to help and these harassers have made it almost impossible for me to find a place to stay. There are social network trolls and then there are creeps posting photographs on rental sites the service should just get rid of. I had my account closed down for asking if an actor I detest had any contact with their agency, nothing else. They let creeps host with the most ridiculous rental offers but they often treat guests like crap.
I had always been a fan of Airbnb. I believed in the concept and always had positive experiences as a guest. So… why not rent out my own property? I spent lots of time creating the perfect profile, including professional photography. Then my account was “temporarily disabled” before even getting my first booking. I emailed customer service three times, made six very, very frustrating phone calls, and had one twitter exchange. There was no feedback from anyone – absolutely nothing – even though I was able to get two people to tell me they would call or email me back… but they didn’t. The only thing anyone could tell me is that my issue had been forwarded to the Trust and Safety Department. Of course, it hasn’t been assigned a case officer even after three weeks. They just tell you to wait. It’s been three weeks! I’m done with Airbnb as a host and as a guest. I’ve already listed my property on Home Away and will only use such sites in the future as a guest. Goodbye and good riddance Airbnb!
Before I give my story regarding Airbnb, I want to state here that I am looking for other hosts that have similar stories, in hope of starting a class action lawsuit against Airbnb. Attorneys will only take a case against Airbnb if there is the potential of a large payout, and this can be accomplished only with a class action lawsuit.
I own a house in Havana and have had an Airbnb account for a bit over a year. I started hosting last year in December. From December 2016 to April 2017, I earned about 15,000€ and was really happy. I was booked out the entire time and got consistently good reviews; guests were happy to stay with me. I even got referrals from friends and family from guests who stayed.
Then, all of a sudden, on May 4th, 2017, I got a frantic message from a guest who was travelling in South America stating that I had cancelled his reservation. I had no idea what he was talking about, as I had not cancelled his reservation. In Cuba, aside from email, there is not much of any internet, so I went to an internet hotspot to check my Airbnb account. Upon attempting to log in, I was greeted with a message that my account had been temporarily disabled and to please write firstname.lastname@example.org. The only response I received was that they received my email and would respond to me shortly.
The following week I travelled to Germany and decided to call Airbnb customer service. Although very friendly, they weren’t able to handle my concern because some “other” department was handling it. Upon asking what other department, I was told that they could not tell me that. I then called a few more times the following two weeks, and always received the same response. In the month that followed, I called every single day during my breakfast to check on the case and was always told that another department would respond.
After about two months of no responses, I wrote a certified letter to the CEO of Airbnb in San Francisco. Needless to say, I also did not receive a response. Almost three months later, I received the following email:
We apologize for the unusual amount of time it took for us to reply to your inquiry and wish to offer you support in the event that you are still having any troubles. At this time, your issue should be resolved – please take a moment to log into your account and ensure everything is correct. Once you login, you may be prompted to complete additional verifications on your account. If you still need assistance, please visit us at https://www.airbnb.com/help/contact_us.
Best regards, Airbnb
No explanation of any kind, Airbnb owes me several hundred Euros in payouts that they haven’t paid due to the account having been disabled. I immediately wrote Airbnb customer service to demand the funds. Within 24 hours, Airbnb responded that the matter had been transferred to another department. I called, only to be told that the same department that took almost three months to respond to the disabled account issue now will decide over the fate of my money. Sorry, but that’s not the way to treat people, that’s not the way to do business, and that’s not the way to treat the people that earn money for you.
I have lost tons of money because of this. There have been no guest for three months. All the while I have to pay for taxes, cleaning personnel, and security. There have to be dozens or even hundreds of other hosts out there that have similar stories. And while it is nice and fine to vent here on Airbnb Hell I think that Airbnb needs to reap the consequences of their (maybe even illegal) actions.
I made a reservation for a place to stay while traveling and using Airbnb. I had one trip in Barcelona from June 10th to 12th and Palma from June 17th to 20th. I arrived in Barcelona on June 8th, slept at another hostel, and had an Airbnb booking on the 9th for which I also had made a reservation beforehand. That night I could not log into my Airbnb account; it said my account was disabled. I thought it was a simple mistake and sent two emails to email@example.com, one around 8:00 PM and another around 12:00 PM. Because they were not responding to my 8:00 PM email and my check in for the Airbnb place was supposed to be the next day, I was in a hurry.
I made two phone calls to the US Airbnb customer service line (to communicate with them in English). They told me that it would be dealt with as soon as possible. The next day I still did not get a response. I called the UK line (which was cheaper than calling the US) at 7:53 AM and 7:58 AM. They said this problem is dealt with by a separate department and the only way to contact them is via email. I just had to wait but they alluded that since it is still very early, the problem would be dealt with soon.
An Airbnb customer service representative sent me an email at 8:23 AM saying that he was forwarding my case to a Trust and Safety case manager and that it would be dealt with as soon as possible; I should feel free to respond. However, I still received no response. I called them 10:45 AM, 1:08 PM, 1:11, 2:15, 3:06, 4:09, and 5:37. I sent six emails. All the calls and emails were sent in vain. The people I talked to did not have the authority or knowledge to handle the problem. The people who did never contacted me. I made more calls the day afterwards, all in vain.
UK’s Airbnb customer service even told me to try making a new account and finding a new place to stay, which is absurd because they blocked my account in the first place. Later I realized that they sent me an email canceling my reservation in Palma and Barcelona on June 9th around noon. The guy I talked to at 5:37 PM told me very rudely: “Don’t waste your time, and find a hostel. I am just being honest here.”
All the guys to whom I talked beforehand told me that the situation would be dealt with as soon as possible. I wasn’t trying to find a hostel, just resolve this situation. Then I had no choice but to book a hostel. To this very day, I have not gotten a single response of any kind from the department that was supposed to be dealing with my problem. I have done nothing wrong to breach any kind of contract between Airbnb as a customer. This experience has inflicted great psychological damage and cost me extra money spent on booking a new hostel and making international calls. The money spent on booking a place on Airbnb has been refunded but the other money has not reached my account yet.
I’ve requested to have my Airbnb account temporarily reinstated after having three emails and several Tweets ignored. I have been trying to sort out possible bookings for next June from my account, only to find out that it has been temporarily disabled due to security reasons. There was a message requesting me to email Airbnb at firstname.lastname@example.org, which I have done. In the first instance, I have never received any correspondence from them regarding this matter, and have had to find out secondhand that I cannot access my account. There was a very tentative message saying that the account had been suspended due to security reasons with no explanation.
How can I get the account reinstated if they don’t answer my emails? I am trying to arrange for a place to stay in Budapest next June, and would like to get in touch with prospective hosts before I try to make a booking. Some help and an explanation from Airbnb as soon as possible would be appreciated. I have previously used Airbnb without any problems, so I don’t have a clue why this is happening.
What a joke! We have been using Airbnb for about a year. I have to admit that we have been relatively happy about this. We had two annoying events: in July our account got disabled and it took us about two weeks to restore it. We don’t really know how they did it, but they did. This time our account was disabled three weeks ago. We have sent numerous emails, spent hours in the phone, and still cannot get it restored. We receive the stupidest emails: we are working on your account, please contact us… without a phone number, an email address or a case number. People on the phone are useless and have no interest in helping at all. It is so frustrating and very costly; it feels like there is nothing we can do to take care of this. What can I do to solve this? I am going crazy.