Seniors Beware: Don’t Waste Your Money

Months ago I booked two separate Airbnb rooms in two different cities. As the date neared for our travel, my husband and I both became ill. With a week’s notice, I notified Airbnb and the hosts that we had to cancel. I received a note that they could only refund $65 out of $237 due to their “policy” which they never shared, and could contact the host if I wanted more of a refund. I contacted the host and she related that Airbnb hadn’t paid her a cent; how could she give us a refund? In addition, she had no problem with the cancellation. Long story short, out of $500 paid (for two people) I’ve still only received $65. Trying to contact Airbnb is a nightmare in itself, and good luck trying to find someone to help. This is all still pending, but we are both seniors and losing so much money is a hardship. I will shout to the rooftops to anyone who will listen to avoid this company at all costs and book through other, more reputable sites.

Airbnb Charged Me Twice, Still No Reservation

I was trying to make a reservation for three nights at a location that would have cost me $35/night. I started working on this around August 26th. My ID couldn’t be verified as it wouldn’t link to my Facebook account, despite the fact that I’m very active on it. I have 339 friends which they said is enough (besides, I’m particular about who I allow to see my personal information). At first, despite it being super annoying, I tried to get my ID verified but I just couldn’t do it. The second I told them that I was done trying to get involved with their company, my ID was suddenly verified and I was told I should go back on Airbnb and make a reservation… which I did. BIG MISTAKE. They charged me $101 on September 2nd and then the next day sent me an email saying that my reservation was cancelled because I wasn’t verified. On September 5th, my money was refunded so I just thought I would leave it at that. They kept sending me emails saying that I needed to verify my ID, which I didn’t bother doing.

On September 8th, I went to go use my debit card and I was overdrawn! I checked my account and due to another $101 withdrawal Airbnb made, I was now overdrawn my 28 cents. I called Airbnb and they refused to connect me to a supervisor. I probably had to ask at least eight times. Then I spoke to a representative who accused me of lying and saying that they only charged me once. That’s right… the supervisor pretty much called me a liar. She said that she would email accounting but since then I haven’t heard from her. She was there on Friday and left without calling me back. Today one employee ended up hanging up on me, but not before refusing to let me talk to a supervisor. Then another at first told me the supervisor was busy, then said the supervisor wasn’t there, then when I asked him for the address so I could use it for my BBB complaint, he told me that I could look it up on the Internet and it wasn’t his job to give me that information. I think that in order to block them, I will have to cancel my debit card and maybe change my email address.

Airbnb Customer Furious over Refund Policy

Before I begin, let me say that I am staying in a very nice Airbnb right now as I just moved to Tampa. Last weekend I looked and saw a reasonable studio apartment in Tampa that was less than I am paying now for a room in a residence. I put down $1,431. Later that day I drove to the part of town where the apartment is – it is located in a ghetto with all kinds of frightening people around. I wouldn’t feel safe in that area. I cancelled the reservation the same day; it was booked more than ten days in advance. I only received $682 back. After contacting the call center and being very angry I got another $200 refund. I will not stand for Airbnb taking $549 of my money. I intend to contact the CEO of the company or maybe go on the Tampa news. I will not take this lying down.

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.

Airbnb Health Concern: Scabies in Savannah

My daughter and her boyfriend stayed at this Airbnb on June 19, 2016. This is the message I sent to the owner today:

My daughter and her boyfriend stayed there on Sunday June 19th and contracted scabies. My daughter was in the emergency room this past Saturday and finally got a firm diagnosis after many days of being miserable and itchy and not getting properly diagnosed by an allergist or dermatologist. Your facility was the only foreign place that they have slept aside from home. With that, I would like to know if you’ve received any other complaints regarding scabies at your facility. I have not written to Airbnb corporate as of yet, but I will if I do not get a reply from you. I am also requesting a full refund for their stay, along with approximately $400.00 in medical bills. Waiting on your reply. I have photos of the unmade bedroom upon their arrival and I will indeed post this all over the internet. This has affected their health and quality of life.

With that, I made three phone calls to the Airbnb Customer Service line today. First, they hung up on me. Then I found somebody willing to let me email them the details, and my phone got disconnected. I called again and was told I am not allowed to email or speak to a corporate manager regarding such a health issue at a place that you are advertising and selling. When my daughter arrived, the bed wasn’t even made. They then opted to take the other open room. Scabies is a very serious health issue that should not be taken lightly. The owner did not reply to me or my daughter as of yet. After being treated rather rudely three times today, I am prepared to write to the BBB, as well as the local news with my story. I would hope that you would review this case and be prepared to reimburse the stay as well as healthcare expenses; I do have receipts. I anxiously await your comments and reply.

Strict Cancellation Policy, Dangerous Neighborhoods

I was looking for a property that we could reserve for four nights to take a long awaited family vacation. We are two adults and two younger children, ages 2 and 8. I thought I had found the perfect place; from the pictures it seemed very nice. However, after I booked the reservation and the host confirmed it, she sent me an email and said that she “pre-approved” my request to book and then asked me to review the house rules and let her know if there was anything I was uncomfortable with. So I did. A couple house rules suggested that I should have something to worry about: close the shades at night and don’t bring a gun? That’s fine. I didn’t have a problem doing that… but why was this necessary? So I decided to further research the neighborhood now that I was able to view the address. I was shocked. There were several shootings just around the block within the last couple of weeks, as well as arrests for drugs, car theft, larceny, and so on. Just within a couple of blocks!

To me, this did not seem like a “relaxing” destination for our family of four. I had hoped to push the stroller around town and check out the sights. There was no way I was going to put my family in danger, so I cancelled the reservation within two hours of booking it. Wouldn’t you know… I only received half of my money back, even though the dates were 90 days out and I cancelled less than 12 hours after submitting the request! This host wasn’t losing any money. She has ample time to book those dates. The host uses a strict cancellation policy. I’m okay with this and I understand the reasoning behind it. However, 90 days out and cancelled within 12 hours? That’s just not fair. So the host writes to me and says she will give me a full refund if someone books the dates in the mean time. I told her that is fine with me.

What does she do? She makes those dates unavailable so they cannot be booked. She has a four night minimum and marks one of those days on her calendar as being unavailable, effectively making them all unavailable, and then she reduces the nightly costs by 50%. I have a suspicion that she knows this is a dangerous neighborhood and that this happens all the time. I don’t think I’m the first (nor will I be the last) person who has booked with her, cancelled when we found out where this place is and then lost half of our money. This host is getting paid for doing nothing. She does have several reviews, some mentioning the neighborhood on a negative light, though I wonder how many cancelled and cannot leave feedback. I’d love to see those numbers, because all I keep hearing from Airbnb is that “she has good feedback on the property.”

Yes, I read that feedback and none of the reviewers mention having children. It would be one thing if just my husband and I were staying there. I don’t mind the risk if we are solely responsible for ourselves, but I have two children to be responsible for and I will not put them in harm’s way for the sake of a family vacation. No thanks! Not to mention that dodging bullets and crackheads is not my idea of a “relaxing family vacation”!

At this point I’m beyond frustrated. I’ve reached out to Airbnb customer service several times over the past couple of weeks, spent hours on hold, spoken to several representatives who keep saying that my case is being “escalated.” I talked to someone in the “experience department,” who said he’d call me back after they speak to the host. The host doesn’t have my money. I know it’s in an escrow with Airbnb and they could return it to me at any time. I asked them what sort of liability they would have if someone were murdered at a property they advertise and she expressed concern, then said, “Some people may be comfortable walking around Compton while others would not be.”

I realize this. I totally get it. I grew up outside of Atlanta in an unsavory neighborhood as a child, but I did not have a choice at that time. However, as an adult, I have a choice to not bring my kids to a dangerous neighborhood on vacation. Does anyone choose to vacation in Compton? I doubt it! The next step is filing a claim with my credit card company because I just want to move on with my life! By the way, this is not the first property I’ve booked on Airbnb with a strict cancellation policy. In fact, we just got married at a property less than six months ago and it went flawlessly. However, this individual is hosting a shady rip off while Airbnb idly stands by.

Airbnb Nightmare: Chicago Bait and Switch

This happened over a year ago, but I thought I’d share. Two months before traveling to Chicago, I found a small apartment (in reality, the attic of an old Victorian) on Airbnb. I needed it for five nights and the description said there were three beds, a stocked kitchen, and a full bathroom. The price was right, so I booked it after exchanging emails with the host. In particular, I wanted to make sure it was safe and that I could prepare meals for my children. A week before traveling, I got a text message (off site) from the host. She said Airbnb made an error and because of that error the space is double booked. I told her that I didn’t know that was possible and, as I was the first to book, I should get priority. She didn’t respond.

We flew into Chicago and arrived at the place. It was adorable. However, there was one bed… not three. There was, however, a couch and a loft with a futon mattress. The kitchen had a sink and a hot plate. But, we could make it work. The first night, the host approached me by walking up the internal stairs (without knocking) and said that she will need us to move downstairs the next day. I was shocked. I asked why and she admitted that she was still double booked and that their business was economically better because the next family was spending a month; she couldn’t afford not to take their reservation. She said, “Not to worry… I have another space you can stay in.” I said, “Then make them stay there until we leave.” Obviously, that didn’t please her. But, she turned and left.

The next day, we went out to explore the city, returning at 9 PM. It was immediately obvious that there was a new rental car in the driveway. As we were getting out of the car, the host greeted us and told us she had moved our stuff downstairs and couldn’t wait to show us our “rustic cabin.” I was furious! But, I had kids and it was late so… what choice did I have? We were led downstairs and the host had the nerve to complain that we’d left dishes undone and towels on the counter upstairs. Well, yeah, we thought we would be returning to that room and planned to do our dishes then.

As soon as she opened the basement door, I was displeased. The stairs were steep, unlit and rotting. A string of Christmas lights had been hastily strung as lighting but it was dark. At the bottom of the stairs was an unfinished, stone basement. A small bathroom was crammed in this little area. The household boiler and washer/dryer were to the left. To the right was a room with drywall and a small fireplace. The TV was broken. The “bed” was a rock hard futon. There was exposed piping, wiring, unsecured chemicals, and spiders everywhere. But, worst of all, there were no windows or doors. Anywhere! The only escape was the stairs.

I told her this wasn’t what we signed up for (especially since my six year old was crying about the darkness of the place). She actually got offended and said, “I live here. I gave this up so you wouldn’t be stranded.” She said, “For your trouble… I can comp you.” As we had nowhere else to go, I said ok but asked for more lamps and lighting. The next day, we got up bright and early for a visit with family. When we got back to the basement, the host was in the basement, arms folded. She said she had thought it through and prayed about it and told me she needed to charge me still. I protested because this wasn’t right and the space wasn’t safe. She then said, “I told Airbnb to refund you, so we can do this in cash since I don’t have this apartment listed yet.”

I refused. I told her we would leave and she acted offended. I ended up paying $342 for a hotel. Airbnb did nothing! When I explained the safety concerns in the basement, they said they couldn’t address them because it wasn’t listed on the site. The only thing they cared about was her attempt to use cash. But, even that didn’t bother them because, again, she wasn’t attempting to get cash for the basement listing. In the end, she got away with it. Now, however, the basement is listed despite the safety hazards.

Airbnb Nightmare: Transient Hippie Flophouse

This was my first experience with Airbnb and I will never recommend it to anyone. My lesson: Always use a legitimate hotel. I booked a long-term rental in a place that looked deceptively nice in the photo and description. I thought I would be staying with a woman and her children: a safe, family-oriented home, or so I thought. When I asked if the bathroom was shared, I was told it was but that Carissa, the “host” (a loosely used term because flophouse operator is more accurate), could work around my schedule. Unfortunately, Carissa didn’t tell me the bathroom would also be shared with any transient she could shove into any space she had. She tried to make it out to be some hippie idea of communal living, but her real colours showed when it came time for money. She is very much in this to try to squeeze as much out of unsuspecting renters as she can. I’m not exaggerating when I say she rents out every place she can: all the bedrooms, the basement, the shed in the backyard (for real), and a grungy algae-covered camping trailer in the driveway. And all these people use the same bathroom.

The biggest problem was that despite the numerous unknown characters lingering about, she left the doors unlocked to the house at all times and didn’t have a door that locked on the room I rented for me to secure my things while I was out. I stayed one night, only because I had nowhere else to go, then left. That started the second part of the horrible Airbnb experience. I tried to get a refund, but Carissa said it was “non-refundable.” I had booked for five weeks! She was going to keep all that money for one night. Finally, she said she’d look at how many times she rented the room during the time and give me a refund based on this at the end of the originally booked stay. I tracked that she rented that same room out for 13 days. But, when I contacted Carissa, there was no reply within the 72 hours she had to respond.

So I started the resolution process through Airbnb. After a number of emails, Airbnb told me I’d get a partial refund (so my one night stay in a hellhole would only cost me about $700 after the supposed refund). I was told the refund would reach me within five business days. It’s been seven business days and still nothing. When I tried to email Airbnb about it, the automated response told me the issue was “closed” so they wouldn’t be responding! I’ll reiterate: Stick with hotels. Don’t be fooled by seemingly normal rentals.

Airbnb Refunds are Sketchy at Best

I’m a first time user of Airbnb. There were problems. Airbnb takes your money before completing any transaction and then declines to provide service. The credit card deduction is NOT the last stage of the process. This is a bad business practice. Airbnb takes your money immediately (within 30 minutes) but any refund takes five days. This is also a bad business practice. At this point in time, I have been promised two refunds but have not received anything (within the five-day refund wait time) so I can’t verify that Airbnb actually does give refunds. There is no indication of the problems causing a booking to fail. There is just a late email saying that it has ‘failed to verify’ and ‘accommodation is cancelled’ and that my money will be refunded in five days.

Customer service is patchy as email requests for solutions are ignored or given belated responses. Presently,there has been no response to my emails for more than ten hours. Using Airbnb is too much effort for a holiday pastime. I will stay away from Airbnb in the future. My first experience was on July 22, 2016. I booked a night under Airbnb. I gave my credit card details and the money was deducted from my credit card; then Airbnb requested details from my ID… and then the booking was rejected, with a promise to refund the money in five days. The problem took 24 hours to sort out and find alternative accommodations. The accommodation was fine and I was very happy with the host. Due to the problems encountered, Airbnb customer service promised a refund but this has not yet occurred (because of a five-day delay?)

My second experience was on July 24, 2016. I booked two nights under Airbnb. I gave my credit card details and the money was deducted from my credit card; then Airbnb requested details from my ID… and then the booking was rejected, with a promise to refund the money in five days. The problem has still not been sorted out after 23 hours, and there has been no response to my emails for 11 hours.

Airbnb’s Refund Policy is Absurd

I made a booking using the quick book option a day before I was set to arrive in Nassau, Bahamas (a listing with a lightening bolt). My host emailed me a few hours later telling me the property was not available. I told her to cancel the booking on the Airbnb site so I could receive a refund. That was ten days ago and the host has given me nothing but excuses as to why she can not cancel. High fees, Out of town, money already sent to her PayPal account, etc. Clearly the host is a liar and a fraud but I have contacted Airbnb’s customer service via email and they told me to go to the resolution center, fill out a form, wait three days, escalate it, and then someone will make a decision regarding my refund. I’m certain I will get it but Airbnb tells me they will not refund the fees. How can this be? I did not cancel; the host did. Also, how can this be avoided in the future? If hosts do not actually cancel reservations from their end it leaves guests having to scratch, claw, and fight to get their money back. If hosts take the money and use it, Airbnb is the one who would have to pay me back out of their own pocket. Seems like this type of thing can happen frequently… Anyone have any info?