This is the letter I wrote to Airbnb about my experience:
I am writing to tell you about my horrible Airbnb experience in the hopes of getting some resolution. My family and I have used Airbnb several times and never had a bad experience before now. We are so devastated by what has happened to us that we will never use Airbnb or VRBO again.
I have reached out to customer service three times with no result. I get the impression that I am calling a call center in another country and that the people that are answering the phone are just telling me that my issue is being investigated with no result. I have reached out to the Better Business Bureau, the Virginia Beach Police Department, and the Virginia Beach Housing Authority. I will be seeking the advice of my attorney. I have also discussed the situation with my bank’s fraud department and they are conducting their own investigation.
We booked a condo on May 13, 2021. We planned to take our 16-year-old daughter to Virginia Beach to see the beach, aquarium, and Norfolk Botanical Gardens. As we were leaving around 8:00 AM on May 28 I looked at the listing to see what the check-in procedure was and it said there was a lockbox. I messaged the host on the Airbnb app and she asked me to let her know when we were an hour away.
I messaged her again at noon to tell her we were an hour away. She said the house wasn’t ready and check in was at 3:00 PM. I told her no problem, I was just letting her know when we would be arriving in the area. Then she called my cell phone and said something about how she was waiting for a delivery but she would try to get the house ready for an early check in.
We arrived at the condo at 2:30 PM. We called the host and let her know. She sounded flustered and said that the toilets were broken at the condo and that she was waiting for a couch to be delivered. She told us she wanted us to stay at her other property, that it was brand new and we would be the first guests. She gave us the address. It was 15 minutes away.
When we arrived we were shocked and disturbed. The apartment was in an unsafe looking neighborhood in what looked like Section 8 housing. When we walked into the apartment it was hot, there were boxes of her personal belongings in the middle of the floor, the furniture was unplaced and still had tags on it. There was only one bed and only one bedroom was furnished. There was no TV.
She offered to blow up an air mattress for us. She said that she was waiting for a bed and mattress to be delivered. She called the delivery company and put them on speaker phone. They told her they didn’t know when they would arrive. She instructed us not to tell people that this was an Airbnb and to tell people that we were her friends. We told her that we were going to get a cold drink and called Airbnb and spoke to a young lady and told her what was going on. She said someone would email us.
We went back and told the host we were uncomfortable and asked her to cancel. She said she didn’t know how and suggested that we call and lie and say that we were cancelling due to COVID. At one point she handed me her phone and asked me to help her figure out how to cancel. When I cancelled the trip on her account it said that the trip had been referred to a support team. She then said that the toilets were fixed and that we could go back to the original condo if we wanted to. We didn’t believe her and didn’t feel safe interacting with her anymore.
We left and as it was a holiday weekend it took us two hours to find a hotel. I called Airbnb again that night and spoke to a young man who informed me that he may not be able to help me because we didn’t take pictures, but that he would try to help me. He said he would contact me with updates. I never heard from him again. I called and spoke to someone the next day and she said that she would investigate and update me. I have not heard from anyone.
I am a social worker in private practice and my husband is a mechanic. We cannot afford to lose $828. This has been an incredibly upsetting experience for us, particularly as the whole thing happened in front of our 16-year-old daughter. This trip was a treat for her as she has been cooped up in the house for a year doing online learning. I am appalled at the customer service I have received from Airbnb. I implore you to help us resolve this issue.