Yesterday I had an experience, where Airbnb customer service chose to punish the host (me) for playing by the book and rewarded the guest for lying to Airbnb and to me. While I'm used to Airbnb throwing the host under the bus in a different circumstance (https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Help/Guest-damages-apartment-customer-service-refuses-to-grant/m-p/721157#M162527), I was shocked how readily Airbnb disregarded their own policies snug up to a deceitful guest.
A guest made a reservation over two months ago for 5 guests —let's call her Eve. As Eve was going to check in within a few days, I messeged her to see when she was planning to arrive at the location, so I can meet her. She didn't respond to my Airbnb messages and it appears she disconnected the phone number she had listed on Airbnb. Three days later, I still hadn't heard from Eve and she was about to check in within two days, so I involved Airbnb. When she saw Airbnb's message she immediately called me on a different phone number. When I asked her when would she and her friends would be at the apartment, she craftily slipped it in that all SEVEN of them would be arriving at 2:00 PM.
The building management has policies for the maximum number of guests we are allowed to have. I explained to Eve that they had made their reservation for 5 guests and I would not be able to accomodate 7 guests, even if I had agreed to it. Eve said should want to cancel, then, and hung up.
An hour later I received this threatening message from Airbnb customer support:
My name is Tahji and I am a case manager from Airbnb Trip Experience. I am reaching out to you about your reservation with Cijie with the utmost of urgency. This is an urgent time sensitive case and I must hear back from you by 24 hours. As a reminder, if I do not hear back from you, I will need to take the appropriate actions by canceling the reservation and providing a full refund to this guest; host penalties will be applied in addition to this.
Please write back or give us a call at +1-415-800-5959 to discuss this further.
Eve had called Airbnb and told the agent that I had full knowledge that there would be 7 guests total from the beginning. She apparently said that we had a phone conversation, in which I had confirmed to her that they can bring 7 guests. Of course, I denied this baseless claim and pointed out that I wouldn't confirm their booking for 5 guests, if this was true.
It is prime time peak season where my listing is located. This booking had been active for over two months. Tahji decided to cancel Eve's booking with no fees or penalties, because she wasn't able to "Neither confirm, nor deny that [I] had spoken with [Eve] on the phone and said that they could bring 7 guests." I received no reimbursement.
Good luck, fellow hosts. I hope you never have to deal with Airbnb customer service.
TL;DR: The guest disobeyed Airbnb policies by intending to bring more guests than declared on the booking. Airbnb disregarded their own cancellation policy, based on the groundless claim of a guest, who had already lied about number of guests, that I had told them over the phone that it would be ok.
This has been my experience as well. I had all dates booked out during the school holidays which included the Easter break and a customer cancelled her three day booking ( for next week) because she got the wrong dates. She thought she had booked the Easter weekend. How on earth can you get Friday-Sunday booking mixed up with a Sunday-Wednesday booking? So she cancelled leaving me high and dry now with three days vacant during peak times as everyone else has already made arrangements weeks in advance. The sad thing is the customer is an air B&B owner herself. So I lose three days $ and vacancy filled because she changed her mind. This shouldn’t be allowed as a reason to cancel in my opinion.
I see that you have a Moderate cancellation policy. You have a beautiful cottage, by the way, I love it! If this is a recurring theme for you, like it was for me, I would suggest considering changing your cancellation policy to Strict.
We are not hotels, after all. A hotel is rarely fully booked at any given day (unless they're doing very well), whereas our rooms go from fully booked to 0% booked with a single cancellation for those given dates.
When you choose a moderate or flexible cancellation policy you're betting on the odds that you will attract more guests and book more dates that otherwise wouldn't be booked with a Strict CP, than number of days that go unbooked, because a guest cancelled too close to their check in date.
I honestly don't know what the better option is. It may be different for different cases. It's a business decision that you'll have to make. I use a Strict CP for my listing, because I receive almost all of my bookings months in advance and I don't recall receiving a booking earlier than 3 weeks in advance. I imagine this is the case for most listings that have a higher occupancy limit, i.e. host bigger groups as opposed to a single guest or a couple. So, if I had a Moderate CP and a guest cancelled the booking a week in advance, I would lose those dates 100%.
We restricted our policy to the point that NO reservation can be booked without our approval. I want to see who’s coming, there rating, all the info prior to the reservation. Airbnb change there policy and now we are not backed up by them anymore. Yesterday had guest that was trying to manipulate and get reservation for over 6 people originally was 1 I had to cancel him. Airbnb tretened me with cancalation fees suspended me from super host and block the days that was supposed to be for those reservation. This is not the “ NICE AND FRIENDLY “ website anymore, Airbnb overcharge both parties and builing the hosts . Stric your policy so at least when needed you will be covered .
So Airbnb threatened you for refusing to alter a confirmed reservation from 1 guest to over 6 guests? Although I'm not surprised, seeing this makes me (even more) scared and upset.
First of all, thank you so very much for doing what you did/are doing. If we let them abuse the policies, they will continue to do so. I blocked any future reservations, and I am looking at whether or not I will cancell existing reservations. If I cancel, guests will know why and they'll not be happy with airbhb either. I'm most likely going to file complaints with consumer protection agencies, public and private. And I will be posting on review sites. Will it cost me some time? Yes, but no money, and if I get a bad "guest" it is going to cost me a lot of time and money. Best to file complaints so others don't have to pay for being taken advantage of.
First of all, thank you so very much for doing what you did/are doing. If we let them abuse the policies, they will continue to do so.
It really is my pleasure. You know the gut-wrenching feeling when you get something stolen and you can't do anything about it? By telling my story to my peers I'm easing that horrible feeling. Quite honestly, I don't think Airbnb will stop treating their hosts the way they do ever, but I find some solace in telling you guys about it.
Knowledge is power and by 'educating" your peers, you're empowering them/us! I think airbnb will change but it will take more time than i'm willing to wait for...i've been reading what critics are saying a bout airbnb, and it's not pretty. It's just a matter of time before it catches up with them. They've got some serious competition out there but people don't do the research (I didn't).
Airbnb, like any other company, responds very quickly and aggressively to what makes it on the news. If stories of Airbnb's abuse of hosts reach critical mass in social media or make it in the news, then I'd be very hopeful for change.
I just cancelled a guest withiin days of arrival due to lying/overbooking...and an instant post appeared on my listing saying I cancelled within 2 days. There is a place where you can explain your position. I was 'nice" about it but it's going to hurt the 'guest" more than it will hurt me. I'm not paying $100 to keep my residents and property safe and secure. I"m ditching airbnb. This is NUTS!!!
That may be the case but I do have the airbnb emails in which he states he will be the only one staying there...for various reasons, I am very suspicious of his situation. Prostitution is flourishing in WI and it is ILLEGAL.
Oh... That's a whole different story. Thankfully I haven't had to endure that, but I know an Airbnb host in my very building that had this issue. I live in Miami, after all.
Wow, the things hosts have to put up with. Good luck and be safe!
I don't know if that is the case or not but the point is you don't know who will be staying in your place if they are guests of the guests. As a landlord, I've always screened my prospects and it's almost immediately clear if the kids have saved up their allowances for an overnight orgy, if the drunks have just been released from jail and momma won't let them back home, and if they haven't paid their utility bills. I was able to "cancel" these people without them knowing my name or where my property was. Not the case with airbnb. The dude i cancelled knows exactly where my property is. Time for security cameras...
Time for security cameras
I thought it was me just turning into a grumpy old man but that can’t be appropriated to you, so I think there’s something more to this. There really is a problem.
Security cameras.. Me too.
Smoking detectors.. Me. (Give an inch, take a mile).
Guests taking advantage and pushing the limits with the back up of AirBnb... Every Host Resisting.
We’re trusting. We’re respectful. We expect other people are the same, alas not.
Airbnb seemed like a great hosting and marketing arrangement but now getting to understand the passive aggression of the system is really uncomfortable. It is promoting reactions towards protection in us which is worrying.
Ignorance was really bliss, the sharing community we really agree with, being taken advantage of... Which planet do you think we were born on?
As an aside, AirBnb have an option for guests to ‘invite other guests to join this reservation’. I’m pushing this in my reservations because ultimately ‘registered guests’ have a history and I would far prefer their details be held on AirBnb for future reference in order to track future misdemeanours. Whether that will happen or not- who knows?
I wish AirBnb was that ‘Happy Place’ I/we thought it was.
No, you're not turning into a grumpy old man...you're simply becoming older and wiser. I agree with everything you said, but i do still have reservations about guests recommending guests....perspectives vary greatly, and it only takes one bad guest to put you out of business permenantly. airbnb is penalizing me $100 for cancelling a reservation which was "misleading" and which put me and my property at risk. I have blocked off all available days on the properties I had listed and i will not be renting those out thru airbnb....and I may cancel remaining reservations even if they charge me because it is not worth risking my 30 year reputation as a responsible rental manager...I have repeat residents that trust me with their tranquility and safety.