Scammer Stayed 24 Nights but only Paid for One

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A guest booked a 30-day stay and claimed to Airbnb that he moved out after one night but actually ended up staying 24 nights. Airbnb mishandled the situation and now refuse to correct their mistake.

We are in one of the ten largest cities in the US. The place is very economic ($400/month, average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom-apartment here is $1350). It’s a shared room (3-4 people per bedroom, 10 people in the apartment) and he complained about cleanliness issues within 24 hours.

I do month-to-month rentals and usually have 100 guests at the same time across several location. Over 1000 guests in the last five years. 80% of our ratings are five stars, 90% are four or five stars. Nobody else in the apartment complained about the cleanliness issue. The guest didn’t have a single review.

Airbnb didn’t reach out to me until 14 days after move-in. I pointed out to Airbnb that the guest still lives there. 20 days after move-in they made the decision to refund him all the money besides the first night, because he told them that he moved out, even though he didn’t move out.

I have been chasing them ever since, telling them that he still lives there but they didn’t do anything about it. Everyone saw him and other Airbnb guests also confirmed to Airbnb that he lives there. They slow-walked the case and never asked me for any photo or video evidence that he still lives there.

After he moved out (after 24 days when an Airbnb rep called him and urged him to move out) they suddenly asked me to provide photo evidence that he actually lived there. Now they won’t issue his payout because they say that without video or photo evidence they cannot issue it.

Airbnb made a wrong decision regarding the cleanliness issue given that there were 20 other Airbnb guests living at this location (spread across multiple units) on the same day as the guest but none of them had any complaints. Furthermore, when they first reached out I told them that the guest still lives there and it took them almost a week to come to a decision. When they made their decision, they forgot that he actually still lives there. Now they don’t acknowledge that mistake.

I have attached the four pictures that were presented as evidence by the guest that there was a cleanliness issue. Those are the only pictures that Airbnb showed him. I would like to take them to arbitration and I am seeking an experienced attorney to represent me. Here is a detailed complaint that I sent to Airbnb.

I am challenging the decision that there was a cleanliness issue. This decision by Airbnb was wrong and is the reason there is a dispute in the first place. There was no cleanliness issue. Here is a list of all the Airbnb guests that stayed at this location on March 9 (the day of move-in); none of these people reported an issue. That’s 20 happy Airbnb guests vs. this guy, who doesn’t have a single Airbnb review.

I included the booking code so you can look up the address. The pictures you sent don’t show any cleanliness issues:

1st picture: burned stove counter. There are ten people living in the apartment and most are cooking. Sometimes they will burn a stove top burner and sometimes they don’t clean up right away. Once a week our cleaners come to make sure everything is spotless. It cannot be 100% clean in a shared room environment. You can expect that at a entire place at move-in but not in a shared space.

2nd picture: dirty toilet seat. There are three bathrooms in each apartment. Ten people use those bathrooms and so they get dirty. Once a week they are cleaned spotless but during the week one toilet can be a bit more dirty. There are two other ones where it’s not like that. Again, this is normal in a place where ten people live together and cleaners come once a week.

3rd picture: a kitchen table that’s not 100% clean when ten people live in an apartment to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. This is normal,

4th picture: a vegetable outside the fridge. There are ten people living there and they are cooking. When you cook sometimes a vegetable falls on the floor. That’s how every kitchen everywhere looks. I am sure that vegetable was picked up minutes after the picture was taken.

We have been around for over five years and have a great system to make sure people that share a space can live in a clean and healthy environment. We encourage all our guests to clean after themselves and have professional cleaners coming once a week to do the heavy lifting. There is absolutely no cleanliness issue and it was a wrong decision by Airbnb.

Whatever case manager made this decision didn’t look at the satisfaction of other guests staying there nor the fact that this is a shared environment. We are proud of the cleanliness we provide and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Neither Airbnb, nor Brian Chesky, nor the guest would be able to provide a cleaner environment in an affordable shared room setting like this one.

The guest moved in on March 9 and it wasn’t until March 22 that I received a message from Airbnb. That’s 14 days after move-in. I wrote back immediately that I didn’t agree to a refund and that as of March 19 he was living in the unit. Airbnb did not ask for video evidence then.

On March 24, Airbnb sent photos (16 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence. On March 25, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (17 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence). On March 26, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (18 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence). On March 27, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (19 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence).

On March 28, Airbnb made the decision to refund the guest and there was no word about the fact that he still lives there. No question about video evidence or camera. Airbnb also said that they would not get back to me for three days. It seems that Airbnb just gave the refund at the last minute before the work week was over without double checking if the guest still lives there or not. This is negligence on Airbnb’s part and the reason there is a dispute now.

On March 30 (22 days since he moved-in), I pointed out that the guest still lives there. On April 3, there were no questions asked about video or photo evidence. Someone from the safety team contacted me and then called the guest. Only then did he move out. At no point was video or photo evidence requested.

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Being told ‘No matter what, I cannot get my money back‘

We are four senior women (over 70) who booked a friend’s vacation back on January 29 for travel beginning on May 11. We paid in full, looking forward to the vacation. Then COVID-19 hit. We contacted the host and explained we were concerned: two ladies had frail husbands and one lady had respiratory problems. We contacted the hosts on March 31 to express our concerns and ask about our options.

The hosts were very understanding but asked that we waited until at least May 1 to cancel. We agreed, but on April 20 we received an email from Airbnb talking about possibility of getting a 100% refund due to COVID-19.

At that point we reached out to the hosts, who said to try and cancel using the Airbnb website. I did but could not find a way to get a 100% refund. It said I would get a little more than 50% back or I could accept a travel voucher for 100%. We opted for this, because we did not believe we could get our money back.

I talked again with the hosts, who said they were going to try and help. When they got back to me, because I had accepted the travel voucher, they didn’t think there was anything they could do to help.

Since then, we have spoken with several hosts who indicated they were refunding their customers 100% of their money without documentation, and I needed to pursue this by calling Airbnb. They gave me a number to call. I called on May 7, explained the situation, was told my case was being escalated to case management and I would get a call back.

I did not get a call back. We pursued calling Airbnb again, explained our situation again, and again we were told we would get a call back. Again nothing… we called back again, waited on hold about 1.5 hours then was told over and over again that they were sorry , but there was nothing they could do.

There was no one that could help me get my money back. Because I had agreed to take a voucher then I could not get my money. I find the entire refund policy unacceptable. I will not be paying Airbnb ever again to stay at one of their properties. I will make sure everyone I know also hears the same story. Shame on Airbnb for stealing some people’s money. How dare they accept stimulus loan money.

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Airbnb Asks for Proof Pandemic is Real

My two-week trip to the UK with my family had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. The country is in lockdown so domestic travel is prohibited, restaurants and tourist sites are closed, my return flight was cancelled by the airline, hotels I had booked are closed, and my own country (Canada) would require a 14-day quarantine if I did make it home. So it was pretty obvious that the trip couldn’t happen.

Airbnb is refusing my request for refunds for two bookings that were part of the trip, allegedly because I don’t qualify under their Extenuating Circumstances policy, although I clearly do qualify under any rational reading of the policy.

Initially, they asked for ‘proof’ that the trip had to be cancelled in spite of virtually everything mentioned above being all over the press and in various government announcements. Within about 24 hours after making that demand, while I was considering how to respond to it, I received another email advising me that my claim was closed, presumably because I hadn’t responded in time (although no time limit was specified and 24 hours is ridiculously short). When I complained, I was told that the decision was ‘final’. I’ve rarely seen such heavy-handed, arrogant treatment.

Adding insult to injury, Airbnb directly lied to me the first time they denied my refund request, claiming that it was actually the hosts who denied the request. I contacted one of the hosts directly and was told that they had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision and they fully expected that I would receive a refund from Airbnb.

I learned at that time that it is Airbnb that holds reservation deposits and not hosts, so hosts actually have nothing to refund. It is completely disingenuous to blame hosts for Airbnb’s decision, undoubtedly motivated by greed. That they are doing this during a major global health and economic crisis is truly reprehensible. They are pretending to have a sensible, fair, customer-friendly policy to deal with current conditions but this is just smoke-and-mirrors. They just want to keep the money.

That will prove to be a very short-sighted decision for them. I have been a regular Airbnb customer and am in my prime travel years. They are not the only private rental platform out there. What a disgraceful company.

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Airbnb Not Honoring Policy, Screwed out of $1017

I was not given the refund outlined by Airbnb’s COVID-19 Extenuating Circumstances Policy at the time of cancellation. When I cancelled, my host instructed me to go to Airbnb customer service.

I went round and round with my customer service agent for several weeks when he would take 24 hours between responses. He gave me three different excuses for not getting my rebate.

The first excuse was that the booking dates/location were outside of the policies in place at the time of the cancellation. This was not true since my reservation was made before March 14th and for March 17-20, well within the COVID-19 affected dates.

The second excuse was that the cancellation occurred before March 14th. However, Airbnb posted a note on my reservation saying this was in a COVID-19 affected area and they would honor a refund.

The third excuse was that they said they needed to see a message from me asking for a refund within 24 hours of canceling. I asked to have this policy shown to me but they refused to do so.

At this point, I think customer service was making up stuff to get rid of me. I paid $1836 for a reservation that was not fulfilled because of the virus shutdown. My host gave me a partial refund of $820 based on the standard cancelation policy set in place before the policy. I am owed $1017 from Airbnb.

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Dance Around Extenuating Circumstances Refund

I made a reservation on Jan. 15 for a stay in Kent April 25-May 9. My international flight from the U.S. to the U.K. was booked for April 1. All hell broke loose in March with COVID-19. With a travel ban, cancelled flights and looming domestic restrictions, I cancelled my Airbnb.

I was told I would get a partial refund, basically my first payment minus the reservation fee. Then I was told I would get the service fee back as a coupon, with many restrictions. I tried to print a copy of my refund amount; it stated zero. My host said I should be getting a refund from Airbnb. They said I need to get it from my host.

The extenuating circumstances policy for COVID-19 dated March 30 states reservations made before March 14 with a check-in date before May 31 are covered. Contacting Airbnb again, I was told it doesn’t apply to my booking as it was cancelled before March 30, despite my reminding them my flight was cancelled and no one could travel anywhere.

Are you confused yet? I have an English degree yet this has me frazzled. If my host cannot come through with a decent refund, then my next step is to try my credit card company and my travel insurance but this should not be necessary. Neither should my host have to carry this burden. I will not be risking Airbnb again.

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Coronavirus Causes Hours of Customer Service Wait Time

My host will not cancel and told me to go through Airbnb. Their chat is a bot and not a human, so that got me nowhere. I am on hold, but they said “we are experiencing higher than usual call volumes, expect to wait hours” and then started on hold.

Hours? I have never heard that before. I can’t believe they don’t have a away to easily cancel online with this coronavirus stuff. We have a family member with a respiratory illness whose doctor has said not to travel. We need to cancel and can according to their policy, but I need to be able to do it.

I will never book through Airbnb again. I have never had such a problem and it is so stressful.

Threatening Behavior, Locked out by Host

My partner and I stayed at an Airbnb in Palm Springs on Monday, February 17th. The room was booked for that night and the following night.

Upon arrival, the front gate was open, as the majority of the facility was under construction, something that was not disclosed when we booked the place. The door code provided to us in an email and also reiterated in text message for the door to our room did not work.

We toiled with the door for a while and after becoming frustrated, a maintenance person came over, tried the code we were provided, and could not gain access. He then used a different code to let us in. He apologized profusely, introduced himself, and said he would reset the lock and send an email with the new code. He also said we could reach out to him if we needed anything.

Once inside we tried to take a nap, but the loud construction in the unit above and the surrounding units was too disturbing. There seemed to be renovations happening in most of the rooms, as doors to most of the units were open and construction workers were coming and going throughout the property… not exactly the relaxing environment we were paying a premium for.

I made a mental note that I would not be lounging by the pool in my bathing suit the next day as I’d been planning. After waiting several hours for the code that never came, we called the number provided in the welcome email, and texting the number that had been given to us “if we needed anything at all.”

After calling several times and waiting on hold, we were given a new code which worked on the door to our room when we tested it. We left for dinner, a reservation for which we were late due to the delay in getting the code.

Upon returning, we could not gain access to the property’s main gate with the code provided to us in the original email. We both tried many times to input the code we were given for the gate but it did not work.

We again called the number and were told by the same woman who had reset our door code earlier that she could see us in the security camera and to input a code she gave us, which was the same code we’d received in email. She watched us as we tried that code over and over again. When it did not work, she put us on hold for over 15 minutes.

We were standing outside without coats, freezing in the pitch black for this entire experience. This was around 8:30 PM and sunset was at 5:30 PM that night. It was our first trip to Palm Springs and had no idea how safe this neighborhood was at night. We were on hold for so long my partner tried calling the customer service number from her phone, which went unanswered.

Eventually, another guest arrived and put a code in which opened the gate and we followed them into the property. The new code, provided to us before we left for dinner, worked on our room door and we went inside.

We were still on the phone with the customer service woman, who was rudely asking us to repeat back to her the code we had been using that didn’t work — which was the exact code she had been telling us on the phone. I’m unsure as to why she wanted us to repeat it back to her. She clearly was accusing us of putting the wrong four-digit code into a lock. This was not user error.

She also told us to go to the room of the other guests we followed in, knock on their door, and ask them what code they had put into the gate. That sounded like a great way to get the police called or get shot in the middle of the night. Not to mention anxiety-producing for them to have two strangers knock on their door in the middle of the night to work out logistical nonsense that the property managers couldn’t figure out.

Well within our rights and on the basis of sanity, we did not go knock on their door. As we were having this conversation with her, we got a knock on the door. It was the same maintenance worker who let us into our room earlier upon our arrival earlier in the day when the code wouldn’t work.

When I answered the door he was profusely apologizing both for us being locked out when we arrived and for us being locked out when we came back from dinner. As we were listening to him, another man who did not identify himself and was dressed in track pants and t-shirt came out of nowhere in a very aggressive way and started demanding that I, a female, leave our room and go with him to the front gate of the property to show him the code we had tried to use that wasn’t working.

I explained that I intended to check out of the facility as soon as possible and I would not be needing to leave and come back to the site, therefore I was no longer in need of a working code for the front gate. He screamed at me that I was being uncooperative and I would not be getting a refund for not staying there the next night unless I went outside with him and showed him the code I was trying to put into the gate.

I explained again that I intended to leave the property first thing in the morning and would not be returning so I was not in need of a working code for the front gate. At one point, the maintenance worker put his hand on this man’s shoulder to hold him back and calm him down because he was acting so aggressive and uncontrollable.

At this point, I realized I didn’t know who the man was and asked him – “who is this guy?” – to which the man shouted “I’m the manager of this place!”

Prior to this, and although he had been standing at my door yelling for over five minutes, he did not introduce himself, offer any identification, nor did he appear dressed in any manner that a professional employee would. He literally ran up on us in the dark and started angrily demanding we follow him out in to the dark to put the code into the outer gate.

We refused. We did not know who this person was, it was dark, we are female, his behavior was volatile, and we were on vacation and not obligated to spend our time solving logistical nonsense because the locks don’t work.

The situation escalated, with the man yelling at us for being “uncooperative” and telling us we would not be helped or refunded any amount of money unless we went with him to try the code. He was so angry and out of control that the other man had his hand on him to calm him down and, presumably, prevent him from crossing any lines and assaulting me or my partner.

At that point I felt unsafe and threatened, was done wasting my time and vacation listening to his nonsense, and closed the door. I tried to call Airbnb several times and each time was sent an auto-generated message that I had to click which I was told would advance me to customer service. Each time I tried this I was hung up on and had to call back.

Finally, after multiple attempts to reach someone I called the neighborhood complaint line and finally connected to a real person. I explained the situation to the woman who answered, and she said she needed to transfer me to customer service. I was then transferred to a man whom I told all the same information and explained that I felt unsafe at the property and wanted assistance finding a new place to stay for the night and the following night.

He told me he was going to call the property manager and call me back within 30 minutes. I reiterated that I would hear from him in 30 minutes and he confirmed I would. I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear I did not receive a call back from the man that night or the following morning. We ended up sleeping with my girlfriend’s pepper spray out and woke up with every noise we heard.

I called Airbnb again the next morning at 8:00 AM, as we were leaving for good — a day earlier than we planned. We booked another place to stay because we were so upset and felt threatened to continue to there.

My call that morning was my eighth call to Airbnb regarding this matter. I was transferred to customer service who told me she would reach out to the property manager and call me back within an hour, but in the meantime she would message me on the Airbnb app so I had her contact information.

She called me back about twenty minutes later to ask if I knew the man’s name who was threatening me and I confirmed I did not because he did not introduce himself. She told me I would hear back from her within an hour and, unsurprisingly, I did not.

I followed up on the Airbnb message at 5:30 that night, ten hours after I had spoken to her and received no response. I then followed up again the next day and didn’t receive a response for multiple hours. I finally connected with a man telling me he was a manger with Airbnb who told me to send him my receipt for the night I had to book at a different location and he would start processing a refund for the time there and the cost to stay at the new location. He then didn’t respond for two days.

When I followed up, he said he had been out of town and was still waiting to hear back from the property on my refund. I do not understand why Airbnb needed to consult them about my refund. There is no disputing I was locked out of my room and locked out of the facility twice. There is no disputing that I was screamed at and physically threatened by a man who worked for them who purported to be the manager.

What more does Airbnb need to give me a refund? Is this a customer service experience they are comfortable with?

I got so tired of the onus of following up being on me that I called my bank and explained the issue to them. They were horrified and refunded my money and told me they would deal with Airbnb.

Every time I relay this story to someone I am aghast as are they with not only how the property treated me but how Airbnb was difficult to reach, slow to respond and seemed unconcerned that this situation had occurred.

Can you imagine if this was your vacation? How would you feel being treated like this and having to spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get your money back?

I would like Airbnb to explain to me, since their reaction and follow up indicate they think this situation was acceptable: what you would have done if this happened to you? What would you suggest your family or friends do if it happened to them? There are plenty of other hospitality options these days and because of that, customer service has never been more important.

Here is my ultimate question: is the experience I had on my vacation while staying in an Airbnb acceptable? Is the customer service experience I outlined above acceptable?

If this is acceptable per the tenants of Airbnb’s corporate customer service and experience policies, then Airbnb will no longer be getting any of my business, and I will be sure to let my network of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues know their stance. If this is not acceptable, please explain to me what I should have done differently.