No Refunds, No Matter What? An Airbnb Guest Weighs in

It was my first time using Airbnb and I was excited. After researching and looking at over 20 places in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I found a place that looked amazing (which it does, in the pictures). But this is not about how amazing the place is or the conditions of the place once I arrived. This is about eight hours later booking the place for a last-minute trip.

Once I booked, a few moments later I got really sick, and it seems I got food poisoning. I’ve traveled around the world for work and always enjoyed using mainstream hotels. Because of this, I never considered that there would be a subjective and erratic refund policy where one place gives you a 48-hour full refund with no questions asked and another just plain no refunds… period.

I was finally able to get a hold of the host, and they advised me to ask Airbnb to resolve this. After finally getting someone with Airbnb they said they couldn’t do anything and the host was the one that could refund me… It turned into a ping pong hot potato game and was getting nowhere. At this point I was vomiting and feverish with a rash all over my body.

They said, “Well, it was on the refund policy when you booked.”

I was confused since I did not see “anything” about this anywhere, so I looked. After running a search on the page in the browser, I found it past “everything” including the reviews at the bottom in the footer area of the page.

At this point I spoke with my business credit card company and will need to wait for the charges to post, so I can submit a claim. This is absolutely unethical and in a world where most services are customer-centric I am baffled. I spent some time reading about nightmare situations from hosts here. Airbnb seems to be based on an overall unethical business model. I’ve had people rent my home and destroy it to the point it cost me $30,000 to repair, so I understand the side of being a host. It seems the business model is focused on a win-win model that only Airbnb can win.

Do not use Airbnb unless you are comfortable losing money. Look for the refund policy, which is randomly set by the host. Airbnb is not there to protect you as a consumer. They are there just to make the process easier for you to spend money and not be safer.

If you are a host, you need to be comfortable in being able to resolve issues without Airbnb being involved or have insurance that covers vandalism. You are playing in their sandbox, and they hold all the cards. Unless you are one of those individuals that have the time to go after them and get pleasure out of it… your time on this earth is better spent elsewhere.

To my friends and people in Puerto Rico: you are the reason our reputation at Airbnb has fallen so low. I am deeply disappointed. My time is worth more than your petty no-refund unethical smoke screen expense. As a business owner, I know personally you will pay a hefty price, and it’s not always in money.

Waking up with Ants and Insults in the Room

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I had a terrible experience with my stay. We saw condiments and a drink left in the fridge and thought nothing of it. I saw two ants in the room upon arrival and thought it wouldn’t be a problem. We had left to explore the city of San Juan and then arrived back to the Airbnb at night and went to sleep. In the morning, the hotel room had ants all over the bed and night stand. We woke up in the morning with ants all over us. Then we knew something was up when there was mold on the shower curtain, the bed sheets had stains and someone had left their bathing suit on the balcony.

We were about to leave the hotel room in the morning and a man was trying to enter the room saying that he was housekeeping, even though he didn’t have any cleaning supplies. The area of old San Juan has not recovered at all. We hardly saw any guests or people in the area. The closest beach was closed due to the Hilton Caribe reconstruction. The nightlife in old San Juan is a 40-minute walk so nothing is really walkable distance like the post had said. I explained my situation to the host and the host immediately became aggressive. Then resorted to name calling. They called me a millennial. I thought it was pretty funny at first but it was pretty rude.

Worst Possible Reaction from Airbnb in Puerto Rico

I spent the last 15 months working with my extended family to arrange a trip to Puerto Rico where my wife’s family is from. If you can imagine the time it takes to get three families, their children ranging from 2-14, and your in-laws to settle on a date that all can miss work, school, sporting event’s, doctor appointments and save you know this is no small task. That being said, we worked hard at it as my in-laws are aging and we felt it was important for our children to experience the island with them and share stories.

Finally the date was set and as we drew nearer to the trip the excitement increased for all involved. Then the hurricane hit and our mood quickly changed. Our thoughts changed to concern over loved ones that we could not contact and overall remorse for those on the island. My attention turned back to our plans and it was evident that we would not be able to make this trip with small children and aging parents that have some medical concerns.

When I reached out to the host about the cancellation I was told that they had strict cancellation policies and I would lose half of what I had paid. this was escalated to Airbnb as a extenuating circumstance. The site states that “valid extenuating circumstances include: significant natural disasters or severe weather incidents impacting the location of destination or location of departure and urgent travel restrictions or severe security advisories issue and reason after the time of booking, by an appropriate national or international authority (such as a government office or department).”

Both of these reasons were valid in this case. I was told by Airbnb that this did not meet the definition and they suggested that I rebook with the host or try to work it out with her. It amazes me that this was their response and that they provided no assistance whatsoever. It is disturbing to know that both the host and Airbnb are will to risk the well being of their guests to make money. The current state of Puerto Rico is still a disaster area and the money I lost is small to what they are suffering. I do wish I could have that money back to spend time with my family but it would have been even better to be able to donate it to my family still in Puerto Rico. Shame on them.