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 Tries to Rip us Off with Last-Minute Cancellation

I work at a mid-sized property with many rooms up on Airbnb. Last Friday we had a customer that had a $550 booking for the weekend and they didn’t come. It was University of Virginia graduation weekend and if we had known the guests were not coming we could have rented the cottage in a second. The guest did not let us know they weren’t coming until after the office closed for the night.

On Airbnb we had selected the strict policy for cancellations. The guest had agreed to those terms when they booked so we expected to get paid. The funds for the stay were deposited in our account on Monday so even though we had wasted quite a bit of money on food, flowers and perishable gifts for the guest room we were fine because at least we got paid. Then at 8:00 PM on Monday night we got the following email:

We’re just getting back to you with an update regarding your guest. She gave us documentation to show they did indeed have a valid extenuating circumstance. So, we’ve cleared your calendar for these dates, and refunded your guest in full. This means you won’t get a payout for this reservation. You can review our Extenuating Circumstances Policy and we really do apologize for the inconvenience caused, thanks for understanding. Let me know if you have other questions. 

Do you see the last sentence? “Let me know if you have other questions”. Within a few minutes of receiving this email we responded with questions. Since then we have followed up a dozen times by email and phone (thanks to Airbnb Hell, as even as a Superhost you can’t find a phone number) and never gotten a response from Airbnb. The money was deposited in our account and the Airbnb website shows they are trying to take their money back through EFT.

I have responded that each day we will deactivate one unit and move it to Expedia until we hear from Airbnb customer service. So far they have lost three of 21 listings. I have also told them if they do withdraw any money from our account I will delist every unit permanently. The world is full of bad customer service but with the phone, electric or internet providers at least I can speak to someone and get an answer. With Airbnb there is no customer service at all. Honestly the worst company in the world.

Customer Service? Airbnb Doesn’t Know the Meaning

I joined Airbnb in 2020 but had to cancel all my trips due to the pandemic. Now that the EU is considering opening up to fully vaccinated Americans, I thought I could re-visit Italy. Having had a good experience with the different hosts on a previous trip (booked by my traveling companion), I made the (terrible) decision to join.

I made my first reservation and that was accepted. When I tried to make the second, a dialog box showed up saying “we can’t let you pay as your account is under review.” This was the start of the nightmare customer service saga. Service cannot be used in the same sentence as Airbnb as it’s a complete oxymoron.

The first line of representatives you reach on the number, which is deftly hidden behind multiple tabs, leaves you feeling frustrated, angry but most of all, powerless. Here’s some of what the representatives told me about my account review:

  • They were carrying out background checks on me. I’ve been in various government jobs that required those. I didn’t know registering on Airbnb required a background check.
  • From Jan. 2021, all Airbnb customers not only had to inform their banks about potential transactions with the company, but in fact, had to get in touch with Visa and Mastercard to let them know that reservations would be made on this platform. Didn’t these representatives get the training memo that it’s actually banks that block/unblock transactions because Visa and Mastercard supply the plastic and technology that makes our life simple with credit cards?
  • I had to get in touch with the potential host I was going to stay with in Italy because apparently, her software hadn’t been linked to Airbnb and this was what was stopping me reserving with her. Don’t they have an IT department to do that? Isn’t that their responsibility?
  • I did actually contact the host in Italy. She took the trouble to contact the Italian customer service platform and they were scathing in their response. They laid the blame squarely on the U.S. side saying that tech support was clearly able to help me and should do so without pushing blame on to the host. Sound familiar?
  • The trite sentence of “I’m so sorry. I know how you feel.” No, you don’t, so stop trying the empathy game with me. If you were really sorry, your IT team would stop faffing around and could have fixed this block on my account already.

There will be customers who have had a flawless experience with their hosts, as I did on my previous trip. My particular experience isn’t one I’d wish on my worst enemy. I have to agree with a review I read in that their representatives do seem to follow a script. It can’t be great for them to have to put up with aggravated, stressed and livid customers but if their management put robust resolution protocols in place, namely timely responses and updates to customers’ email, then perhaps 90% of this could be avoided.

What seems patently obvious from my dealings with Airbnb is that no supervisors are around to handle calls in the moment. Their procedure is to “escalate” and this gets attention within 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, you get zero communication.

The other horrendously annoying aspect of dealing with this company is the multiple security checks that take place. If you phone from a number that isn’t on your account or if you log in from a laptop/desktop and not the app, you get a string of emails/texts asking you to confirm. Can’t somebody tell their Information Security Officer that security is only good when it doesn’t interfere with legitimate users?

That is the paradox of this company. Their engineers have crafted multiple security checks on users yet they still haven’t put in place a system to communicate with their customers that they are dealing with technical problems that hamper customers from using their accounts. How could they have not seen the importance of keeping customers informed?

It really seems to be a company that has little regard for treating its customers with a modicum of respect. My experience has shown that timely responses are not something they do. There is no communication about the progress of problem resolution and some of their representatives are clearly out of their depth. I’m just annoyed at myself for having joined such a thoughtless, uncaring company.

Airbnb Host Fraud Lets Strangers into our Home

My husband and I own a house out of state that has been vacant and on the market for over a year. Last night our neighbors contacted us to notify us there were multiple cars and motorcycles parked in our driveway with a party going on inside. After investigation by the police we found out our house had been listed on Airbnb by an unknown host. We have never rented our home nor given any individual permission to list our home for rent.

There were pictures attached to the Airbnb posting from Zillow as well as cell phone pictures taken from outside our home looking through windows and glass doors to the inside as well as pictures taken from inside of our home. The renters showed the police their rental confirmation. The police were relatively uninterested because they said this happens all the time, that fake listings are put up and people show up and can’t get in. In this case, these people had been given instructions to access our home.

We have contacted Airbnb through several methods and been told that this will be addressed by the appropriate team. We’ve asked the call center operator to speak with a supervisor and she hung up. There is clearly no sense of urgency on the part of Airbnb in assisting us with finding the person who is still out there who knows how to access our home.

Has Airbnb Gotten Too Big to Care?

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This is a recent story of how Airbnb has gotten too big to care. We have been hosts and guests since 2010 with 213 five-star reviews. We recently had a guest who booked our home through Airbnb for three adults. He never showed up, but 15 other people did. We found out through his secretary that he regularly books Airbnb’s for his crews who are working on homes in our area damaged by Hurricane Sally in September 2020.

I went to the house and found our entire carport was filled with construction materials. Trucks, trailers, generators, and vans were parked around the house and when I went to the back of the house to see what was going on, all but one of the persons ran into the house and shut the door. The other stayed on the deck smoking (prohibited by our rules) and drinking.

Our house was a wreck when we finally got them to leave. They had trashed the house, stolen many items, knocked holes in the walls, broken glasses, clogged the plumbing and literally destroyed our kitchen. I immediately called Airbnb and was told to document all vehicles and construction materials by photo. I did this and sent it directly to Airbnb.

From that point, Airbnb began to ignore my messages and calls. The only way they corresponded was to message and ask for more documentation. I kept being pushed off to yet another ambassador/supervisor all to no avail because no one could (or would) help. Although I did everything Airbnb asked me to do and provided all documentation requested, they called today to let me know they were not going to ask the guest to pay for the additional guests because he didn’t want to pay it.

Okay, so now we get to go to the department store with the intent of buying three items, end up purchasing 15 but then saying we will only pay for three because that’s how many we wanted in the first place? How many customer service persons would let me out of the store with 15 items when I only paid for 3? None. Yet Airbnb has told the guest he only has to pay for the three guests he reserved, even though 15 stayed.

I have been a loyal client of Airbnb since 2010 and this guest just joined during 2020 so he could send his work crews to stay near the hurricane disaster sites without having to pay for hotel fees. His secretary was foolish enough to share this information with me via telephone. Unbelievable. I have filed a complaint with the BBB, sent emails to the CEO, CFO and CSO of Airbnb, and am sending this information on the “real” Airbnb through all the social media resources available to me.

Airbnb Protects Neither the Hosts, Guests, nor Community

Due to my experiences as a host, it is my opinion Airbnb is very derelict in creating a safe platform. I recently had a guest get booked without my usual radar. He arrived with four guests instead of two and lied about the extra people not actually staying. He broke rules about staying up later and partying outside until 5:00 AM.

On the day of checkout, he wouldn’t leave — he finally did 1.5 hours late. I called Airbnb about the checkout as my cleaning people needed to get in and clean. They didn’t respond to my call until three hours later. As I watched all four of them finally check out, the booking individual took a gun out of the trunk of the car and aimed it towards my property. I have pictures of him doing this.

When I finally spoke with Airbnb about this, their agent who handles misconduct cases like this took my information. I basically requested that the platform remove this individual from the platform so that other hosts would not have to deal with his dangerous antics. This employee assured me he would protect my identity in this situation and process my complaint. Bear in mind he had a picture of this individual with the gun. He did not need testimony from this person as he had a picture, dated and time stamped. This agent of Airbnb assured me he would protect my identity.

Within hours of expressing my concern about this experience I received an angry text from this guest stating he was angry I told Airbnb about his actions with the gun, an offense that is illegal on so many levels. In my opinion Airbnb has now created a direct grudge with this individual against me and my family. He knows where I live and the activities of this property. This agent assured me that he did not reveal my name when he questioned this individual, which is all he is required to do. Well, this person had only ever booked once with Airbnb and that was with me.

This has unnecessarily created a very dangerous situation for me and I have because of this, I left the platform. I do not recommend it.

Someone is Renting my Home on Airbnb and it Does Nothing

There’s this listing on Airbnb for a property of mine. Wait a minute, I am not renting this property. The host is someone else and they don’t have my consent. I have contacted Airbnb support and they told me to write a letter explaining the case and scan it.

At first I was a bit mad. Am I a scribe? What century is this? But did it anyway. Then the operator told me: “Didn’t I tell you? You need to address it to the host.”

I was a bit madder. I told them to just take down the listing and I’d be happy. I can prove it’s my place; it’s easy. Airbnb said they do not validate any document, and the host declared he has full rights on the property by marking a checkbox. For real: two different operators told me this with the same copy and pasted text, so it’s procedural. If only I knew, I would not have bothered to buy a house.

So there I am standing, a bit mad, and I tell them to at least protect the customers. Whoever reserves this place is basically being scammed and, in the best case, losing time. Then they got mad. Two different operators on two different days were very rude and said that I was not collaborating and the case was closed.

There’s currently a listing on Airbnb for a property of mine, and I’m not renting it out. I’m about to call the police, but at this point I’m not sure who is to blame.

Host Left Me Waiting Outside Until I Cancelled

A terrible host left without leaving me a key. I had to cancel after waiting many hours until the evening. Airbnb support workers couldn’t understand I had to cancel because the host decided to turn off her/his phone and didn’t plan to arrive to bring the key. The host’s behaviour has been terribly rude. The host decided to play games by leaving me outside in the cold and thought he/she would still get the payment.

I had to write too many times to support. I also called and did everything I could until days later I finally got a refund. It was very difficult to get help and some of the support workers didn’t believe anything I told them. Some of the workers wanted to let the host keep the payment. I didn’t get any help to find other accommodations; I had to do all the searching by myself.

After all of this Airbnb still let the fake host keep the apartments visible on Airbnb. The host didn’t have a real name, only a nickname and no surname visible on the receipt. After that it is very difficult to believe anything on Airbnb. They want to see guests’ full names and passports but for them it is enough if a host has only a nickname. It was not a Superhost. Airbnb also decided not to accept a review of this behaviour so new guests can’t know what that host will do to them. It is very unfair guests have to keep all this information to themselves but they let hosts lie and scam others. They support liars. Moreover, they lie by supporting them.

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.

Airbnb’s Cancellation Policy Leaves Guest Out $1.6K

I am planning on relocating to San Miguel de Allende so I booked a one week stay in a darling casita in January. When I realized the pandemic wouldn’t allow me to travel in January, I changed my reservation for the entire month of April. Now it looks like April is too soon to travel also so I wanted to cancel until we get the all-clear travel advisory.

I was told that I could cancel for a full refund up to 24 hours before my reservation. Now Airbnb is withholding all my money for the first 30 days (my entire reservation) and only refunding me $25 out of almost $1,600. This company sucks and I will never use them again. I will post warnings to others wherever I can. This company needs to be replaced with one that actually has customer service.