I had a bad experience that shows how companies like Airbnb can get away with terrible customer experiences hiding behind “we’re not responsible”. First, here is the link to the listing I rented from.
I went to Boston this summer with my wife and daughter for college orientation. The main page on Airbnb showed a rental with air conditioning, and a great location for doing a little touristy stuff (that worked out great). We showed up on a 90-degree weekend, and there was no AC in the apartment. We double checked and his listing and welcome email still included AC. The microwave and coffeemaker didn’t work (I flipped every single circuit breaker, still no luck). There was no soap. No coffee filters. Tea but no way to heat it up. No convenience store nearby to address. Ubiquitous Dunkin’ Donuts across street closed during our stay. Minimal sleep due to heat.
We texted the host; there was no reply (ever). We requested a refund (no reply either). We involved Airbnb through the Resolution Center (RC), following all their rules (noting the difficulty of taking a photo of a missing amenity or proving online that an appliance doesn’t work). Below I share the detail of shenanigans Airbnb put me through (at least eight different agents), but on the subject of the host, I saw that he has 29 other properties – (now 32; I just checked). If you click the listing above, you hear all about his family and dreams, but doesn’t mention that he’s really a property management company (he does mention being out of the country for 3.5 months). I checked the ownership of the property through the city and found a different owner listed.
Airbnb never followed up with me. I initiated contact about 15 times, and every time I had to repeat what the complaint was. Why couldn’t they refer to the original complaint? They never did anything about getting the listing changed. I see another guest about the same time noted the lack of AC stating “It would have been terrible if it had been hot” when she was there. Anyway, I never received a response from the Resolution Center in six weeks.
We contacted the Help Center and got an email stating that they’d get back to me. We got an email that the Case Manager (CM) would be out for 2-3 days. We called after ten days. A new CM sent a “helpful” email telling me to go through the Resolution Center. I called back in, talked to an agent who confirmed they could see I was already in the RC system, and a CM would have to get back to me. Finally, I got to speak to a CM who said my ticket would be closed as I was in the RC system. I asked how I could contact RC since I’d never heard back, and the CM said “there isn’t a way – they’ll call you”.
I never heard from the RC, and after six weeks I went through the Help Center again. I had to go through the short version again (then the long version when they asked the same questions as the prior agent), including explaining the difficulty of “providing evidence” of something that doesn’t exist and/or doesn’t work.
Even though I pointed out the review confirming my complaint, the listing stayed the same, noting amenities that didn’t exist or didn’t work, and Airbnb basically sided with the host on what I was owed. Ripoff, and no accountability. No “I’m sorry” from any of the agents. I spoke with or messaged with at least eight different people at Airbnb. I’m not using them again. I’m in on any class action lawsuit.
Really this is a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issue, and people should be aware that this organization has also been weakened substantially since 2016. To favor ripoff businesses like this can screw over customers (apparently hosts and guests) and they get away with it because apparently it isn’t illegal to lie about a rental property that you don’t own. I am fortunate to have a congresswoman who listens and cares about this, but I doubt things will change.
I am truly sorry to people who have gotten royally screwed, as my story is really not that bad; I wasted $250 on a life lesson. Even though my 6-7 other experiences were fine to great, and every other host has exceeded expectations, I cannot do business with a company that doesn’t even pretend to be serious about egregious misconduct. I want no part of financially supporting a company that must screw over thousands of people worse than I was treated.