I booked a three-bedroom flat in Limehouse Basin on Airbnb about two months in advance of the stay. We were taking the three children to London as their Christmas present to visit Hamleys and do some sightseeing. We were in the taxi on our way to the flat when host suddenly cancelled the booking without warning, claiming the place had been ‘trashed’ by the previous guests. Amazingly this was only discovered at 4:00 in the afternoon. Airbnb did nothing whatsoever to help; they left me on hold for 15 minutes with a fast draining battery and wouldn’t answer messages or ring me back. You can imagine how we felt being stranded in central London, with three children under ten and the best Airbnb could do was offer an extra £30 and a link to the app. Be very very wary booking with Airbnb – their support and help has been non existent. I also discovered I couldn’t leave a review for the host (she has ten properties listed on Airbnb) to warn others.
I had an Airbnb account for years. When I left town for a couple of weeks, I contacted all of my guests with information on how to get into my place. During the time I was gone, Airbnb contacted me (from email, etc.) as they were requesting a provide a new ID. They needed it immediately (for whatever reason) and cancelled my account while I was gone. I returned to find my guests were stranded – numerous guests; I had lost income. Worst of all it has been months and no one at Airbnb can seem to resolve the issue or even figure out how to reactivate the account. Hours on hold, no contact numbers or email addresses to reach out. They are the worst.
Please read this letter I sent to Airbnb less that three hours after I had made a booking:
I hope you are having a fabulous day. I am not and I am writing here to let you and others know why. In a few weeks one of my best friends is getting married on the Gold Coast (we never thought it would happen – he is not that pretty). I am the only member of his friends and family who is in the southern hemisphere so I am absolutely delighted to be going.
Today I decided to book my accommodation through Airbnb. You have such a good following and cheaper rates so I thought, why not? That is definitely the kind of service I need as I am on a budget and the rates seemed fabulous. I made my booking with a lovely woman who immediately contacted me. We could not wait for our trip.
Where is the issue, you may wonder? After booking this, my partner and I thought that doing a small run to the food shop would be a good idea. I checked my bank account just to see how much we could splurge after booking our trip. I was expecting to see between $400-600. It wasn’t a great surprise to me when there was a measly $28 in the account. Obviously this was a great shock. When I investigated this further it was clear that Airbnb had double charged me and also refunded me on their system.
This would be all well and good and if I were a millionaire I would find it slightly irritating; however, I am not a millionaire. I was a bit upset but because I am a reasonable person I figured I would contact you and just ask what was going on.
Firstly, I struggled to find contact details on your website – I just kept getting redirected in a loop to your FAQ pages (on a side note: this is extremely irritating). The next step was Facebook, where I found a telephone number. This was an 02 number so I assumed I was calling someone in NSW. The first two agents that I spoke to (in Southeast Asia Pacific – this is where they told me they were) hung up on me when I said I needed to find a solution to procuring the money that had been refunded. The third agent told me I did not know what I was talking about.
At this point I am willing to admit that I lost my temper a little and demanded to speak to someone more helpful. Again, somebody hung up on me. During this time my partner contacted the bank and told them about our little conundrum and they said there was a really very simple solution to resolve this: Airbnb had to email or fax the bank on an email address and/or fax number that they provided with some details.
After receiving this information, the good people at the bank said the money would be released within two hours. At this point, all of the details required on this fax or email were about myself. The only thing Airbnb had to provide was a headed fax or signed email. After some cereal, a bit of a cry, and being a little bit stressed, I called back.
This time I spoke to someone who was a little more helpful. She went and found a supervisor. This person got on the phone and relayed back the same ridiculous diatribe that the first couple of people did and only when I mentioned the word fraudulent and legal advice was anyone on the phone remotely helpful. When I pointed out that I was expecting to call NSW and actually ended up on the phone to Southeast Asia, saying “would I be getting charged a fortune for that on top of having no money in my bank account?” the supervisor hung up and called me back.
After 45 minutes of being on this call I was told the call was very irritating. I was also told that the managers and payment teams that had the capacity to deal with my unfortunate situation were in another country and there was nothing you could do. I am a human being and understand mistakes happen. However, in our modern age of technology and communication I am struggling to comprehend the fact that nobody in a global company can send an email or fax to resolve this situation. It would take less than five minutes.
I won’t keep going on but what I will say is this. You took a charge out of my bank account twice and actually tried to take it a third time. Because of this (and you not being able to send an email or fax) I have $28 in my bank account. Because I only have this much money in my account, either my partner or I are going to have to sacrifice going to work as we will not be able to both afford fuel and/or public transport to our employment. I apologize that we are not more well off and able to cope but even though both of us work 60+ hours a week we are still struggling to make ends meet. If either of us lose our employment I will be seeking legal advice.
I still have no email, fax or refund.
I have yet to read about a case as unique and long as mine. Instead of explaining my story, since it would take me hours, I’ll copy and paste the email I sent to Airbnb about my experience. Long story short: I’m pregnant, homeless, no food, no gas, no shelter. Airbnb evicted me from an illegal sublet due to the host renting out his home illegally. I had to borrow $1200 from my family while I waited for the refund. Ten whole days went by when I was contacted via email saying the money had been put into my account. Not 15 minutes later, Airbnb double charged me and took every penny out of my bank account: $1500, $1100 for rent and $400 for living expenses.
This left me homeless because I couldn’t pay the rent. I’m two months pregnant and living out of my car. No gas. No food. No job since I haven’t had gas to get there. I couldn’t pay my family back from the refund I got that was taken back 15 minutes later. Now let me say what Airbnb has done seven days later: nothing. There has been promise after promise to help and call back. I have two days until my phone bill needs to be paid, which means no more contact with Airbnb unless I find wifi to email them. The only thing I have been asked to do is write an email for the investigation; this is what I wrote seven days ago and there has still been no call back (I call every day for hours just to be told “it’s not my department and I cannot help you but someone will call you”).
To whom this may concern: about eight months ago my fiancé and myself decided we would use Airbnb to save up to buy an apartment. We decided we would use Airbnb for one year to avoid moving costs. We knew this would be a hard year due to the fact we would need to divide our trip up; no host would allow us to stay more than a month or a couple months. Every single Airbnb has been a nightmare. I feel as though I’m getting into the wrong field (psychology) because I thought every host would be different so that it would work out better than the last. Instead, it got worse.
It was my first host who convinced me, brand new to Airbnb, that it was okay to pay cash the day we came to view the home. I now know why. The second day I called Airbnb due to health hazards. He began doing major illegal construction in the home. I called and showed all types of pictures. He did construction on the only shower in the home, knocking walls down while I was doing homework and hammering at 3:00 AM. He had no permits, and got saw dust all over my belongings; by this I mean ruined clothes, shoes, bedding, etc. and that was the day we left.
We took all our belongings and went to another Airbnb. We were promised a parking space and he didn’t even have street parking. We dealt with walking a half mile every day after work. My fiancé is a longshoreman that works 40-hour shifts and gets home all hours of the night. Every day he had to walk that when he parked after work. If you look at my messages with the host they say it all.
Then we stayed at an Airbnb which was absolutely disgusting. It started to get really bad when we went with another host. He began smoking crack cocaine in the house. I called Airbnb and opened another case. He was committing domestic violence. There were roaches, mice, and a lot of screaming between him and his wife. You can look at messages with the host as well; they will say it all and I opened a new case. We were supposed to stay with him for two months but I couldn’t do schoolwork once again due to an Airbnb host.
We left and went to a host who was the worst of them all. I was put in a completely occupied room. I was convinced he got confused and put us in the wrong room because it wasn’t the room in the pictures. We were promised a TV, AC, and fridge and we were put in a tiny 90-degree room with no fan. There were also bedbugs so Airbnb’s emergency department placed me with someone else. The money was transferred from one host to another. I got an email with a receipt stating I paid as well. The host, at the beginning of our month-long stay, said he received a $1200 payout. I sent Airbnb both the receipt stating I paid and messages from the host saying that I paid.
The new host’s house was disgusting too but we said we would stick it out. It was gross but at least the people were nice and had a newborn. I cleaned their home and was a very nice guest. Everything was fine until the host began going into our room when we weren’t home, and he would walk around half naked; he was rude. That’s all in our messages. I didn’t call the host on it since I decided I was going to leave him a review instead – stating the facts – so Airbnb and others could look at his reviews.
Why in the world would the host not reach out to Airbnb about $1200 if he didn’t receive that? That’s crazy. I even have him saying he received the payment. I got an email one day saying there was trouble receiving my payment so I called right away and the Airbnb agent said it took a little while for the money to be transferred and that I should completely ignore the mail. He proceeded to give me $20 for the inconveniences of the emails and I should not worry at all about the money. That phone call was obviously recorded so please listen to the man tell me to ignore the emails, state the host got the money, and offer twenty dollars for the inconveniences from the email scare. We stayed there for a month and it was the worst experience ever.
An hour after we arrived at our next host my fiancé dropped the keys down the elevator shaft so we called the host. He said it was no problem and he would get one from the landlord. Not 15 minutes later, I had his landlord and a police officer telling me I was living in an illegal house, that our host was not allowed to sublet, and we had to leave. Then I got an email from Airbnb saying to leave by 8:00 PM and that Airbnb was evicting me. At that point we took all our belongings and sat in the car for hours talking to Airbnb about a second emergency placement.
After hours and hours and hours on the phone of me saying I don’t trust Airbnb anymore I was convinced by an agent she would find me a “super host” with great reviews. Still sitting in the car with all our belongings, I listened to Airbnb telling me about our next host. She accepted all my money and then said that she couldn’t host us until the next day. I told her we couldn’t sleep in our car and she said it wasn’t her fault, that she doesn’t live there. My fiancé then told me to call Airbnb to get our money. He didn’t have it in him to work 70 hours a week to pay for us to continue to get screwed.
We made the scariest decision of our lives which was to take our money and move into a hotel. Like I said, we were using Airbnb to find an apartment so we decided that we would stay at a hotel for a couple weeks while we looked for an apartment and wait for our money to be put back into our bank account from the last host. Airbnb wouldn’t even pay for two full nights at the hotel for us. They gave us $200 and that was it. We were supposed to wait 7 to 10 days for a refund with literally no money. I had to borrow the money from my best friend to pay for the hotel and promised her Airbnb was going to give me a refund; we just needed a loan.
While living in the hotel I found an apartment for us. We just needed the refund and we could afford it. I waited those days and finally got the refund. I called the landlord and said I would meet him the next day to get the keys and pay. I told him I would meet him at 10:00 AM. Not 15 minutes after the money was put into the account Airbnb took it out and sent me a second receipt for a payment. I felt like I was in a dream; there is no way Airbnb could still be ruining our lives.
I immediately called Airbnb and had an agent tell me immediately that it was a double charge and that this would be fixed. I then called back after no word from getting the double charge back after 13 hours. At this point I had six hours to meet the landlord for the apartment so I called again and had someone tell me to call the landlord. My money would be put into my account.
Needless to say I lost the apartment we were supposed to move into today. Now I’m over a month pregnant and had to give the rest of my bank account to the hotel so we wouldn’t be homeless. We have a few days here then we are officially homeless because of Airbnb. I had three agents promise me the money within 24 hours. I was promised phone calls. I was promised this would all be fixed and nothing has happened. I have received not a dime, not a phone call, not even empathy. At 26 years old, my future, first apartment, and shelter was taken.
I start school on the 6th of September and I’m going to be homeless sleeping in our car most likely. I never thought something like this could even happen. I don’t even feel like I was compensated properly from all my troubles. This is the most stressed out I’ve ever been in my life. We are such hard working good people. Anyways hopefully I gave Airbnb enough evidence to prove my future was just pulled out from underneath me. I’m begging for our money back ASAP. I haven’t slept for two full nights waiting and waiting for our money. Please listen to the agents promising me this money and telling me I was double charged.
I noticed from my credit card statement there was an unrecognized transaction about Airbnb. I reported to them, saying I first wished to dispute this transaction. They said I should first contact Airbnb. This was the start of a hour’s merry-go-round on the Airbnb website trying to locate their telephone number. If someone found it they deserve a prize. Finally I found this website who displayed their customer service number. I called them. They took down some information about myself to verify I am who I said I was. When I told them the item I was disputing they said I should take a screenshot of what the transaction was. The transaction was not in my itinerary (that’s why I queried it in the first place). Anyway, then she said she was not the appropriate “department” to investigate this matter. She said she would send me an email to gather more information so that the investigative team could look at. Wish me luck.
I booked a villa in Greece on Airbnb, got confirmation, and soon received a request for my private email address from my host so he could send me directions. Two minutes later he emailed me to say my villa was not available but he had another selection of wonderful choices; however, I shouldn’t tell Airbnb about this. What he is doing is using their site to rent but avoiding the fee. I called Airbnb, who could not care less. They sent me an email so I could forward the dodgy offer to them from the host but guess what? The Airbnb email comes from a “No Reply” sender. Airbnb and their hosts are in this for the money and the renters are the mugs. The company simply will not help you.
I am the owner of an apartment in Brussels. A couple of months ago I discovered that the person who rents my apartment has listed it on Airbnb. First of all, it is against the regulations in the apartment complex. I already had to pay a 500-euro fine. After calling the person who rents my apartment several times, she still refused to remove the listing on Airbnb. I’ve send several mails to the Airbnb website but with no response. I don’t not understand how they can accept this or not respond. Is there a quick and efficient way to contact them or must I take legal action, not only against the person who is renting my apartment but also Airbnb itself? They are making money out of it, and it is illegal because as a owner it is against regulations, and even the law in Brussels.
I was very disappointed at how my hosts at Mexico City handled the situation after 700 USD was stolen from my suitcase while staying at their house. I thought that in a system based on trust as it is, it worked both ways. I trusted that they knew the person who was coming to clean my bedroom – a cleaning service which I had already paid for – and for whom they asked me to leave the door unlocked for her to clean up. I thought that they knew the people who they let into the house and that could be in contact with my belongings. They never offered me a safe place to leave my valuables, like a safe or a locker, nor did they warn me that they didn’t know the maid.
When I returned to my bedroom at that night, I found that I was missing more than half the money that I had brought with me. I asked them about the situation; I was very distressed, on the verge of tears. They passed off responsibility to the cleaning company, who obviously was not going to give me back anything. The hosts never accounted for what had happened in their house with their guest. I still had two more days there and I was scared for the rest of my belongings.
I left Mexico without a resolution, having received better attention at the time of reporting the crime to the authorities than that with my own hosts or the Airbnb call center. They never offered to give me back the money for my stay or give me any compensation, but they wanted to find someone to blame. Almost a month has passed and the Airbnb “resolution center” hasn’t given me any answer.
P.S. Their cat would also enter my bedroom at night (it couldn’t be locked from the inside) and pee on the floor…
My wife and I booked a stay at a Beacon Hill area studio in the city of Boston recently and we had a horrible experience. The experience was so bad that it will make us reconsider ever using Airbnb again as guests. Although we really like the idea of Airbnb and we have been strong supporters, we feel that we will likely be victimized by the poor way that Airbnb operates in dealing with guest complaints. We’ll likely lose a bit of money and be left out in the cold even though we have been champions for Airbnb and have contributed to their bottom line.
The listing we booked presented the rental as the “Perfect Little Stay in Beacon Hill”. The unit was everything but perfect; it was overpriced, tiny, not clean, and not safe for us at all health wise. We have been using Airbnb as hosts for some time now and we’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences with the guests who have stayed with us. The guests love our property and the services we provide and we love having them. These experiences led us to try out Airbnb as guests. This turned out to be a huge mistake.
We selected the Boston property because of its location. Beacon Hill is a nice area – we figured – and the few photos online for the property looked good, though there were no photos of the building, which should have been a red flag. We communicated with the manager of the property online before arriving (initially asking if they had availability for a second night and if there was a place we could drop off a bag before checking in) and those communications went smoothly. So far so good.
However, when we arrived, things started to go bad from the start. We were a bit surprised by the overall condition of the building: the front door had a missing lock, the entrance was extremely dirty and in need of repair, there were boxes all over the entrance that we had to climb over, trash bags and laundry bags were piled all over the place, and there were big stains all over the carpet. It had the overall appearance of a drug dealer’s apartment.
We found the key and went to the unit only to discover that the door was unlocked. We dropped off our bag, but as we tried to lock the door we discovered that there were problems with the lock. Fortunately as we were leaving, the cleaning person came by. We showed him the lock problems and he told us that he would take care of it. He struggled with the lock as well and finally was able to latch it. This made us wonder about the security of the building and the bag that we were going to store.
Our first impression of the property was that it looked like poorly managed student housing – cheap, dark, dingy, not decorated well, very bare bones – not something you’d typically expect to see in a nice area like Beacon Hill. However, we figured this is what we selected and we’d make the most of it. Unfortunately, things got a lot worse. I came back to the room in the later afternoon to rest up. The room had been cleaned, but I was really surprised by the condition of the room. It was very tiny, poorly decorated, dark, no frills, had lots of wear (the wood floor was badly scarred up, stains on the bathroom walls, the shower had mold, a window was painted over with latex paint, there was caulk peeling in the bathroom, the view outside the window was of things being dumped in the alley).
I was hoping that my wife wouldn’t be disappointed when she got there and really took a look around. Again, these aesthetic issues were only the tip of the iceberg. After resting in the room for a couple of hours and turning the A/C on, I started to get very ill. I started having trouble breathing, was very congested, developed a bad headache, and felt nauseous. When my wife got there I felt really bad so she took a look around. She noticed several gallons of chemical products and garbage bags of stuff strewn about the stairways directly outside our room. She also noticed some odd chemical smells. We also were concerned about the condition of the A/C as it had some moldy odors. The longer we stayed in the room, the worse we felt.
My wife suggested we go out for dinner to get out of the room and get some fresh air. We did and after about an hour I started to feel better. My wife suggested that we go look for a hotel to stay the rest of the night. Fortunately, we were able to get a booking at the Bostonian, not far away. We went back to the room and my wife made me stay out on the street as she went back in and packed up our things and took all of the bedding off of the bed as we were instructed to do by the printed house rules. We never really used the property, such as the shower or fridge, as we spent so little time there. We were basically in panic mode because of the condition of the building and the fact that the building and room were making us sick. The whole experience felt like a frightening Steven King short story.
Fortunately, we had a good stay at the Bostonian. We checked in around midnight, though this set us back as the last minute booking was very expensive. I feel that we made the right call as one’s health, safety, and well being should always come first. As bad as the limited experience with the property was (poor condition, toxic environment, false advertising, etc.) what was even more troubling was the reaction and later communication with the property manager who listed the property.
I sent her a message in the morning as soon as I got up to tell her about how the property made us ill. In one message she seemed concerned but then in another message she seemed to be blaming us for the situation. This is very wrong to do from a hospitality standpoint, something a professional would never do. I didn’t go into a lot of details about the poor condition of the property, but did tell her we couldn’t stay in the unit and had to move to a hotel because of the condition of the property as something in the room or building was making us ill.
I wanted to give the host an opportunity to address the problem as I would if I were a host and one of my guests with a problem contacted me. She responded by saying that she would look into the matter and she offered to provide us with a 50% refund. We never actually asked for a refund; we just sent her a note about the problem we had with staying in the room. I did respond to her to indicate that her refund offer would be acceptable since we didn’t spend the night there.
She then turned around and changed her mind later in the day (after the Airbnb 24-hour complaint policy would expire) about providing a refund, indicating that she felt we did stay here, which of course was not true. So basically after all of the abuse we suffered by staying here, she conned us. It became clear later that she was just working the Airbnb policy system about guest complaints to her advantage.
For anyone who gets in this situation, be very careful. Make sure you find some way to contact management at Airbnb management immediately instead of trying to work out things with an unprofessional host who can take advantage of you. For this experience from hell we paid over $260 for a one-night booking. This property had a serious environmental problem that effected our health. The host was not forthright and in our opinion was using Airbnb to operate as a slumlord.
My wife took a lot of pictures of the condition of the property and we have our hotel bill to show that we did not spend the night there. We are trying to make an official complaint to Airbnb management to see if they can step in and provide some remedy, but from my quick research this is probably not very likely or will take massive effort on my part. Problems like this hurt the Airbnb experience for all of us. I really believe that Airbnb management needs to screen hosts better. I was always very honest and professional in my communications with this host, who unfortunately did not operate with the same standards.
My best advice after having quite a bit of experience operating as an Airbnb host is that you have to be very careful when you rent a property as a guest. Airbnb seems mainly concerned about protecting hosts and not guests. They seem to make it really difficult for guests to contact Airbnb and make complaints. If an unprofessional host takes advantage of a guest there’s not much a guest can do to get satisfaction, especially if the host is not honest and professional. Evidentially this will come back to haunt Airbnb. Just look at what’s happened to Uber and the company’s CEO.
I have one last point to make, and this is a very important one. In the earlier days of Airbnb many of the rentals listed were made available by actual owners of properties who took some care and pride in what they offered. This is really changing in a big way. Many listings that show up now (especially in competitive larger cities) are by sales people and shady real estate people just trying to make a quick buck by renting inferior properties by the night. They do not offer any kind of hospitality; they just want to make a big profit and exploit the marketplace. My wife calls these new generation of operators “Airbnb Slumlords.”
If you see a host like this offering so many properties with limited photos and generic descriptions, be very careful. After looking closer into the situation we encountered in Boston, I realized that this is what happened to us. The person we dealt with was operating as an agent with a group of others, marking up inferior properties, and trying to take advantage of less experienced guests. So called “hosts” like this know how to work the online sources such as Airbnb to their advantage. As a guest, be really careful as this will likely become a much bigger problem with Airbnb. It could really hold back Airbnb’s growth if they don’t find a good way to deal with this problem. I will certainly spend countless hours contacting Airbnb and trying to inform the public about my experience and knowledge. Maybe something good will come of it. I’d love to hear from others about their stories related to this.