First-Time Airbnber Realizes Customer Support Doesn’t Care

Last week we decided to use Airbnb due to the size of our group and the need to have our dogs go with us. After I tried contacting potential hosts who never bothered to reply, We finally found a great host in Miami, accommodating and flexible.

On to sign up and verification. I went through the process as required, submitted everything via their app, even more than once for the ID after I received a message saying that it was a blurry pic. I paid, got back a confirmation and I said to my family, “That was easy!”

…not so fast. After about thirty minutes I got a refund to my card. I called, and they could not tell me why, but said they would look into it. The agent said I couldn’t reserve anything until the verification process was complete. Why did the system allow me to? I waited for verification with the clock ticking, and… nothing.

I called Airbnb and a representative answered after a +25 minute wait. I explained multiple times what I was trying to accomplish, that the reservation had been made and I was waiting for verification. The phone connection was bad and not easy to understand. Once he understood what was going on, he said “I will put you on hold and reach out to the verification group.” He asked for a contact number and promised to call me back if we got disconnected.

As feared, I got disconnected. I waited almost an hour for a call back. After a long wait, nothing. The clock was ticking and I feared the potential loss of my reservation. I called again: long wait, same terrible connection. I explained to Airbnb the exact same things I had already said plus the connection issue and the additional hour – now taking over 2.5 hours to wait for verification. The answer to this was that I needed to wait for the first representative to call me back because the resolution is in their hands.

So I did. I hung up and waited for another 45 minutes. This went on for the next three hours after calling back, getting disconnected multiple times, and so on. Everyone had the same answer: nobody wanted or could escalate the matter; I simply had to wait for that first representative. No one could tell me what the issue was or how long their resolution time was supposed to be. What if his shift ended? Or went on break? Or worse, just did not care?

Over 3 hours late, and I still had not heard back. In the meantime I received a message from tech support that “someone will be calling me in about 10~15 minutes”… I was not about to hold my breath for that one. I had already lost confidence.

During this time I had communicated several times with the host explaining the nightmare. He kindly said to not worry, he would wait. I continued waiting for that call back, so I called back. Another wait, another explanation, and again – I have to wait until the original representative resolves it, from whom I still have not heard. Wait, call again… another wait, another voice.

Then I was told that the picture I had submitted was blurry and they could not tell who I am, which is really not true; it was perfect clear. I was told to resubmit. This was fine with me, except there was no way to do it. When I tried to resubmit, on the app or the website, the system said “OK you are all set” because I had already done this step. I explained this to the agent who did not have an answer or solution. No escalation, no other person to talk to… simply wait for that first guy. What kind of policy is this?

After I called back in the fifth hour, the representative was a bit more helpful, suggesting to try to make the reservation again because sometimes it works. I tried, but was not so lucky. I was told that I could not reserve anything because I was missing a step. I’m so tired and pissed at this point, ready to give up.

After almost six hours of this, I was finally verified using the last picture. I was able to finally pay again and got another confirmation. I waited before calling victory just in case. Finally the host contacted me a said he got the reservation also. I only hung in there because the host was accommodating and the place was what we needed. Over six hours of an Airbnb nightmare to verify and reserve. That’s it. There may be some bits of missing details, but that’s the core of the issue.

Can’t Share Phone Numbers When You Need Help

Airbnb has no way to for hosts and guests to share phone numbers via their email system. You select “contact the host”, enter your number, and it gets removed from the email, preventing the sharing of information.

Here’s the scenario. I stayed at a great place two weeks ago and left a jacket there. I contacted the host, who offered to give me the number of the person managing the unit (the host was traveling). The first few times we tried to share the number, in place of the number was a message saying the number had been removed. It took us a good number of attempts to trick the system, but we finally succeeded.

While we were going back and forth, I called Airbnb, waited about 15 minutes for someone to answer and then went round and round trying to explain the simple problem. They had no solutions. Wouldn’t it be really easy to say “we can’t share the host’s number with you, but we can give the host your number”?

That would be so simple. It would protect the host and allows us to contact each other with the host being in control. Did they do that? Nope. The person on the phone spent a few minutes telling me it was the host’s email account and not Airbnb that was stripping the numbers. Once I finally got her to understand we were using their system via ‘contact host’, she then denied that their system stripped out the numbers until I offered to send her the email with the number removed. At which point, she admitted that they did.

Then, believe it or not, she told me she could show me how to send the number. First, she said I should go to the listing. Then click ‘contact host’. I thought she understood that’s what we were doing from the five minutes of explanation we just endured. Clearly they have a serious shortage of skilled resources.

I know this isn’t a big deal for most and my issue was simple, but what if I had a problem while staying there and couldn’t get in touch with the host? What if I left some kind of medical device there? Clearly there needs to be a way to simply share a number. This whole incident shows that Airbnb is still very immature in their systems and processes and that means if you use them, be prepared for to waste time fixing simple things that their systems can’t handle. Also be prepared to get no help from folks who don’t seem to understand the fundamentals of how their own system works.

Airbnb Account Confirmation: An Exercise in Frustration

Using Airbnb has been an exercise in frustration from the very beginning. Just signing up with them involved multiple headaches: confirm this, give us this ID, confirm that, wait for two deposits to arrive in the bank (I don’t remember if the deposits ever arrived). Finally my account was set up with them, so now I could book, right?

Today I tried to book my third Airbnb trip, and what do you know: “We have to confirm your account, so we’ll deposit two small amounts in your account. They should arrive immediately, but it may take two or three days.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this website supposed to provide service to travelers? If I need to book a room and have to wait 2-3 days (or longer, or forever) to confirm my account (which has already been confirmed) before I can book a room, what’s the point? By the time my confirmed account is again confirmed, what if the room is no longer available? Seriously, the concept of people renting out rooms in the homes is great, but Airbnb’s execution is awful.

For a company valued at over $30 billion, can they really not find an efficient and effective way to let their customers book when they need to without running into roadblocks (server error, confirmation messages, etc)? Maybe have customers enter their password – wow, what a concept – to confirm who they are, or the last four digits of their credit card number. Do you really need to confirm an account that’s already been confirmed, or see my bank statement (the other option, which is even more intrusive)?

When I tried to contact the company about this, I got sent into an endless loop. After hitting the “Contact Us” button, it took me to my last booking, as though that must be my problem. Is there really not a customer service team member that I can contact? You’d think for the 15% commission Airbnb takes from the hosts and customers (which is robbery, by the way), they would be able to hire a customer service team that could be available to personally address customer issues. I don’t know who is making the big bucks at the top, but I’m fed up with the “server errors,” confirmation messages, and very poor customer “service” this company provides. If you’re going to charge such high commissions to both hosts and users, could you at least provide a system that is effective, efficient, and consistently functional, and a little customer “service” when it isn’t?

Late Cancellation? Travel Insurance is a Must!

A good friend and I – both disabled vets – booked an apartment in Miami South Beach with an Airbnb host two months before our vacation days when prices were still affordable. We then booked cheap airfares – we both live on modest incomes – that could not be refunded.

Three weeks before our arrival date our reservation was cancelled by Airbnb with no reasons given. They offered us $129 as compensation for our inconvenience and invited us to re-book. We then looked at available bookings with the same amenities for January and they were now 50-200% more expensive than our original booking, which priced us out of the market.

With the $129 they attempted to fob off on us, one would be lucky to pay for one day of accommodations on South Beach; it wouldn’t cover our lost money for non-reimbursable airfares. This debacle occurred after yet another earlier booking was cancelled because the dates advertised as being available were not in fact available (or the host got a better deal with some other customer through another third party booking agency; or still yet, the host was perhaps racist and by tracking our emails on social media discovered that my veteran friend was African American).

We began to think that Airbnb is less a booking agent than an auctioneer. If hosts can cancel reservations a month after they are made without explanation to the customer one wonders if the room was rented to someone willing to pay more. In popular locations like Miami South Beach in January that is not an unreasonable suspicion.

I complained vociferously to the very polite Airbnb customer service representatives who duly commiserated with us over our misfortune at first, yet rendered no resolution. I was told to call back the next day, which is not what one wants to hear when someone has your money and has just cancelled your reservation a few weeks before arrival. Only after sending emails to their corporate headquarters in San Francisco threatening to file a breach of contract claim in Colorado courts did I finally receive a phone call from a manager of what appeared to be their customer service center in Idaho. She was a competent problem solver and she immediately offered to help with the increased cost of re-booking.

We luckily found a venue with similar amenities that cost $340 or about 30% more than our original booking. Airbnb covered the additional cost without making me jump through any hoops and we were satisfied. My warning to all is that a “confirmed reservation” with Airbnb is not the same as a confirmed reservation at a Motel 6 or a Holiday Inn. If you think you have a confirmed reservation and then feel safe to go and book an El Cheapo non-reimbursable air fare you are at risk of losing your accommodations and being stuck with a ticket to a destination without a room waiting for you. In peak travel season when the reasonably priced accommodations fill up fast your re-booking could be quite costly. Bottom line: reduce the risk by getting travel insurance.

Leaves Guests Homeless in Athens Rather than Give them a Refund

To start off, I’ve used Airbnb a lot. I’ve given them tons of money in fees and pretty much never had any problems in the many years and countries that I’ve used it. I have great reviews. I thought that being a long-term and good customer would be something they value but clearly they don’t.

I booked this place in Athens, which clearly said it was a house. The pictures suggested it was a house and all communication with the host suggested it was a house. Since I planned to stay there for December and January, I specifically looked for a place with heating, which was a given here. Also, I liked the fact that it was recently refurbished and certainly looked so in the pictures.

I arrived at the property at 7:00 PM only to discover that it was a ground floor flat. The heating was a single A/C unit located in the living room, with the host saying, that the master bedroom does get cold. In fact, when I arrived, he had locked the master bedroom and prepared only one room for me with one of the two single beds. He seemed very surprised that I said that I would like to have a double bed for myself. He unlocked the master bedroom and then went on to lock the two-bed bedroom, saying that I won’t need it anyway. I was surprised to say the least and said that if I pay for the whole property, I would like to have the whole property.

In addition, the flat looked sad and worn, with dampness in the bathroom, paint falling off the walls, an electricity socket falling out of the wall in the kitchen and the sofa cover being worn and looking dirty. Furthermore, I pointed out to the host that there was no TV nor hairdryer. The host replied that no one in his how-many-years doing Airbnb has asked for a TV. But in fairness he did say he would get a TV and hairdryer in a few days.

After spending about an hour in the really sad looking flat and freezing my butt off, I decided that it was time to give Airbnb a call. Little did I know that my nightmare was just about to begin. I got connected to a case manager who works in the PST time zone. The first few minutes she didn’t sound that terrible, until she saw that it was a long term reservation; then she let out a groan.

In that split second she flipped from someone trying to help to someone most definitely not trying to help. She started off: “Do you realize these aren’t big complaints at all? Do you realize it is around Christmas time, so all other places will be booked? How will you find a new place.?

I said, “Well, I can’t stay in this place.”

She said she would send me an email, which she wrote right there and then, to which I would need to reply with pictures of the defects and then she would contact the host. A mere half an hour later I received the email which among other things said:

“As per the call, please inform your Airbnb host of the issues you are experiencing. I should point out that if the reservation is cancelled under our guest refund policy this would have to happen tonight and as I mentioned on the call, it is getting late to find an alternative. If you stay at the listing tonight, and decided to leave tomorrow then an alterative to end the reservation could be possible and a partial refund for nights not stayed upon agreement with the host to end the reservation.”

At this point I was confused because she never said I had to contact the host. It was already 9:30 PM in Athens. I called Airbnb again; they had her call me back. She now started to use her favorite phrase which is “following the process.” There was a process and that was I had to write to the host right then and tell him about the issues. It didn’t matter that I had already told him and I couldn’t do it then next day; I had to do it then. She also looked at the pictures that I sent, but they were not good enough for her. Then she wanted wide angle ones. I also say that I wanted to get a full refund, so what was I supposed to do? Could I stay at the property that night? What about their 24-hour reporting policy? What if I’d only reported all this the next day?

She said that she had sent the host a message and that we would have to wait for him to respond, which might not happen that night. That did not solve my housing and refund crisis, so I asked her what I was supposed to do. It was two hours before midnight and I was willing to book a hotel. She said she would ask her manager and call me back in 5-10 minutes. A mere 25 minutes passed… no call. I called Airbnb again and asked for her. Meanwhile I got a support message on the Airbnb platform:

“As per our guest refund policy: have used reasonable efforts to remedy the circumstances of the Travel Issue with the host prior to making a claim, including messaging your host on Airbnb to notify them of the issue. We’ll verify this in your account. Also please send me the wider photos of the apartment you took. I will send him an email and inform him of the issues you are experiencing.”

This was not helping me at all, so I asked again and again: “What am I supposed to do regarding my overnight stay?

Airbnb customer service: “Please bear with me. As I mentioned we have to follow a process. Did you message the host over Airbnb as I mentioned?”

I told her I would go ahead and book a hotel (it was almost 11:00 PM)

Airbnb: As per our guest refund policy: have used reasonable efforts to remedy the circumstances of the Travel Issue with the host prior to making a claim, including messaging your host on Airbnb to notify them of the issue. We’ll verify this in your account.

Me: Sorry?

Airbnb: We need you to raise the issues with your host over Airbnb messaging.

Me: Ok, I’ll do it after I go to the hotel. I have the 24 hour reporting time.

Airbnb: We spoke about this two times on the phone, that you have to message your host with the issues if you are to be valid for the guest refund policy. Also you host said he would replace TV tomorrow and the host also said that you mentioned the hairdryer to him and he said he would send a hair dryer. (So I don’t understand if she has actually been able to reach the host at this point?)

At this point I was taking off to the hotel and told her to contact me on the phone. That ended up a total clusterf&%k with her asking me to meet all of her demands by essentially midnight, without a care of how I could stay in a freezing cold flat, where I would sleep instead, that I am a human being, and so on. I told her I would continue the next morning. She sounded happy about that.

The next morning (doesn’t get any better) I called Hellbnb again at 9:00 AM. I was informed that the representative to whom I had spoken was not there and that they couldn’t do anything about my case until she came back. They didn’t know when she would be back. They said they were hopeful my case could be resolved that day. I told them that I literally didn’t have a place to stay so I would like to have a different case manager. After some struggle they agreed.

It didn’t get easier. I was told by the new agent that because I left the property, that means I didn’t try to resolve the issue, so it was not their problem anymore. No matter how I tried to explain the situation last night, I was at fault. I asked them how they imagined the host could have solved the issue that it wasn’t a house but a flat, that it was not refurbished, but apparently that was no problem for Airbnb:

“Did the flat have a separate entrance? If it did, then that is a house.”

“No,” I said, “it didn’t.”

“Aaah,” said the agent, “but you haven’t proven it! You have to film it!”

I said, “No problem; I’ll go back and film it.”

The agent clearly didn’t like that answer. She searched some more, then said that if I had searched for “entire place” on the Airbnb website then there was also a category for “entire apartment”. That’s what the flat clearly was and always has been, so clearly I was in the wrong. She completely dismissed the refurbishment and said that the host will bring a TV… so that surely solved all my problems?

At that point I was losing it. I had a long and difficult year so I was looking for at least a pleasant ending. Now I was literally having a nervous breakdown. The Airbnb agent couldn’t have cared less. She told me to talk to the host and plead with him to refund me.

At this point I needed to check out of the hotel and I was homeless on the streets of Athens. After a while I called the host and asked what was going on on his side. He told me he actually agreed to refund me because the flat didn’t fit the description but now Airbnb wasn’t approving the refund. We had to wait. It was 3:00 PM when I finally got someone helpful from Airbnb on the phone, who was actually nice and resolved all of the issues in 30 minutes. He also told me he would be able to transfer the money from my previous booking to the new booking.

At 3:30 PM Airbnb called me again. She said that nothing was possible; it was most definitely not possible to transfer the money. The nice person I spoke to clearly didn’t follow the process, because they have a process and returning money is not part of it.

I told her that I was on the streets and that I don’t have enough money to make a new booking. It was getting dark. Being a human being is clearly not part of this process, so she was more concerned about the nice person not following the process rather than helping me find a home. At this point I told her I didn’t want her on my case. I maxed out my credit cards and made a new booking, extremely stressed out and depressed at this point. Later that evening, I received a message from Airbnb:

“I am sorry if this has been a stressful time for you. If you experience any issues with your new reservation please do not hesitate to contact us.”

…if this has been a stressful time?

Impossible to Withdraw Payment for Completed Stays

We have had this space posted on Airbnb for over a year. Bookings have ticked over nicely, and money came in regularly, via PayPal. Then suddenly, from July of this year, there was an hiatus of more than four months in which, according to PayPal (on our bank’s Forex site) the balance was undeclared, and it was impossible to make a withdrawal. After multiple visits to the bank, as well as calls to PayPal, it was revealed that the balance was a minuscule R17000.

After quite a lot more to-ing and fro-ing for two or three weeks, that balance was finally available for withdrawal but, despite the fact that November had been friskily busy and December had been booked for all but four days, not another cent, not another dime has appeared in the balance. Of course, as we all know, contacting Airbnb to get information is an unspeakable hellion of a monster. Yes, it might be an issue with PayPal, not with Airbnb, but in the absence of open communication, how are we to know? How can we ever get to the bottom of this? I no longer trust that Airbnb is paying us as they aught to. Very angry and disgruntled – we would certainly have done better, at this rate, simply to have a tenant.

Whenever You Need Help, Airbnb Isn’t There

I’ve never seen a company like Airbnb. Whenever you need help, they are there not to help but piss you off and wish you to hell. I have never gotten any help either by email or by phone. The representatives are rude as if you are living in hell and you deserve their condemnation. I have never seen a company in my life to be that unhelpful. I have received this template email at least three times and no help has come so far. I don’t know what is wrong on their end: no explanations, no information, nobody to talk to and template email responses with no real communication and no intent to communicate. Their technical errors put you on the hook for the blame.

“My name is XX and I’m a Trust & Safety specialist at Airbnb. We regret to inform you that we’ll be unable to support your account moving forward, and have exercised our discretion under our Terms of Service to disable your account(s). This decision is irreversible and will affect any duplicated or future accounts. Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account. Furthermore, we are not liable to you in any way with respect to disabling or canceling your account. Airbnb reserves the right to make the final determination with respect to such matters, and this decision will not be reversed. We’ll contact you if anything changes in the future, but until then, we won’t be able to assist you any further with your account issues. Please see our Help Center for further information: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/432. Regards, XX”

Airbnb Disavows Coupon, Accuses me of Hacking

I was notified about a coupon code that would provide a substantial discount to any stay booked with Airbnb. I went to check that this code worked as I wanted to book a mini weekend getaway and, with the code applied to the stay, it would have been very cheap, making the trip almost free. I selected a condo that was in a great location and entered the coupon code in the section provided on the pay out page. The discount was applied so I knew that the coupon code was valid.

I decided quickly to run the dates by other other parties who were planning to join on the trip before I submitted the payment. This in total took about four minutes from when the coupon had been successfully applied. I went to change the amount of guests as we now had an additional person who wanted to join. This reset the page; I entered everything again including the coupon code and the coupon now suddenly did not work. Just four minutes later, and Airbnb said the coupon had now expired.

I called Airbnb to inquire why the page reset and explained that I had successfully entered the coupon already a few minutes before and the discount has been applied – why it was now coming up as expired just minutes later? The agent then began accusing me of making this up and that they do not provide coupons (even though there is a spot for them on their payments page) and that a scammer must have hacked their system and created this coupon code to harm their company.

None of this made any sense. Perhaps the code was not meant for everybody and was a programming mistake by Airbnb that worked briefly and then maybe they noticed their mistake and retracted the offer or something. However, this was not the explanation given. They started interrogating me like I was the bad guy or making the situation up and needed to provide them proof of all of this like it was my job to to their job for them and report all my findings to their Trust and Safety Team who would now be investigating me. I said I had nothing to do with this and that the source was a reliable travel website showing the promo code. I was certainly not a hacker. If I were, why would I call in and report myself?

The whole situation left me feeling very shaken and angry. Not only was my vacation ruined as I could not afford the trip without this code that they refused to honor, I was treated like a criminal for even asking about it . What a horrible experience and abysmal customer relations provided by Airbnb. Shame on them for treating customers in such a manner. In the future I will be booking any vacation stays with hotels.

Scammed by the Host and the Resolution Centre

My partner and I decided to go for a quiet week away in the south of France. While at an Airbnb there, the apartment was okay, but there were a few issues such as a horrible smell coming from the downstairs bathroom whenever you used the upstairs shower room, the garden not being looked after, and no glasses to drink out of. Whilst on our stay we were approached by two men trying to push us into buying drugs. Our real problems started when we arrived home. Our host demanded €250 (more that what we’d paid for our stay) for a long list of things we’d supposedly broken. We were accused of burning tiles in the bathroom (not sure how we could possibly do this) and burning holes in the sofa with cigarette butts (neither of us smoke). The pictures the host provided literally showed no damage to anything she was claiming for. We took the issue to the resolution centre where they decided to get rid of all her other accusations apart from one for a broken sofa leg. They wanted £65. Not only did we not break this, when I asked for evidence of it being broken and for a receipt to prove the cost, they told me they couldn’t due to “privacy reasons”. Airbnb expected me to trust them yet now I am being charged for something that I not only didn’t break but for which they can’t even provide evidence. They have now taken this money out of my account without due cause and I will be taking this matter further.