Airbnb Refuses to Refund First Responders

We had a group of first responders planning to stay at an Airbnb for three days in April. During this time, the COVID-19 virus had made its way to Southern California. We have been transporting symptomatic patients everyday and many of our paramedics/firefighters have been contracting the virus. This virus has the possibility to be asymptomatic and our fear was coming in contact with civilians that could suffer life-threatening symptoms.

I reached out to the host explaining how it was best if we cancelled. Our host had the ability to give a full refund and said he was on board. Immediately after I canceled, he went back on his word and kept the money.

A few days later, Airbnb released extenuating circumstances for a full refund for customers that fell within certain dates. Although my dates were included, I had already cancelled; they refused the refund. I tried to explain the situation I had with my host.

I received very generic and automated responses from customer support denying any help. I am very disheartened about how Airbnb customer support has handled this situation. This has cost me a lot of money and I don’t see my myself ever using their services again. To all that are reading this: stay safe during this tough time.

No Truth in Advertising: Beachfront vs. Waterfront


We planned a special family vacation to Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos is all about the water – being on or beside it. So, at a huge premium, we booked a rental. Under amenities, the owner selected waterfront (not beachfront). Clearly, the owner knows that the premium for properties on Providenciales is for direct water access.

We never questioned the term “waterfront”. Why would we? It was the headline and was chosen as an amenity.

The property was not waterfront. Yes, you can see the water but the property does not offer direct water access. It does not abut the water. You can get to the water either by walking down a hill covered in low brush (with no path) and crossing a two-lane road or by walking down the driveway, along two roads and across the two-lane road but not without leaving the property.

We contacted Airbnb customer service after reaching out to the owner and receiving no reply. We felt asking for a return of the premium we paid was fair.

Airbnb Customer Service denied our claim. They wrote: “Having reviewed the documentation and the information provided by all parties involved, we are not able to determine a valid claim because they do consider their property waterfront but it’s not right on the water which is why they didn’t select beachfront as an amenity.”

According to the Merrimack-Webster Dictionary, the definition of waterfront is: “land, land with buildings, or a section of a town fronting or abutting on a body of water.” Please note that nowhere in this definition is there any mention of waterfront being beachfront. Clearly, whoever created the amenities for Airbnb knows this definition.

Airbnb offers waterfront and beachfront as separate amenity choices. Unfortunately, they did not share this understanding with their customer service resolution team. I will add that while the Superhost claims that truth in their listing is one of their values, there are other “errors”. For example, the property is not in a gated community.

As a guest who has used Airbnb properties since 2012, I will never book with them again and I will tell as many people as I can about my experience. Airbnb asks hosts to sign documents certifying that their listing is true yet, they do not enforce the agreement. In addition, while they provide long lists of amenities to allow guests to tailor their choices, they do not train their customer service resolution agents in the meanings of the terms. To make it even more enraging, the host is still a Superhost and has perpetrated this “beachfront” versus “waterfront” scam in their response to reviews of the property.


Airbnb Host has not been Responsive and Lied in Reviews


I usually have pretty decent luck with Airbnb but not this time. As guests, we understand that things and issues can happen all the time. When things happen, hosts should respond promptly and try to resolve the issue as best they can. However, this is not what we’ve experienced; our host is not helpful and ignoring us when we seek solutions, even if the damaged amenity is the bedding.

In short, this is what happened. We found the air mattress at our Airbnb damaged so we notified the host immediately for a solution because we wanted to sleep comfortably on something, not on the hard floor during winter.  The host acknowledged the issue, then ignored us.

We contacted Airbnb customer service regarding this issue, the host being very unresponsive when we, the guests, were trying to communicate. The issue turned into a claim and guests are eligible to request a refund from the host. Our host was not happy about the settlement of the claim and wrote a crazy review accusing us.

In a more detailed fashion, this is what happened. We booked this Airbnb for our ski trip. Although it is a studio, the listing said it can fit six people. We were a group of five so we thought it would be fine. Users on Airbnb might notice that the housing price varies by the dateby a lot; the place usually is around $170ish per night and due to the holiday season, we paid almost $500/night.

The night when we arrived at the studio, we found out there was a hole in the air mattress and immediately notified the host to see if there was any way she could fix it. The host replied: “Oh no! There’s a leak in the air mattress? I’m so sorry I don’t have another. How else can I fix this?” We were very surprised that the host was not aware of the damage to the air mattress.

Most hosts check the key amenities after the previous guests check out and before new guests check in. There are also dishes in the dishwasher that we were not sure were clean or dirty from the previous guests. I guess she didn’t check carefully before we arrived. We were also surprised that she didn’t have a spare air mattress and was asking the guests for a solution. We were already pretty tired from skiing all day and really needed comfortable sleep to recover.

We then messaged her: “I guess we need to figure out ourselves how to squeeze five people in one bed and sofa? We are also going to stay tomorrow night. Anyway, can you fix it tomorrow so everyone can have a comfortable sleep?” The host didn’t reply to us the entire night, and the last message we sent her was only around 9:00 PM.

This is the first time we experienced this. Our past Airbnb hosts have all been very responsive and able to fix issues very quickly. We weren’t sure if she was going to help us to resolve the issue so we reached out to Airbnb customer service about the situation with a picture of the hole in the mattress. They provided us with a couple options but none that could help us the first night. We squeezed three people in one bed and two people on the sofa. It was really really uncomfortable. Customer service also mentioned they were going to reach out to the host regarding this matter.

Finally, the host replied to us the second morning saying she was really sorry about the air mattress and she had another mattress at another rental she could bring over around noon - 1:00 PM. I then gave my friend’s contact information to her since she would be staying at the Airbnb the entire day and the rest of us would be out.

Around 5:00 PM we went back to Airbnb and my friend told me the host hadn’t showed up yet. I then checked my message inbox and ddn’t see anything about rescheduling the time or a delay. A couple minutes later, I got her message saying she would be there in 30 minutes. About an hour later, she still hadn’t show up. I messaged her asking when she would be there and she replied: “On my way up.”

About five minutes later, she finally showed up with air mattress. Because of the lateness, I thought she lived pretty far from there and it took time for her to get to our place because of the snow. I asked her: do you live in town? She pointed at a house right outside the window saying: I live right there. I was pretty shocked at that moment . Why did she ignore us the first night and take so long to get our place if she lives next door?

Another issue came up when the host was trying to set up the air mattress for us and she realized that she didn’t have the air pump; we couldn’t use it. She then went back to her place and found a cot and asking us if that was okay. I said yes because it was better than nothing.

I also want to note  the sofa bed and cot were not comfortable at all; we kept rolling and sinking to the center since none of them have support from the bottom. The only comfortable bedding is the bed. I talked with Airbnb customer service again regarding the second night situation updates and they suggested I initiate a conversation with the host to request a refund regarding our first night’s experience. They can start there once I’ve initiated the conversation.

Based on Airbnb’s refund policy,  if key amenities are missing or damaged, the guest is eligible for the refund from the host. We then sent the host a request for a possible refund due to missing/damaged amenities. Of course the host didn’t reply to us at all so we had to reach out to customer service again. Reaching out to Airbnb customer service is a very painful experience; once your claim gets assigned to a case manager, you can only work with them on your case. There is no way you can directly contact them. The only way is to write an in-app message and hope they see it and get back to you.

My experience of getting a response from a case manager on this case has never been shorter than one day. After a couple days of waiting and calling the Airbnb customer service number to ask them leave a note to my case manager for an update, my case manager finally got back to me, saying that he was unable to reach out to the host and they want to talk to the host in order to make a fair assessment about the claim.

Two more days later, and my case manager said he was able to speak with my host and sent me this message : “The host was a bit surprised about my request, and she also mentioned that there were scratches on the pots/pans.” The host probably thought that she could not get away from the refund so she started making things up.

First of all, based on Airbnb’s refund policy ,  if key amenities are missing or damage during our stay, guests are eligible to request a refund. She shouldn’t be surprised at all because we were missing one bed on our first night’s stay. Second, the scratches on the pots and pans were already there when we got there. It is ridiculous to claim they were made by us.

I asked Airbnb customer service if she wanted to report the scratches on the pots and pans against us, she should provide before and after pictures with a timestamp matching our stay (we were pretty sure such photos didn’t exists because they weren’t made by us). After more waiting, an Airbnb case manager replied that they haven’t heard anything back from the host in regards to the pot/pan scratches and were able to settle my claim about the damage amenities.

The settlement result was we received a refund of our first night’s stay. A couple hours after I got the news from the case manager that the claim was settled, the host left this crazy review accusing us of everything. She didn’t respond to customer service in a timely manner but she wrote bad reviews promptly. She just relentlessly made things up… such a crazy and ridiculous host.

In the review she wrote we:

  • Trashed her place. The fact she rented it out to another group right after we left probably meant we didn’t trash it enough.
  • Abused her kindness. Hmmmm, if lying and slow replies are considered kindness then I think we did abuse it.
  • We lied about our dog being potty trained, if our dog pooping outside is considered as lying about potty training. We didn’t even talk to her about anything in regards to dog potty training because our dog was well trained a couple years ago.
  • We filed a complaint against her because we didn’t know how to use the pull-out bed. I need to be honest about this one; we didn’t know how to use the pull-out sofa when we first arrived, but that was not the reason we filed a complaint against her. Though the pull-out sofa was very uncomfortable, the claim was about the air mattress leaking (damage/missing amenities). We were unable to sleep on it.
  • I think she forgot to mention about the scratches on the pots/pans which she mentioned to customer service. I think she needs to add that to the review just to keep her lie consistent.

Ongoing Nightmare Housing Situation: Airbnb Unlivable

This is truly a nightmare that started over two weeks ago. I’m in a hotel now still dealing with it as the home’s walls (with wiring) started filling with water due to a broken pipe after the host’s property manager had failed to do anything for weeks and the host refused to do anything. I’ve had little support from Airbnb and still have 11 days left on the prepaid reservation.

It began two weeks ago (so much worse now). I rented a long-term Airbnb property, from mid-August through November 1st while we were waiting to have a house built. There were a few minor issues early on, but recently things have gotten really bad. The owner is not in the country (the place is in Baja, Mexico and he’s in the US). He has a local property manager that is supposed to handle things but has rarely shown up and is now not responding at all. 99% of the time when I contact the owner, he says he’ll contact the property manager and then I don’t hear back, email again and the whole thing starts over.

The more major issues include: there is an Airstream trailer on the property we assumed was being stored here, but suddenly without any warning a woman with three dogs moved in. We didn’t see her, only the dogs initially, and thought they were wild dogs that had snuck in, which is common here. When we went to shoo them off – as we have two little dogs – a woman came out of the trailer screaming at my partner that it was her property.

I immediately messaged the owner who told me he had no idea what was going on, but that he co-owns the place with his brother and maybe he knew; it was probably a crazy ex-girlfriend. She’s still here. He’s never responded when I’ve asked again about it and the dogs bark continuously; most of the time they’re just left outside. Sometimes they come right to our door and bark incessantly, making it difficult not only to take our dogs out but to actually enjoy the property.

There was a big rain storm last week and with the high heat and humidity, the front door has swollen so much that it’s cracked. It’s very difficult to shut at all, likely insecure, and easy to break in. Part of the ceiling has also being chipping off as there are cracks in the concrete with bad water leaks. They’re developing in many other places in the house, so another rainstorm is likely going to make that worse.

The property manager is also supposed to be taking care of the landscaping which has gotten out of control (not a big deal to us but it really looks bad), and pick up the trash once a week. We haven’t seem him in two weeks now so it’s really piling up and there doesn’t seem to be a place we can take it here; we’re in a small village in Baja, Mexico.

I think he’s supposed to be doing something to the water to prevent algae too, but that’s not happening since he isn’t here. Algae-filled water has been pouring down the side of the house near the front door.

An Airbnb case manager contacted the host right away who promised him he’d reach the property manager – suddenly he was able to. He promised the guy would arrive within two hours. He never did: no message, nothing.

Finally about 8:30 he messaged that the guy’s car had broken down and that his dad would give him a ride over. He was leaving right then and said that he would also come back at 7:30 in the morning to work on the landscaping problem. He’s just a few minutes away. Twenty minutes later, no one had come and I had to be up at 5:00. It was dark and he wouldn’t be able to see many of the problems anyway so I told him to just come in the morning. He could start the yard stuff and then afterward we’d show him the problems, that we would be here all day until about 5:00.

Of course, he never showed. I messaged him to see when he was coming. There was no response. I messaged the owner. Finally after he received a picture of the algae-covered wall that had gotten much worse he said it was “emergency time”. He was going to contact his brother who knows people there. He promised he’d contact him several times before but apparently he never really did because once that happened, his brother (the co-owner) sent over a couple that lives nearby and knows the house very well.

They were shocked and said it was extremely unacceptable. It was well known that this property manager takes people’s money and rarely does anything. He is totally unreliable. They also found more major problems that we hadn’t noticed and things have gotten worse; there are pools of water on the floor now. They took a lot of pictures and said they would be sure both brothers would receive them.

In the meantime, our Airbnb case manager was on his weekend holiday and wouldn’t be back until the next day. The owner said he was firing the property manager and trying to find someone else, but we finally left to go out to eat at 5:00 as we’d told the property manger. Then we got a text from him just as we got there that he was here waiting outside, knowing full well we wouldn’t be here.

After what the couple said and the experiences we’ve had, we totally don’t trust this guy. He still has all the keys. I messaged the owner and told him to call him to let him know because I really didn’t want to go back there and deal with that at this point. He told me he couldn’t reach him, but we got back and he was gone, with the trash taken and a few weeds taken out in the front. We haven’t heard anything from anyone after that.

We still have no cleaning supplies and have gone through almost all the towels soaking up the water. We messaged the owner again that the priority is now to get us cleaning supplies, towels and to get the backyard cleaned up because it’s gotten so much worse since even two days ago and we can’t take the dogs out front. The couple that saw it said how dangerous it was too. They were blown away about how bad everything was as the wife was a caretaker here a year ago and said it’s just gone completely downhill fast.

The owner keeps saying he’s trying to find a new “co-host/property manager”. In the meantime I was able to get a quicker move-in date on the house being built, October 15th. I told the case manager at Airbnb who previously told me he would process the reservation so that I wouldn’t be charged anymore. I was hoping I’d be able to move out of this situation early.

Based on his information I moved forward and was really happy I managed to get that negotiated that morning. I messaged the case manager (the one who’d left me hanging for 2.5 days while things got even worse) and he said he made a mistake, since it’s long term I had to pay for all the reservation. He knew it was long term as he even mentioned it in the message thread before telling me I could do that and then said several times he hoped I’d be able to move early. That, fortunately was resolved, with a new end date: October 16th.

It continues… a new repair person came and seemed very reliable. There was finally a new person that came to do some things but there have been so many other problems in the meantime, I don’t even have time to write about them all. The owner told me that he “just found out” the lots on the property – all in a relatively small area that’s gated so it looks like it’s all one place – were sold and he can’t do anything about the woman in the trailer and her dogs.

Airbnb won’t do anything because the trailer is now not on the host’s property. I want to scream. I told the case manager it was unacceptable; he did admit his mistake and said he’d talk to his team, so I’m waiting on that. I am seriously baffled at how this is being handled. I was pretty much just trying to deal with it until the check-out time, but then this happened…

A bad situation got worse after we noticed water seeping through the bedroom wall of the house we’ve been staying in through Airbnb. It turned out there was a broken pipe that was leaking in the walls, with wiring… going through the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The repair person said it was dangerous (obviously, and we couldn’t use electricity there).

We couldn’t leave immediately; it was dark and you can’t drive in the dark here in Baja due to the bad roads and other problems. However, we did leave the following morning. Our case manager was, this time, on an extended weekend (he went on his weekend at the time the other issues were occurring and left no backup).

The owner finally realized how bad it was. A repair person is there now. He has to take out the whole wall and this is going to take a lot of time. The owner sent a couple of different payments to help with the hotel, and also for other expenses as we had to buy cleaning supplies. We received the payment he sent yesterday through Airbnb back in our bank account today. However, earlier payments were still not received, they’re missing somewhere with Airbnb. We’re covering most of the expenses on our own.

Airbnb has been totally unhelpful. They don’t care at all that we had to leave the place and get a hotel. In fact, with the case manager gone when I finally got someone else, he didn’t even read the message I sent asking about the missing payment, but instead called the owner and then messaged me that the owner was getting it repaired and had sent the payment. That had all been documented in several places, but the Airbnb case manager didn’t bother to read it and just made things worse for me with the owner.

I am extremely disappointed with Airbnb. What would have happened if I didn’t have the extra cash or credit cards to cover the hotel, when our house through Airbnb was already paid for? This is still not resolved. I am way behind on work because of all of this. I work online and extremely stressed out. We don’t know how long the repairs will take at this point so this may cost us a lot more than we can afford right now.

We tried contacting Airbnb on Twitter and got the response: “The team will look at it when they can.” The last case manager said he is looking into seeing where the money has gone but had initially said it can take 15 business days because of our bank – this is not the case since the other went through in a day. In addition, they should not be leaving us in this situation to deal with ourselves; ot’s insanity.

The case manager lied. He said it was a problem with my “payment method” but Airbnb never sent the payment. He had me set up a payout account, but then suddenly it was actually sent to my payment method. In the meantime, I’m at the hotel trying to figure out when we can get back. I told the owner we’re booked through Friday, October 5th several times.

On Thursday morning I reminded him I needed to know what was going on so I could extend if it was necessary, if we could get back Friday. I got a message from the new maintenance person that it would be ready at noon on Friday. I told him we’d be there at 3:00 to provide extra cushion time. He said that was okay, and I updated the owner.

Today after checking out of the hotel and starting to drive to the Airbnb (an hour away because it’s in a remote area), I got a message from the owner that the house wouldn’t be ready until tomorrow, asking if the maintenance person had told me that. I told him no, he had just confirmed we could go back today… we were on our way.

I was on the side of the road for 30 minutes trying to get a response from the owner or repair person. The repair person called and said friends of the host’s brother and the co-owner are painting the inside of the house tonight. They told him to redo the roof. No one bothered to inform us.

While Airbnb has asked for receipts for the previous part of the stay, they won’t respond to what to do now or when I’ll be reimbursed. I can’t keep paying for a hotel for the next 11 days, especially when I’ve paid for a house through Airbnb. We have to dine out as we don’t have a kitchen now so that’s more expensive too. It’s now 8:30 PM here on Friday, October 5th. Six hours and still no word. I’ve been sent in circles numerous times. The host hasn’t even apologized. I’m exhausted, super stressed… this is insanity.

Airbnb Has the Worst Customer Service

I’ve taken three trips in six months with Airbnb. Each was wonderful on its own and each experience with a host has been great. However, on my last experience, due to an issue with our passports at the airport, we had to cancel our trip less than 24 hours before the check-in time. As a result, per the terms of agreement, Airbnb charged us the service fee and the first night of stay. However, once I received my credit card bill I noticed I was charged more than that. It seems that an issue with the time zone calculation cost me an additional nightly charge and a cleaning fee to a place which I never checked in. After calling Airbnb (twenty minute wait on the phone) and explaining this, the customer service representative on the phone proceeded to hang up on me. When I called again (another 27 minute wait on the line) they hung up again. I called in a third time (21 minutes’ wait time) and they hung up again. I understand the company is trying to make money. However, this is not the way to treat its customers.