Refund or Credit? Make up your Mind, Airbnb

VRBO

On March 5, I made a reservation to go to Prince Edward Island using Airbnb for mid-May. In April, my conference was canceled, and in fact the province was closed to non-residents so I could not even enter the jurisdiction to use my Airbnb reservation if I wanted to.

When I went to the Airbnb site to cancel, I was offered a choice between a 50% refund or 100% credit at that time. I did not know that that was out of step with their COVID-19 policy which should’ve offered me a 100% refund on April 16 when I was trying to cancel. Because they were incorrectly offering me a 50% refund, I clicked on the “100% credit” button.

Later on, they sent me a notice saying that they were giving me a 100% refund and not a credit. The refund never showed up on my credit card. It’s been almost a month and I’m trying to track it down. First their chat function told me that I should take it up with my bank and then stopped responding. Then I noticed their own records changed from showing a refund to showing a totally non-refundable cancellation.

I called the toll-free number that I got through Airbnb Hell and spoke to an actual person who sounded nice but said that my account was “blocked” and that I could only have a credit not a refund because I had clicked on the refund button. I explained the situation of having only been offered a 50% refund which is why I clicked on the other button. Under their own policy, I would’ve been entitled to a 100% refund which is what I know I wanted.

The customer service agent asked me if I had taken a screenshot of the page where I was given the choice of 50% refund or a hundred percent credit. I said no but I was not making that up. She then lectured me that I should have taken a screenshot or called Airbnb on the spot when I was confronted with that choice instead of trying to rectify it now.

Basically they tricked me into clicking on a button for a credit instead of giving me the option for a proper full refund in accordance with their own policies, and now are blaming me for making this all up… or that I didn’t contact customer service early enough. I’m tearing my hair out and I really don’t ever want to use Airbnb again. For the moment, they have hundreds of dollars of my money.

VRBO

$40 Airbnb Email Credit Offer Not Received

VRBO

I received an Airbnb email saying that I would receive a $40 credit the next time I traveled and stayed at an Airbnb for a trip that was $75 or more. Our family had travelled to CA to do college tours with our daughter. Since it was the week of Thanksgiving, there weren’t a lot of hotel options left in Southern California at reasonable rates. My husband wanted to book through Hotwire, which he uses frequently. I had only used Airbnb once when traveling overseas and everything had worked out fine for me, but he had never tried Airbnb.

I finally convinced my skeptical husband to let me find a place with Airbnb for two of the nights since we could take advantage of the $40 credit. Since we were already traveling when I made my reservations, I was using my new Android phone to find and book the house. When I clicked on the email link with the offer on my new phone, it asked me if I wanted to install the Airbnb app, which I did. After installing the app, I clicked on the $40 credit link and it offered me several different ways to log into the App, including Facebook, Google account, etc.

Since my Google account was already set up on my phone, I used that option. Instead of linking my Google account with my primary Airbnb email account with the $40 credit offer, I found out later that it created a new account using my Gmail address as the primary email on the account. Most software apps will link your Google, Facebook, or Microsoft account to your existing account login, but not the Airbnb app.

After booking my reservation for two nights (we did have a lovely stay… great house and view overlooking Pismo Bay), I realized Airbnb charged the full amount without ever applying a $40 credit. After spending at least an hour on the phone with Customer Support, (mainly them going around and around saying there is nothing they can do since the stay was booked under another email address instead of the email address that the offer was sent to, even though I accessed it through the link they provided in the promotional email), they finally only gave me $25 credit towards my next stay…if I book through them within the next year.

It was a very frustrating experience. They need to fix their login credential links so that other login options offered for Facebook, Google, etc., will actually recognize that you access their website or their app through the email link with the credit offer. When I let Customer Service know that I was going to post reviews of my experience on social media, they tried to withdraw the offer of the $25 credit. When asked about why I would “post bad reviews after giving me a $25 credit,” I let them know that I still had not been credited with the full $40 that was promised, instead the $25 credit will only be applied if I decide to book through them again in the next year, and I let them know that I was only going to post an honest review of the actual events that occurred.

In the end, I do have that $25 credit on my account, but I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to travel again within the next year. I still have not decided if I would try Airbnb again after this experience.

VRBO

Airbnb Customer Support Reneged on their Promise

VRBO

I am looking for a lawyer to represent me on a contingent basis to litigate against Airbnb. Can someone help me please? Please see the chronology of my situation last night.

I tried to establish a connection with my Airbnb host last night at 9:15 PM; the host’s phone was unreachable, but I tried calling multiple times over a 15-minute period. After that I called the Airbnb helpdesk number; they also tried the host unsuccessfully. Airbnb support transferred me to a “case manager”. This person tried to arrange an Airbnb or hotel for me but could not find anything as it was already 10:00 PM.

The Airbnb case manager specifically instructed me that I could go ahead and get a hotel at my own expense and Airbnb would reimburse me for the full amount (this call was recorded, I was told). The case manager also confirmed that I would get an email with a link and instructions.

My wife and I tried online to find available rooms in a 10-mile vicinity of the host’s property. Only the last hotel (a Ritz) confirmed they had one open room available for $850 + taxes. I walked to the hotel and got into the hotel room at 11:00 PM, then received a very strange email from Airbnb support that I would get a refund of the $100 Airbnb booking and an additional $10, which obviously made me very aggravated and disturbed.

I called Airbnb support. A representative spoke to me and apologized for the confusion. He reconfirmed that I would be reimbursed for the hotel that I had to book. I got an email confirming the same as what he told me on the phone, then I got a call from the same case manager as before. He was very impolite and suggested that I misheard him in the prior call. He was not aware of the other rep’s conversation with me and his email. He was clearly flustered as if he was being reprimanded.

The last call with the case manager left me very disturbed and I could not sleep all night. I have aggravated blood pressure and I lost one full day of meetings for ill health. Airbnb is not responding to my messages.

VRBO

Canceled my booking while I was on my way

I would not book with this host or Airbnb ever again. She canceled on us five hours before our planned check in. I reserved her apartment eight months in advance. She had even confirmed with me three days prior to the cancellation. I got the text message canceling our reservations on my way to the airport. I was baffled; I thought this must be a mistake.

I called her and she said there was “damage” to the apartment. Airbnb did credit my account and gave me a larger credit than the original price but other than that their customer service was a total fail. I called them three times and spoke to three different representatives; I was disconnected twice. The representative who finally did help me told me to open the app or the website and use the credit to find a replacement myself.

This would have been okay even 24 hours in advance but I was basically at the airport now for a 45-minute flight. The customer service representative asked me for the URL of the other apartments I was looking at. I was using the app; there are no URLs in the app. I told her the name of the listing and she put me on hold for 13 minutes. In the meanwhile, another friend of mine coming on the trip called and booked two rooms in a hotel.

The woman I got on the phone was trying to help me but it was clear that the customer service representatives are not trained in troubleshooting a cancellation on the day of. I was very lucky that we were able to get a place to stay on such short notice. It was high travel season for the city. Most of the accommodations on Airbnb that were available were too small or huge and expensive which the $80 bonus credit was not going to cover.

I really wanted to like Airbnb, but the experience made me appreciate commercial hotel chains. I do not plan on using the app again unless I have a backup place to stay. It’s been four days and I am still waiting for my refund. Even though this cancellation was the fault of Airbnb and they couldn’t adequately address the issue, I still have to wait up to 15 days for my refund.

Cautionary Tale: Reservation Alteration by Guests, for Hosts

Here is a little known Airbnb policy we got screwed by: hosts who cancel a previously booked reservation do face some sort of penalty or automatic bad review. For a complete host cancellation, there is a 10% credit from Airbnb for the guest to rebook with another host. However, hosts that only partially withdraw the reservation are not penalized, the guest does not get the 10% rebooking credit, and when the reservation alteration feature is initiated by the guest (due to the host’s circumstances) to receive a refund, the recalculation formula for reducing the number of days penalizes the guest, not the host. This process did allow me a refund, but several days later my credit card was fraudulently charged again for the amount of my refund.

Forget about getting any help from customer service; they just keep passing you off to another case manager for another go around. If you do get someone who knows how to correctly apply a refund, it takes up to 15 business days to get it. I finally went to my bank to submit a fraudulent charge report.

We learned a hard lesson. It was not possible to find another house with similar amenities in the same location with such short notice. My suggestion to others is before you book with any host, ask if the house is currently on the market, or undergoing renovation. Also, I suggest that you review carefully Airbnb’s “reservation alteration policy.” Unless the host cancels the entire reservation, the guest gets screwed. I was instructed by an Airbnb case manager to “alter” my confirmed reservation for the reduced number of days the host could accommodate us. Do not do this if the reason for alteration is due to the host’s circumstances, not the guest’s. Have the host cancel the reservation and start over, either with the same host or a new one.

Bogus Host Posts Private Home as Ancient Castle Airbnb

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I was looking for my next stay while touring Scotland and Northern England as a freelance writer and blogger with a dog. I had stayed in a lovely cottage in rural Ayrshire for three weeks. It was time to move on and find the next interesting place to stay. Imagine my surprise and delight to find an Airbnb listed as an “Ancient Castle” in Scotby, Cumbria and ideal for people with mobility problems. I am near 60 and have creaky knees. It also said there was a gym and pool available.

I was not sure how it worked out, but the normal price was £139 per night, seemingly for group bookings. However, it came down to individuals and the way it worked out with the weekly booking discount seemed really cheap. Still a little suspicious, but hopeful, I booked two weeks between April 29th and May 11th. I would have stayed in Scotland but the opportunity was too good to miss if true. I bought a train ticket down to Cumbria and waited until the check-in time, between 2:00-4:00 PM, before hiring a taxi costing over £10.

Taxi droppped me off at a pub. I did Google it and thought maybe it was a property behind the pub or in the ground. They knew nothing about it and pointed out the address was further down the road. I walked a half mile and could not see anything which looked like a castle. It was a rural surburban street with beautiful but ordinary large semi-detached family homes. I looked at the numbers on the gates and at #39 and counting up reckoned that #47 was another semi a few houses along.

As I came up to #47, I felt embarrased; it was clearly a family home and not a castle. I wondered how I should do this: should I go up, knock on the door, and ask if they were an ancient castle? Would that make them think I was a mad woman? Just as I approached two teenage girls came up, knocked on the door, spoke to their mum and explained that they were just dropping off their things after school but going out to see friends. The girls shot past me and the mum still stood at the door. I shouted at her “Er, excuse me… could you help me? I am looking for #47, which according to this information on Airbnb is an ancient castle.”

The mum came up and looked. That was her address, and that was even her post code, but she did not have an ancient castle, just a family home. She did not do any hosting or hiring out spare rooms to Airbnb, She was concerned who was using her address, as anybody could turn up at her home and demand entry. What if just her children were at home, and let someone in, not knowing?

I got another taxi back into Carlisle and contacted Airbnb from a pub with wifi. As usual, they didn’t get back to me for the rest of the night. It was getting on and by 10:30 PM with accommodation being snapped up for the Easter weekend I found and booked cheap accommodation in a truckstop on the edge of town in the middle of an industrial estate. That was all I could do.

I did eventually get through to Airbnb, and it was a pathetic response. They did take the fake host and the posting down, but again seemed blasé and offered me £2.73 on top of the refund as compensation. It was a very small change for the extra expense. I would not have gone through the hassle and stress if their host had not advertised an innocent family’s home as an “Ancient Castle” and had strangers turning up at their front door demanding and expecting being put up for the night.

Airbnb did not really provide a satisfactory response to this with only £2.73 to help towards other accommodations. A host tried to evict me onto the streets during Beast from the East and did not care I had no transport. Over 13 people were killed at this time, including a seven year old girl. When will Airbnb take responsibility for the welfare and well-being of their guests?

Host’s Tardiness Keeps me from Getting a Refund

We did not see our Airbnb hosts with the key for hours; they were working. There was no A/C. There were no curtains in the living room or bedroom; those above you could look in. The patio door opened at night for air and noise. Daytime hall door open for air. Garbage left behind. Did not know where the garage was so was not able to use it. Bedroom to small for suite case to come into. I was standing outside the building waiting to get in, I had no wifi and I was from out of country with no phone service. In the end, I was very unsatisfied and went home.

I was finally able to reach Airbnb about a refund. I was told that because I did not contact them within 24 hours I was not entitled to one. I told them I was not able to find my host. As of today, I was not able to contact anyone in reference to my $100 credit, which means I was not able to use it. Airbnb is a very difficult service especially if there is an issue. They are not there for you. The rental property I wanted was priced $80 plus a service fee. Why are we paying for a service fee? Should that not be part of the host’s fee? Not again. This is not worth the hassle.

Airbnb Does Not Guarantee Your Room or Rate

This is the letter I sent to Aisling Hassell and Brian Chesky and received no response.

Dear Airbnb,

Over this past Memorial Day Weekend, my wife and I had the displeasure of finding out just how well (rather, poorly) Airbnb takes care of its guests in unfortunate situations. I have had so many wonderful successes with Airbnb in the past that I am convinced this is a result of mismanagement coming from the supervisor of the customer service member who was handling my case. This is a formal complaint about the supervisor. My customer service representative, Brian, did everything in his power to help me out and I do believe he tried his hardest to resolve the problem.

Three hours before my wife and I were going to check into our Airbnb rental in San Antonio, our host canceled on us. This is a booking I had made almost two weeks in advance. I found out our host had canceled when Brian from your customer service department called us asap to help resolve the issue. I was a little freaked out as this was for my wife’s birthday; we are on a fixed budget as we are expecting a child in three months. I had searched hard to find a nice Airbnb within our budget that was close to the city center so we could get around easily. Brian and I looked at all the available rentals leftover for Memorial Day weekend and the least expensive option was $612 for two nights in a neighborhood I was not familiar with. The rental we had reserved was $270 for two nights in a nice apartment building with plenty of security.

I was reluctant to opt for a bungalow house in a strange neighborhood but it looked nice enough. Brian then informed me that Airbnb would only cover the cancellation refund plus 10%. This was not even close to us being able to afford the higher priced rental – I told Brian that was unacceptable.

How could Airbnb not guarantee our stay? It’s not our fault this host canceled. How can we be expected to pay more money for our vacation than we already agreed to pay? I told him that if the $612 airbnb rental, which was the cheapest one available is too expensive then Airbnb needs to put us up in an adequate hotel. We looked online and found that the Weston had a special rate $570 for the two nights. Brian said he would have to check with his supervisor and get back to me in an hour.

An hour went by and sure enough, Brian called me back. This time the refund had gone up by $100 and I told Brian that was not good enough: it was still not enough to make us whole. It would mean we would have to spend an extra $242 in order to afford the only available Airbnb rental left. He said he would call us back in an hour. Another hour went by. We were now in San Antonio without a place to stay. Brian called us back and told us the refund has gone up to $200. Once again, I explained to him we did not have an extra $142 dollars to spend on lodging for this vacation.

At this point, I requested to speak to his supervisor. Brian said his supervisor was unavailable and will – yes, that’s right – call me in an hour. Another two hours go by. I sent an email to Brian explaining no one called us. Three hours go by (that’s a total of six hours since the cancellation). At this point, my pregnant wife and I had to change into our dinner attire in the bathrooms of the restaurant where we were celebrating her birthday. Brian called me back in the middle of our dinner. I had to step away from this lovely celebration so I could yet again discuss where we were staying that evening.

Brian apologized about his supervisor not calling and once again said there was nothing more he could do. At this point, I told Brian that we were not going to be able to afford our vacation. He still couldn’t help. So my wife and I had a lovely dinner and drove back to Austin.

Yes, we got a $200 credit for a future Airbnb but that’s poor compensation for ruining our long weekend. I just don’t understand how this happened. How could it possibly be the case that if a host cancels on you hours before arrival that Airbnb won’t guarantee a place to stay that is as good or better than what was reserved? How can I trust Airbnb with my larger trips from this point forward? Thank god we only had to drive home, but what if we were stuck in a foreign country? What would happen in London or Japan where the next cheapest room might be many hundreds of dollars or thousands by the end of a vacation? Must I take that risk every time I book with your company?

This can’t possibly be. If the world found out this was the case, no one would use your service. I would imagine Airbnb would want to protect a traveler’s room guarantee at all costs. This is why I think this was not an Airbnb policy issue but a manager’s poor judgment. A poor judgment that cost a family their hard-earned vacation. At this point, we didn’t spend any more money because we ended the vacation almost before it began so I am not writing this letter asking for more reimbursement.

Bachelor Party Last Minute Cancellation – Nowhere to Stay

Having booked an Airbnb to stay three months before my bachelor party, we were notified at 9:00 PM the night before check-in that our host had been evicted. In the email notifying us, the case manager provided a refund and a $200 credit, along with three listings that were 30-50 miles away from our original location. Needless to say, there were no desirable homes, and very few suitable ones for a group of our size. After finding a number to call via a friend who works at Airbnb, I spoke with an agent on the phone, and the agent told me they were going to run a few more searches and call me back. An hour later, I called again, found out that outbound calling was having trouble that evening, and the agent wasn’t able to call me back. They also weren’t able to help us in our search for housing either. We ended up finding two entire homes on the site our own and booked them that night, utilizing the $200 credit as well. In the morning, we were denied one house (it had already been rented, apparently) and were told that the host would be staying with us in the other as they weren’t able to find alternative housing on such short notice… tell me about it. We cancelled the second home, although we were charged for a day because we were within 24 hours of check in. We ended up booking hotel rooms instead. A week later, we still haven’t received a refund for that one day and have no credit to compensate us for the additional cost of a hotel and pain that this cause. Overall, I couldn’t be more disappointed with Airbnb’s customer service and lack of effort with what was a really important weekend for me.

Referring a Friend on Airbnb Impossible to Redeem

Airbnb is having a promotion where if you refer a friend, they receive an automatic $35 credit in qualifying first time bookings. Well, according to them, “qualifying” is referring to a trip of at least $75, which was fine since the trip my friend wanted to book was over $350. However, every time he clicked on the link, there would be some kind of error that would prevent him from redeeming the coupon. First, the IDs that they requested were constantly being declined for no real reason. After trying for 30 minutes, he finally got them to accept an ID. Then, of course, the credit was not automatically added to the trip during check out, as had been promised. Thinking it was some sort of error, we tried again, and again, and again… and nothing. We tried making the booking using the phone app for maybe an hour. So he became frustrated, and we try to find some way to contact Airbnb. When you click on “Contact Airbnb” in the help section, nothing happens: no link, no number, nothing.

Although I have had relatively positive experiences with Airbnb in the past, the inability to redeem credits that they keep pushing feels unpleasant. It almost seems like a scam in my opinion: they push and push and when you finally refer someone the credit doesn’t even go through. Since the person already went through the hassle of registering his ID and everything, chances are he will make a booking anyway. By the way, we are not unfamiliar with technology; we’re in our mid-20s and grew up with computers. We know our way around websites and software, and we’re pretty convinced this is something on Airbnb’s end (potentially deliberate). Now we’re here to complain about the issue, and I feel my experience with them has been tarnished. It’s for something so silly too: not giving credit that they constantly advertise. It seems greedy to me.