Beware Custom Pricing Algorithm used by Airbnb

The original listing price of this Airbnb was $63 per night. This is when you look without dates, like you are planning a few days here and there while traveling and don’t know the exact dates. Once the dates are added, the price can go up four times in the same month. Not seasonal, but because there is an algorithm used by investment property hosts to help them surge prices.

There is nothing to indicate which hosts use surge pricing so if you use a filter for prices but don’t add dates the lowest price for the month shows up. The price we were billed was considerably different. Shown below is the bill summary and a screenshot of the page the unit was listed for. When I made the reservation I was in a hurry and I didn’t pay much attention to anything past the initial price on the main page. The bill is summarized below.

I went back to go through a reservation process for five days (but didn’t actually reserve the place). It started out with the $63 per night. After I put in the start and end dates for a five-day stay, a bill summary popped up showing a very different price. This shows the price going to $252 (four times $63) and then being reduced to $126 for long stay discount.

Please explain how this could be advertised at one price and then changed completely upon going through the steps to make a reservation.

$258 per night x 5 = $1290

(subtract long stay discount)

$1290-$645 = $645 (for 5 nights) is $129 per night

Cleaning – $49 service fee – $89.53 occupancy taxes and fees =$162.38

Total : $945.91

Airbnb Changes Payment from 1300 to 221 Euro

On July 6th, 2018, I accepted an instant booking for travelers in distress in Paris. For two nights in high season fashion week for a group of eight people the price was high: 1300 euro. However, I accepted them under normal pricing guidelines due to the huge occupancy.

I had a group of eight people arriving and stayed one night of the two nights; the next day at 4:00 PM an email from Airbnb stated they had cancelled. I was paid 221 euro in the end. As the group left at 4:00 PM I could not manage a big cleaning of four hours immediately (it needs to be booked) and I had paid extra night service for keys. I also requested 150 euro, and nothing was paid when I needed to pay them a bonus and for a taxi and emergency service.

The only comment was that Airbnb decided to change the price to 221 euro. Whether this is low or high season, for eight people it’s a joke; even one night in a hostel one would pay 550 euro for eight people due to high season. I am beginning to file a claim with a lawyer as nobody was able to comment or give merit to that price adjustment and I even wonder if Airbnb did not get 1300 euro and paid me 221 euro.

I am happier on because sincerely they would not alter my price or cancel a booking or be silent. The insurance of Airbnb in another case is not working so there is no advantage at all dealing with Airbnb. If they banned me, I simply would not care because I am on another platform which is fair. Airbnb is a thief; no one should alter an agreed contract between the buyer and the seller making the price 1/8 of what it was.

Price Gouging Airbnb Host in the NY Catskills

Our family is planning a trip to New York. Upon finding a house that fit our needs and that was in our price range, we decided to contact the host for more details. We liked what we saw and heard, so we decided to book the seven nights, paying with our credit card through Airbnb. After the request for booking was made and after having several messages between the host, Frann (the host) decided to significantly raise the price per night of the house, and raise the cleaning fees. Therefore, the Airbnb fees were raised, adding an additional $1200 dollars to the total bill. Frann was not willing to accept her advertised price. Therefore we had to cancel our reservations. Under the Hosting Responsibilities portion of Airbnb, the host is required to advertise the correct price. I’m very disappointed and makes me leery about using Airbnb for future rentals.

Bait and Switch: Unethical Airbnb Owners

This story is regarding my Airbnb rental and my host, Caroline. On December 17th, 2016 I made a reservation with Caroline to rent a home in San Pedro, CA, I received confirmation of my reservation and at that time my credit card was charged $1,829 for a one-week rental of the home. The rental dates were from February 18-25, 2017. On December 18th, 2016 I wrote to ask Caroline whether, during our stay, we could have a luncheon for my 90-year-old mother in law. She wrote back saying that would be no problem. Then, on December 19th, 2016, I was shocked to receive the following email:

“Good morning! I spoke with the owners this morning again about your booking and they are really worried about a party and are not keen to it any longer. They went to a neighborhood party and a few people mentioned that they were not happy about the last party and would report them. I’m sorry. I wish I could change their mind and they are sorry too but they can’t afford the risk. I hope you guys can understand. They also mentioned the house was booked at $200 and that they can’t afford to stay at a nice hotel for that and that they’d prefer a minimum of $250 per night. I’m not sure how our minimum got changed to $200 but that wasn’t correct. There’s been some software changes in the system but we can’t figure out how that could have changed. I hope this isn’t all too disappointing. I’ve never asked for a guest to cancel but this is what the owners want me to do. If you guys can make it work then I’ll need you to accept the changes or if it can’t work, which I’d understand, then you can cancel. Again, I’m really sorry about having to chance this on you. But I hope you’ve got enough time until February to choose another place if that may be.”

I had made a reservation in good faith to rent this property and now, with less than 60 days until the short-term rental began, I was being told the rental cost was being increased by 24%. As this rental was found on Airbnb, I contacted them to ask about this uncomfortable situation. I was contacted by two customer service representatives who said this was absolutely not acceptable behavior, that it was a “bait and switch” tactic, and against Airbnb’s policies. A few days later another representative from Airbnb contacted me and said she would work to resolve the situation. Instead, on December 27th, 2016, they informed me my reservation was being cancelled. I believe the actions taken by Caroline were illegal under California State Law, specifically regarding short-term rentals: “If you have a month-to-month (or shorter) periodic rental agreement, the landlord must give you at least 60 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is greater than 10 percent.”

Three Months in Costa Rica. When did the Price Change?

I’ve been planning a trip to Costa Rica for three months, from January to April of 2017. I started looking for places a couple of weeks ago. I found a home for just over $1000 per month. It seemed like a good deal so I booked it. The entire cost with Airbnb fees was $3215. I was charged $1071 to cover the first month’s rent. That amount was immediately charged to my credit card. Within a few days I started getting friendly text messages from a person who helped the host of the home I was going to rent. A few days later this person informed me that I would not be able to stay at the home I had rented for the entire three months. He explained that the owner, Mac, had Alzheimer’s and did not know what he was doing. He offered to help me find a different place to stay for the remaining two months of my visit to Costa Rica. He informed me that I would only be able to stay at Mac’s home for the month of January.

The next day I went on Airbnb to check the reservation and the price had gone from $3215 for three months to $11,976 for one month. I also checked my credit card and Airbnb had processed $11,976 to be charged to my account. I immediately called Airbnb to find out what was going on. They expressed surprise and promised to get to the bottom of the situation. I was also in communication with Mac by text and his helper, Luis, by phone and text. They blamed the Airbnb app and the Airbnb reps blamed the hosts. At one point I was informed by Airbnb that Mac offered to lower the price from $11,976 for one month to $3000. I explained that this was unacceptable to both parties and they finally agreed that I would only be charged $1071 for the one month I was going to be there. When I received the final statement from Airbnb it was $1161 for the month with some extra charges thrown in by Airbnb. I have requested a full refund of the $1071. Also, the $11,976 that was going to be charged to my credit card was not completely refunded. Instead they refunded $11,886 charging me for their and Mac’s mistakes. Talk about Airbnb hell! I’m waiting to hear from Airbnb as to the $1071 refund and a complete refund of $11,976. To be continued.

Incorrect Airbnb Pricing

I booked 9 days in Brooklyn NY. When I reserved the days, it said it was $78 for each night. I didn’t check my email, but saw the difference when I looked at my credit card bill. It stated two nights were $107, two were $89 a night, and the rest were $97 a night. I NEVER saw any price but the $78 a night. Airbnb says that couldn’t happen, but it did to me. They will do nothing for me, so my trip was about $200 more than I anticipated. On top of that, the host did not have all the amenities they listed, they slept during the day on the living room sofa, and wanted us to be extra quiet coming and going because their neighbors were unhappy they were doing Airbnb. I imagine they were not supposed to according to their lease. I would never do Airbnb again, and would NEVER suggest it to anyone else!