Airbnb Tries to Rip us Off with Last-Minute Cancellation

I work at a mid-sized property with many rooms up on Airbnb. Last Friday we had a customer that had a $550 booking for the weekend and they didn’t come. It was University of Virginia graduation weekend and if we had known the guests were not coming we could have rented the cottage in a second. The guest did not let us know they weren’t coming until after the office closed for the night.

On Airbnb we had selected the strict policy for cancellations. The guest had agreed to those terms when they booked so we expected to get paid. The funds for the stay were deposited in our account on Monday so even though we had wasted quite a bit of money on food, flowers and perishable gifts for the guest room we were fine because at least we got paid. Then at 8:00 PM on Monday night we got the following email:

We’re just getting back to you with an update regarding your guest. She gave us documentation to show they did indeed have a valid extenuating circumstance. So, we’ve cleared your calendar for these dates, and refunded your guest in full. This means you won’t get a payout for this reservation. You can review our Extenuating Circumstances Policy and we really do apologize for the inconvenience caused, thanks for understanding. Let me know if you have other questions. 

Do you see the last sentence? “Let me know if you have other questions”. Within a few minutes of receiving this email we responded with questions. Since then we have followed up a dozen times by email and phone (thanks to Airbnb Hell, as even as a Superhost you can’t find a phone number) and never gotten a response from Airbnb. The money was deposited in our account and the Airbnb website shows they are trying to take their money back through EFT.

I have responded that each day we will deactivate one unit and move it to Expedia until we hear from Airbnb customer service. So far they have lost three of 21 listings. I have also told them if they do withdraw any money from our account I will delist every unit permanently. The world is full of bad customer service but with the phone, electric or internet providers at least I can speak to someone and get an answer. With Airbnb there is no customer service at all. Honestly the worst company in the world.

Airbnb’s Attempts at Customer Service are Laughable

Months ago Airbnb removed security deposits from our listings claiming that we didn’t need them because they had insurance that protected their hosts. Three different claims have resulted in absolutely nothing beyond wasting about 20 hours of my time. They are always waiting for another department to get it done and claim because they are a global company, things take a lot of time.

Hosts no longer have any control over anything. If you are pet friendly, you are inviting Noah’s Ark as they have no provision to limit breeds, age, quantity or anything. People actually think it’s okay to bring their nine cats and six puppies. If the tenant stays beyond their reservation and you ned the sheriff to remove them, good luck getting the extra days’ payment. It’s either their resolution, mediation or some other department that’s handling it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only answer is to add another 10% to my nightly rates on their site and make sure there’s a better deal for them on VRBO. VRBO isn’t perfect either but at least you’ve got a chance. Now that Airbnb is a public company we should all should all show up at shareholder meetings or call ins just to tell them how bad they really are.

Calendar Blocked, No Idea When Airbnb Will Contact Me

After a decade with Airbnb, they suddenly blocked the calendars on all my listings with no explanation. I found out when I was checking my Airbnb calendar (because I have been very busy) and realized that all the dates were blocked.

I have called several times a day for six days now and gotten no explanation as to why this has happened or when it will be resolved. Every time I call I get customer service who says “I am so sorry, we understand but I can’t help you. I will escalate this.”

No matter how hard I push I can’t get through the firewall in place which adheres strictly to the Airbnb “policy”. There is a team (but no one can tell me what team) that supposedly is looking into this issue (which will not be identified). So just like that, Airbnb is preventing me from getting any bookings.

I have contacted Fair Shake because it is wrong for a big company to treat me like this. I also emailed Brian Chesky, but who knows when he will respond. I spent the day posting this on various websites so others are aware of how terrible customer service is with Airbnb. There is literally no one who can answer legitimate questions.

I am looking for alternatives. I started with VRBO. Where else can I post my listings?

Airbnb Hell in Japan After Cancellation

I had the worst experience in my life with Airbnb in Japan. I’m a permanent resident in Japan and had to book a place for a short stay while I’m waiting to go back home. The host who handled my stay treated the situation as if it was nothing. The place was dirty with cockroaches everywhere, plus bedbugs.

I tried to contact him by phone several times and he didn’t answer the calls at all. I don’t know what his issue was with residents: he didn’t answer the calls, he just didn’t want to chat. I decided to report directly to Airbnb support, which tried to get a refund to minimize the damage from the situation.

On Oct. 3, after Airbnb tried to reach the host for a whole day, the host cancelled my stay at 10:00 PM and asked me to leave the place by 10:00 AM the next day just like that, without any previous notice. I had to spent money on transportation, hotels, and handle the moving out by myself with more than 300 kg of suitcases and stuff.

I confess that Airbnb did a good job but I don’t see any protection for the guests in these cases. How come hosts can do this with such short notice? Especially in Japan, where everything is so proper and you have to give notice for everything. I’m very disappointed with the service, the place, the host, and specially his attitude.

I don’t recommend foreigners stay at Airbnb properties in Japan. You won’t have any rights. It’s much better pay for a hotel where you won’t have troubles like this. I will go determine my rights with my lawyer, because this is not the right attitude. I felt offended and disrespected.

Airbnb Rip Off in Austin Forces Guests Out

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I’m a PM for a Internet technology company and I’m responsible for choosing Airbnb rentals for staff, usually 2-4 staff members. In September, I chose a host in Austin for one month. The rental had good reviews and looked good in the photos, so our admin assistant booked the unit for one month, starting the second week in September to the second week in October.

The staff arrived in the afternoon on a Saturday and were immediately underwhelmed, The cleanliness of the location was poor; there was debris in the front entry, dirty and dusty tile floors from the gap under the door allowing debris to blow in, sticky counter tops, a refrigerator with plenty of odds and ends from previous tenants with sticky unknown substance in nooks and cracks, and pubic hair in the toilet rim. In addition, the light bulbs and face plates in the house were not maintained and looked like the owner did not care to present a home they cared about, just a take or leave it house. However, they took 100% of our payment, $3,369.

Since our staff had to go through me and the company admin, the issue could not be addressed until Monday morning. Well, the host had an excuse for every issue, refused to let us out of our term, but was willing to send cleaners back over. After two days in the unit (not a home), our staff said “no way” to staying in this unit and we care and trust our staff. The host only offered a $220 refund and Airbnb is completely complicit in this behavior (they bear no responsibility or customer support for such situations). Since July my firm has spent approx. $41,000 with Airbnb. I will be recommending Extended Stay hotels to my executives for future projects.

Broke and Unhappy After Customer Service Experience

I’m highly disappointed in my recent experience with Airbnb’s customer service. My friends and I booked what turned out to be a scam listing. We were already about 8 hours into our 11-hour drive to the beach when we received a notification from Airbnb that our booking had been canceled and we wouldn’t be penalized for the late cancelation.

We expressed that we were already over halfway there and were left with no place to stay. We were told that Airbnb would book us a new place to stay and get back to us within an hour. We never heard back from them. We ended up booking the only other pet-friendly beach house in the area that turned out to be four times the price of where we initially thought we were staying.

We reached out to Airbnb many times and were told that we had to wait until our assigned case manager contacted us and that no one else could help us. My friends and I now owe a difference of $700 per person for the new booking and Airbnb has refused to cover any of this difference. Now I’m broke and upset and my whole vacation was ruined because of this.

Higher Rates on Airbnb Than Other Sites

Airbnb isn’t the first company in this industry to believe they can treat owners with arrogance. Most readers know who I’m referring to and that company has had an amazing attitude adjustment after seeing both owners and guests flee from their site.

Booking agents are totally irrelevant without owners, who take most of the risks in this industry. But since most owners are small operators and booking agents tend to be huge companies run by overpaid CEOs, they start believing they can enforce outrageous policies and treat customer service as a cost they want to get rid of.

Ever try to call Airbnb? Good luck. Question one of their policies? You get a ChatBot responding to you.

We own many properties and knowing full well how badly they need us, our response to their arrogance is simple: you can rent any of our properties anywhere else, for less. We list on several sites, and Airbnb is useful to us — some guests only look there and they book from the site. Others shop around and we get a hit for the same property on several sites. I’ve yet to see one choose to pay more just for the privilege of booking on their site.

I doubt anyone at Airbnb cares at the moment. After all, they are so much bigger than us. But I’ve seen this before, from their once-arrogant competition. Sales will falter, the C-Club will demand answers (only when they don’t get that fat bonus, forget the obligations to the actual owners of the stock) and people will be sent out to kiss ass and “try to understand how they can be a better partner.” Then we will set terms for them to get equal billing, just as will did with those other guys.

Ultimately, they will listen… money is common language. So from one CEO to another: a storm is coming your way. Enjoy the sunshine while you can.

Promised a Full Refund, Only Received Half

Anticipating the craziness of a parents’ weekend lodging nightmare, I made a reservation right away on September 19 after we got home while my hubby was still dragging bags from the van. The reservation was for October 1-4. At matriculation day on August 15, I received an email from my son’s school that the weekend was cancelled due to COVID-19.

I went online on the 16th to cancel my reservation. The instructions stated I should call my host to ask for a full refund. If she agrees, I would get my full refund. She did. I got an email back that I would be refunded the full amount of $200.98 but in reality, I only got half: $100.74.

I called the host back. She said that she gave me a full refund of $170 and sent me the receipt with a note stating it was a “penalty free” refund. I told her I did not get the $170. Instead I have $100.74 and I do not need the $170, just $100.74. She said that I should take it to Airbnb now since it is between me and Airbnb. Her partner explained to me that when I booked, the money went to Airbnb; they get paid after the guests stay. I compared her refund receipt number and the Airbnb refund receipt number; they were the same.

What happened to the $170? Where is my money? Their cancellation policy on COVID-19 is quite confusing because it states that they will give a full refund if the cancellation is due to COVID-19 and the hosts agree, which I qualify on both. But, it has also a window of dates that they consider “emergency dates” which my reservation and cancellation did not fit since I booked before COVID-19 and cancelled past their end of emergency date. Thus only a 50% refund.

Why would I be penalized for something that is out of my control? I made the reservation in good faith, paid in full for an accommodation I wouldn’t be using until a year later, and I did not cancel for whatever silly reason. I cancelled because due to COVID-19 our son will be “secured” in the barracks until his December holiday pick-up.

I called the number for help but of course there is no option about my situation because they do not entertain refunds (only current reservations). Instead, they encouraged me to read the link they sent me which is more or less the explanation again of their outrageous and unfair cancellation policy.

My son has two years left to complete his degree; I guess we will have to stay at Howard Johnson then. At least it gives me a clear option to book securely for an extra $10 and get a full refund in case of cancellation. I will continue to fight this to the end and will inform my son’s school’s alumni office which helps parents with accommodation information. We certainly do not need this degree of aggravation due to unfair policies. Thank you for providing this space where we can express our angst of injustice.

Finished Dealing with Amateurs at Airbnb

Although I have never had a horror story with Airbnb as some people have, in the six or so years that I have been using it, this is what I have found:

90% of the time, there is some significant issue. Either it is in trying to find the place, or in trying to gain entry. Or the place is dilapidated or has many maintenance issues. I have found the reviews to be unreliable as well. In contrast, when I book a hotel, there are only significant issues around 10% of the time, plus the reviews are much more reliable.

In using Airbnb, I am relying on amateurs. The problem is that when a person travels, they are more vulnerable and insecure because they likely have no network of friends in the area. Traveling is generally stressful enough without unpleasant surprises. I find that in using Airbnb, I really save little money and its just not worth the hassle. In the future, I will be using hotels and other alternatives.

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Complaint Concerning Airbnb Gift Card Balance Usage

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I made a reservation for a family trip with a total cost of around $1,500. I benefitted from purchasing gift cards in advance so used my balance for the initial payment. Recently, I added a night to my reservation which created an immediate charge of $267. I was surprised that my PayPal account was charged even though I had enough gift card balance to pay for the modification.

I called Airbnb customer support. The agent couldn’t explain why the gift card balance was not used for this transaction. He went on hold for about ten minutes and came back referring to the gift card facts page. He texted me the link. Buried in the page is the policy that gift card balances will only be used for the initial payments and not for modifications nor the final payment.

Please note that there is no reference on the Airbnb gift card packaging that states that gift cards will be used only under certain circumstances. It says that it will be used “when you book your next trip.” Is that a clear statement of Airbnb’s gift card policies?

I asked the Airbnb agent her honest opinion as to why this gift card policy exists as it makes no logical sense to me. She said she could think of no reason why my gift card balance isn’t used.

I am now stuck with a $900 gift card balance and will be required to use my PayPal to pay for $900 with the recent modification and the upcoming second payment. I guess VRBO will be my preferred option in the future.