Coronavirus Emergency Stay from Hell

I am miserable as I type this. My mom has been homeless since January. She started staying with me in March, but that got a little weird with my roommates. I found her a real apartment and that fell through as a scam. So I booked her a last-minute Airbnb, and it was disgusting. It wouldn’t pass a health inspection.

I canceled after ten minutes in the room and tried to get the money back. They won’t give us anything back. I paid $1,400 (a month’s stay) for ten minutes in a room and I have not seen a penny back. My mom lived in her car for a month before I was able to save up enough for a new deposit for her apartment.

I have called and called and called and nothing. They always say they will take action and now, almost two full months later after filing for refund with my bank, they email saying “you know you can contact us and not get your bank involved.” I had to respond with: “I have been trying! It’s been two months!”

My bank has credited my account the money while it’s under investigation, but that might be reversed if Airbnb still gives nothing back.

Airbnb-Hosts-square

blank

Airbnb Punishes COVID-19’s Most Vulnerable

blank

My mum booked the whole family a weekend away for May and paid half of the cost of the accommodation up front. On March 16, the UK Government announced that all over 70s and anyone with an underlying health condition should self-isolate due to COVID-19. This was quickly followed by a further announcement on March 20 for a full lockdown of the country.

As three of our party are considered part of the vulnerable group (my mum included), we decided to cancel our booking. We made it clear that this was a COVID-19 cancellation and the host stated that he understood our position. My mum received a notification on her account stating that she would receive a refund of £240. All good – we were happy because this is all we had paid so far so would be getting a full refund.

After we didn’t receive the funds my mum got in contact with Airbnb. It turned out that this £240 was a refund of the whole cost of accommodation and not what we had paid so far, in short, we would get nothing back. Of course we questioned this as we believed we qualified for a COVID-19 refund but apparently we cancelled ‘too early’ despite our reacting to government guidelines.

What’s worse is we could have applied for a refund under the Extenuating Circumstances policy but because our position wasn’t made clear for sometime, the 14-day appeal period had long since expired. Airbnb told us we would need to rely on our host to give us a refund, which he, of course, refused. Turns out he’s not so understanding after all.

We made this cancellation in good faith that we were covered under the COVID-19 policy (our date is included in it now) but because of the miscommunication and not only confusing but ever changing policies we are to lose our money. An example of Airbnb penalising those who fall in the vulnerable category but outside their policies. Shady to say the least.

Our host has now ghosted us as we tried to appeal to his better nature. Obviously we will be getting my friends and family on TripAdvisor to give him the review he deserves.

Airbnb-Hosts-square

Airbnb Keeping Money Despite Full Refund Promised

This text was also submitted to the Florida Attorney General and other sites. I made several Airbnb reservations for an extended trip, and made sure the cancellation policy for each allowed for a full refund up to 14 days ahead.

Then coronavirus struck, and as a senior citizen we decided to cancel. I have two complaints. The first is that despite very clear words on the reservation page and confirmation email that I would get a full refund, Airbnb is keeping their service fee. They provided a rule that only three are refundable per year, and my trip involved seven, so I would lose four service fees or about $210 of my $950.

My complaint is they practiced deceptive advertising: the reservation page said “full refund until September 1”, but users would have to click a link for full details, then from that page a second link with more information let someone find this rule in the “fine print”. An exception that overturns my ability to get the full refund promised on the checkout page should be clearly stated on the first page and as part of the checkout process, not requiring the user to click backup “info” links and searching through backup webpages.

The second and bigger issue is that I settled for losing these four service fees to get the bulk of my money back. I cancelled the reservations and have emails stating they are refunding me $740 of my $950, but after ten days I called and they said my refund failed with no explanation, and any attempts to resolve this have been not only unsuccessful, they will not even talk to me or reply to my messaging.

When I call, I can talk to their first-line clerk but they know nothing and cannot help. They say they “will elevate” the call but nobody ever gets back to me. When I message them, they ignore me and do not reply. Airbnb is deceptive and in my opinion criminally keeping my money but there is nothing I can do.

Airbnb-Hosts-square

Airbnb Nightmare: Can’t Leave Australia for UK Airbnb

I am trying to get Airbnb to refund my $3000 deposit for a house booking in London for July 3, 2020. The last of my 50-odd attempts to contact Airbnb was through its support email. It bounced back: “We’re writing to let you know that the group you tried to contact (support) may not exist.”

I had my four children at home at Christmas and as a gift I booked a house in London through Airbnb in order to give all my family a well-earned holiday after years of hard University study. As I am 64 years old, when the WHO declared a pandemic, I got scared and cancelled the booking on March 20 thinking I would get my deposit refunded.

Apparently according to Airbnb, the coronavirus pandemic is not an extenuating circumstance and I should toddle off to London in July with all of my family. We may all die; however this apparently is not a problem. Dealing with Airbnb for a refund has been the most frustrating experience of my life .

The information below is the gist of my submissions to Airbnb:

I am having great difficulty phoning or contacting Airbnb. I am receiving zero support and zero resolution.

In a nutshell I booked and paid for an apartment in London in December 2019 for July 3-8, 2020. I recently cancelled the booking because of the extenuating circumstance that the Australian government has banned overseas travel and because of my age I will probably die if I contract coronavirus.

The host has written to me and declined to pay back my deposit. She is “deeply sorry”. However, my $3000 deposit should ease her sorrow particularly in view of the fact that it is money for nothing. I would like to know where my money is and when it is being transferred to the host.

Although we are not directly covered by the specific COVID-19 policy we are clearly covered by the general extenuating circumstances policy on the following grounds:

  1. Government-mandated obligations – there is an indefinite ban on Australians travelling abroad under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and my son and daughter are government employees who cannot travel under order of government directives. We face imprisonment and other penalties if we breach the Biosecurity Order.
  2. Travel restrictions – the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has the following specific advice for the UK “We now advise you to: do not travel to the United Kingdom.”
  3. Transportation disruptions – at this time it is impossible to secure travel to the United Kingdom that is reliable. There have been endless cancelations and rescheduling. There is not a reliable way to book travel to the UK at this time
  4. Epidemic disease or illness – the WHO declared a pandemic; the Olympics have been cancelled for the first time since WWII and children in the UK are saying goodbye to their parents via video link as they die. The policy at the time of our booking clearly states that an epidemic declared by a credible organisation is sufficient as an extenuating circumstance.

The booking was for a house in Kensington. We chose this so our entire family could attend. The purpose of this accommodation was for my family to have a holiday together after my daughter’s wedding in Scotland.

Included in our party to arrive was my son and daughter. He is a medical practitioner and junior House Officer at Cairns Base Hospital. He is employed by Queensland Health, a state government department in the pediatric department while she is a teacher employer by the Department of Education.

At the time of lodging this request for a refund, both of them have “indefinite” bans on international travel. According to a COVID-19 team brief he has received, he has been requested by the QLD government health authorities not to go on leave, while schoolteachers are also banned by the Department of Education.

Please note that although our travel was for July, Australians are legally banned from travelling abroad indefinitely at this time. The Prime Minister announced a ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and this is in addition to the standing advice to not travel overseas by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is effective indefinitely and our family risks imprisonment, fines and potentially quarantine on a remote island on our return.

This means that at this time we are legally prevented from travelling. The only logical way to read this policy is that if someone is banned from travelling to the country right now and indefinitely into the future they have an obligation not to travel and have an extenuating circumstance under this possible. Any alternative to this reading is not workable.

For example, if a person was not allowed to travel because they had been charged with a crime it is possible at some point in the future the charges may be dropped and the ban lifted. However ‘possibilities’ are besides the point. We are legally barred from travelling by the law right now. The Australian government has advised multiple times Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least six months.

According to this news article, the following applies to international travel :

Thousands of Australians have been left stranded overseas as airlines cancel flights and countries across the globe shut their borders entirely in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

Australians caught by closed borders, airport shutdowns, cancelled flights or soaring ticket prices say they are trying to heed the government’s advice to return home for the duration of the pandemic, but can’t. 

At least 100 Australians are isolated in Peru after the government in Lima closed all borders and land crossings and stopped international flights in and out.

At this time it is impossible from any practical standpoint to book travel as international travel at this time is completely unreliable. This is further backed up by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which advises:

If you’re in the United Kingdom and want to return to Australia, check your route carefully with your airline or travel agent as a number of key transit hubs, including the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dubai), Hong Kong and Singapore are suspending flights, including transits.

Please note that our claim clearly meets the epidemic disease or illness under the current policy. However, the policy as it existed at the time of our booking in January was much more clear. It is this policy that formed a part of our contract, in which valid circumstances include:

  • Urgent travel restrictions or severe security advisories issued after the time of booking, by an appropriate national or international authority (such as a government office or department)
  • Endemic disease declared by a credible national or international authority (such as the US Centres for Disease Control or the World Health Organization)

The Australian Government has now advised every Australian not to travel overseas in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The WHO has declared this a pandemic. This happened after we made our reservation. Under the clear policy in place at the time we booked we clearly meet this circumstance. There was not a special review policy at the time of our booking.

The current policy, Epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii is also clearly met by the current circumstances.

My wife and I are over 60 and this places us in the most vulnerable group for overseas travel. The American Centre for Disease Control CDC has advised people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus to stock up on supplies and avoid venturing out of their homes, except when necessary.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has made it impossible for my family to travel to London to take up accommodation in Kensington in July. I booked the house in order to give my family a well-earned holiday after years and years of hard University study.

My daughter (a state school teacher) was going to be married in Scotland and then we were travelling to London. The Queensland Government has now banned all State School Teachers from overseas travel. My son is a doctor and Queensland Health Department have banned him from overseas travel also. My youngest son was going to travel from Canada however he cannot get there as Canada has closed its borders. My eldest son is an Immigration Agent and Australia has now closed its borders and ended his business.

The Australian Prime Minister has made a statement listing new measures to protect Australians from Coronavirus. The Prime Minister says, “Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months”. As of this writing there have been 472,529 cases and 21,305 deaths from Coronavirus.

Because of  the danger, the travel bans and all the listed extenuating circumstances I am asking Airbnb to reconsider the $0.00 AUD refund and have my full deposit returned.

We were really looking forward to this holiday and I realise that Airbnb’s business will be badly affected on a worldwide scale. We have used Airbnb many times and may look at a new booking at a later date when it is safe.

Airbnb-Hosts-square

Airbnb Inconsiderate of Older Travelers

Airbnb refused to refund my March 18-25 stay, which I cancelled on March 9 after the CDC urged people over 60 to socially distance and not travel. Their ‘extenuating circumstances’ policy for refunds doesn’t kick in until March 14, days after the CDC issued contrary guidelines for older travelers. This makes no sense and is, if anything, discriminating to those of us in that age cohort. I’ve long been an Airbnb booster, but this ends now.

Airbnb-Hosts-square

Airbnb Disaster in Mexico and Aftermath

We were staying in Cancun and had booked a condo on the beach for four days for $340.86 in Chicxulub, a small beach town on the Gulf of Mexico. Pictures looked great and description wonderful. We rented a car and drove the four hours to Chicxulub.

When we arrived, we discovered there was no elevator; it was our fault for not asking (we are 71 and 72 years old). There was no running water. I reached under the kitchen sink thinking I could turn it on there and discovered several spiderwebs. I didn’t touch anything.

A man appeared about five minutes after we arrived. He did not speak English and immediately went to the back of the condo. We walked back a few minutes later and found him trying to light the pilot light for the water heater. He was unsuccessful after several attempts and left. We tried the air conditioning (as advertised for this condo) and none of them worked in any room.

At this point we called the host and she did respond in a timely manner. We texted her describing the problems and she replied that she would send a plumber over in about 20-30 minutes. We thought about this briefly and decided that the situation was simply too overwhelming (we still had to carry four suitcases up three flights of narrow stairs).

We texted her back to let me know that we simply could not stay and that we were cancelling. She apologized and we left. I sent an email to Airbnb explaining the situation and they refused to refund anything except $30.

We have always used HomeAway. This was our first time using Airbnb and believe me, it will be the last. They even sent an email asking us to “rate our stay.” I don’t want to trash this host as she said she had no hand in all of the problems, but I don’t want anyone else to waste their time and money on this property.

Airbnb-Hosts-square

No Refunds due to Coronavirus Cancellations

A few days ago I cancelled my deposits for Airbnb stays in Prague, Vienna and Budapest. Of the three places, Vienna gave us no refund and the other two places gave me only partial refunds on my deposits.

I am 70 and my wife is 60. Considering what is going on around the world with this virus and travel restrictions, you would think that full refunds would be the norm.

What is Airbnb management doing about this deplorable behaviour? We should be entitled to a full refund in this unique situation. I look forward to some answers and hopefully to a prompt resolution.

blank

$3000/week “Green Home” Rental Came with Head Lice

blankblank

In mid-February 2020, a friend and I flew in from opposite coasts to rent a $3000/week Airbnb house in Scottsdale. The house was recently renovated and seemed clean; however, 7-10 days later, we each discovered we had contracted head lice.

We each live alone and for several months prior to this trip, we had been only in our own houses. Neither of us has ever had head lice before; we are 60+ years of age with no history of lodging complaints (baseless or otherwise) against companies or Airbnb.

I contacted the property management company and Airbnb, and was told: the house was clean; we could not prove we’d contracted lice from this rental; and we needed to file a complaint within 24 hours of the stay. Obviously, this is hard to do with a pest infestation for which it takes 7-10 days to show symptoms.

Other than responding to my email, Airbnb has put zero effort into investigating this complaint. Why is the burden of proof on us when two people who live on opposite sides of the country contract head lice within two weeks of staying together at the same property?

Seriously, other people are at risk of head lice infestations and Airbnb has an obligation to do more.

Feeling Like I’m on Candid Camera with Airbnb

I can’t imagine any experience with Airbnb customer service as frightful and frustrating as this ongoing experience. Had I not found this site I would have thought I was crazy. Get ready for a ride.

My husband and I are seniors (so they tell us). We got to Orange County on February 1st for a month’s stay while we visited our new grandson. Our son made our arrangement with an Airbnb host.

When we arrived we found this one-bedroom apartment. The major problem was that the bedroom had no closet nor did it have a dresser. My husband and I looked at each other perplexed with the same question: where would we put a month’s worth of clothes? Lay them out on the floor?

There was a tiny hall closet that could have possibly held a weekend’s amount of clothing with a portable hanging shelf which would hold the same. We were screwed. We immediately called our son who contacted Airbnb and the host to inform them we were not staying and we left within ten minutes.

Now the story gets good. The host offered to return half of our $3100, but by the time my son got back to her she rescinded the offer. Here’s where the story kicks in and the ride starts.

Airbnb told us to contact the host, which we did. This was her response:

“Hello, please stop the nonsense and willing harassment of me. This is my last communication with you. If you have further questions, please contact the rightful party.”

What? We were told to contact her… was she not the rightful party?

“I have nothing else to do with this. And nothing you’ve said has relevance or truth to it besides greed and entitlement.”

Are you kidding? What does that mean? It cost us a hotel room for days and then we needed to find a place for the month. I texted the host that there was no way that apartment could be rented for a month with no place for clothing. No response.

To make a long story short, we have, since February 1, spoken to nine different people at Airbnb who keep telling us our case had been handed over to a different case manager. It is now in the hands of a senior case “do nothing” manager with always promises to have someone contact me and tales of a procedure to follow.

One of the agents actually told us that in the amenities a closet was not mentioned. Since when is a closet an amenity? A hair dryer is an amenity.

Now get ready for the best part. We found out that the apartment complex does not allow their renters to sublet or rent through Airbnb. You’d think this meant gotcha. No. One agent told me that if they called this complex and that was the case then they could retrieve our money. No one has called them. So here I am, doubling up on my blood pressure pills, calling daily, and getting the same script from a different person.

Had to Cancel due to Air Quality in Australia

Our Airbnb host is not honoring the stated policy of 60 days’ notice for a cancellation. We gave him notice today. Our check in date is April 22, 2020. That’s over 80 days’ notice.

I have health issues (asthma) that do not allow me and my wife to travel to Sydney, Australia because of the air quality; it is the worst it has ever been. According to the Australian government, these brush fires will continue through May. We are in our late 60s and our doctor has advised us not to travel to Sydney.

There is now the second concern of the Coronavirus. Many airports are not allowing unrestricted travel. The host wants to charge us $1800 for cancelling, based on a $3300 total. This seems to be excessive based on the requirements of a 60-day notice that was given to the host. Further information will be given when Airbnb contacts me at my email.