COVID Refund Nightmare Over France Airbnb Cancellation

My family of four was supposed to travel to France at the end of June. Clearly with the state of things we can’t go. I cancelled the reservation.

On my host’s page, it clearly says that I am entitled to a 50% refund minus the Airbnb service charges. When I talked to Airbnb, they told me that the host had refused the refund due to her “strict policies”. The host told me (albeit with a language barrier) that it was Airbnb. I also received a message after cancellation stating the amount I was to receive back. I have verified this with a lawyer in my family.

Now Airbnb won’t answer my messages and I am totally stuck. There’s no way that anyone will be travelling to France anytime soon, but I am so angry that I want my money back on principle. We even offered to take a full credit to use another time but they refused that as well. The blame game going on is astounding. This is the worst customer service I have ever received, and we are both in the hospitality industry so know a thing or two about this.

Any suggestions?

Not Impressed with Airbnb Experiences Overall

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.

Complete Disbelief Over Airbnb’s Reaction to COVID-19

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I am requesting to speak with personnel in Airbnb upper management concerning the situation that involves my first Airbnb experience and stay. Our booking and travel dates were April 27 through April 30. I believe the situation is deserving of a full refund and or an upgraded trip for the length of our original stay.

We are outraged that Airbnb allows properties to conduct business and continue to allow the public access to environments like the one we encountered, especially during the worst pandemic the world has ever seen. Our documentation will show and support our claims of the unsanitized, unattended and false advertising of this particular property. I will provide the timelines and the supporting documents backing our claim.

My family and I have been inconvenienced and put at risk by the direct result of Airbnb’s untimely and insufficient customer support resources along with the unprofessional, irresponsible attitude and commitment level of our host. Not only did he fail to communicate on a timely basis, he allowed another reservation to show up with the same exact issues; even worse, without ever having a cleaning crew show up. That is a total of three different guest reservations that entered the property without it being professionally cleaned.

According to the guidelines stated in Airbnb’s refund policy — having verbal confirmation of the first CSR we spoke to — are valid and we followed proper steps to ensure full and detailed investigation by staff to validate our request. Due to our inexperience and unfamiliarity with Airbnb and the mobile app we acted as anybody would have in the event that technical difficulties prevented us from gaining access to our account allowing us to proceed accordingly and timely to any and all response from the Airbnb staff from the beginning of this complaint.

We find it very odd that for no reason we were unable to gain access once we reported and sent photos of property. We have had several reasons given to us for why we would not receive a full refund and have had valid and supporting information to disprove those to be invalid reasons. The latest one is that by the unintentional act of deactivating the account due to the fact we could not access it and we’re trying to troubleshoot the issue because the several calls to Airbnb were not productive and were unable to fix that issue.

We remain confused as to why after the cancellation on Airbnb account that we were not told of any of this conditions or cancellations or informed by any of the CSRs we spoke to or question as to why we were still on the property. We had no idea that the reservation was canceled by the accidental deactivation of our account. I have now spent numerous hours and pages upon pages of emails corresponding with customer care representative agents that are supposed to help. They’ve expedited and done all that they can with no avail.

We’ve received several emails sent from Airbnb stating that they are sorry that our experience was like this on our first reservation and travel stay using their company but yet their actions show the exact opposite.

The situation continued to get worse while on the second day of our reservation at 4:00 PM when another family showed up with six children with nowhere to go. Being put in an uncomfortable and stressful situation, I allowed the family to enter the property so that they would have some place to reside well we tried to work this situation out we contacted the host immediately with no response.

There are so many supporting factors as to why this is outrageous. Not only did the hosts not have a cleaning crew come prior to their arrival, but we were still there and he did the same thing to us during this COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot believe that Airbnb supports and allows individuals to host properties in to put their customers in jeopardy like this.

Another reason why we were told that we would not receive a refund was due to the fact that we did not qualify under the host cancellation policy at that time we are given this excuse we had no idea that the activity of the account was actually what induced the refund but we were told that it was because we cancelled it on our behalf. We did not; it was canceled on the company’s behalf.

We spent several hours on the phone with customer service agents after that. We were never told anything different. They were confused and did not know how the reservation was cancelled. They were putting it on us.

In the meantime on our side we were keeping our lines open doing what the CSR we first spoke to told us to do. Unable to gain access to our account after several different CSR’s attempted to fix this situation, we could not find the pertinent information we needed in a timely manner.

I would like to speak to Airbnb upper management on the phone. This email and messaging system is not sufficient and is not producing favorable results. The property is not as it is listed and the host did not communicate with us in professional manner.

My family and I deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. It seems that this company just wants to take advantage of its patrons, and put our safety and health at risk by taking the host and his blatant carelessness above our complaints and health.

Airbnb not Paying Hosts, Even for Normal Reservations

In the last two months Airbnb raised $2 Billion to survive on the coronavirus outbreak. It seems they are running out of cash. I have a group with several Airbnb hosts who are reporting the same problem: Airbnb is not paying the guests’ reservations to the hosts. The guests are paying, but the hosts are not receiving this money, because Airbnb is holding the money without a reason.

Their customer service is evasive, and they can’t explain why the payments are not being made. After ten days and several phone calls and DM’s, they said the problem was “with my bank”, but they refuse to give the transaction ID to the bank. I called my bank and Airbnb hasn’t sent anything there.

It’s a unfair lie. It’s a scandal. They used exactly this same narrative in 2015, as this Forbes article explains. This is a police case. They are running out of cash and holding the hosts’ money hostage. I know several hosts who are facing the same situation, and would like to collect more stories to publish an article to explain this cash flow scandal.

Airbnb Refuses to Refund First Responders

We had a group of first responders planning to stay at an Airbnb for three days in April. During this time, the COVID-19 virus had made its way to Southern California. We have been transporting symptomatic patients everyday and many of our paramedics/firefighters have been contracting the virus. This virus has the possibility to be asymptomatic and our fear was coming in contact with civilians that could suffer life-threatening symptoms.

I reached out to the host explaining how it was best if we cancelled. Our host had the ability to give a full refund and said he was on board. Immediately after I canceled, he went back on his word and kept the money.

A few days later, Airbnb released extenuating circumstances for a full refund for customers that fell within certain dates. Although my dates were included, I had already cancelled; they refused the refund. I tried to explain the situation I had with my host.

I received very generic and automated responses from customer support denying any help. I am very disheartened about how Airbnb customer support has handled this situation. This has cost me a lot of money and I don’t see my myself ever using their services again. To all that are reading this: stay safe during this tough time.

Airbnb not Helping this Host in the Least

I had a bad guest stay recently. Everything from broken tiles, burnt plastic on pans, stolen bathroom fixtures, the whole place smelt of weed… the worst was when they broke the hot tub by smashing in the inlet grate.

Airbnb refused to give me a claims advocate until I lodged a quote, but that wasn’t possible for five days until the hot tub repair person arrived to determine what the issue was and how much it would be. As soon as this happened I lodged the claim and got a claims advisor only to be told that as another guest had checked in, my claim was now invalid. What?

Countless emails and messages has only led to Airbnb becoming elusive and not calling me when they said they would. It feels like the DMV on steroids. As a host I just need help on this. I feel like I’m in some sort of a bad dream.

Host Tries to Charge Guest $6,000 for Fake Damages

Last November I was traveling with a friend from Tennessee to Delaware. We stopped several places along the way and our first stop was actually in Alabama. We got there and the Airbnb was difficult to find and seemed like it was in a sketchy area. Once we found the place, it wasn’t so bad.

The next morning we wanted to do a load of laundry and there had been a washer and dryer listed for usage. Well, in order to use the washer, I had to get the host’s stuff out and load it into the dryer. I thought I was being helpful anyway.

After a few minutes, my friend and I smelled something burning. I went over there and sure enough there was something wrong with the cord. We were not told that this was the case, but I had to make sure to unplug the dryer. I had to move the dryer to make sure I could unplug it which was difficult since it was hot to the touch.

We opened windows and the door. We even called 911 to get the fire department out even though there wasn’t a fire just yet. We knew we needed to leave, but needed to make sure nothing happened. We stayed until the smoke cleared, but from a distance so we wouldn’t inhale the fumes. We also called the host and told her exactly what happened and she was cordial and okay with us when we were on the phone and thanked us for letting her know.

That night I got a call from the host screaming at me for ruining her stuff and that I had caused significant damage. I let her know it was due to her error in not letting us know the dryer had faulty wiring, but she insisted that it was on us. She went ahead and complained to Airbnb and said we did that as well as stole some stuff. We are not thieves.

We got a call from Airbnb letting us know the complaints and we let them know the real issue. They told us, “Yeah, it is a little ridiculous what she’s saying and it’s way more than could happen in one night.” So they said that we would be okay and that they would eliminate this complaint.

About three days later I got an email trying to charge me $6,000 for the damages. I called about it and once again they apologized and said they would remove the charges. However, a few days later I got an email saying that my account had been disabled due to not following the terms and conditions in accordance with Airbnb policy.

I have since tried and tried to talk to Airbnb and ask why my account was disabled, but they keep emailing me and letting me know to reply to with my Airbnb inbox, which I cannot use since they disabled my account.

Airbnb Nightmare: Can’t Leave Australia for UK Airbnb

I am trying to get Airbnb to refund my $3000 deposit for a house booking in London for July 3, 2020. The last of my 50-odd attempts to contact Airbnb was through its support email. It bounced back: “We’re writing to let you know that the group you tried to contact (support) may not exist.”

I had my four children at home at Christmas and as a gift I booked a house in London through Airbnb in order to give all my family a well-earned holiday after years of hard University study. As I am 64 years old, when the WHO declared a pandemic, I got scared and cancelled the booking on March 20 thinking I would get my deposit refunded.

Apparently according to Airbnb, the coronavirus pandemic is not an extenuating circumstance and I should toddle off to London in July with all of my family. We may all die; however this apparently is not a problem. Dealing with Airbnb for a refund has been the most frustrating experience of my life .

The information below is the gist of my submissions to Airbnb:

I am having great difficulty phoning or contacting Airbnb. I am receiving zero support and zero resolution.

In a nutshell I booked and paid for an apartment in London in December 2019 for July 3-8, 2020. I recently cancelled the booking because of the extenuating circumstance that the Australian government has banned overseas travel and because of my age I will probably die if I contract coronavirus.

The host has written to me and declined to pay back my deposit. She is “deeply sorry”. However, my $3000 deposit should ease her sorrow particularly in view of the fact that it is money for nothing. I would like to know where my money is and when it is being transferred to the host.

Although we are not directly covered by the specific COVID-19 policy we are clearly covered by the general extenuating circumstances policy on the following grounds:

  1. Government-mandated obligations – there is an indefinite ban on Australians travelling abroad under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and my son and daughter are government employees who cannot travel under order of government directives. We face imprisonment and other penalties if we breach the Biosecurity Order.
  2. Travel restrictions – the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has the following specific advice for the UK “We now advise you to: do not travel to the United Kingdom.”
  3. Transportation disruptions – at this time it is impossible to secure travel to the United Kingdom that is reliable. There have been endless cancelations and rescheduling. There is not a reliable way to book travel to the UK at this time
  4. Epidemic disease or illness – the WHO declared a pandemic; the Olympics have been cancelled for the first time since WWII and children in the UK are saying goodbye to their parents via video link as they die. The policy at the time of our booking clearly states that an epidemic declared by a credible organisation is sufficient as an extenuating circumstance.

The booking was for a house in Kensington. We chose this so our entire family could attend. The purpose of this accommodation was for my family to have a holiday together after my daughter’s wedding in Scotland.

Included in our party to arrive was my son and daughter. He is a medical practitioner and junior House Officer at Cairns Base Hospital. He is employed by Queensland Health, a state government department in the pediatric department while she is a teacher employer by the Department of Education.

At the time of lodging this request for a refund, both of them have “indefinite” bans on international travel. According to a COVID-19 team brief he has received, he has been requested by the QLD government health authorities not to go on leave, while schoolteachers are also banned by the Department of Education.

Please note that although our travel was for July, Australians are legally banned from travelling abroad indefinitely at this time. The Prime Minister announced a ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and this is in addition to the standing advice to not travel overseas by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. This is effective indefinitely and our family risks imprisonment, fines and potentially quarantine on a remote island on our return.

This means that at this time we are legally prevented from travelling. The only logical way to read this policy is that if someone is banned from travelling to the country right now and indefinitely into the future they have an obligation not to travel and have an extenuating circumstance under this possible. Any alternative to this reading is not workable.

For example, if a person was not allowed to travel because they had been charged with a crime it is possible at some point in the future the charges may be dropped and the ban lifted. However ‘possibilities’ are besides the point. We are legally barred from travelling by the law right now. The Australian government has advised multiple times Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least six months.

According to this news article, the following applies to international travel :

Thousands of Australians have been left stranded overseas as airlines cancel flights and countries across the globe shut their borders entirely in an effort to contain the spread of Covid-19. 

Australians caught by closed borders, airport shutdowns, cancelled flights or soaring ticket prices say they are trying to heed the government’s advice to return home for the duration of the pandemic, but can’t. 

At least 100 Australians are isolated in Peru after the government in Lima closed all borders and land crossings and stopped international flights in and out.

At this time it is impossible from any practical standpoint to book travel as international travel at this time is completely unreliable. This is further backed up by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which advises:

If you’re in the United Kingdom and want to return to Australia, check your route carefully with your airline or travel agent as a number of key transit hubs, including the UAE (Dubai and Abu Dubai), Hong Kong and Singapore are suspending flights, including transits.

Please note that our claim clearly meets the epidemic disease or illness under the current policy. However, the policy as it existed at the time of our booking in January was much more clear. It is this policy that formed a part of our contract, in which valid circumstances include:

  • Urgent travel restrictions or severe security advisories issued after the time of booking, by an appropriate national or international authority (such as a government office or department)
  • Endemic disease declared by a credible national or international authority (such as the US Centres for Disease Control or the World Health Organization)

The Australian Government has now advised every Australian not to travel overseas in light of the Coronavirus Pandemic. The WHO has declared this a pandemic. This happened after we made our reservation. Under the clear policy in place at the time we booked we clearly meet this circumstance. There was not a special review policy at the time of our booking.

The current policy, Epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii is also clearly met by the current circumstances.

My wife and I are over 60 and this places us in the most vulnerable group for overseas travel. The American Centre for Disease Control CDC has advised people over 60 and those with underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the coronavirus to stock up on supplies and avoid venturing out of their homes, except when necessary.

The Coronavirus Pandemic has made it impossible for my family to travel to London to take up accommodation in Kensington in July. I booked the house in order to give my family a well-earned holiday after years and years of hard University study.

My daughter (a state school teacher) was going to be married in Scotland and then we were travelling to London. The Queensland Government has now banned all State School Teachers from overseas travel. My son is a doctor and Queensland Health Department have banned him from overseas travel also. My youngest son was going to travel from Canada however he cannot get there as Canada has closed its borders. My eldest son is an Immigration Agent and Australia has now closed its borders and ended his business.

The Australian Prime Minister has made a statement listing new measures to protect Australians from Coronavirus. The Prime Minister says, “Australians should expect these measures to be in place for at least 6 months”. As of this writing there have been 472,529 cases and 21,305 deaths from Coronavirus.

Because of  the danger, the travel bans and all the listed extenuating circumstances I am asking Airbnb to reconsider the $0.00 AUD refund and have my full deposit returned.

We were really looking forward to this holiday and I realise that Airbnb’s business will be badly affected on a worldwide scale. We have used Airbnb many times and may look at a new booking at a later date when it is safe.

Pending Birth + COVID-19 + Airbnb = Stress

My wife and I have been living in an apartment inside a six-unit villa for 12 years now. Everyone else that lives here is an owner, except for the couple who bought the unit above us a couple of months ago.

The place was vacant and on the market for almost a year, which was great for us, but in saying that, we were delighted to meet the couple who bought the place, as we’re all friendly neighbours in the villa and look out for one another. Upon introducing myself, I kindly asked if they would be renting it out, or staying there themselves, to which they blatantly lied to my face saying it will be for them or family as they were yet to decide.

A couple of months went by. They frequent the place, often quite late to furnish the apartment, many times around midnight. It is around this time when the COVID-19 outbreak kicks into high gear and our state puts in strict rules and guidelines regarding isolation, interstate travel and social gatherings.

We didn’t even know it was an Airbnb until their very first guests mentioned it whilst on one of many loudspeaker calls on the balcony. The language these guys use would make a sailor weep. Every second word was either f*ck or c*nt.

It was during one of these loud and obnoxious phone calls that we overheard him say he had traveled from interstate and had to self-isolate for 14 days. We found this odd, as we had seen him out visiting the liquor store and take out restaurant around the corner just a few days earlier.

My wife is expecting our first child in under a week and we have been completely cut off from our friends, from our family and from our support network. Yet this asshole strolls about risking everyone in the community, laughing at the threat of a $1000 on the spot fine for breach of quarantine.

To top it off, this prick had two guests over last night, which is also against the rules that are needed to curb the spread of this virus. The blaring of Eminem and System of a Down at 11:00 PM is the least of my worries right now. The fact that this is the first “guest” is a worrying sign of things to come.

It’s not the dream we had when starting a new family. We now feel alienated in our own home. Screw the owner for lying to our face and not providing a phone number to contact her. Screw the asshole guests who aren’t taking this pandemic seriously and screw Airbnb. I shouldn’t have to feel petty about this.