Airbnb Refunds are not Honoured as Advertised

I cancelled a long-term reservation and fully expected to pay a penalty. What I did not expect was that the penalty would be 100%. The host’s listing stated that if a reservation is cancelled more than seven days prior to the start, then a 50% refund would be given. See photo of screenshot.

After contacting the host a couple of times, who did not respond, I sought a resolution by involving Airbnb. They correctly stated that Airbnb’s policy is a one-month penalty on long-term bookings but that hosts can decide on different terms not strictly supported by Airbnb. If that is the case then it is misleading, deceiving travelers into thinking that they will get a refund when in fact they will not.

The host has since changed his listing to match Airbnb’s conditions. The host has also found a loophole in Airbnb’s platform. Somehow the host was able to delete all previous reviews of their listing. Again, this is deceiving travelers. All this was pointed out to Airbnb in the photos attached. They closed the case and are now refusing to respond to my emails. I have now lost a substantial amount of money which I believe was through misleading information. I will never use or recommend Airbnb again. I feel sorry for all the legitimate hosts using Airbnb’s platform.

Airbnb Guests are not Protected from Bogus Damage Claims

Last month, I was part of a group of seven people who were visiting New Orleans for a wedding. We we very careful to take good care of the house. Everything went seemingly smoothly with our check-out, until we were notified of a lengthy list of bogus damages that amounted to $178 out of our security deposit. There was no evidence that demonstrated we had caused any damage (because we didn’t), only a few very low-quality photos with no context for when or where they were taken in the house or what damage they were supposedly showing. Furthermore, I feel that the evidence that we submitted in support of our innocence was pretty solid. It was the text message exchange from when we all found out about the damage claims. It clearly demonstrated our bafflement at the bogus claims. After being contacted about this claim, we of course formally disagreed, leaving it to Airbnb to determine how to resolve the dispute. Despite our strong denial of causing any damage and despite the lack of evidence to the contrary, Airbnb blindly sided with the host, and now we are left with almost $200 stolen from our security deposit. This is an unacceptable experience, and we will contest this whatever way we can. Users of Airbnb should be warned that even if you respect your rental house and follow all of the rules laid out by the host, you are not protected from being held liable from bogus damages.

Be Prepared to Kiss your Damage Deposit Goodbye

Along with my husband and adult daughter, I rented a modest basement apartment from April 15-17 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada through Airbnb. This location was chosen for an Easter visit because of proximity to our son, daughter in law and grandson. I was surprised at the high damage deposit of $500 for this sparse unit but, knowing we are very careful, I decided to go ahead. During our stay the seat of a chair broke. I immediately let the host know and apologized, receiving a hostile response. Examining the chair and a matching chair, revealed dry, fragile leather that could be easily torn with fingertips. The second chair had a slit through the seat that one could see right through. We also realized that several other items in the unit were broken, precariously placed, or on the verge of breaking.

I met with the host alone, so no other family members would suffer. She demanded money, tried to shame me, pushed me and insulted our son. Once home and already stressed, I was confronted with a claim for $2,000. Several months passed with many reassurances of ‘fairness’ from Airbnb employees and promises that a manager would contact me. They took $250 from my damage deposit, even though it was clear the host was lying. Also, others should know that when I complained that her review was full of lies (a mistake, since I have no intention of ever using Airbnb again, but a matter of principle) they took it down but also took mine down. Do not believe reviews; the bad ones disappear. Now that fall is here, I have resumed my efforts to shake a responsible person out of Airbnb and to warn others. I am especially concerned for young people who rely on Airbnb. They worry that their reviews will be poor and likely hand money over to such unscrupulous hosts.

Airbnb is a Pig in a Poke: Don’t Trust Them

I was a great fan of Airbnb for about two or three years until I faced an ugly situation. I had a bad experience with an apartment in Tel Aviv in the high season, August. It was so bad that when I provided photos to Airbnb, they refunded me 50% of the total cost. Later I understood why there were so many good reviews (good scores) for awful apartments. It is just the policy of Airbnb. They do not want to spoil their reputation and image by admitting they allow bad hosts to keep using the site. That’s why they do their best to hide negative reviews. After my experience, I left an honest review of the apartment and they hid it. The explanation was that the host provided them with some evidence that I accepted a bribe from him for a good review. I have provided our SMS exchange and WhatsApp messages, but they took his side. It was especially strange and disgusting taking into consideration that the guy lied about the apartment description; there were awful conditions and his ad was a fraud. They themselves forced him to pay me back 50%. I will never recommend using Airbnb as you are buying a pig in a poke.

Host got a better offer and cancelled my reservation

On September 21, 2017, I booked a room over the New Year’s holiday in a resort town in Southern California. I made the reservation and paid in full in good faith. Yesterday, my host canceled my reservation. She got a better offer; I was dumped. This was her message:

“Regretfully, I will be cancelling your reservation as I will be out of town and have a family interested in renting the entire house for the holidays.”

Besides being pissed and having to scramble to find another place to stay in a popular location over a holiday, I have two basic questions (both likely rhetorical). Why do I not have the ability to leave public feedback about her regarding this? My host could have penalized me if I would have cancelled on her by retaining a portion (up to half) of the money I paid her. Yet as a guest, when my host cancels on me, I have to just take it. Why is she not monetarily penalized for my inconvenience as I would have been for hers?

Host Charging me for a TV that was Already Broken

A couple of months ago, my wife, my parents, and I booked an Airbnb in San Antonio. The pictures looked nice and the place was in a central location. When we got there, the place was disgusting, with mold and dust everywhere. The fridge hadn’t been cleaned in ages, and there were dirty sheets on the beds and dirty towels tucked away in the closets. In addition, the TV wasn’t working.

We contacted the host by phone (our mistake – we should have done it on the Airbnb app, but at the time it seemed more convenient by phone). The guy said he didn’t care and wasn’t going to do anything about it, so he would just give us a full refund. I contacted Airbnb for them to find us a new place and they said they wouldn’t (first time something like this happened to us, and it was definitely alarming to see how Airbnb didn’t give a crap about us not having a place to sleep).

Anyway, we managed to find another place, and left this problem behind us. A month later I get a message from Airbnb saying that our host (even though we didn’t stay there) was charging us $2300 because we broke the TV. At first I thought this was a joke, and replied directly saying that we didn’t break anything so I wasn’t paying anything. The host then involved the resolution center. A month later I get an email from the resolution center saying they “feel” that the fair thing to do is for me to pay $1000 (why it went down from $2300 to $1000, I have no idea). I replied saying that I didn’t do anything; I wasn’t paying anything, and that I didn’t give them authorization to charge my card. If they did that, I would consider it fraud, since I am explicitly not giving my consent. I can’t believe that a host can just say that something’s broken and charge it to the guest. Sufficed to say I won’t ever use Airbnb again.

Worst Possible Reaction from Airbnb in Puerto Rico

I spent the last 15 months working with my extended family to arrange a trip to Puerto Rico where my wife’s family is from. If you can imagine the time it takes to get three families, their children ranging from 2-14, and your in-laws to settle on a date that all can miss work, school, sporting event’s, doctor appointments and save you know this is no small task. That being said, we worked hard at it as my in-laws are aging and we felt it was important for our children to experience the island with them and share stories.

Finally the date was set and as we drew nearer to the trip the excitement increased for all involved. Then the hurricane hit and our mood quickly changed. Our thoughts changed to concern over loved ones that we could not contact and overall remorse for those on the island. My attention turned back to our plans and it was evident that we would not be able to make this trip with small children and aging parents that have some medical concerns.

When I reached out to the host about the cancellation I was told that they had strict cancellation policies and I would lose half of what I had paid. this was escalated to Airbnb as a extenuating circumstance. The site states that “valid extenuating circumstances include: significant natural disasters or severe weather incidents impacting the location of destination or location of departure and urgent travel restrictions or severe security advisories issue and reason after the time of booking, by an appropriate national or international authority (such as a government office or department).”

Both of these reasons were valid in this case. I was told by Airbnb that this did not meet the definition and they suggested that I rebook with the host or try to work it out with her. It amazes me that this was their response and that they provided no assistance whatsoever. It is disturbing to know that both the host and Airbnb are will to risk the well being of their guests to make money. The current state of Puerto Rico is still a disaster area and the money I lost is small to what they are suffering. I do wish I could have that money back to spend time with my family but it would have been even better to be able to donate it to my family still in Puerto Rico. Shame on them.

Beware of Airbnb Housing with Bad Hosts

I recently stayed in two different rooms with a lady in Turlock, California. While she was very nice and accommodating, there were serious issues that I felt other prospective tenants needed to be aware of. Airbnb deleted my review. This lady lives in her garage with her three 100-lb dogs. There was no bathroom out there and the dryer was not vented to the outside, which was a serious fire hazard and can cause carbon monoxide and respiratory dangers. The dogs were very clean but she never washed their bedding so there was an aroma of ‘dirty dog’ which permeated the house. They barked and howled loudly at times.

She eavesdropped on my phone conversations, at one time standing in my doorway with her arms crossed until I hung up. She seemed to have some serious mental health issues. There were family photos in the bedroom, two of which were quite large and inappropriate for a room being rented out to the public. She did not let me use the washer/dryer and I could not have cooked unless I had brought my own pots/pans, spices, and cooking utensils, as she does not cook.

Although this is a ‘B&B’ there are no breakfast items ever available, whether it be cold cereal, muffins, or even toast. If you have a problem, do not expect Airbnb to resolve it. They have lousy customer service and are only concerned with their hosts, not the guests. I had to fight to not be required to pay the cost of the entire reservation, and she got to keep almost three weeks I had paid with no refund. I paid for housing in two locations for that time, and I cannot afford that. I will never ever use this service again; they are disreputable and the hosts are not screened.

Airbnb Cancelled Month-Long Stay A Week Before My Flight

On April 9th of this year, my wife and I reserved an apartment in Colorado Springs with Airbnb for the entire month of September. We received a confirmation from our host the same day. Plans were underway and we were anxiously anticipating our autumn trip to Colorado. We made round trip airline reservations from Raleigh-Durham to Denver and made other ancillary plans and reservations for a rental car, etc.

On the evening of August 23rd, I checked my email and was shocked to learn that my Airbnb reservation had been canceled by the host. She explained that she had to sell the property but didn’t tell me until seven days before my flight to Colorado. A subsequent cancellation email arrived from Airbnb. My wife and I worked frantically to find another property, but due to the popularity of Colorado (especially during autumn), we were unable to do so. I contacted Airbnb and a customer service representative offered to help us find another property. He sent a list of five or six properties for us to evaluate. After an exhausting evening of research and property evaluation, we determined that only one met our long-term stay criteria of a kitchen, laundry facilities, and in a safe neighborhood. That property was almost $1,000 more.

However, to salvage our trip, we had no other choice but to shell out $1,000 more to book the only available property in Colorado Springs that met our criteria. When we tried to reserve the property, we were informed that it had already been booked just minutes before we submitted our reservation request. At that point, we were frustrated and exhausted. Greatly disappointed with the last-minute cancellation and with Airbnb’s inability to provide comparable lodging, we reluctantly cancelled our trip.

We had no place to stay. After several email’s to Airbnb Help Center and several phone calls, the Airbnb manager said that I didn’t give Airbnb a chance to resolve the problem and that “I was being too picky.”

Really? Who cancelled the reservation seven days before my trip? Never again will I book with Airbnb. It’s simply too risky and Airbnb isn’t willing to resolve the issue. I lost a considerable amount of money in non-refundable fees, but Airbnb only offered a refund for my lodging and less than 40% of the nonrefundable airfare/hotel costs. Other expenses linked to lodging were absorbed completely by me. The biggest disappointment was our loss of a much anticipated vacation in Colorado during the fall. Airbnb’s “Long-Term Policy” is supposed to be neutral, protecting the host and guest equally. In this case, the policy protected the host with the last-minute cancellation and shifted the burden to me. I’m very disappointed.

Airbnb Unable to Handle Clients When a Host Double Books

The following is a letter that was sent to Airbnb:

Thank you for sending this email last Saturday. As per your request, we are am responding with receipts for our unnecessary lodging accommodations in Vancouver BC. Please find the following:

– Receipt from Poco Inn and Suites for the night of Sept 2nd, 2017

– Receipt from Expedia.com for the Budget Inn Patricia Hotel for the night of Sept 3rd, 2017

– Receipt for food is attached, though we are a little confused by this as you did not ask for food receipts over the phone.

Based on our phone conversation, it was our understanding that the $50 towards food was extended as a courtesy. We do not see the need to verify that we ate while on vacation. Nevertheless, a receipt from Sept 3rd is attached. We are aware that the amount on the food receipt exceeds the $50 you had extended to us. We do not expect a full reimbursement on this receipt. We expect Airbnb to uphold its obligations laid out in your email: $500 reimbursement for lodging and $50 toward food. We expect this to occur in an expedited manner. We expect an immediate reply to this email as well as same-day confirmation when the funds will be processed. We expect that the funds transfer will be completed by EOD Friday, September 8th, 2017.

Regarding our receipts, please note the following:

As you were equally aware during our phone conversation, finding lodging in Vancouver on such late notice was difficult. Our budget did not allow for high-priced rooms and I’m sure you will agree that hotel room prices tend to be higher when booking the same day, let alone in the early evening. Poco Inn and Suites was one of the only hotels in that area that had a room for under $300. Please be aware that this hotel was 30 miles away from our originally planned location. Also, once we completed our phone call with you (which lasted nearly 1.5 hours), it took us another hour on the phone to find a this room. The additional travel time to this hotel was also unwelcome. From a financial point of view, it is lucky we were able to use a credit card, but also unfortunate. I would hope that others who have experienced a similar dilemma were able to find cash on hand to cover Airbnb’s inability to find other lodgings.

The Budget Inn Patricia Hotel was cheap and available, but a quick look on Tripadvisor.com will inform you that the hotel is less than safe. Again, the travel time had been added to find this hotel but is disappointing to be confronted with safety concerns. We await your prompt reply to the above.

We are greatly disappointed in Airbnb and its apparent lack of preparedness to take care of situations such as this. In our case, a host reneged on her obligation and we were unnecessarily thrust in to a situation that cost us more money out of pocket as well as cost us a great deal of wasted time – time that was intended for vacation, not for talking to customer service and looking for last-minute lodging on a very busy weekend. This loss of funds and time were completely unnecessary had Airbnb a stronger vetting process to avoid hosts who are uncommunicative and irresponsible. Airbnb’s options, as you described them over the phone, are weak strategies to protect users of your service.

Option 1: We, the clients could find new lodging using the Airbnb app. But as you were quickly able to understand by your own searches, this was simply next to impossible. On that day there were no Airbnb listings available within our budget.

Option 2: “Instant Book”. This seems like a good solution on the surface, but as we understood from your description of this option, we were expected to accept a new booking sight unseen. This is unreasonable. We asked for more details on the location, room size etc. and in the time it took you to look up this basic information, the room was booked. We are surprised that your customer service team is not better equipped to find listings more quickly and with greater detail.

Once Airbnb’s first two options were quickly exhausted, you offered to reimburse us for our hotel costs. However, you were clear that Airbnb has no way of booking a hotel for its displaced clients. This left us to find last-minute lodging, thereby defeating the entire purpose of using Airbnb in the first place. It also seems clear that Airbnb is incapable of vetting their hosts. As you’ll recall, when we arrived at our host’s location, we followed her instructions very carefully. Her instructions were sent out automatically and, ironically, mentioned she required clients to be in contact with her prior to arrival as she “had been burned in the past”. We can verify that we attempted to contact her several times.

However, we never heard back from her on Sept 2nd, nor have we received any communication since. As you will also recall, on Sept 2nd you made two unsuccessful attempts to contact her. When we arrived at the host’s location we followed the host’s instructions and went to the rented room. As per her instructions, the door was open. However, upon entering we found the room was unready and still contained the luggage and personal affects of another client. There was another resident at the house. He informed us that the other guests were out of the city but had no intention of leaving as they were under the impression that they were allowed to stay.

We would prefer to leave a review on this host’s profile – but this situation does not feel safe. To write a review, a user must allow a host to write a review of the user. However, we are hesitant to write a review (and thereby warn other Airbnb clients) that this host was negligent. Why should a client who was stood up by a host be required to allow the host to submit any review at all? I hope that customers can expect Airbnb to address these problems. Indeed, you mentioned over the phone that we were not the first to experience difficulties on that day and in that location.

This was our second experience with irresponsible hosts. Our first was a host who cancelled our reservation 12 hours before check-in, also for the same weekend and in Vancouver BC. We booked another location on Sept 2nd and received confirmation as well. If Airbnb is unable to process same-day reservations, or if Airbnb is unable to provided hosts the proper support they need, then Airbnb needs to step up.

The bottom line is this: Airbnb allowed a host to double book a room; Airbnb allowed a host to remain out of contact with a client; Airbnb allowed a client to become displaced because the client trusted the integrity of the services that Airbnb offers. By not vetting your hosts and by leaving clients for fend for themselves when stood up or double booked, it is clear that Airbnb is more interested in making a profit in the easiest and cheapest way possible than looking after its clients and therefore Airbnb’s own reputation.

Your services cannot be trusted and this is too bad. Your business concept is a good one. Perhaps you should do more to make it function well. It is clear from a quick Google search that Airbnb has many problems protecting clients from unethical behavior by hosts: Airbnb Hell came up quite quickly. I’m sure a more thorough search would reveal much more. We will be posting our experience to social media in hopes of adding our voices to a growing chorus of dissatisfaction with Airbnb’s sloppy business practices. In the mean time, we truly hope that Airbnb can become a better business, or that some other entity can step in where you left off.