Airbnb Business Model: Profit Over Human Safety


I just had the worst travel experience of my life at this Airbnb. This company is deplorable and has put profit over human life. I would like to share my story because I hope no one will ever have to go through what I am currently going through with them.

My family (nine adults and two young children) and I planned a trip down to Valle De Guadelupe in Mexico for this weekend with a tour company that would take us from San Diego down to Mexico Saturday morning and would take us back on Sunday morning. I booked an Airbnb for Saturday night and intended on going there until I received a call early Saturday morning from my tour company. They called because they needed to cancel my family’s trip.

Their vendors were warning them that it was unsafe for anyone to go to Mexico right now because of sudden cartel violence in and around the area of Ensenada and Tijuana the night before where cars were set on fire throughout the city and U.S. citizens were being asked to shelter in place. In order to travel to Valle De Guadelupe, we would have to travel through the border and the city of Ensenada and Tijuana so our tour company did not think it was safe given what their vendors were telling them. This made sense and we were appreciative that they cancelled and refunded our trip.

However, when we went to try and cancel our Airbnb with our host, we did not receive any empathy regarding the situation we were placed in. Instead, we were told that the situation was safe without any evidence that was true and that we had a choice in coming. We had two young children with us. We did not have a choice. We did not want to endanger their lives by going to our Airbnb with active threats of violence in the area we would have to cross through. Airbnb then proceeded to go back and forth with us and at one point even called to say we would be receiving a refund to only send a message 30 minutes later saying they would not be able to because the host denied the refund stating the area was safe. If it was safe, why was everything we were reading about Baja telling us not to go and that the cartels in the area were threatening violence over the weekend?

Airbnb, you should be ashamed of yourselves for running a company that doesn’t care about people’s safety. I am livid that my family was told by your customer service team to travel to an actively unsafe area and put all of our lives at risk.

We called today to see if there were further updates on our request to escalate our inquiry. Airbnb sent a message 30 minutes after our call stating that they were closing our case despite not responding to our request to show us evidence that the area we would be traveling through was safe.

Dream turned into a Nightmare

My husband and I have been planning a trip to Rio for the last five years. I’m Brazilian and he is American and he has been saving money in order to visit the city where I was born and spend time with my relatives there. We booked an apartment with Airbnb for $2188 to stay for six days and we were really satisfied with it based on the pictures online until relatives and friends raised concerns about the neighborhood and its far distance to all main attractions in Rio, which was contrary to the ad on Airbnb. My husband searched on Google Earth and found out that the apt was located on top of a mountain and that it would take us at least 20 minutes to walk down the mountain in order to get to public transportation, supermarkets, etc. My husband had a leg surgery recently and he can’t walk long distances, specially in an inclined terrain. We contacted Airbnb in order to request a cancellation and they asked us to send a letter from my husband’s doctor stating that he can’t walk such a steep mountain. We sent the letter to Airbnb on the same day as we spoke with the person on the phone and on the next day, they sent us an email stating that our cancellation refund has been denied and that they would only refund us a cleaning fee of $100 and $137 in service fee. This vacation has been a dream to us and Airbnb with its unfair strict cancellation policy had managed to turn it into a nightmare.