Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

Host Left Me Waiting Outside Until I Cancelled

A terrible host left without leaving me a key. I had to cancel after waiting many hours until the evening. Airbnb support workers couldn’t understand I had to cancel because the host decided to turn off her/his phone and didn’t plan to arrive to bring the key. The host’s behaviour has been terribly rude. The host decided to play games by leaving me outside in the cold and thought he/she would still get the payment.

I had to write too many times to support. I also called and did everything I could until days later I finally got a refund. It was very difficult to get help and some of the support workers didn’t believe anything I told them. Some of the workers wanted to let the host keep the payment. I didn’t get any help to find other accommodations; I had to do all the searching by myself.

After all of this Airbnb still let the fake host keep the apartments visible on Airbnb. The host didn’t have a real name, only a nickname and no surname visible on the receipt. After that it is very difficult to believe anything on Airbnb. They want to see guests’ full names and passports but for them it is enough if a host has only a nickname. It was not a Superhost. Airbnb also decided not to accept a review of this behaviour so new guests can’t know what that host will do to them. It is very unfair guests have to keep all this information to themselves but they let hosts lie and scam others. They support liars. Moreover, they lie by supporting them.

Unable to Find Airbnb, Nowhere to go in Scotland

On the seventh day of our vacation around Scotland, we spent the day sightseeing around the northeast. At about 4:00, knowing we had about an hour of daylight left, we headed for our Airbnb which was twenty minutes away. Unable to find the location, we called and messaged the owner. While waiting for a response, we continued to circle around the coastline looking for the property. The number was not there and the directions were crap, of course. Finally, after twenty minutes we pulled over and messaged again. This time we waited for another 20 minutes. No response.

It was getting dark and we were truly in the middle of nowhere. We had to make the command decision to drive and find other accommodations. The only place to go was west towards a snowstorm or south towards Edinborough. We eventually found a spot twenty minutes away. Our new host actually knew the lady that was not responding to our Airbnb messages. He informed us that during the winter she left the country for three months. That’s why she wasn’t messaging.

Long story short, our host took the money even though she knew she would not be there. Airbnb was a pain in the butt. We called them several times that evening. Their solution was to continue to try and contact the lady. After three hours, they recommended another stay which was 75 minutes away. Because we refused that stay (it was 8:00 PM and we had already found another accommodation) Airbnb said they couldn’t refund us.

We continued to message the Airbnb host for several months, hoping she would pitch in and help facilitate a refund. We never heard back from her. Because Airbnb cancelled the accommodation, we were not allowed to review this host.

Never Use Airbnb — Hosts Will Leave You High and Dry

I booked a private room with Airbnb for accommodation in Dubai for five nights. I paid for this in advance. Upon reaching Dubai, the Airbnb host told me that he could no longer accommodate me. He provided me a different address and asked me to go and stay there for two nights and he would shift me to original booking place after that.

Upon reaching the other address, I found that the flat was locked and no one was there. I had to ask reception for help to contact the Airbnb host as my phone was not working there. Upon contact the host he said he couldn’t accommodate me at the new address either. He did not provide any explanation and left me without a roof over my head in an unknown city. I was left to sort out my own accommodation with limited internet connectivity and battery life left on my phone.

In this situation I had to take whatever was available. I ended up staying in a hostel sharing a room with five unknown people and also sharing other facilities. Airbnb put me in this situation as they failed to fulfill their responsibility. My safety was at risk. My health was at risk as I had to share things with five other people for five nights. I could not get proper sleep.

The entire experience not only totally ruined my trip but also left me in distress and with negative effects on my mental well being. I was constantly anxious and worried about my health and safely due to the pandemic. I informed Airbnb about this incident the evening of Dec. 30. I received a call and provided all the information to customer service. They said they were unable to contact their own host to find out why he could not accommodate me. They also did not offer me any help to find an alternative suitable accommodation.

The entire trip turned into a nightmare. Airbnb staff were totally unhelpful. They could not even contact their own host after I provided a different number that he was using. Airbnb neither provided any immediate help or help to find alternative accommodation. On top of that, they also closed my case without reaching any conclusion. This company should not be allowed to operate in the hospitality sector at all.

Not Sure Which Was Worse: the Robber or Airbnb

This got a bit complicated when I was robbed at gunpoint where I lost everything, even my pair of heels. They got away with my phone that had my email address and the number I used so I couldn’t access my Airbnb account. I hoped to reach a past host who told me to create another account and get a hold of customer support, which I did and explained my story. I was told to go ahead.

I made a booking. After Airbnb verified my account, they took the sum of $3,786. Then the app told me I needed to verify it myself. This is after they took money from an account which has the same name as my profile. Then about two hours later when I was checking for instructions I found that the booking had been cancelled.

I tried to get hold of support for leaving me stranded. I had to use my week’s food budget just to book a place for the night thinking this would be sorted and I would be accommodated by the next day. This was while Airbnb still had my money.

During the early hours on Saturday I got an email stating that I had been refunded but it would take seven days for the funds to show. The day before I had to pawn my laptop, iPad, and jewelry so I could book alternative accommodations and I still haven’t heard a word from them.

My accommodation in the meantime has cost me $540 in money I borrowed against my valuables. I’m trapped in Capetown due to COVID-19 and get money from family abroad. I can’t Skype with my kids or FaceTime all because I trusted Airbnb. I emailed the CEO, but nothing. Not even an automated message. I swear that I’m holding them responsible for my losses. This is a load of BS, taking people’s money and then ignoring them. I’m very disappointed.

Robbed, Threatened, and Still Can’t Get in Touch

My son and girlfriend rented a room in Ft. Lauderdale. The room was not as presented, but they tried to deal with it. They were supposed to have a two double bedroom. There seemed to be some type of human trafficking going on… I can’t go into much detail on that. My son was robbed, threatened to be shot, and left the property.

They tried to reach Airbnb since arriving at the unit and could not get through to a person due to misrepresentation of the room. Police were called to the hotel. The hotel clerk told my son and his girlfriend they needed to leave before something happened. Again there was no help from Airbnb. They left the unit at 1:00 AM and had nowhere to go. Their money was tied up in this unit and Airbnb would not give them their money back.

We got a frantic phone call at 2:00 AM that the kids were on the streets. Still nothing from Airbnb. We got on the phone and still nothing. I bet if it was their kid something would have been done. I posted their story to social media and suddenly I got a call. They actually put me through the whole process three more times, telling same story, promises to do something, and promises to call back. They sent me an email asking me to state it all over again, and then after I did, they told me “because of my lack of response, they were ending the dispute.”

Every time you call they mention how the calls are being recorded. Airbnb should check their recordings and email history. I have called at least 15 times. The problem is, they know that this happened to young adults juggling jobs and school that could wear them down. But Mom won’t be worn down.

How can a company allow this? They know it happened; there are police reports. They removed this stay from their listings and they think telling me that it has been handled internally helps those kids in any way? They deserve their money back for a place they couldn’t even stay.

Airbnb Needs to Offer More for Bad Hosts

Our flight was delayed two hours so we eventually rocked up near our Airbnb apartment in Amsterdam at 23:30, cold, wet, and tired. We were in apartment #79. We found #77 without a problem but that’s where the numbers stopped: in place of #79, there was a restaurant. Unsurprisingly they wouldn’t accommodate us but suggested #79 was in the opposite corner of the square (it wasn’t).

No worries. We called the host (who had been s%$t with his communication anyway). There was no answer via phone, Airbnb, Messenger, fax, carrier pigeon, or two cans with a bit of string tied between them. With the assistance of some very helpful locals we decided the property was one of two things: non-existent or well hidden.

S$%t happens but the real issue was Airbnb’s response. We obviously rang, waited the obligatory 15 minutes, and got the helpful “we’ll ring you back.” Waited. 00:45 (in a strange town, twenty minutes outside the centre). Waited. 01:05. Called again. “Case manager has gone home.” 01:30 called again: “Please help”; “A case manager will call you shortly.”

We gave up and dragged our luggage for another half hour to the nearest hotel we could find that would let us in. Hotels are not cheap at 2:00 in the morning.

We we were lucky. It was a nice town with nice people, and we were old enough to be unfazed. Imagine being young, scared and lost in a less convivial place. Airbnb needs to offer better security if their hosts let you down. A call back in the morning and a refund just isn’t good enough.

Darling Harbour Penthouse Airbnb Nightmare

We had two families (six people) staying in a penthouse suite in Darling Harbour, Sydney to celebrate the wife’s 52nd birthday properly. We were travelling six hours to get to the property. After checking in, we decided to go out for dinner, and headed back to apartment at 11:00 PM.

We found that the lift was broken and non operational, so we called the host (no answer). We tried to use the fire stairs to get to the 6th floor with no luck as it was locked from the other side. We tried a couple of locksmiths, but because it was a fire door they couldn’t touch it. We called all the emergency numbers and the host again (no answer).

We then called called Airbnb and explained the situation. We also explained that in the property was heart medication and medical equipment that we needed access to. Airbnb then advised us they would contact the host. At 11:34 PM Airbnb advised us they could not contact the host and they would keep trying. We again explained we needed access to meds/equipment and advised us to find a coffee shop while we waited, saying someone would contact us soon.

At 1:25 AM, there was still no reply from Airbnb or the host so we had to find alternative accommodation with only the clothes on our back and no access to our meds/medical equipment. After finding some emergency accommodation for the night, the next morning I received a call from host apologising after reading my messages and stating that he was asleep. This was a complete joke; we had vital medication/equipment that we could not access, we had absolutely no help from the host, and we had no help from Airbnb.

We are out out pocket with additional expenses from finding emergency accommodation, and its been two weeks since anyone has got back to us from Airbnb after promising we would get a call. All this can be verified as we have transcripts of our conversation, even a message from host telling us how much of a disaster it was for him.

Airbnb Nightmare: Another Guest Scammed

I made a reservation and paid for an apartment to a host (not sure if he gave his real name though because of what is happening now), and he said I should pay into a third-party account which was supposedly for Airbnb as they were the ones who would receive the money on his behalf. I paid a deposit and two months’ payment as he said the minimum stay was two months.

I was sent a link which generated an invoice. I have a copy of the invoice with the details of the account I was supposed to transfer the money into. After payment, we were supposed to receive an email with a contract attached; this never materialized until today.

We were supposed to be checking in today but instead the host with whom we have been talking to has just decided to block us on his phone after receiving our money and never provided us with the service. The link is no longer working. Is Airbnb a scam or has it been hijacked by scammers? I do have the other evidence that we indeed paid for a service that never materialized.

Italian Airbnb Serial Bait and Switch Cancellations

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A group of six UK pensioners, including one seriously ill from multiple sclerosis, had their six-months-in-advanced booked double 70th birthday celebration dream holiday to Florence, Italy cancelled the morning of check-in by a bait and switch scammer.

This “Superhost” was allowed to rack up 39 separate cancellations in a year. Rather than react to complaints and repeated scams, Airbnb simply did nothing, allowing him to ruin ten other families’ holidays over the next two months as new victims flew in from as far as the US, Algeria, and China. On the day of check-in, they found their “booked” apartment cancelled, forcing them to either take his alternative or be stranded in Florence, thousands of miles from home.

The “Romantic Flat in Historical Centre” with its high beautifully decorated ceilings, luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms and large dining area, looking out onto Il dumo, the famous domed cathedral in the centre of Florence, was used as bait to trap unsuspecting families into booking with the host. However, after flying thousands of miles to start their holiday months later, the flaky host shockingly informed them upon arrival in Italy that their booking was in fact cancelled, using excuses ranging from “the family needs it back up as an emergency” to “there has been a burst water main”.

He then offered a replacement, a run-of-the-mill bog-standard apartment, miles outside the centre of Florence and a far cry from the luxury of the booked one. This was done “as a favour” to the duped holiday makers, either at the same price or at a premium, as it was the middle of high season; “unfortunate, but that’s how it is.”

The group of pensioners were old friends who had booked the apartment in December to celebrate a double 70th birthday. One of the group, a 78-year old, had unfortunately been diagnosed with a serious case of multiple sclerosis two years before and his health and mobility had worsened drastically. This debilitating disease meant that this would be his final trip abroad. He loved Florence and Italy and was determined to enjoy it.

The pain caused by even basic movement such as walking meant that he had special requirements such as as a bath – he was unable to stand in a shower safely – and also an entrance with a lift, as stairs were also hugely problematic. They had booked this apartment so far in advance to ensure that his special needs were catered for, with two baths a lift, no steps and four bedrooms with a large dining area provided. They were also in the centre of Florence, minimising difficulty travelling.

However, when they were informed that instead of the luxury four-bedroom apartment that they had booked six months ago and had looked forward to, they were instead offered an insufficient three-bedroom flat, miles outside Florence, or otherwise find an alternative in the middle of summer season on the same day that they had flown in. They were forced to look for any last minute alternative and as you can imagine, none even remotely comparable, or suitable, were available.

They were forced to book two separate locations, via Booking.com, one thirty minutes outside paying a lot more, for a lot less, due to the last minute arrangements and total lack of availability. There were no baths, and there were no lifts resulting in a host of unwelcome mobility issues simply washing and entering and exiting the properties. The size and standard of the décor was woefully inferior to our original booking, being stuck with small, dark rooms with a lack of closet space.

One of the main and important features that we had most sought after was the large dining area, enabling us to eat together in our own comfortable and relaxed environment, without the hassle and stress – and expense – of having to eat out all the time. Neither of our replacement properties had a dining area even remotely sufficient to house all six of us, meaning we had to eat every single meal out, burdening everyone with significant additional unwanted expenses.

Instead of buying breakfast materials at a supermarket, every breakfast cost about €80 and each lunch and dinner at least in excess of €120. Suddenly, an additional £2,525.76 had to be immediately found and paid by six pensioners, most of whom had scrimped and saved to get the original sum paid, forcing them into debt and incredibly difficult, stressful situations as they attempted to source their share in just a few hours. This also impacted greatly on spending money available on the holiday.

The main intention of the holiday, namely living together, was now gone. Instead of a joint holiday and a joint birthday, they were now two separate parties, and a full fifteen minutes apart from each other by car. This meant that rather than being in the same property and location, they now had the difficulty, as well as the additional expense, of having to use taxis to transport one party to the other numerous times daily.

This resulted in significant previously unnecessary monies having to be spent over the duration of the holiday, not to mention the organisational and operational stress and effort and the extra time that this all took, getting everyone too and from the two separate locations, miles apart and away from the centre of Florence. Indeed, one of the elderly couples did not even have smartphones, which caused several difficult situations. These issues ruined everyone’s enjoyment of the holiday and sucked away time earmarked to enjoy the city and each other’s company, as originally planned and intended.

When the group got back after this spoiled expensive and ruined holiday, they investigated the host in greater detail and was shocked to discover that he had perpetuated the same cancellation trick on 29 other families during the preceding nine months, almost every single week. The group immediately complained to Airbnb but they tried to pass it off as an “isolated incident” and refused to take action. They then refused to compensate the group for the loss of enjoyment suffered and the fact that they had fallen victim to a scam artist, closing the matter.

The group persisted with their complaints and tried to highlight the scam. Eventually, three months later, they relented and offered to refund the difference between the booked holiday and the replacement one. This still did not address the loss of enjoyment or the issues raised and the group was concerned that the scammer was still free to continue with the trick.

Airbnb’s case resolution specialist had now gotten involved, promising a fair and unbiased investigation. He eventually came to the conclusion that the “matter was wholly unacceptable, and Airbnb does not tolerate this kind of behaviour. When the reservation was cancelled the host was penalised in violation of our hosting standard. This would greatly impact his hosting here at Airbnb.”

When pressed what the penalty was, or how exactly it “would greatly impact his hosting at Airbnb”, he repeatedly refused to say. He also refused the claim for compensation, only offering €181 (the difference spent) to resolve the matter without addressing damages and loss of enjoyment suffered. He also failed to say why the host hadn’t been stopped from operating.

The elderly group were shocked to discover that since their complaint, the host had continued to repeat the scam, accepting bookings for the apartment in central Florence and then cancelling on the day of check in, once the families had arrived in Italy. Since the complaint was made by the elderly group, he had cancelled bookings a further ten times in two months with seven of those cancellations done on the day of check in when families had already landed in Italy from countries such as Brazil, USA, China, Algeria and UK. Each one had left comments on their dreadful experience on the host’s page:

“[The host] cancelled the booking three hours before the check-in when I was already in Firenze. Even before the cancellation, he did not reply to my inquiry. Out of blue, without responding to none of my inquiry, he cancelled. The only explanation I got was that he had an issue to accommodate me and my company. This has never happened to me during my use of service provided by the Airbnb. I am strongly against his status as super host given his irresponsible and unthoughtful dealing of the situations.”

“The host cancelled on us the morning of our reservation (without explanation) which totally messed up all our plans. Looking at his history this happens often. Beware when booking. This guy is flaky!”

“Bait and switch scam artist! Do not book with this person. They show one apt and when you show up, they try to give you a dump not even comparable while you feel like a fish over a barrel. Leaving you and your family 1000’s of miles from home with little choice. Find another rental. This guy is a fake and a scammer!”

“Avoid! Well where to start. Unfortunately we never got to stay at this host’s Airbnb. We had been confirmed for many weeks. On the run up to our holiday I messaged [the host] numerous times regarding checking in process but he didn’t respond. On the day of arrival [the host] sent a computerised cancellation with no explanation or apology leaving us stranded in Florence with no where to stay! Airbnb were good in assisting with our situation but this should not have been necessary and to date we still have had no apology or explanation from [the host]. Avoid at all costs, it’s just not worth it best book somewhere where you can actually stay.”

The damning evidence was sent to Airbnb, demanding why they had not acted since their complaint and stopped the host from repeating the scam. However, Airbnb refused to respond. Our party is in the process of taking Airbnb to court for loss of enjoyment and damages and essentially causing their problem by allowing this person to perpetuate thirty cancellations before they had even booked with him.

Airbnb is responsible for their and indeed all of the 39 victims cases. If Airbnb had cared about its customers’ suffering at the hands of this con-artist, then they would have immediately shut him down. However, they were getting commission out of it, regardless of how that commission was earned, and allowed – and continue to allow – scammers to operate in this disgraceful and damaging way within its business.

Incredibly, the group discovered that subsequently all of the negative reviews (above) have now been removed, allowing more unsuspecting victims to suffer. Now, unbelievably, only 15 reviews (instead of the 498, including the 39 cancellations) are viewable, with him receiving 4.93 out of 5 stars. This disgraceful fact shows exactly how Airbnb operates and the sad fact is that this host continues to operate in this shady way today.

This sad and murky episode is completely unacceptable. People should start voting with their feet and spreading the word that Airbnb is not deserving of their business. There is a clear and real danger that if you book with them then the booking is fake and will be cancelled when you arrive.

Do not trust Airbnb. Do not use Airbnb. They will leave you stranded. It’s all about the money for them. They do not care about your welfare.