Warning: Airbnb Cost me $400K in One Day

I have been a Superhost for 7 years and have 6 single family homes in the highly desirable Stratton Mountain area of Vermont. I have built this business over the course of 8 hard years of dedicated work. I have had my listings on a few platforms in the past but settled on Airbnb as they seem to have the best traffic and easiest system to use. This was a big mistake.

Airbnb has always been great at supporting Superhosts until they switched to outsourcing their support tickets in 2019. It is impossible to get high level support now.

Now for the real story: a couple weeks ago I had a guest stay in one of my homes. After the second day she requested a full refund so she could book a different property. She claimed the house had a flying insect infestation, on the second night. No problems on the first. She sent pictures of what appeared to be one room with a screenless window open, and lights on at night (that window had a screen in it prior to her arrival).

I told her the bugs were attracted to the light, something a grown adult should know, and to put the screen back in. Regardless, she insisted on her full refund and the chance to book another house. As I was traveling and had little time to deal with it, I agreed to give her a refund and both agreed we wouldn’t leave a review. This was a problem of her own making and not an issue with the property. I agreed to the refund as I didn’t have the desire to argue nor the desire to have her hanging around any longer.

What happens next is astounding. She hounded me for the refund before I could have my housekeeper review the condition of the property. She booked a house next to mine a block away. The house is nearly identical to mine in every way. Then at the last minute of the review period she left a 1-star review trashing my home and promoting the property next to mine in the review as a better alternative.

I’m not sure if they were collaborating on this or not, but this was obviously meant to hurt me and help my competition. I get nearly all 5-star reviews; my rating is 4.9 and has maintained my Superhost status for 5 years. I called Airbnb to complain about the unfair review and raised concerns regarding a possible sabotage by this guest. Airbnb sided with me and took down the review.

What happens next should scare the pants off of any serious Airbnb host. The guest, seeing that her review was removed, got angry and filed a gender discrimination claim. Here’s the deadly part: without ever reaching out to me for any comment, Airbnb removed my listings and cancelled all future bookings against my guests’ will.

I immediately called support and no support person would talk with me about it. They told me someone from another department would reach out. It took a week for a response by email to come. My cancelled guests were going crazy as they picked my home for their specific event and they did not want to cancel.

Airbnb cancelled hundreds of guests and refunded them over $80,000 in bookings. I have tried several times to get them to explain themselves but without any satisfaction. They simply respond by saying they’ve reviewed the situation and their decision is final. I can’t appeal, I can’t see what this guest presented, and I can’t get anyone to talk to me, nor will anyone respond with any kind of practical explanation.

It’s astonishing considering each reservation averages 7 guests and I have 30 or more reservations a month. If you do the math I have had over ten thousand people occupy my properties through Airbnb. That Airbnb would allow a single guest fraudster to file a fake claim hence cancelling my business with them is just unbelievable. Not only is it harmful to me, my future and past guests, but it also harms Airbnb, it is beyond comprehension.

So be warned all Airbnb hosts, as this could happen to you and there is nothing you can do about it. I had, to date, produced over $400,000 in reservations this year alone and was on pace to double that next year. Now I am starting over on another platform. They claim to be a community of hosts and guests yet with the stroke of a key they can destroy a host who is bringing them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Airbnb is a bad investment. I am now forced to rebuild the entire business on another site. It may take a year to get back to that $400,000 level. Airbnb, what are you thinking? Hosts: look for another partner for your support.

Listen to my Warning about Using Airbnb

I have used Airbnb a lot during a period, and advise people not to use it (at least the budget accommodations, a bit cheaper than a hotel, but sometimes not).

I found 5 out of 10 hosts had a criminal record (even money laundering) and the rest had serious financial troubles. Many people who rent out rooms are in desperate situations because of their personality and choices they have made. Desperation makes bad hosts. They all have introductions about how they love to meet people from different cultures, but most rent solely to make a buck the easy way. Many lie about their work (unemployed, fired, criminality). I have found mobsters use Airbnb a lot to launder money.

Reviews are wildly exaggerated positively, as guests seem to lie just to be able to stay cheaply (poor? stingy?). It is a veritable lalaland, to be found nowhere else. On Airbnb, hosts, guests, and the company seem to have some kind of joint psychosis.

Indecent sexual advances are quite common. I have had one sexual assault (he broke into my cottage) and several other highly inappropriate Superhosts. Most hosts lie: inaccurate photos, how many people are living there, internet, breakfast, location, noise, busy roads, etc. Lying is standard on Airbnb.

Airbnb does not give a s$#t, as long as it does not give bad publicity. They just want money and do not care about your safety at all. Their standards are abysmal. Airbnb destroys the housing market globally and actually promotes greed. If you are not extremely poor, stay at a hotel. It will also be cheaper in the end (proper breakfast, etc.), and you will not have to deal with shady hosts and unplanned negative surprises. Stay safe.

Airbnb Nightmare in Austin: Stranger Walks in

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This is a long one. Ten friends and I are in college and were traveling to Austin. We booked a apartment that advertised it could host 20+ people. We showed up on Friday around 8:00 PM. We were unable to get in. We called and texted the host numerous times, to no avail. The keypad entry finally worked about 30 minutes later. During this time, a neighbor welcomed us by flipping us off when he saw us.

After getting inside it was clear the apartment hadn’t been cleaned: no sheets on beds, no toilet paper, trash bags, shampoo or other listed amenities. Again, we reached out to the host (still no response). There were seven glasses and four dishes, not a fully stocked kitchen as advertised. We had no other choice but to stay (since we had paid up front and we are broke college girls).

On Sunday night (we had rented through Monday) we were awakened by a uninvited guest who was able to get into the apartment. That’s correct: a man entered at midnight refusing to leave because he said he had rented the apartment and wasn’t going anywhere. Thankfully the neighbor who welcomed us with his middle finger jumped into action when he heard the commotion and literally kicked him out for us.

Airbnb is slow to respond and has wasted hours of our time, and the host is now threatening us if we leave a bad review, saying that he will tell Airbnb we were extorting him. We don’t need a refund. We need this shady apartment and host removed from the platform.

Airbnb Cancelled Our Reservation… Just Because They Can

We are a family with a four year old daughter. We booked two residences through Airbnb in Bangkok. The first was for an 11-day period and since the first host was already booked from that point on, we chose the second residence for an additional two weeks. All bookings were made well in advance of our arrival in Thailand.

Upon reaching Bangkok and having spent the first three days in our first house (which was actually excellent), we received a cancellation from Airbnb for our second reservation (by now eight days away). Their explanation was that the host was being suspected as a fraud. They gave us a 10% credit and told us to either find a new residence via Airbnb or ask for a refund.

Needless to say, with all three of us still in the wake of our jet lag, scrambling to find new accommodation wasn’t exactly our idea of a good time. My wife and I have travelled extensively in all sorts of countries (including Thailand, where our Airbnb crisis was unfolding) and this was the first time ever to come across such a situation. We had repeatedly arranged for accommodation over the phone with hosts of all kinds in many locations and no one ever cancelled a reservation, even in cases where there was nothing but their word binding them. No credit payments, no deposits, nothing. They kept their side of the deal regardless.

Airbnb on the other hand not only had the audacity to cancel our fully paid reservation while we on our behalf had done nothing wrong, they even acted like everything was cool and we should be happily going through the hamster wheel of finding new accommodation through their (so called) service, just because they gave us 10% credit. Just to clarify, we are from Europe. Imagine being stuck somewhere 15 hours by plane away from home and trying to resolve this mess.

Of course, trying to book a new place within a short time window (even though this wasn’t a high demand season), meant that we were left with poor options in the price range we had initially booked (i.e. places that were far from the city center or metro stations, or both). An equivalent residence via Airbnb would now be not 10% but 35% more expensive. We decided to opt for the refund – this was quickly devolving into a fully fledged scam – and book either via Booking.com or go around asking.

What would you know: Airbnb refunded our initial payment, but didn’t even give us the 10% credit back for all our trouble, or at least store it in our account for some later booking. We contacted their customer service through chat to complain and try to get some resolution. They initially tried to play it down and pretended we should be happy with their lousy 10% credit that we weren’t even entitled to anymore. We threatened to get vocal with our dissatisfaction unless they did something to set things right.

After several messages being exchanged and being passed from one “representative“ to the other two or three times (while we were arguing it was their responsibility to arrange for new accommodation, not ours) they finally obliged to at least provide a list of recommendations. When we pointed out we would take one of these alternatives, provided we were only charged what we had already paid for our cancelled accommodation, they ceased all contact. That’s quality customer service for you right there.

We know that online services of all sorts have their flaws. Airbnb is setting an all-time low, not so much because of their bad handling of bookings, but their inability to address the situation once the inevitable screw-up occurs. Giving a lousy 10% credit and forcing someone to an almost certainly more expensive last minute re-booking (which he is required to complete on his own) is an outright scam, not a valid method to appease dissatisfied customers.

All in all, I’d say our overall experience with Airbnb was atrocious and would seriously advise everyone to stay away from it. You will be far better served by respectable online services or go the good old conventional way of finding your own accommodation on the spot. Do not be deceived by the enticing price tags of Airbnb. This is an unreliable “service”, plain and simple, and it isn’t worth the risk.

Airbnb Does Nothing to Remove Illegal Listings

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I owned a property that has been posted without my permission. After reporting to Airbnb about this fraud, their response was that they cannot help because of their obligation to privacy of the host’s account. Clearly there’s no screening process to ensure that the host and property are legitimate. The humor is I found out because the person putting this ad has contacted me about the reservation. I have changed the locks and informed security at the property. I do not know how long my property has been advertised on Airbnb and of any damages from this fraud. My point is it’s not safe to rent from Airbnb, and I hope this is a reminder for guests of Airbnb to be careful booking with them. Simply irresponsible.

Airbnb Policies Don’t Work if the Guest Cancels Early

Don’t trust Airbnb with their cancellation policies. I had a guest arrive late one evening around midnight. They seemed quite happy with the apartment, then the next day called to say that they had found a place closer to the sea, and would like to leave. I said that would be fine, and then they asked for their money back. I responded it was not possible as I have lost other bookings. The next day they left and cancelled with Airbnb and requested a refund, which I declined. They also left the place filthy and full of rubbish. I heard nothing from Airbnb until after my next guest arrived, then they processed the refund from the payment of the other guests. Without telling me. This is daylight robbery. So hosts: beware your Airbnb cancellation policy means nothing. You are not covered. And what’s worse is they said that the apartment was listed incorrectly, which is all they have to do to get out of the cancellation policy. Do not list your property in Airbnb if you are a host.

Airbnb Warning About Getting Refunds

Yet another cancellation story but also a warning to do things in the right order. I booked a three-bedroom apartment in Soho, New York City run by a lady called ‘Clodagh’. A month after the booking was accepted I received a message from her saying she had to cancel the booking. But Airbnb still showed the listing as valid. Only after I sent her a message telling her to handle the cancellation properly from her end did I receive an email from Airbnb. It offered me a refund or to use the money I’d paid, plus a 10% credit, on another property. I’d already booked another apartment, with great difficulty as it was getting close to the dates, so I chose the refund. I believe she sent me the cancellation message expecting that I would then request a refund and the cancellation would then have been instigated by me and I’d have probably lost my money under the VERY STRICT cancellation policy imposed on guests ONLY. If you receive a cancellation message directly from a host, wait until you receive a message from Airbnb before you do anything. I’m not going to use Airbnb again until they offer some kind of security for booking or sufficient compensation to cover hotels for the cancelled period.

AIRBNB IS NOT A RELIABLE WAY OF TRAVELING AND CERTAINLY NOT FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL!

Hosts take advantage of family w pregnant wife – no refund for simple mistake!

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Husband & Pregnant wife +19 month old baby girl look forward to a last holiday before newborn arrives…… WRONG!  It was a disaster staying through Airbnb with FABIO & CHRISTINA. Looking at the beautiful photos of Byron Bay & all the options on airbnb, I booked ahead looking forward to a well earned rest before our new born arrives in December.  We headed down from Queensland to New South Wales forgetting about the 1 hour time difference(NSW 1 hour ahead). We were asked to let them know when we would be arriving so I said 2 pm, approximately, when we arrived there was no one there as we had the times mixed up! No big deal I thought just an error in judgement. When I called Fabio, I asked when we could be given access, he started getting angry & did not seem to want to remedy a solution. Eventually I passed him onto my wife to let her work out a solution!   We managed to get him to agree to come to the houses an hour later.   If he had explained/communicated that we had to be there at a specific time as he would be waiting specifically for us, then I could have understood his annoyance, but he did not!  His partner I guess, Christina, was there and did all of the talking, he said nothing, not an apology, not a peep, which I did think was odd after he had been so angry on the phone. We all stood in the kitchen, I checked the room out, It was ok, the bathroom was ok, then I thought that I had better check that the bathroom was just for us.  The reply was “no it’s a shared house with 4 room”, & the kitchen to was shared. I explained that was not what I was expecting as my understanding was that we had booked a self contained unit!!  Christina then offered for us to cancel/ not stay & “she would not be offended” along with the fact that she did not have the money, Airbnb had it, & we could get it back from them if we wanted.  I gave my pregnant wife the option to make the decision to stay or not.  She chose the latter. We said goodbye & left, trusting what we were told regarding the monies/refund! We were left at 5pm Halloween evening on the side of the street scrambling around frantically to find accommodation, we ended up sleeping in a caravan/ mobile unit, not the holiday we were expecting sadly.  Then we moved out and stayed another 2x nights somewhere else. When I returned to Brisbane I followed up with airbnb & Fabio & Christina for our refund…………. We are told by airbnb that Fabio & Christina HAD received the monies in full & they could/would do nothing as they could not force them to give the money back as per verbal agreement…… When I asked the Rude host Fabio he said that it was all our fault & we should have gone online on the day we left to get our monies back!! Fabio & Christina are using airbnb to scam/rip off money out of unsuspecting customers who do not know their rights & are lied to in order to take advantage of in this kind of situation! I wonder how many other people have been caught by this couple & others using the same tactics. In the end I gave them the option to play fair & give the money back or I would have no choice but as my duty to warn there people wanting a cheap holiday NOT TO BOOK THROUGH AIRBNB. “BUYER BEWARE”, THE OLD SAYING GOES! IF SOMETHING SEEMS IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE THEN IS PROBABLY IS! A VERBAL AGREEMENT FROM HOSTS MEANS NOTHING, AND AIRBNB WILL DO NOTHING TO HELP YOU!

Left in the Lurch After Host Cancelled on Short Notice

Last December I booked an airbnb in Santa Barbara listed as a “Sweet Serene Getaway.” I needed a place to stay while in town for UCSB graduation weekend June 12-14. Knowing how quickly places book up and how much hotels jack up their rates to gouge the graduates’ families, I felt lucky to find the 2 bedroom house not far from campus at a very reasonable rate.The reservation was accepted, My credit card was charged, and I felt I was all set. Wrong. Yesterday, a week and a day before my scheduled artival, the host informed me the property would not be available, citing an unspecified “emergency.” To say that I was livid would be an understatement. I was faced with the daunting task of finding a reasonably priced place to stay in an expensive city on short notice on a weekend that has been fully booked for months. After two frustrating hours of making phone calls and hearing nothing but “sorry,” I finally found two hotel rooms a half hour away at an exorbitant rate. I grabbed them in desperation just as another airbnb host accepted what was by then a last ditch effort at making a reservation. The new reservation came with a $616.00 price tag, $134.00 more than the first reservation. Meantime, the original host had not yet officially cancelled the reservation thtough airbnb, so I had to send her a message requesting that she do so. Finally, hours later, she did and I received an e-mail from airbnb telling me they would keep the $482.00 I spent on that failed reservation and apply it to a future booking. I had to call airbnb this morning and argue with a customer service rep about getting my refund. We went around and around for a few minutes before he finally saw the light and agreed to issue the refund in fullI. I have my fingers crossed that the new reservation works out, but I still also have my back up hotel rooms on hold. Airbnb indicated that they would do nothing more for me except issue a $70.00 credit for a future booking, which doesn’t help me at all with the current situation. I have no intention of ever booking with this company again, so they can stick their credit where the sun don’t shine. They also have no way for me to write a negative review on their site. So, I am writing here to warn people, as others have done, that airbnb guarantees nothing. Their hosts can be complete flakes and cancel up to the last minute without suffering any consequences. Meanwhile, the guests, who’ve booked well in advance and paid in full, can be left in the lurch. It’s fraud and I don’t intend to let this go. This seems to be a frequent occurrence and is simply unacceptable.