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.

Airbnb’s Cancellation Policy Leaves Guest Out $1.6K

I am planning on relocating to San Miguel de Allende so I booked a one week stay in a darling casita in January. When I realized the pandemic wouldn’t allow me to travel in January, I changed my reservation for the entire month of April. Now it looks like April is too soon to travel also so I wanted to cancel until we get the all-clear travel advisory.

I was told that I could cancel for a full refund up to 24 hours before my reservation. Now Airbnb is withholding all my money for the first 30 days (my entire reservation) and only refunding me $25 out of almost $1,600. This company sucks and I will never use them again. I will post warnings to others wherever I can. This company needs to be replaced with one that actually has customer service.

Airbnb Guests Might be Waiting a Month on Refunds

During the early days of the pandemic I understood that people were unsure about hosting strangers, especially someone traveling from another country in their house. In March, I had a few hosts either just not respond to my booking or else politely tell me that they’d suddenly had a family member turn up and therefore the room wasn’t available. They cancelled the booking and I got my money back… eventually.

Sometimes it can happen several times in a row and that can hurt you because I’m a world traveller, not a tourist, and I book for a month at a time to save money. Long after the pandemic fear was an issue, I sometimes had lazy hosts who may not have even been renting their house, just failed to respond to a booking. Sometimes it took a ridiculously long time to get my money back.

I arrived in Mexico after one fraudulent booking and I only had enough money left to take a cheap place for a week until I could afford to book again, which of course cost me more. Then I booked a really nice house in the mountains. The guy had only one review and it was terrible but I could also see that the person complaining was being completely unreasonable. I can see through those sort of reviews — some people are just whiny and expect champagne on a beer budget.

One thing that bothered me was that the guy had a long response time listed, so I tried to message him first. I didn’t get a reply for half a day. My current place was about to expire and I didn’t want to book again for a single day at a higher price, so I took a chance. I mean… people can be busy, right? So I booked for a month.

I waited. After 24 hours he hadn’t responded and Airbnb said I would get my money back. Sometimes this takes a few days. Sometimes it takes a week. Airbnb will always say that it’s PayPal’s fault or your bank’s fault, but I have a very efficient bank (Citibank) that accept intra-bank deposits instantly, and updates my account statement instantly. I don’t have that problem. When there are delays, it’s never my bank.

This time… the money just didn’t come back. I had to borrow money in order to make a new booking, which was really awkward. I’m stuck overseas. It’s hard to find work when I slap down a month’s rent and the renter doesn’t even answer. Airbnb has taken my money that really leaves me in a pickle.

I contacted Airbnb and of course it took a day to get some outsourced, incompetent idiot, to whom I complained at length, who ignored what I said, and gave me canned responses. When I complained further they escalated and then still gave me a canned response saying it could take “2-5 days” to get my pending transfer released. I pointed out that at this point it had been two weeks and then they changed their tune and said, “Well, actually it can take up to 30 days depending on your bank.”

I was just like, “No, man. Make up your mind. Is it 2-5 days or is it 30 days? It’s never been that long before.”

I’m currently at three weeks and my bank says the money hasn’t been released. PayPal say it has. Airbnb just says, “It’s not our problem.” But the thing is, I’ve had this crap happen several times this year and Airbnb just doesn’t care. I’ve been outright defrauded by hosts who’ve demanded huge (one month) deposits in cash and Airbnb hasn’t delisted them after complaining.

I’ve tried to book at places whose hosts have immediately cancelled the listing and messaged me saying, “That’s really just an advertisement. We don’t really accept bookings through Airbnb. You have to pay us directly.” Airbnb hasn’t removed those listings either.

Airbnb doesn’t care. They don’t remove fraudsters and they don’t remove people who just don’t bother answering their messages or accept bookings. It doesn’t matter how much you complain. They’d rather have millions of listings than actually weed out the BS ones and make sure that they have some sort of quality control, and their system of taking your money before the host accepts your booking is absolutely unconscionable.

If you’re a young backpacker, or a student, or you’re just living from week to week on a tight budget… if you slap down a month’s rent on a place and then it takes 21 or 30 days to get it back when the host doesn’t even bother accepting your booking, you’re up the creek without a paddle. Regardless of whether it’s your bank or PayPal’s fault, Airbnb should not do things this way. They shouldn’t take your money until the booking is confirmed and it’s absolutely ludicrous that they will take your money for up to a month on a speculative “this booking might be accepted.”

I’m so sick of having my money taken by Airbnb and having to fight with them to get it back, or have them tell me I just have to wait a month. I’m not some rich jetsetter. I’m just a schoolteacher who is trying to make a life moving from country to country. I don’t have the sort of money to have month’s worth of rent tied up in failed bookings. This system clearly has no regard for the customer’s rights and is designed with mistrust as the primary motivation. There is no situation in which it makes sense for anyone to take a customer’s money and hold onto it for a month before a booking is accepted. That’s not protecting anyone.

We’re all verified users with our passports on file. We’re not going to make fraudulent bookings. We can’t. No one’s going to book a place if they don’t have the money. If they did that even once, they could be reprimanded or banned. Instead the attitude is, “We don’t trust you. But we do trust the hosts. So we’re taking your money now just for expressing interest and even if the host completely ignores you… you’re not getting that money back for a long time so I hope you have spare cash to book something else because you might be waiting up to 30 days to get the money back. Sorry not sorry.”

It’s just not good enough. You shouldn’t pay for goods or services before it’s confirmed that they are available.

Dirty Hip-Retro Cabin in Big Bear — Not Airbnb Worthy

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The first weekend in November, my family and I (girls only trip), I stayed at an Airbnb property in Big Bear. The visit to this beautiful city, generally speaking, was nice. We arrived with no snow anywhere and were able to experience a snowstorm and see the landscape change to all white overnight.

Now I don’t know what to do. It is as if I have no voice or that my words do not matter. This is why I have sent this information to Big Bear Lake Mayor, Council and the City Manager. It is as if the host of the property I rented is a powerful man; he is getting undue favorable treatment by Airbnb. He has misrepresented his cabin, which is not in a condition to be Airbnb worthy. This host has supposedly reported me to Airbnb. I just can’t understand why and how this continues.

I originally made my reservation for the “hip-retro cabin” in August for a stay in September. On the day of check-in, we were told to cancel by a San Bernadino Forest representative because the El Dorado Fire was flaring up in the direction of Big Bear in addition to the air quality being dangerous to be outside. We had called because Google Maps advised one of two roads up the mountain was closed. All visitors were advised not to come up the mountain. Residents were okay, but visitors were advised not to come.

I contacted the host to tell him I was not comfortable going against the advice of the Rangers and that I did not want to cancel but would prefer to reschedule. The host asked me to select a date but to please avoid holidays. I chose Nov. 6-8, giving the fire time to be extinguished, avoiding Halloween and Thanksgiving. We both agreed to the new dates.

Two days before we traveled, I reached out to the host asking if it would be possible to extend an extra day because the winter weather was coming and traveling down the mountain on the 8th was not looking safe for us to drive. We are not experienced drivers in snow and certainly not during an active storm. The host was very helpful to extend another night and we paid an extra $357. Our new departure day was Monday, Nov. 9.

We arrived at the cabin around 5:00 PM on the 6th. It was getting dark, cold and windy: 38 degrees, and the storm was close. We were thankful to have arrived and get settled before the road conditions got bad. We had two cars. When we got into the cabin, as we brought all food and kitchen items inside, we noticed the countertops had old food debris and needed to be wiped. We brought Lysol wipes and used the paper towels to complete the job. It was very disgusting how much dirt there was. We decided to sit and eat our lunch that we missed hours ago and determine who would sleep where.

After eating, we put away the food and began to look around. I texted the host at 7:14 PM to ask if they were available for a call. I first had tried to reach them through Airbnb but the app was not easy to navigate. I wanted a live person to speak with and for the number I called I had to select several options. I decided that it would be easier to contact the host. In my conversation I shared that we are uncomfortable with conditions in the cabin and moving to somewhere else would not be easy with my daughter driving while it is snowing (18 years old). I wanted her to stay parked for the weekend.

Here is everything I verbally shared. There were dirty counters and floors, no dish soap, no dishwasher soap, the coffee pot was dirty/moldy with old grounds still in it, all the towels in the cabin are wet (not damp, wet), the heater on the second floor was not efficient, the third floor bathroom sink was stopped up/draining slowly and leaking under the sink, and the first floor bathroom sink had no hot water. The host’s response genuinely seemed concerned and that he wanted to help us. He sent his “house manager” within an hour.

She did not knock — just left bags on the doorstep with towels (which were also damp and smelled like cigarette smoke), dish soap, dishwasher soap, and firewood. He advised he would refund the cleaning fee, $180, and offered a cleaning crew to come the next day. We declined due to COVID-19 parameters; we were not going to allow non-family members in our space, indoors. The cabin should have been cleaned before we arrived. In addition, the storm was in full force we were not going to leave the cabin.

We had decided, as a family, we were going to stay positive and make this all work. But I do feel the $1900 I paid for the three-night stay, minus the offer to refund the $180 cleaning fee, is not what I agreed to. I agreed to pay this amount for an Airbnb Plus property that is clean and in good repair. What I got was a cabin that was decorated as advertised, “70’s hip-retro,” but I did not agree to dirt, grime, thick dust and poor heating (to withstand outside temperatures, as low as 9 degrees).

Here is my text that I sent to the host, at 6:30 PM, the last night of my stay:

We have our last night in Big Bear. My family and I have had the FULL winter experience! Wow- cold, wind, snow. Our lodging has been a little frustrating but we have made the best of it. As an Airbnb Plus property host, residing out of town, I am alerting you that the cute Retro Cabin, through poor upkeep, needs general cleaning-as pics show, in addition to my previously stated communication.

The condition makes me worry there has been no additional sanitizing due to COVID-19? Here is some cabin info: 3rd fl: bath sink plugged and leak under (we couldn’t use); and 2nd fl: heater is caked with dirt(see pic), many dishes in cupboard are dirty, dead bugs in kitchen light casing (which is not completely affixed to the ceiling-see pic), screen slider to the deck was off track/nearly blew away in wind-we had to secure it, snow coming in at slider as well as significant draft; and 1st fl: bath no hot water at sink, heater controls not safely mounted/wouldn’t turn on (didn’t use) 35-40°on 1st fl, mold on blinds. We found a vacuum &ran 15 minutes on main(2nd) floor and nothing was picked up in the bagless canister which is why we couldn’t clean the heater. (The extra towels delivered, *thank you* arrived wet – sprayed w/Febreeze – to cover up cigarette smell (unsuccessfully.)

Asking if you would consider refunding some fees? I am hoping for a fair amount. $180 cleaning fee, $357 extra day fee, Plus any additional you would deem appropriate for the inconvenience and discomfort we experienced. I will not provide a review at this time while we settle the situation, as you have been responsive to me reaching out to you. I saw on numerous reviews that you have communication with many of your guests. I would be glad to speak with you if you would like me to further elaborate on details. Thank you.

Almost immediately, he called me. He tried to tell me that my expectations were too high for a mountain cabin and that I should have stayed in a hotel since I was looking for a luxury experience. He said that he did not agree with me that anything I described was a problem and that he would be glad to reimburse the cleaning fee and, under his breath, he said he could offer me a free night at another time, but I wouldn’t want that, he knew.

He also stated after 30 minutes of trying to shift my attention from the poor lodging conditions to the fun family time and great memories we made from the weekend together. And the fabulous, stunning view this beautiful cabin offered us all weekend. And then finally, he said it. He said he would give you back the additional $357 we paid for the extra night if we gave him “a 4- or 5-star glowing review.”

I was astounded, offended, and disgusted that this man was trying to buy a good review from me to show on Airbnb. This explains all of the numerous reviews that state he’s “a great host, very responsive every time we needed something.” I now know that is an absolute red flag, in hindsight. A host should not be needed so much. Why would a host be needed? If the property is all that is represented, why would a host need to be contacted so often?

As I have taken our time, me typing this message, and you reading, I would like to conclude with a plea. A plea for a review of my entire experience. I really wanted to make things right with this host and help him with his property. I wanted to leave a satisfactory, he-did-the-right-thing kind of review. But not only did he reject my request for reimbursement, on the up and up, he has left lies and inaccurate statements in his response to my review. I was not mean or emotional when writing the review. I gave facts.

I called Airbnb the night we returned home and was able to reach a person. She advised that once she could validate the information I shared that I could be eligible for 50% of each day’s fees refunded to me. Since then, I have had messages back and forth with a case manager and most recently received one this evening from another stating that the decision to decline any additional refunds will be upheld.

What happened? Why did my request get disregarded? Please, can someone please review my file and all of the notes and the pictures I have attached here and even more in the Airbnb app? I would be most grateful for a phone call and an honest review. When will this host be held responsible for his actions, words, and dirty cabin? I have received suggestions and many angry sentiments from friends and colleagues. My hope is that Airbnb will see me as a valued customer, person, and family woman trying to do the right thing and give a proper evaluation of this property and refund what is deemed appropriate.

Strong Arm Robbery, Never Stepped Foot in Airbnb

I made an Airbnb reservation a couple days in advance in Oakland for a work-related stay that the host was aware of. I cancelled within the 48-hour timeframe due to a job termination. The stay was for Sept. 21 to Oct. 19 for $1281.27. I waited the 15-day grace period for my refund and it never arrived.

I wrote to the host inquiring where my refund was and she never responded. I never stepped foot in her home and she pocketed my $1281.27. I am a single mother with four kids that are still dependent on me. The Airbnb help center was of no help — they do not hold their hosts accountable.

I would never recommend Airbnb to friends or family; it’s been a terrible experience. Unfortunately common courtesy and hospitality are not in this host’s nature.

Money Lost After Host Lied and Airbnb Didn’t Care

I booked an apartment and thought the host was flexible… how wrong I was. Now COVID is everywhere and I had a headache, but it was not a good reason enough for a cancellation.

Airbnb let the host keep the money. I tried about everything I could. I tried to change the day of arrival for later but the host lied. He promised I could change the day then disappeared. When the host came back he told me it was not possible to change days. He booked days for new guests and left the calendar open for anyone else. I had good reviews and felt I didn’t deserve that.

The host got paid twice and also got a new payment from other guests. Airbnb let the host keep the money from both. I booked multiple apartments through Airbnb before but they don’t have any kind of service or respect for guests anymore. I used to book multiple apartments with very expensive service fees (compared to one night in a hotel). They didn’t care to help.

I can’t trust booking through the page anymore. Airbnb service centre sent me only some automatic messages about its cancellation policy, rules, etc. Nothing necessary and not helpful. As a guest I felt like I was not important. For them it’s the same if I end up outside as long as they get the money and also the service fee. Nothing else matters anymore.

All of them took advantage of the COVID crisis but it was me who felt sick and had to cancel — nobody cared. I used to book through Airbnb because it was cheaper than hotels but with money lost it is really more expensive. Now I feel like many others better not to book anything. If they do book, they should choose other platforms and ask for better offers.