Airbnb Cancellations: All Corona, Hold the Virus

In the middle of February I booked a trip, before this pandemic was announced. I booked an Airbnb with a strict no-refund policy: “refund applicable except the first 30 days.” My booking was for 34 days total.

Fast forward to the pandemic announcement and the panic that ensued by mostly everyone. Personally, I did not want to deal with self-quarantines, airport security measures, and quite frankly the risk of putting myself in a situation that could be avoided by simply not traveling so I proceeded to cancel my flights with no issues. I have cancellation insurance on my credit cards, so it was easily done.

Now the Airbnb host who happened to be from the same country as me but whose listing was in another one — pretty standard I’d think — said he would not refund my money due to a global pandemic. I read that and understood his rule, but he told me to contact Airbnb because they have some extenuating circumstances policy. I read something about an epidemic and being sick but documentation is needed: a doctor’s note or obituary when a global pandemic is announced.

I contacted Airbnb support via their magical robot, which had me wait 24 hours for a person, and proceeded to cancel my reservation. I thought I would be entitled to a refund due to a global pandemic, which to me fell into the “epidemic” category. Wrong. They said they needed documents such as a doctor’s note saying I was unfit for travel, not because it is in the public’s best interest to avoid crowded airports and in my case a crowded destination, with lesser health care, to avoid spreading COVID-19.

This was on March 9th. I continued to message Airbnb back and forth for the next couple days, eventually losing contact altogether because my messages became colourful.

Fast forward to March 14th. Airbnb announced (probably after most people panicked and cancelled reservations with certain cancellation policies in place) that anyone with a booking made before March 14th is entitled to a full refund via “manage my trips.”

Because I cancelled on March 9th and not March 14th I did not have this option anymore as my booking had already disappeared. I am now currently waiting for the same magic robot to let me know if I am entitled to any sort of refund, or if Airbnb plans on keeping my money altogether — which by reading some of these stories, would not shock me one bit. I have been waiting now 8 hours with only 16 left to see if I will get any money back .

Airbnb Host Expects Guest to do All Cleaning

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I planned a weekend in Montreal for my son and I and tried Airbnb for first time. Upon arrival I noticed food crumbs all over the sleeper sofa in the living room. In the bedroom, my son pulled back the blankets; the sheets were stained. We contacted the host and he told me I could find clean sheets in the closet or dryer. After driving 6.5 hours, apparently I should change the sheets. I would also have had to wash the blankets, clean the sofa, stove, the TV, and god knows what was on the table; it had a film of grease on it.

I left and got a hotel for the weekend. My host’s response was to tell me since I left he hoped I had locked the door because I was responsible for the house and he would look at the place in the morning. I checked in with him the next day and heard nothing back. He then contacted me to say his property manager went to check on the place and there was a couple of issues but nothing as bad as I implied. Stained sheets are a deal breaker.

I contacted Airbnb and asked for a refund. Even though I asked for a manager, the agent gave me a $11.32 refund because he felt my issue with the host could have been resolved by me cleaning the place at 11:30 at night and washing all the bedding. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I arrive at a hotel it’s really nice to not have to clean for three hours before being able to relax.

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Orlando Stay Cancelled in Middle of Music Festival

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Do not book through Airbnb. Your stay can be cancelled with no repercussions for the host. We found what looked like the perfect place for a music festival but were a little concerned about reviews that included cancellations. I asked them about this and they blamed the guest and said the guest would not provide additional documentation.

I booked the unit in August and crossed my fingers. The host cancelled our stay in January and of course I can’t find anything comparable for the same cost because of the music festival. The offered other accommodations that they said were 15 minutes away. I insisted on getting the address and it was 30 minutes away.

Then the host told me to cancel the booking. I am sure it was to screw me again on my refund or so it would not show up in their reviews. Airbnb thinks all is good because they refunded our money but this in no way solves my problem. A lack of suitable options and they are all at three times the price of the property we had reserved.

If we cancel, we lose our money. If the host cancels, there’s no harm to them, but to us and Airbnb does not care. Airbnb does not allow people with cancelled stays to leave a review; it only states “the host cancelled your reservation.”

Do not stay with hosts and do not use Airbnb. What are you going to do at the last minute when your stay is cancelled? If you look through their reviews, cancellations happen way more than you would think. In fact, when I went back to look at their listings, a new cancellation popped up. Don’t risk your vacation with Airbnb.

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No Truth in Advertising: Beachfront vs. Waterfront

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We planned a special family vacation to Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos is all about the water – being on or beside it. So, at a huge premium, we booked a rental. Under amenities, the owner selected waterfront (not beachfront). Clearly, the owner knows that the premium for properties on Providenciales is for direct water access.

We never questioned the term “waterfront”. Why would we? It was the headline and was chosen as an amenity.

The property was not waterfront. Yes, you can see the water but the property does not offer direct water access. It does not abut the water. You can get to the water either by walking down a hill covered in low brush (with no path) and crossing a two-lane road or by walking down the driveway, along two roads and across the two-lane road but not without leaving the property.

We contacted Airbnb customer service after reaching out to the owner and receiving no reply. We felt asking for a return of the premium we paid was fair.

Airbnb Customer Service denied our claim. They wrote: “Having reviewed the documentation and the information provided by all parties involved, we are not able to determine a valid claim because they do consider their property waterfront but it’s not right on the water which is why they didn’t select beachfront as an amenity.”

According to the Merrimack-Webster Dictionary, the definition of waterfront is: “land, land with buildings, or a section of a town fronting or abutting on a body of water.” Please note that nowhere in this definition is there any mention of waterfront being beachfront. Clearly, whoever created the amenities for Airbnb knows this definition.

Airbnb offers waterfront and beachfront as separate amenity choices. Unfortunately, they did not share this understanding with their customer service resolution team. I will add that while the Superhost claims that truth in their listing is one of their values, there are other “errors”. For example, the property is not in a gated community.

As a guest who has used Airbnb properties since 2012, I will never book with them again and I will tell as many people as I can about my experience. Airbnb asks hosts to sign documents certifying that their listing is true yet, they do not enforce the agreement. In addition, while they provide long lists of amenities to allow guests to tailor their choices, they do not train their customer service resolution agents in the meanings of the terms. To make it even more enraging, the host is still a Superhost and has perpetrated this “beachfront” versus “waterfront” scam in their response to reviews of the property.

Fraudulent Listing has Government Questioning me

I have been notified by my county asking why I haven’t paid fees and taxes for renting my home. I have been living in my home for two years and have never rented it. I informed the county and they suggested getting Airbnb to take the listing down. They provided the link to the active listing.

This is not my listing. I have had two parties drive by my house and ask me if they could see my house. Then one party asked me if I’m the host. I have contacted Airbnb at least thirty times to have them take down the listing and they simply will not do it. I have spent at least forty hours on the phone with them. They have never called back. I have contacted filed complaints with the Attorney General of Colorado.

This listing has pictures of the inside and outside of my house. The location, on the ad, is easy to find by potential renters because the area has only a few homes within it. I feel like I’m being harassed. My next step is to get in touch with the County Attorney and law enforcement. I’m very exhausted.

Conspiracy Theory: People Manipulating Airbnb

Somebody manipulated Airbnb. I had two reservations all set up, one in which the host gave me a fake address; the people coming out of the flat didn’t know the guy, and his name wasn’t on the buzzer. After calling for 15 minutes, I left since somebody had painted something offensive near the entrance indicating something was wrong. The guy then called me screaming at me, demanding to know where I was after he refused to answer. I was then stalked at the train station.

The Airbnb crew offered to help with a hostel. It was peak season that summer so I could only stay there two days. I immediately found four hosts willing to let me rent for a month, when suddenly Airbnb told me their system had been frozen; nobody could reserve a place, and they would communicate with me the next day.

I contacted a friend of mine who rents from them. She tried to rent a room and she was able to rent immediately. I called them again, and they sounded like they were lying. The next day they told me something else; it seemed like somebody was stopping them from letting me rent from them. I had to book an expensive emergency flight back to England instead of staying there as planned.

What happened there afterwards wrecked the rest of my future. It had nothing to do with Airbnb, but if that host hadn’t messed with me none of this would have happened. After I moved to stay at another reservation I made prior to that, the host than contacted me apologizing, saying that they really wanted to rent to me but somebody had canceled the reservations.

After I politely contacted Airbnb about all of this mess, they suddenly just deleted five years of my rentals and positive references as if to erase previous hosts’ contact information. For some reason they didn’t want their references on my account, despite being positive.

Thereafter they refused to communicate for a whole two years. I was stuck struggling to rent in England. They allowed me to reopen another account but without being able to use my positive references from prior renters they refused to explain why.

When I was desperately seeking a property to get out of air pollution hell and harassers causing me serious health problems, I started to see weird rental properties in my searches: a room covered in tin foil; a living room with a drawing of a woman crucified; a tent for £80 per night with odd things on it. I thought somebody had asked them to mess with me, leaving me stuck without a home.

The animosity and discrimination has since stopped me from renting from Airbnb, which is frustrating since they are one of the most secure online rentals or the most convenient in my situation. I went to the Facebook offices in London about everything that happened to me which they and Twitter participated in. They told me to sue Airbnb. It’s been five years stuck without a home. My biggest concern is getting lung cancer and dying.

Airbnb a Totally Unreliable Service for Long-Term Stays

I booked my accommodation for a long-term stay of four months via Airbnb because I am a working professional in Berlin and my permanent flat was not yet ready. I was very clear about my plans and respected German policy (meaning the need to register at a flat if you stay for more than two months).

The host initially agreed to everything but then all of a sudden had a dispute with his landlord about my stay (my guess: he was dishonest to him about it) and decided to abruptly cancel my reservation three weeks before the end of the agreed period.

Airbnb literally did nothing about it except refunding the nights not spent in the apartment. No compensation about the mess or the double moving costs. I am never going to use Airbnb in the future and I advice you to be very careful when booking with them.

Airbnb left me with a dead body, $50,000 in damages

There was a story that was aired on the local news the morning of July 28th, 2019. This story included vague details of a pool party that went wrong and the death of a Clay High School student by gunshot. Including only one side note was that it was an Airbnb listing.

There were many details that the story failed to capture. I am the homeowner of that Airbnb listing. I had listed the home on Airbnb just over a year ago as an entire house rental, private property with horses and country escape at around a $500/night booking fee.

Of the seven or eight bookings I had, it was a great experience, until it wasn’t. I had a one guest for a one-night booking the week prior to July 27th. This person had a verified Airbnb account that included one five-star review. They didn’t offer a lot of details about their stay but like every time before, the house was prepped, the key was left, and I was gone before they arrived.

I was notified by a neighbor around 1:30 AM that something seemed wrong with the amount of cars at my property and traffic in and out. I immediately called the police to assist in removing anyone from the property, as they were all trespassing and likely causing unspeakable damage to the home.

The shooting happened shortly after that, before the police even made it there, leaving one 18-year-old man dead in my driveway. This one guest rental was a 200-300 person party of underage people and dangerous criminals. There were Hennessy bottles thrown at my horses who were on the property during this time, luckily not causing any significant harm to them.

Upon further discovery, the actual verified guest has an extensive criminal background. There was blood throughout the entire home, over $20,000 in building damages and another $30,000 in personal property that was either stolen or ruined. Although the local police recommended bleach and water, I hired a hazmat crew to come and disinfect the home and clean the immense amount of bio waste that was covering my walls, floors and furniture.

People continued to return to the home in the days following so for the safety of my family I hired private security to protect the home and property. These people are and have been at war with each other. My home just happened to be the location that the battle was fought at.

I live with the reality every day that every single person who had access to my home can clearly tell it’s only a young woman and a five-year-old boy who live here. Of all the things damaged and all the pain this has caused, there is no greater fear than the idea that these monsters could come back and harm myself and my son.

My story isn’t about publicly shaming those who did this. My goal, however, is to shed light to the darker side of hosting for Airbnb and the complete lack of restitution that they have offered per their Host Guarantee and the lack of actual vetting they do to verify a guest. Almost three months, over 50 emails and communications, and they have decided to wash their hands of this due to the fact my personal homeowners insurance stepped up and covered just under $20,000 of the damages.

The process of their Host Guarantee is basically a death march to the point hosts rely on personal finances and their own homeowner’s insurance to begin the process of putting their lives back together. Although my insurance was amazing in the process, there is still $30,000 of personal property that was accounted for in detail as a loss.

The Host Guarantee specifically states (per their contractual agreement) that they will pay the difference of insurance claims. The most recent communication is that they took a if/then method stating that if my personal insurance has stepped up, then Airbnb is free and clear of any liability.

I hope to share my experience so those who are simply doing this to share the experience of their home, improve their homes for their families, or even just make some side cash on their primary residence know that if something does go wrong, Airbnb will not stand behind you.