Barbados Nightmare and $4,500 Taken During COVID

I rented a place through Airbnb in Barbados on Jan. 13 for one month to start on Jan. 20. The price of the rental was $4,500. On Jan. 17, I flew to Barbados and went to a COVID-holding hotel as required. Barbados required that we needed to stay at one of those hotels until we tested negative on the island for COVID and then we could move to our final destination. The Barbados website said that tests were taking about 24-48 hours so we booked the hotel until Jan. 20, adding a one-day buffer.

When we arrived, we were told that the COVID tests were taking up to 12 days to come back, if we could even get a test. They said the island was so behind because the demand was so high and they only had one testing lab on the whole island. We had prison-like wrist monitors on and we were not able to leave our hotel room under any circumstance until this test came back or we’d be fined $6,000 each. This was going to be our lives for up to 12 days and we were paying for it. We could not even go for a walk or get any exercise during this time. Getting food was super hard as well. It was nothing short of prison.

While we were trying to sort all of this out, we learned that the U.S. changed its travel regulations on Jan. 17 and that the new policy was to go into effect on Jan. 20. The policy said that if traveling outside the U.S. we must have a valid negative COVID test that was no older than three days and if we could not effectively rely on getting one we should get home immediately. The U.S. Embassy in Barbados put a warning up and called all American travelers home before Jan. 20 if they could meet the new travel restrictions.

With the slow response time for test results effectively we could not get onto the island and we were not going to be able to get home. We decided that the safest thing to do was abide by the embassy warning and go home. We wrote the owner of the house who had our money for a 30-day stay and told them we needed to go home and shared that it was related to the change in U.S. travel restrictions. I generously and thoughtfully offered a week’s rental money not wanting to inconvenience the owner, but the owner refused to give any kind of refund, fully knowing the circumstances were out of our control and kept our full $4,500.

Airbnb told me that no one had requested a rental with this owner since we had, four days prior, and that my offer was generous, but sometimes they had “stubborn and greedy” owners that were unable to work with their renters. They told me that my reason for needing to cancel was valid and they understood my need to go home, but oddly they told me they could do nothing to get my money back. I provided their policy that had just been put into place that said if there was government policy change, put into effect due to COVID, that interrupted any stay after Jan. 20 the renter would be entitled to a full refund. Even with that policy and knowing our circumstances, they did nothing to give us our money.

Additionally, Airbnb has a cancellation period where you can cancel up to 7 days prior to your stay. I tried to use that policy to say that if we pay for the first week, we were essentially cancelling 7 days prior for the other 21 days and they said no to that as well. We sent our claim to the bank. They read all our paperwork and said that this was clearly “unethical and unscrupulous behavior” and that it was clear this owner had “scammed” us and that it was essential for us to fight to get this money back, but that under Visa’s policies they could not reclaim the money due to a technicality based on a bank error.

We are working with the BBB because we are still trying to recover the money that was unethically taken from us. I am also trying to find a lawyer. If anyone can recommend one, I’d appreciate it. There was absolutely no way that we could use our rental.

We showed them their own policy that if there was a government policy change put into effect that interrupted any stay after Jan. 20, the renter would be entitled to a full refund. Even with that and knowing our circumstances, they did nothing to return our money and continued to say that this was the “owner’s decision.” Though they stated and agreed many times that it was unfair and that it was a lot of money, they could do nothing about it. I still have never seen or gotten a copy of the owner’s agreement and I am perplexed why it is a different policy than Airbnb’s.

We need help recovering the money that was unethically taken from us. We showed proof of the embassy warning, the U.S. policy, Airbnb’s own policy, what the hotel was telling us about getting negative test results and our airline tickets home but no one would help us. We offered to pay for one week which would mimic a 7-day cancellation for the remaining time. This owner unethically kept $4,500, provided no service, was given fair notice and did not follow the company’s policy.

As the representative between the owner and myself, Airbnb has a responsibility to mediate this fairly and or rectify the harm we have received. They did not. We need help reclaiming our money.

Host Left Me Waiting Outside Until I Cancelled

A terrible host left without leaving me a key. I had to cancel after waiting many hours until the evening. Airbnb support workers couldn’t understand I had to cancel because the host decided to turn off her/his phone and didn’t plan to arrive to bring the key. The host’s behaviour has been terribly rude. The host decided to play games by leaving me outside in the cold and thought he/she would still get the payment.

I had to write too many times to support. I also called and did everything I could until days later I finally got a refund. It was very difficult to get help and some of the support workers didn’t believe anything I told them. Some of the workers wanted to let the host keep the payment. I didn’t get any help to find other accommodations; I had to do all the searching by myself.

After all of this Airbnb still let the fake host keep the apartments visible on Airbnb. The host didn’t have a real name, only a nickname and no surname visible on the receipt. After that it is very difficult to believe anything on Airbnb. They want to see guests’ full names and passports but for them it is enough if a host has only a nickname. It was not a Superhost. Airbnb also decided not to accept a review of this behaviour so new guests can’t know what that host will do to them. It is very unfair guests have to keep all this information to themselves but they let hosts lie and scam others. They support liars. Moreover, they lie by supporting them.

Airbnb Host Ghosted us During Winter Storm

blankblankblankblankblankblankblankblankblankblank

Don’t expect any communication with this very sensitive host. If you try to give him any feedback about cleaning issues with his house, he throws a temper tantrum and acts like a little two-year-old. He gave us the silent treatment.

From Feb. 12-17, we decided to celebrate our 18-year anniversary in Nashville. We had never been there before so we decided to check it out. It’s only a six-hour drive from where we live. Usually we go overseas but with COVID we thought it would be safe to stay within the states.

We arrived at our Airbnb and noticed the fire pit on the roof wasn’t working so we mentioned it to our host. Very kindly and respectfully, we mentioned that we noticed a few dirty areas and that he should be aware that his cleaning crew was not doing a good job. We figured since we paid a $299 cleaning fee that the house should have been cleaned more thoroughly.

Instead of responding back to us to apologize and acknowledge the issue, he decided to ghost us. He didn’t respond to us for two days. Even when we messaged him a few more times, he did not speak to us. We have never met a host that acted like a two-year-old. My wife and I don’t have children so this was going to be difficult for us to handle. We do have a cat but our cat is more well behaved than this little child.

Two days passed and there was still no word. We started to get worried. Maybe he was on a timeout for misbehaving. Or maybe he was stuck in his crib and couldn’t reach his phone. Either way we decided to contact Airbnb and put out an APB.

Two hours after we contacted Airbnb, he finally messaged us. The reason why we were trying to reach him was because there had been an ice storm and we needed the driveway to be salted so we could safely come and go. This was exactly at 12:50 PM.

Hours had passed and there was still no word from him. We decided to try to leave the property to get food that night but there was no way we could leave. We slipped everywhere. We decided to park back in the driveway and stay home.

When he messaged back, this is what he said:

“I’m not able to get out and salt the driveways of all my rentals. This is highly unusual for Tennessee.”

This message was at 9:06 PM. It took him eight hours to message us back that day. When I mentioned to him that I had reached out to Airbnb to see why he hadn’t messaged us back he said:

“I didn’t know you messaged Airbnb haha. You’re a great guest.”

This child has a real attitude problem. Sounds like he needs a spanking. So I’ll be honest I got smart back. I said:

“And now your wifi isn’t working haha. Great house.”

Then he said:

“Feel free to leave.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. He wanted us to leave? How dare he tell us to leave.

After hearing that, we didn’t feel safe or welcome in his home anymore, so we decided to leave that morning. Fortunately it snowed that night so we were able to have a little traction to get out. We had to drive in reverse to get out but we did it.

You’re probably wondering, what did Airbnb do? Absolutely nothing. Airbnb was useless. Apparently Airbnb has changed their terms and conditions. This did not work well for us. Airbnb informed us that if we didn’t contact them within 24 hours of arriving at the property then they can’t do anything. Even though we had proof that our host did not respond for a whole two days and that we had cleaning issues from the time we arrived, it didn’t matter to Airbnb.

As a warning to anyone using Airbnb, you must correspond with the host as well as with Airbnb for every issue. Don’t allow anytime to go by without informing Airbnb and taking pics of everything. In the end, Airbnb only offered a 25% coupon for the first night which was $70. We at least expected a refund on the two nights we weren’t there. But that didn’t happen.

In conclusion we were not pleased to pay $2,265.88 for five nights which included a $299 and $244.80 fee for just two people. This is an anniversary we will never forget.

blank

Hoped to Go Back to Paris, Ended Up Out $400

blank

Like most folks, we were feeling lockdown blue in the late fall of 2020. Our family has traveled to Paris a few times over the years, so we thought we’d give it shot for a late March trip in the hope that the world would be a bit more open. We went big this year and planned a two-week trip and found a small apartment in Montmartre. A couple of airplane tickets and a great room booked, we felt a little light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.

Fast forward to this week. We had decided to start checking out things and making new arrangements, as needed, a month out. When I researched France’s current travel restrictions, it seemed obvious that we couldn’t go. With a bit of a sigh and consolation that we’d stay stateside, we proceeded to cancel our airline tickets (full value in an e-credit through Delta with no problems) and attempted to cancel our room.

I expected and would have been fine with a reasonable cost related to cancelling the room. No luck. Airbnb stated it was up to the host to refund the $400+ we had paid. The host denied the request and Airbnb (even after reaching out on Twitter) deferred to the original support contact.

Did Airbnb offer or suggest any other solution? No.

Did they agree to refund their fee (25% of the deposit)? No.

While many travel companies are working hard to care for people who are willing to travel, Airbnb imposes a policy that protects them and their hosts with no consideration for the travel restrictions. Perhaps the host will decide to show us some consideration and agree to some of his share being returned. Airbnb seems to be happy keeping their money and losing another customer after 10 trips since 2014.

Airbnb Guest Review Lies that Damage Hosts’ Reputation

Recently we had a very strong summer of bookings at our coastal house. All of our reviews were very positive — even those who had minor issues provided positive feedback — until the last booking. The guest stated our property was not worth the price and that we charged $100 a night higher than what she paid. She also suggested we didn’t provide wifi which we are very transparent about in our listing, given it is a remote coastal property.

In trying to address this with Airbnb, where we believe a guest has breached their review guidelines, they simply dismissed our concerns of a review that presented misleading and incorrect information that damages our ability to book the house. I can only assume that a guest can make up whatever lies they want with no accountability from their position. I have requested my concern be escalated beyond the community helpers or whoever actually works for Airbnb and sent higher where it will be considered beyond the sugarcoated script quoting inaction that accompanies Airbnb’s generally response. If anyone here has had any success in having a review taken down which was just blatant lies, please let me know how.

Hosting is Always a Nightmare with Airbnb

As a property manager I use many OTA (online travel agent) platforms. The most difficult to deal with is Airbnb. Their lack of customer service makes it impossible to resolve issues in a timely fashion, if at all. The last issue I had was a staff member accidentally putting a refund request through to the wrong guest. Ten seconds after this was done, we contacted Airbnb and explained we had two guests with the same name and they had granted a refund to the wrong guest.

The outcome was the guest who stayed did not choose to give back the refund so Airbnb closed the issue. The complaint that we had was that Airbnb took weeks to refund the guest. During peak COVID time when we were busy refunding guests they took so long to refund people who desperately needed their money that we had to consistently follow up with them and force them to refund them.

We have had to give many apologies to guests waiting long periods to be refunded, yet they refused to intercept the request to cancel with their accounts department. Instead they refunded a guest who did stay, who did have a good time and who was happy with our service. I think that in this age of choice, whether we be a host or a guest, there are so many more ethical businesses out there to deal with. This company is a disgrace to the original concept of Airbnb. This company should be investigated for its disturbing way of dealing with both hosts’ and guests’ needs.

No Key? Just Open the Door with a Knife!

I booked a whole apartment for a COVID-safe stay for work at the beginning of 2021. The host told me to contact her through her private telephone number so all communication was done through Whatsapp messages (she refused to pick up her phone and didn’t answer her Airbnb messages until I’d Whatsapped her).

I arrived at the address and the key wasn’t there (but three other useless keys were). She refused to believe that I was using the keys properly until I showed her a video of me trying to open the door. She then sent a cleaning lady who couldn’t open the door with the keys either. Then the cleaning lady borrowed a butter knife from someone in the other apartment and tried to force open the door, telling me that this has happened before.

I messaged the host (who still would not answer her phone even though she was calling the cleaning lady) and she said go to Airbnb for a refund. Airbnb said there was no aggravation to the case, and that I wasn’t entitled to a refund even though their website clearly states guests should be refunded when there is no access to the listing. The case went into mediation and the host said it wasn’t that alarming.

This is so ridiculous, I can’t believe it. It’s such a scam. Do not go to this listing. The host also refuses to let my review go up by not reviewing me in return (How could she? I have never stepped foot into the apartment).

 

Airbnb Guests Might be Waiting a Month on Refunds

During the early days of the pandemic I understood that people were unsure about hosting strangers, especially someone traveling from another country in their house. In March, I had a few hosts either just not respond to my booking or else politely tell me that they’d suddenly had a family member turn up and therefore the room wasn’t available. They cancelled the booking and I got my money back… eventually.

Sometimes it can happen several times in a row and that can hurt you because I’m a world traveller, not a tourist, and I book for a month at a time to save money. Long after the pandemic fear was an issue, I sometimes had lazy hosts who may not have even been renting their house, just failed to respond to a booking. Sometimes it took a ridiculously long time to get my money back.

I arrived in Mexico after one fraudulent booking and I only had enough money left to take a cheap place for a week until I could afford to book again, which of course cost me more. Then I booked a really nice house in the mountains. The guy had only one review and it was terrible but I could also see that the person complaining was being completely unreasonable. I can see through those sort of reviews — some people are just whiny and expect champagne on a beer budget.

One thing that bothered me was that the guy had a long response time listed, so I tried to message him first. I didn’t get a reply for half a day. My current place was about to expire and I didn’t want to book again for a single day at a higher price, so I took a chance. I mean… people can be busy, right? So I booked for a month.

I waited. After 24 hours he hadn’t responded and Airbnb said I would get my money back. Sometimes this takes a few days. Sometimes it takes a week. Airbnb will always say that it’s PayPal’s fault or your bank’s fault, but I have a very efficient bank (Citibank) that accept intra-bank deposits instantly, and updates my account statement instantly. I don’t have that problem. When there are delays, it’s never my bank.

This time… the money just didn’t come back. I had to borrow money in order to make a new booking, which was really awkward. I’m stuck overseas. It’s hard to find work when I slap down a month’s rent and the renter doesn’t even answer. Airbnb has taken my money that really leaves me in a pickle.

I contacted Airbnb and of course it took a day to get some outsourced, incompetent idiot, to whom I complained at length, who ignored what I said, and gave me canned responses. When I complained further they escalated and then still gave me a canned response saying it could take “2-5 days” to get my pending transfer released. I pointed out that at this point it had been two weeks and then they changed their tune and said, “Well, actually it can take up to 30 days depending on your bank.”

I was just like, “No, man. Make up your mind. Is it 2-5 days or is it 30 days? It’s never been that long before.”

I’m currently at three weeks and my bank says the money hasn’t been released. PayPal say it has. Airbnb just says, “It’s not our problem.” But the thing is, I’ve had this crap happen several times this year and Airbnb just doesn’t care. I’ve been outright defrauded by hosts who’ve demanded huge (one month) deposits in cash and Airbnb hasn’t delisted them after complaining.

I’ve tried to book at places whose hosts have immediately cancelled the listing and messaged me saying, “That’s really just an advertisement. We don’t really accept bookings through Airbnb. You have to pay us directly.” Airbnb hasn’t removed those listings either.

Airbnb doesn’t care. They don’t remove fraudsters and they don’t remove people who just don’t bother answering their messages or accept bookings. It doesn’t matter how much you complain. They’d rather have millions of listings than actually weed out the BS ones and make sure that they have some sort of quality control, and their system of taking your money before the host accepts your booking is absolutely unconscionable.

If you’re a young backpacker, or a student, or you’re just living from week to week on a tight budget… if you slap down a month’s rent on a place and then it takes 21 or 30 days to get it back when the host doesn’t even bother accepting your booking, you’re up the creek without a paddle. Regardless of whether it’s your bank or PayPal’s fault, Airbnb should not do things this way. They shouldn’t take your money until the booking is confirmed and it’s absolutely ludicrous that they will take your money for up to a month on a speculative “this booking might be accepted.”

I’m so sick of having my money taken by Airbnb and having to fight with them to get it back, or have them tell me I just have to wait a month. I’m not some rich jetsetter. I’m just a schoolteacher who is trying to make a life moving from country to country. I don’t have the sort of money to have month’s worth of rent tied up in failed bookings. This system clearly has no regard for the customer’s rights and is designed with mistrust as the primary motivation. There is no situation in which it makes sense for anyone to take a customer’s money and hold onto it for a month before a booking is accepted. That’s not protecting anyone.

We’re all verified users with our passports on file. We’re not going to make fraudulent bookings. We can’t. No one’s going to book a place if they don’t have the money. If they did that even once, they could be reprimanded or banned. Instead the attitude is, “We don’t trust you. But we do trust the hosts. So we’re taking your money now just for expressing interest and even if the host completely ignores you… you’re not getting that money back for a long time so I hope you have spare cash to book something else because you might be waiting up to 30 days to get the money back. Sorry not sorry.”

It’s just not good enough. You shouldn’t pay for goods or services before it’s confirmed that they are available.

Airbnb Made My Move to Montreal Traumatic

In January 2017, I moved to Montreal, Quebec for work. I was a single woman moving from the west coast of the U.S. and was fearful and looking for a secure place to live for my first month while I looked for a more permanent place. I saw a listing that seemed nice and paid ahead of time for it. I was very poor at the time and so it was a difficult gamble to make but I did it because I trusted that such a big company like Airbnb would protect my best interests. Boy was I wrong.

The day I was to move into my Airbnb rental I brought along a new friend to help me carry my luggage and make sure I felt safe. I am so glad she came with me — I would’ve been in a horrible situation if it wasn’t for her. When we showed up to the building there was a different person waiting for our arrival than the one listed as the owner on Airbnb’s site. It was a young male who gave off very creepy vibes. He walked us up a small/crammed stairwell to my “apartment” and stood in the doorway while we looked around.

Right away I noticed there wasn’t a bed but a futon couch, which wasn’t mentioned in the listing. I also hadn’t gotten a new cell phone number and was relying on wifi. Well, this apartment shared a router with the entire building and so the wifi was non existent. As my friend and I were making these observations out loud, we heard the aforementioned creepy guy muttering to himself about how wrong we were about the apartment.

Feeling uncomfortable and unsafe, I called Airbnb on my friend’s phone and they advised me to leave the Airbnb and go somewhere safe. We took a taxi back to my friend’s place and Airbnb called me back on my phone this time via the wifi from her apartment. They asked if we had taken video or photos of the apartment and we said “No, your Airbnb customer service rep told us to leave immediately.” This new rep insisted I had to go back and take photos.

Of course the Airbnb host wouldn’t permit us back into the building and refused to refund me. Airbnb insisted that because we had no photo evidence that my only option was to ask the Airbnb host for a refund which of course wasn’t given. I cried and panicked. I was in a new city with no money for an apartment or hotel and only my new friend’s couch to sleep on.

Thankfully my new friend’s brother in law is a lawyer and he advised me to call my credit card company instead and make a fraud claim with them. They could undermine Airbnb and get me my money so I could find an apartment. My bank was immediately helpful and believed me. They refunded me the money while they investigated and a few weeks later I was told they did find what Airbnb did was fraudulent. Take that Airbnb.

I’ve never used the site again to book anything. If you do, be sure to take photos and videos especially if there’s a creepy property manager. I’m including the listing to the Airbnb rental.

blank

Kicked Out of Airbnb After Accidental Slip

blankblankblank

In February, I booked a room in Barcelona for five weeks to attend a language school. The hostess fought to give me a different room than the one I had booked. I didn’t accept that. When I later asked to prolong maybe the time of rental she said she just accepted cash. I didn’t accept that either.

Shortly afterwards I received the message that my father was very ill. I phoned a lot in my room. At that night I had to go to the toilet with the floor wet and I slipped. The hostess called the police and an ambulance. The police left but I was driven to a hospital. There was nothing badly found and I drove back to my room. The hostess did not open the door. So I now had to call the police to get to my things.

The hostess said a lot in Spanish, kicked me out, and reported something to Airbnb. A neighbor girl who was interested in my room because she had a smaller one put my things in a sack without being asked. I was that upset and helpless. I flew home and tried to contact Airbnb. The platform banned me without ever listening to me.

I am deeply sad about this behavior by Airbnb. I’ve had so many years of outstanding good experiences with that platform. I wish somebody could help me open my account or look at my story again.