My son reached out to Airbnb support on June 3rd to let them know that he did not feel safe staying at the Airbnb he reserved from June 1-26 after a nearby shooting and the fact the host’s description of the neighborhood had not been accurate. Instead of a vibrant up-and-coming neighborhood like the host had described, my son found a quiet and lonely street with little foot traffic, worn down buildings vandalized by graffiti, barred windows, and surrounded by construction sites.
This was not the first time that this host had been given a review that claims she is giving a misleading representation of the area where she lives, as stated on her profile. In addition, it appears the basement room she has been renting out is in violation of several health and safety codes. I also found out from Airbnb that there is at least one other ongoing case against this host. My son was told by Airbnb to cancel his reservation and work with his host to get a refund.
At first, the host seemed understanding of how my son felt, as a foreigner to the city. He spoke with her in person as he picked up his belongings on June 4th and later messaged her to thank her for her understanding, explaining the urgency of receiving a refund as he needed to find a new place to live. After this, his host never responded again. I tried calling her myself, leaving her a voicemail on June 5th. She never called me back.
I starting calling Airbnb the next day. I was unable to speak to anyone in the United States for days. While the representatives in the Philippines were very friendly and tried to be as helpful as they could, they continued to tell me they “only have so much power” and that their requests to transfer my calls kept getting pushed back. I was told the only thing that they could do for me is message my son’s former case manager, who told him to cancel the reservation, and ask him to reach out to me.
Not only did the case manager never reach out to me, but he was also “never online” the days I kept calling. When the representative from the Philippines, tried to reach out to the host on June 6th, the host told him she was “too tired and hungry” to deal with me, waiting at the other end of the line. The case manager then told me to fill out a form through the Resolution Center to ask for a refund, but warned me that I would have to wait for the host to respond or involve Airbnb after 72 hours of nonresponse.
The host read the message from the Resolution Center immediately after I filled it out with the representative on the phone. She would never respond through the Resolution Center, instead messaging me privately. In this private message, she accused my son of discrimination, saying: “This is a vibrant neighborhood as I stated in my description. People who are not used to diversity and seeing so many people of color, often mistake that for crime.” As a proud Latino hailing originally from Miami, my son was deeply offended by this accusation. She ended by telling my son, “This is really horrible what you guys are doing. And this deeply concerns me that you are creating this when you are here to work for [omitted],” leaving my son worried that she would go as far as to contact his place of work for feeling unsafe in her neighborhood and the room she rented out to him.
After days of countless hours spent on the phone waiting to speak to a case manager in the United States, my case was finally taken over on June 8th. This new case manager promised to reach a resolution given the circumstances. My son desperately needed the money to find a new place to move. She promised to update me every day as to how the case was going. After Friday, her first day working on the case, she stopped answering. The last update we got from her was that the host was not answering her calls. I emailed her every day since and received no response. I called Airbnb on June 13th and they informed me the new manager was on leave, and so she had not been working on my son’s case.
I then spoke to another case manager who told me the only person who could do anything was the one on leave, so I would have to wait until she came back on June 15th to revisit the case. He was extremely apologetic and even admitted that he would issue me a refund alone based on how my son was treated by the host. On June 15th, it will have been twelve days since Airbnb has continued to put off my son’s case. Airbnb has yet to acknowledge their host’s inappropriate behavior that goes against their mission to promote diversity and inclusion, has yet to speak to the host, who continues to ignore their calls and continues to be active on their site, and has yet to tell me anything other than “they have no power.”
This has been the worst customer service experience I have ever had. I have attempted all reasonable means through front-end customer service and am now taking to social media to resolve this issue.