Horrible Host + Horrible Customer Service = Airbnb Nightmare

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My husband and I checked into our Venice beach studio late for a five-night stay. Exhausted, I fell into bed, but thought “This looks like a 3-star place, not 4.82.” The photos showed a bright and sunny room, but the reality was tired and sad: old bathroom and kitchen, tiny room sparsely furnished. We didn’t plan to spend a lot of time inside, so I didn’t think much of it.

The next morning my husband called “first shower,” but quickly retreated. The bathtub was covered in dried human feces. I immediately called the host and told her we were checking out and wanted a full refund. She agreed and we left immediately and checked into a much more expensive hotel. I tried to call Airbnb, but after a half an hour wait I was cut off.

That afternoon, as instructed by my host who said she could not issue a refund until I had cancelled the reservation, I cancelled online. The next day I filed a formal request for a refund with Airbnb’s resolution center. My host had 72 hours to respond and despite my repeated requests, she was radio silent. Finally, my host wrote that she had spoken to Airbnb and was under no obligation to give me a refund, but “out of the goodness of my heart” would refund less than half of our $1,226.

Then I entered Airbnb Hell. I filed a complaint with Airbnb, twice, and only got the response “Here are some articles that might help you.” I wrote to Brian Chesky and several people high up in Airbnb. No response. I DM’d Airbnb through Instagram and got an immediate response: “We are going to assign you a Support Ambassador, a specialist assigned to your case.” For eight days I awaited word from my Support Ambassador (and yes, I kept DMing Airbnb through Instagram and kept getting reassuring responses that they were very concerned about my case).

Eventually, a canned response came from my Support Ambassador which said, in essence, “Sorry. Not our problem.” In the meantime my host was again running the clock and although I did not post a damning review of her studio (or any review), she slammed me with one implying that I had caused the plumbing problem, that I had harassed her, didn’t wait for the problem to be resolved before leaving, and that she had issued us a full refund. Her last ageist jab was: “Cranky old lady. Don’t host her.”

This cranky old lady is also an experienced travel writer. Airbnb says the first thing when there’s a problem is to contact the host. Done. Then Airbnb. Done through the Resolution Center. Bad experiences can happen. Airbnb can be a crapshoot. But why won’t I use them again? Because they take no responsibility, despite their exorbitant fees, for their product. Brian Chesky was just listed as one of the wealthiest people in America. Let the attached photos speak for themselves.

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Honeymoon Ruined Thanks to Airbnb and Croatia Host

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We had an awful experience with Airbnb, and would not recommend it to friends. The short story is we booked a month for our honeymoon and had to leave two weeks early because the conditions were unacceptable.

The air quality was so bad, that our brand new white foam pillow we bought that first week looked like a yellow cigarette bud when we left. The place was very dirty, having paw marks in the dust under the bed along with random socks and other trash, and even a black hand mark on the mattress. The bed was broken and never fixed even until the day we left. Even after bringing up all these issues, the host would not even refund the unused two weeks.

I traveled 14 hours from the United States to Croatia for our honeymoon. From the moment I got into the apartment, it smelt bad. I thought it was because it was poorly ventilated and the host had a weird smelling fragrance in the house, I had to ventilate it and buy things that made it smell fresh (I should not have to do this). When done, I had to go to the Airport to pick up my wife, since we came on different flights, and arrived to the apartment late.

We were both very tired and jetlagged, waking up late and missed the very narrow 24-hour window that Airbnb has to report any problems. We would later find out that this is the policy that Airbnb uses to wash their hands of any problems and not help you in anything whatsoever, even when we checked in a day later and had photographic proof of the issues.

We thought we were just experiencing jetlag, and that the pillows were uncomfortable, so we bought a nice memory foam pillow, but after a few days we noticed that it was the bed that was sinking. We had back and neck problems because of this through our whole stay: having to sleep on the couch as an alternative, then placing mattress and sleeping on the floor.

We contacted the host but they said everything would be addressed “tomorrow,” which could sometimes take more than two days and even then I just got excuses that the bed was just soft, and got a thin bed cover to fix the issue. Nothing really began to be fixed until I checked the bed, and noticed the the middle legs were broken, and sent the pictures through Airbnb. By then it took another four days, and two more attempts to fix it. We were also waking up congested and our nasal passages full of mucus. We would snore during the night and we did not normally snore.

Only when we had been out walking for hours and came back, did we realize our clothes stank, but that trash was so engrained in our noses we could not tell. After leaving to another apartment we realized all our clothes stank like cigarettes, even the ones in our luggage that we had never used or taken out. We had to rewash everything and our brand new $100 pillow we just bought not only stank, but was yellow on the end that the pillow cover did not reach all the way.

This might not be an issue for you but we also had to call the host because two out of two bulbs were out in the bathroom. We moved the couch so we could set it up to sleep and found an unknown civilization of dust bunnies which we had to clean. Because of this we tried to peacefully ask Airbnb to refund the unused two weeks as they had pictures of these issues and proof we had already rebooked. In any situation, this is a terrible experience. Specially when you are in a foreign country and are dependent on intermediaries.

The host refused, and Airbnb washed their hands of any wrongdoing because we “failed” to report things within 24 hours of our booking. We booked for the 22nd and did not check in until the 23rd. Then all of this happened. You judge what is correct and what you want to gamble on, but I would definitely not recommend this stay. Be an Angry American and complain about everything you see and smell the first 24 hours to Airbnb. If not, this garbage could happen to you.

Lost $900 Because of Airbnb’s COVID Policy

I have tried getting Airbnb’s help over the phone, I’ve tried getting help from the host and I have messaged four senior executives, including the CEO. I have not received a positive response so far. So now I’m sharing my issue publicly, to see if the company does something about it.

I booked a trip to Istanbul from May 7 to May 12, and made a reservation with an Airbnb host for all those days. A few days after I made the reservation, the government in Turkey has announced their first full lockdown. Although tourists would still be able to walk around, I’m sure you can understand that traveling to a place that has just entered their first full lockdown is not ideal, for many reasons. The main one for me was the possibility of being locked in Turkey and not able to travel back to my country of residence, Dubai.

Once we heard the news, my husband and I decided to postpone the trip. I messaged my host and politely asked to change the dates of my trip. He refused. I then asked for a refund, as I spent $900. He refused. He refused any refund whatsoever… not even 10% or 20%. I lost $900.

With that, I called Airbnb, who informed me that they have an extenuating circumstances policy. It says that trips booked before March 2020 could fall under this policy, but since I booked my trip two weeks ago, I’m not entitled to it.  Obviously, Airbnb is entitled to define its cancellation policies, but in my opinion, I believe this extenuating circumstances policy is completely outdated.

During COVID, all the major players in the tourism business, like hotels, airline companies and travel agencies have implemented much more flexible cancellation policies to encourage people to continue traveling during the pandemic. Today, if I buy a ticket with Emirates for example, I can change the dates without no extra charges. If I book a hotel, I can most likely change the dates or get a refund.

I had no issues at all changing the dates of my flight to Istanbul, the dates of my flight from Istanbul to Cappadocia or canceling my hotel reservation in Cappadocia. None of them have charged me anything for it, because they all understood the situation in the country.  Only Airbnb couldn’t be flexible on their policy and its host couldn’t offer new dates or even a partial refund.

I don’t think this is fair. But more than that, I don’t think this is smart. I would love to hear something positive from Airbnb, to help me get my $900 back. Is anyone interested in helping?

Customer Service? Airbnb Doesn’t Know the Meaning

I joined Airbnb in 2020 but had to cancel all my trips due to the pandemic. Now that the EU is considering opening up to fully vaccinated Americans, I thought I could re-visit Italy. Having had a good experience with the different hosts on a previous trip (booked by my traveling companion), I made the (terrible) decision to join.

I made my first reservation and that was accepted. When I tried to make the second, a dialog box showed up saying “we can’t let you pay as your account is under review.” This was the start of the nightmare customer service saga. Service cannot be used in the same sentence as Airbnb as it’s a complete oxymoron.

The first line of representatives you reach on the number, which is deftly hidden behind multiple tabs, leaves you feeling frustrated, angry but most of all, powerless. Here’s some of what the representatives told me about my account review:

  • They were carrying out background checks on me. I’ve been in various government jobs that required those. I didn’t know registering on Airbnb required a background check.
  • From Jan. 2021, all Airbnb customers not only had to inform their banks about potential transactions with the company, but in fact, had to get in touch with Visa and Mastercard to let them know that reservations would be made on this platform. Didn’t these representatives get the training memo that it’s actually banks that block/unblock transactions because Visa and Mastercard supply the plastic and technology that makes our life simple with credit cards?
  • I had to get in touch with the potential host I was going to stay with in Italy because apparently, her software hadn’t been linked to Airbnb and this was what was stopping me reserving with her. Don’t they have an IT department to do that? Isn’t that their responsibility?
  • I did actually contact the host in Italy. She took the trouble to contact the Italian customer service platform and they were scathing in their response. They laid the blame squarely on the U.S. side saying that tech support was clearly able to help me and should do so without pushing blame on to the host. Sound familiar?
  • The trite sentence of “I’m so sorry. I know how you feel.” No, you don’t, so stop trying the empathy game with me. If you were really sorry, your IT team would stop faffing around and could have fixed this block on my account already.

There will be customers who have had a flawless experience with their hosts, as I did on my previous trip. My particular experience isn’t one I’d wish on my worst enemy. I have to agree with a review I read in that their representatives do seem to follow a script. It can’t be great for them to have to put up with aggravated, stressed and livid customers but if their management put robust resolution protocols in place, namely timely responses and updates to customers’ email, then perhaps 90% of this could be avoided.

What seems patently obvious from my dealings with Airbnb is that no supervisors are around to handle calls in the moment. Their procedure is to “escalate” and this gets attention within 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, you get zero communication.

The other horrendously annoying aspect of dealing with this company is the multiple security checks that take place. If you phone from a number that isn’t on your account or if you log in from a laptop/desktop and not the app, you get a string of emails/texts asking you to confirm. Can’t somebody tell their Information Security Officer that security is only good when it doesn’t interfere with legitimate users?

That is the paradox of this company. Their engineers have crafted multiple security checks on users yet they still haven’t put in place a system to communicate with their customers that they are dealing with technical problems that hamper customers from using their accounts. How could they have not seen the importance of keeping customers informed?

It really seems to be a company that has little regard for treating its customers with a modicum of respect. My experience has shown that timely responses are not something they do. There is no communication about the progress of problem resolution and some of their representatives are clearly out of their depth. I’m just annoyed at myself for having joined such a thoughtless, uncaring company.

Get a Good Set of Headphones for your Airbnb Neighbors

I’ve lived in my house for almost 20 years now. One by one, all of the neighboring properties were purchased by the same owner. All of them became Airbnb rentals, and because of the same owner and close proximity, frat parties are a frequent happening.

This has reliably happened for over two years now. They’ll bounce from house to house, the traveling jamboree. Trash scattered all out across the lawns, sometimes 12 cars rammed into the lawn, street, wherever they fit, other times a Greyhound-sized bus drops them off. The stereos blast well into the next morning, sometimes until 3:00 AM. Not just having fun loud: it’s rattle-the-toilet-seats-in-my-house loud.

The local community gets a $100 per night fee from the owners for any Airbnb in the town, so they’ll do nothing to stop it. The police will get things to stop for the night if they are called, usually when there’s illegal fireworks or some drunk guests start inconveniencing the golfers. It’s a neighborhood that is built around a golf course, and because each player pays over $10,000/year in membership fees, they actually have some sort of pull with the town’s “safety patrol,” but that’s about the only control there is.

Multiple times I’ve been late to work because overloaded driveways across the street would cause them to park across mine and block my car in. In addition to my daily driver, I have an old V-8 project car that has open exhaust, which happened to be the car that they didn’t block in. I retaliated by driving that to work instead of driving over my own lawn or pounding on a door for 20 minutes until someone answered. I gave it a few revs for the enjoyment of the sleeping hungover partiers. This was a 6:00 AM Saturday shift.

Sunday morning I woke up to find it pelted with eggs and my lawn had the night’s beer bottles thrown onto it. Lesson learned: I blame myself for that one and am glad that I wasn’t greeted by 24+ big angry guys half my age. The only way to combat this is to sit tight with a solid set of noise cancelling headphones. I’m really hoping the government decides that it could make money putting taxes and fees into this, that’ll hurt the profitability enough to discourage hosting six houses at once.

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.

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Airbnb Host Ghosted us During Winter Storm

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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.

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

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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.