How Does Airbnb Handle Accusations of Racism?

I had traumatising and frustrating experiences with Airbnb. I had been a successful guest many times then a host started persecuting me. She had mental health issues. Dealing with Airbnb’s overseas call centre led to extreme frustration and going around in circles with promises to escalate my calls, but ending up circling back to the same useless agent refusing to address the bizarre and inappropriate behaviour and actions. The host started leaving parcels at my door and ringing me after I had left, and it was all super scary and odd. Airbnb showed zero interest.

My second issue was as a host I complained about extremely poor customer service with Airbnb. Rather than actually investigate my complaint, I received an email from Airbnb accusing me of racism. It took twenty emails for them to even begin to provide information on this accusation.

This was my very first potential hosting experience. A prospective guest only wrote to me in a Chinese script and in very incomprehensible and confusing English. Airbnb said they would translate, and did nothing. I was falsely accused of saying if someone comes to Australia they need to speak English. I was also accused of expressing frustration about an agent. None of the language was racist; I complained about the ignorance, aggression, and stupidity of the agent. If I’m complaining about the agent that is different from abusing an agent.

Thirdly, the comment that I said that someone needs to speak English in an English-speaking country is absolute rubbish. Airbnb repeatedly said “it’s an international platform”, I had no right to expect English correspondence or communication, and I was going to lose my Superhost privileges. It was then that I said that if someone is staying with a host in their private residence in Australia then they need to write to the host in English. I was receiving correspondence in a Chinese script and in incoherent English that made no sense. This was vital information such as when they would arrive, who was staying, etc. I said I should not be penalised as a host if I have not received any comprehensive communication.

What I said was not racist. I said I would host the guest when Airbnb finally agreed to provide translation, which they never did. I only finally refused the guest when they rang me and made loud strange noises and hung up – and it was a third party booking.

Airbnb offered to terminate their stay as they broke the rules then turned around and accused me of racism. My housemates are Taiwanese. One of them speaks minimal English but his partner speaks well enough so there are no issues communicating – so to accuse me of racism is completely bizarre. Airbnb has proven that nothing I said is racist.

This is on top of glitches fixing my DOB on the app. I still can’t do it, which has resulted in the miscalculation of my payout from a guest, issues uploading pictures, and issues getting a photographer. Airbnb insists that I haven’t verified my email despite having had an active guest account for years. My complaints against Airbnb remain uninvestigated.

I spoke to an Airbnb representative from the USA office. He refused to try to pronounce my name correctly. I asked him to try again as it’s six letters and two syllables; I shouldn’t have to repeat my name to people who insist on not even reading it. This led to a huge exhausting stand off whereby he repeatedly refused to give it a go. I said he was able to employ his reading skills in any name even a “foreign” one, which he twisted into me saying he couldn’t read.

I ended up speaking to his supervisor about the experience of being accused of racism. She was extremely cold hearted, aggressive, and just a very deeply unpleasant person. She spoke over me in a monotone the whole time. She told me that the email that was sent to me was a warning based on a customer report. She told me that the terms and conditions meant that any customer could make any allegation and Airbnb would back them up and send out warnings. I said to her that every correspondence and interaction I’ve had with the customer has been through the Airbnb messenger platform so they can have a look at that and advise whether I have actually been racist or not. She told me it doesn’t matter – if the customer feels that I have been racist, it doesn’t matter if the messages back that up or not.

She continued to speak over me repeatedly when I asked her why I did not receive this explanation from Airbnb earlier. She refused to answer and just cited fine print in terms and conditions. She was cold and aggressive, just spoke over me, and dominated the whole conversation. When I asked her why this was not investigated by looking at the messages she said it doesn’t matter what the messages say – if the customer says you’re being racist, we will send you out a warning. I said I never once spoke to the customer or even met her. Therefore the customer could only have been basing allegations based on what I wrote; why didn’t Airbnb investigate that?

She kept going around in circles, telling me that Airbnb can send out official warnings no matter what the investigation says and then she circled around and said that it had been investigated. That’s why I wasn’t kicked off the site. I asked why I didn’t receive an email saying that to me and retracting the warning. She refused to answer the question but would just aggressively change the subject and speak over me.

I asked her to put in a racist complaint against the customer then – she said she “didn’t have a problem doing that” but she didn’t say that she would. I don’t believe she would’ve done that. I then asked her to put in a racist complaint against her and the other representation to whom I had spoken, and she said that she would put something on my file. I said “no, I want you guys to be sent an official warning based on my feelings just as you sent me an official warning. I want the official warning to be on your file the way you have an official warning on my file.”

She just spoke over me and started throwing terms and conditions at me. She was very aggressive, very dominating, and domineering in the conversation. She spoke over me the whole time in a cold, almost sociopathic monotone. When I asked her to get a supervisor to call me she point-blank refused to guarantee that and said she would ask her to try to call me – but I don’t believe she will. There has been no response from the founders or the supposed customer service chief.

Multicultural Hosts Slammed with Xenophobic Claims

This is a long story, one too long for me to live all over again as it still is stressful and leaves me anxious. However, I just discovered Airbnb Hell, so I decided to share my story and hopefully help future hosts. My wife and I have been hosts on Airbnb for a year. During the past year we had more than 250 guests from all parts of the world, from all “races”, backgrounds, sexual preferences, genders… you get my point. We are artists who love to meet different people, with different habits. It’s inspiring to us; that’s one of the reasons we started this whole Airbnb thing. We have a wall full of letter already, with love letters from most of the guests who came here. This wall is in the dinning room for everyone to see we are proud of being good hosts and making people feel comfortable in our home, that we insist guests look at it as their home while they stay with us.

My solution for hosts with problematic guests is: accept a guest, wait a couple of hours, and then phone Airbnb to evict the said guest for breaking house rules. We got a reservation from a non-English speaking guest. For that reason it was imposssible to communicate that this is a home, not some hostel. When you can’t communicate with your guest, or when your other guests (we list two rooms) can’t communicate between themselves, the system doesn’t work.

It says in our “rules” that we really want the guests to have a *basic* knowledge of English, French, Italian or Spanish (none of these languages are even our first language). The guest made a reservation, and send a message with really broken english that made no sense at all. It looked more like a Korean-to-English Google translate job. We had to decline the reservation (this was like two months before the actual arrival, so there was plenty of time to find another place) The guest got very offended and called Airbnb. They gave us a penalty and then slammed us with their “inclusion policy”.

I wrote this enormous email, asking for them to see our previous reservations and feedback (we never had anything lower than four stars). I also said that with our history of good hosting with no prejudice at all to creed, color, race, gender was never a issue, sending us that inclusion policy was a bit pretentious, as we just want to have good communication in our house. We also said that if we can’t communicate with a guest we can’t explain the house rules, and it would be worse to have a guest here that would break a rule; then Airbnb would have to find him another place. For us, as decent open-minded humans, we would have felt really bad to kick another human out just because of that. Because if you don’t understand English, how can I explain anything to you?

Airbnb policy says I cannot discriminate and should use tools to communicate with my guest when they are impaired in any way: deaf, blind. This was not the case. The person was not impared at all.

This is where the fun starts. We got a reply from Airbnb support saying: “We are deeply distrubed that a host of ours find our inclusion policy pretentious.” It’s cleary writen in the email “I find the action of you sending me this policy a bit pretentious.” I never said the policy itself was pretentious. Even with my history of bookings, that makes no sense for me to say. They insisted I found it pretentious, gave me a penalty for it, blocked the dates the guest wanted, and didn’t let me book them to another person.

The next time a guest comes claiming he “can’t communicate” you accept him, and then you try and explain the rules to him. When he can’t understand them, you just call Airbnb. It’s not a very humane thing to do, but it’s basicly how Airbnb works. If the guest was here and I had done that I would have been paid. Most importantly, I wouldn’t have received a penalty or had my dates blocked.

Nazis Kicked us out of Airbnb and onto the Street

I want to tell you a humiliating story about me and my six friends. From June 7-11 we went to celebrate a bachelor party in Berlin. We are seven men from Israel, so we wanted privacy. We decided to take an apartment through Airbnb, sadly only after we discovered that it was illegal in Germany. Anyway, we decided to go for an apartment because we wanted privacy and to celebrate a little. In the photos we saw a two-story villa; in retrospect, it was only the upstairs area. In addition, the owner insisted that some of the payment be made in cash. I assume that because of tax matters, she prefers black money.

When we arrived we saw that the neighborhood was very exclusive. Then we discovered from the cab driver that the neighborhood was not sympathetic to strangers; he was surprised that we were staying there because it is on the east side. Anyway, we got there and the host’s daughter welcomed us. She was nice, told us we could have our party; to repeat, she told us we could celebrate. I asked her – because the Middle Eastern mentality is different – if it was okay to make some noise. She was all smiles and explained that her parents were away for two weeks. Then she walked away.

The day the nightmare began, the host’s son came into the picture and decided to be our surprise visitor. He arrived at 7:00 AM when everyone was asleep. When I woke up, I saw messages saying that he wanted to kick us out because we drank a little that evening and celebrated, as the host told us we could. I told the host that from now on, I would make sure everything was to her satisfaction… and indeed it was.

On the third day we went for a walk. Since it was a very hot morning and there was no air conditioner in the apartment, I opened the windows in the rooms to get some air. Because of an open window, they tried to kick us out. What kind of a joke is it to kick seven guys out on the street in a foreign country?

When we got to the apartment, we tried to talk to him but after half an hour of persuasion I saw that he really enjoyed lording his authority over us. He stood with a smile on his face. I decided to tell him that I think that if we were from Sweden or Denmark, this situation wouldn’t have happened. At the height of his stupidity, he agreed and told us he was a Nazi and did not care about us at all.

We asked him to call the police. Instead he called his criminal friends to come and threaten us. One of them even wanted to escort us to our car. When we did, the entire neighborhood came to see us humiliated and even enjoyed it. We asked him why he was doing this, and he said because men like us cannot be in such an area. I filmed the host’s son and my friends and decided that we would not be silent about this humiliation.

Video file of the incident

Airbnb Forces Political Views on Account Holders

I opened an account with Airbnb, and in mid-January 2017 made a reservation for a five-night stay in the US Virgin Islands. I paid the host with my visa card, but when I tried to log into my account again a few days later to ask the host a question, a website popped up asking me to sign on to a so called (political) pledge, including that I would not be discriminating based on race, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. The website gave me two options: either agree to their one-page nondiscrimination pledge, or cancel my account. It stated that if I did not agree to their nondiscrimination pledge that I would not be able to do business with Airbnb in the future. As it is none of Airbnb’s business to impose their political views on me, and in this way insinuate that I would be engaging in such activities, an approach I find totally un-American, I had no choice but to press the cancel option, thereby cancelling my account. That, however, also cancelled my reservation, and I am now fighting Airbnb through my bank and visa for a full refund. I have instead made my reservation with VRBO. For me, it is never again, Airbnb.