Airbnb Hell in Japan After Cancellation

I had the worst experience in my life with Airbnb in Japan. I’m a permanent resident in Japan and had to book a place for a short stay while I’m waiting to go back home. The host who handled my stay treated the situation as if it was nothing. The place was dirty with cockroaches everywhere, plus bedbugs.

I tried to contact him by phone several times and he didn’t answer the calls at all. I don’t know what his issue was with residents: he didn’t answer the calls, he just didn’t want to chat. I decided to report directly to Airbnb support, which tried to get a refund to minimize the damage from the situation.

On Oct. 3, after Airbnb tried to reach the host for a whole day, the host cancelled my stay at 10:00 PM and asked me to leave the place by 10:00 AM the next day just like that, without any previous notice. I had to spent money on transportation, hotels, and handle the moving out by myself with more than 300 kg of suitcases and stuff.

I confess that Airbnb did a good job but I don’t see any protection for the guests in these cases. How come hosts can do this with such short notice? Especially in Japan, where everything is so proper and you have to give notice for everything. I’m very disappointed with the service, the place, the host, and specially his attitude.

I don’t recommend foreigners stay at Airbnb properties in Japan. You won’t have any rights. It’s much better pay for a hotel where you won’t have troubles like this. I will go determine my rights with my lawyer, because this is not the right attitude. I felt offended and disrespected.

Airbnb Exploitative Policies During an Epidemic

This was my first and last time using Airbnb. I live in Nagoya, Japan and wanted my parents to visit me this summer, from April 17th to May 17th. I booked an apartment for four people in Nagoya for more than $3000. I booked early in January thinking that the summer time would be the peak season of travel here in Japan owing to the Golden Week holidays.

Then last week the coronavirus struck the whole world and within days the situation in Japan also got worse. As a result of discussions with my family we decided to cancel the trip and the reservation two months prior to the actual check-in date.

Airbnb lists “epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people” as an extenuating circumstance and we are eligible for refund. Hence, we cancelled the reservation and surprisingly I only got $70 as a refund when I paid more than $3000 to book this place.

We decided to file a refund claim under extenuating cancellation policy. I called Airbnb customer care and was initially disconnected two times when I told my story and asked for a refund (I know the names of the representatives who disconnected me as well).

Finally the third time I got in touch with an Airbnb representative who was hellbent on proof of the coronavirus spread in Japan even though the whole world is aware of the situation in Asia. Hence we submitted links to the various government websites, travel advisories, and my parents’ travel itinerary to prove that they were traveling form India.

Still Airbnb asked for more proof, saying there was no ban in Japan. The epidemic is spreading and it’s in the news. This is apparent to the whole world but Airbnb will not consider it unless someone really dies or gets infected. They want to exploit people out of their hard-earned money even at the time of an epidemic.

Even after paying more than $3000 I got a joke of $70 back, which is completely unacceptable and unfair, whether there is an epidemic or not. This depicts a perfect picture of exploitation by Airbnb and their poor host cancellation policies which are screwing with people’s mental health and robbing them of their money.

The host says that he doesn’t know how the refund came down to $70, while Airbnb says they cannot override the host cancellation policy. Who knows which side is telling the truth.

I initially thought that they would settle this on humanitarian grounds considering the coronavirus situation in the world right now but they want more proof. What more proof do they want, when the epidemic has already spread to all parts of the world? There is no regard or respect for human life.

I work hard for my money and the fact that I am being exploited for money in the wake of an epidemic and constantly asked for proof of it as though I am making up the situation is causing me so much stress and sleepless nights. I reluctantly used Airbnb for the first time knowing that as a first time user and reading other guest experiences, I might run into some trouble and, as expected, had the worst experience.

I will not be using Airbnb again. When they do not have any morals or values even in the time of a crisis or an epidemic, no one can expect them to resolve your issues when the times are less tense.

Airbnb in Two Words? Frustrating and Inconvenient

First of all, Airbnb’s payment policy works against the customer since you have to pay in advance without having the opportunity to look at the property. My son reserved a property in Tokyo months in advance, just to find at arrival that the place was filthy, and did not offer the number of accommodations advertised on the website.

When finally reaching Airbnb for a refund, they said that by company policy the host had to have a chance to try to solve the problem, all the while not offering another place to stay. Service carriers make communication very complicated, our family is in complete distress, and travelers face the utmost uncertainty on where to stay next. All in all, an unacceptable inconvenience for all.

Emphasis on the “air” as in “you won’t have anywhere to stay”

Circle of Airbnb Hell Level 1: I originally booked an Airbnb apartment in Tokyo in the summer of 2018 for a long-awaited and carefully saved for trip to Japan, which was a graduation present for my son. Two weeks before the trip, Airbnb advised due to changes in Japanese law, I likely wouldn’t be able to occupy the Airbnb. I would have to rent a hotel at the last minute in Tokyo (along with all of the other people who just lost their Airbnb bookings and rushed to book hotels). I ended up paying over 2K for a hotel, over 1.2K more than the Airbnb I booked, fully blowing my budget. Airbnb attempted to compensate for this by giving me a coupon for $900.

Circle of Airbnb Hell Level 2: I used $328 of the coupon on a weekend Airbnb booking in DC. I ended up fully locked out of the unit, never got in, and Airbnb refused to refund the full cost because I didn’t cancel… which makes no sense – I was locked out. They even charged me for the unit cleaning, that I never got into. I spent $186 to stand in the rain outside a locked unit, listening to the host’s answering machine. After this I no longer wanted to do any business with Airbnb, but I had $712 credit left to use, I thought.

Circle of Airbnb Hell Level 3: I attempted to use the $712 on a vacation and guess what? It was a ‘single use coupon’. In the end, it was all a complete waste: out the 1.2K for the extra cost for the Tokyo hotel, out $328 for the unit I was locked out of and finally just out. I will never, ever, book Airbnb ever again. I will discourage everyone I know from doing so. The customer service is a nightmare. The hosts are a nightmare.

Third-Party Booking Violation Causes Payment Problems

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I am here to share my experience I had with Airbnb today. Firstly, my reservation was cancelled and I found out that it was cancelled on the day I landed in Japan. The day before my departure, I had checked the Airbnb app and the status was still confirmed. I didn’t expect that it had been cancelled nor did the host tell me upon my arrival; it showed it was cancelled after checking with the host.

Here is where the problem starts to get worse. I did not know that there is a policy that forbids a third party to book on behalf of someone (my reservation was booked by my brother). Please note that for my Japan trip I had also booked two different places and the other hosts had no issues with my brother booking on my behalf. My brother had called, checked with the Airbnb support team, and was told that the reservation was cancelled by them because of the typhoon.

Their only means of informing to us was just an email that indicated that the amount was refunded. Everyone might be wondering why no one checked the email. The reason is simple: everything was done on the Airbnb app. In the app the reservation was still confirmed and the host had not messaged or informed us in regards to the cancellation.

Because of this predicament, we were desperate to find another place to stay as it was already late at night. My brother and I did not know about the third party booking and proceeded to find another place to stay on the day itself. This is where my brother’s RM 5,200 (approximate 1,200 USD) was flushed down the drain as the booking was made without knowing that the host rejected it and insisted that we had violated the Airbnb rules.

The host asked us to cancel the booking on our own (my brother was very suspicious of the host’s unwilling-to-help behaviour) and read the cancellation policy. Needless to say, once my brother clicked “cancel”, it would be another reason for the host to use it against us, because the guest cancelled the booking. We did asked the host to refund us back the amount since we had not even stayed and explained our predicament to the host. However, the host chose not to refund us at all, knowing our predicament and the fact I have never even set foot at his home. We checked with Airbnb support and all they can do is to try to convince the host to refund the money to us; still, the host does not want to.

The violation here is because my brother is the one who booked on my behalf, and the information given to the host is accurate (passport picture, passport number, name, age, occupation, home address), if they want to they should only suspend or terminate my brother’s account. They refused and the host refused to refund my brother the full amount for a place that we did not stay. The host also confirmed the reservation before my brother was able to communicate about our predicament to allow me to find a place to stay; then he only told us that it was a violation, refused to refund anything, and stopped communicating with us.

Please do not hate me for posting this. My intention is to let you know what I faced using Airbnb and how the policy could be a loophole that could cause you to waste your money. Once you are booked, the payment will be immediately sent to the host, which I really find ridiculous – the host should check everything about the guests who are staying then proceed to confirm the reservation.

The refund policy was not even protected, especially in my case where there should be a policy or a means to get my refund. All in all, there is definitely a way to at least get my brother to stay in the place, maybe by getting me to create an account and book it again, but the host and Airbnb support did not even bothered to assist, but would rather see my brother’s money go down the drain. I will not use Airbnb anymore and I would strongly suggest using another platform.

Three Negative Airbnb Experiences in Japan

We went to Japan with the goal of climbing Mt. Fuji, and decided to book three Airbnb locations during our stay. All three had some major problems, and I would absolutely not book an Airbnb again after that experience.

Location one was a disaster before we even booked. The host was extremely rude and condescending to us. We had asked for a different rate for our second of the two nights because our third party would only be present on the first night (extra charge for a third person). It was only a question, however the host took great exception to it, and accused us of freeloading, not understanding the close knit Airbnb community.

He told us the rate was as low as it could be and he would not split the rates, and it was rude of us to ask for anything lower. He also told us that it wasn’t worth climbing Mt. Fuji, we should just look at it from afar. Well, that’s the whole reason we were booking his home… to climb Fuji. Despite this we booked the room, but just for one night as we couldn’t get the correct rate for the other nights. I had a bad feeling about it, but we went ahead with it because the location was good for what we were trying to do.

We changed our plans to stay in a different town after the first night, which was inconvenient but we decided that was going to be the best plan. We arrived in town, walked to the location, and found that we could not access the key box; the pass code wasn’t working. We tried over and over again, with no success. We tried contacting the host, without luck. We were getting concerned at this point; it was getting dark, and we were alone on a small street without access to our room, tired, hungry, and needing rest to prepare for the climb.

We finally got in touch by text only with the host, but he did not answer his phone. He accused us of something or other in a nasty text (lying about how long we were waiting for his response for instance) and threatened us with the “bad reviews” game. Finally, he gave us another code, which did not work. After the third code he gave us, we were able to get inside to great relief, but also concerned over this host’s behavior and what else we might be accused of. I quite frankly believe the host purposely gave us the wrong codes because he was angry with us regarding our original inquiry. It seems strange to get it wrong two times.

I must say however, his home was the nicest of the three we would stay at. The major issue was actually that there were steps up to various parts of the house which in the dark and in an unfamiliar place was very hazardous, but other than that it was actually a nice place, and as advertised. One other small concern was that there were very see-through curtains on the huge windows that looked out into the street. Only after it got dark did I notice how exposed we were to the street, and we closed the curtains. The host was terrible, however the room was good overall.

We moved on after a good night’s rest to location two. We actually met our host in person and he walked us to his home. He was a wonderful host. His home was a traditional Japanese home. While it was nice, it was very rustic. It was as advertised, so I cannot claim it not to be. There was no air conditioning but we knew that going in. The rain on the first day there made that issue not as bad at first. It was very buggy however, and close to a canal that I think made the bugs much worse.

We saw spiders and mosquitoes. There were plants growing through the tatami mats, and we even had a major ant issue just before checking out. We actually had to dump one of our luggage bags and get all the ants outside. That was awful, and we missed something we wanted to do. Also, once the sun came out the heat really started being more of an issue. The host here was absolutely great though, and showed us around town when we asked him to. Fewer bugs, and I would have given this place much higher marks. There was even a washer available in the home. The bathroom was so small that we could not shut the door and use the toilet at the same time, but the shower was really great.

Location three – the host was operating the Airbnb illegally. We know this because our instructions upon arrival were to tell neighbors who asked that we were “friends” with the host. We did not meet the host for this location; instructions were all sent to us, some of which were confusing. The washer/dryer we were promised were actually coin operated and in the hallway, not as advertised. The place was not clean, the toilet was gross, and I cleaned it myself with supplies I found in the closet. The bathroom smelled awful.

We complained to the host by message about the cleanliness and were completely dismissed. Forget using the toilet after a shower – the water made the floor in the bathroom a total slip hazard. The place was so small it was crazy, and of course the photo choices somewhat covered how small the room was. It was to be for three people (our third person was to join us the last night in Tokyo again.) I would not call the room big enough to sleep three. The beds were super small, and one was bunk style so the third person had to climb to the top bunk.

Honestly by this point in the trip I wanted out of these places so badly. So much for living like the locals. Somehow I thought that would increase the experience unlike my first trip in hotels, but after three places with issues, I was dying for a hotel. I guess now with the experience over I can appreciate it, but we gave up a lot of comfort on this trip for some dubious places. It wasn’t worth the savings, adventurous as it may have been. I would not chance booking with Airbnb again. I especially did not appreciate the attitude of our first host, or the threats he made to us about not giving him bad ratings. It was very irritating to deal with him. Also, these places claim professional cleaning, which we paid extra for, but I do not believe that was the case at all.

Issue with Getting Refunds from Airbnb Japan

I am looking for advice. In January I booked three Airbnbs in Japan. Recently a new bill was issued by the government and a lot of Airbnbs got cancelled, including the three I booked. In this particular case I got a full refund from Airbnb and on top of that 100% of the refund in coupons. This was like a 200% refund which was awesome.

Here comes the problem. In March I changed my bank; I moved from TSB to RBS. Everything went smoothly and without any issues until the refunds were processed. Airbnb stated over the phone that their policy is to only refund the card that was used for the purchase and they can’t change that.

A month later (now) I still do not have any refund. I asked RBS; they say no transactions have happened according to the switch contract so they don’t know anything. I asked Airbnb who said the refund has been processed and there is no bounce back from the bank. They gave me a trace number to track the payment. I asked TSB, who said that they can’t see that transaction and they have no idea what a tracing number is. I asked Visa (the issuer of my card) and they said they cannot help me with this and I should contact TSB.

I have a bunch of tickets raised at Airbnb. I have a bunch of tickets raised at TSB. I have an investigation ongoing by the account SwitchService. I have an investigation ongoing by RBS. I am at a loss and have no idea how to proceed. If you have any ideas or suggestions please help.

A (Nearly) Objective Flight into Airbnb Support Madness

Last week I wrote a satirical exchange, Kafka meets HAL 9000. I would love to share with you the specifics of what that non-fictional, though unbelievable (and still ongoing) exchange looks like.

On June 3rd my listing, along with 60,000 others in Japan, were suddenly taken offline, without warning, without explanation.

June 11th: I tried to re-list with my license number and got a ‘caution’ message, stating that I could not re-list. I contacted Airbnb support and was told to keep trying to re-list.

June 12th: After repeated trying to re-list, I sent Airbnb support a message, but the thread (case) had been closed. After many phone calls and messages of “we are working on the problem 24/7” in English that were going in circles, I got my wife to contact the Japanese Airbnb staff.

June 12th: First contact with Airbnb staff in Japan. Back and forth messaging four times. Phone calls.

June 15th: After three days of no contact we sent a message and received a reply.

June 17th: After two days of no contact we sent a message and received a reply.

June 18th: We sent a message, and received no reply.

June 19th: We sent a message and received a reply.

June 21st: After two days of no contact we sent a message and received a reply. I was pretty fed up, as nothing seemed to be happening, I asked to speak to someone higher level in English.

June 22nd: A manager speaks to my wife.

June 23rd: We are put onto someone else, who messaged: “The issue has been reported, can’t confirm a deadline, we have flagged this as urgent.” I, not quite understanding the use of present progressive, which indicates recent activity (even in the passive voice) replied, “When was this reported?”

“June 21st.”

“Please give me specifics, did your other rep not report this?”

“Can’t confirm anything.”

June 25th: After two days of no contact we sent a message.

“I was out of the office, please be patient.”

June 26th: A guest, who emailed me worried that our site wasn’t online, cancels. I sent a message to Airbnb:

“Please put me on with someone who can help me.”

“I won’t put this any higher than myself.”

June 30th: No further replies from Airbnb.

“I will call Airbnb customer support everyday until this is resolved.”

June 30th: Called Airbnb’s USA number and talked with someone there. He said 20 days with no resolution is not very good. He said he will prioritize this case (probably the 10th time I have heard this). When we tried to re-list (probably the 15th time I have tried this) a new ‘caution’ warning comes up, stating that “Our records show that your country of residence does not match the listing. Please contact our customer support team if that is not the case.”

I weep and bite my hand. Customer service asks for a screenshot, so I sent it with the question, “Is this big enough?”

June 30th: No reply, but apparently support case is closed, because I can’t reply to the thread.

July 1st: I call Airbnb USA again and get someone who says the guy I had been talking to earlier is not my case manager, then after a long silence contradicted himself. I said I was confused. There was a long silence, then he said someone would call me tomorrow morning.

July 2nd: No call, so I called and got: “Your case manager does not seem to be available.”

“This is a known bug. I will prioritize your case (I give up trying to remember how many times I have heard this). Someone will call you, but I can’t give you a time frame on the call.”

July 3rd: Getting ready to call again…

Airbnb’s Removed Listings in Japan Complicate Visas

Due to the new Japanese law, all the Airbnb listings without permits have been removed from the site. The place we booked is also one of them. We had two groups booked with the same host on the same date at the same location. After the law passed, they contacted Airbnb and the host, and cancelled it right away so guests could find a new place.

However, when we tried to request a cancellation, they wouldn’t do it. They kept asking me to wait for the host to get the permit. Because I had to apply for a Japanese visa, I was really in a hurry to get a response. No one seemed to care at all. They said that if I wanted to cancel, because it is a long term stay, I would lose the first month’s rent. This is not my fault. Then they said that they only can cancel it ten days before the departure date if the host cannot get the permit… this is ridiculous.

So we have to wait ten days before my trip to know if we have place to stay or not? How they can treat the guests like this? We have to stay in Japan for three months. Not just a few days. This is why my friend wanted to cancel the property for the same dates as us, but we cannot do it. This is a horrible experience. I can’t believe any company would doing this to their guests Can someone give me any suggestions for this? Can I still use the Airbnb confirmation letter to apply for my visa?

Changing the Number of Guests for Airbnb in Okinawa

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I made a reservation from January this year for my family trip to Okinawa, Japan in October. Upon making the first reservation, I only paid around 43,000 yen for five of us. However, my oldest daughter couldn’t join us so I needed to change the numbers from five to four so as to save money. I had to pay about 18,000 yen for this change. I have tried to solve this stupid problem with the host and the host agreed with my complaint that I didn’t have to pay. He also said he didn’t understand why should I pay more and did not know how to make the change. He advised me to contact Airbnb directly. However, Airbnb insisted that the host had to agree to give me a refund. Is it normal to pay more to decrease the number of guests? What a horrible policy! I wouldn’t use Airbnb again.