Outrageous Bait & Switch: Airbnb No Help

Here is the letter I wrote to Airbnb feedback. I’m still in the process of working with a case manager, but I’m not very optimistic.

I’ve been working with someone in Airbnb Support, who has been spectacular. However, she encouraged me to share my feedback with the company, as I feel the policies of Airbnb are having unintended consequences. I’ll start by sharing my most recent experience, and close with a few suggestions based on my number interactions with my host and Airbnb support.

We have a group that goes to the Final Four (NCAA Basketball) every year. This year is special as it’s my father’s 60th birthday, so we wanted to make sure we had an upscale Airbnb close to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

After communicating back and forth with the host about our intent to go to the Final Four, inquiring about how close the house was to the stadium, etc, we decided to book a listing on October 29, 2018 for April 6-9, 2019. We booked well in advance because we know it’s a busy weekend, and we have a large group of nine people to celebrate my father’s birthday. We paid a 50% deposit up front ($1,273 of the $2,547 total), and confirmed our reservation.

Fast forward to December 23rd, when I received an “alteration request” from our host. Our host stated: “We just sent you an alteration for your reservation; it being the final four week we had not updated our price, please let us know if this price works for your group”. The new price was $8,594, an additional $6,046.

As you can imagine, outrage struck me, as this is a classic bait and switch tactic by the host. More disappointing was how unethical and deceitful the host was being, as I clearly stated in my first note to the host before the reservation was confirmed “We are interested in staying for our annual Final Four Trip”.

I spoke with Airbnb support, and they suggested I decline the alteration request, and per Airbnb policies, the host would be required to honor the original reservation. I declined the request, on December 23rd, and the host replied to me on December 28th stating “Unfortunately we will not be able to host those dates, just wanna give you enough time so that you can find a different place, and you are still in the period for no fees on the cancellation!”

The audacity of this host to cancel my reservation because I didn’t want to pay 400% more, and to suggest I should cancel… Despite the host sending me that message, they still have not canceled my reservation as of January 2nd, 2019. As you can imagine, we are very worried that we will show up on April 6th and the house will be occupied or we won’t be able to get in, which would leave us scrambling.

I therefore spoke again with Airbnb support, and they said “don’t worry, you will get a full refund if the host cancels”. Let’s pause here. This is where my frustration with Airbnb policies is at an all time high, and I’d like to explain why:

1) We booked this reservation 2.5 months ago, and of course listing availability has gone down and prices have gone up since then.

2) A refund therefore will not cover any suitable replacement property.

3) Airbnb’s host policy is if they cancel there is a $100 fee and they cannot rent the property that weekend. That is a rather weak deterrent for a host cancelling in the scenario they realize they can rent the property out on a competitive platform (VRBO, Craigslist, etc), pay a small $100 fee, and then be back on the Airbnb platform with no penalty after those dates.

4) As a guest, I am now stuck with my money back, but no reservation, a lack of listings available, and more expensive options. I cannot imagine a scenario where a confirmed, paid hotel booking would be canceled with no replacement room at the same cost.

This is the second time this has happened to us on Airbnb: we book a reservation, the host finds out it’s a more popular weekend than anticipated, they cancel, pay a fee, rent it for higher, and we as guests are stuck high and dry.

Short term solution: We fully expect Airbnb to cover the cost of a comparable listing if it costs more than our initial reservation, which it will. We need to be less than two miles from the stadium, which our existing reservation was, and it needs to be at least six bedrooms and four baths.

Long term solution: Airbnb needs to fix the incentives/punishments in the policy and guidelines, as it is driving bad behavior. In this scenario, the host can rent out for three times that on VRBO, pay a $100 fee to Airbnb, and then have access to Airbnb as soon as the dates we originally reserved have passed. There is a near-zero deterrent for the host to act disingenuously.

On top of that, guests are left with a refund, but no place to stay. It’s very stressful and time consuming to have to search for a new place and correspond with Airbnb support. I’ve spent two hours on the phone with Airbnb support throughout this process and another three hours researching and messaging Airbnb through the platform.

I’m having second thoughts on Airbnb because of this experience, and I can only imagine how many other guests are experiencing this. Please fix your policies so guests aren’t left high and dry in the future. I’d be happy to chat further if anyone is interested in speaking to me.

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Airbnb Quick to Charge, Slow to Refund

I currently live in Australia and made a booking for a property in Somerset West, South Africa From September 28 to October 12, 2018. I paid 50% of the total booking fee, but a month before the check-in date I was informed by the host (who appears to be living in Sydney) that he had to cancel the booking as he was in a dispute with his Body Corporate about using this property for Airbnb accommodation.

I immediately took this up with Airbnb and in the meantime I hastily looked for alternative accommodations for our family reunion, rebooked, and paid the fees as required (again through Airbnb). A few days later Airbnb advised me that they had difficulties in cancelling the reservation – something which I truly do not understand. I was assured, however, that they are looking into my case and that the matter will soon be resolved.

Since then I have had four different caseworkers, made numerous phone calls during which I was promised quick action, received generic emails expressing their sympathies and apologies for the inconvenience caused to me, was given a false promise that my refund was processed, received notification that my case was closed, was ignored for weeks on end, and have yet to see my refund…

I am at my wits’ end in dealing with Airbnb. This huge company is so unapproachable and seems to not care one bit about small fish like me. It has cost me way too much time and energy trying to receive fair and just treatment and on top of that it has caused me a great deal of stress. It feels to me that the whole issue is drawn out deliberately to try and force me to just abandon my hopes of receiving my refund. Any ideas how to proceed further will be most welcome.

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Australia Airbnb Cancelled the Day of Travel

I booked a two bedroom apartment in Melbourne for myself and my mother a month before our trip. We were coming from New Zealand for a Bon Jovi concert.

The host had good reviews and several other properties listed with Airbnb so I felt pretty secure with the deal. I did start to wonder though when it got to three days before take off and I hadn’t heard anything from the host. I sent an email asking for directions or some sort of acknowledgment that this was all good to go ahead. There was no reply.

The days ticked by and there was still no communication at all. The anxiety crept in but I thought I had the confirmation, it was all paid, and it was going to happen. We were flying out at 3:30 PM as I was working the early shift from 5 AM.

I woke up at 3:45 AM for work, only to find an email from Airbnb an hour earlier stating that the host had cancelled the booking. This asshat cancelled it literally hours before we were due to leave. No explanation, no personal apology from the host, just a “here are some similar listings”, which were all one bedroom places.

Obviously I was steaming and trying to find a place before my shift started, but here’s the clincher that put me off for life: when I expressed my annoyance (I use the term lightly), the help desk lad replied with “I understand as I have had the same thing happen to me.”

What? So this is a common occurrence? We were flying out in ten hours and eight of those I was working. When I pressed for an explanation, the help desk guy said the host had “trouble getting access to the apartment” and that he would “absolutely be reprimanded” (but only once I asked what action would be taken).

Upon speaking to my sister, she said the same thing had happened to her in Ireland. Luckily I found an awesome apartment on hotels.com, my usual go-to and where I should’ve gone in the first place. Airbnb said they would refund me but it took over a week; lucky I had the funds to book something else. Never again.

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Cancellation Three Days Before Austin City Limits

I made a reservation three months in advance. I also noticed that the host had cancelled two booking in the past about five days before arrival. If you ever see that pattern, beware. I foolishly booked the place and about three days before arrival she cancelled, using the excuse of a “family death.” It was just way too coincidental, being on the same exact weekend when Austin City Limits festival was happening, to be believed. Those weekends the locals gouge room rates of 200-300% of normal. The next cheapest room I could find was $100 more expensive. Airbnb gave me $12 to offset the difference. I wrote them, asked for a callback, and got nothing. They have completely erased the listing and booking from my history.

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Undisclosed Noise, Refused to Adjust Cancellation Policy

I rented an apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany for ten days to visit my seven-year-old daughter. The place seemed to be as advertised. Then it got dark and the thumping bass started. It turns out the apartment is directly across the street from a nightclub. The nightclub played thumping bass that emanated through the entire apartment until 3:30 AM. This was unexpected because it was not disclosed in the listing and in the US you usually don’t see nightclubs in residential areas (zoning).

The next day I canceled the rest of my stay and booked a hotel. I had to pay a premium for the hotel because I was booking last minute. The landlord sent me a message asking me why I canceled. I explained the thumping bass until 3:30 AM situation and suggested they modify the listing to clearly state there is a nightclub across the street and it can be quite loud.

I asked for a refund, agreeing to pay for the night I stayed in the apartment plus cleaning fees. The landlord refused to give any refund. He did, however, modify the listing to note it can get loud due to the “pulsating life in the old town.”

When Airbnb looked into the issue they said the listing states that it can get loud. I explained this was not noted in the original listing and that I had communicated to the landlord that I would be staying there with my seven-year-old daughter. I sent Airbnb the email correspondence with the landlord where I specifically mentioned he should disclose the loud noise in the listing. He thanked me for the feedback. I explained to Airbnb that the listing was modified after I booked my trip.

Airbnb replied they acted fairly and are not going to refund any money. This is outright fraud. Airbnb’s business model is flawed and it is time for congress to setup up and defend consumer rights. If this were a hotel I would have been treated completely differently, but because of the decentralized nature of Airbnb they seem to be able to get away with acting unethically and stealing people’s money.

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How Airbnb Scammed me out of Nearly $2000

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My fiance, our small dog, and I have been looking for short-term sublets after our lease ends this fall. We found an interesting listing on Airbnb and wanted to reach out to the host to schedule a time to view the place since we planned to stay there for at least a few months.

The interesting thing about the Airbnb interface is the “request to book” button follows you up and down as you scroll while looking at a listing, but the “contact host” button is buried way towards the bottom. All I wanted to do was reach out to the host to make sure it would be a good fit for us. I didn’t know requesting to book would put my fate in the hands of the host, especially since it clearly states I won’t be charged yet.

Apparently once I did this, the host received my “request to book”, accepted it, and my card was automatically charged for the first 28 nights of my stay. I called Airbnb customer support immediately and messaged the host, both of whom completely understood the error and said they would be able to help me out.

A few hours later I got a call from customer support who said that since I was only trying to contact the host to view the place before booking, the host agreed to let me come see the place and then we would evaluate the situation from there. They decided that because of their long-term cancellation policy, they wouldn’t be able to refund me the money.

I have called and messaged them non-stop over the last two weeks now, and they still don’t want to refund my money. I even viewed the apartment, which was disgusting and had ants, dirty dishes, and garbage all over the place. The host seemed very reasonable and understanding in person. He agreed I should have my money back but was worried about paying cancellation fees, which don’t exist for this situation.

The next day I got a call from Airbnb letting me know that the host had decided not to issue the refund. All of this could have been avoided if they had just not paid the host knowing full well that I never intended to book anything. I notified them immediately of the issue, yet they still decided to pay the host my money, and now because the host is a greedy thug, I’m out almost $2000.

Because he decided to stick with Airbnb’s cancellation policy, he thinks he’s entitled to my money for having performed absolutely no services or worked to earn it. Take a look at the attached screenshot and see for yourself. It is Airbnb’s intention to scam innocent people out of money. This company doesn’t care about its guests. They just like helping “hosts” (if you can even call this guy a host) steal money.

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Airbnb Cancellation Issues Part of their Business Model

I fully understand that Airbnb is not a hotel service and that the hosts state their cancellation policy on the their page. That being said, I have had some issues with them. I booked a four-day stay on July 3rd at an oceanfront studio condo in Daytona Beach for October 26-30. When my boyfriend, who I added onto the reservation, looked at the dates he advised that I booked the wrong days.

I looked at the available dates for when we needed the Airbnb (October 18-22); the host’s place was not available. I contacted her the second I realized I would not be able to stay there, which was July 7th. She was very reasonable at first. She stated that because I cancelled months in advance that she would offer me a full refund and that I would need to cancel and then send a request. I did as she requested and Airbnb was fully aware of it. I cancelled and then sent the request.

After five days of her not accepting the request for the refund, I messaged her and asked if she would go and accept the refund. I then contacted Airbnb for a week and they stated there was nothing they could do at that point. It has now been five weeks since I sent the request and she has not answered even though I have sent messages. I have months before I would have even checked in for the reservation but she is unable to communicate.

I understand fully that I made the mistake, but by accidentally choosing the wrong dates and cancelling months in advance, I do not believe I should lose hundreds of dollars over this issue. I understand Airbnb is a way to save money but it would have been much easier to just get a hotel if it is going to be this difficult.

I Swear Airbnb is Just Ignoring My Messages

Back in June, I booked an Airbnb for work for around $300 total for the weekend. Due to an abrupt illness, I had to cancel. I missed the refund cutoff by one day. I emailed the host my explanation and they did not give me a refund, so I escalated the issue to Airbnb where I had to provide documentation of the illness. I sent them all of my patient intake forms from the doctor with all of my information, the doctor’s information, and my diagnosis.

The response from Airbnb was that this was not enough information to prove I visited the doctor and that my case was being closed. What? I didn’t even get an explanation as to how that was not sufficient. I responded by asking what else I could provide then, and they stated that a signature from the doctor was needed but that they would still be closing my case because it can’t be opened for more than a few days; I should reply when I get the paperwork.

Fast forward a week letter, I obtain an itemized bill from my doctor showing my diagnosis codes, the day I was treated, and all of the doctor’s information. I emailed this back to the Airbnb thread email and was given an automated response that my email was received. Fast forward two weeks later, and there has been no response at all from Airbnb. On my account, the case shows that it is in progress so it will not let me contact Airbnb again to see what is happening. I swear they’re just ignoring me.

Host misrepresented himself and Airbnb didn’t give me a full refund

I’m a long time user of Airbnb and have had no problems using them up until now. This last instance has totally soured me on the experience. The lack of help and support that I have received from their customer service makes me never want to use them again.

I was travelling to Montreal for Canada Day weekend and had booked a two-bedroom apartment for $700. While driving from Toronto to Montreal, we received a call from our host indicating that she couldn’t host us anymore due to flooding. I then went back and forth with customer service on the phone trying to find a suitable alternative. I had to find a similar place at the last minute on a high demand weekend and the $350 credit they gave me didn’t cover the extra cost at all.

I finally thought I had found a suitable location based on the recommendation from Airbnb’s customer service. It was $1500, which was a lot more than what I had wanted to pay, but it met all the requirements. About five minutes after booking I received a call from the new host. He then told me that if I wanted to stay at his place I would have to pay an extra 15% in cash on top of what I booked because of Montreal property taxes. This is not true at all; I stay in Montreal all the time and no one has ever charged me this.

The place I wanted to book was not available since it was new and the host said he had an alternative place at which I could stay. There was no way I was going to give this guy an extra 15% payment for a place that I knew nothing about. I called Airbnb customer service to cancel this booking because this did not seem right at all. I was in the process of cancelling this booking with an agent but the phone connection cut and it wasn’t finished.

I had to book a new location quickly because I was almost in Montreal and I still didn’t have a place to stay. I proceeded to book a new Airbnb for the weekend. Based on my original conversation with customer service I thought I was going to be able to cancel that Airbnb with the individual that was misrepresenting himself, but I found out that he had a very strict cancellation policy and after talking to customer service Airbnb would only give me a partial refund of $514.

I was literally booked with this guy for an hour and I would have stayed there had he not tried to hit me up for an additional 15% and had it been at the actual place he was advertising. The next day I argued this point with customer service but apparently it’s totally okay for their hosts to do this and that they would see what they could do. I’ve tried contacting Airbnb since then but they keep on telling me that the case manager is the one I need to speak with and that I have to wait for her to call me back. I never receive a return call probably because they just want me to get fed up and pay.