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.

Ransomware Attack Doesn’t Qualify as Extenuating Circumstances?

My family booked a trip in the mountains for North Carolina. Three days before our trip, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked and held for ransomware. This lead to a gas shortage and state of emergency that was declared in the state. We contacted Airbnb customer service to see if we could cancel our trip due to the state of emergency and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to make it to our destination. They told us they would look into it.

We reached out to them every day for five days, and continued to be told they were looking into it. Finally, after our trip was scheduled to be over, they came back and said it wasn’t covered under the extenuating circumstances policy but wouldn’t tell us why, even though a government-declared state of emergency is clearly listed as part of the policy. We asked for a manager to give us a call, so that they could give us a better explanation.

Instead of a call, a manager that was based in Europe emailed us to let us know that the decision was final and that she couldn’t call us in the U.S. because of the time zone difference. We asked for a manager located in North America or more specifically in the eastern time zone. She came back and said if we want to talk to someone, we can call the customer service line again and start over with a new ambassador. We still believe that our claim falls under the extenuating circumstances policy and would really like to talk to someone that understands why the decision was made to deny the claim.

Airbnb and Host Misrepresented Cancelation Policy — I Lost Over $2200

I appreciate this website as a voice to expose Airbnb’s dreadful behavior. At the end of my missive, I have two questions, and would appreciate any advise.

This last fall, my wife and I wanted to rent a house in Florida, while we considered buying a condo. Before booking, I wrote the Airbnb host and asked about the cancellation policy, as we didn’t want to lose our deposit if we ended up buying a condo. The host wrote: “Please check the cancellation policy for my listing on Airbnb for the exact details, but it’s basically you get a full refund if you cancel five days or more before your check in date.”

Before booking, I searched the Airbnb website for the cancellation policy and was directed to a page that said, “on Airbnb, hosts can choose which cancellation policies to offer to guests, and guests can review them before booking.” The web page even mentioned five days — I have a screenshot. I booked. We ended up buying a condo, and I immediately wrote the host and let her know we would not need the rental, and to please return the advanced deposit, since we were still 31 days from the check-in date. The host refused.

On appeal to Airbnb, they told me there is a clause in the terms and conditions that says for stays longer than 28 days (mine was planned for two months), the host does not set the cancellation policy, and they will not return my deposit. Classic bait and switch. Then the host lied and said “When you asked about my cancellation policy, I did not realize you were making a long-term reservation.”

The truth is I told the host my length of stay was two months, in the very first communication. Airbnb and the host both continued to keep the money, and refused to honor what was clearly promised. I have formally appealed to Airbnb management and they will not consider returning my money unless the host agrees. Dead end. I have complete records of all communications, receipts and screenshots.

I’d like to post a review of the host on Airbnb website to alert others, but Airbnb does not allow reviews unless you physically stayed at the rental. Does anyone know how to leave a review in my circumstances? I also plan to post on BBB. Any other suggestions for recourse?

Airbnb Superhost Extorted Me for a Good Review.

I encountered a very calculating and dishonest host. She will go to great lengths to make sure your negative review never sees the light of day.

I left my stay early due to the pool being frigid and unheated. I mistakenly assumed since the pool was the front featured amenity, it would be heated. I fully accept that mistake. In my previous experiences with pools, hosts have specified if the pool wasn’t heated and would offer to do so with an extra charge. When I asked the host about the pool, however, she launched into a rant about how it was too expensive to heat her pool, offered no solution, and if I wanted to swim I should go to the civic center or the Marriott.

Once she learned that my husband and I checked into a nearby hotel and left early, she acted contrite and said she would like to offer a “small refund.” I told her that would be appreciated. Next, she told me that her reviews were “very important to her,” and that she would send the refund after we both completed our respective reviews. Believing she was in good faith trying to rectify the situation, I gladly accepted.

As it turned out, her plan was to trick me into giving a positive review and once they were completed, she abandoned the refund. Reviews are permanent and cannot be revised. Therefore, I had to contact Airbnb to have my review removed and report the issue. If you take a minute to scroll through and find the few people who gave her a bad review, you’ll see that she responds in a rage, seemingly losing her ability to proofread and use correct grammar.

My only intention with this response was to make people aware of the kind of person they’ll be dealing with, because I’m sure she has done the same thing to others in the past and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again in the future. I have repeatedly tried to rectify this with Airbnb and get my real review shown and they won’t listen. They also state that there isn’t enough evidence, when it is all clearly in the Airbnb messaging system if they cared enough to read it.

Airbnb Literally Endangering People’s Lives for Profit

After making the responsible choice last year to cancel all reservations when the pandemic hit and subsequently not receiving any compensation, I received $25. I took it as an opportunity to review my cancellation policy to better protect myself to reflect the new realities of travel.

Fast forward a year later and I made my place available for the month of April and received three bookings, two of which my guests responsibly cancelled due to the lockdown in the province of Ontario. The third one admitted her travel was unnecessary and that she was coming to walk around with her boyfriend. Now she booked a non-refundable option but would not cancel the reservation because she did not want to lose the money despite her choice to book a non-refundable option. Again being responsible, I chose to cancel and the guest was refunded.

I am not the brightest, but I am failing to see how after I adapted and my guest booked a non-refundable option, how she is still being refunded. At first I was upset over the money but at some point it’s not about the money. It’s about the safety of my community and I couldn’t believe the position Airbnb put me in. They refunded some person who booked a non-refundable option and did nothing to respect my cancellation policy or do the right thing and cancel all reservations in Ontario.

This didn’t sit well so I asked them to donate the money to Black Lives Matter (I am a Black person so figured this money could go to some good) instead of refunding this low life guest. They refused, stating their policy. I was laughing at their “support” team. The guy clearly was in no position to even have a conversation and was reminiscent of a robot, programmed to repeat the policy and failing to understand what “human” is.

Companies like these are greasy and hope the collective group robot think pushes your billion-dollar company to higher profits while putting the lives of people at risk. The fact that they are allowing hosts to operate in Ontario at the moment is baffling. They are literally putting profits before the public good and this goes for housing as well. Simply ruining communities.

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.

From Free to Strict Cancellation Policy Before Stay

I live in London and I needed to book a house for my family in the same borough. My family was supposed to come here for my wedding. I found one house for them on Airbnb last October. I booked it accordingly with the cancellation policy, which reported a total refund if you cancel by 15 days before the check in date. This was perfect for me as I wouldn’t have booked a house with a strict cancellation policy in October for May given these strange times, the COVID issues related to many aspects of life and travels, as well as the age of my parents.

I even put this deadline in my agenda to remember it and not risk losing my deposit. Moreover, I remember a strange fact: I wrote to the host because when I was trying to pay to book it, the system was stuck. After a few minutes, it worked normally again. Unfortunately, my family cannot come in May as the situation with COVID is still risky and they are older people. In any case, I did not need to explain the reason to cancel the house as I was supposed to be on time to get back the whole deposit.

On March 2 when I was cancelling my reservation, I noticed a different cancellation policy in the house page on Airbnb. This ‘new’ policy said that you can have the whole deposit back only if you cancel 48 hours after the reservation. Or you could have 50% back by May 3.

I immediately wrote to both the host and the Airbnb Help Center. The host was upset, writing me back that she didn’t have my money that I had to ask Airbnb for it. The Airbnb Help Center asked for my money back from the host but she declined it. So, again, no money back for me.

Airbnb said that the booking confirmation email in my inbox reflected the correct policy. I noticed that it showed the ‘changed’ policy, not the one that caused me to book the house. It’s my fault for not having checked it properly when I received it but I was sure that it was alright. If I saw it, I would have cancelled immediately.

I also tried to get back at least 50% of my deposit, asking for it from the host. She declined, saying “I understand your frustration but it’s policy.”

Given the circumstances, this was gratuitously unfair. For this reason, I have been asking Airbnb to send me some evidence that shows what happened while I was booking, if it is possible that the host changed this policy while I was booking. My belief is based on what happened when I wanted to pay to book the house. The system was stuck for a few minutes. Is there anyone here that had this kind of experience?

Disgusting Service and Treatment for Airbnb Hosts

I am a Airbnb host and have just been in a spat with Airbnb customer service all day. For the last 12 months I have kept my Superhost status and was given a $100 voucher to use on other Airbnbs. I booked a few days away with my kids this weekend but because Auckland has gone into lockdown we had to cancel.

The host’s cancellation policy was relaxed and I was to receive a full refund. The only thing is I paid half with my coupon and half cash (on credit card). I was advised my credit card would be refunded but I was not given any information about my coupon. So I got in touch with Airbnb and they advised me that because I cancelled my booking, I would lose the coupon.

Honestly I’m in disbelief. I complained and tried to have my complaint escalated. I mean, after 12 months of earning money for them and paying thousands in fees for a measly $100 coupon, they bloody don’t refund it. Cancelling was out of my control – the host’s policy was relaxed. It is Airbnb who has kept my coupon. They absolutely refuse to issue me another coupon. It’s disgusting how they treat hosts. For this situation I never thought for a second they wouldn’t reinstate my coupon. Just very bad form and disgusting treatment.

Greedy Airbnb Host at Apartment in Hobart, Australia

February was proving to be a tough month in Perth. Effective from 6:00 PM Jan. 31 until 6:00 PM Feb. 5, the Perth metropolitan area, Peel and South West regions entered a lockdown. At the same time, out of control bush fires were raging in the Perth hills and 86 homes were lost.

I had booked a much needed holiday in Hobart for Feb. 4 and was going to catch the bus up to see my dear friend in Burnie, Tasmania, on the 11th. I had to cancel all my reservations for Airbnb accommodations and sightseeing tours, and every vendor returned my money with a full refund.

With only one community transmitted case of COVID initially reported, the lockdown was immediate. We have had an almost honeymoon period, without any community transmitted cases of COVID-19 in Western Australia for ten months due to fast and strict measures by our state government.

As a mental health professional, I had been feeling I was approaching burn out and was finding the large influx of domestic violence cases had recently deeply affected me. I was waiting for a break. It looked like with no new cases had been reported we would be returning to low risk status, or so I thought.

Knowing the importance of self care, I booked five days at an Airbnb in Hobart and was going to travel to see my friend in Burnie after that stay. When I checked the cancellation policy, which was not upfront when I booked, the link took me to a long legal written description of exemptions for COVID-19. As every other vendor had given a full refund I was lulled into a false sense of trust.

I wrote the host when I booked, briefly explaining my situation and saying I wasn’t sure if restrictions would be lifted in time to travel on the 11th. I would never have booked if I knew it was a no refund property. An honest person would have messaged back that this was a no refund property and let me change the booking. I cancelled the booking one day later, after it became clear that Wester Australia’s status as a high-risk state had not changed.

That’s when I found out the host would only return the cleaning fee of $25 and was keeping the $466. I feel so enraged by this, not just the loss of the money but the lack of compassion and greed behind it. How can the host justify keeping my money under these circumstances? What else could it be but greed?

I contacted Airbnb and their representative was very gracious but the decision is the host’s to make and he would not refund my money. I am a kind and compassionate person and enraged that people like the host get away with taking advantage of others. A belief in justice is naïve and I choose to be an open-hearted person. Writing this post was a helpful outlet to let go of feeling like a victim to the host’s greed.

Airbnb Host Will Not Allow Us to Reschedule

My family and I booked a home for five days in Sedona, Arizona through Airbnb. We were so excited to go and learned, after our booking, that our sons, who serve in the United States Army, could not travel due to COVID restrictions. We asked Airbnb to reschedule our date (they were very nice) but the policy, as they explained eventually — six emails and three calls later — states that the host ultimately decides if you can reschedule your trip or not. He would not allow us to reschedule our trip under any circumstances and thus we are out $2,800.

It amazes me that we were not informed of this policy prior to our booking and that we were told, due to COVID, we would be able to reschedule if needed. Ten of us are out of a family vacation, one that we were really looking forward to. Disappointed to say the least.