Airbnb Ruined our Vacation, Forced us to Sleep in Truck

My wife and I recently were on vacation having been caring for a very sick uncle in Sun City when other family members gave us some much needed time off. We were very excited. We had recently started using Airbnb and were really happy with the money we had saved. We had made a reservation in Temecula. Having earned travel credits and a coupon for $25, we thought it was gonna be great… that is until the app glitched while making the booking because of our travel credits and cancelled our reservation. Then the nightmare began.

We started calling Airbnb to fix the glitch. Every call took anywhere from thirty minutes to one hour. At the end of each call we were assured the app was working and to go ahead and boo. However, each time we tried to book, it would kick us off. Unable to book anything and aware it was getting late, I started to become concerned we were not going to get a room, Each time I called I had to explain the whole situation all over again. It was getting late when one representative made the executive decision to delete my travel credits and put it all on a coupon. Problem solved, right? Well, no.

Now going to book our room the app said I needed to verify my payment method. I was using a prepaid card from Walmart with plenty of money I just loaded. When I called again they said because Airbnb had tried to run my card so many times it locked my account up for 24 hours.

I escalated my case to the Trust and Safety Department. However, we weren’t able to talk to anyone from there until the morning as it was almost midnight. Now we were in a unfamiliar area, my wife and I were both exhausted, we could not book at a hotel as Airbnb had pending charges on my card, and we had to sleep in our truck. The next morning I started calling again with the one-hour long phone calls and heard the same words: “It’s fixed; go ahead and book.”

Of course, it still wasn’t fixed. We ended up going back home where I continued to monitor the situation. I told them how awful it was and pretty scary having to sleep in our truck in a bad area. My wife was scared. Airbnb’s Trust and Safety team finally got back to me and gave me a $25 coupon for my troubles almost a week later and with no vacation. Thanks Airbnb…

Airbnb Wants to Know Everything About You

I have already purchased tickets for flights but have had so much trouble trying just to pay for my two-week accommodation. I’m new to Airbnb, and have felt nearly buried under the formulaic questions and instructions. I am not that computer savvy but wish to make all my payments on my desktop account. When it comes to numerous instructions for identity verification and security, Airbnb keeps referring me to download their app onto my Android phone. I have told them numerous times I don’t trust to have personal details on my phone – only on my desktop, which has better security. Instead I just keep going around in circles with them. I have also told them how intrusive and extensive their requests for personal information are. Airbnb doesn’t even supply a telephone contact number so as to speak with a human being. Now I’m concerned if I cancel my accommodation reservation I’ll lose money. All I wanted was to book and pay with PayPal, which doesn’t seem like an option anymore. They keep sending me emails, but when I go into those it’s the same old story: connect with Google on your mobile device. As I have had serious health issues I haven’t been able to have a vacation for years. Trying to do a business transaction with this company has caused me frustration. My last request to them was for someone to phone me, and not text. I’m still waiting.

Left High and Dry by Airbnb App: No Contact Details

The Airbnb system is meant to provide the host’s contact details once a booking has been paid for and confirmed, but what happens if the system itself malfunctions and the contact information is withheld? On a recent trip, when on my way to my next host, I discovered that the Airbnb app was not displaying any contact details for the host. The contact details had been previously displayed in the app so something had clearly happened which had resulted in the information being deleted. I realised that I could use the message function in the app to contact the host, but I travel with an iPod Touch rather than a smart phone. This meant I needed wifi access to use the message function. I was out of range of any wifi network.

Fortunately this was a place which I had stayed at more than a year earlier so I had a general idea of its location. However, I didn’t have a phone number or an address. I tried several times to locate the place, drawing on my memory of my previous stay, but without success. This was in a foreign country in a town where few people speak English. I tried calling into a convenience store to see whether they would let me connect to their wifi. By this time it was evening and the only person on duty could not understand what I was asking. I continued to try to find the home where I was expected. After an hour of wandering around, I decided to try a different shop. This time the person on duty could speak English and offered to tether my iPod Touch to her phone.

I was immediately able to send a message through the Airbnb message system and within a few minutes the host picked me up. They had been expecting me to arrive an hour earlier and had been worrying about what had become of me. After I was settled in we tried to work out what had gone wrong with the contact information. We discovered that the booking was still showing on the Airbnb app as “requested” even though it was in fact confirmed and paid for. Because its status was showing as “requested”, the contact information was not being displayed.

This episode wasn’t the end of my problems on this particular trip. Overnight, Airbnb released an update to the app and I installed the update. What I didn’t realise was that updating the app deleted the contact details for all hosts for this trip. This would be like an update to an email app deleting all one’s emails. Unfortunately, I did not notice what had happened. So that evening I was again put through the excruciating process of trying to make contact with the host in the absence of any contact details. Again, I had to prevail on the goodwill of the helpful manager of another shop, who this time did speak English, and logged me into his personal wifi account.

Both of these situations seem to have been caused by the flakiness of Airbnb’s app, or perhaps by an error in the Airbnb database. We all know that software errors are not uncommon. However, the real issue here is that Airbnb’s business model leaves guests completely abandoned when bugs in their software result in the loss of contact information. Airbnb tries to represent itself as an ethical service company that cares for the wellbeing of its guests but the truth is that the only problems that Airbnb can recognise are those caused by hosts. There is absolutely no recognition in the Help Centre of the possibility of problems being caused by Airbnb itself, nor what to do about such problems when they occur. Just try to imagine how stressful it would be, travelling in a foreign country where few people speak your language and the information needed to reach where one is booked for the night simply vanishes.

Terrible Communication with Airbnb: No Error Message

As a first time Airbnb user, I booked a place for one night. My visa card was debited immediately. After that, I needed to contact my host regarding details for an airport pick-up. Over a 3-4 day period, I found that the Airbnb messaging system is worse than useless. I received both emails and texts from my host, but I couldn’t reply to either. The texts came in truncated; only a few words appeared. However, my replies appeared to have been sent (no error messages after sending). I also replied to emails, which appeared to have been sent (again, no error messages). After a few days with no response from my host, I realized she was not getting anything from me. I also finally received an email error message saying the Airbnb address did not exist. I then spent about an hour on the Airbnb website trying to contact them for a fix, but got into an endless loop on their help pages. As far as I can tell, they have absolutely no customer support. Finally, going back to their website and messaging from there was the only thing that worked. If the emails and texts simply did not work, they would be useless. However, this system is worse than useless because it gives the appearance that it is working. The Airbnb email invites you to reply and returns no error message when you do, so it looks like it sends successfully. In the case of texting, who does not reply to a text? It’s quick and easy. Again, there is no error message saying the text was not sent. As far as I can tell, the only way you can contact your host is by going through the Airbnb website and sending a message from there. I am astounded at the stupidity of the people who designed software that wasted my time and caused a lot of confusion between me and my host. They need to put a disclaimer such as “you cannot reply to this email” or “do not reply to this text” and send the user an error message if they do try to reply.