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.

Add to the List of Reasons Why Airbnb Sucks

This isn’t a very exciting story, but add it to the list of complaints about this rotten company. Here is a letter that I wrote to Airbnb this morning:

I made a reservation this morning for a trip with Airbnb. I have been an Airbnb customer for a long time, and a host for almost as long. I was looking for properties that were not Instant Book, and thought I had submitted a request to just such a place. My request was approved before I expected though, just as I was in the process of booking a different place and cancelling the first request. I cannot cancel this new reservation myself without incurring fees.

I called customer service and of course due to your famously abysmal customer service, the rep couldn’t help me, and couldn’t even tell me when a representative might be able to help me. This is a problem that needs to be fixed immediately; it just can’t wait a day or two for a rep to get back in touch with me. Now I am in effect stuck with a reservation that I don’t want, and this host is stuck with a bunch of guests who are very unhappy to be heading to his place. This is a horrible situation for everyone.

My point is that as with anything related to travel, like airline tickets or hotel rooms, there must be a penalty-free grace period after a booking in which to cancel. Even if it is just a few hours, like it is with most airlines. I would suggest that you add this to your service. I must say though that even if you do add this grace period, it will be too late for me.

I have been increasingly unhappy with Airbnb for a couple of years now, it’s very clear that you prioritize your profit over the experience or safety of your hosts and guests, and while I appreciate the fine human exchanges that sometimes come with hosting and guesting with Airbnb, what I now appreciate are the nice people hosting and guesting despite the rotten treatment we all get from your company. I am at an end with you. But first I have to go stay in this house that I paid for and do not want.

Host Cancels Four Days before Arrival in Norway

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Two months before our trip, I booked a full apartment rental for four nights in Rjukan, a small town in southwest Norway. Nine days before our arrival, our host informed us that he was planning to go on a ski trip, but his partner was injured. He was wondering if he could share the apartment and sleep on the sofa bed of the small apartment.

While I pondered the decision of sharing an apartment with a stranger, he cancelled the reservation. The town is fully booked due to a climbing festival and there are no available homes or rooms during these four days. Airbnb customer service assured me that “they are with me every step of the way.” However, they have only managed to find rooms 1.5 hours away and offered no reimbursement. They used the phrase “rest assured we’ll have this taken care of” three times, and taken over 24 hours to respond, which sort of undermines it. At this point I’m just trying to get them to admit that they can’t help.

Bounced Between Customer Service and Trust and Safety

I’m in the U.S. and have a local co-host who manages the bookings for my house in Belize. Things have always gone smoothly with other booking sites. Then I signed up with Airbnb. They deactivated my co-host’s account. I’m not sure why. I think it may be because they sent her a verification code to my number in the U.S. and she didn’t receive it.

We have tried endlessly to get her re-activated. They told us she needs to call the U.S. office directly. She has racked up a hefty bill being put on hold. Calls from Belize are expensive. Then they told us they would send her an email with a link to a site to activate her account. That didn’t work. Since her account is deactivated there is a hold on my account too so I can’t respond to requests for bookings; they just expire.

Each time I call (after a lengthy stretch on hold) I get a different story, or I get cut off. I have spent hours on the phone. Customer service doesn’t have access to records of calls, and can’t do much. They bounce everything up to a department called Trust and Safety. They can’t be reached directly and only share limited information with customer service. The last person I talked to said I should just remove my co-host then I could do the bookings myself. This is not what I want.

In addition to lost bookings, there is a safety issue. There was just an emergency email from an arriving guest which my co-host couldn’t access. Fortunately I received it and was able to get the guest’s direct email from Airbnb so I could get her in contact with my co-host. The next suggestion from customer service was that I “snooze” my listing at times when I am not able to manage it. Why can’t they just work on re-activating my co-host? Why can’t I communicate with Trust and Safety?