Airbnb Lied And My Credit Card Company Reimbursed Me

In May 2017, a Swedish Airbnb host failed to provide essential amenities described in the listing, obliging me, the guest, to check into a hotel for the first of a week’s visit in costly Stockholm. The first Airbnb agent contacted by phone promised to rebook me and offer compensation for expenses but the next day another Airbnb agent wrote that no compensation would be offered and, instead of rebooking me, gave me a minimum reimbursement claiming I had cancelled the reservation (not far enough in advance for a full reimbursement as per the host’s strict cancellation policy).

I tried to resolve the matter pointing out that I had never cancelled the booking but it fell on deaf ears. The Airbnb agent never replied to my showing her the agent’s name and case number I was given who had promised to rebook and offer compensation. Instead, when I placed into dispute with my bank the sum paid out in advance to Airbnb, Airbnb countered with a copy of their cancellation policy. I informed Visa I never cancelled it and that it was the second Airbnb agent who did this unilaterally and tried to lie about it. I also wrote a letter to Airbnb’s CEO in San Francisco detailing the case with names, dates and reference numbers. No one from Airbnb replied to my letter.

In the end, Visa reimbursed me because Airbnb was unable to uphold their claim with any evidence; the bank believed me. I have been an Airbnb host and guest for well over ten years. None of this mattered. I will think twice before I use this intermediary agency to book any future stays. Instead I will look for alternate ways to book private homes. It is truly shameful that Airbnb treats its loyal clients in such a shoddy manner.

Real Airbnb Hell with Snowstorm Approaching

We’re having an unacceptable Airbnb day today. Let me explain what happened. We were not happy with the room at our first reservation, as it was so small that there was no place for our luggage. We have taken pictures of the room (and the rest of the house); the pictures in the listing are not false advertisement but not fair either. There’s no full disclosure of this.

We called customer service at 5:00 PM, after a long trip, to know our options. We spoke to a case manager who did his best. We were told we would get called within the hour but they were “experiencing system issues”. It eventually took hours to find a solution. The first hour we waited at a restaurant and customer service was kind enough to offer a $25 coupon for our dinner.

When it closed, we waited outside. It was freezing in NYC at that time. It was impossible to reach them because the system was down. We eventually went back to the flat, where our stuff was, and called again. In the meantime, the host told us he didn’t feel comfortable having us in the flat and that we should get the refund on his terms and find another solution, like going to a hotel. The situation started escalating.

Three hours after our first call, we received a call back. His best solution was to rebook us but by the time he called us back all the listings that we had looked at and throughly read were already gone. We looked at some other listings together and found a listing that was online. This was already between 8:00 and 9:00 PM and we had no luck booking it. As the situation at the host’s place escalated and we were tired and stressed, we just wanted to get out of there and as customer service found a listing in a different neighbourhood, we had no better choice but to take it.

Customer service sent us a coupon for that listing and we had to add 4 euros and take an Uber to the next place because there was no public transportation at that late hour. As we were not able to thoroughly read the listing because of the said conditions, we asked if it was okay to book the next place just for one night – a reasonable thing to ask after the earlier experience – and Airbnb said that we had to book all three nights. We had no choice and we were happy to get out of a situation where we felt compromised and unsafe.

We got to the place where we are now at 10:30 PM, 5.5 hours after placing the first call. This is a different neighbourhood than the one we wanted, and it seemed sketchy. The house is run down and we found out that this listing is a dorm type of situation with seven rooms rented out and who knows how many people; this was not stated in the listing. So many people are coming and going, the shared rooms including the kitchen and bathrooms are busy and it’s noisy. It’s a hostel here, not an Airbnb. Also the window is broken and wind is coming in with a snow storm coming tonight. We took pictures of it.

We feel like the solution we got was worse than the original problem. We were pushed to take just any solution. We are very upset with the way this was handled. Airbnb could have at least provided us with a hotel room, instead of making this situation worse. We don’t want to stay here and we also don’t want another bad situation with the host just like what happened earlier today. We have been using Airbnb for six years now and this has never happened to us. This is really bad. We feel very upset.

It is almost midnight and we are still chatting with Airbnb customer service, who is still trying to find a solution. The host is asleep of course, but the guests are still running around in this “hostel”. It’s been seven hours and our nerves are wrecked. This is not fair. Tomorrow the weather conditions are going to be terrible, with a snow storm. A comfortable and safe environment is essential. This is what we expect Airbnb to provide, especially after all we’ve been through.

The Worst Customer Service I Have Ever Seen

During this winter vocation, I traveled with my friend to Munich, Germany. We lodged at a German’s flat. It was a wonderful trip and the host was a nice guy. Actually I think it was a wonderful experience there. However, several days after we left, we received a message from that host, who informed us that the glass desk in his living room had been broken. He suspected we did it, which was ridiculous. Why he didn’t he talk to us while we were there, instead of several days after we left?

If we considered this issue important, I thought it would be better to connect with the police at first time. Well, after discussing it with my friend, we thought that the less trouble, the better. We are international students and aren’t willing to get stuck in any trouble. We decided to agree with the host and pay him back 80 euro as a solution to terminate this problem. At that moment, the Airbnb nightmare began.

The Airbnb charged the fees twice, a total of 160 euro. We connected with customer service several times. They made a promise to us that they would return the fees to another credit card which I have saved on my Airbnb Account, but not the card which I used to make the payment before… how absurd they are. Once I connected with them, instead of solving the problems for us, they always said that the fees had been transferred onto the credit card, and we should ask our bank for help.

The bank clerk told me if they had transferred the money into my account, I would have already received it. However, at this moment, I still haven’t received it. What makes me anger is once you connect with Airbnb, customer service doesn’t always reply to you or, if they do, it takes several days. In 21st century, this is the most “wonderful” service I have ever seen.

Airbnb Customer Service Dismisses Concerns and Hangs Up

I recently cancelled on a guest whose reviews were atrocious, and after being told I’d be penalized $100 dollars anyway, despite making clear that the guest made me uncomfortable, I called Airbnb’s (hard to find) customer service number. I was connected with a woman who told me she would make a one-time allowance (that’s not how Airbnb cancellations work), and then proceeded to argue that the guest’s reviews aren’t that bad. I went through each review, explaining that they were among the worst reviews of a guest I’d ever seen, at which point the agent cut me off to proselytize on the injustice of Airbnb guest reviews.

Reviews are “an attack” on a person’s character, she argued, and as such are unfair. She then argued that reviews are not legitimate information for a host to take into account when assessing a coming guest. When I asked her to stop interrupting me so that I could finish my thought – for interruption was the way through which she made those remarks – and then heard the sound of her phone hanging up. On the bright side, I called back to file a complaint and was connected to a very nice, very knowledgeable guy who helped me with my original issue, and is now helping me to figure out the name of first agent.

Property won’t be Listed on Airbnb if you Complain

We purchased a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina and spent several thousand dollars making it ADA compliant, doing most of the work ourselves. Finally after three months of work, on March 1st we pressed the button to go live with Airbnb and what happened? Nothing…. So I thought I would wait until the 2nd and again on the 3rd and again on the 4th. I sent Facebook messages asking what was up and why the site wasn’t live. The response was silence.

On the 6th I sent an angrier pointed message and was finally told that there were technical problems and that my problem had been elevated up to the highest possible team with the highest possible priority. Okay, so more days went by and nothing. Yesterday I sent another very pointed message and finally received a real message. I was told Airbnb would not list my property and would not give me a reason. So, their mission in life is to list properties and provide customer service. The single most important part of customer service is communication. So, I expect Airbnb to list my property and communicate, and when I complain that they do not seem to be providing either, they exclude me?

The Airbnb Customer is Not Always Right

What a joke; I thought the customer was always right. Not in this case. I brought issues to a host’s attention about his place and the lack of help from his helper. Well, you thought I had accused him of fraud or something worse. Never had he heard this before, claiming he only had “happy customers”… just some of the responses he was giving me. He then went on to respond online about this, stating that I was impolite and rude to his assistant. If asking for someone to show their face and meet the customer to make sure everything is okay (finding where to go, making sure the room is suitable to enter, finding all the necessary items needed – towels, water, facilities to eat) then we must of been the rudest people ever.

The Airbnb response was even better, stating that we had been put on the “not providing a quality customer” category. Needless to say, we will not be using Airbnb again and certainly will not be using this whole building again, let alone this host. After reading some of the responses here, I know our situation is not that severe, but when you pay a decent amount of money to have a good holiday only to be treated like we had done something criminal it has an affect on you. I do feel better knowing we are not the only ones but feel sorry for those who have been put through this as well. Thank you for listening to my winge.

Dream Paris Vacation Turned into Airbnb Nightmare

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My family and I (including our infant son) took a trip in September 2017 to Paris using money we’d been saving for a vacation for over two years. While we were in Paris, we experienced a taste of the terrible experiences that Airbnb has to offer, and a taste was more than enough.

Our first reservation was with a listing that had 42 four- and five-star reviews and was hosted by a French lady. We arrived in Paris around 10:30 AM after traveling almost 24 fours with a tiny baby. The host knew when we would arrive, had our flight details, and told us to call her when we landed. We called her three times with no answer. We went to get a taxi. She finally called us back, said something in French, and hung up on us.

A few minutes later her associate called us back and told us she was busy and to call when we were ten minutes away from the apartment. We called three times from the cab when we were ten minutes away. There was no answer; we left messages. The cab driver dropped us off. We waited ten minutes in the cold with our luggage and the baby before her associate called us back. She finally came after we’d been waiting fifteen minutes in front of her building in the rain.

Once we finally got in to the listing, absolutely everything was covered in mold and the fumes from it gave us instant headaches. This wasn’t safe for our baby so we weren’t going to stay there. We contacted the host via the Airbnb platform and called customer service. Airbnb had trouble verifying my account because their site hadn’t correctly synced my new email address that I changed via Facebook (I signed up for the service originally via Facebook and had never given an email directly to Airbnb).

We quickly found their apartment was full of bugs. Once the customer service representative finally explained a way to verify the email (after twenty minutes of talking) we were successfully verified. He said he would email me so I could reply with the picture evidence of the mold. It took me thirty seconds to find the mold in every room of the apartment. It was on all the curtains, and there was thick black mold in the blinds in the bathroom, water damage in the kitchen, and mold on the bedroom wall. There was no way I was going to spend any time in the apartment with my baby.

Airbnb said they would email us within five minutes. We waited but didn’t receive an email. I called back after ten minutes as we were taking all our suitcases out of the apartment. The representative explained he hadn’t emailed us yet because he was busy on another call, but would email us within five minutes so we could send him the mold pictures. We never received that email, and didn’t get help finding a new place to stay after that first moldy one. My husband, ten-month-old baby and I were sitting with eight suitcases and bags on the street of Paris, shivering in the rain, and trying to figure out where we could go next. We felt stranded, unsafe, extremely unsupported, and very concerned.

We left a review of this listing but it has yet to be posted. It makes me really not trust Airbnb. If I was looking at this place to rent I would really want to know that someone had problems with mold there. It seems like Airbnb censors reviews.

In our study (which I’ll get to) we also found many other reports of censored reviews including some a horrible case that involved sexual assault; Airbnb allegedly told the women that this had nothing to do with the property so it was not part of their policy to allow the review. We were stupid enough to take our chances with Airbnb again, thinking the first experience must have been a fluke.

The next experience was worse: after climbing six flights of stairs with all our bags twice, we got scammed by a shady host with multiple listings for the same property who canceled our reservation in order to force us to pay in cash off the platform. The property was extremely dingy and crappy with a broken bed and broken shower. We felt very trapped. The host managed to convince us to give him a cash deposit for that night and we had to agree since we had no other choice and no place to go.

We contacted Airbnb again and they told us we should leave the scam listing and go to a different Airbnb. They recommended we move to another nearby listing hosted by the same scammer. How bad could their customer service be if they’re recommending we move to another apartment in the same building by the same scam artis?

After a small amount of looking, we found that this host has multiple accounts with different names and the same listing photos over and over. To top it all off, my husband’s credit card information was stolen when he logged in to the wifi at this Airbnb listing after booking a hotel in order for us to escape the scammer. Because it was extremely unrealistic to find another available, clean Airbnb listing that late at night (and how could we trust an Airbnb listing again after the last two were dangerous and nothing like their pictures?), we were out of luck again. That night we were forced to stay in this scam place and got not a wink of sleep due to the broken bed, loud drunken neighbors, and our poor son crying in discomfort.

The next day we ended up having to fork out huge amounts of extra money and all of our 200,000 airline miles (equivalent to $3,000) to pay for a last-minute hotel in a safe neighborhood. In the space of a few days we experienced Airbnb scams, last-minute host cancellations, hosts not showing up, dangerous conditions at a listing, extremely poor customer service, broken promises made by Airbnb (they still haven’t given us our full refund, and it’s six months later), tech failures of the site and app, and failures of Airbnb’s policies to protect its guests all in one trip.

When my husband and I got home we had to ask: is Airbnb safe? This led us to do an in-depth (self-funded) research study (with the help of a PhD in user research) surrounding Airbnb and the experiences shared by over 1,000 other guests. We learned that 3% to 7% of stays go wrong (which means millions of people have problems) and that their customer service is absolutely terrible.

Most importantly, we found that Airbnb allows anyone to be a host, including convicted felons. Even after being “permanently banned,” hosts can just go ahead and create a new account under a different name. It only takes ten minutes and it’s completely unregulated, as there’s nothing in place to verify hosts’ identities – no ID requirement, and they don’t even have to use real names.

If you would like to read our article and our published study, you can find it on our website here. We also have a video exposing the scammer who got us and we have documented four different Airbnb accounts of his which were created within six weeks, all using the same listing photos. In this video we also show examples in London and New York of multiple accounts listing the same property. It took us less than ten minutes to find just these few examples, which leads us to believe that Airbnb is full of such scams.

Unresponsive Host, Good Customer Service from Airbnb

I had to cancel my reservation, so I contacted the host three weeks before, asking for a full refund, despite his strict cancellation policy. The host agreed to give me a full refund because of the very early cancellation. So I cancelled, only receiving 50% of my initial payment. Afterwards, my host didn’t respond to any of my messages regarding the other 50%. He disappeared, keeping half of my payment for doing nothing. After a lot of time was spent trying to find a way to contact Airbnb through their website, I searched for a solution externally and came across Airbnb Hell. I called the number at 1:00 AM, and was patched through to a real person in two minutes who was extremely helpful and understood my problem (after reading my messages with the owner). He transferred the rest of my refund into my account. Excellent customer service. I don’t know why it’s so hard to find a way to reach them on their website.