Loopholes Enabling Unethical Airbnb Host to Bait and Switch

I booked a long-term stay for a two-bedroom apartment in NYC on Airbnb for two people. When I was doing the search, it showed the same price for one, two, or more guests in the same apartment. The confirmation came back for one person somehow, so I immediately (less than ten minutes from booking) corrected that in the app and received another confirmation for two people.

I was looking into the address details of the booking I just paid $3,500 for. Surprisingly it still only showed the street name without any other details. So I contacted the host — appeared to be some company instead of an individual host — who insisted that because the reservation showed only one person (who is rich enough to book a two-bedroom apartment for just one person in NYC?), they wanted to charge me more than $1,000 for it.

I looked back into the app, which in fact, still showed the same price for even three or four people. They claimed that it was a system error. At that point, I believed them, and allowed them to cancel so I could rebook. There were plenty other properties around that did not cost more than what they originally charged plus $1,000. This was within 20 minutes of booking.

I contacted Airbnb support. They said that on their end I was confirmed for two people and the price was right. So I let them handle it. The operator also said if I felt uncomfortable with the host, I could cancel for free within 48 hours. The next day, Airbnb support called me, informed me that the host insisted on extra charges even though it was advertised with two people with the price I already paid. And if I cancelled, they could only offer a $150 coupon to book again on Airbnb. They just pocketed $3250 dollars.

The host claimed it was an error with Airbnb, but they refused to accept the full refund cancellation request. Instead they intend to just keep my money or ask for even more. This is all within 24 hours of booking. So, Airbnb leaves me with two choices: either pay $1,000 above the market rate to accept the booking, or lose $3,000 more to cancel. That is the place where Airbnb want their customers to be.

Reservation Cancelled for No Reasonable Reason

I made an Airbnb reservation at certain price for five days. The same day I made the reservation I contacted the host with some doubts and she asked me for an increase per night on my reservation and an increase of days; if I didn’t agree, she asked me to cancel my reservation. I didn’t cancel, so she did.

It’s been disappointing that I can’t complain on a review for this specific host because the booking is cancelled. The cancellation policy for hosts is ridiculous; it’s so significant that they can cancel whenever they want, assuming no consequences. On the other hand, customer service does nothing. They even responded offering a discount on another reservation (which I don’t have). They don’t know even what they’re taking about.

I hope that Airbnb’s headquarters cares about its clients (as customers service clearly doesn’t) and I get at least the simple request I’m making: to be able to write a review on the person who did this to me, as I actually had an experience with the host, even if the reservation got cancelled. I have all the WhatsApp conversations with her asking me to pay more and increase the dates.

Take care of your clients. I’m now afraid of using Airbnb as hosts can cancel on me whenever they want. I hope I finally find someone who can actually hear me.

Airbnb Complicit with Hosts on Bait and Switch Fraud

These are the facts regarding two identical occurrences over a 10-month period where Airbnb was complicit with hosts in a fraudulent bait and switch business practice. The first instance cost me $2,000, and the second instance cost me an additional $600. If you are a lawyer reading this and are interested in a lawsuit against Airbnb, class action or otherwise, please contact me.

I’ve spent hours upon hours communicating with the overseas customer support center. On the first occurrence Airbnb admitted to their wrongdoing. On the second, no admission. I have pages upon pages of these communications and the lackluster efforts of Airbnb customer support.

First I made a booking and sent payment to Airbnb. A receipt of the transaction was provided to me. Then the host cancelled with no explanation given. Eventually a refund of payment was issued by Airbnb. Immediately after the cancellation, for the exact time period of the booking, the host raised rates, and was allowed by Airbnb to book new guests at the raised rates.

I was told by Airbnb customer support to find a new Airbnb to book, as there was “nothing they can do.” Airbnb and the host both financially profit more from the new bookings at the higher rates, after my cancellation. Per Airbnb’s policy regarding host cancellations per the company’s website, the following actions did not occur.

A. The host’s calendar will become blocked and they won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the cancelled reservation.

B. If the host cancels before the day of check-in, an automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile. These reviews cannot be removed.

C. “Superhost” status was maintained, although neither listing met the 1% cancellation rate threshold at the time.

D. In neither instance was an Instabook used, which gives the host wiggle room to avoid penalty under an “uncomfortable with reservation” loophole.

So to summarize, Airbnb and the host both benefitted financially at my expense due to the host’s post-cancellation rate increases for the same exact time period. To me, this is a clear cut bait and switch fraudulent business practice. It was communicated to me but Airbnb customer support found another Airbnb reservation, the host’s “Superhost” status was not revoked, and in my opinion this is a complete fraud of a designation. The automated message in the host’s reviews detailing the cancellation was never posted to warn future guests of the risk they are taking with a particular host. So the reviews you read are not inclusive of cancellations, and in my opinion, fraudulent.

Airbnb Denies Comic Con Cancellation Refund

We reserved a property with Airbnb last November for Comic Con 20 in July. On April 17, Comic Con was cancelled due to the World Health Organization gathering guidelines dated March 11 and California Governor Newsom stating that group gatherings in California before August could not happen.

When I tried to rebook the property for Comic Con 21 next year, I discovered the property had been marked up $10,000 for our five-day stay. Instead of costing $6472 like it did this year, it was marked up to $16,879 for a stay of the same duration and for the same reason, a 180% markup.

I cancelled my reservation and requested a full refund of the $3264 I had made on the first of two installments. On April 9, Airbnb had said their COVID-19 full refund only applied through May 31 and despite having an extenuating circumstance policy for epidemic disease, it did not apply to COVID-19 cases.

Since my COVID-19 case was after May 31, then neither the COVID-19 or epidemic disease policy would cover my cancellation refund. This is also when I found out that the Airbnb 50% refund policy is not a 50% refund of what you pay, but 50% of the total bill, so instead of about $1500 back from my initial payment, I got $62.

I appealed to the property owner. Their response was to talk to Airbnb. I appealed to Airbnb, and they told me to talk to the property owner. So when I paid last November, my money was effectively gone after 48 hours. I had at least three different conversations with Airbnb and the host, but they insisted that the COVID-19 policy to May 31 was the end all and be all policy and did not apply to the Comic Con COVID-19 cancellation in July.

The COVID-19 and epidemic disease policies for Airbnb deny the reality of the pandemic after May 31. Ironically, this same property is listed on VrBO with a full refund policy through May 22, 2020. I am moving on to arbitration via the American Arbitration Association.

Airbnb Invades Privacy and Preys on the Poor

When you keep your nightly rate going up and down, you’re trying to desperately get more guests in, so you can pay your rent – and the algorithm knows that. Of course, the more desperate for cash you are, the more likely you are to be booked by indecent guests. So it happened with me.

This guest was an influencer (of course), rated low on cleaning and observing house rules. I had to give it a go; I couldn’t miss my rent payment. Furthermore, if hosts cancel they will be penalised.

I entered 48 hours of hell, between this couple having sex in common areas, taking my bath towels and leaving them on the floor, while simultaneously trashing the whole place like a frat house, with a sense of entitlement and superiority: “I hate Germans, they dress bad and are annoying,” she said. I’m not German, and it doesn’t take Martin Luther King to forbid that kind of language into my home.

I reported her to Airbnb. Airbnb disclosed my report to her – violating my privacy, EU/US privacy laws and putting me in a dangerous position. I got a bad, fake review (of course) where she clearly states “I filed a report on her.”

This violates Airbnb content policy, but Airbnb won’t remove it. After numerous email exchanges they finally provided me with their legal department address (of course, in order to make things more difficult, they only gave me a postal address), and closed the case, saying “this is our final decision.”

This is the message for Airbnb hosts: If you experience a prejudiced incident and you decide to report it, be prepared for a violation of your privacy rights, a lower booking rate and therefore less money to cover your rent. Disgusting.

Airbnb is running a poverty-line, slave-powered system. It will be replaced one day; the very nature of business capitalism finds a way. Whatever they do to me will be done to them.

Host Cancelled Booking then Offered it for Double the Price

I would just like to share my recent experience with Airbnb. I booked and paid for a property in New Orleans in August 2018 in preparation for Mardi Gras February 2020, three weeks ago. After just shy of 12 months of it being booked, the host canceled and the host’s booking page was suspended. I did received a full refund which was little help as the prices in New Orleans have gone up considerably; Mardi Gras is approximately five months away now. The thing that has really annoyed me is that last night the host messaged me through Airbnb to inform me the house is available again albeit just over double what I’d initially paid. My first booking totaled £1019 now the host’s price for the exact same dates are £2189. Could someone please explain to me in what world can this sort of practice be legal or acceptable?

Airbnb Invoice after Holiday for Additional Money

I used Airbnb thousands of times; it was never big a problem until now. My boyfriend booked accommodation for 1900 pounds for four months. After two months, the host told him he was not the owner of the flat and the owner would come tomorrow for they keys; he was going to cancel the reservation.

Airbnb called him (my boyfriend) to see if he agreed to end the reservation because the host wanted to cancel – he said yes. He found new accommodation through Airbnb and waited for his refund. He checked his profile to find a completely different reservation – the reservation was only for two months and the price had doubled.

He contacted Airbnb support. They told him that his host didn’t cancel the reservation; he wanted to avoid a fine so he made a change to the existing one. Tomorrow he will be charged a one-time payment of 450 pounds, which he tried to avoid, making the total for not even two months’ accommodation 1500 pounds.

Airbnb, instead of solving this, insisted that the price had doubled – 30 pounds for one night instead of 15 – because he stayed only two months, but it was not his choice. We can’t block the payment through the bank. I think this is insane after the accommodation, reservation and agreed-upon price, they still charged our credit card because they decided they wanted a higher price for his stay.

Screwed Over and Stranded After Host Cancelled

I booked a place in New Orleans a month ahead of a music festival we were going to attend. The night before our reservation, the host cancelled our reservation without any explanation. We needed to search for a new place, and during the search, I saw our original rental available for the very same dates, but for 2.5 times the rate we had originally booked a month prior. The host must have not have known that the festival was occurring, but upon realizing it, decided to callously screw over three people by stranding us with less than 24 hours before our flight to New Orleans.

Throughout the ensuing discussion with Airbnb customer service and our frantic search for lodging, Airbnb handled this situation incredibly poorly. I was repeatedly promised call backs within timeframes that were not met, and I waited well into the wee hours of the night trying to resolve our lodging situation for the flight the next morning. Airbnb admitted as much as this sort of practice by hosts is not tolerated, and yet they allowed the host to get away with this scot-free.

The major reasons we booked the original space was due to its cheap price (as the entire trip was already stretching our budgets) and its close proximity to the festival venue. When trying to book places with similar proximity, Airbnb refused, stating that the prices were not comparable. Well of course they weren’t; we were now forced to make a last-minute booking during a very busy weekend. Airbnb refused to take responsibility in this case and provide us with an equivalent replacement without tripling our original booking rate. At one point, they even suggested we rebook our original place at the surged rate. They encouraged this extortion that they attempted to claim was not tolerable.

In the end, after hours of countless messages and calls well into the night and the next morning right up until we had to leave for the airport, we were left with a house miles farther than our original place (which ruined many of the plans we had made, including being able to walk to the venue, causing transportation costs to further inflate the trip’s budget) at hundreds of dollars more. I understand that cancellations will happen, but if the risk exists that these cancellations can occur so last minute and solely due to the greed of the host, and that Airbnb will refuse to take responsibility and even encourage hosts from extorting guests, than I must refuse to use this service ever again. An example of the utterly callous communication with Airbnb customer service is attached. They could not care less about unsatisfied and frustrated customers. If you are visiting New Orleans in the future, do not book here.

Airbnb changes calendars’ set prices regularly

Hosts, If you haven’t noticed Airbnb will change your set prices so they can sell the room. It seems there is an algorithm that lets them override your set price so the room will be booked. I offered a holiday weekend at a high price. Frankly, I didn’t care if it rented or not, so I set it high. The rates were fixed, not variable, and about $20 more than my usual rate. The room was rented for $10 per night less than my “set” price. This times four nights =$40. I doubt the company kept this money but rather they made an override so the room would be rented. I have initiated a service ticket for this. I was looking back at my bookings and noticed actually a number of nights that were let for odd numbers that ended in cents and were not the set prices of the calendar. If they are going to do this we should be notified. Otherwise it is at worst fraudulent.