We booked a room through Airbnb and when we arrived we found the room to be completely uninhabitable. The most pressing issue was the temperature; the room was freezing, with no heating provided. It was 7 degrees Celsius outside, and the external walls were paper thin. There was condensation on the windows and walls. Furthermore, the toilet was broken; the cistern was permanently discharging, with the constant noise of running water and making it impossible to flush. There were other issues too, including excessive noise from above.
We notified the hosts, who agreed with our assessment that the room was uninhabitable, and we had no option other than to leave and seek alternative accommodation (at 10:00 PM). Airbnb does not have a contact number, leaving us with no one to call and having to fend for ourselves. Given that the host completely agreed with us, we thought that we’d at least be able to get a full refund for the room – how wrong we were.
Airbnb will not refund their service fees, their cleaning fees, or their processing fees, so in total are only prepared to refund about 75% of the price we paid, despite the room being completely uninhabitable, the host agreeing with us, and us not having spent a single night there. Airbnb does not have a contact number, so I have been left communicating via their online message system (taking a day for them to reply between messages) with someone who doesn’t have a good grasp of the English language and is making unreasonable requests (they want photo evidence that it was cold – how exactly do they expect me to do that, unless of course they expect their guests to carry a thermometer with them).
Given this, we immediately looked into cancelling our other Airbnb bookings for this trip. Given the experience we’ve just had we didn’t want to risk it. All the bookings were listed as free cancellation, and we are within the cancellation window. However, Airbnb’s policy is to never refund their service fee, even when a room is cancelled or there is a problem. They don’t care what you do, because they get paid anyway.
I have no worries about getting my money back – it was paid using Amex and their customer service is exceptional. They’ll provide the refund immediately and claim it back from Airbnb. I’m sure that our experience here is a one off, and the vast majority of stays go without issue. However, if something does go wrong, Airbnb will leave you on your own to deal with it, will make any attempt to get a resolution exceedingly difficult and will refuse to provide a full refund. You have been warned.