About a month ago, my fiancé and I booked a stay in Toronto for May 22-25. This was our first time using Airbnb. We found a listing that was in the area we wanted and it was a better deal than the area hotels, so we decided to try it out.
The morning before our trip, at around 7:00 AM, I logged into Airbnb because I was concerned that we had not received check-in instructions. I clicked on the message thread from the host (last message May 8th) and received the following error: “This conversation is no longer available because Gaison’s account was removed for violating Airbnb’s Terms of Service.”
Now, a couple of questions spring to mind, namely who the heck is Gaison? We booked this with a different host. I immediately called the Airbnb customer service number. I told her what happened and she said, “I’m sorry, we can’t give you a refund for this reservation since it’s too close to the check-in date.”
I never asked for a refund or cancellation; I just wanted to be able to message my host and I had no idea who this Gaison person is or why their account was suspended. I reiterated that I was concerned about not being able to message my host and that my host’s account was possibly suspended. Customer service told me that my host’s account had been suspended. When I clicked on her profile, she was active and listed as a Superhost.
When I told Airbnb this, they were unable to answer why I could not message the host, and how Gaison was related to the booking. When I asked what they recommended, after a long hold, they said they would refund our reservation and rebook us. I’m looking at the rebooking options in the area while holding on the phone – all of them are 20-25% higher than what we paid.
After being on hold again, Airbnb said they would email me a list of options. I asked if it was necessary to cancel, or if there was some way they could allow me to message the host. They ignored my question and said they would process the refund immediately. Again I reiterated that I would prefer to keep my original booking as long as my host is active and in good standing with their Terms of Service. Instead of answering my question she said she would email me other listings and call me back in an hour.
I waited for an email. Two hours later I received a direct message through the Airbnb site with a list of options for rebooking. In the message she offered a 10% credit toward our rebooking. All of the options were 20-25% more expensive than what we booked. I quickly sent them to my fiancé to look at, we selected one, and I responded to the message within 15 minutes asking for more help meeting our budget – perhaps waiving the service fee. No response for two hours.
I called Airbnb back again and asked to speak to my case manager. Meanwhile, I was trying to find alternate solutions, hotels in the area, etc. The second person I reached at Airbnb wanted me to start from the beginning, and was unable to connect me to my case manager. I started to explain the problem with messaging the host. The person on the phone (didn’t get her name) immediately said “we can’t give you a refund.”
I never asked for a refund; I just wanted to know if this booking was still “safe” and if it was a good idea to keep it if we couldn’t even message the host. I asked the CSR to put me on hold and take a look at my entire case file so I didn’t have to explain the entire situation again. I asked her to look at the message from the host and then my response.
Once I was off hold, the new CSR said the host will call me back “in a few hours.” I asked to speak to someone who can help immediately and am put on hold again. The CSR comes back and says she can’t transfer my case to another case manager and I will have to wait for the host to call.
Meanwhile, as I was on hold with the new CSR, the host sent me a text message saying that she was unable to send me messages. I asked the host who Gaison is. Her response was that Gaison is an account that co-hosted other properties with her. I asked her for the reason that Gaison’s account was suspended. The host’s response was that “They are a property management service and was sending messages to hosts offering their services which is against Airbnb rules. They received a warning email that required a reply from them but they did not check their email in time and Airbnb suspended their account.”
Now, having spent four hours on this problem, I am growing concerned that this is Shady City. I want to reiterate that this is my first experience using Airbnb. I’m not confident that when I land in Toronto tomorrow afternoon I will even have a place to stay. If I had not logged in to message my host, how would I have even known there was an issue with an account suspension?