Everything about this Airbnb Listing was Different

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I made a reservation for May 25th, 2018 in Oslo, Norway for July 31st to August 3rd. The reservation was confirmed by the proprietor. The printout provided showed an attractive room but did not give further details. We finally managed to find the address but to our surprise no one was present to let us in. We then called the host on her mobile and were told by her to report to her place of work, which we found with difficulty.

We received a set of keys and returned to the property through a front door marked with nasty graffiti and were shocked to find that no cleanup had been done by the owners. Dirty linen was in the bathroom, kitchen and bedroom, with a dozen pair of shoes lying in the corner of the entry room. Even more shocking was finding a ladder without a handrail required to reach a mattress lying on the floor which one would have to crawl to in order to gain access; the ceiling height was only about a meter.

There was also dirty linen covering the bed. None of the bedroom features were mentioned in the email we had received from the host confirming our reservation. It would have been dangerous to navigate the ladder at night if one was to access the bathroom on the lower floor. Accordingly, we did not check in and notified the host and Airbnb of our concerns. We found alternative accommodations with difficulty at a busy time in Oslo.

Airbnb’s response has been really poor and unprofessional. There have been long waiting times with chats with people from California to the Philippines. We were assigned a case manager who expressed concern. Since we did not receive follow up on several phone calls – always being connected with a different person who promised that our case manager would get back to us – we have become very frustrated since a full refund has been requested given the dirty premises and equally the very dangerous and poor quality of the accommodations.

I can guarantee that I will never engage the services of Airbnb and will let my friends and family know of our concerns. I may also seek legal advice to settle this outrageous problem to our satisfaction.What a scam.

I Just Want to Talk to a Human at Airbnb Customer Service

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I feel that all this is related and I have not been able to get anyone to confirm that my account is secure. I am going to post this here and also follow up with the suggestions above. About ten months ago I was told that my app and account were not working correctly because I had multiple email accounts; probably because I accidentally signed in by phone or Facebook or both so this support person had combined the accounts into one and closed the others. I have never been able to use the app the same since.

I have received multiple emails requesting me to verify my personal information and download my identification and forward them to Airbnb only to be told that they were not clear so I needed to send them again (this was done after I had used Airbnb several times and paid through Airbnb several times). Then I was told that none of this actually happened and “I was confused”… yes, those were the words of a support person. Another one said that they assured me that the accounts were closed and the history that was supposed to be merged was just lost.

I stayed at another host’s home, though it was quite difficult to reserve because Airbnb kept saying to try again later. Finally it worked and everything was great. It was their first Airbnb and I was happy to help them out by cleaning up a few things and such. We had made arrangements to stay with them again in a few months. After about a month, I received an email from Airbnb stating that they weren’t happy with our stay and asked what I could do to make it better in the future. I immediately went to text them to see what the problem was and it said that the host was not accepting messages right now.

That was over a month ago. I have tried everything to get ahold of them and every support person has given me every excuse in the book. Keep in mind that the host has not left us anything negative, only positive reviews, and there is no reason for them not to want to explain even if they didn’t want us to stay there again. I have not been able to get anywhere with Airbnb and even requested a full refund for our stay there because we had to clean up from the people before us.

I didn’t mind before all this mess but I still have heard nothing. Some of the support message simply say “this support case has been closed” without any other response. I just want to know why without guessing, someone to confirm that my account is secure, and all of this is actually being done by Airbnb even if it is very unprofessional.

A (Nearly) Objective Flight into Airbnb Support Madness

Last week I wrote a satirical exchange, Kafka meets HAL 9000. I would love to share with you the specifics of what that non-fictional, though unbelievable (and still ongoing) exchange looks like.

On June 3rd my listing, along with 60,000 others in Japan, were suddenly taken offline, without warning, without explanation.

June 11th: I tried to re-list with my license number and got a ‘caution’ message, stating that I could not re-list. I contacted Airbnb support and was told to keep trying to re-list.

June 12th: After repeated trying to re-list, I sent Airbnb support a message, but the thread (case) had been closed. After many phone calls and messages of “we are working on the problem 24/7” in English that were going in circles, I got my wife to contact the Japanese Airbnb staff.

June 12th: First contact with Airbnb staff in Japan. Back and forth messaging four times. Phone calls.

June 15th: After three days of no contact we sent a message and received a reply.

June 17th: After two days of no contact we sent a message and received a reply.

June 18th: We sent a message, and received no reply.

June 19th: We sent a message and received a reply.

June 21st: After two days of no contact we sent a message and received a reply. I was pretty fed up, as nothing seemed to be happening, I asked to speak to someone higher level in English.

June 22nd: A manager speaks to my wife.

June 23rd: We are put onto someone else, who messaged: “The issue has been reported, can’t confirm a deadline, we have flagged this as urgent.” I, not quite understanding the use of present progressive, which indicates recent activity (even in the passive voice) replied, “When was this reported?”

“June 21st.”

“Please give me specifics, did your other rep not report this?”

“Can’t confirm anything.”

June 25th: After two days of no contact we sent a message.

“I was out of the office, please be patient.”

June 26th: A guest, who emailed me worried that our site wasn’t online, cancels. I sent a message to Airbnb:

“Please put me on with someone who can help me.”

“I won’t put this any higher than myself.”

June 30th: No further replies from Airbnb.

“I will call Airbnb customer support everyday until this is resolved.”

June 30th: Called Airbnb’s USA number and talked with someone there. He said 20 days with no resolution is not very good. He said he will prioritize this case (probably the 10th time I have heard this). When we tried to re-list (probably the 15th time I have tried this) a new ‘caution’ warning comes up, stating that “Our records show that your country of residence does not match the listing. Please contact our customer support team if that is not the case.”

I weep and bite my hand. Customer service asks for a screenshot, so I sent it with the question, “Is this big enough?”

June 30th: No reply, but apparently support case is closed, because I can’t reply to the thread.

July 1st: I call Airbnb USA again and get someone who says the guy I had been talking to earlier is not my case manager, then after a long silence contradicted himself. I said I was confused. There was a long silence, then he said someone would call me tomorrow morning.

July 2nd: No call, so I called and got: “Your case manager does not seem to be available.”

“This is a known bug. I will prioritize your case (I give up trying to remember how many times I have heard this). Someone will call you, but I can’t give you a time frame on the call.”

July 3rd: Getting ready to call again…

No Water in Bathroom Not Grounds for a Refund?

We arrived in Paris for a three-night stay at a “cozy, cute apartment with panoramic views” to find a cozy, cute apartment with a balcony. 15 degrees of the view did show Montmartre but the other 165 degrees was a perfect panorama of the adjacent apartment building, maybe 20 years away. Fine – we weren’t going to be spending much time in the apartment.

Exhausted and somewhat stinky from the overnight flight from the US east coast and battling the Parisian strikes affecting transportation in from De Gaulle airport, I was ready for a shower, to brush my teeth and take a quick nap. Mon Dieux! There was no water in the bathroom at all. The kitchen sink had water, but la toillette, shower, and sink, as well as the washing machine, lacked any water.

We turned a few knobs, my husband checked my work to make sure I had somehow failed to remember how to turn on water at the age of 63, and I contacted the delegated Airbnb host, since the official host was not available. I contacted him through the Airbnb website and then he reminded me that he preferred to use WhatsApp.

Problem #1: the Airbnb customer service person later informed me that because I used WhatsApp it was impossible to be absolutely sure I was communicating with the right person, despite the back and forth conversation over several hours, the ability to look up the phone number, the screenshots, and the Airbnb website communications.

The host asked for a photograph of the plumbing in the bedroom which we took on our iPhone and sent to him. He responded, “Voila – just turn the nozzle to the washing machine and all will be wonderful… not.”

I reminded him that that nozzle went to the washing machine, not the shower, toilet or sink and that we had tried several times. He assured me it would get fixed. Stinky and exhausted, we napped for a couple of hours, blissfully uninterrupted by any further attempts by the host to settle our problem. After our nap, I called, messenged, and sent him and the owner notes asking for a resolution.

About six hours after arriving, unable to go out because we were (stupidly) expecting someone to come to fix the problems, we decided to cancel and go elsewhere. I let the host know, secured alternative housing, and returned the key five blocks or so to the secure key drop (he was very good about sending me the key code so he wouldn’t have to come to pick it up elsewhere). The host even had the nerve to say that no other guests had ever had this problem, insinuating that perhaps this was our fault.

Since returning home, I’ve contacted the Airbnb customer service folks and as I saw written in the intro on the Airbnb Hell website, found them wanting. Several apparent problems: I should have communicated only on the website; I should have contacted Airbnb central; I need to prove that I didn’t have water.

Proving the absence of water is quite difficult, actually. I couldn’t get a response as to how I was supposed to do so. Apparently having no water in the bathroom is not a reason for looking for a different situation, nor is a complete lack of results by the host in improving the immediate situation and my assumption that the host would know the rules and use the website only (not WhatsApp) is incorrect and absolutely no protection even though it works well for the host.

The customer service agent has refunded me about half of the cost. I have asked him or her to provide me the contact information to make an appeal and he/she simply ignores that request in our communication. This has been incredibly frustrating and I am asking for a full refund. Until this time, I have had only good experiences with Airbnb and my thought is that this host may just have a bunch of hotels he rents out without any real attachment. He’s not a host; he’s a short term lender. Just a hunch.

Illegal Drugs Found in Airbnb Upon Arrival

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These are the facts about what happened upon arrival at an Airbnb residence in London. My partner’s father and grandmother, residents of Germany, were visiting myself and my partner between Sunday, June 17th, 2018 and Friday, June 22nd, 2018. My partner’s grandmother has not visited the UK before and this will be the last time she will travel to there.

Upon arrival in the UK, my partner, my partner’s father, my partner’s grandmother and I went to the Airbnb residence. Upon arrival, we were disgusted with the cleanliness of the apartment, the floors being sticky and with clear connotations that they had not been cleaned in a while. There were also several stains on the coffee table.

This was not the worst part, as upon inspecting the flat my partner’s grandmother (a woman in her 70s) found what she thought to be a transparent sealable spare button bag. While looking at it, the unmistakeable stench of cannabis wafted from within. This was found at the base of the kitchen counter, clearly seen from any place within the room. When investigating further we also found remnants of cannabis cigarettes both in the rear sliding doorframe as well as just outside the door.

We took pictures of the bag as well as one of these used cannabis cigarettes which we placed on the counter to clearly be seen against its black surface. On top of this we have the physical evidence. Immediately we were in touch with the Airbnb team to escalate the matter and ask for a refund. We were directed by the support team towards both the resolution centre and asked for a refund from the owner of the property.

Upon the owner not accepting the terms, we contacted Airbnb customer service directly. This is where the level of service provided to us has been shocking to say the very least. Due to the language barrier, as well as no help from Airbnb to resolve this, the verification stages for me to represent my partner’s father were practically impossible to do until he was asked to call them directly to verify his representation. This was the initial issue that was not resolved in a professional or timely manner by customer service representatives.

After this shocking experience for my partner’s grandmother as well as the terrible customer service my partner’s father and I experienced, I was finally verified to speak on his behalf. My grandmother has not seen or ever come into contact with illegal substances in her entire life. A reminder at this moment that we found illegal drugs in the apartment with photographic evidence as well as physical evidence to support this.

I have called the customer service number multiple times, speaking with several agents that represent Airbnb’s so called ‘service’. They refused to give me their representative ID numbers. Upon asking to escalate this issue several times and asking to speak with either a manager or someone who is more equipped to deal with my service issues, every single representative said that they could not pass me to a manager or an escalation point.

Upon exploring potential options such as transferring me to another agent, to a line manager, to an escalation point, to even physically leaving their desks to walk to a ‘managerial’ department, I was refused service. To help understand what customer service is, here is a definition of “customer service” by Oxford Dictionary:

The help and advice that a company gives people who buy or use its products or services.

To this day, I have received no help, only excuses for how Airbnb is structured into different departments with zero points of escalation. No advice on the next steps, only excuses stating that this ‘ticket’ is with the escalation team, a department that has no customer facing contact point. Finally, there has been no answer as to when this will be finished.

I have been in contact with our professional legal team to settle these matters publicly with the overarching support from the police, who will be notified if we do not get an answer/refund as soon as possible. Having been ten days since originally escalating the issue to the ‘resolution centre’ department, this is unacceptable and we will be taking further action if there is no resolution or response by this Friday (June 29th, 2018). What are everyone else’s thoughts on this? No opinions about illegality/legality of cannabis please – this is a Class B drug in the UK.

Airbnb Support: Kafka Meets 2001’s HAL 9000

Fictitious conversation between two Airbnb upper management staff. Disclaimer: This conversation has no relationship to anyone or any company, living or dead.

UM Staff 1: Hey, I’ve got a great idea for saving money!

UMS 2: Yeah?

UMS 1: We just set up a support team that basically blocks customers from causing us hassle and money.

UMS 2: Ok… but won’t there be problems?

UMS 1: No, no… you see, we keep the customer absolutely powerless. Sure they will get frustrated and suicidal and their finances will go down the toilet, but they will have no way to get past the wall that we set up, so they will never be heard. That way we can keep the commission low on the vast majority of hosts, the vast minority will sing our praises, and the minority who complain will be drowned out. Even if the customer threatens legal proceedings we can cover it from the vast amount of money we are raking in. The complaining customer will never be able to compete.

UMS 2: Hmm, sounds a little risky.

UMS 1: No, see I’ve read Kafka; you just basically gaslight the single customer, suggest their reality (fairness, morality, responsibility) is completely wrong. As for the people who have to actually interface with the… ‘customer’ we set up the HAL scenario.

UMS 2: What’s that?

UMS 1: Well just get the support staff to repeat ‘Siri-like’ computer generated phrases like “we have a team working on it 24/7” and use passive statements like “it has been reported to a team (that I cannot tell you the name of).”

UMS 2: Beautiful. Let’s do it!

I was delisted on June 3rd (wrongly). I can’t enter the details of my license (first attempt June 11th) into their network (computer error they say). I have been given the runaround ever since, with the last ‘senior customer service staff’ member being the least helpful. No surprise there. I am exhausted, beyond frustrated, angry, and depressed.

$1500 Gift Card Funds in Deactivated Account

This is a copy of the email I finally wrote out of utter desperation to hopefully get the attention of someone with some authority to resolve my issue. The letter is self explanatory. At this time, I haven’t heard anything back. I’ll repost and hopefully have some good information to share whenever I finally get some attention and a resolution. I addressed it to Aisling Hassell and Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb.

Here is my issue in short: Airbnb is holding $1500 from gift cards in my daughter’s disabled account and I have not been able to get these funds transferred to my account after four calls to your customer service reps for over a week. A year and a half ago, my then 15-year-old daughter opened an Airbnb account with my knowledge and permission. She entered her information correctly and accurately, and supplied a picture and information from her passport as her identification.

Nowhere in the process was she eliminated as underage. She was allowed to proceed and went on to make two reservations for trips she and her father, and she and I took. At no time was her age an issue. If it had been, she would have told me and I would have opened an account for us to use.

Last Monday, June 11, she was attempting to make a reservation in Chicago for our trip in July, and entered $1500 in Airbnb gift cards for the planned two-week stay. She was promptly contacted and told her account was deactivated due to her age. The $1500 is locked in this inactivated account.

I immediately called your customer service number on Tuesday and explained the problem. Your rep said she was unable to resolve my issue and I was assured that someone with that level of authority would call to rectify the situation. When no one had contacted me on Friday, I called again that morning and was advised to open an Airbnb account so the funds could be transferred. Again, I was told that the person on the phone had no authority to help. She said another, higher-level person would contact me within the next half-hour and help resolve this problem.

Once again, no call or email came, and I called back Friday afternoon. For the third time, the rep said she had no authority to help, and the situation had been communicated to another department and I had to wait to be contacted. There was no way for me to contact them, and they would contact me at a later undetermined time. I finally called again today, Tuesday, June 19th, and got the same story from yet the fourth customer service rep.

He had me add a payment method to my account. I’m hoping that is only to have a way for the $1500 to be transferred to my account. Beyond that – same song, 4th verse – he cannot help me and has referred my issue to this mysterious department that can resolve my problem, but just never does it. On top of that, he insinuated that my daughter had been dishonest in the information she originally entered to open her account.

This infuriated me; she used her passport information. Airbnb allowed her to open the account and successfully make two different reservations for stays in New York in February and Chicago in April this year. This is due to Airbnb’s oversight in not recognizing her age. Please look into this. I now have had $1500 tied up in an account for over a week that I still cannot access.

It is unbelievable that there is no one in your first line customer service representatives who have the authority to truly help your customers and not just have to pass us along to another, unreachable, unanswering department. I would appreciate any help you can give me in resolving this issue as soon as possible.

Airbnb’s Unfair Resolution Centre Believes Hosts

I have been a Superhost for five years, and Airbnb has been great in the past. When guests have asked for refunds, I have done my best to be fair. When the dryer broke while gests were staying, I replaced it; I know amenities have a shelf life. It was my understanding that we are part of a nice, fair community.

However, I went to Nice for two days. I’m a single mum and needed a short break away. The second night we couldn’t pull the sofabed out; something was wrong with it. We got home and the host wanted us to buy a new one for €1,200. I am not strong enough to bend metal and damage a sofa, so how is it that Airbnb customer service has given me robotic, copy and pasted emails that day stating I must pay?

There has been no explanation, no kindness… they just took money from my account and have threatened me with ‘removal from the community’. I feel wrongly accused and let down. I still have many Airbnb guests booked for the next few months, and am trying to give them a good travel experience. I can’t believe how cold and unjust customer service has been this time. They won’t answer any of my questions. I don’t know what to do.

Airbnb Charged Full Amount… And Then Kept Charging

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When booking an apartment through Airbnb, I chose “payment in installments” but was charged the full amount of about 1500 EUR by Airbnb from my PayPal account, immediately. I only realized this three weeks later when I was charged by Airbnb, again, from my paypal account. That time it was the first installment of 770 EUR which is to be followed by the second one in a few weeks.

I contacted Airbnb several times via telephone and messaging explaining that they had charged the full amount by mistake and asking for them to transfer the amount back to my PayPal account. So far, one week has passed and I have not been helped at all. On the contrary, one Airbnb person wrote to me that the amount of 1500 EUR was shown but not charged, which is a lie. All transfers are documented by PayPal.

Yesterday, I insisted in speaking to a person with more authorization. Finally, I was called by somebody who literally hung up on me in the middle of our conversation. This morning, I received a message telling me that if I have an issue with a suspicious credit card transaction I should first check on family members who might have used my card information. This was totally off topic as the charges for my booking were made from my PayPal account. I have the feeling that there are very limited means to get any further than the “customer support shell” which is doing anything but solving problems for Airbnb customers.