Cautionary Tale: Reservation Alteration by Guests, for Hosts

Here is a little known Airbnb policy we got screwed by: hosts who cancel a previously booked reservation do face some sort of penalty or automatic bad review. For a complete host cancellation, there is a 10% credit from Airbnb for the guest to rebook with another host. However, hosts that only partially withdraw the reservation are not penalized, the guest does not get the 10% rebooking credit, and when the reservation alteration feature is initiated by the guest (due to the host’s circumstances) to receive a refund, the recalculation formula for reducing the number of days penalizes the guest, not the host. This process did allow me a refund, but several days later my credit card was fraudulently charged again for the amount of my refund.

Forget about getting any help from customer service; they just keep passing you off to another case manager for another go around. If you do get someone who knows how to correctly apply a refund, it takes up to 15 business days to get it. I finally went to my bank to submit a fraudulent charge report.

We learned a hard lesson. It was not possible to find another house with similar amenities in the same location with such short notice. My suggestion to others is before you book with any host, ask if the house is currently on the market, or undergoing renovation. Also, I suggest that you review carefully Airbnb’s “reservation alteration policy.” Unless the host cancels the entire reservation, the guest gets screwed. I was instructed by an Airbnb case manager to “alter” my confirmed reservation for the reduced number of days the host could accommodate us. Do not do this if the reason for alteration is due to the host’s circumstances, not the guest’s. Have the host cancel the reservation and start over, either with the same host or a new one.

Airbnb Lied And My Credit Card Company Reimbursed Me

In May 2017, a Swedish Airbnb host failed to provide essential amenities described in the listing, obliging me, the guest, to check into a hotel for the first of a week’s visit in costly Stockholm. The first Airbnb agent contacted by phone promised to rebook me and offer compensation for expenses but the next day another Airbnb agent wrote that no compensation would be offered and, instead of rebooking me, gave me a minimum reimbursement claiming I had cancelled the reservation (not far enough in advance for a full reimbursement as per the host’s strict cancellation policy).

I tried to resolve the matter pointing out that I had never cancelled the booking but it fell on deaf ears. The Airbnb agent never replied to my showing her the agent’s name and case number I was given who had promised to rebook and offer compensation. Instead, when I placed into dispute with my bank the sum paid out in advance to Airbnb, Airbnb countered with a copy of their cancellation policy. I informed Visa I never cancelled it and that it was the second Airbnb agent who did this unilaterally and tried to lie about it. I also wrote a letter to Airbnb’s CEO in San Francisco detailing the case with names, dates and reference numbers. No one from Airbnb replied to my letter.

In the end, Visa reimbursed me because Airbnb was unable to uphold their claim with any evidence; the bank believed me. I have been an Airbnb host and guest for well over ten years. None of this mattered. I will think twice before I use this intermediary agency to book any future stays. Instead I will look for alternate ways to book private homes. It is truly shameful that Airbnb treats its loyal clients in such a shoddy manner.

Beware: Airbnb Price Scam for Long-Term Stays

Beware: if you adjust your Airbnb reservation during your stay, Airbnb will apply the current (i.e. the most expensive) price retroactively to the beginning of your stay. For example, let’s say you make a reservation for $100/night for four weeks. After the second week, you need to leave early and you and the host agree to do this. But the pricing model (if it’s dynamic pricing – which is chosen by the host) shows the rate to now be $150/night. Airbnb will charge you $150/night for your entire stay. I recently had this experience and was overcharged $400 – and Airbnb does not give a damn about it. On top of this, Airbnb will charge you for an extra 30 days because of their long-term cancellation policy – which Airbnb will waive if you and the host insist on it. Airbnb also removed my negative review of the host, stating it violated their policy – even though I spoke honestly about the nightmare I experienced.

Charged for Airbnb with Cockroaches with no Overnight Stay

On February 20th, I booked a stay in Fuerteventura, Costa Calma, for February 21st-28th for €360.50. Immediately after booking it, I changed the dates to the 24th-28th (for €206.47) on Airbnb and informed the host via Whatsapp (on the number listed in the Airbnb profile). Apparently this person is the housekeeper and Airbnb manager for this apartment. She told me it was absolutely no problem to change the dates. She told me she accepted it, but I could not see it reflected on my Airbnb page.

She told me that was not a problem – that sometimes it would take longer for Airbnb to accept it, but she assured me she would speak to them if necessary as she had agreed to the change. Additionally, she messaged me via Airbnb (and it shows publically on their profile as well) that they charge a €150 deposit and €70 cleaning fee (by cash, outside of Airbnb). I agreed to this.

She came to my hotel to hand me the key on the 23rd so that I could have the freedom to arrive when I wanted. I gave her the deposit and cleaning fee, and she gave me the key. We had a good talk. I only entered the apartment on Monday the 26th. She was informed about my plans and I had no problem to have it “reserved” since Saturday, should I want to arrive earlier. It took me an hour to find the exact house because she forgot to inform me of the right apartment number.

When I entered, I ran to the toilet and noticed that the bed was not made at all, and there was some linen in a bag… strange. I went back to the living room and to my disgust, I found four dead cockroaches. I was travelling with my dog, so I was afraid she would eat them; to me that looked like an infestation. If there were four dead ones in plain sight, how many more were around?

I left the place and immediately contacted Airbnb. They told me to book another place and not to worry. They did tell me that they are not responsible for any money given outside of their platform (even though I have proof I gave it to them – it openly states it on their profile and they requested it to me via Airbnb messenger). They told me that they had to contact the host directly, because none of the things that were agreed upon are actually viewed by Airbnb as enough proof, since I dealt with the housekeeper and Airbnb manager, instead of the real owner. The only number on that profile did not connect me to the owner.

The housekeeper and Airbnb manager agreed to deposit the €220 back to my account and to pay for me to send back the key to her. She also agreed to a refund by the owner. However, when I requested if the transfer could be made together via Airbnb, she then told me how unfair it was all, due to my changes and how she brought me the key, etc. How she would only make the deposit after Airbnb had resolved the case.

Airbnb has now told me that I’m only entitled to a €90 refund. Note that the owner has not yet agreed to the changes of my booking (a refund of €154.03) and Airbnb says she has to accept it, otherwise they can’t do anything about it. They also say they also can’t do anything about the bank transfer that the housekeeper and Airbnb manager said she was going to take.

According to Airbnb’s logic, I only had 24 hours to report any issues with the apartment. So because I didn’t arrive on Saturday and on Monday instead and found 50 roaches there, I am not entitled to a refund. Also, according to their logic, even if they have proof of everything, they can’t ask the owner to refund me the money for the initial changes. Nor they can ask them to proceed with the transfer back for the deposit and cleaning fee.

Airbnb wanted me to pay €360 (a full week’s rent) + €220 (deposit and cleaning fees for roaches and an unmade bed – €90 (refund for two nights) = €490.50 total for a place infested with cockroaches where I never stayed. I have all the proof necessary with them agreeing to the changes and refunds. Now Airbnb does not want to cooperate into helping me get anything.

I would like Airbnb to tell the owner to accept the initial changes so that I could at least get my initial refund of €154.03 (I have plenty of voice messages and screenshots from the housekeeper and Airbnb manager, saying these changes were accepted by the owner and that the apartment was fully managed by her). I would like Airbnb to cooperate and ensure that the transfer of €220 is made to my account with the deposit and “cleaning fee”. There is also enough proof from the housekeeper and the owner stating this money will be returned to me. Please help me fix this. I don’t want to go to the police or my lawyer.

Host Became Aggressive Asking for Personal Information

After booking a long stay costing over $2000, the host became quite aggressive and asked for pictures of me, my full name, and the address of where I lived. I find this completely inappropriate. Even if I knew the same about him, which I don’t, I still think this is inappropriate and invasive. Airbnb won’t respond to my concerns (can’t get through on phone, emails no good, and no place on the help forum for this type of concern) and I can’t cancel without losing half of the booking fee. I’m out of my mind as to what to do. Given the aggressive behavior I don’t want to stay with this host, but losing half the fee would be a big financial impact for me. I’m a bit afraid because the host already has my personal email address and some other details so I don’t want to post the listing.

The Charming Country Home Was Anything But

As we are traveling throughout France on a work assignment trying to determine where the best location is to live permanently I thought it would be best to use Airbnb. The first three weeks we spent in Colmar, France. Everyone should do their due diligence before signing up with Airbnb to check and see if they can find the same rental through a rental agency. We could have saved 20% had we done so. A property listed as “The Charming Country Home” in Viarmes, France is my horror story.

We had reserved the property for ten days. From the pictures, it looked to be a lovely place to stay. My husband was called to work down in the southern part of France very unexpectedly and we were unable to keep our reservation. Mind you, when we booked this place seven days before, this owner had no other reservations showing on her calendar. When we cancelled, she started a long dialogue on how she had to turn away people on both weekends and that she had a lost revenue of $600. Long story short, after many emails back and forth, she refunded approximately $450 of our $1009 payment.

The company my husband works for is not picking up the difference. We must suck this up. She claims that she has a strict policy for cancellations and her beloved Airbnb supports her on that policy. I understood that I would not get the fee back for the exchange from Airbnb and I was willing to pay the cleaning fee, however, not half of my money. How someone in good conscience can keep almost $550 of our money is beyond me.

We decided to take a drive to see this “Beautiful Country Home” in Viarmes for ourselves after work finished up down in Southern France. It was fortunate we didn’t stay there. Viarmes is a very depressed, dirty town that looks like it never recovered from World War II. The entrance to her charming place is decrepit, run down, rotted and disgusting. The owner conveniently lives in the south of France and isn’t around to greet you. She arranged with a neighbor to bring guests the key.

I have written to Airbnb several times to complain and have been ignored. I would like to send them pictures of the other side of the story. They need to screen these places better. This was highway robbery and I’m feeling very taken. Unless we are compensated this will be the last time we ever consider using Airbnb. I will stay in a hotel before I consider this organization.

How Long do Refunds Take after Cancellations?

I made a reservation through Airbnb for this coming August to Iceland. We paid half of the bill for $905, and the following morning I received a text from the host informing me her place was already booked and she apparently did not block it properly. I immediately called Airbnb, explained the situation and told them to cancel it and not process my deposit. The host also called them and explained what happened. Later in the day I called again as my deposit was still pending and I had not heard back from them. Of course I got another person, said she saw the comments and it would certainly be resolved. This morning I checked my checking account and, voila, they processed it. I called again and got another person who resolved it in five minutes. She said all she had to do there on their end was cancel it. Now why couldn’t they do that yesterday? Now, as we are a retired couple, we have to hold back on a few payments until the refund hits our bank, and that may take up to fifteen business days. There is absolutely no way to email a complaint to the main office.

Unresponsive Host, Good Customer Service from Airbnb

I had to cancel my reservation, so I contacted the host three weeks before, asking for a full refund, despite his strict cancellation policy. The host agreed to give me a full refund because of the very early cancellation. So I cancelled, only receiving 50% of my initial payment. Afterwards, my host didn’t respond to any of my messages regarding the other 50%. He disappeared, keeping half of my payment for doing nothing. After a lot of time was spent trying to find a way to contact Airbnb through their website, I searched for a solution externally and came across Airbnb Hell. I called the number at 1:00 AM, and was patched through to a real person in two minutes who was extremely helpful and understood my problem (after reading my messages with the owner). He transferred the rest of my refund into my account. Excellent customer service. I don’t know why it’s so hard to find a way to reach them on their website.

Careful Booking Close to International Borders

I was trying to book a weekend getaway with my husband, sister and brother in law to celebrate our anniversaries. I was looking in Niagara, NY but somehow the site was showing me places in Canada too. I did not realize this.

I found a place that looked great for the price we could afford, and the address said Buffalo, NY. I booked it and as soon as I did it the confirmation said Port Colborne, Ontario, Canada. Since none of us had our passports current I cancelled it immediately (about two minutes had gone by since I booked and cancelled). Airbnb refunded me $350 of the cost and the host was supposed to refund me the remaining $200.

You have to put a request in for the money so I did and contacted the host. I messaged her explaining what had happened and she told me she had already made plans to go away for that weekend (apparently in the two minutes it took me to cancel) so she couldn’t possibly refund me my money. She said her strict policy on cancellations allowed her to do this. I had already read that policy and it said I had a 48-hour grace period to get my money back as long as it was at least 14 days before the booked date. It was in fact 30 days before the reservation date.

I messaged her several times explaining to her that if the money was not refunded we could no longer take our trip which we had been saving for, not to mention the hassel of getting the kids and animals looked after we were gone. She kept citing the policy, but ignored the part about the 48-hour grace period when I would remind her. Then she stopped returning my messages on the app.

I contacted Airbnb directly, explained the situation, and they refunded me. This is not a complaint about them except for the fact that they were showing me properties in Canada when I was looking in New York.

 

Beware of Moderate Cancellation Policy, Negative Reviews

My family of four plus two grandparents booked a whole house in Phuket, Thailand with a moderate cancellation policy, allowing for cancellation during the stay. In the master bedroom, the en-suite bathroom smelled of poor toilet drainage, and the house was generally filthy despite the advertised housekeeper. After a few nights we decided to cancel and book ourselves into a hotel. We would have acted sooner but were very jet lagged after a 24-hour flight, We gave the host a heads up and followed the moderate cancellation policy (allowing for a 50% refund for unused days).

The host was very angry and wrote a negative review saying we were the worst experience he ever had. We left the house in a cleaner state than when we had arrived with no breakages. We were highly courteous throughout the stay. After going back and forth with the case manager Airbnb decided that the review was within guidelines. I am writing to warn future guests to document everything through email and photos and if you make a complaint do it within 24 hours even if there is a moderate cancellation policy.