Has Airbnb Gotten Too Big to Care?

blankblankblankblankblank

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 Guests Might be Waiting a Month on Refunds

During the early days of the pandemic I understood that people were unsure about hosting strangers, especially someone traveling from another country in their house. In March, I had a few hosts either just not respond to my booking or else politely tell me that they’d suddenly had a family member turn up and therefore the room wasn’t available. They cancelled the booking and I got my money back… eventually.

Sometimes it can happen several times in a row and that can hurt you because I’m a world traveller, not a tourist, and I book for a month at a time to save money. Long after the pandemic fear was an issue, I sometimes had lazy hosts who may not have even been renting their house, just failed to respond to a booking. Sometimes it took a ridiculously long time to get my money back.

I arrived in Mexico after one fraudulent booking and I only had enough money left to take a cheap place for a week until I could afford to book again, which of course cost me more. Then I booked a really nice house in the mountains. The guy had only one review and it was terrible but I could also see that the person complaining was being completely unreasonable. I can see through those sort of reviews — some people are just whiny and expect champagne on a beer budget.

One thing that bothered me was that the guy had a long response time listed, so I tried to message him first. I didn’t get a reply for half a day. My current place was about to expire and I didn’t want to book again for a single day at a higher price, so I took a chance. I mean… people can be busy, right? So I booked for a month.

I waited. After 24 hours he hadn’t responded and Airbnb said I would get my money back. Sometimes this takes a few days. Sometimes it takes a week. Airbnb will always say that it’s PayPal’s fault or your bank’s fault, but I have a very efficient bank (Citibank) that accept intra-bank deposits instantly, and updates my account statement instantly. I don’t have that problem. When there are delays, it’s never my bank.

This time… the money just didn’t come back. I had to borrow money in order to make a new booking, which was really awkward. I’m stuck overseas. It’s hard to find work when I slap down a month’s rent and the renter doesn’t even answer. Airbnb has taken my money that really leaves me in a pickle.

I contacted Airbnb and of course it took a day to get some outsourced, incompetent idiot, to whom I complained at length, who ignored what I said, and gave me canned responses. When I complained further they escalated and then still gave me a canned response saying it could take “2-5 days” to get my pending transfer released. I pointed out that at this point it had been two weeks and then they changed their tune and said, “Well, actually it can take up to 30 days depending on your bank.”

I was just like, “No, man. Make up your mind. Is it 2-5 days or is it 30 days? It’s never been that long before.”

I’m currently at three weeks and my bank says the money hasn’t been released. PayPal say it has. Airbnb just says, “It’s not our problem.” But the thing is, I’ve had this crap happen several times this year and Airbnb just doesn’t care. I’ve been outright defrauded by hosts who’ve demanded huge (one month) deposits in cash and Airbnb hasn’t delisted them after complaining.

I’ve tried to book at places whose hosts have immediately cancelled the listing and messaged me saying, “That’s really just an advertisement. We don’t really accept bookings through Airbnb. You have to pay us directly.” Airbnb hasn’t removed those listings either.

Airbnb doesn’t care. They don’t remove fraudsters and they don’t remove people who just don’t bother answering their messages or accept bookings. It doesn’t matter how much you complain. They’d rather have millions of listings than actually weed out the BS ones and make sure that they have some sort of quality control, and their system of taking your money before the host accepts your booking is absolutely unconscionable.

If you’re a young backpacker, or a student, or you’re just living from week to week on a tight budget… if you slap down a month’s rent on a place and then it takes 21 or 30 days to get it back when the host doesn’t even bother accepting your booking, you’re up the creek without a paddle. Regardless of whether it’s your bank or PayPal’s fault, Airbnb should not do things this way. They shouldn’t take your money until the booking is confirmed and it’s absolutely ludicrous that they will take your money for up to a month on a speculative “this booking might be accepted.”

I’m so sick of having my money taken by Airbnb and having to fight with them to get it back, or have them tell me I just have to wait a month. I’m not some rich jetsetter. I’m just a schoolteacher who is trying to make a life moving from country to country. I don’t have the sort of money to have month’s worth of rent tied up in failed bookings. This system clearly has no regard for the customer’s rights and is designed with mistrust as the primary motivation. There is no situation in which it makes sense for anyone to take a customer’s money and hold onto it for a month before a booking is accepted. That’s not protecting anyone.

We’re all verified users with our passports on file. We’re not going to make fraudulent bookings. We can’t. No one’s going to book a place if they don’t have the money. If they did that even once, they could be reprimanded or banned. Instead the attitude is, “We don’t trust you. But we do trust the hosts. So we’re taking your money now just for expressing interest and even if the host completely ignores you… you’re not getting that money back for a long time so I hope you have spare cash to book something else because you might be waiting up to 30 days to get the money back. Sorry not sorry.”

It’s just not good enough. You shouldn’t pay for goods or services before it’s confirmed that they are available.

Reservation Cancelled for No Reasonable Reason

I made an Airbnb reservation at certain price for five days. The same day I made the reservation I contacted the host with some doubts and she asked me for an increase per night on my reservation and an increase of days; if I didn’t agree, she asked me to cancel my reservation. I didn’t cancel, so she did.

It’s been disappointing that I can’t complain on a review for this specific host because the booking is cancelled. The cancellation policy for hosts is ridiculous; it’s so significant that they can cancel whenever they want, assuming no consequences. On the other hand, customer service does nothing. They even responded offering a discount on another reservation (which I don’t have). They don’t know even what they’re taking about.

I hope that Airbnb’s headquarters cares about its clients (as customers service clearly doesn’t) and I get at least the simple request I’m making: to be able to write a review on the person who did this to me, as I actually had an experience with the host, even if the reservation got cancelled. I have all the WhatsApp conversations with her asking me to pay more and increase the dates.

Take care of your clients. I’m now afraid of using Airbnb as hosts can cancel on me whenever they want. I hope I finally find someone who can actually hear me.

blank

Fleas, Cockroaches, and a Late Check-in

blankblankblankblank

These Airbnb hosts made us wait an hour and a half after our check-in time to actually let us check in. Our dog caught fleas and there were live cockroaches, dirty floors, and a slimy shower. The hosts actually admitted to all of this. They said we broke their blinds when we never touched them and tried to charge us for it. They said I never paid the pet fee which is insane because we texted them like a month before our trip to pay it but they never responded to let us pay.

I reported all of this to Airbnb to which they sided with the hosts even with all this proof. They said they must stick to their guest policy and sent me a link. I went through the policy and showed that it said less than 24 hours after the trip ends, you can get a refund worked out. I told them if they want to stick to their refund policy then they should take the time to read their own policy and circled where it said that they would work out a refund less than 24 hours after a stay. Then I showed them that I messaged them in less than 24 hours.

The person I was speaking to said that it stated “24 hours before.” I zoomed in and screenshotted where it said “after,” circled it, and sent it to her again. They closed the case.

Airbnb Superhosts Receive no Help with Fraud

Following the fraudulent use of our Home Sharing Certificate number by an unknown Airbnb host, the City of Los Angeles had Airbnb de-list out home for short-term rentals. The city investigated, and reissued our permit when they confirmed the fraud. They notified Airbnb we had been issued the new permit. We were informed that Airbnb simply needed to remove the restriction from its end, to allow us to relist for short-term rentals.

However, Airbnb still will not let us relist for short-term rentals — after two weeks. We have called support, chatted and emailed, but there has been no response other than being told repeatedly that our case has been “escalated.”

We have never heard from any member of this escalation team. We’ve emailed a copy of the new certificate, and even sent them a copy of the fraudulent listing’s page with our certificate number on it. We have exclusively used Airbnb as our rental platform, but will now list on other sources, and more actively solicit direct rentals through friends, and NextDoor. Eventually, we will drop Airbnb.

Airbnb Doesn’t Care About Mice, Apparently

My child and I were supposed to stay June 21-22 at this Airbnb property for  a bit over $1100, the price of a 5-star hotel. The first night we woke up at 4:00 AM from mice crawling on us. My child screamed and threw a mouse on the floor from his bedsheets. Mice in Colorado carry the deadly Hantavirus.

We packed immediately and left. While I was putting the luggage in the car a mouse jumped out of my suitcase and landed on the ground. I was able to take a picture of it. When we  got to an area where there was cell phone coverage I contacted the owner. She started screaming at me that I was crazy and that there were no mice. She expressed no concern about our safety and well being.

I cancelled our reservation online and sent an email to Airbnb. I called them immediately and stayed on hold for several hours without them answering. I tried to call them for the next several days as well to no avail. We slept in a hotel. The host refused to give me any kind of refund.

After a month I complained to the Better Business Bureau and finally Airbnb replied. They pretended to the take the matter seriously and looked at the mouse picture and the receipt from the hotel . They said that the host did not want to issue a refund and there was nothing they could do. They sent me $50 back out of the $1500 that I paid, a “refund of the cleaning fee.”

I asked them if this meant I had to stay with my child at the Airbnb property with mice crawling on us and they said we had to leave but they would not issue any refund.

Airbnb not Paying Hosts, Even for Normal Reservations

In the last two months Airbnb raised $2 Billion to survive on the coronavirus outbreak. It seems they are running out of cash. I have a group with several Airbnb hosts who are reporting the same problem: Airbnb is not paying the guests’ reservations to the hosts. The guests are paying, but the hosts are not receiving this money, because Airbnb is holding the money without a reason.

Their customer service is evasive, and they can’t explain why the payments are not being made. After ten days and several phone calls and DM’s, they said the problem was “with my bank”, but they refuse to give the transaction ID to the bank. I called my bank and Airbnb hasn’t sent anything there.

It’s a unfair lie. It’s a scandal. They used exactly this same narrative in 2015, as this Forbes article explains. This is a police case. They are running out of cash and holding the hosts’ money hostage. I know several hosts who are facing the same situation, and would like to collect more stories to publish an article to explain this cash flow scandal.

Airbnb Illogically Refunded the Cancellation Fees

I had a booking from a couple of guests from China back in mid-January. On January 30, they decided to cancel the booking saying: “Sorry, my friend wants to stay at another place. We shall meet next time!” Hence a partial refund was returned.

Then a few weeks later, Airbnb took that partial refund away saying the guest couldn’t travel and qualifies for the full refund because of extenuating circumstances. I do understand that it is unfortunate that the two couldn’t make the trip. However, the point is that the guests cancelled the booking because they chose to stay in another place.

Had they decide to stay in my place and cancel, I would fully respect that. Logically, I should get to keep the cancellation fees.

Am I being irrational? I had months of long messages with Airbnb support and their supervisor, who then abruptly said the decision is final and closed the case without allowing me to ask for the reasoning for their decision. The responses were expectedly slow because of the situation.

What’s interesting is that in the conversation, I asked for the contact for someone beyond the support supervisor level and the supervisor said that there is no one above him/her and closed my case. I went on Twitter about it. They asked me to DM my case.

Within five minutes, I got a response saying that he “thoroughly reviewed” my case and that the decision is final. How can you thoroughly review a case in five minutes including coming up with a response? At this point, I am tempted to just send the CEO a tweet since he stresses that he love feedback.

Anti-Social Behaviour from Guests Escaping Pandemic

We had a family move into our village Poulton Gloucestershire Airbnb. They have been here since Friday before the lockdown and are still here. Their anti-social behaviour is getting worse.

Their rubbish piled high at the property will be too much for the district council to remove. They are loud, unruly, and acting as if they are on holiday and not compliant with a pandemic and lockdown. They are flouting every social rule that we are all trying to respect as this unprecedented time. They are raucous and have no respect for social distancing.

I am sure they believe that now that they are in Gloucesterhire, they are immune to COVID-19. We have an elderly community and I feel that Airbnb has been irresponsible to allow people to circumnavigate the government guidelines. My next step is to lodge a complaint with Cotswold District Council and then my MP.