Refund or Credit? Make up your Mind, Airbnb

On March 5, I made a reservation to go to Prince Edward Island using Airbnb for mid-May. In April, my conference was canceled, and in fact the province was closed to non-residents so I could not even enter the jurisdiction to use my Airbnb reservation if I wanted to.

When I went to the Airbnb site to cancel, I was offered a choice between a 50% refund or 100% credit at that time. I did not know that that was out of step with their COVID-19 policy which should’ve offered me a 100% refund on April 16 when I was trying to cancel. Because they were incorrectly offering me a 50% refund, I clicked on the “100% credit” button.

Later on, they sent me a notice saying that they were giving me a 100% refund and not a credit. The refund never showed up on my credit card. It’s been almost a month and I’m trying to track it down. First their chat function told me that I should take it up with my bank and then stopped responding. Then I noticed their own records changed from showing a refund to showing a totally non-refundable cancellation.

I called the toll-free number that I got through Airbnb Hell and spoke to an actual person who sounded nice but said that my account was “blocked” and that I could only have a credit not a refund because I had clicked on the refund button. I explained the situation of having only been offered a 50% refund which is why I clicked on the other button. Under their own policy, I would’ve been entitled to a 100% refund which is what I know I wanted.

The customer service agent asked me if I had taken a screenshot of the page where I was given the choice of 50% refund or a hundred percent credit. I said no but I was not making that up. She then lectured me that I should have taken a screenshot or called Airbnb on the spot when I was confronted with that choice instead of trying to rectify it now.

Basically they tricked me into clicking on a button for a credit instead of giving me the option for a proper full refund in accordance with their own policies, and now are blaming me for making this all up… or that I didn’t contact customer service early enough. I’m tearing my hair out and I really don’t ever want to use Airbnb again. For the moment, they have hundreds of dollars of my money.

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Taking to the Media – Robbed by Airbnb and Guest

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Not only did a guest rob me and cause over $7000 in theft and damages, Airbnb will not release the $2000 the guest paid to stay there. So as of right now I’m out $9000 and Airbnb could care less. Anyone that can help you will not email or call back. The company makes false promises to help. There is zero accountability at this company. They will not give you their last names, only their first. Hosts beware!

Believe it or not, the cops have been easier and more helpful than Airbnb. They have made thousands of dollars off of my properties but will do everything to not help me. Upper management at this company should be appalled at the practices and procedures they have set forth. I’m going to the Orlando Sentinel on Friday. I think I have a pretty good case for a five-minute bit on the 6:00 news in one of the busiest tourist destinations in the world.

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Airbnb Still Doesn’t Understand Local Tax

I collect hotel occupancy tax for the City of Galveston, Texas. We have a state tax rate of 6% and a local rate of 9% for a total of 15%. Without notice, in May of 2017, Airbnb began collecting and remitting only the state tax (6%). Additionally, Airbnb did not give owners a way to collect the local tax as part of the guest’s transaction. Owners would contact the guests and explain they would be charged an additional 9% upon arrival. Not only did the Airbnb reps lie to owners that Airbnb was collecting and remitting all taxes, but their reps lied to guests that there was no local tax to be paid. VRBO did the same thing in April 2019. We need to make this nightmare go away.

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Mistranslation Concerning a Shared Room

I offered a so-called “shared room” on the English Airbnb homepage and specified there that it was a “common area”. On the German homepage this was translated by Airbnb to a zimmer, which is actually a “room” in English. A customer misunderstood this; she thought that it was a room. This is understandable because the English homepage and the German homepage differ a lot.

The whole offer is differently (and wrongly) presented on the German homepage than it was originally written. On the English homepage it is possible to specify where the bed is located: in a bedroom or in a common area. This is in actual fact very important information and because it is not possible on the German homepage, Airbnb just changed my offer on the German homepage to a bed in a bedroom.

This was an indication for the customer that she would get a bedroom, which was not intended by me when I wrote my offer (only) on the English homepage, where it could be specified precisely. When the customer complained later, the German staff member of Airbnb decided that I had made a mistake. Airbnb cancelled the reservation early and charged me for the difference, which is against German Law.

Obviously the German staff member was also only looking at the German homepage with the translation error though I pointed out several times that Airbnb made the mistranslation. I am shocked that a company with such extensive experience should make such a fundamental error and blame me (and probably other hosts as well) for it.

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Airbnb Giving False Tax Advice to Hosts

The matter first began when Airbnb froze payment on my account. I opened a simple ticket to inquire why. First Airbnb said I had to fill out a US tax account form. This was false, as I am in Canada. I spent time and money trying to resolve the matter based on this false tax advice.

Next Airbnb said I needed to become a business and provide my business details. Again, I investigated; this was also false.

Lastly it was a simple matter unrelated to what Airbnb support told me. I then asked to escalate this horrible matter when I was given blatantly false information and to be given a chance to provide feedback on the specific conversation. After wasting my time telling me they’re working on it behind the scenes but can’t talk to me about my own ticket, they had the audacity to tell me I was making a bigger deal out of it than it really is.

Because of how poorly this has been handled I feel very unsafe hosting on Airbnb. Moreover, I have not received any confirmation from Airbnb on what they did wrong. They are sending me cookie cutter generic responses that don’t relate to my issue.

I have an outstanding case with Airbnb. They refuse to give me a ticket number so I can reference our conversation. They have been most unprofessional and unhelpful and keep trying to close the ticket without resolving anything.

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Airbnb Nightmare at Hong Kong Property

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I stayed at an apartment building in Hong Kong called The Sparkle in the Cheung Sha Wan area in Hong Kong through Airbnb. Pictures of the apartment showed an upscale, clean apartment in Hong Kong with a list of basic amenities. Problems started appearing the second I checked in. The apartment was clearly not cleaned and had tons of dust, debris, hair all over the floor and surface areas of the apartment.

Small shards of glass were found throughout the apartment. I notified the host and he claimed he sent someone twice to the apartment during my stay to vacuum/clean but I was still able to find glass on the floor throughout my entire stay. I was cut twice by glass and was forced to wear shoes inside the apartment during the entire stay.

Cockroaches were in the kitchen and other bugs were found in the bathroom. I notified the host and he had to bomb the apartment during my stay. After he bombed the living area and kitchen I turned on the ventilation system in the kitchen and a very loud grinding sound came from the system; I had to turn it off immediately.

The washing machine broke the first time I used it and the host waited almost a whole week before he sent someone to fix it. The kitchen door handle kept falling off of the door and the knob in the shower fell off the first time I used it. The place was overall very dirty and not maintained, in clear violation of Airbnb safety and cleanliness policies.

When I spoke to Airbnb, the first couple of representatives and case managers didn’t seem to care at all. I eventually spoke to a case manager who basically lied to me by promising a full refund of the Airbnb service fee and 50% of the host fees. After speaking with him several times I asked him if I needed to file a refund/claim through the Airbnb platform and he told me no and that he would refund it automatically at the end of my stay.

After the trip ended, I expected a refund of what was promised to me – which didn’t happen – and got the runaround talking with different representaives and case managers. I probably spoke to about five representatives after my return inquiring about my refund and all of them basically didn’t care and were flat out rude except for one who was very nice, respectful and understanding. She had asked me to file a refund claim through the system which is currently still being processed.

This is my first experience through Airbnb and unless they give what was promised to me by their case manager and an apology, it will definitely be my last. I will not be recommending Airbnb to anyone and will be sharing my horror story with anyone who considers a stay through Airbnb. What I did expect was courtesy, understanding, fulfillment in terms of promises, and working with the host or guest through problems. So far, Airbnb as a company has not only proven that it does not care about guests who stay at the homes on their platform but also make false promises to their customers.

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Airbnb Changed Prices, Won’t Make Up the Difference

As a host, I know my market very well and set my nightly rates manually. I do not allow Airbnb to make suggestions or rate changes for my property. Despite this, I received a reservation request from a guest who received a rate $300 less per night for a three-night stay so that I would receive about $1000 less than I should. Every single other night’s rate surrounding these specific rates are all the correct rates that I set. Magically, this one specific reservation request gets different rates, and I am confident I could have filled those nights at the correct rate so there was never any possibility that I would have ever allowed those rates to be published.

When I contacted Airbnb customer service, the first person with whom I spoke did not speak enough English to be even understand what I was trying to explain. She passed me to another agent, with marginally better verbal skills, who told me that Airbnb has the right to set whatever rate they believe is ‘fair’ to get the property booked. Knowing this is not accurate, I asked to speak to a manager who could clarify. The manager did indeed tell me this was not accurate however it still must have been I who changed the rates down (on a holiday weekend, no less) and that I could cancel the reservation myself.

I do not believe that this particular guest is at fault and should not have his reservation cancelled. I also do not believe I should accept responsibility for some “strange glitch” as the manager offered, and then having to live with the very public note that says the reservation was “cancelled by owner” which never goes away. I then spoke with one more manager who told me very seriously that she would make sure the right people were informed and that I would be contacted that Monday.

That was about six weeks ago, and every single one of my emails has gone unanswered. No one will now even speak to me on the phone about it since I had already opened a “case file.” I have been listed on VRBO for almost five years and have never had any issues. Every time I call my issue is resolved, and I am extremely pleased with the reservation requests and bookings I get on that site. I tell absolutely everyone to avoid Airbnb; the properties are just as good if not better on VRBO and from an owner’s perspective, a much better platform. Airbnb will never do the right thing.

Boycotting Airbnb Until They Stop Advertising Falsely

I recently experienced a truly unpleasant encounter with Airbnb that has left me and my partner totally guttered and disappointed at the way Airbnb management has handled our complaint. They have given me no other alternative than to take to social media on all platforms to make others aware of a system that puts profits before honesty and integrity.

We booked a stay on Airbnb for two nights and informed the host two days prior that there were two of us staying and the approximate time of arrival. On arrival, the host was unable to meet us but had another person check us in. The room was not as listed and so I insisted that I speak with the host; he said that I could find another place if I wasn’t happy with the room booked but he wouldn’t refund our money.

I took photos (attached) and forwarded them to Airbnb. At the time they gave us a 50% refund which was satisfactory as we were not in a position to argue the difference, let alone try to find another place at the last minute. Airbnb also informed me that the host was in breach of Airbnb policies and would address the matter directly with him.

During our stay, the linen we believe to have been from an “Op Shop” had a musky smell and the Doona for a child’s single bed with teddy bears on it for a listed king-size bed was in fact for a queen-size bed. The listing stated there was a bathroom (not listed as shared nor did Airbnb state that within the house that all the other rooms were rented out as well) and at our time of stay we had to share the bathroom with six people; the house can accommodate up to nine people at any one time with only one bathroom.

The other issue with the listing was that most of the door handles had one screw holding in the handle which could result in the handle falling off into either the bedroom or bathroom, leaving a person locked inside as the host doesn’t live at the house. On my return some three weeks later I checked to see if the listing was still listed as we saw it; to my surprise, it was.

I messaged Airbnb about the situation and instead of addressing my concerns, they removed my comments that I left on the host’s page that provided an honest description of our stay. Second to that, the host at the same time left a message about us, trying to swing the situation around. I decided to ring Airbnb, which went to an offshore call center. I explained my experience with the stay and how I was extremely disappointed with the fact the host was still listing the property exactly the same as when we booked and stayed. I told Airbnb that it appears profit has been put forward over integrity and requested a full refund for my stay, including having the host’s untrue comments erased.

I mentioned all of the above to an Airbnb senior case manager who informed me via message that the case was closed and no further actions will occur. As a loyal customer for the past several years with multiple listings worldwide, I have now decided to boycott Airbnb until they can address my concerns in a professional manner, including making the changes that I believe are truly overdue with falsely advertising listings so that the customer is aware of all the facts prior to committing to a booking. Airbnb gave me no alternative than to take my concerns to social media on all levels. This was conveyed to Airbnb prior to this post with little to no concern as profit appears to be the governing factor at play rather than addressing genuine complaints.

Airbnb Support: Kafka Meets 2001’s HAL 9000

Fictitious conversation between two Airbnb upper management staff. Disclaimer: This conversation has no relationship to anyone or any company, living or dead.

UM Staff 1: Hey, I’ve got a great idea for saving money!

UMS 2: Yeah?

UMS 1: We just set up a support team that basically blocks customers from causing us hassle and money.

UMS 2: Ok… but won’t there be problems?

UMS 1: No, no… you see, we keep the customer absolutely powerless. Sure they will get frustrated and suicidal and their finances will go down the toilet, but they will have no way to get past the wall that we set up, so they will never be heard. That way we can keep the commission low on the vast majority of hosts, the vast minority will sing our praises, and the minority who complain will be drowned out. Even if the customer threatens legal proceedings we can cover it from the vast amount of money we are raking in. The complaining customer will never be able to compete.

UMS 2: Hmm, sounds a little risky.

UMS 1: No, see I’ve read Kafka; you just basically gaslight the single customer, suggest their reality (fairness, morality, responsibility) is completely wrong. As for the people who have to actually interface with the… ‘customer’ we set up the HAL scenario.

UMS 2: What’s that?

UMS 1: Well just get the support staff to repeat ‘Siri-like’ computer generated phrases like “we have a team working on it 24/7” and use passive statements like “it has been reported to a team (that I cannot tell you the name of).”

UMS 2: Beautiful. Let’s do it!

I was delisted on June 3rd (wrongly). I can’t enter the details of my license (first attempt June 11th) into their network (computer error they say). I have been given the runaround ever since, with the last ‘senior customer service staff’ member being the least helpful. No surprise there. I am exhausted, beyond frustrated, angry, and depressed.