Airbnb Service Fees are Disproportionately High

Wearily I add myself to what I realise is a long list of increasingly unhappy Airbnb customers. Several weeks ago we booked a lovely Airbnb in Dorset (UK) so that we could attend a family wedding. Two months ago my 17-year-old son broke his leg and literally this week has been given the all clear to be back on his feet again. However, because he has had so much time off his part time job with the leg break he will now not be able to get time off to attend the wedding. We are now a party of four, not five, and this now means we have an alternative option for where we stay which could be considerably cheaper.

With three weeks’ notice, we cancelled. I recalled when we booked that we would get a full refund, but I realise that the big print did not make it clear that this would not include the £34 admin fee which Airbnb kept. This is more than 25% of the partial payment we sent; it seemed outrageous until I delved a little further to discover that this is nothing in comparison to others. The host was lovely and agreed to a full refund, so I then went round the houses (and round the houses again several times) to try and work out on the website how to communicate with an actual person to express my dismay at this policy. Eventually I went for the ‘give feedback’ option but have had no response. What a surprise. Here I am on Airbnb Hell. At least I have had some satisfaction in having a small rant.

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Host telling me to cancel so he can keep the money

I booked an apartment in Barcelona for my partner and cousins. We are planing to spend a few days there. I got confirmation back from the host saying they had accepted and taken the money. I emailed them back requesting since I have paid already could I please use the two rooms with the double bed, not the sofa bed. They said they will “try” as the listing is still up for other guests. If I don’t want more guests in the house I need to pay them directly also if I don’t like it then I should cancel my reservation so they can keep the money and I should look somewhere more suitable. All I asked for in the first place was the use of two rooms with double beds. When I reminded them that all emails are recorded they said they know and since both parties aren’t happy I should cancel. They are pushing me to cancel my reservation.

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No Compassion or Trust After Death in the Family

Sadly, due to the father’s death of my niece with whom I was travelling to Paris and staying in an Airbnb apartment, we had to cancel the booking paid for in full in March 2018. The booking was from December 28th, 2018 to December 28th, 2019; therefore five months’ notice was given. Under the resolution information on Airbnb, my niece sent a death certificate and the host was contacted. A refund offer of $24 was given. This was changed to $200 after a few phone calls, but we originally paid $2150.

Now Airbnb is using the excuse the host has refused to give a full refund and then said – to my shock, as her father died in April – that the booking was for December… that’s far away. My interpretation was they were saying that was enough time to get over it. Regardless, the money is needed to cover costs since her father’s death. To be cross examined and passed from staff member to staff member with nobody showing compassion, duty of care, or any sort of kindness and honest business like manners… All I can see is pure greed and Airbnb allowing untrustworthy, unscrupulous, callous, money hungry hosts. I’m dismayed and never will I say a good word about Airbnb.

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Airbnb Hosts Have it All When it Comes to Refunds

I’m here to share a little of my bad experience. I’m going on vacation at the end of July, and decided to travel around Croatia from August 8-11. I rented this place on Airbnb; I booked the flight and got everything set. Everything was going okay until a few days later, when I realized that instead of booking the place for the August I mistakenly booked it for July.

I messaged my host as soon as I could telling him about the mistake around July 2nd. He replied that unfortunately he didn’t have any other place available for August so I should cancel my booking as soon as I can to get as much back as I could. He said he would try to contact Airbnb to see how he could refund me, since all the process is automated.

Since I booked the place one month earlier the refund policy was not applicable anymore and I got no refund, even though I canceled my booking. It turns out that I could never get my money back. I tried to contact Airbnb and they told me that unless my host wanted to, there’s nothing they could do. I asked if they don’t think that what he did was wrong and all they said was that they could not punish him because he never violated the rules.

I know that the policy states that cancellations made within a week before the booking date will not be refunded, but I think hosts take advantage of this misfortune to trick guests into cancelling bookings just so they can rent the place again. This kind of behavior is just unacceptable.

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Non-payment of Cancellation Fee to Guests

A guest made a booking with our establishment on June 2nd, 2018. On June 27th, due to unforeseeable circumstances, I had to cancel the booking. I received the following message from Airbnb:

“You canceled ………… reservation ……… has been fully refunded. Learn more about host cancellation.”

On June 28th, I received an email from Airbnb pausing my listings as well as a message informing me that a penalty fee of $50 would be deducted from my next booking. So they acknowledged my cancellation.

On July 5th at around 15:00, the guest and her husband arrived at our premises. Apparently they had received no notification of the cancellation and furthermore had most certainly not been refunded as had been advised by Airbnb on June 27th. The guests double checked their banking records and reconfirmed that no refund had been made by Airbnb.

We tried to find them alternate accommodation in the area, but unfortunately could not find anything available that was decent and affordable at short notice. Since my tenant had to delay her occupation date from July 1st to July 8th due to handover issues at her work, I was thankfully in a position to accommodate the stranded couple.

What we are trying to establish from Airbnb is the following: will the guest be refunded as should have happened through Airbnb, and if so when, so that guest can pay me directly? I was still liable for a cancellation penalty of $50. Will Airbnb reinstate this booking so that I may expect payment from Airbnb today, since the guests checked in yesterday (penalty fees will obviously be waved)?

I find this entire debacle extremely frustrating as the guests were totally unaware of the cancellation and therefore stranded on arrival; from my side I did everything correctly in terms of cancelling the booking and I accepted that I would be liable for penalty costs, but my heart goes out to this couple who were totally left in the dark. Where is Airbnb’s commitment to guests and where is the follow through in terms of cancellations?

Surely refunds should be made immediately so that guests have the funds available to make an alternate booking? One would assume that the $50 penalty fee borne by the host would cover the extra admin involved in refunding the guest as well as covering commissions lost to Airbnb. I have tried to email Airbnb’s CEO, COO, Operations Manager as well as First Line Contact and all emails have bounced back as their server considers my email address to be spam. I most certainly do not have the time or financial resources to sit on a telephone for hours at international rates to sort this matter. The entire system is email based, so we can’t speak to a live body through emails where we will also obviously have a paper trail.

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Host’s Calendar was Full, Didn’t Bother to Tell me

I found an apartment from a new host. I liked it and booked it. After arriving, I noticed it was an agency’s apartment. I tried to book more nights but the host didn’t let me know that her calendar days were not available (didn’t update the calendar, as many hosts don’t do). She let me know which days were available so I booked and paid; she accepted it.

I was thinking there was an automatic system for calendar updates but now I know many hosts play with calendar days to be full when guests try to make bookings so they get money from 2-3 new guests at the same time and then also half of the cancellation fees. The calendar days were available and then full when I made the reservation and paid. She accepted it; the calendar was available to me and then it was not.

After that she sent a new reservation request with new days, without telling me about another guest’s reservation for the same days. Only after the payment was accepted did she tell me she had other guests arriving also for the day and so I had to shorten my stay. She also changed the check-out time to be earlier without any mention of it before. Because of this, she would get more money for shorter stays and I couldn’t accept it.

I declined her offer because I made bookings for those days. The host also told me I could pay with cash but I never do this with anyone. I had to search information on how to cancel the payment for my five-day reservation. The host accepted the reservation and got half of my money without telling me how to cancel. It was the host who was messing with her calendar and changed the days. In the end, the host got more than half of my payment because Airbnb’s cancellation system works like that; it work well for hosts and badly for guests. You lose money if you have to make a cancellation as I had to. I did nothing wrong but the system is making it the guest’s fault when a host plays with the calendar days to be full.

Before this, I heard only positive brags about Airbnb. It’s an incredible system, but it can’t work if bad hosts can do anything they want. There is usually not enough help for guests. I have to wait 1-2 days to get any answers from the Airbnb customer service team. Nobody has helped me. I’m a guest and when I see rules, I follow rules. I also have to verify my profile every time I log into Airbnb. The system is working much better for hosts when they can do anything that they want. Hosts should be more trustworthy. It’s like they are sending guests back to camping and hostels after these experiences.

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Airbnb’s Removed Listings in Japan Complicate Visas

Due to the new Japanese law, all the Airbnb listings without permits have been removed from the site. The place we booked is also one of them. We had two groups booked with the same host on the same date at the same location. After the law passed, they contacted Airbnb and the host, and cancelled it right away so guests could find a new place.

However, when we tried to request a cancellation, they wouldn’t do it. They kept asking me to wait for the host to get the permit. Because I had to apply for a Japanese visa, I was really in a hurry to get a response. No one seemed to care at all. They said that if I wanted to cancel, because it is a long term stay, I would lose the first month’s rent. This is not my fault. Then they said that they only can cancel it ten days before the departure date if the host cannot get the permit… this is ridiculous.

So we have to wait ten days before my trip to know if we have place to stay or not? How they can treat the guests like this? We have to stay in Japan for three months. Not just a few days. This is why my friend wanted to cancel the property for the same dates as us, but we cannot do it. This is a horrible experience. I can’t believe any company would doing this to their guests Can someone give me any suggestions for this? Can I still use the Airbnb confirmation letter to apply for my visa?

Wasted a Week Moving from Airbnb to Airbnb

I want to follow up regarding our cancelled booking. I want to explain that a 10% credit is completely insufficient for the problems this cancellation caused. We had been traveling all day in a rental car with a four-year-old child and a car full of our life’s belongings – to be precise, over 170 kgs of luggage including a bicycle in a box. I can send a picture of the loaded car if you like?

We had booked into the apartment because it was on the ground floor and near the center. We arrived on time – exactly. After being given so many warnings by the host about being on time exactly and furthermore warning us about providing time for the cleaners (how this could impact us is a complete mystery to me, as guests pay for cleaning). You of course can review all the messages between us.

Anyway we arrived, found it difficult to park, and then called the host as there was no one there at the time agreed upon, 4:30 PM. The host did not answer his phone and a helper answered, telling us the check in time was 5:00 PM not 4:30 PM. They were wrong and then we spent almost an hour waiting in the sun getting conflicting messages from the host via the platform and the helper on the phone number provided. Our daughter was beat and tired and needed to use the bathroom. We did too.

After over an hour we were told the apartment was being cancelled. Finding a new place with a flat mobile battery on the side of the road, in the sun, after driving all day was a nightmare to say the least. We eventually did find a place. It wasn’t ideal, so we booked only for four nights. A two-story place with a four-year-old on a busy street is not what we wanted.

We arrived around 8:00 PM, 3.5 hours after being ready to check in. We could not return our rental car as planned as we were too tired and the rental agency would have been closed by the time we unpacked all the stuff from the car. We didn’t get to have dinner until 9:30 PM, which for all of us was unacceptable, especially for a four year old, and of course we wasted a day as we have to return car today and all of us are too tired to do anything.

In addition, we have to pay Airbnb’s service and cleaning fees twice for organizing one week’s accommodation, as this place is not suitable for the whole week. We also will have to hire another vehicle or moving taxi as we will have to move all the stuff to another accommodation. We will also waste another day moving all our stuff to another location.

This cancellation has ruined our arrival and at least a few days involved in rebooking and moving, which in turn has ruined the week we had planned as now we will not be able to achieve what we had carefully planned to achieve. Not to mention the stress involved for everyone which is a major health concern and one that Airbnb as a provider is responsible for.

For a $30 billion company to offer us a 10% return is pathetic in any sense. The hotel chains that Airbnb competes with would offer a full credit and more. As Airbnb has claimed, it is extremely rare that they could cover all the costs, as it would be such a small expenditure for such a large company for an incident that hardly ever happens. If such incidents of ruining holidays are common then I would think their business model is flawed. Could you let me know ASAP what Airbnb can do to rectify this disaster.

Innkeeper Finds Faults with the Review Process

We own a beautiful inn in Britsih Columbia, Canada that is rated five stars across all the board and is also a winner of awards. We placed our inn on Airbnb to attract millennials to our island and show them nature and the wonders of a protected environment. We have been on Airbnb for three years.

We had an emergency and had to cancel one reservation which the guest took very well and very kindly. This was our first cancellation on Airbnb. The next thing we know, we saw that the guest’s review had been posted on the page like a ‘wall of shame’. Shame on Airbnb. This is disgusting.

We will be removing our inn from Airbnb as we are appalled. We also use Expedia and Booking.com – professional, supportive organizations. I do understand this process for hosts that constantly cancel but not Superhosts with one cancellation in three years and excellent reviews. Airbnb should remember that they don’t catch flies with vinegar. They have too much money and swollen heads.

Five-Star Accommodation in Italy Not as Expected

This is in reference to a farmhouse in Osmate, Italy reserved via Airbnb. We were a group of eight adults (four couples) who wanted to tour the Northern Italy lake area after a seven-day cruise which ended in Venice. We reserved a villa which received a 5-star rating on Airbnb – the pictures looked good and the reviews were excellent. We reached the “villa” at around 9:00 PM on a Friday night.

The person who opened the property for us was a friend of the owner. Our first shock was when we tried to reach the entrance to the property; the second shock occurred when we tried to get our car into the property’s parking lot; and our third and worst shock of all was the “villa” itself.

The owner advertises private parking. She doesn’t advertise that it’s nearly impossible to navigate a jeep in the extremely narrow alleyways to get to the property’s parking. At the entrance to the property, we were greeted by all kinds of leftover building materials. The area looks like a storehouse / garbage dump.

The first thing that struck us when we entered the house was the strong odor of mildew. There was mildew on the walls which is probably what was causing the very unpleasant odor.

The property’s lighting (and lighting fixtures) was extremely frugal – everything was so dark and depressing. The property did not look clean. Airbnb advertised two living rooms on the property. We only saw one living room with two couches covered with two different colored blankets and we were told that this is how we should sit. I assume they were covering up some very old couches.

The owner advertised 14 steps on the stairs. However, two of the bedrooms are situated on the second floor (17 steps) and the other two bedrooms are on the third floor (an additional 14 or 15 steps), a total of 31/32 steps to reach two of the four bedrooms. When I told the owner that the steps are a very serious problem for us, she offered this solution: bring the two beds down to the living room and have one of the couples sleep there. I asked her “what about privacy?” She couldn’t answer.

The beds in the bedrooms were like beds in very cheap motels: sloppy sheets, low beds with a metal frame. I’m not sure how much weight each bed can hold. The ceiling of the two bedrooms on the third floor is slanted so that when you go into the bedrooms, you need to bend down in order to avoid getting hit on the head.

The owner advertised four bedrooms and four baths. She doesn’t advertise that the fourth bath is two floors down from the bedroom and that this bath is more like a laundry room than a bath.

They advertise BBQ facilities, which are a joke. The grill (if you can call it that) was filthy and so old that you couldn’t call it even a simple, normal grill. We didn’t see the advertised ping-pong table anywhere.

The actual condition of the property and the surrounding area is much worse than what you see in the online pictures. Nowhere is it advertised that the building has three floors (without an elevator) and that two of the bedrooms are located on the third floor. After seeing the property, there was no way that we could have stayed there for even one night.

We decided to try to find four hotel rooms somewhere nearby. You can imagine how difficult it was to drive around in a foreign country, in an unfamiliar area, at 10:00 at night trying to find a hotel with four available rooms. We were tired and hungry and after driving in from Venice and touring some of the surrounding area (we drove nearly 400 kilometers on this day), the only thing we craved was reaching the property, taking a shower and going to sleep. You can imagine the aggravation we felt at seeing this terrible house. After several inquiries at local restaurants, we finally found a hotel that had four rooms available; this is where we stayed for the duration of our trip.

It seems to me that Airbnb does not visit the properties that they advertise. Because if they did, there’s no way that they would have advertised this on their website as a 5-star property, if at all. In view of all of the above, and in view of the aggravation that was caused us, we demanded a complete refund of all the money we paid (over $1,400 for four nights). The owner was willing to refund us the cleaning fee and Airbnb the service charge (100 Euros + $150).

I did not accept their offer. I was told by the Airbnb representative that they transfer payment to the owner only 24 hours after the guests check-in. The representative asked me why I didn’t notify them that we were not staying there. I did notify them the next morning (within the 24-hours from check-in time) but someone at Airbnb screwed up and did not handle our case properly. Besides, the owner informed Airbnb that same evening (while we were still there) that we decided to not stay at the villa.

I contacted the Airbnb office in Ireland and spoke to someone who promised to send my complaint to management, marked urgent, but I am still waiting to receive a reply. This is the second time I have made a reservation via Airbnb and both times, the advertising on their website did not reflect the actual condition of the property.