I’d been renting on Airbnb for nearly two years. No issues. I was always smart about doing my researching, asking the right questions, and making sure everything was just right before booking. You have to be when you’re renting for stays of over 28 days on Airbnb (you have to pay the first month up front and can’t get money back).
I’d heard Airbnb horror stories from many others, but I figured they didn’t do their due diligence. Then it happened to me. My host went nuts, and I hadn’t even arrived. I was getting email after email from the lady. She was calling me names, adding rules to her listing, and generally, just being crazy.
Why My Host Lost Her Damn Mind
As I was confirming my arrival and pending stay with my host, she began emailing me with new rules that were not listed on her listing. Then she started adding rules to her listing on Airbnb. Even started referring to me in a derogatory manner. It was baffling. We hadn’t even met in person; I still hadn’t arrived at her apartment.
I always grab screen shots. Pro-tip: Always grab screenshots of everything! As my host was telling me these rules I must abide by that were not agreed to, I told her that I would not accept or comply with the rules. I let her know that when I paid these rules were not a part of the agreement.
She wasn’t pleased. Then she told me Airbnb gives her the right to show up to my apartment whenever she wants and come inside. Yeah, this isn’t going to workout. I’m not going to be paying a hefty sum to be treated like a child in my Airbnb rental. I told her that wasn’t acceptable, and I’d like a refund.
She said all I had to do was cancel the reservation. “THAT BITCH!” I yelled while staring at my computer screen. She knew if I canceled she would be able to keep the first month’s rent. Fuck her.
Airbnb Customer Service Comes Through
I picked up the phone and called Airbnb customer service. I emailed them the screenshots of the rules when I booked and the rules now. I was worried because Airbnb has been known to side with the hosts a majority of the time. Airbnb hosts often have more power with the customer service department than a lowly traveler.
Luckily, Airbnb customer service came through in the clutch. They went into the system and looked through her listing. They saw the date I booked and the date she changed her rules.
Then they looked through our messaging and saw how rude she was. It was evident she wasn’t holding the hospitality standards Airbnb expects. It didn’t even take 24 hours and my listing had been canceled. All of my money was back in my account, and Airbnb gave me an $87 credit for the hassle.
I was impressed with Airbnb customer service. The people I worked with were very professional and worked quickly to solve any problems. However, I may have been lucky. Others have had major issues with Airbnb.
Out a Month’s Rent
What does “within walking distance to the city center” mean to you?
Personally, I find walking distance to the city center to be 10-20 minutes maximum to the center on feet. My Euro friends may argue, but more than 20 minutes walking somewhere is quite the trek, especially at night. My friend had booked a listing in the Dominican Republic. The place was said to be “within walking distance to the city center” when advertised on Airbnb. He booked the place for a month for a little over $800 USD. Pricey for the Dominican Republic, but with a sweet balcony, king sized bed, and what was supposed to be an excellent location – he figured it was a good deal.
So he caught the bus up to the small city in the middle of the country. He didn’t know much about the place, but he did know he needed a relaxed place to work for a month. It seemed like a good fit. Then he arrived at the city center and got out of the bus. Hailing a taxi, he gave the taxi driver the address and loaded his luggage. Off they went. He figured the ride would take five minutes or so. Ten minutes max. After 15 minutes in the taxi, he spoke up and asked the driver if they were close in a worried manner.
They were. A few moments later he was at his new place. The place looked exactly like the photos, but there was one issue: it was in the middle of nowhere! He asked his Airbnb host how far the place was from the city center, and the host told him it’s best to call a taxi. My friend was pissed. He spent the night in the morning and then walked to the city center from his apartment in Timbuktu in the morning. Walking past cows and farms, it took him 32 minutes to reach the center. Not acceptable for a place that was said to be “within walking distance to the city center.”
He called Airbnb customer service and told them about the complaint. They didn’t care. His claim wasn’t relevant enough. They said he wouldn’t be able to get any of his money back. Well, Airbnb customer service was wrong. My friend left the place the next day and never returned to the city. He filed a claim against the charge with his credit card company and got every penny back from the rental. And due to the negligence of Airbnb customer service, he hasn’t rented on Airbnb ever again.
Making Airbnb Customer Service Work For You
While my friend and I had different experiences with Airbnb customer service, I do believe they’ve improved. My situation happened in 2016, and his occurred during 2015. I hear fewer and fewer Airbnb horror stories after each passing year. Hosts are getting better, and customer service has made a concerted effort to side with travelers more often.
If you’re using Airbnb, make sure you always screenshot the listing before booking. Screenshot all your emails and messaging with the host. This will offer you some protection from shady hosts that try to play the bait and switch game. If you do need to contact Airbnb customer service, I’d skip the emails and messaging. Just contact them at this number:
Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.