Let me begin first by saying that I sincerely value what the Airbnb company provides and the opportunities it offers for people to choose their home away from home. Airbnb is my go-to choice when I want to find a unique and personal accommodation when I’m not home. The additional welcoming hospitality from the hosts makes my stays even more memorable. However, that is not always the case and sometime the host fails to deliver.
Unfortunately, this is what happened during my last trip. This complaint is against Airbnb for not vetting their hosts sufficiently enough and not being able to resolve an issue knowing that a host was unprofessional and unable to provide the access for a guest to check in. This complaint is also against Airbnb for assigning a resolutions specialist who deliberately used pivot tactics to misconstrue presented facts and avoided providing the answers, who demonstrated a lack of action and unwillingness to comply with the Airbnb Guest Refund policy, and who were not able to manage a host and act as a mediator to enforce the company policy and the terms of agreement between the host and the client.
This complaint is also against Airbnb for their unwillingness to accept the corporate responsibility and not resolving the matter in due time, consequentially causing an additional cost to its client in a form of two calendar days of vacation until the matter had to be escalated to a banking institution. Finally, the complaint is against Airbnb for not providing me a full refund for services not delivered. I strongly advised the case manager to resolve this matter amicably before I have to contact the bank. The case manager was also advised that further escalation could also lead to respective requests and reviews on BBB, CFPB, FTC, other affiliated agencies, Yelp, FB and other social media platforms.
My wife, our dog and I were returning back to our home from our ten-day vacation. Our dog is subject to anxiety attacks and has to take his calming medication during travelling. Our last stop was going to be a one-night stay in Dallas on August 29-30, 2019. The drive to Dallas was approximately six hours to reach our Airbnb destination. The reservation was paid in full on August 4th and all required documentation submitted and approved in advance.
The terms of agreement explicitly stated the check-in was at 4:00 PM onwards as our normal check-in time. That means the access should have been readily available any time after 4:00 PM. There was no additional agreement outside of the confirmed reservation. I complied with the terms of the agreement. The host did not.
The host also requested a minimum of 45-minute advance notice in order to meet us at the property when we arrive. I complied. The host did not. I sent the host a text message at 13:54 with a precise ETA between 18:30 and 19:00. This advance notice was sent well before the 45-minute requirement set by the host. They had plenty of time to prepare and provide access. Please note that the original terms of agreement did not include a provision for a delay. Late check-in was not discussed in advance. Late check-in would have been declined and a different host would have been chosen instead. However, a 10-15 minute delay would have been tolerated.
We arrived at 18:25. That was only five minutes earlier than the advised ETA of 18:30. The key wasn’t available. The host representative was also not present. We advised in advance our arrival time as requested by the host. The host was not ready. The access was not available.
This is a clear discrepancy and a deviation from the original terms of the agreement. The host demonstrated a gross negligence and lack of professionalism. The failure to provide the key in due time is a clear violation of terms of agreement. The provided ETA was within five minutes after six hours of driving. This is precise and more than sufficient to enable prompt access as per terms of agreement. The key was initially provided and placed in the lock box.
This situation and the delay would not have happened if the key was not removed by the host for an unknown reason. The key was removed from the lockbox without notifying me in advance. The delay was not advised in advance.
I immediately called the host once the key was found to be missing. A host representative promised the key would be delivered within 15 minutes. This was already the breach of terms of agreement, but I agreed to wait. By this time our dog started to exhibit the first signs of the anxiety attack after the six-hour drive.
I called back 15 minutes later and was told by the host it would be another additional 15 minutes. Her statement had no merit based on her first promised time of delivery. By that time my dog’s anxiety attack was fully developed and we had to leave. This was a wise decision also because otherwise the total delay time would have been 47 minutes.
The host representative did not supply the key until 7:13 PM. By that time we were long gone. We had to find accommodations elsewhere. We could not wait because we were on the road for six hours and our dog had an anxiety attack. The dog takes anti-anxiety medication. Staying to wait for the key would have jeopardized the safety and the well-being of our dog. A 47-minute delay is unacceptable.
We did not stay also because the host demonstrated gross negligence and did not comply with the terms of agreement. Frankly speaking, we could not stay because the host did not provide access as promised and explicitly stated in the terms of the agreement. Additionally, the host representative chose to send additional information via text messaging while I was driving. This could have been done in advance to avoid unnecessary safety hazards.
The barrage of text messages carried a significant risk. They disrupted my Google maps and my driving safety. This is unacceptable. This is a clear pattern of behavior that can get your clients killed while driving. Also, the host representatives were clearly not aligned between themselves on the proof of identification. Hence, they ensued in a conversation in a group text message while I was driving. This demonstrated a blatant lack of professionalism and communication between the host representatives.
After my two attempts to contact the host and remedy the situation amicably in due time I immediately contacted Airbnb on August 29 at 19:08 CST and had the dispute case started to investigate this matter. The case was assigned to the case manager. I asked him to read through all the communication between the host and myself to get a sense of what really happened. I provided him with all the call history and the screenshots for reference. He got involved and called the host.
Unfortunately, the host offered to refund only 20% of the reservation cost. It is reasonable to presume that the offered 20% from the host proves the host accepted the liability for not following through with the original terms of the agreement. I’d like to think that the case manager’s role is not to simply accept what’s offered, but to see if the terms of agreement were fulfilled. I’d like to think that the role of an Airbnb case manager is to enforce the compliance and also demonstrate the ownership of the corporate responsibility when it is needed.
Unfortunately, during the course of the case investigation the Airbnb case manager failed to execute his task with due diligence by making false claims, omitting important details, deliberately avoiding to respond to presented facts and arguments, choosing not to comply with the Airbnb Guest Refund policy, and refusing to accept the corporate responsibility in accordance with the terms of the agreement.
The offered 20% is insignificant compared to incurred costs to compensate for lost time, emotional stress, and an additional opportunity cost in a form of two calendar days of vacation. Frankly speaking, in large companies a breach of contract carries an additional penalty cost over the 100% of the initial baseline agreement cost.
I sincerely hope that Airbnb will review the validity of the license agreement with the host and suspend it to avoid other similar situations in the future. All of this clearly shows beyond the reasonable doubt the failure of the host to comply with the terms of the agreement, a violation of basic safety rules, and Airbnb company communication policy.