Airbnb Exploitative Policies During an Epidemic

VRBO

This was my first and last time using Airbnb. I live in Nagoya, Japan and wanted my parents to visit me this summer, from April 17th to May 17th. I booked an apartment for four people in Nagoya for more than $3000. I booked early in January thinking that the summer time would be the peak season of travel here in Japan owing to the Golden Week holidays.

Then last week the coronavirus struck the whole world and within days the situation in Japan also got worse. As a result of discussions with my family we decided to cancel the trip and the reservation two months prior to the actual check-in date.

Airbnb lists “epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people” as an extenuating circumstance and we are eligible for refund. Hence, we cancelled the reservation and surprisingly I only got $70 as a refund when I paid more than $3000 to book this place.

We decided to file a refund claim under extenuating cancellation policy. I called Airbnb customer care and was initially disconnected two times when I told my story and asked for a refund (I know the names of the representatives who disconnected me as well).

Finally the third time I got in touch with an Airbnb representative who was hellbent on proof of the coronavirus spread in Japan even though the whole world is aware of the situation in Asia. Hence we submitted links to the various government websites, travel advisories, and my parents’ travel itinerary to prove that they were traveling form India.

Still Airbnb asked for more proof, saying there was no ban in Japan. The epidemic is spreading and it’s in the news. This is apparent to the whole world but Airbnb will not consider it unless someone really dies or gets infected. They want to exploit people out of their hard-earned money even at the time of an epidemic.

Even after paying more than $3000 I got a joke of $70 back, which is completely unacceptable and unfair, whether there is an epidemic or not. This depicts a perfect picture of exploitation by Airbnb and their poor host cancellation policies which are screwing with people’s mental health and robbing them of their money.

The host says that he doesn’t know how the refund came down to $70, while Airbnb says they cannot override the host cancellation policy. Who knows which side is telling the truth.

I initially thought that they would settle this on humanitarian grounds considering the coronavirus situation in the world right now but they want more proof. What more proof do they want, when the epidemic has already spread to all parts of the world? There is no regard or respect for human life.

I work hard for my money and the fact that I am being exploited for money in the wake of an epidemic and constantly asked for proof of it as though I am making up the situation is causing me so much stress and sleepless nights. I reluctantly used Airbnb for the first time knowing that as a first time user and reading other guest experiences, I might run into some trouble and, as expected, had the worst experience.

I will not be using Airbnb again. When they do not have any morals or values even in the time of a crisis or an epidemic, no one can expect them to resolve your issues when the times are less tense.

VRBO

Don’t Trust Airbnb Reviews – Delete Bad Ones

VRBO

I will file a lawsuit against Airbnb in two months, as soon as my upcoming non-refundable reservations end. I will also make a website called Airbnb Scams, Airbnb Lies and more domain names like this. I will explain all the scams, lies, misleading information, and Airbnb actions on my website in depth.

I had stayed at 28 Airbnbs in 17 months. I did hours of research to find a decent place in order to not to get screwed by Airbnb hosts. There are very few hosts honest enough in Airbnb listings, and Airbnb already knows all these scams because I have been telling them repeatedly for the last 17 months. Yet Airbnb does nothing to fix all these scams. Of course, if they remove all the scam listing, Airbnb cannot make any money.

1. You do not know where will you stay until you book and pay. If you are not familiar with the area , you will end up very dangerous place because even with 30 bad review, and a 2.6 review score there are lots of listings that still exist on Airbnb. Airbnb does not care if you are safe. They want your money.

2, Even though there are no bad reviews, it does not mean that the place is perfect because Airbnb deletes bad reviews reviews on some listings to do the host a sweet favor, just like an Airbnb case manager deleted my bad review about a host lying about me that I left his place dirty. I have recordings that show totally the opposite, and I am suing them in March.

3. Shows “kitchen” on the listing. Yet one mini fridge, one microwave and a coffee maker is not a kitchen.

4. Shows “gym” on the listing, and the gym is in the other building and belongs to some other company, or apartment. I even saw a gym listed but it was in the park.

5. Non-refundable bookings.

6. “Do not say you are with Airbnb; just say you are friend”. Most of the Airbnb hosts ask me or even say in their listing that I should tell anyone if asked that I am not an Airbnb guest. I should lie, saying I am their friend or relative. So, you are charging me $150/night and I have to lie for you? Then charge me $30 a night if you just want to scam your building staff, your neighbors, and the tax department?

7. No refunds if you stay there one night or two and find out the host lied to you about something. Airbnb may refund you the rest of the stay if you move out, but you still must pay the nights you were there just because a host lied to you.

8. Sometimes other very loud Airbnb guests will keep you up all night. There is nothing you can do.

I will write all my experiences when I make my website. One host said there was a gym, and I found out there was never a gym. In his words, Days Inn was letting them use their gym but not anymore. Surprisingly, the host found out the very same day I checked in that Days Inn did not let his Airbnb guests use the gym. Really? What a coincidence! I told Airbnb, and only got a partial refund. I lost $357 for one night, Uber payments, groceries, and wasted time and money.

28 places I have stayed, in three states and two countries. So many lies, scams, misleading information, and more. My only reason was the kitchen because I like to cook. Dirty utensils, lack of cooking materials, tiny fridges, more and more. They charge $50 – $250 cleaning fees, and yet I have to clean most of the places I have stayed.

As I said in the beginning, there are very few honest hosts. If you not spend many hours reading each listing word by word, you are screwed. There are so many hidden fees, such as for a jacuzzi, or two-bedroom apartment but the $38 price tag is for only one person, the second person is $16 extra per night, extra deposits and cash deposits. There are resort fees, this and that, and on top of all this, Airbnb charges almost $13% -15% and yet offers no real help if the host does not agree to anything.

Airbnb only helps if the host is willing to help. Otherwise you are screwed. No more Airbnb for me. I will continue to stay at hotels.

VRBO

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No Truth in Advertising: Beachfront vs. Waterfront

VRBO

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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.

VRBO

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Stealing + Worst Customer Service = Lose Loyal Customers

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I have been waiting three weeks for Airbnb to pay me AUD 1,338.33 owed to me as a host for two reservations. Airbnb has confirmed the guests have paid them but they have not paid me due to a “computer glitch” with “no timeframe” for a resolution.

My messages to Airbnb support get no replies. During calls to them I repeat the story over again, get told they will “investigate”, and no one follows up. When I requested an escalation, I was told no managers were available. I have also tried Twitter and get nothing but platitudes off them, saying there is an “open case” on my account; the case is marked as closed within the app.

The cherry on top is my current guest lied to me and has sublet my place to total strangers without my permission. I reported this user to Airbnb and have had no follow-up from them.

I have used Airbnb since 2013 as both a guest and host with a total of 47 reservations. After this horrendous customer service experience, never again. Airbnb has clearly overexpanded with all the ridiculous ‘experiences’ and has forgotten to look after its original customer base. The trust culture and sharing economy values it was founded on no longer apply.

You are not too big to fail, Airbnb. Word of mouth built you up and will tear you back down again. Fix your shoddy app full of glitches; I thought you were supposed to be a shining example of Silicon Valley disruptive tech?

It’s totally outrageous that Airbnb expects me to wait while they fix their crappy tech when they could just pay me instantly; they already have money belonging to me. A painful realisation that there is nowhere to turn to when the s$%t hits the fan with this company, one that will drive me back to hotels and real bed and breakfasts as a guest. I will never host again.

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Empty Airbnb House with no Utilities Hooked up in Winter

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This happened this weekend. It was my second time using Airbnb and what a nightmare this has been again. The first time I booked with this host she called me at 1:00 PM for my 5:00 PM check in to tell me she had no water but she would be willing to bring me portable water. I needed to shower. She said okay.

I had to call Airbnb and they gave me my money back since I had at that time booked a second Airbnb, and that host was so good especially since it turned into a really last minute booking. I drove by my original booking and saw that there was a tag on the door that showed the water was turned off due to lack of payment. Okay, so the poor girl ran into tough times. I then felt really bad for her, so decided to give her another shot two months later. She accepted my booking and didn’t answer any of my messages, which was a red flag.

I showed up. It was -30 C and snowing. There was a little more than a foot of snow from the sidewalk to the door with no footprints, and a bunch of newspapers that were brown in the mailbox. There was no smoke from the chimney and clearly no doors had been opened at this house in at least a month. I took pictures of the front and back. The snow had not been shoveled all winter so far and clearly no one – upon examining the back of the house – had lived there in months.

I took pictures and called Airbnb. After half an hour they told me they were going to pass my file on to someone else who could actually help me. After going to the event I was going to that night it was 10:00 PM and Airbnb had not assisted me at all. I found a hotel and booked it.

The next day, there was still nothing from Airbnb. I sent messages and got radio silence. I used my points and booked yet another hotel, so my $122.22 booking had now turned into $122.22+$135+$140. I couldn’t afford to keep booking hotels so I booked another Airbnb for my final night at $82. I had now spent $479 on accommodations that I budgeted and booked for originally $122. Just an extra $357… No big deal, I guess.

Finally I was so fed up I called Airbnb again. They informed me my file had never been passed on; I need to restart the process. Yep, do it all over again. This time they were wondering if they could possibly find me a new Airbnb. I’m like: “look at my profile; I already did so and paid for it. Finding me a new Airbnb should have happened two days ago.”

At this point I was just begging to get my original booking money back, and the host’s stay taken down so no one else had to deal with this ridiculous scam artist. I’m not holding my breath.

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Fake Airbnb Superhost, No Refund Coming

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I’m sure most of the time Airbnb hosts are genuine and the property listings are real. But unfortunately for me – first time user – I booked what looked like a fantastic apartment in London through a host and paid a 50% deposit. The next morning, I received an email from Airbnb stating that my reservation was cancelled and my deposit would be refunded.

Airbnb took my money and there’s no refund as of yet. When I spoke to Airbnb, they admitted that the host was a fake but did not give a crap that I would be out of pocket $1,7436 until they processed my refund. Yes, I appreciate that they picked up that host was a fake within 12 hours but it’s a pity it’s going to take more than a week for the refund.

They’ve scared off this potential customer forever, and I will tell everyone not to trust Airbnb. They should have done their checks before letting a fake host post a listing. To top it off, the fake host is still active and is still marked as a SuperHost.

Charged for a Private Single Bedroom I Didn’t Book

I never completed confirmation for my booking and obviously did not stay at the property. However, I was charged almost $90 Canadian. There seems to be two hosts affiliated with this property and they seem to be playing tag with each other, claiming the “main” host is not getting back to the one that has responded to me.

It would appear that he has many positive reviews so I am not sure why there is such a delay or hesitation to resolve this matter. I’m sure many of you can relate when you are traveling on a budget and cannot deal with having nearly $90 CAD removed from your bank account without a reason.

Airbnb laissez-faire when it comes to customer service

In April, I booked a room in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico wanting to visit a festival in January 2020. The room was not cheap. The reviews of the host were good. The listing contained a street name. After booking, I asked for a full address. To this day I have no exact address and the confirmation email link leads to a museum.

This feels like a complete fraud. Airbnb already took hundreds of euros off my credit card, offering no refund so far since I have complained. To make sure I did not get stranded or relocated far away from the action, I also booked a hotel (this week) because I think Airbnb is very laissez-faire when it comes to customer service.

I travel alone and safety is a priority. I am done with the fact that they do not check the location of the rental nor do they check if the host has any right to rent it out. Beware because you may be next to get stranded or lose a lot of money. No more Airbnb for me.

Airbnb Service Charges not Returned on Cancellation

I was interested in a villa in Colombia for March (four months from booking). It was a large villa and I wanted to confirm the guest. I asked the host for three weeks to cancel, rather than his normal 48 hours. He agreed and this was documented clearly in Airbnb Messenger. I cancelled after two weeks as I could not organize the guests and Airbnb refused to return their service charges of $864.79, citing their policy.

The end result was Airbnb Customer Service protected the customer and left the host and the guest out to dry, the complete opposite of customer service and common sense. This wasn’t a last-minute cancellation. This was a documented exception for four months from now. Airbnb protected their bottom line and sold their soul.

I pity the poor people who are getting excited about the Tokyo Olympics with Airbnb. They are lined up for a living hell. Frankly, I think that any normal travel company would never have a strict 48-hour cancellation policy. That really is the opposite of customer service.

Cancelled after Four Minutes with Moderate Refund Policy

I booked an apartment in New York. I made sure there was a moderate refund policy. I immediately realized I had mixed up the dates and within the space of about four minutes, I cancelled the reservation (sending an apology and explanation to the host).

Now, this was a bit of a last-minute thing and the booking was for two days in the future (I actually had meant to book the day after, hence the mix up). I only received the cleaning fee back. No other refund was given. My request for a refund via the site was ignored. I called their customer service, who extremely patronizingly ‘explained’ to me that I hadn’t read the rules properly and I should be more careful in future to read the rules.

The rule listed is: “Free cancellation for 48 hours. After that, cancel up to 5 days before check-in and get a full refund minus the service fee.” I’m aware that I booked leaving only two days before checking in, but I’m pretty sure that the words “after that” signify that there are no strings attached so long as it is within 48 hours. Surely the “5 days” part of the rules only apply after 48 hours?