Airbnb Host Tries Bait and Switch Over Memorial Day Weekend

This is the letter I wrote to Airbnb about my experience:

I am writing to tell you about my horrible Airbnb experience in the hopes of getting some resolution. My family and I have used Airbnb several times and never had a bad experience before now. We are so devastated by what has happened to us that we will never use Airbnb or VRBO again.

I have reached out to customer service three times with no result. I get the impression that I am calling a call center in another country and that the people that are answering the phone are just telling me that my issue is being investigated with no result. I have reached out to the Better Business Bureau, the Virginia Beach Police Department, and the Virginia Beach Housing Authority. I will be seeking the advice of my attorney. I have also discussed the situation with my bank’s fraud department and they are conducting their own investigation.

We booked a condo on May 13, 2021. We planned to take our 16-year-old daughter to Virginia Beach to see the beach, aquarium, and Norfolk Botanical Gardens. As we were leaving around 8:00 AM on May 28 I looked at the listing to see what the check-in procedure was and it said there was a lockbox. I messaged the host on the Airbnb app and she asked me to let her know when we were an hour away.

I messaged her again at noon to tell her we were an hour away. She said the house wasn’t ready and check in was at 3:00 PM. I told her no problem, I was just letting her know when we would be arriving in the area. Then she called my cell phone and said something about how she was waiting for a delivery but she would try to get the house ready for an early check in.

We arrived at the condo at 2:30 PM. We called the host and let her know. She sounded flustered and said that the toilets were broken at the condo and that she was waiting for a couch to be delivered. She told us she wanted us to stay at her other property, that it was brand new and we would be the first guests. She gave us the address. It was 15 minutes away.

When we arrived we were shocked and disturbed. The apartment was in an unsafe looking neighborhood in what looked like Section 8 housing. When we walked into the apartment it was hot, there were boxes of her personal belongings in the middle of the floor, the furniture was unplaced and still had tags on it. There was only one bed and only one bedroom was furnished. There was no TV.

She offered to blow up an air mattress for us. She said that she was waiting for a bed and mattress to be delivered. She called the delivery company and put them on speaker phone. They told her they didn’t know when they would arrive. She instructed us not to tell people that this was an Airbnb and to tell people that we were her friends. We told her that we were going to get a cold drink and called Airbnb and spoke to a young lady and told her what was going on. She said someone would email us.

We went back and told the host we were uncomfortable and asked her to cancel. She said she didn’t know how and suggested that we call and lie and say that we were cancelling due to COVID. At one point she handed me her phone and asked me to help her figure out how to cancel. When I cancelled the trip on her account it said that the trip had been referred to a support team. She then said that the toilets were fixed and that we could go back to the original condo if we wanted to. We didn’t believe her and didn’t feel safe interacting with her anymore.

We left and as it was a holiday weekend it took us two hours to find a hotel. I called Airbnb again that night and spoke to a young man who informed me that he may not be able to help me because we didn’t take pictures, but that he would try to help me. He said he would contact me with updates. I never heard from him again. I called and spoke to someone the next day and she said that she would investigate and update me. I have not heard from anyone.

I am a social worker in private practice and my husband is a mechanic. We cannot afford to lose $828. This has been an incredibly upsetting experience for us, particularly as the whole thing happened in front of our 16-year-old daughter. This trip was a treat for her as she has been cooped up in the house for a year doing online learning. I am appalled at the customer service I have received from Airbnb. I implore you to help us resolve this issue.

Airbnb Verification Process and Dysfunctional Customer Support

I am an established Airbnb guest. Over a month ago I reserved a beach house near Charleston. All seemed fine and they had no problem taking 100% of the funds from my credit card. A few days before checking in I got an email at 11:00 PM demanding that I provide a photo of my driver’s license or passport plus a selfie for “verification”. The email threatened that my reservation would be cancelled if I did not comply within 24 hours.

I don’t mind the verification process and understand the safety/accountability issues, but waiting until days before my reservation to spring this on me is absurd. Worse, the 24-hour window is egregious. I don’t check my email every day, much less every hour. I had family from three states joining me and now it was all in peril. I submitted the required info and photos on time only to get a vague “we are working on your verification” that lasted two days before I called Airbnb customer service to resolve this absurdity. The rep was pleasant but clueless and powerless to resolve since he “did not work in the verification department.”

I asked to speak with supervisor or someone in the “verification department” and was told that was impossible and that I must wait for an email from them telling me my verification was confirmed. All this a few days before check-in by my entire family and weeks after making my reservation and paying a large sum of money. Thankfully direct contact with host allowed me to go around the Airbnb insanity confirm the reservation. To this day I have not received any verification confirmation from Airbnb. I am shocked this company is so popular given its incompetence, indifference, arrogance and dysfunction.

Airbnb’s Attempts at Customer Service are Laughable

Months ago Airbnb removed security deposits from our listings claiming that we didn’t need them because they had insurance that protected their hosts. Three different claims have resulted in absolutely nothing beyond wasting about 20 hours of my time. They are always waiting for another department to get it done and claim because they are a global company, things take a lot of time.

Hosts no longer have any control over anything. If you are pet friendly, you are inviting Noah’s Ark as they have no provision to limit breeds, age, quantity or anything. People actually think it’s okay to bring their nine cats and six puppies. If the tenant stays beyond their reservation and you ned the sheriff to remove them, good luck getting the extra days’ payment. It’s either their resolution, mediation or some other department that’s handling it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only answer is to add another 10% to my nightly rates on their site and make sure there’s a better deal for them on VRBO. VRBO isn’t perfect either but at least you’ve got a chance. Now that Airbnb is a public company we should all should all show up at shareholder meetings or call ins just to tell them how bad they really are.

Hosting is Always a Nightmare with Airbnb

As a property manager I use many OTA (online travel agent) platforms. The most difficult to deal with is Airbnb. Their lack of customer service makes it impossible to resolve issues in a timely fashion, if at all. The last issue I had was a staff member accidentally putting a refund request through to the wrong guest. Ten seconds after this was done, we contacted Airbnb and explained we had two guests with the same name and they had granted a refund to the wrong guest.

The outcome was the guest who stayed did not choose to give back the refund so Airbnb closed the issue. The complaint that we had was that Airbnb took weeks to refund the guest. During peak COVID time when we were busy refunding guests they took so long to refund people who desperately needed their money that we had to consistently follow up with them and force them to refund them.

We have had to give many apologies to guests waiting long periods to be refunded, yet they refused to intercept the request to cancel with their accounts department. Instead they refunded a guest who did stay, who did have a good time and who was happy with our service. I think that in this age of choice, whether we be a host or a guest, there are so many more ethical businesses out there to deal with. This company is a disgrace to the original concept of Airbnb. This company should be investigated for its disturbing way of dealing with both hosts’ and guests’ needs.

Calendar Blocked, No Idea When Airbnb Will Contact Me

After a decade with Airbnb, they suddenly blocked the calendars on all my listings with no explanation. I found out when I was checking my Airbnb calendar (because I have been very busy) and realized that all the dates were blocked.

I have called several times a day for six days now and gotten no explanation as to why this has happened or when it will be resolved. Every time I call I get customer service who says “I am so sorry, we understand but I can’t help you. I will escalate this.”

No matter how hard I push I can’t get through the firewall in place which adheres strictly to the Airbnb “policy”. There is a team (but no one can tell me what team) that supposedly is looking into this issue (which will not be identified). So just like that, Airbnb is preventing me from getting any bookings.

I have contacted Fair Shake because it is wrong for a big company to treat me like this. I also emailed Brian Chesky, but who knows when he will respond. I spent the day posting this on various websites so others are aware of how terrible customer service is with Airbnb. There is literally no one who can answer legitimate questions.

I am looking for alternatives. I started with VRBO. Where else can I post my listings?

Host Violates Texas Property Code, Airbnb Doesn’t Care

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On Oct. 4th we moved into an Airbnb for a four-month stay for a military temporary duty travel. We noticed that the back door had water damage to the frame and the property did not have a strike plate for the locking deadbolt. The host was notified of this issue and said they would fix it.

The host told me two days later to reduce the length of my stay to end on Dec. 4, and then from there I could pay them directly to stay for the rest of my time. On Oct. 24, the problem was still not fixed. There was no action at all by the host.

I contacted Airbnb for assistance. Airbnb said the host would send a handyman to fix the issue. The handyman came and replaced the doorknob and deadbolt, but did not install a strike plate due to the water damage and rot to the frame. He said the frame and door needed to be replaced and he would come back later to do it. He later said it would take another week to fix the issue.

Airbnb closed the case on Oct. 31. By Nov. 12 the issue had still not been fixed. I opened a new case with Airbnb, requesting to end my stay early since I found a new place to stay. Airbnb closed the case on Nov. 19 without resolution, so I opened a new case.

During my call with Airbnb, they told me my case was an “urgent priority” and someone would contact me. The support ticket chat tikd me that they couldn’t get a response from the host, so they could not do anything. They said: “Well, it seems that you can lock the door and the door opens and closes. I wish you a great rest of your day. Kind regards.”

I told them to elevate the case to someone above them. They did and said “He’ll be in contact within 24 to 48 hours.” 48 hours later, and there was still no contact. I called Airbnb again, and was told by the “catch and dispatch” person that answered that they would elevate my ticket to urgent and the case manager would contact me shortly. I demanded they let me talk to someone above them, and they forwarded me to a case manager.

The case manager, who had a thick accent, said that they could not do anything for me since the ticket has been elevated. They said that the supervisor should get back to me within 72 hours of the elevation and might call me in a few hours. I said I would call back tomorrow if I did not hear anything.

Texas Property Code, chapter 92, sections 92.154 and 92.164 state that all rentals must have a locking deadbolt with a strike plate. If the issue is not repaired within 7 days, the tenant can unilaterally nullify any agreement, leave the property, and be refunded a prorated amount for payments made. Airbnb and the host do not seem to care at all about this.

What are my options? A chargeback on the credit card?

Broke and Unhappy After Customer Service Experience

I’m highly disappointed in my recent experience with Airbnb’s customer service. My friends and I booked what turned out to be a scam listing. We were already about 8 hours into our 11-hour drive to the beach when we received a notification from Airbnb that our booking had been canceled and we wouldn’t be penalized for the late cancelation.

We expressed that we were already over halfway there and were left with no place to stay. We were told that Airbnb would book us a new place to stay and get back to us within an hour. We never heard back from them. We ended up booking the only other pet-friendly beach house in the area that turned out to be four times the price of where we initially thought we were staying.

We reached out to Airbnb many times and were told that we had to wait until our assigned case manager contacted us and that no one else could help us. My friends and I now owe a difference of $700 per person for the new booking and Airbnb has refused to cover any of this difference. Now I’m broke and upset and my whole vacation was ruined because of this.

There’s No One Home at Airbnb Support

I just spent a splendid two weeks trying to get through to Airbnb support. I have received robot messages from several mythological support people. Some are insulting, some claim to be supportive and not do anything, and none seem to read the messages I sent. Yesterday they added another fun category of pretending to call me back and claiming there was no answer.

I think even a robot could see that the messages were being sent from my phone that was in my hands. I have blocked all my time with Airbnb and plan on finding a company with actual people in it to take my money for use of the website. They charge nearly as much is a reputable rental agency and give nothing in return.

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No One Paid for the Damage to My Furniture

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My Sept. 11 reservation was a nightmare. The person lied about coming with her boyfriend. On the day, she showed up alone, inspected my place, and asked many personal questions. That night, four people came to my place and made noise until 1:30 AM. As a single woman, I was terrified after hearing many male voices.

Later at night, one person left and I found my house key in the mailbox outside the next day. The three men checked out at 11:00 AM on Sept. 12 and I found that they broke my chair. I took a picture at 11:04 AM. I wrote to Airbnb support at 11:16 AM. Since I have a security deposit and it is written that I have 14 days to claim damages (attached), I decided to wait for Airbnb’s response, while getting the apartment ready for the next guest.

I needed to move back the furniture that they moved. The apartment needed deep cleaning, especially when the extra beds were used without linens when I only prepared the main bed for the “couple”. Frustrated by the silence from Airbnb support, I wrote an angry review of the guest and told the sad story. At 4:53 PM, Airbnb sent an email saying that I could report a problem (attached). I was directed to ask for money from the guest. The guest paid the extra guest fee, but lied about the chair being broken when he arrived.

After being cornered by evidence, he began to swear at me. That’s when I turned to the resolution sector. An agent contacted me on Sept. 16 at 6:13 PM. The person technically made up excuses to prevent me from getting any compensation. He said that I need to submit a claim before my next guest checked in, which is not what it says under the “security deposit” information on my listing (attached).

After I explained that the very reason that I couldn’t study the submission process was that I had a guest coming, he said that “you can notify Airbnb either by opening a claim in the Resolution Center or by contacting customer support directly”. I sent a screenshot to show that I contacted support right away, but I never got a response. Then he said “after a thorough review, we have decided to uphold our original decision. We determined that a payout could not be processed in this instance.” I demanded a valid reason, but he closed my ticket without any further response.

It is not a fancy chair, even though the market price is about $267. What strikes me most is the lies about insurance and guarantee from Airbnb. I am not a fan of having strangers in my house. The earnings from Airbnb are inconsistent and I can do better with long-term rentals. I chose Airbnb because of the guarantee. If Airbnb allows stranger to get away with damaging my property and lies about protecting hosts, why should I open my doors to make Airbnb rich?

We just need to remind Airbnb that without guests, they can still run your company even with a reduced profit. Without hosts, they are done, nothing, zero. How dare they use hosts like this and treat us like fools.

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Fleas, Cockroaches, and a Late Check-in

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These Airbnb hosts made us wait an hour and a half after our check-in time to actually let us check in. Our dog caught fleas and there were live cockroaches, dirty floors, and a slimy shower. The hosts actually admitted to all of this. They said we broke their blinds when we never touched them and tried to charge us for it. They said I never paid the pet fee which is insane because we texted them like a month before our trip to pay it but they never responded to let us pay.

I reported all of this to Airbnb to which they sided with the hosts even with all this proof. They said they must stick to their guest policy and sent me a link. I went through the policy and showed that it said less than 24 hours after the trip ends, you can get a refund worked out. I told them if they want to stick to their refund policy then they should take the time to read their own policy and circled where it said that they would work out a refund less than 24 hours after a stay. Then I showed them that I messaged them in less than 24 hours.

The person I was speaking to said that it stated “24 hours before.” I zoomed in and screenshotted where it said “after,” circled it, and sent it to her again. They closed the case.