Ransomware Attack Doesn’t Qualify as Extenuating Circumstances?

My family booked a trip in the mountains for North Carolina. Three days before our trip, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked and held for ransomware. This lead to a gas shortage and state of emergency that was declared in the state. We contacted Airbnb customer service to see if we could cancel our trip due to the state of emergency and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to make it to our destination. They told us they would look into it.

We reached out to them every day for five days, and continued to be told they were looking into it. Finally, after our trip was scheduled to be over, they came back and said it wasn’t covered under the extenuating circumstances policy but wouldn’t tell us why, even though a government-declared state of emergency is clearly listed as part of the policy. We asked for a manager to give us a call, so that they could give us a better explanation.

Instead of a call, a manager that was based in Europe emailed us to let us know that the decision was final and that she couldn’t call us in the U.S. because of the time zone difference. We asked for a manager located in North America or more specifically in the eastern time zone. She came back and said if we want to talk to someone, we can call the customer service line again and start over with a new ambassador. We still believe that our claim falls under the extenuating circumstances policy and would really like to talk to someone that understands why the decision was made to deny the claim.

Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

Penalized for Cancellation due to COVID Exposure

My friend and I booked a week in a New York state lake house for August. Five days before the vacation was to begin, her roommate was exposed to COVID, and said roommate wasn’t aware of her exposure until three days before our trip, at which point she informed my friend.

Out of an abundance of caution, concern, and unwillingness to potentially spread COVID, we made the painful choice to cancel our trip. The host was immediately rude, behaved like we’d set out to screw her out of money intentionally, and mocked us for believing COVID to be a concern. Airbnb was zero help, and didn’t seem to give a damn about the fact that we were operating under extenuating circumstances while trying to be good members of our national community.

We managed to get half our money back after extensive time spent publicly confronting Airbnb on various social media channels, but the entire thing was disgraceful, and cemented the distrust I’ve always had for Airbnb (I mean, what with destroying rental markets, pricing locals out of their communities, and the racism far too prevalent on their platform). I will never book through them again.

Airbnb and its Hosts’ Unethical Practices

In November I booked a stay at an Airbnb one bedroom condominium in Palm Springs listed as for mid-February to late March. Per Airbnb requirements, I paid a total deposit of $3,135 for this to Airbnb. At the time, COVID-19 was declining.

Then in December 2020, the COVID situation turned worse in California and on Jan. 6, the California Department of Public Health issued a travel advisory stating that “non-essential travelers from other states or countries are strongly discouraged from entering California.” The official state document issued by the governor’s office, referenced in the travel advisory, also included a restriction that stated for “hotels and lodging: allow to open for critical infrastructure support only.”

Based these conditions and further recommendations by Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health professionals that the COVID-19 crisis was still on the rise in California and not likely to see a reduction soon, and that Riverside County (home to Palm Springs) had one of the highest infection rates in the country, I cancelled the reservation in mid-January and told both Airbnb and the hosts that I would be willing to use my refund amount to rebook at this property at a later date and suggested specific dates in April and May.

The host told me they (and Airbnb) agreed to this in January and told me “they would contact Airbnb to find out how to allow me to book for these new dates using the $3,135 I already paid” for the reservation in February. During the next two weeks, I kept asking them when they would do this. They kept saying “we are busy and will do today” but they never did.

After two weeks of pleading with them to follow up on their agreement to allow me to rebook using my deposit for the original reservation, and still no action on their part, I had no choice but to realize they never intended to allow me to rebook using my deposit. When I contacted Airbnb, they told me “the host was refusing to release my deposit” to use for a booking in the future. When the host finally did respond, after I repeatedly complained to Airbnb, the host told me “it was really Airbnb that was not allowing them (the hosts) to use my deposit to rebook at a later date.”

So now the hosts were blaming Airbnb for this debacle. I’m stuck in the middle of the hosts saying Airbnb won’t let them rebook my new dates using my deposit, and Airbnb saying the hosts won’t allow a refund. Both Airbnb and the hosts were blaming each other. In the meantime, the hosts rebooked guests into their property during the time I originally booked so they are receiving payments for the new bookings and keeping my deposit. Essentially making twice the price for the time between mid-February and the end of March while I’m out $3,135.

While this may not be illegal, I certainly think it is unethical and wrong. Then to top this off, the host tried to get me to put an additional deposit down for future dates and saying they “would release my original deposit when they received additional deposits for future dates.” I told them they must think I’m a fool if they thought I would give them more money while they still had my original deposit and would not use it to rebook. How these hosts can maintain their status as “Superhosts” while consistently lying to me is unbelievable. How Airbnb sanctions this wrongful behavior is equally unbelievable to me.

Hoped to Go Back to Paris, Ended Up Out $400

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Like most folks, we were feeling lockdown blue in the late fall of 2020. Our family has traveled to Paris a few times over the years, so we thought we’d give it shot for a late March trip in the hope that the world would be a bit more open. We went big this year and planned a two-week trip and found a small apartment in Montmartre. A couple of airplane tickets and a great room booked, we felt a little light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.

Fast forward to this week. We had decided to start checking out things and making new arrangements, as needed, a month out. When I researched France’s current travel restrictions, it seemed obvious that we couldn’t go. With a bit of a sigh and consolation that we’d stay stateside, we proceeded to cancel our airline tickets (full value in an e-credit through Delta with no problems) and attempted to cancel our room.

I expected and would have been fine with a reasonable cost related to cancelling the room. No luck. Airbnb stated it was up to the host to refund the $400+ we had paid. The host denied the request and Airbnb (even after reaching out on Twitter) deferred to the original support contact.

Did Airbnb offer or suggest any other solution? No.

Did they agree to refund their fee (25% of the deposit)? No.

While many travel companies are working hard to care for people who are willing to travel, Airbnb imposes a policy that protects them and their hosts with no consideration for the travel restrictions. Perhaps the host will decide to show us some consideration and agree to some of his share being returned. Airbnb seems to be happy keeping their money and losing another customer after 10 trips since 2014.

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Host Called Cops On Us But They Hate Her Too

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We rented an Airbnb called the “streamside forest peaceful” in Salida, Colorado from a host for $1,900 for five nights. Even with some bad reviews about her being nasty, spying on people, not refunding damage deposits, and a mouse problem, we were desperate so I reluctantly booked it.

After I booked it she sent a lengthy contract with crazy details. Others had complained about this as well. I have never seen a contract sent after the booking. Anyways, we got to the tiny trail of a road behind a cow gate and it looked sketchy. The contract said a 4×4 was recommended but that she maintains the drive. In 19 years of going to Colorado we have never taken a 4×4. Two years ago we had five feet of snow that week and still only used front wheel drive. We were in a front wheel drive Buick Enclave.

We started up the slight incline and it was sheer ice and clumped up snow that hadn’t been cared for at all. I have attached a picture. The car immediately started spinning out and turning sideways in the road. My husband had everyone get out thinking that may help. The kids went in the house which was dangerous even walking to, and we continued to try to get the car to either go up or down. No luck. We got a shovel and that was a joke.

After pushing and accelerating, it backed up a bit but then got stuck again. At that point we called the host. She offered no solution and told my husband the contract said we should have 4×4 and she was not responsible for his inability to drive. What a joke. He was a police officer and drove in every condition as well as driving every year to Colorado with no problems.

My husband told the host we needed to call a tow truck. She offered no assistance and he said we needed to cancel because we couldn’t get to her house. Even if we got towed to the drive, we would be stuck all week. She then hung up on him. I called her back and she didn’t answer.

I cancelled the reservation even though it was obviously past the refund date, thinking Airbnb would consider it extenuating circumstances and we would still get a refund. Then she messaged me and told me to leave the property or she would call the police. We left having no place to go, exhausted from driving 13 hours. It took all of us pushing the car to get it back to the end of the trail to the cow gate.

We were parked on the side of the road when the police came up to talk to us about the “trespassing report.” The policeman said: “Oh, we know her! She is always calling the police about stuff. Her neighbors hate her and we can’t stand her.”

We had a good laugh about what a miserable person she is and they went on their way. After that I messaged three other hosts looking for a new place to see if we would have the same driveway problem and all three said they maintain the property and it was all clear, like it should be. We rented a new place from VRBO. The host was so gracious and the road and drive completely clear.

Now the fight with Airbnb started. They completely leave it up to the host whether they refund you or not. Do you think she would refund us? — she got to keep every dime. I’m sorry the host is such a greedy miserable person that wouldn’t refund a family on vacation.

Airbnb’s Cancellation Policy Leaves Guest Out $1.6K

I am planning on relocating to San Miguel de Allende so I booked a one week stay in a darling casita in January. When I realized the pandemic wouldn’t allow me to travel in January, I changed my reservation for the entire month of April. Now it looks like April is too soon to travel also so I wanted to cancel until we get the all-clear travel advisory.

I was told that I could cancel for a full refund up to 24 hours before my reservation. Now Airbnb is withholding all my money for the first 30 days (my entire reservation) and only refunding me $25 out of almost $1,600. This company sucks and I will never use them again. I will post warnings to others wherever I can. This company needs to be replaced with one that actually has customer service.

Not Sure Which Was Worse: the Robber or Airbnb

This got a bit complicated when I was robbed at gunpoint where I lost everything, even my pair of heels. They got away with my phone that had my email address and the number I used so I couldn’t access my Airbnb account. I hoped to reach a past host who told me to create another account and get a hold of customer support, which I did and explained my story. I was told to go ahead.

I made a booking. After Airbnb verified my account, they took the sum of $3,786. Then the app told me I needed to verify it myself. This is after they took money from an account which has the same name as my profile. Then about two hours later when I was checking for instructions I found that the booking had been cancelled.

I tried to get hold of support for leaving me stranded. I had to use my week’s food budget just to book a place for the night thinking this would be sorted and I would be accommodated by the next day. This was while Airbnb still had my money.

During the early hours on Saturday I got an email stating that I had been refunded but it would take seven days for the funds to show. The day before I had to pawn my laptop, iPad, and jewelry so I could book alternative accommodations and I still haven’t heard a word from them.

My accommodation in the meantime has cost me $540 in money I borrowed against my valuables. I’m trapped in Capetown due to COVID-19 and get money from family abroad. I can’t Skype with my kids or FaceTime all because I trusted Airbnb. I emailed the CEO, but nothing. Not even an automated message. I swear that I’m holding them responsible for my losses. This is a load of BS, taking people’s money and then ignoring them. I’m very disappointed.

Airbnb is a Scam and Supports Thieves

I have to share my nightmare story with Airbnb supporting theft via their site via a man in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. One evening a couple of weeks ago, we booked a place via Airbnb. A few minutes after we called to check in, we were told we needed to pay €30 extra for a late check in. This cash requirement late at night seemed dodgy and we immediately cancelled the booking.

Surprise, surprise: the host had a ‘no cancellation refund’ policy. In the meantime, I contacted the host to explain that we had booked for three days and it was a mistake. The host agreed to repay some small part of the amount I paid. I paid £143 and he agreed to repay €125 minus taxes; all in all, a big amount lost for nothing.

Then he kept making excuses that I should ask for the money back via Airbnb, which was the first thing I did. He kept claiming he could not see the request, which was clearly a lie. Then I realized that he kept leading me on so I didn’t have the time to write a bad review. Instead, I cut my losses and wrote a very expensive bad review for the host.

Airbnb has been on his side not compensating me in any shape or form. Therefore, the host, with Airbnb’s blessing and full support, stole £143 from my account. Please beware of these thieves. I was also a host on Airbnb. Needless to say, they have lost me with this support for thieves.

Beware of these scammers; do not book their place. Use Booking.com — what you see is what you get with no hidden fees and theft of money from accounts with lack of service provision.

Superhost Status is a Joke for Cancellations

I had booked an Airbnb in Sydney well in advance for my wife’s significant birthday in April. Exactly two months before check in, we made the difficult decision to postpone our trip from New Zealand due to the Australian bush fires (smoke which was polluting Sydney’s air) and the worsening worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

We advised our Superhost, believing that we were doing the decent thing by letting them know well in advance. Because we had passed the free cancellation period, the Superhost refused to refund any of our money (we’d paid for half the stay), saying she’d refund us if she secured a replacement booking for the same dates. Despite our pleas, she was immovable and wouldn’t listen to reason.

By the time Easter arrived, Australia and New Zealand were in lockdown so we wouldn’t have been able to travel anyway. We contacted Airbnb to get their help but initially there was confusion as both parties (Airbnb and the Superhost) said it was the other’s decision whether to refund me. Neither wanted to make a decision. As I had no luck with the Superhost, I turned my attention to Airbnb Support to try to have them refund me from Airbnb’s not insignificant funds.

They’ve so far refused to, citing in email after email their Extenuating Circumstances policy and that I was not covered by this (since I’d had the decency and foresight to cancel before the policy was introduced). I’ve also emailed senior management at Airbnb to ask them to help but no one has replied to my emails, preferring to pass my request onto the Airbnb Support team, who keep giving me the corporate line about not being able to help. They do apologize each time though.

The senior Airbnb staff I’ve contacted repeatedly — most recently on all correspondence with all the different “Support Ambassadors” assigned to my emails — have included Brian Chesky (CEO and Founder); Susan Wheeldon (Australia & New Zealand Country Manager); Tara Bunch (Global Head of Operations) and Derek Nolan (Head of Public Policy, Australia and New Zealand). But. Not. One. Response.

I’m not sure where to go from here. Guess I’ll keep emailing them so they have to assign another Support Ambassador to me. Or maybe by some miracle Brian or Susan or Tara or Derek will get in touch. Or I’ll get that refund I asked for months ago.