Greedy Airbnb Host at Apartment in Hobart, Australia

February was proving to be a tough month in Perth. Effective from 6:00 PM Jan. 31 until 6:00 PM Feb. 5, the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and South West regions entered a lockdown. At the same time, out of control bush fires were raging in the Perth hills and 86 homes were lost.

I had booked a much needed holiday in Hobart for Feb. 4 and was going to catch the bus up to see my dear friend in Burnie, Tasmania, on the 11th. I had to cancel all my reservations for Airbnb accommodations and sightseeing tours, and every vendor returned my money with a full refund.

With only one community transmitted case of COVID initially reported, the lockdown was immediate. We have had an almost honeymoon period, without any community transmitted cases of COVID-19 in Western Australia for ten months due to fast and strict measures by our state government.

As a mental health professional, I had been feeling I was approaching burn out and was finding the large influx of domestic violence cases had recently deeply affected me. I was waiting for a break. It looked like with no new cases had been reported we would be returning to low risk status, or so I thought.

Knowing the importance of self care, I booked five days at an Airbnb in Hobart and was going to travel to see my friend in Burnie after that stay. When I checked the cancellation policy, which was not upfront when I booked, the link took me to a long legal written description of exemptions for COVID-19. As every other vendor had given a full refund I was lulled into a false sense of trust.

I wrote the host when I booked, briefly explaining my situation and saying I wasn’t sure if restrictions would be lifted in time to travel on the 11th. I would never have booked if I knew it was a no refund property. An honest person would have messaged back that this was a no refund property and let me change the booking. I cancelled the booking one day later, after it became clear that Wester Australia’s status as a high-risk state had not changed.

That’s when I found out the host would only return the cleaning fee of $25 and was keeping the $466. I feel so enraged by this, not just the loss of the money but the lack of compassion and greed behind it. How can the host justify keeping my money under these circumstances? What else could it be but greed?

I contacted Airbnb and their representative was very gracious but the decision is the host’s to make and he would not refund my money. I am a kind and compassionate person and enraged that people like the host get away with taking advantage of others. A belief in justice is naïve and I choose to be an open-hearted person. Writing this post was a helpful outlet to let go of feeling like a victim to the host’s greed.

Absolute Nightmare Long-Term Guest

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I have been hosting two houses on Airbnb for over three years and until now I had never had any issues. I fear that this one is far from over.

A few months ago I got a request for a long term stay from a lady who claimed to be friends with my gardener, Harris (name changed). The money was good, and it meant that I didn’t have to worry about dealing with new arrivals for a while. I accepted the booking.

This ended up being one of the biggest mistakes of my life, which soon became evident when I received a call at 5:00 AM on the day of check-in. She was claiming that she was unable to access the property because the keys didn’t work. I drove over 15 minutes later to find her removing a fly-screen and attempting to climb through the window (note this lady is about 75 years old). I tested the keys; they were working fine and she was able to enter the property. I explained where the second and third sets of backup keys were hidden just incase she had any more issues, then spent the rest of the morning fixing the fly screen.

I didn’t hear from her for another two weeks, but then I got a call from her claiming that she had lost her keys and couldn’t access the property. I asked her about the two backup keys; she told me that they had been lost. I drove over to the property again with my set up keys to let her in. By the time I got there, she had found her keyring and I was shocked to find that she had connected the one main set and two backup sets of keys to the same keychain. I tried to explain to her that this defeated the purpose of having backup keys, but she just kept trying to assure me that she wouldn’t lose them again.

Now the story gets really interesting. I got a call from the police on a Friday afternoon looking for my guest. I find out that she has a history of mental illness and had been off her meds. Now her family who are 1000 km away have been trying to get her committed to a mental hospital (due to COVID they can’t leave the state). They had found out where she was when her accountant notified them that she was attempting to purchase a $1.4 million property.

The police came over and we headed to the Airbnb where she was nowhere to be seen. The police gave me their details and I told them that I would let them know if I heard anything. I sent her a message, let her know what happened, and advised her to contact the police and her family as they are worried about her. Eventually I got a message back and found out that she was shacked up in a caravan with my gardener Harris and they been avoiding the police for the past few days.

Eventually she got in contact with her family and they convinced her to check herself into the mental hospital where she stayed for the next six weeks. In the meantime, I got a call from her accountant and he asked me to retrieve some papers from the Airbnb. I went in there and found the most disgusting mess I have ever seen: cigarettes, incense, hundreds of sea shells, and rotting fruit. I even found that she had set fire to the fake LED candles.

The strangest thing was all of these pieces of paper everywhere with bizarre diagrams and notes (I have attached one of them). She had also started hoarding objects that she found on the side of the road. I got the papers and mailed them to her accountant, who also offered to extend the booking on the Airbnb and pay for the cleaning costs while she was in hospital. I could go on for a while about all the strange things that happened while she was in hospital but it would take too long. I will skip to when she got out, which was about four months ago.

She was released from the hospital, put on medication, and everything was fine for the first two months. The house was kept tidy; she wasn’t hoarding and appeared to be mentally stable. Then I noticed that my gardener Harris had moved in the house. Pretty soon her behavior started to go downhill again. The house started to get messy again, so much so that my cleaner refused to clean the house on a weekly basis, due to the smell of the incense and cigarettes, and that she was randomly hanging up her underpants all over the house.

I went over to talk to her and Harris about their behavior. The house was a mess and there was a whiteboard with the title “Night at the Opera” with what I believe to be sex acts listed below (I have attached a photo). Although I was concerned, they seemed receptive to keeping the place tidy and I attempted to find a cleaner that would deal with them.

The next week I found a cleaning company that was willing to clean the house and I tried to organize a time for them to clean with the guest. She claimed that she didn’t need a cleaner and was happy to do all the cleaning herself. I insisted that she let the cleaners come in but she said no and I left it at that. About four days later, she called me complaining that the cleaners hadn’t come. I reminded her about the previous conversation and then asked her when an appropriate time would be for them to come. After a back and forth, she said that she and Harris were on their honeymoon and did not wish to be disturbed. Again feeling very confused, I left it at that.

A few days later she changed her mind again and wanted a cleaner. I told her that I would get the cleaner but she had to clear up all of her clutter and get rid of the things she has picked up off the side of the road and is hoarding in the house and garage so that the cleaner can actually do their job. After I said this, she completely lost it and started yelling at me saying how dare I criticize her way of living.

After this I had enough and decided that she had to go. The next day, however, their neighbor (who is a full-time tenant of mine) called me up and wanted to have a talk about Harris’ strange behavior. She told me he had been cutting their trees and creeping around their lawn when he thought that they were not home. They said that he had also been parking his trailer in the other neighbor’s garage when he wasn’t at home (it’s a holiday house).

I sent Harris a text and asked him if he had been cutting the neighbors’ trees or going on to their property, and he denied everything. Now I had really had enough. I got in contact with Airbnb support, explained the situation, and asked if I could cancel her future booking that started on Feb. 28. After I listed a few of the things she had done they agreed to cancel the booking after I talked to her. I arranged to have a chat with her in a few days time.

When I got to the house, Harris was sitting on a couch that they found on the side of the road and put in the front yard. I said hello then knocked on the front door. The guest called out and she said that she was too sick to talk to me and asked me to go away. As I was angrily walking towards my car I notice Harris’ trailer parked in the neighbor’s garage. I asked him if the the neighbor was okay with him parking there. He told me that it was none of my concern, which kicked off a huge yelling match between the two us which eventually ended in me telling him that he had to leave.

The next day I logged into Airbnb to cancel the booking, but when I went to cancel it I got a message telling me that I would lose my Superhost status, no one will be able to rebook the dates that they were meant to stay there (it was a five-month booking), and other penalties. So I contacted Airbnb and asked them to wave the penalties, citing the previous support case that I opened. I got a different case manager who asked me to provide evidence, so I provided some texts and some photos. He sat on this for a couple of days and asked me to go over and takes some more photos.

By this time I was very frustrated, especially after I was previously told that it would be okay to cancel the booking. I told him that I was not willing to creep around the house taking photos while there were guests inside, as it is a really bad look for a landlord to be doing this. So I say to hell with the penalties and cancel the booking. I decided to get the penalties removed retroactively.

I then informed the guest she would need to be out of the property by Feb. 28. The next day the guest sent me a text telling me that I do not have the right to make her move and she intended to take me to court. I responded telling her that it has already happened, then sat there hoping that this whole ordeal was finally over. Two days later it was Australia Day, and I noticed that Harris has installed a flag pole in the front yard… seriously, a f—ing flagpole.

I’m sure that this ordeal is nowhere near over but I found writing all this out quite therapeutic and I needed to vent.

Superhost Status is a Joke for Cancellations

I had booked an Airbnb in Sydney well in advance for my wife’s significant birthday in April. Exactly two months before check in, we made the difficult decision to postpone our trip from New Zealand due to the Australian bush fires (smoke which was polluting Sydney’s air) and the worsening worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

We advised our Superhost, believing that we were doing the decent thing by letting them know well in advance. Because we had passed the free cancellation period, the Superhost refused to refund any of our money (we’d paid for half the stay), saying she’d refund us if she secured a replacement booking for the same dates. Despite our pleas, she was immovable and wouldn’t listen to reason.

By the time Easter arrived, Australia and New Zealand were in lockdown so we wouldn’t have been able to travel anyway. We contacted Airbnb to get their help but initially there was confusion as both parties (Airbnb and the Superhost) said it was the other’s decision whether to refund me. Neither wanted to make a decision. As I had no luck with the Superhost, I turned my attention to Airbnb Support to try to have them refund me from Airbnb’s not insignificant funds.

They’ve so far refused to, citing in email after email their Extenuating Circumstances policy and that I was not covered by this (since I’d had the decency and foresight to cancel before the policy was introduced). I’ve also emailed senior management at Airbnb to ask them to help but no one has replied to my emails, preferring to pass my request onto the Airbnb Support team, who keep giving me the corporate line about not being able to help. They do apologize each time though.

The senior Airbnb staff I’ve contacted repeatedly — most recently on all correspondence with all the different “Support Ambassadors” assigned to my emails — have included Brian Chesky (CEO and Founder); Susan Wheeldon (Australia & New Zealand Country Manager); Tara Bunch (Global Head of Operations) and Derek Nolan (Head of Public Policy, Australia and New Zealand). But. Not. One. Response.

I’m not sure where to go from here. Guess I’ll keep emailing them so they have to assign another Support Ambassador to me. Or maybe by some miracle Brian or Susan or Tara or Derek will get in touch. Or I’ll get that refund I asked for months ago.

Frustrating Lack of Response from Airbnb

I have really liked the Airbnb platform and had a great response so far with them. However, I now have a problem, finding it a little the opposite. I am getting quite frustrated with the lack of help from the Airbnb team in relation to a booking during the festive season that I feel needs to be cancelled.

A booking was made before March 4, but travel is for later in the year between Dec. 20 – Jan. 21. I have a family who have booked our home for four weeks over the Christmas period and are travelling from the U.K. to Australia. Our government currently has Australia in lockdown from overseas holiday travellers unless they are returning citizens or permanent residents. No tourists are permitted.

Our government has stated that they can not see any overseas travel allowed until the end of the year or until next year as of Sept. 3. I have been in touch with the guests and they do not want to cancel as they will be charged over half of the booking by Airbnb. If I cancel, the dates are blocked and I also get a cancellation review and get charged a cancellation fee. It defeats the purpose of cancelling as I want to have the dates open for local guests to book or I will ultimately miss out both ways.

I’m feeling very disappointed with Airbnb response to this matter. I have messaged through their portal and had very limited if any response: all generic and have asked for documentation. What documentation? Is there anyone else feeling this frustration and does anyone have any other way of contacting Airbnb? They really are not very helpful at this time. I feel they should be extending their extenuating circumstances cancellation policy. Any helpful suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Airbnb’s Dishonesty Over COVID-19 Cancellation

In February I booked a house in Manly Sydney for two couples from within Australia and New Zealand. Then came COVID-19 and with border closures flights were cancelled and borders closed.

I contacted the owner and was told cancelling would not be a problem and I would get a refund. I duly did so and it read that I would receive AUD 450.00 which was slightly less than I had paid. Then I received a email from Airbnb informing me that I would get no money as company policy was since I hadn’t paid in full, there would be no refund. I asked about a voucher but the answer was no.

Their blurb said if COVID-19 was the reason for cancelling and a booking had been made prior to shutdown then they would refund but actually that’s a lie. A lot of messaging between myself, the owner and the company was a waste of time. The owner blocked any communication and then Airbnb stated that due to COVID-19, property owners were struggling with their own debt hence the reason for no payment. They too refused to accept any further communication. The host did say that any reimbursement was out of his hands as Airbnb didn’t pay him until the date of the booking.

It is saddening that this company can take money from people and not return it when it’s a genuine reason for cancellation. The airline returned the full cost of tickets without even requesting the same but Airbnb is cheating us of our funds.

Airbnb has lost me as a user and I’ll stay with other honest short-term holiday rental companies that have been reliable in the past. I only used this one as it was exactly what we wanted and located where we wanted but I’ll look elsewhere and trust the company of choice. Use Airbnb at your peril but never again for me.

Airbnb Doesn’t Delete Confidential User Data

I wanted to unsubscribe from Airbnb emails but they have no unsubscribe function as required under Australian law (Spam Act 2003). To unsubscribe, Airbnb’s terms state only to “send us an email” to terminate the agreement. An email was sent as requested with the subject and body “cancel my account” for two accounts (i.e. Germany and Australia).

For the first account, Airbnb advised me with three reply emails sent from a third party (zendesk.com) that the requested account was cancelled. I conducted a test five days later to confirm the cancellation had failed. Access was granted to the cancelled account on login with the last password. Confidential account and profile information including my date of birth and phone number were still accessible, able to be updated, and obviously still held by Airbnb.

Airbnb refused to cancel my second account unless a “government ID” was provided, in spite of the request being sent from the same email address used to login. Airbnb was advised that the email reply was indistinguishable from a “phishing” scam. Airbnb was asked to state what legal authority Airbnb relied on to demand a government ID from me to cancel my account.

Airbnb simply continued to demand proof of identity to cancel the account without stating the legal authority for their demand other than suggesting it was merely an Airbnb policy. After replying to all further Airbnb responses with automatic resending of the original “cancel my account” request, Airbnb finally advised that the account had been cancelled but the data would not be deleted due to my failure to provide ID.

Airbnb has demonstrated their: failure to provide an unsubscribe facility as required by the Australian Spam Act 2003; failure to terminate (AKA “cancel my account”) the agreement while claiming to have done so; failure to give physical effect to the termination of the agreement granting Airbnb the right to hold confidential personal information necessary for service delivery by not deleting that information on termination.

The above evidence shows blatant breaches of Airbnb’s own policy, the Australian Spam Act 2003, and the German GDPR, which proves Airbnb’s intention not to protect consumer information.

Darling Harbour Penthouse Airbnb Nightmare

We had two families (six people) staying in a penthouse suite in Darling Harbour, Sydney to celebrate the wife’s 52nd birthday properly. We were travelling six hours to get to the property. After checking in, we decided to go out for dinner, and headed back to apartment at 11:00 PM.

We found that the lift was broken and non operational, so we called the host (no answer). We tried to use the fire stairs to get to the 6th floor with no luck as it was locked from the other side. We tried a couple of locksmiths, but because it was a fire door they couldn’t touch it. We called all the emergency numbers and the host again (no answer).

We then called called Airbnb and explained the situation. We also explained that in the property was heart medication and medical equipment that we needed access to. Airbnb then advised us they would contact the host. At 11:34 PM Airbnb advised us they could not contact the host and they would keep trying. We again explained we needed access to meds/equipment and advised us to find a coffee shop while we waited, saying someone would contact us soon.

At 1:25 AM, there was still no reply from Airbnb or the host so we had to find alternative accommodation with only the clothes on our back and no access to our meds/medical equipment. After finding some emergency accommodation for the night, the next morning I received a call from host apologising after reading my messages and stating that he was asleep. This was a complete joke; we had vital medication/equipment that we could not access, we had absolutely no help from the host, and we had no help from Airbnb.

We are out out pocket with additional expenses from finding emergency accommodation, and its been two weeks since anyone has got back to us from Airbnb after promising we would get a call. All this can be verified as we have transcripts of our conversation, even a message from host telling us how much of a disaster it was for him.

Had to Cancel due to Air Quality in Australia

Our Airbnb host is not honoring the stated policy of 60 days’ notice for a cancellation. We gave him notice today. Our check in date is April 22, 2020. That’s over 80 days’ notice.

I have health issues (asthma) that do not allow me and my wife to travel to Sydney, Australia because of the air quality; it is the worst it has ever been. According to the Australian government, these brush fires will continue through May. We are in our late 60s and our doctor has advised us not to travel to Sydney.

There is now the second concern of the Coronavirus. Many airports are not allowing unrestricted travel. The host wants to charge us $1800 for cancelling, based on a $3300 total. This seems to be excessive based on the requirements of a 60-day notice that was given to the host. Further information will be given when Airbnb contacts me at my email.

Australia Phone Number for Airbnb Customer Service

The Australian number I used for Airbnb was 0285203333. From outside of Australia it will be +61285203333. Don’t ask where I found that – my other half, The Fixer, found it; he can find anything.

I’ve not had the pain some have had going by the stories here. However, my login to my account on my phone and laptop became a total nightmare and I couldn’t get in, so I lost our New Zealand stay at the last second, and made a scramble for another stay. My login had me dropping in and out of the site/app which was hugely frustrating. I tried to sort it but couldn’t: even the techs were bewildered. Three months later I took another stab at it and it’s finally resolved.

I just wanted to give a phone number for those that want one. Maybe the Aussie number could direct harried customers to the correct country number.

Airbnb Stealing from my Dying Husband

Airbnb has stolen money from my dying husband. I will not stop until we speak to the legal department. Airbnb has been totally disgusting in how they’ve handled this simple but now costly and insulting mistake they have made.

We have been loyal and dedicated and successful Superhosts for several years now, with multiple listings and an established tree house retreat. We have provided ample evidence to support our case to show we were in no way near or under threat by bush fires. Airbnb has given nothing to support their mistake to say we were and they only have been secretive with no transparency. They have stolen money from us and hence my darling dying husband right now is in the hospital with brain tumors.

We are so totally upset that we have been treated this way and my husband and I have not been supported as good Superhosts. Airbnb does not want to understand that the whole Hinterland was not on fire and we were not affected. We had two very positive reviews from guests that stayed through that time demonstrated in their positive reviews they loved the stay and showing no fire or smoke in our area. This was brought to Airbnb’s attention; there was still no response from them.

Airbnb has allowed a guest to get a full refund out of our back pocket at the very last minute on a strict cancellation policy. Based on their event being cancelled that was half a day event at best in a totally different area to use with no associations with us or the stay agreement. This basically tells everyone and anyone is entitled to a full refund for any external event or outing that is cancelled no mater how short the event is to the stay, and on a strict policy, on the night before check in are allowed to have a full refund.

Three guests were coming and no doubt were going to enjoy themselves like all the others had been doing so. But no, security for the hosts. No professional process or interactions have been received as of yet. Why risk placing valuable property in their care? If there is support for hosts using this platform, where is it?

Airbnb seems to think they are allowed to pull the rug under hosts’ feet whenever they feel like it, despite host and booking agreements in place. They do this arrogantly without providing any evidence or sharing any professional or appropriate communication to support the decision. They refuse to share what they are looking at, where they are located, and only taking money out of our pockets. It is unacceptable.

We only have received a secretive and uncaring response, and a very unprofessional response. The case manager was aware my husband is dying, and we rely on the rules of this platform for income for his medical bills as he can not work ever again in his life. I juggle everything, giving several years of positive business dealing with Airbnb through our property spaces.

This counts for nothing with Airbnb it seems; they hide and refuse to share a map with us. One employee even said she saw the map Airbnb had and we were nowhere near the fires. So why does the supervisor refuse to show us? They ignore maps that are official and clearly show we were not near the fires at all. No warnings for our area at all. Water is all around us; it’s a huge area, no smoke or anything.

Airbnb needs to compensate us for their mistake. They should have never refunded money out of our account based on incorrect information they refuse to share with us. We do not deserve this treatment or problem at this time of our lives and we have only done everything right towards Airbnb. We have received no support whatsoever and it’s such a disgusting process. There is no excuse or justified reason to receive no explanation of their process.

Airbnb has affected my ability to pay a medical bill. I will not rest until Airbnb looks at this properly and acknowledges they have made a mistake. Just because a small majority of the Gold Coast was effected by bush fires does not mean the whole of the Gold Coast needs to suffer. Through the worst of the hinterland fires, we had fantastic views you could see the water and city views from our hill, and beautiful reviews of guests on the same weekend.

Airbnb gave a full refund to a guest the night before check in on a strict policy booking. Airbnb is hiding and needs to come out and deal with this properly and start appreciating good hosts and what they sacrifice for a successful business partnership. Airbnb is not providing a stable, supportive, intelligent and respectable platform for dedicated hosts who are providing wonderful spaces for them to actually have guests using their site.

Ultimately, if they do not have good listings, they do not get guests and there would be no Airbnb. Let me stress that our property was not affected by any bush fires. Airbnb says they can justify taking a two-night booking away from us; this was a mistake they are refusing to acknowledge. I have sent them photographs and the reviews and official maps clearly demonstrating there was no fire associated near or in our area.

Still, we get nothing back from them on an intellectual or acceptable level. They only write back saying we have reviewed it and we will not be giving money back. This is without showing anything to support their claim or belief. Where is the map they are looking at? Believe me I have asked and demanded to see it, but they refuse to show anything. I now don’t believe they do have a map that is at all relevant to our area or contains anything factual.

Some cock up from an Airbnb international office has circled all of the Gold Coast to be on fire. Ridiculous. We have shared the maps from official authorities of the bush fires of Queensland to demonstrate all the history of the bush fires as we were monitoring them very closely. Still, Airbnb ignores this. It’s bad enough to lose a lot of summer bookings out of the type of fear associated with the word bush fire. Then for Airbnb to take away your bookings for no legitimate reason is inexcusable and they need to compensate us.

I have worked so hard to support my husband and through this livelihood we have been making it with Airbnb. I see no reason to continue my listings with Airbnb if they can not deal with this properly and correct their mistake. There is no real security or support with Airbnb. I will update this if it changes. They are totally incompetent in their due diligence or they are simply hiding a mistake they don’t want seen.

Give us our money back Airbnb. We provided a beautiful space. We will never get that weekend back and there are policies in place for good reasons. Airbnb needs to respect the agreement they had with us. I’m very disappointed to write this. We have a responsibility to the community to tell and warn anyone about Airbnb in how they have been treating us. At no point in time our property was ever listed in a danger zone. We had fantastic views beautiful water views and happy number of guests through that period of time.

Only one guest capitalized on Airbnb’s mistake, an event that was half a day at best in a totally different area. We had a two-night booking on a strict cancellation policy. They were bringing three people around for the stay. On Friday the 13th in the late afternoon Airbnb allowed them to have a full refund. Based on what? Based on an event that had no relevance to us on the property.

Now I believe that if I book or anyone else books a long stay through Airbnb and their event gets rained on, or their bus gets cancelled, or the singer gets sick, they are entitled to a full refund despite any level of cancellation policy. This is what Airbnb has done to us. Now I know If I ever book with Airbnb as a guest, I can cancel for any reasons for extenuating circumstances.

A full refund is expected. I would expect that for any reason I claimed to be my reason for booking I can get out of it, despite the accommodation having no association whatsoever with the excuse. This is absurd and Airbnb should see it to be otherwise. There is no security whatsoever as a host to provide beautiful spaces if there is no support for loyal and long-standing hosts.

Is there anyone in Airbnb who can salvage a long-standing and good business relationship and multiple listings and wants to rectify this accordingly? Refund us the two-night booking that we had secured. Airbnb cancelled a strict cancellation policy booking,taking money from us based on incorrect data without cross referencing information or sharing it. No transparency, nothing to support their actions.