I am basically a new user of Airbnb and beginning to have trust in their booking system. This is my fourth booking. I would like to bring to your attention what I experienced. I have no issue for Kuala Lumpur, Paris and Manchester. However, Airbnb in London was the nightmare which almost cost me my holiday.
It was a Europe and UK adventure which started in Paris. I stayed using Airbnb for five days (December 16-20). Continuing the journey to Manchester, I trusted Airbnb (December 20-22) then went down to London (December 22-29) via Airbnb too.
My nightmare started when I booked a place in Hammersmith (London). The whole family was moody when we checked into the Airbnb The place was old and gloomy: creaky floor panels, faulty locks, and lighting. The pots and utensils were dirty. Just imagine bringing a family to London and checking into this old creepy house. Even the backyard balcony made me shiver.
You may not understand the feeling until you have to experience it yourself. Even reaching Tesco was a big problem. We were hardly in the mood to eat at night after having to walk for 25 minutes to the nearest Tesco at Hammersmith Station on a cold winter night with young children. The description in the listing was deceiving.
As it was getting dark and everyone was moody and tired, we reluctantly stayed for the night. The following morning, we called Airbnb and relayed our concerns. We were answered by one of their case managers. We told her about our uncomfortable stay here in the apartment and that we were planning to move out and book another apartment.
She was helpful and I also told her about the next Airbnb host who didn’t respond. She tried calling but up until noon there was no reply. She managed to cancel the booking while we looked for another apartment.
We manage to secure a place in Shoreditch. She advised us to forward all the photos of the apartment in Hammersmith, which I left in the message section before she went on leave. We stayed at the place in Shoreditch from Decemeber 23-28. It was a nice duplex apartment near town.
When we came back home to Singapore, there was still no reply from Airbnb. She wrote that she would be on leave during the holidays. When we checked the Airbnb messages, the case was closed and resolved. To our dismay, there was no follow up from her.
We had to call the Airbnb team and explain the whole story again. We were guided on how we could click on the “Request Refund” option. We had to wait for the host to respond within 72 hours. The weekend passed, and the host did not respond.
We called into Airbnb and were guided to click on the “Involve Airbnb” option. It was too much hassle. After a frantic nightmare in London, we had to go through the process again. A case manager contacted us via email asking for details. It’s really frustrating having to attach photos again and again. After reviewing them, he claimed we were not entitled for a refund following the terms and conditions.
I guess he wasn’t tactful in addressing the case. If you put yourself in our shoes – staying in a foreign land where the house is not in a liveable condition; no lifts, faulty locks, dirty and old premises, and heating elements and lights not working – what would you do? Bearing in mind the mood of the holidays were all down because of this apartment?
We were not cancelling for fun. We paid for it; however, the apartment turned out otherwise. Airbnb should somehow provide exceptions for this kind of case. We are traveling with a family of five with young children. Safety, comfortability and convenience are definitely our top priority. Airbnb management should take this into consideration and carefully weigh the resolutions, not bluntly say ”no”.
Bear in mind we stayed straight from December 15-28 using Airbnb. We had no problems with our previous bookings before the exception with this property in Hammersmith. Airbnb should pay a site visit to understand more of what I meant. I recommend the listing be taken down until they fix up their filthy apartment. This doesn’t only tarnish the image of London on the whole but Airbnb as the agent to promote such homes.
On a personal note, I am beginning to trust Airbnb more since my last holiday went quite smoothly with the exception of London’s accommodation. This is just my sincere feedback as I do not wish to see other travelers share the same fate as me.