Airbnb’s Dishonesty Over COVID-19 Cancellation

VRBO

In February I booked a house in Manly Sydney for two couples from within Australia and New Zealand. Then came COVID-19 and with border closures flights were cancelled and borders closed.

I contacted the owner and was told cancelling would not be a problem and I would get a refund. I duly did so and it read that I would receive AUD 450.00 which was slightly less than I had paid. Then I received a email from Airbnb informing me that I would get no money as company policy was since I hadn’t paid in full, there would be no refund. I asked about a voucher but the answer was no.

Their blurb said if COVID-19 was the reason for cancelling and a booking had been made prior to shutdown then they would refund but actually that’s a lie. A lot of messaging between myself, the owner and the company was a waste of time. The owner blocked any communication and then Airbnb stated that due to COVID-19, property owners were struggling with their own debt hence the reason for no payment. They too refused to accept any further communication. The host did say that any reimbursement was out of his hands as Airbnb didn’t pay him until the date of the booking.

It is saddening that this company can take money from people and not return it when it’s a genuine reason for cancellation. The airline returned the full cost of tickets without even requesting the same but Airbnb is cheating us of our funds.

Airbnb has lost me as a user and I’ll stay with other honest short-term holiday rental companies that have been reliable in the past. I only used this one as it was exactly what we wanted and located where we wanted but I’ll look elsewhere and trust the company of choice. Use Airbnb at your peril but never again for me.

VRBO

Airbnb Host Offers no Flexibility During Pandemic

VRBO

This was the worst Airbnb I have ever stayed at in my life. It was like walking on eggshells. I can’t believe I stayed here and extended my stay. I was manipulated and taken advantage of at the same time as well.

Since I was trying to save money in the middle of the pandemic, I figured I should probably stay in a cheap place with a kitchen. I was hesitant with booking with this host since the kitchen was not allowed. I figured she might be able to make an exception so I decided to message her first.

In our conversation, she told me “light cooking” would be okay. Unfortunately, that was my mistake. “Light cooking” was her way to get me to book the room so that she could make some extra cash during the pandemic. Apparently sautéing was not considered to be “light cooking”. Light cooking to her was considered to be making a sandwich, which is not really cooking at all. Because of this miscommunication, I had to throw away $30 of groceries.

My host also came into my room and moved my stuff around so that she could tidy up one day while I was gone for the afternoon. If I can’t come into your room I would really appreciate it if you didn’t go into the one I paid for when I’m not in the apartment. I mean how do I know if my stuff is safe in the room?

I can also see why previous guests were complaining about the bed. I had to fix the bed frame several times since it’s made out of wood. On her listing, it also says that a laptop friendly space is included. When I was at a desk typing on my laptop I was told to go to my room because “the living room wasn’t an office”.

If you’re a tourist and you’re not in the apartment a lot I can see why you would leave a good review but this was not my experience. I’ll never use Airbnb again.

VRBO

Not Impressed with Airbnb Experiences Overall

VRBO

I stayed in a few Airbnbs over the world in 2016. I decided to try Airbnb because I wanted the experience of living as a local would. I wanted the experience of getting to know the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting on an authentic level.

I wanted to stay in places that had some character and didn’t look like generic corporate beige. I wanted to stay in residential neighborhoods rather than in the middle of a tourist trap. More importantly, I wanted to save money on staying in hotels/motels and also on food by being able to have access to a kitchen and prepare my own meals. These are all things Airbnb advertised at the time and I was very interested in being able to travel that way.

The first thing that I was struck by when deciding to rent an Airbnb was how expensive they were, even in comparison to local motel rates; many were the same and some even more. The second thing that I was struck by was how inaccurate the descriptions were on the majority of the listings. The third thing that I was struck by was that many of these listings were places other people lived most of the time but were just renting out when they were not there, and were not designed with the guest’s comfort and enjoyment in mind.

The first place I stayed at was in the U.S. and it consisted of a bedroom in a house with half a bathroom. Again, the price was about the same as a local motel. The washer and dryer didn’t work, the floor was chipped and cracked and the window screen was broken. The floor was stained and dirty. It wasn’t like I had access to the entire house — just the room. The owner was not available most of the time and didn’t answer or address any of my needs the entire time, even though they got paid.

The second place I stayed was a room in another house. The lady who owned it was actually super nice. I went to an ecstatic dance event with her and we had a great time. She had children and one of her kids was in camp, so I was staying in her son’s room. Again, she was a lovely woman but it was weird sleeping in a kid’s room with kid’s sheets. It was clear she was a struggling single mom who was trying to make some money for her mortgage, so I felt like overall it was something I didn’t have a problem with. However, I wouldn’t ever stay there again.

The third place I stayed in was in Denmark. That was the only Airbnb where I had access to the entire apartment that was clean, orderly, and as described on the listing. The owner was helpful in helping me rent a bike. The price was also reasonable and I was able to actually save money with food because all the kitchen equipment actually worked. That was the only place that I would ever stay again.

The last place was in Germany and that was the last time I ever rented an Airbnb. The description was completely inaccurate; the apartment was located way on the other side of town. I had to walk two miles to with my luggage. The owner met me and he seemed nice. He gave me the key and talked about the town for a few minutes before he left.

The apartment didn’t have much working in the kitchen and not even a working microwave. The bathroom was filthy, with a piece of dirty duct tape on the floor holding it all together. The sheets I’m pretty sure had not been washed and the only appliance that worked was the TV.

The day that I left I got locked into the building and wasn’t able to leave since I had given him back the key. I knocked on some random apartment for someone to let me out. After that experience, I checked the local hotel and motel rates in the city itself and found that they were comparable and in some cases even less than what the Airbnb host was charging.

For the same price, you can get a hotel room with clean sheets, clean towels, a clean bathroom, a safe, and someone to clean your room. A hotel will generally be up to standards and have good customer service, but this is not the case with Airbnb.

You just get the feeling that many of these Airbnb hosts are far more interested in making additional income to pay their bills than they are in providing a valuable, guest and customer service oriented, hospitable experience. They aren’t obligated like hotels are to abide by certain hospitality industry standards. They aren’t even obligated to abide by certain safety codes and are not subject to inspection.

According to some of the reviews I have read on this website, many Airbnb listings are not even required to actually exist. Many of them are fake or are dishonest in their listing description.

I’m posting this because everyone talks about how great Airbnb is, but that has not been my experience overall. You really are not saving any money and you’re really taking a gamble on whether or not the place you are renting from even exists. If it does, will it be up to code, or is it a fire trap? Is it going to be clean? Will your host cancel your reservation right before you arrive? Is the host an ex-con, a rapist or murderer? Of course, this can go for the guests too.

Airbnb has some potential but it needs much more oversight. The listings should be subject to certain local laws to ensure they are complying with safety standards. They should be subject to inspections and paying fees to local governments so that they do not displace local residents.

As it is practiced today, it is a bad idea and really should be banned. Many people can’t access affordable housing and it is largely due to Airbnb being turned into short term rentals which can charge a higher rate. Guests coming in and out of the neighborhoods are not required to register their status if they are ex-convicts or sex offenders.

Is it really worth any of the savings if you don’t know if your valuables will be safe or if the host is safe? If the kitchen equipment doesn’t work, and you have to dine out anyway? Are you really “living as a local” if the place you are renting is on the other side of town?

In short, think about it before renting an Airbnb. Is it really worth the risk? Maybe have a back up plan like a hotel booked which has a 24-hour cancellation policy just in case. Or just stay in the hotel and forget Airbnb.

VRBO

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.

No Refund, First and Last Time with Airbnb

Unfortunately, this is my first and last time booking with Airbnb, due to terrible customer service and criminal practices against consumers. The fact that there is a website created to voice complaints says a lot about a company. I just wish I had seen this website prior to booking.

I booked my reservation on February 9, which met their March 14, 2020 “booked on or before” requirement. I paid my down payment. My check-in was April 10, checking out April 13.

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic and our trip was canceled. I canceled my reservation on March 12 on their website with my host. I was told then my host was covered and I would receive a partial refund. I clicked on the link to get my refund because something is better than nothing.

I never received my refund and when I followed up, I was told they decided my reservation does not meet the COVID-19 Extenuating Circumstances. When I called Airbnb they could not tell me the exact reason. The reasons kept changing, and they put me on hold most of the conversation.

The initial reason they gave was that I did not cancel with Airbnb. I told him I canceled on their website and when I pressed for him to show me where it is posted on their website that I need to contact someone other than the host and trip reservation on the Airbnb website he put me on hold for ten minutes, never giving me the location, just the COVID-19 Extenuating Circumstances.

Next I was told the host was paid out and declined my refund. I am reading the hosts are not getting paid and have a class action lawsuit against Airbnb, so I’m not sure I believe that. Finally I was told I waited too long to reach out to the Resolution Center about a refund, which was only two and a half weeks.

In summary, initially I was told due to my host’s cancellation policy I would get a refund. Then when I got back on the website after not receiving the refund, and tried to request the refund again. After no payment was sent again, I reached out to the Resolution Center. Since then several of my communications with my host were deleted and I was not allowed to request a refund any longer. Now I am given the run around with several fluff excuses that you cannot validate when asked for specifics. When I told Airbnb most companies during this unprecedented time are giving a monetary refund or equal voucher for another stay, they said nothing.

I realize the impact this has on businesses and Airbnb is doing everything they can to keep money in their pockets, but they are taking advantage of both guests and hosts. However, in the end, a business that takes a customer’s money for a service they don’t provide or offer anything in return is criminal. At this time, I will be happy to join a class-action lawsuit against Airbnb.

Dance Around Extenuating Circumstances Refund

I made a reservation on Jan. 15 for a stay in Kent April 25-May 9. My international flight from the U.S. to the U.K. was booked for April 1. All hell broke loose in March with COVID-19. With a travel ban, cancelled flights and looming domestic restrictions, I cancelled my Airbnb.

I was told I would get a partial refund, basically my first payment minus the reservation fee. Then I was told I would get the service fee back as a coupon, with many restrictions. I tried to print a copy of my refund amount; it stated zero. My host said I should be getting a refund from Airbnb. They said I need to get it from my host.

The extenuating circumstances policy for COVID-19 dated March 30 states reservations made before March 14 with a check-in date before May 31 are covered. Contacting Airbnb again, I was told it doesn’t apply to my booking as it was cancelled before March 30, despite my reminding them my flight was cancelled and no one could travel anywhere.

Are you confused yet? I have an English degree yet this has me frazzled. If my host cannot come through with a decent refund, then my next step is to try my credit card company and my travel insurance but this should not be necessary. Neither should my host have to carry this burden. I will not be risking Airbnb again.

Disappointed with Airbnb During COVID-19 Response

I’m very disappointed with Airbnb. As a result of the coronavirus, I was forced to cancel my reservation as everyone is in lockdown. To cancel my reservation using the coronavirus selection for canceling, two choices were provided to me: to have half of the money I already paid for the reservations credited to my credit card; or take a credit for Airbnb with tons of rules to use the Airbnb property another time.

This is unacceptable as they suffer no hardship for the current environment — only the host and guests pay the price. At worse, they should have at least provided me with half of the money back to my credit card and credit for the other half for the next stay using Airbnb.

It is impossible to speak with customer service and their online materials are so confusing and in no way help you to understand the enormous amount of rules and inflexibility. They barely had my business, but no more.

Airbnb Disaster in Mexico and Aftermath

We were staying in Cancun and had booked a condo on the beach for four days for $340.86 in Chicxulub, a small beach town on the Gulf of Mexico. Pictures looked great and description wonderful. We rented a car and drove the four hours to Chicxulub.

When we arrived, we discovered there was no elevator; it was our fault for not asking (we are 71 and 72 years old). There was no running water. I reached under the kitchen sink thinking I could turn it on there and discovered several spiderwebs. I didn’t touch anything.

A man appeared about five minutes after we arrived. He did not speak English and immediately went to the back of the condo. We walked back a few minutes later and found him trying to light the pilot light for the water heater. He was unsuccessful after several attempts and left. We tried the air conditioning (as advertised for this condo) and none of them worked in any room.

At this point we called the host and she did respond in a timely manner. We texted her describing the problems and she replied that she would send a plumber over in about 20-30 minutes. We thought about this briefly and decided that the situation was simply too overwhelming (we still had to carry four suitcases up three flights of narrow stairs).

We texted her back to let me know that we simply could not stay and that we were cancelling. She apologized and we left. I sent an email to Airbnb explaining the situation and they refused to refund anything except $30.

We have always used HomeAway. This was our first time using Airbnb and believe me, it will be the last. They even sent an email asking us to “rate our stay.” I don’t want to trash this host as she said she had no hand in all of the problems, but I don’t want anyone else to waste their time and money on this property.

Boycott Airbnb After Coronavirus Response

I have several friends that were screwed over because Airbnb isn’t refunding deposits to people who can’t travel because of corona. This is some terrible corporate policy. I never use Airbnb because I think the whole concept is disgusting. Yes more disgusting than a motel.

But they are taking money from people who are already screwed because of the quarantine. They are not showing much solidarity with Americans who are all of us struggling. I have posted on Instagram and I hope we can encourage a boycott until they agree to refund peoples monies.