Airbnb Customer Service a Maze of Communication

What a nightmare trying to resolve a refund issue. I recently made a booking in Granada and on receiving the address found that it was too far from the area we needed. My husband has an injured leg and cannot walk far. The next day we cancelled and the host was very understanding. This was six months in advance of the stay. Then we received our refund from Airbnb, who had gouged $220 from our credit card. We contacted our host and she said there must be some mistake because she didn’t receive anything. Then the frustration began: how to negotiate with Airbnb. They just give you the runaround on their website. I found a phone number on the internet for Sydney. I rang it. Their reply was: “This is Airbnb. We are looking forward to speaking with you”… and then nothing. Can all this be legal? I can find nothing on the website that warns of this gouging.

New Year’s Eve in New Orleans Cancellation

I booked a condo months in advance for my family near the French Quarter in New Orleans on New Year’s Eve, as we were returning from a cruise that day. The listing had a normal price (not New Year’s Eve French Quarter pricing).

Three days before, host cancelled due to one of those rare plumbing problems that can’t be fixed within three days. I spent the last day of my cruise on the computer, trying to figure out an alternate plan with everything nearby booked up. With no luck and $500 a person to change flight dates, I rented a one-way car and set out to drive home. I’ll spend New Year’s 2018 with my kids in a motel on I-55.

The best part is, with my reservation canceled, there is literally no way to leave a review for either the host or his listing and no way to complain to Airbnb other than generic website feedback. Maybe the plumbing problem is real (who knows?) but why should a situation like that not be allowed to be noted in the reviews? I can tell you my first Airbnb experience will also be my last, and I wish the host and his plumbing anything but a prosperous New Year. Cheers to all from the Motel 6!

Beware of Moderate Cancellation Policy, Negative Reviews

My family of four plus two grandparents booked a whole house in Phuket, Thailand with a moderate cancellation policy, allowing for cancellation during the stay. In the master bedroom, the en-suite bathroom smelled of poor toilet drainage, and the house was generally filthy despite the advertised housekeeper. After a few nights we decided to cancel and book ourselves into a hotel. We would have acted sooner but were very jet lagged after a 24-hour flight, We gave the host a heads up and followed the moderate cancellation policy (allowing for a 50% refund for unused days).

The host was very angry and wrote a negative review saying we were the worst experience he ever had. We left the house in a cleaner state than when we had arrived with no breakages. We were highly courteous throughout the stay. After going back and forth with the case manager Airbnb decided that the review was within guidelines. I am writing to warn future guests to document everything through email and photos and if you make a complaint do it within 24 hours even if there is a moderate cancellation policy.

Host Took Over $2000 for Immediate Cancellation

An Airbnb host is stealing over $2000 from me (50% fee) and there has been no answer from Airbnb for days. A “dedicated case manager” is just a waste of time and a way to make time thinking you can “forget” or maybe settle for much less. This must be a scam in which both Airbnb doesn’t care (makes a profit too) and some hosts steal from customers (especially first time users like myself) on a regular basis.

I am a first time user coming from a difficult situation where a host had just canceled a rented property (still waiting for a refund on that too) and needed a house ASAP for seven people including seniors and children. I explained this to the host and he agreed that I needed more than two beds for seven people (his information said sleeps “up to 16”). He then claimed that because of the five minutes from when my transaction occurred between booking, texting, and canceling, as per his claim, he was free to charge me for a cancellation. That five minutes’ processing time is now going to cost me over $2000 right before Christmas. I’m filing a BBB complaint and I want to start a class action lawsuit against Airbnb after reading lots and lots of complaints.

Airbnb Refunds are not Honoured as Advertised

I cancelled a long-term reservation and fully expected to pay a penalty. What I did not expect was that the penalty would be 100%. The host’s listing stated that if a reservation is cancelled more than seven days prior to the start, then a 50% refund would be given. See photo of screenshot.

After contacting the host a couple of times, who did not respond, I sought a resolution by involving Airbnb. They correctly stated that Airbnb’s policy is a one-month penalty on long-term bookings but that hosts can decide on different terms not strictly supported by Airbnb. If that is the case then it is misleading, deceiving travelers into thinking that they will get a refund when in fact they will not.

The host has since changed his listing to match Airbnb’s conditions. The host has also found a loophole in Airbnb’s platform. Somehow the host was able to delete all previous reviews of their listing. Again, this is deceiving travelers. All this was pointed out to Airbnb in the photos attached. They closed the case and are now refusing to respond to my emails. I have now lost a substantial amount of money which I believe was through misleading information. I will never use or recommend Airbnb again. I feel sorry for all the legitimate hosts using Airbnb’s platform.

Customer Service over Cancellations is Lacking

We had a reservation in South Lake Tahoe over Christmas paid in full, that was abruptly cancelled today, nine days prior to arrival. There was no explanation why, just a gratuity voucher if we could find a replacement for $195. This is the first time some of our family have used Airbnb, and I have to say we are all totally dissatisfied with all that has transpired. Our daughter has received no response to her email from Airbnb or from the host. We reserved in August, well in advance of the holiday. Two of the families are flying up here from southern California. This cancellation has not only made a mess of our well planned trip but also left us scrambling to find a replacement which is not proving to be easy at this late date near the holiday. I haven’t even mentioned the stress of the entire issue. I would think there would be some restrictions to the owners in regards to cancelling, as there is to the renter. $195 for our trouble doesn’t even begin to make things right. They can be sure we will be sharing this with all we know especially to those who use the service.

Valid Cancellations Don’t Mean Instant Refunds

Yesterday I booked a condo in South Padre Island and got a message from Airbnb to call a number. I called the number and it was the property management guy. He told me that Airbnb did not charge me for the cleaning fee and that I needed to pay him for that. Well then, I see that they charged me $100 per night and the host told me he would charge $90 a night. Then I realized Airbnb had overcharged me by about $150. The property management guy told me to cancel my reservation through Airbnb and then rebook through him. Well it was within thirty minutes that I cancelled my reservation and then had to contact Airbnb to get my full refund back. They authorized the refund but now it can take up to 15 days before I get it. This is such BS since the cancellation policy stated I had 24 hours and I cancelled within thirty minutes. Does anyone know who I can contact to get my refund ASAP?

Host got a better offer and cancelled my reservation

On September 21, 2017, I booked a room over the New Year’s holiday in a resort town in Southern California. I made the reservation and paid in full in good faith. Yesterday, my host canceled my reservation. She got a better offer; I was dumped. This was her message:

“Regretfully, I will be cancelling your reservation as I will be out of town and have a family interested in renting the entire house for the holidays.”

Besides being pissed and having to scramble to find another place to stay in a popular location over a holiday, I have two basic questions (both likely rhetorical). Why do I not have the ability to leave public feedback about her regarding this? My host could have penalized me if I would have cancelled on her by retaining a portion (up to half) of the money I paid her. Yet as a guest, when my host cancels on me, I have to just take it. Why is she not monetarily penalized for my inconvenience as I would have been for hers?

Airbnb Considers a Loud Air Conditioner an Extenuating Circumstance

About six months ago I had a six-month reservation that was cancelled because we didn’t reply to Airbnb within one hour. Our listing was listed with a strict cancelation policy which states that we don’t offer refunds if the guest chooses to cancel. However, our guest was sensitive to the noise of the air conditioner in our apartment and there was a cockroach (we live in New York). Airbnb determined this to be extenuating circumstance and canceled on our behalf.

Since then we’ve been having issues because apparently, we owe Airbnb the one month’s rent that was paid out after the first night. We actually ended up losing over $20,000 with this reservation, considering we had to cancel our lease, forfeit our security deposit, and hire last minute help to vacate our apartment in just three days before leaving for our six-month trip around Asia which we planned during the rental.

Airbnb has been our main source of accommodations. In fact, just three days ago we were not allowed into Taiwan because our visa got declined and even in these circumstances, when we contacted Airbnb they said we needed to give the host 24 hours to reply and explained that it’s up to the host whether to give us a refund. This was indeed an extenuating circumstance listed on Airbnb’s policy (as we literally were not allowed into the country), but Airbnb still stood by the host’s cancellation policy.

Every time we had issues over the course of our travels, Airbnb gave the hosts 24 hours to fix them and placed us in a hotel for the night while the problems were resolved. In our case, Airbnb canceled our six-month strict cancelation policy reservation because we didn’t answer them within one hour while the guest did confirm we were in contact with her, trying to fix the issue – which seems extremely wrong.

All problems aside, last month we booked a place in the Philippines for three weeks and the apartment had multiple electricity issues for many of the days we were there: meaning we couldn’t cook, there was no internet, no lights, no hot water, etc. We contacted Airbnb and they placed us in a hotel for three days which they said would be refunded. However, now they are saying we owe them the first month’s rent that was paid out for the 6-month reservation in June (which they cancelled without our consent) and that they won’t refund us for the hotel stays. We think this is completely wrong and we wanted to hear anyone’s thoughts.

According to Airbnb’s policy, it’s up to the host to set their cancellation policy; we had set ours to Strict, which meant that the guest does not get a refund unless we decide to give them one. There’s also another policy that applies for 28 nights or more, the long-term cancellation policy. If a guest changes or cancels a long-term reservation their first payment is non-refundable. If they cancel after the trip has started, the remaining nights in their reservation are non-refundable. If they have more than 30 nights left in their reservation, only the next 30 nights are non-refundable.

Looking into the extenuating circumstances policy established by Airbnb, it states that deaths, illness, injury to the guests, ability to travel, natural disaster, urgent travel restrictions, endemic diseases, severe proper damage and government-mandated obligations are the reasons why Airbnb would be able to cancel a reservation without the host’s approval. The reasons why this was canceled does not fall into this scenario at all. A loud air conditioner and a cockroach does not sound life threatening to me.

Keep in mind, this guest actually came to the apartment prior to booking it on two separate occasions to determine if it was suitable for their stay and heard and saw the air conditioner. We gave them a full tour and walk through and even rearranged some decorations after their request, which says a lot about our commitment and quality provided to our guests. We have hosted many people before and maintain a 4.8 rating, whereas this person was a completely new user with no reviews. Not only that, none of our past guests (some of which stayed just a week prior to this guest) mentioned any of the problems which she claimed made our apartment uninhabitable.

That being said, the cancellation of this reservation violates Airbnb’s policy as none of her reasons fell into the extenuating circumstances clause and we were not given the standard 24 hours to seek a resolution for the issues. After consulting with our legal team, it seems we have very strong grounds to sue Airbnb up for these losses. We did in fact let it go at the time but considering it is being raised again as an issue of us owning money to Airbnb I think it is worth pointing out that this cancellation was not done by the book in any means.

Regardless, it’s completely unprofessional to have an agent email us confirming they would refund three nights in a hotel and then be told after the stay that the refund would not be granted because of a balance owed for a reservation six months ago, which we were never informed of. I’m sure this is against their policies as well. At the very least, it’s an extremely disorganized an unprofessional way to treat loyal Airbnb users as hosts and guests.

How would you handle this? What would you do in our shoes?

Using Airbnb During a Natural Disaster

There have been a lot of natural disasters devastating areas across the world, from the recent wildfires in California and Hurricane Maria across the Caribbean. There’s no doubt this won’t be the last of them.

Although Airbnb has infiltrated nearly every corner of the globe, the recent hurricanes have been particularly noteworthy – at least, from a hospitality perspective – because they struck areas popular with vacationers at generally pleasant times of the year. The sudden appearance of storms and earthquakes can make cancelling a trip a necessity for safety or a choice as a matter of comfort.

When you’re using Airbnb during a natural disaster or have a reservation for one when one is predicted, assuming your life isn’t in any immediate danger you probably have some concerns regarding your plans, your money, and your continued safety.

 

Prior to Departure

If you booked an Airbnb in Florida before one of the hurricanes was announced, you technically qualify for a full refund under the Extenuating Circumstances clause of the cancellation policy:

“Significant natural disasters or severe weather incidents impacting the location of destination or location of departure.”

The procedure, however, may not be readily apparent unless you read everything thoroughly. If you made a reservation and then discover a hurricane, earthquake, or other natural disaster is scheduled to hit or has already occurred in the same area (not necessarily the property itself), you’re supposed to cancel immediately, regardless of whether the host has a strict cancellation listed. Inform your host via the Airbnb messaging system that the natural disaster is the sole reason you are cancelling. Then, as long as you file a claim with Airbnb within two weeks, you might be entitled to a full refund.

“Might” is the term Airbnb uses on their own website, and with good reason; even following these exact guidelines, we at Airbnb Hell have heard of Airbnb not honoring a cancellation refund for a Puerto Rico property in Hurricane Irma’s path:

“Both of these reasons [for cancellation] were valid in this case. I was told by Airbnb that this did not meet the definition and they suggested that I rebook with the host or try to work it out with her. It amazes me that this was their response and that they provided no assistance whatsoever. It is disturbing to know that both the host and Airbnb are willing to risk the wellbeing of their guests to make money. The current state of Puerto Rico is still a disaster area and the money I lost is small to what they are suffering. I do wish I could have that money back to spend time with my family but it would have been even better to be able to donate it to my family still in Puerto Rico.”

 

During a Natural Disaster

Everything aforementioned might seem just like small potatoes when you consider guests are safe and sound outside the disaster area – not that hundreds or thousands of dollars should be wasted. However, what should you do if you’re currently staying at an Airbnb and a natural disaster is supposed to strike? This situation may apply to those in Bali facing a volcanic eruption.

The same Extenuating Circumstances should apply whether you’re cancelling prior to a trip or already staying in the Airbnb, though naturally a refund would only be issued for the nights you didn’t stay. However, neither of these situations takes into account whether a host decides to cancel due to the natural disaster.

There could be a variety of reasons for this. Some hosts use their primary residence on Airbnb and may wish to return to remove any valuables and secure windows, etc. Others may take a nobler angle and simply not wish to risk the lives of any guests, regardless of whether they’re willing to complete their scheduled stay.

In any case, this reason for cancellation is just as likely to be honored by Airbnb on the host’s side as it is on the guest’s, particularly because hosts may cancel due to “severe property damage or unforeseen maintenance issues that directly impact the ability to host safely.” If this means kicking out paying guests who want or have no choice but to wait out the storm, so be it.

 

What can you do if things don’t go your way?

If you’re unable to get a refund or find yourself homeless with no chance to escape the upcoming emergency, there is always the option of turning to social media. During deadly hurricanes and earthquakes, so many eyes are on social media, including Airbnb’s PR department; the last story they want spreading like wildfire – hopefully, that’s not the disaster you’re escaping – is one of the company stranded or defrauding guests.