The situation: I booked an expensive condo in Montreal for the Osheaga Music Festival. I had a situation that made me not be able to make it for those dates in early August. I was confused by the language on Airbnb and thought I had up until 14 days from the check-in date to cancel. I let the property management company know more than 60 days in advance. They refused and said the only option was to pay them $1100 to cancel.
My nightmare began in April 2018 when I booked a Condo in Las Vegas for the SEMA convention. I selected a two-bedroom two-bath, five minutes walking distance of the convention center. I thought I had done my homework: I looked at all the reviews – all was well, so I booked.
Five days before the convention was to start (seven months later), I received a notice that my reservation had been cancelled. Out of the goodness of their hearts they gave me a 10% rebooking fee credit even though the prices showed they had tripled. I called Airbnb and they said the host had cancelled for security purposes… whatever that means. What it means is the owner got a better offer elsewhere.
I stopped by the condo and it was rented during the convention. After countless messages and multiple phone calls I ended up with a place at three times the rate, of which Airbnb only picked up a third. I have since learned and I want everyone to know that hosts tell Airbnb what they want to charge for a night and then Airbnb sets their price according to the demand. If you think you are safe after you book, you are not.
I booked a room in Barcelona through Airbnb in February, but by the time I traveled in late May, I had developed back and leg problems (sciatica). A couple days before arriving, it occurred to me that I didn’t know whether I would need to climb steps or if there was an elevator.
I contacted the host, who was willing to be helpful, but he was on the third floor without an elevator. I was able to see the building from the outside and could determine I would not be able to climb the stairs, or if I got up there, I would not get back down. The host declined to refund me because I cancelled too late (which I get), and he was generous in offering the same reservation for a future time (I will not get to go back to Barcelona to claim the offer).
At the time of booking, my fee went from the posted $47.00 per night to $125.00 because there was a big music festival in town that weekend. I hoped he would be able to book guests in, but he chose not to open up to a new Airbnb booking. My total fee was $420.00. So far I have received a refund of $18.96.
I contacted Airbnb to request a full refund. I had a case worker who asked for a doctor’s letter by June 14th. On June 10th (I had not yet received the doctor’s letter) I got this email message:
“Thank you for providing me the details. Please feel free to contact us when you have the letter from the doctor and we’ll be happy to analyse it in order to help you. You don’t have a time frame to provide this documentation. However, I’m forced to close this consult for the time being. It will re-open once you provide the doctor’s letter. Keep in mind that the letter is the only way we can help you. Please contact us when you need to. We’ll be glad to help you.”
The next day I sent the doctor’s letter. My case worker had disappeared. All I got were automatic responses saying they received my request. I have complied. Since I have a medical reason for the cancellation, I expect Airbnb to honor my refund request or least to acknowledge and act on it now that the documentation is in place. I have used Airbnb other places and had good experiences. Of course, it just takes one bad meal to keep me out of a restaurant.
Today would’ve been the first time I’ve ever used Airbnb. Instead, my birthday celebration and bridal shower were ruined. The last minute cancellation by my host could’ve been handled a lot better by the Airbnb Account manager. They had no integrity and should be banned. They canceled my Instant Book reservation after telling me they were double booked because of spring break and then I found that the same property that left eight women traveling from six parts of the US stranded reposted on the Airbnb website at least five additional times under different descriptions and different names.
After discovering this with several Airbnb staff, this host was charged a $100 penalty while I missed my flight waiting on the promise of help by Airbnb’s customer service team. The olive branch given by Airbnb was expediting my refund which I won’t revive for at least three to five business days and $350 to cover my airline ticket. Honestly that’s not enough to make up for ruining one of the most precious moments I will have in my life, the celebration of my marriage. This will now be the memory I will tell about the bridal shower I never had. I’ll make sure to add the costs of lost plane tickets for my bridesmaids and those who made there flight to the story.
Due to me waiting for a promised call at 9:00 AM EST that never took place I was not able to inform them of the lack of resolution by Airbnb so they would not get on their flight. By the time I finally received a call from a supervisor to provide an update on if additional funds had been approved to secure lodging it was past 12:00 PM, three hours past the time they promised to call me. It took my third time requesting a call back to actually speak to someone and by that time I’d missed my flight.
I am in the process of receiving my funds back (which would happen anyway since the host cancelled) with an additional credit of $350 after I finally got in touch with someone in customer service 3 1/2 hours past the promised time (after requesting a call back via the site). That does not make up for the ineffectiveness of Airbnb to resolve my issue, nor the airfare my guests lost, nor the costs incurred for the guests who made their flights and had to pay for another to return because Airbnb could not step up and assist someone who is a first time user with their platform.
Eight women who made plans to celebrate my life event since November 2017 were displaced and I’m still waiting on my phone call from the account rep in California as promised by Airbnb. Help me understand how I should feel as a first time customer using Airbnb?
Our cancellation by a host in Portland, Oregon was issued about a week before the arrival date. The excuse given was pipe repair and the apartment was to be closed from August 18th. This booking was made well ahead of August 21st so that we could see the full solar eclipse. At the time of the cancellation all reasonable Airbnb accommodation was gone; most hotels were fully booked and those that were not were asking astronomical rates. We could not find anything and have changed our itinerary and have to forgo seeing the full eclipse (a once in a lifetime experience). When asked for proof of the pipe issue, none was offered by the host or Airbnb. Did the host cancel on us for a much better offer? We will never know. Did Airbnb offer appropriate remorse and compensation? That we do know; they did not. They offered a full refund or if we booked another Airbnb property we could use the refund plus 10%. What a joke when demand for that night was through the roof and at a massively increased cost. So… highlight of vacation ruined, extra cost incurred, and the host and Airbnb carry on regardless. Preplanning a stay is fraught with risk under these circumstances. We will never use Airbnb again and will revert to less expensive hotels of good quality where a bed for the night is guaranteed. Airbnb should be held liable.