My BFF and I booked our first ever Airbnb for a trip down to Los Angeles for a race we were both participating in. We booked in advance, but realized we hadn’t heard anything from our hosts until we were on our way down to LA (again, it was our first Airbnb experience, so we had no idea what to expect). We texted, called, and messaged our hosts for hours, only to get nothing back. Finally, after hours of already being in LA (it’s a four-hour drive from where we live) we got a response that an unexpected emergency came up… yeah, right. We ended up having to pay for a hotel room at the last minute. We requested a refund multiple times, and never heard a word from the hosts. They have now stopped being hosts… I wonder why. Airbnb has not been any help either.
I was already in Germany and moving around, enjoying the flexibility that Airbnb offers. I made a booking request on July 19th for two nights, from the 25th-27th and then left Berlin for a campsite for a few days. I wasn’t able to check my account again until the 24th but found that the host had accepted my request the day after, on the 20th. So far so good.
Unfortunately the morning of the 24th, four days after she’d accepted the booking, the host cancelled on me. A crisis of some kind. I was obviously not pleased. I contacted Airbnb to ensure they knew of the problem and begged them to call me ASAP. I was sure they would call but they didn’t. I logged on again that evening (I have a very old phone) to find a cursory and unhelpful response. An insulting offer of £4 compensation, some very stupid suggestions of alternative places to stay that were well outside the S+U Bahn network, and no phone call at all. I had no choice but to rebook at 12 hours’ notice for twice the price.
I resolved to pursue this matter when I got home on July 27th. On checking my email, I discovered Airbnb had informed me on July 26th they considered the matter closed. On the 28th I made it clear it was not in any way closed and asked them to call me. On the 29th I was called by someone who required me to explain the whole story to him from scratch. He offered me $25 in compensation which I said was nowhere near enough. For all the trauma and expense, I believe they should pay all of my last two nights (£80) if not more for having abandoned me when I needed help. The Airbnb representative assured me I’d be called again shortly by his superior. It is now August 9th and I’ve heard nothing. They’re ignoring my emails.
My faith in Airbnb has been torpedoed. I’ve just used the opportunity of reviewing my last host to post this complaint about them (I told her I was going to do this and she didn’t have a problem with it). It doesn’t seem to have appeared though. They’re watching out for this kind of thing.
UPDATE: Interesting development. A few hours after submitting my story Airbnb contacted me. They apologised, refunded the £78 for my last two days in Berlin, and gave me a £50 coupon code for my next stay. They did the right thing… eventually.
We booked a two-bedroom apartment in London two months prior for some relatives arriving from Japan. The night before – 11:00 PM – I received a cancellation notice. However, the apartment was still listed as available for those dates but at a price 50% higher than that which I had booked. Disgusted, I contacted Airbnb who “kindly” offered alternatives (all of which were of much poorer quality given the timeframe) and a paltry £25 credit toward the cost. Booking anything comparable was going to cost me £200 or more at that stage.
Airbnb policy does not allow customers to post reviews if a reservation is cancelled the day before, even though in my case there was only 14 hours before check in. The host clearly does this regularly as some prior reviews alluded to. However, Airbnb wont take any action against the host to enforce the contract or prevent similar occurrences. I’m appalled by their apathy and refusal to see it for what it is: greedy and unethical behaviour. We won’t ever use Airbnb again after this experience.
I had already had an Airbnb host cancel for the Formula 1 weekend in Montreal, so my choices were limited. I picked someone despite evidence of recent cancellations and a 2.5 cleanliness rating. Communication was minimal but the host said she was busy at work; there were no major worries. I sent a reply through the Airbnb site on Thursday to let her know I would arrive at around 5:00 PM and would text once we knew our exact arrival time. There was no response. We flew into Montreal, met a friend, parked near the apartment, and then went for lunch. While eating, the text notification came up: “Your host has cancelled”.
She did not have the common courtesy to provide a note or reason. We were stranded in the middle of Montreal on its busiest weekend. I phoned Airbnb but could not get through. I knew they would not do anything (their 10% credit if you rebook is a joke) so I headed to the race. I tried to find acceptable lodgings but there was nothing in the city under $250 per night. In the end, we found a bar beneath a flophouse and I went in to charge my phone and look for places far away. On a whim, we checked the flophouse and there was one room left. With no other option, we took it. One of us slept on the floor in a room with no aircon, and a fan that would turn off with the light. Prostitutes use this place for an hour at a time. It was not pleasant.
Airbnb is only as good as its hosts, and there are many good ones. However, it just takes one useless piece of garbage like this to ruin the whole experience. This host also removed the listing, but I’m sure she’ll be back under another name to ruin the weekends of more travelers.
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.
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.