Complete Disbelief Over Airbnb’s Reaction to COVID-19

VRBO

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I am requesting to speak with personnel in Airbnb upper management concerning the situation that involves my first Airbnb experience and stay. Our booking and travel dates were April 27 through April 30. I believe the situation is deserving of a full refund and or an upgraded trip for the length of our original stay.

We are outraged that Airbnb allows properties to conduct business and continue to allow the public access to environments like the one we encountered, especially during the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. Our documentation will show and support our claims of the unsanitized, unattended and false advertising of this particular property. I will provide the timelines and the supporting documents backing our claim.

My family and I have been inconvenienced and put at risk by the direct result of Airbnb’s untimely and insufficient customer support resources along with the unprofessional, irresponsible attitude and commitment level of our host. Not only did he fail to communicate on a timely basis, he allowed another reservation to show up with the same exact issues; even worse, without ever having a cleaning crew show up. That is a total of three different guest reservations that entered the property without it being professionally cleaned.

According to the guidelines stated in Airbnb’s refund policy — having verbal confirmation of the first CSR we spoke to — are valid and we followed proper steps to ensure full and detailed investigation by staff to validate our request. Due to our inexperience and unfamiliarity with Airbnb and the mobile app we acted as anybody would have in the event that technical difficulties prevented us from gaining access to our account allowing us to proceed accordingly and timely to any and all response from the Airbnb staff from the beginning of this complaint.

We find it very odd that for no reason we were unable to gain access once we reported and sent photos of property. We have had several reasons given to us for why we would not receive a full refund and have had valid and supporting information to disprove those to be invalid reasons. The latest one is that by the unintentional act of deactivating the account due to the fact we could not access it and we’re trying to troubleshoot the issue because the several calls to Airbnb were not productive and were unable to fix that issue.

We remain confused as to why after the cancellation on Airbnb account that we were not told of any of this conditions or cancellations or informed by any of the CSRs we spoke to or question as to why we were still on the property. We had no idea that the reservation was canceled by the accidental deactivation of our account. I have now spent numerous hours and pages upon pages of emails corresponding with customer care representative agents that are supposed to help. They’ve expedited and done all that they can with no avail.

We’ve received several emails sent from Airbnb stating that they are sorry that our experience was like this on our first reservation and travel stay using their company but yet their actions show the exact opposite.

The situation continued to get worse while on the second day of our reservation at 4:00 PM when another family showed up with six children with nowhere to go. Being put in an uncomfortable and stressful situation, I allowed the family to enter the property so that they would have some place to reside well we tried to work this situation out we contacted the host immediately with no response.

There are so many supporting factors as to why this is outrageous. Not only did the hosts not have a cleaning crew come prior to their arrival, but we were still there and he did the same thing to us during this COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot believe that Airbnb supports and allows individuals to host properties in to put their customers in jeopardy like this.

Another reason why we were told that we would not receive a refund was due to the fact that we did not qualify under the host cancellation policy at that time we are given this excuse we had no idea that the activity of the account was actually what induced the refund but we were told that it was because we cancelled it on our behalf. We did not; it was canceled on the company’s behalf.

We spent several hours on the phone with customer service agents after that. We were never told anything different. They were confused and did not know how the reservation was cancelled. They were putting it on us.

In the meantime on our side we were keeping our lines open doing what the CSR we first spoke to told us to do. Unable to gain access to our account after several different CSR’s attempted to fix this situation, we could not find the pertinent information we needed in a timely manner.

I would like to speak to Airbnb upper management on the phone. This email and messaging system is not sufficient and is not producing favorable results. The property is not as it is listed and the host did not communicate with us in professional manner.

My family and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It seems that this company just wants to take advantage of its patrons, and put our safety and health at risk by taking the host and his blatant carelessness above our complaints and health.

VRBO

Airbnb Refuses to Give Refund due to COVID-19

VRBO

I am a relatively new guest to Airbnb. I booked my second trip to Cape Town to give my family a holiday that they never could afford themselves. Excited, I made a booking on January 22 for a home from April 18-25. Some of my family members live in Ireland and South Africa. I live in Dubai.

Our borders and flights were already shut down in March due to COVID-19. I received an email March 14 from Airbnb stating I could cancel my holiday and receive a full refund. I then contacted my host via email on March 18 and requested a cancellation.

Not hearing anything from the host for four days, I got worried and cancelled my booking on the website on March 22, with the reason being COVID-19. Airbnb gave me a 40% refund and a lousy voucher.

I have been battling with Airbnb staff who have no authority and can’t help me with a full refund which I’m honestly entitled to. Case managers answering emails for Airbnb haven’t approved the Extenuating Circumstances Policy for my booking dates when my booking was cancelled.

This is total fraud and they would rather steal my money than just pay back a honest client. I also requested a refund with the resolution centre and directly with the host. It’s been days now and he has totally brushed me off. I am so disappointed with Airbnb to say the least.

VRBO

Missed an Airbnb COVID-19 Refund by Six Hours

VRBO

blankIt was a complete nightmare trying to get this COVID-19 refund. Our check in was March 13th and California issued a state of emergency on March 4th while the WHO declare it global pandemic on March 11th. I canceled on March 12th and only received 50% of my money back.

Airbnb’s extenuating circumstances state that any reservations made on or before March 14th were covered under the extenuating circumstances for COVID-19 blanket. They are now claiming it would only be covered if I had cancelled on March 14th (a day after my check in?).

My check in time was 6:00 PM Friday, March 13th, six hours before the 14th. I even would understand if they won’t give me the money for the night of the 13th but they are refusing all of it which makes no sense; they wrote the publication and nowhere does it state they will only cover a refund if a reservation is cancelled on or after March 14th.

Yet their publication on March 13th said “any reservations before March 13th through April 1st are covered!” They then went and changed their policy on March 30th to “any reservations made before March 14th through May 31st with check in dates on or after March 14th are covered.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m really glad they extended the time frame for people but I’m sure there are a handful of people that fall into a tiny crack like me with check in dates of March 13th.

VRBO

Sour from Airbnb Cancellation Gone Wrong

I have been online and on the phone with Airbnb all day. I cancelled a cottage I rent every summer at the same time I annually attend a workshop at a college. The college cancelled all workshops last Friday. I canceled my Airbnb on Saturday.

My agreement stated I could have a full refund by June 28: “After 3:00 PM July 7, full refund minus service fee.” So 80 days out from July 7, Airbnb is keeping a service fee of $97.78 for what the case manager basically said, tough luck. That’s the the agreement I made when I hit the ‘reserve’ last July 2019. Greedy.

Airbnb Asks for Proof Pandemic is Real

My two-week trip to the UK with my family had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country is in lockdown so domestic travel is prohibited, restaurants and tourist sites are closed, my return flight was cancelled by the airline, hotels I had booked are closed, and my own country (Canada) would require a 14-day quarantine if I did make it home. So it was pretty obvious that the trip couldn’t happen.

Airbnb is refusing my request for refunds for two bookings that were part of the trip, allegedly because I don’t qualify under their Extenuating Circumstances policy, although I clearly do qualify under any rational reading of the policy.

Initially, they asked for ‘proof’ that the trip had to be cancelled in spite of virtually everything mentioned above being all over the press and in various government announcements. Within about 24 hours after making that demand, while I was considering how to respond to it, I received another email advising me that my claim was closed, presumably because I hadn’t responded in time (although no time limit was specified and 24 hours is ridiculously short). When I complained, I was told that the decision was ‘final’. I’ve rarely seen such heavy-handed, arrogant treatment.

Adding insult to injury, Airbnb directly lied to me the first time they denied my refund request, claiming that it was actually the hosts who denied the request. I contacted one of the hosts directly and was told that they had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision and they fully expected that I would receive a refund from Airbnb.

I learned at that time that it is Airbnb that holds reservation deposits and not hosts, so hosts actually have nothing to refund. It is completely disingenuous to blame hosts for Airbnb’s decision, undoubtedly motivated by greed. That they are doing this during a major global health and economic crisis is truly reprehensible. They are pretending to have a sensible, fair, customer-friendly policy to deal with current conditions but this is just smoke-and-mirrors. They just want to keep the money.

That will prove to be a very short-sighted decision for them. I have been a regular Airbnb customer and am in my prime travel years. They are not the only private rental platform out there. What a disgraceful company.

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Airbnb Punishes COVID-19’s Most Vulnerable

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My mum booked the whole family a weekend away for May and paid half of the cost of the accommodation up front. On March 16, the UK Government announced that all over 70s and anyone with an underlying health condition should self-isolate due to COVID-19. This was quickly followed by a further announcement on March 20 for a full lockdown of the country.

As three of our party are considered part of the vulnerable group (my mum included), we decided to cancel our booking. We made it clear that this was a COVID-19 cancellation and the host stated that he understood our position. My mum received a notification on her account stating that she would receive a refund of £240. All good – we were happy because this is all we had paid so far so would be getting a full refund.

After we didn’t receive the funds my mum got in contact with Airbnb. It turned out that this £240 was a refund of the whole cost of accommodation and not what we had paid so far, in short, we would get nothing back. Of course we questioned this as we believed we qualified for a COVID-19 refund but apparently we cancelled ‘too early’ despite our reacting to government guidelines.

What’s worse is we could have applied for a refund under the Extenuating Circumstances policy but because our position wasn’t made clear for sometime, the 14-day appeal period had long since expired. Airbnb told us we would need to rely on our host to give us a refund, which he, of course, refused. Turns out he’s not so understanding after all.

We made this cancellation in good faith that we were covered under the COVID-19 policy (our date is included in it now) but because of the miscommunication and not only confusing but ever changing policies we are to lose our money. An example of Airbnb penalising those who fall in the vulnerable category but outside their policies. Shady to say the least.

Our host has now ghosted us as we tried to appeal to his better nature. Obviously we will be getting my friends and family on TripAdvisor to give him the review he deserves.

Sick of Greedy Airbnb Hosts

I’m trying to get a partial refund from our host as we unfortunately had to cancel our trip due to COVID-19. Her cancellation policy is strict but a tiny bit of compassion and flexibility would be so welcome these days. Times are tough for everyone — I get this — but the host (who is a real estate agent by the way) is ignoring our emails which I find extremely frustrating.

Airbnb has tried to help but with no success. I have never reported a listing or complained about anybody online but I find the greedy attitude of this Airbnb host baffling and frankly I am sick of these sort of people. We are shutting down our account and will be looking at more ethical travel options. If you are travelling to Inverness, Scotland spend your travel money wisely and stay away from this host.

Airbnb Keeping Money Despite Full Refund Promised

This text was also submitted to the Florida Attorney General and other sites. I made several Airbnb reservations for an extended trip, and made sure the cancellation policy for each allowed for a full refund up to 14 days ahead.

Then coronavirus struck, and as a senior citizen we decided to cancel. I have two complaints. The first is that despite very clear words on the reservation page and confirmation email that I would get a full refund, Airbnb is keeping their service fee. They provided a rule that only three are refundable per year, and my trip involved seven, so I would lose four service fees or about $210 of my $950.

My complaint is they practiced deceptive advertising: the reservation page said “full refund until September 1”, but users would have to click a link for full details, then from that page a second link with more information let someone find this rule in the “fine print”. An exception that overturns my ability to get the full refund promised on the checkout page should be clearly stated on the first page and as part of the checkout process, not requiring the user to click backup “info” links and searching through backup webpages.

The second and bigger issue is that I settled for losing these four service fees to get the bulk of my money back. I cancelled the reservations and have emails stating they are refunding me $740 of my $950, but after ten days I called and they said my refund failed with no explanation, and any attempts to resolve this have been not only unsuccessful, they will not even talk to me or reply to my messaging.

When I call, I can talk to their first-line clerk but they know nothing and cannot help. They say they “will elevate” the call but nobody ever gets back to me. When I message them, they ignore me and do not reply. Airbnb is deceptive and in my opinion criminally keeping my money but there is nothing I can do.

Airbnb Nightmare: Can’t Leave Australia for UK Airbnb

I am trying to get Airbnb to refund my $3000 deposit for a house booking in London for July 3, 2020. The last of my 50-odd attempts to contact Airbnb was through its support email. It bounced back: “We’re writing to let you know that the group you tried to contact (support) may not exist.”

I had my four children at home at Christmas and as a gift I booked a house in London through Airbnb in order to give all my family a well-earned holiday after years of hard University study. As I am 64 years old, when the WHO declared a pandemic, I got scared and cancelled the booking on March 20 thinking I would get my deposit refunded.

Apparently according to Airbnb, the coronavirus pandemic is not an extenuating circumstance and I should toddle off to London in July with all of my family. We may all die; however this apparently is not a problem. Dealing with Airbnb for a refund has been the most frustrating experience of my life .

The information below is the gist of my submissions to Airbnb:

I am having great difficulty phoning or contacting Airbnb. I am receiving zero support and zero resolution.

In a nutshell I booked and paid for an apartment in London in December 2019 for July 3-8, 2020. I recently cancelled the booking because of the extenuating circumstance that the Australian government has banned overseas travel and because of my age I will probably die if I contract coronavirus.

The host has written to me and declined to pay back my deposit. She is “deeply sorry”. However, my $3000 deposit should ease her sorrow particularly in view of the fact that it is money for nothing. I would like to know where my money is and when it is being transferred to the host.

Although we are not directly covered by the specific COVID-19 policy we are clearly covered by the general extenuating circumstances policy on the following grounds:

  1. Government-mandated obligations – there is an indefinite ban on Australians travelling abroad under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and my son and daughter are government employees who cannot travel under order of government directives. We face imprisonment and other penalties if we breach the Biosecurity Order.
  2. Travel restrictions – the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has the following specific advice for the UK “We now advise you to: do not travel to the United Kingdom.”
  3. Transportation disruptions – at this time it is impossible to secure travel to the United Kingdom that is reliable. There have been endless cancelations and rescheduling. There is not a reliable way to book travel to the UK at this time
  4. Epidemic disease or illness – the WHO declared a pandemic; the Olympics have been cancelled for the first time since WWII and children in the UK are saying goodbye to their parents via video link as they die. The policy at the time of our booking clearly states that an epidemic declared by a credible organisation is sufficient as an extenuating circumstance.

The booking was for a house in Kensington. We chose this so our entire family could attend. The purpose of this accommodation was for my family to have a holiday together after my daughter’s wedding in Scotland.

Included in our party to arrive was my son and daughter. He is a medical practitioner and junior House Officer at Cairns Base Hospital. He is employed by Queensland Health, a state government department in the pediatric department while she is a teacher employer by the Department of Education.

At the time of lodging this request for a refund, both of them have “indefinite” bans on international travel. According to a COVID-19 team brief he has received, he has been requested by the QLD government health authorities not to go on leave, while schoolteachers are also banned by the Department of Education.

Please note that although our travel was for July, Australians are legally banned from travelling abroad indefinitely at this time. The Prime Minister announced a ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and this is in addition to the standing advice to not travel overseas by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is effective indefinitely and our family risks imprisonment, fines and potentially quarantine on a remote island on our return.

This means that at this time we are legally prevented from travelling. The only logical way to read this policy is that if someone is banned from travelling to the country right now and indefinitely into the future they have an obligation not to travel and have an extenuating circumstance under this possible. Any alternative to this reading is not workable.

For example, if a person was not allowed to travel because they had been charged with a crime it is possible at some point in the future the charges may be dropped and the ban lifted. However ‘possibilities’ are besides the point. We are legally barred from travelling by the law right now. The Australian government has advised multiple times Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least six months.

According to this news article, the following applies to international travel :

Thousands of Australians have been left stranded overseas as airlines cancel flights and countries across the globe shut their borders entirely in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

Australians caught by closed borders, airport shutdowns, cancelled flights or soaring ticket prices say they are trying to heed the government’s advice to return home for the duration of the pandemic, but can’t. 

At least 100 Australians are isolated in Peru after the government in Lima closed all borders and land crossings and stopped international flights in and out.

At this time it is impossible from any practical standpoint to book travel as international travel at this time is completely unreliable. This is further backed up by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which advises:

If you’re in the United Kingdom and want to return to Australia, check your route carefully with your airline or travel agent as a number of key transit hubs, including the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dubai), Hong Kong and Singapore are suspending flights, including transits.

Please note that our claim clearly meets the epidemic disease or illness under the current policy. However, the policy as it existed at the time of our booking in January was much more clear. It is this policy that formed a part of our contract, in which valid circumstances include:

  • Urgent travel restrictions or severe security advisories issued after the time of booking, by an appropriate national or international authority (such as a government office or department)
  • Endemic disease declared by a credible national or international authority (such as the US Centres for Disease Control or the World Health Organization)

The Australian Government has now advised every Australian not to travel overseas in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The WHO has declared this a pandemic. This happened after we made our reservation. Under the clear policy in place at the time we booked we clearly meet this circumstance. There was not a special review policy at the time of our booking.

The current policy, Epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii is also clearly met by the current circumstances.

My wife and I are over 60 and this places us in the most vulnerable group for overseas travel. The American Centre for Disease Control CDC has advised people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus to stock up on supplies and avoid venturing out of their homes, except when necessary.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has made it impossible for my family to travel to London to take up accommodation in Kensington in July. I booked the house in order to give my family a well-earned holiday after years and years of hard University study.

My daughter (a state school teacher) was going to be married in Scotland and then we were travelling to London. The Queensland Government has now banned all State School Teachers from overseas travel. My son is a doctor and Queensland Health Department have banned him from overseas travel also. My youngest son was going to travel from Canada however he cannot get there as Canada has closed its borders. My eldest son is an Immigration Agent and Australia has now closed its borders and ended his business.

The Australian Prime Minister has made a statement listing new measures to protect Australians from Coronavirus. The Prime Minister says, “Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months”. As of this writing there have been 472,529 cases and 21,305 deaths from Coronavirus.

Because of  the danger, the travel bans and all the listed extenuating circumstances I am asking Airbnb to reconsider the $0.00 AUD refund and have my full deposit returned.

We were really looking forward to this holiday and I realise that Airbnb’s business will be badly affected on a worldwide scale. We have used Airbnb many times and may look at a new booking at a later date when it is safe.

Airbnb Inconsiderate of Older Travelers

Airbnb refused to refund my March 18-25 stay, which I cancelled on March 9 after the CDC urged people over 60 to socially distance and not travel. Their ‘extenuating circumstances’ policy for refunds doesn’t kick in until March 14, days after the CDC issued contrary guidelines for older travelers. This makes no sense and is, if anything, discriminating to those of us in that age cohort. I’ve long been an Airbnb booster, but this ends now.