Gold Coast Booking Leads to Being Double Charged

Please read this letter I sent to Airbnb less that three hours after I had made a booking:

Hi Airbnb,

I hope you are having a fabulous day. I am not and I am writing here to let you and others know why. In a few weeks one of my best friends is getting married on the Gold Coast (we never thought it would happen – he is not that pretty). I am the only member of his friends and family who is in the southern hemisphere so I am absolutely delighted to be going.

Today I decided to book my accommodation through Airbnb. You have such a good following and cheaper rates so I thought, why not? That is definitely the kind of service I need as I am on a budget and the rates seemed fabulous. I made my booking with a lovely woman who immediately contacted me. We could not wait for our trip.

Where is the issue, you may wonder? After booking this, my partner and I thought that doing a small run to the food shop would be a good idea. I checked my bank account just to see how much we could splurge after booking our trip. I was expecting to see between $400-600. It wasn’t a great surprise to me when there was a measly $28 in the account. Obviously this was a great shock. When I investigated this further it was clear that Airbnb had double charged me and also refunded me on their system.

This would be all well and good and if I were a millionaire I would find it slightly irritating; however, I am not a millionaire. I was a bit upset but because I am a reasonable person I figured I would contact you and just ask what was going on.

Firstly, I struggled to find contact details on your website – I just kept getting redirected in a loop to your FAQ pages (on a side note: this is extremely irritating). The next step was Facebook, where I found a telephone number. This was an 02 number so I assumed I was calling someone in NSW. The first two agents that I spoke to (in Southeast Asia Pacific – this is where they told me they were) hung up on me when I said I needed to find a solution to procuring the money that had been refunded. The third agent told me I did not know what I was talking about.

At this point I am willing to admit that I lost my temper a little and demanded to speak to someone more helpful. Again, somebody hung up on me. During this time my partner contacted the bank and told them about our little conundrum and they said there was a really very simple solution to resolve this: Airbnb had to email or fax the bank on an email address and/or fax number that they provided with some details.

After receiving this information, the good people at the bank said the money would be released within two hours. At this point, all of the details required on this fax or email were about myself. The only thing Airbnb had to provide was a headed fax or signed email. After some cereal, a bit of a cry, and being a little bit stressed, I called back.

This time I spoke to someone who was a little more helpful. She went and found a supervisor. This person got on the phone and relayed back the same ridiculous diatribe that the first couple of people did and only when I mentioned the word fraudulent and legal advice was anyone on the phone remotely helpful. When I pointed out that I was expecting to call NSW and actually ended up on the phone to Southeast Asia, saying “would I be getting charged a fortune for that on top of having no money in my bank account?” the supervisor hung up and called me back.

After 45 minutes of being on this call I was told the call was very irritating. I was also told that the managers and payment teams that had the capacity to deal with my unfortunate situation were in another country and there was nothing you could do. I am a human being and understand mistakes happen. However, in our modern age of technology and communication I am struggling to comprehend the fact that nobody in a global company can send an email or fax to resolve this situation. It would take less than five minutes.

I won’t keep going on but what I will say is this. You took a charge out of my bank account twice and actually tried to take it a third time. Because of this (and you not being able to send an email or fax) I have $28 in my bank account. Because I only have this much money in my account, either my partner or I are going to have to sacrifice going to work as we will not be able to both afford fuel and/or public transport to our employment. I apologize that we are not more well off and able to cope but even though both of us work 60+ hours a week we are still struggling to make ends meet. If either of us lose our employment I will be seeking legal advice.

I still have no email, fax or refund.

My Story Hosting on Airbnb in Ottawa

On September 17th, a guest arrived. The next day I received payout of $808.01. This guest was supposed to stay for 13 nights. On September 19th, Airbnb requested an alteration for one additional night but did not include the amount to be paid for this one night.  I accepted this alteration for one night and within two hours, I cancelled it, due to what I believe was a technical problem. I have a lot of correspondence with Airbnb and the guest from that date to support this statement.
Airbnb made an input error and showed that I must make a refund of $808 or more (uncertain) to the guest. When I learned of this, at the beginning of October, they told me that they would correct this error. This did not happen.
Airbnb has kept payouts from three of my guests, totaling $795.40 to cover this error.  I closed my account for one week. Managers assured me that I would receive the money owing me. I reopened my account for guests, and learned that they did not do what they said they would do. I am now closed down permanently as my calendar will confirm. Even PayPal shows that I owe $261 in addition to what they have kept – or at this time I wish to say, stolen.
I have dealt with customer service representatives daily now for 17 days, including a few managers. I call Airbnb or email daily, only to receive similar responses every time. I am good with details as you can see, and everyone with whom I spoke could see where the problem lay and the mistake, but no remedy was forthcoming. Written responses in no way reflected the content of our conversations.
One representative from a North American office, listened, understood, and told me on October 8th that I should receive what was owed to me within 24 hours, but his written response instructed me to “check with your bank”. Another manager told me that it was stuck in the system and would take a few days. Another manager told me that my case had been sent on to their payment department. A manager from the Manila office refuses to communicate with me in any way.
October 20th: I was informed that I requested a new manager.
October 23rd: I spoke with Airbnb’s Manila office. They mentioned that they would need to contact the guest.  That is not my problem, and Airbnb, like any company, is obliged by law to compensate victims from hardships of errors.
October 24th: Customer service told me that I have almost paid off my debt, and would get a partial pay out for the next guest. This was after I had reviewed the details, the error – as if I would be comforted.
October 24th Airbnb’s Nevada office informed me that I had a new case manager.
October 25th: The manager was not available.
I have repeatedly asked for a supervisor above the manager to be told that there was no such individual.
Many support workers replied with the statement “I hope you are happy with the resolution”.  They do profusely apologize. I cannot count the times that I have heard “I am very, very sorry”.
I have been hosting for two years, with over 90 reviews and 4.7+ star ratings. I am a senior, rely on this income, and do enjoy all the wonderful guests that I have hosted, but now my income is gone, and I have shut down as mentioned earlier.  This is a tragedy, and I will hope and pray that the principals of this site can direct me to someone that can intervene, and give me justice.

Host Extorted Money for Confirmed Reservation During Eclipse

Last week, we wrote a review for a host who made us to pay more money for our confirmed booking (a month after we had paid in full) because of the high demand for booking her location during the August 21st eclipse. She claimed there was a booking glitch and she intended to have Instant Booking charge us more. When we booked, there were other options, but at that point (a month before the eclipse) there was nothing left. We couldn’t afford what she was asking, and were worried she or Airbnb would cancel our booking if we complained, as has happened to other guests on forums where hosts claim a “booking glitch”. This would have left us high and dry with our small children. We offered to pay her $500 instead of $1700, which she accepted.

After our stay, I wrote a review detailing the experience, but I have yet to see it posted on her site. Do you know how long it takes to for a review to show up for a host? It has been a week since I submitted it, and I hadn’t received any messages that anything was wrong with it. I’m worried the host will get Airbnb to not post it. They will be able to see it is accurate; all our communication was done over Airbnb messages, including her request to “adjust the price” and her explanation that she decided to adjust the price due to demand. Ultimately, I’d like to see the host respond to our review with a refund of the money we paid under duress, and to agree to post surge-pricing dates on her site in the future, and address future website booking glitches within 24 hours and with Airbnb rather than putting pressure on guests.

Airbnb Ruined our Vacation, Forced us to Sleep in Truck

My wife and I recently were on vacation having been caring for a very sick uncle in Sun City when other family members gave us some much needed time off. We were very excited. We had recently started using Airbnb and were really happy with the money we had saved. We had made a reservation in Temecula. Having earned travel credits and a coupon for $25, we thought it was gonna be great… that is until the app glitched while making the booking because of our travel credits and cancelled our reservation. Then the nightmare began.

We started calling Airbnb to fix the glitch. Every call took anywhere from thirty minutes to one hour. At the end of each call we were assured the app was working and to go ahead and boo. However, each time we tried to book, it would kick us off. Unable to book anything and aware it was getting late, I started to become concerned we were not going to get a room, Each time I called I had to explain the whole situation all over again. It was getting late when one representative made the executive decision to delete my travel credits and put it all on a coupon. Problem solved, right? Well, no.

Now going to book our room the app said I needed to verify my payment method. I was using a prepaid card from Walmart with plenty of money I just loaded. When I called again they said because Airbnb had tried to run my card so many times it locked my account up for 24 hours.

I escalated my case to the Trust and Safety Department. However, we weren’t able to talk to anyone from there until the morning as it was almost midnight. Now we were in a unfamiliar area, my wife and I were both exhausted, we could not book at a hotel as Airbnb had pending charges on my card, and we had to sleep in our truck. The next morning I started calling again with the one-hour long phone calls and heard the same words: “It’s fixed; go ahead and book.”

Of course, it still wasn’t fixed. We ended up going back home where I continued to monitor the situation. I told them how awful it was and pretty scary having to sleep in our truck in a bad area. My wife was scared. Airbnb’s Trust and Safety team finally got back to me and gave me a $25 coupon for my troubles almost a week later and with no vacation. Thanks Airbnb…

Airbnb Guests Doing Illegal Drugs at our Apartments

I’m not too sure which point I should be focusing on, the bad guest experiences or the Airbnb management system, but I will be explaining both so readers can be the judge. First, I had a guest book one of my apartments and checked in at night around 11:00 PM. He rang me up and asked how to check in. I gladly informed him of the instructions and he checked in successfully. Two days later on his check out day, our cleaners entered the apartment to clean after the check out time (11:00 AM). The guest was still sleeping, so the cleaners had to ask him to leave; he was not really listening so the cleaners had to ask several times.

Eventually he left but when the cleaners went inside the apartment, they found it in a hideous state. Everything had been moved, with splatters on the walls, sheets and blankets and pillows thrown everywhere, everything in the kitchen had been used and left unwashed, candles and decors were completely smashed, cups and other decors were missing, and there was a strong smell of cigarettes in the apartment. Obviously he had been smoking in our apartment, so already he did so many things wrong.

Guests are supposed to leave the keys on the table when they leave but when we couldn’t find them, I tried contacting the guest all day by phone, text, Airbnb, and even on Facebook. Eventually the guest answered the phone late that night saying he forgot to leave the keys and took them with him. He came back to return the keys and I asked him to reimburse for the damages done at our apartment. He said he would if I sent him an email with an invoice. I did and surprisingly enough, he replied with a rejection. He said he would not take responsibility and didn’t agree he left the apartment in a bad state.

I had to request money from Airbnb. Because the guest did not respond, it had to be escalated. Airbnb has not been replying. To be fair it has only been ten days, but I still think that is plenty of time for them to get back to me, as they have gotten in contact with me for other reasons, just not this. I have asked them what has happened to my case, and they only ask me to wait (probably forever).

Several days after this happened, the same guest decided to book another one of our apartments, and messaged me asking how to check in. If I’m thinking clearly, I couldn’t imagine why he would do this because we clearly had by far the worst experience with him. Of course I had to cancel by calling up Airbnb (because it was already after check in time). Thankfully they cancelled that booking for us, but they also cancelled the previous booking that he made and paid for, which resulted in the past reservation fee to be refunded to him. This was pretty much the last thing we needed, but when I emailed them and asked for this to be fixed ASAP, they only said it was a glitch and will be looked into very shortly… as in never?

Unfortunately I’m still waiting on this, and not sure if I will ever hear from those case managers again. Airbnb really does a pathetic job with training staff, technical systems, management, and customer service. This isn’t big news for anyone I suppose. I just wanted to put this post out here, to warn hosts about receiving dodgy guests. Please see if they have a bad history, review, or just a weird vibe in general. I just finished hosting his girlfriend today; I didn’t even know it was her at the time. I basically hosted the same guest, who ruined our apartment once, and she did it again.

This one burned all of our candles and covered the fire alarm with a shower head. She was in bed “sick” all day according to our conversation. Again, there were stains all over the floor, sofa, and blankets, the place fuming with a candle smell so bad because there were five full sized candles all used up in just a few days. We found syringes under the bed and sofa and all the furniture was moved in weird places. They locked themselves out by leaving the key inside so I had to go and let them in. I really should have caught on there was something fishy about them then, and at least checked out the apartment. All these signs, and the fact that it was the same guest that ruined our last apartment… I could only think that they had been doing some kind of drugs at the property. Please beware of guests like these, as they seem to go around Airbnb houses to do drugs.

Malibu Nonsense Leaves Wedding Party Stranded

Stay away from Airbnb when you plan to travel to Malibu. An Airbnb host in Malibu cancelled on our bridal party of eight twenty minutes before the check-in time. The wedding was two hours later. Below is a transcript of my message to the Airbnb case manager, along with the whole conversation with the host; this guy said I was “not a good person” while I was scrambling before a wedding due to the Airbnb fiasco.

Hello Jhoe, I regret to inform you of a devastating experience that our party had with Airbnb over the weekend. I had the responsibility of hosting eight guests, some of whom flew internationally to attend a wedding in Malibu, CA. We were looking for accommodations for June 3rd, 2017. The first bad experience was my reservation for a property in Malibu with Francine, who cancelled immediately upon my reservation request, citing that there had been a death in the family, which may or may not have been true.

She gave multiple other excuses at first that did not make logical sense (from “going away for a week” to “it’s already been rented”). The good part at least was that she did indeed cancel, only after I had tried multiple times to contact her to no avail. However, shortly after this, I had confirmed a reservation with Airbnb at a nearby property hosted by a person named Shawn. I thought it was odd that a Malibu property would be available for just one night, because this is typically not characteristic of available properties in this area. I attempted to contact Shawn several times with no response, but relied upon the assurance that there was a reservation by Airbnb. I then coordinated amongst my party of eight to all meet at the property, where we would prepare for a wedding at 4:30 PM.

On the day of the reservation, half an hour before we were to check in, Shawn contacted me finally through Airbnb (somehow the messaging system magically started to work right before our check-in time). He stated that the property was not available and that Airbnb had made a mistake. He stated that Airbnb had a glitch or bug in the system. He then flippantly dismissed the case and blamed Airbnb, and was quite rude to me as a host. As it was now about 3:00 PM, we now suddenly had nowhere to go to prepare for the wedding, and nowhere for our party to stay. On top of this, Shawn’s ridiculously rude demeanor was adding salt to fresh wounds caused by this disaster. Our recorded interaction is here below, and you will see the kind of threatening language this individual uses.

The ultimate result of this “glitch” was that we had to scramble at the last moment to find alternate accommodations that were significantly more expensive, and also not sufficient for our party… not to mention an excessive amount of emotional distress on this special wedding day. As you will see from the conversation below, Shawn had contacted Airbnb the day before the reservation, and I was able to confirm this with a call center representative on the afternoon of June 3rd that there was in fact an escalation that took place internally at Airbnb. The problem is that Airbnb did not take action to contact me, as the guest with a confirmed reservation, when there was still ample time to make alternate reservations – not until twenty minutes before the check-in time.

There is clear evidence of this failure to perform on Airbnb’s part, unless Airbnb can prove this to the contrary. We find that Airbnb is at fault for negligence and allowing the consumer to rely upon false information to create plans and take specific actions. There are specific damages that were incurred as a result of Airbnb’s error. We will be demanding an equal amount of the reservation cost in compensation ($3555), although the actual and proximate damages are in fact much larger than this. This week, our attorney will be initiating legal action if this matter is not resolved in a satisfactory manner. Needless to say, there will also be significant fallout and I will initiate a massive social media marketing campaign to ensure that any other potential customers are aware of Airbnb’s negligent business practices. I have a relentless resolve about this kind of injustice and will ensure others do not have this kind of miserable experience in the future. Thank you for your swift action.

Regards,
Peter

Transcript of messages exchanged between Shawn and Peter:

Peter: Hello Shawn, Hope all is well! We are Santa Monica locals who are attending a wedding in Malibu. We are a clean, professional bunch who are just looking for a place to sleep on Saturday evening rather than driving back down the PCH at night. Thanks for your consideration!

Peter: Hello Shawn! How are you doing?

Peter: Thanks for accepting our reservation. I’d like to just confirm that you’re good with our group staying at the property tomorrow evening.

Peter: By the way, this estate is magnificent. We’re really looking forward to our stay.

Peter: We had one question – do you think it might be possible to check out at noon instead of 10:00 AM on Sunday? Please let us know, thanks.

Peter: Hello Shawn, are there any particulars about how we can enter the property today? Like a lockbox or a hidden key somewhere?

Shawn: I contacted them a day ago and they were supposed to reach out to you yesterday. Airbnb has made a mistake. The days are not available and there was some sort of bug in their system.

Peter: We are hours away from a wedding! Oh my goodness, there is going to be a huge problem.

Shawn: I have spoken with them and they were supposed to contact you.

Peter: This isn’t cool, man.

Shawn: I totally understand and it totally sucks and I am sorry that they messed up. The dates were blocked out on my end. I didn’t have anything to do with this reservation and it should not have been made. Airbnb was notified immediately and they are responsible for this mistake. I’ve been trying to reach out to you since we made this reservation.

Peter: You couldn’t tell me this yesterday.

Shawn: Dude what are you not understanding? There is a serious glitch in their system. I sometimes see your reservation on my app and then it’s gone the next time I log in. The dates were never available. And when I saw it I tried tapping your listing and it would crash. I’m surprised it’s working now cause all yesterday afternoon it wasn’t. Chill on me please. This is not my fault nor yours.

Peter: Just so you know, we had eight international guests for a wedding today. The wedding has been completely ruined thanks to this fiasco. It may not have been your fault Shawn, but your response to the situation sucked. If you had had my contact info sooner you could have let me know.

Shawn: I tried to let you know and every time I tried the app crashed on me. I tried to open the reservation and it crashed. I tried to get your direct contact info and it crashed. I checked on my phone and it crashed. I checked on my computer and it crashed. Up until this afternoon I couldn’t even respond to these messages. I don’t know what the hell you want from me at this point and you are being quite rude. I think based on your assumptions and behavior you are clearly upset (and I am very sorry about that, and wish I could have done more) but you should probably look to direct your anger to those responsible. I went above and beyond on this and can show you my email to and from Airbnb with my complaints. I told them that I could not reach you yesterday five minutes after you made the booking. Please do not contact me again. You are rude and I don’t think you are a good person. How dare you use profanity at me and act as if I am responsible. You are the victim here. You did nothing wrong and I empathize as to how terrible it must have been for you and those coming in for the wedding. But you have no right to come at me. Again, please do not contact me ever again.

Airbnb Calendar Glitch in Reservation Cost me $700

This happened to both my sister and myself and is not yet resolved. We live in a university town and the biggest moneymaking weekend of the year is graduation. The prices we posted on Airbnb were higher than usual, but because the site automatically reverts to your minimum price if you make any change to the reservation, like adding another night, I stand to lose $700 if the guest doesn’t agree to pay the difference. I’ve had many times where I set the price on a date on the calendar, only to find that it hasn’t “taken.” I also couldn’t respond to an interested guest once when reception was poor – I kept sending a message but the guest never got it, and that affected my responsiveness rating. I’ll be relying on other rental sites unless Airbnb gets a more responsive site. That’s a crushing loss for us, and due entirely to the automated settings they substitute without your approval or knowledge. And of course, you can’t reach them to give that feedback or get help.

Airbnb Trust and Safety Department Beyond Horrible

Letter to the owner of Airbnb. This is my fifth attempt sending it. Of course, there has been no response.

Dear Brian, Alena, Anvita, and others,

First, Brian – I’m appealing to you since you left your email address stating to bypass the Trust and Safety Department and communicate with you directly. I’m taking you at your word that you will become involved. Utter frustration, there is no other way to put it. Yesterday I spoke with a supervisor of the “non-trip department.” I requested the following: “Please have the Trust and Safety Department call me.” I left my phone number and once again requested they email me. I also gave her another email address for them to communicate with me since my first one was not getting through. Incidentally, they also have this other email on file. She assured me she would “accelerate the case and the would get back to me.” I’ve heard that from 20-25 non-trip representatives… very laughable. That’s the line of BS that is common amount if all the reps. Now I’m being financially compromised, and I literally am losing sleep… I cannot rent my home since I don’t have a calendar of my renters and I’m afraid I’ll double book someone. I’m also with VRBO and I can’t rent with them as well. I will soon initiate a lawsuit. I regretfully have been left with no other choice and I will inform the media how Airbnb treats its hosts. As a 5-star host since 2014 I wonder what I’ve done to deserve this? Everything is documented below.

On May 15th:

The Trust and Safety Department blatantly ignores my problem. It was Anvita, now it’s Alena… maybe they are the same, who knows? Avery, your tech, said that they fixed the back end but not the front end and therefore I’m not able to log into my account. I’m in serious trouble. These people are so inept. I have no clue as to who my future renters are and I cannot reach them to give them directions to the house, not to mention I cannot rent my home. Please help! Please!

On May 11th:

Dear Mr. Hassell,

My name is Alan Mayer and I’ve been a 5-star Airbnb host since 2014. My relationship with Airbnb has always been excellent until just recently. Approximately five weeks ago, unbeknownst to me, Airbnb deleted my account and changed my email address to an unknown email address. Subsequently I have not received any inquiries for the past five weeks and my profile has been assigned a different property. In addition, this incorrect property information is being sent to my renters, causing confusion and anger. Six days ago I contacted your technical support team and spoke to several individuals who all assured me that a urgent high priority ticket would be sent to the appropriate team. I was told that Anvita would be assigned my case. For the past six days, I’ve received multiple phone calls and assurances by your representatives that the case ticket has been forwarded to Anvita. I have received no correspondence from Anvita. Therefore I’m locked out of my account and unable to correspond with my renters or access my Airbnb calendar. I respectfully request immediate assistance in solving this issue. Neither of us wants bad reviews nor loss of revenue.

Today is even worse than the past week. The password Anvita sent to get into my account doesn’t work and the wrong home is still being displayed. Regina (who’s been wonderful) tried to activate the password to no avail. Anvita at the Trust and Safety Department issued a notice saying the issue has been “solved,” when actually it’s worse than ever. Respectfully, I’m requesting another case worker be assigned. Anvita isn’t qualified nor will she communicate with me.

Ghosted Without Notice for Two Weeks and Counting

I posted my spare bedroom in my “Rustic Basic Ecohome” on Saturday, April 22nd. Apparently I got a booking around noon the next day. The guest claims she drove to my house at around 3:00 PM and tried to call me. I was at home, sleeping with my phone off due to working the night shift. She got flustered when she called my Google voice number and heard my nickname rather than my legal name, the one that appeared on the listing. She never rang the doorbell. When I woke up, I tried to contact her for hours; apparently she was in some conference or meeting. She cancelled the booking and Airbnb incorrectly assumed I cancelled it. Up to this point, I felt okay with the situation; perhaps my guest was a bit skittish, so it’s probably better she found another place where she hopefully felt more comfortable.

Then Airbnb said they will not allow other bookings for the duration of the cancelled booking (two days) and admonished me for cancelling (which I did not do – rather, the guest gave up and perhaps pinned the blame on me to get her payment back). In the days to follow, I received no bookings. My listing showed up when I went on the site from my computer. Finally, after 13 days, when a friend tried to go online and vouch for my character, he got a broken link message. I asked him to look for my listing and he could not see it. I called Airbnb and they saw it as a “technical issue”. They started a case and referred me to the Trust & Safety Team, who only communicates via email. The tech support representative sent me an email that said “Ghosted”.

I think their temporary block for duration of the cancelled booking somehow wasn’t removed after two days. As of today, May 10th (17 days since the cancellation), my listing apparently remains non-operational with no explanation from Airbnb. I had originally planed to remodel a bathroom to give my guests their own suite. I’m so glad that I started with an existing bathroom and bedroom, considering how haphazard the process has been so far. I just put a listing up on Wimdu. Hopefully that process will go smoother than Airbnb.