How Does Airbnb Handle Accusations of Racism?

I had traumatising and frustrating experiences with Airbnb. I had been a successful guest many times then a host started persecuting me. She had mental health issues. Dealing with Airbnb’s overseas call centre led to extreme frustration and going around in circles with promises to escalate my calls, but ending up circling back to the same useless agent refusing to address the bizarre and inappropriate behaviour and actions. The host started leaving parcels at my door and ringing me after I had left, and it was all super scary and odd. Airbnb showed zero interest.

My second issue was as a host I complained about extremely poor customer service with Airbnb. Rather than actually investigate my complaint, I received an email from Airbnb accusing me of racism. It took twenty emails for them to even begin to provide information on this accusation.

This was my very first potential hosting experience. A prospective guest only wrote to me in a Chinese script and in very incomprehensible and confusing English. Airbnb said they would translate, and did nothing. I was falsely accused of saying if someone comes to Australia they need to speak English. I was also accused of expressing frustration about an agent. None of the language was racist; I complained about the ignorance, aggression, and stupidity of the agent. If I’m complaining about the agent that is different from abusing an agent.

Thirdly, the comment that I said that someone needs to speak English in an English-speaking country is absolute rubbish. Airbnb repeatedly said “it’s an international platform”, I had no right to expect English correspondence or communication, and I was going to lose my Superhost privileges. It was then that I said that if someone is staying with a host in their private residence in Australia then they need to write to the host in English. I was receiving correspondence in a Chinese script and in incoherent English that made no sense. This was vital information such as when they would arrive, who was staying, etc. I said I should not be penalised as a host if I have not received any comprehensive communication.

What I said was not racist. I said I would host the guest when Airbnb finally agreed to provide translation, which they never did. I only finally refused the guest when they rang me and made loud strange noises and hung up – and it was a third party booking.

Airbnb offered to terminate their stay as they broke the rules then turned around and accused me of racism. My housemates are Taiwanese. One of them speaks minimal English but his partner speaks well enough so there are no issues communicating – so to accuse me of racism is completely bizarre. Airbnb has proven that nothing I said is racist.

This is on top of glitches fixing my DOB on the app. I still can’t do it, which has resulted in the miscalculation of my payout from a guest, issues uploading pictures, and issues getting a photographer. Airbnb insists that I haven’t verified my email despite having had an active guest account for years. My complaints against Airbnb remain uninvestigated.

I spoke to an Airbnb representative from the USA office. He refused to try to pronounce my name correctly. I asked him to try again as it’s six letters and two syllables; I shouldn’t have to repeat my name to people who insist on not even reading it. This led to a huge exhausting stand off whereby he repeatedly refused to give it a go. I said he was able to employ his reading skills in any name even a “foreign” one, which he twisted into me saying he couldn’t read.

I ended up speaking to his supervisor about the experience of being accused of racism. She was extremely cold hearted, aggressive, and just a very deeply unpleasant person. She spoke over me in a monotone the whole time. She told me that the email that was sent to me was a warning based on a customer report. She told me that the terms and conditions meant that any customer could make any allegation and Airbnb would back them up and send out warnings. I said to her that every correspondence and interaction I’ve had with the customer has been through the Airbnb messenger platform so they can have a look at that and advise whether I have actually been racist or not. She told me it doesn’t matter – if the customer feels that I have been racist, it doesn’t matter if the messages back that up or not.

She continued to speak over me repeatedly when I asked her why I did not receive this explanation from Airbnb earlier. She refused to answer and just cited fine print in terms and conditions. She was cold and aggressive, just spoke over me, and dominated the whole conversation. When I asked her why this was not investigated by looking at the messages she said it doesn’t matter what the messages say – if the customer says you’re being racist, we will send you out a warning. I said I never once spoke to the customer or even met her. Therefore the customer could only have been basing allegations based on what I wrote; why didn’t Airbnb investigate that?

She kept going around in circles, telling me that Airbnb can send out official warnings no matter what the investigation says and then she circled around and said that it had been investigated. That’s why I wasn’t kicked off the site. I asked why I didn’t receive an email saying that to me and retracting the warning. She refused to answer the question but would just aggressively change the subject and speak over me.

I asked her to put in a racist complaint against the customer then – she said she “didn’t have a problem doing that” but she didn’t say that she would. I don’t believe she would’ve done that. I then asked her to put in a racist complaint against her and the other representation to whom I had spoken, and she said that she would put something on my file. I said “no, I want you guys to be sent an official warning based on my feelings just as you sent me an official warning. I want the official warning to be on your file the way you have an official warning on my file.”

She just spoke over me and started throwing terms and conditions at me. She was very aggressive, very dominating, and domineering in the conversation. She spoke over me the whole time in a cold, almost sociopathic monotone. When I asked her to get a supervisor to call me she point-blank refused to guarantee that and said she would ask her to try to call me – but I don’t believe she will. There has been no response from the founders or the supposed customer service chief.

Service Dog Rejected from Airbnb Reservation

My host was lovely at first. She simply reached out to me to confirm that I was traveling alone, a non-smoker and had no pets. I confirmed that I did not smoke, but let her know that I did have a well-trained, quiet and calm service dog. Then things started to go south.

First, she indicated that she would have to confirm with the “owner” whether my service dog would be admitted. I’m a lawyer, and when I calmly pointed out that it was technically a violation of federal law and clearly a violation of Airbnb policy not to admit Huck (my dog), she started to argue. She told me that no private owner could be required to admit pets. I responded that Huck was not, in fact, a “pet.”

Next, she told me I’d likely be charged a cleaning fee – another blatant violation of Airbnb policy. Then, she switched channels on me and claimed that “some owners” have severe allergies. I said of course I would understand if the owner had a bad allergy, but I was confused since the listing was for a building entirely separate from the main house, with granite floors. I encouraged her to review Airbnb’s newly-minted non-discrimination policies, although her responses repeatedly demonstrated complete ignorance of her responsibilities as a host.

Finally, I posted the full text of the policies in a message – to up her odds of bothering to read them – at which point she interrogated me about my disability. She was rude, inconsiderate and ignorant. Ultimately, she allowed my request to expire, even though our conversation took place over the course of four hours. I reported her to Airbnb and the Virginia Fair Housing Office, although I’m not hopeful that any mitigating action will be taken.

Poor Huck and I were just looking for a quiet spot for a couple weeks – on a horse farm in Virginia, no less. No such luck. If you have respect for the rights of the disabled, stay away from this host.

Incredibly Rude Host, Perhaps Because I’m a Senior?

I needed a room in Seattle for one night, while I picked up my 30-year-old daughter who lives there but doesn’t have an extra bed. I found a room near her, but the Airbnb post asked for a $1500 security deposit on a $90 basic room. I had the following exchange with the host:

Me: I’m interested in staying for one night while I visit my daughter, who lives in Seward Park. I read that you want a $1500 security deposit. I’ve never been asked such a thing before. I’m a 65+ year old woman, visiting a 30-year old daughter, and not about to trash your home! Promise. Do you really need that much up front?

Host: You may be interested in learning that the minimum wage in Seattle is now $15/hour

(She then declined me, saying the room was booked, but it remains posted as free.)

Me: I think that’s great that you have a $15 minimum wage. But did you decline me because I questioned the security deposit?

Host: Yes, in part. I’m not looking to get into any arguments with fussy guests. I’m sure plenty of hosts would be delighted to host you, I’m just not one of them.

Me: I wasn’t arguing. I was asking. Respectfully.

Host: You’re asking why I have a high security deposit? Why do you think? Anyway, I am not going to book you. I suggest writing or calling Airbnb or doing research on Airbnb Hell for further questions on the topic.

Me: Wow! This just feels rude, and no, there aren’t a lot of choices for one night near my daughter, who is in southeast Seattle. Her fiance unexpectedly returned from a trip abroad, or I wouldn’t be looking at the last minute. And I assumed you wanted $1500 because most of your guests are young, stay for longer, and are potentially unreliable. But I have excellent reviews, and think of myself as quite low risk. So this all feels rather harsh as a response to a reasonable query. But you are definitely wrong about there being a multitude of choices near her. And you’re losing a very easy guest.

I found her response to be unbelievably rude, and I wonder if this is actually age discrimination, because I did tell her I’m over 65. I can find no other host who asks for $1500 security on a one-night stay in a $90 room. I am really annoyed at her treatment of me. She runs these two properties.

Nazis Kicked us out of Airbnb and onto the Street

I want to tell you a humiliating story about me and my six friends. From June 7-11 we went to celebrate a bachelor party in Berlin. We are seven men from Israel, so we wanted privacy. We decided to take an apartment through Airbnb, sadly only after we discovered that it was illegal in Germany. Anyway, we decided to go for an apartment because we wanted privacy and to celebrate a little. In the photos we saw a two-story villa; in retrospect, it was only the upstairs area. In addition, the owner insisted that some of the payment be made in cash. I assume that because of tax matters, she prefers black money.

When we arrived we saw that the neighborhood was very exclusive. Then we discovered from the cab driver that the neighborhood was not sympathetic to strangers; he was surprised that we were staying there because it is on the east side. Anyway, we got there and the host’s daughter welcomed us. She was nice, told us we could have our party; to repeat, she told us we could celebrate. I asked her – because the Middle Eastern mentality is different – if it was okay to make some noise. She was all smiles and explained that her parents were away for two weeks. Then she walked away.

The day the nightmare began, the host’s son came into the picture and decided to be our surprise visitor. He arrived at 7:00 AM when everyone was asleep. When I woke up, I saw messages saying that he wanted to kick us out because we drank a little that evening and celebrated, as the host told us we could. I told the host that from now on, I would make sure everything was to her satisfaction… and indeed it was.

On the third day we went for a walk. Since it was a very hot morning and there was no air conditioner in the apartment, I opened the windows in the rooms to get some air. Because of an open window, they tried to kick us out. What kind of a joke is it to kick seven guys out on the street in a foreign country?

When we got to the apartment, we tried to talk to him but after half an hour of persuasion I saw that he really enjoyed lording his authority over us. He stood with a smile on his face. I decided to tell him that I think that if we were from Sweden or Denmark, this situation wouldn’t have happened. At the height of his stupidity, he agreed and told us he was a Nazi and did not care about us at all.

We asked him to call the police. Instead he called his criminal friends to come and threaten us. One of them even wanted to escort us to our car. When we did, the entire neighborhood came to see us humiliated and even enjoyed it. We asked him why he was doing this, and he said because men like us cannot be in such an area. I filmed the host’s son and my friends and decided that we would not be silent about this humiliation.

Video file of the incident

Twelve Days and No Resolution from Airbnb

My son reached out to Airbnb support on June 3rd to let them know that he did not feel safe staying at the Airbnb he reserved from June 1-26 after a nearby shooting and the fact the host’s description of the neighborhood had not been accurate. Instead of a vibrant up-and-coming neighborhood like the host had described, my son found a quiet and lonely street with little foot traffic, worn down buildings vandalized by graffiti, barred windows, and surrounded by construction sites.

This was not the first time that this host had been given a review that claims she is giving a misleading representation of the area where she lives, as stated on her profile. In addition, it appears the basement room she has been renting out is in violation of several health and safety codes. I also found out from Airbnb that there is at least one other ongoing case against this host. My son was told by Airbnb to cancel his reservation and work with his host to get a refund.

At first, the host seemed understanding of how my son felt, as a foreigner to the city. He spoke with her in person as he picked up his belongings on June 4th and later messaged her to thank her for her understanding, explaining the urgency of receiving a refund as he needed to find a new place to live. After this, his host never responded again. I tried calling her myself, leaving her a voicemail on June 5th. She never called me back.

I starting calling Airbnb the next day. I was unable to speak to anyone in the United States for days. While the representatives in the Philippines were very friendly and tried to be as helpful as they could, they continued to tell me they “only have so much power” and that their requests to transfer my calls kept getting pushed back. I was told the only thing that they could do for me is message my son’s former case manager, who told him to cancel the reservation, and ask him to reach out to me.

Not only did the case manager never reach out to me, but he was also “never online” the days I kept calling. When the representative from the Philippines, tried to reach out to the host on June 6th, the host told him she was “too tired and hungry” to deal with me, waiting at the other end of the line. The case manager then told me to fill out a form through the Resolution Center to ask for a refund, but warned me that I would have to wait for the host to respond or involve Airbnb after 72 hours of nonresponse.

The host read the message from the Resolution Center immediately after I filled it out with the representative on the phone. She would never respond through the Resolution Center, instead messaging me privately. In this private message, she accused my son of discrimination, saying: “This is a vibrant neighborhood as I stated in my description. People who are not used to diversity and seeing so many people of color, often mistake that for crime.” As a proud Latino hailing originally from Miami, my son was deeply offended by this accusation. She ended by telling my son, “This is really horrible what you guys are doing. And this deeply concerns me that you are creating this when you are here to work for [omitted],” leaving my son worried that she would go as far as to contact his place of work for feeling unsafe in her neighborhood and the room she rented out to him.

After days of countless hours spent on the phone waiting to speak to a case manager in the United States, my case was finally taken over on June 8th. This new case manager promised to reach a resolution given the circumstances. My son desperately needed the money to find a new place to move. She promised to update me every day as to how the case was going. After Friday, her first day working on the case, she stopped answering. The last update we got from her was that the host was not answering her calls. I emailed her every day since and received no response. I called Airbnb on June 13th and they informed me the new manager was on leave, and so she had not been working on my son’s case.

I then spoke to another case manager who told me the only person who could do anything was the one on leave, so I would have to wait until she came back on June 15th to revisit the case. He was extremely apologetic and even admitted that he would issue me a refund alone based on how my son was treated by the host. On June 15th, it will have been twelve days since Airbnb has continued to put off my son’s case. Airbnb has yet to acknowledge their host’s inappropriate behavior that goes against their mission to promote diversity and inclusion, has yet to speak to the host, who continues to ignore their calls and continues to be active on their site, and has yet to tell me anything other than “they have no power.”

This has been the worst customer service experience I have ever had. I have attempted all reasonable means through front-end customer service and am now taking to social media to resolve this issue.

How Airbnb Refused to Protect Basic Human Rights

Note from Airbnb Hell editor: this post contains strong language

I would like to tell you a story about how Airbnb has treated me when I was faced with homophobic abuse at my own house by one of Airbnb guests. Let’s start from the beginning: I am renting my spare room via Airbnb in Amsterdam, and I had a guest from Texas.

Upon arrival, the guest started making comments about me and my friend: that we were wearing faggoty clothing and have faggoty hair. Once he came into his room, he started screaming that he needed a door with a lock because there are faggots with him in the house and we would rape him at night. I choose not to have a confrontation and decided to leave the apartment for the night altogether. I left him alone there, so he wouldn’t be afraid of “rape.”

I would like to mention that when he arrived, I carried his six huge bags upstairs because I was trying to be polite. I also offered him the choice of cold water, tea, and coffee. After I left the apartment, the guest ran away with his bags and my keys. He wrote me a message stating exactly the same. When I returned home, I called the police and reported the verbal abuse. I also had to change the locks, which cost an additional 100 euro. I obviously have submitted a complaint against this guest to Airbnb, but naturally they haven’t done anything (what can I expect?).

Today I received a message that this guest filed a complaint against me, stating that I didn’t give him enough privacy and respect and he had to leave. In my reply to Airbnb, I explained the entire situation one more time and offered the following documents as proof: a police report; photos of the rented room to show that there was enough privacy; invoice for changing the locks; witness statement from my flat mate who was present during this event; witness statement from the neighbors, who heard all the commotion and to whom my guest spoke upon departure, claiming that “dirty AIDS faggots” lived here.

What do you think Airbnb did? They charged me the price the guest paid for the room plus extra charges from Airbnb. Obviously they refunded him all the money, because the poor homophobe was upset. Apparently I didn’t argue with him in the messages. I am shocked about the very fact Airbnb once again completely ignored the gay community and returned money to an abuser. Please feel free to contact me for more details. Let me know what exactly you want to do; I’d be happy to provide more information.

Airbnb Forces Political Views on Account Holders

I opened an account with Airbnb, and in mid-January 2017 made a reservation for a five-night stay in the US Virgin Islands. I paid the host with my visa card, but when I tried to log into my account again a few days later to ask the host a question, a website popped up asking me to sign on to a so called (political) pledge, including that I would not be discriminating based on race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. The website gave me two options: either agree to their one-page nondiscrimination pledge, or cancel my account. It stated that if I did not agree to their nondiscrimination pledge that I would not be able to do business with Airbnb in the future. As it is none of Airbnb’s business to impose their political views on me, and in this way insinuate that I would be engaging in such activities, an approach I find totally un-American, I had no choice but to press the cancel option, thereby cancelling my account. That, however, also cancelled my reservation, and I am now fighting Airbnb through my bank and visa for a full refund. I have instead made my reservation with VRBO. For me, it is never again, Airbnb.

Nest of Thieves: Airbnb’s New Policy Costs Me

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed by AirbnbHell.com users do not necessarily reflect those of the Airbnb Hell staff.  That being said, we will continue to provide a free and uncensored platform for all of our contributors to share their Airbnb related stories, opinions, and experiences.

I’m a pensioner, an old lady who can’t afford to be ripped off by Airbnb. I had booked a holiday in the UK. I paid for it in full and was due to take it in November 2016. Then I received an email from Airbnb saying that everyone who uses their website will need to sign their Equality Commitment. I could agree to almost all of it, but though I have no property to let out, I could not agree to let out a room in my home to a gay couple. I have no problems renting from a gay couple. But as gay marriage is against my religious principles, I just cannot sign it. I was able to get a refund for the actual holiday but not for the service charge. I’m an old lady and can’t afford to lose that service charge. I would understand if they had told me before I paid my money out, that this is the way it’s going to be. That would have been fair. But this isn’t even legal! Never mind fair. They state that any bookings I already have will be cancelled if I don’t sign. You can’t do that! But they have done that. They have ripped off this old lady and robbed her blind. Why are they allowed to get away with it?