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.
I don't even understand the convoluted message you received after the check-in day. It's good that all the communication took place on Airbnb messages; all of this information will be readily available to the agent who will make a decision. It should be quick and straight-forward. Judging by the information provided, I see no valid reason a refund should be granted. They contacted you for a cancellation after the check-in date. I'm not sure what this "integration" to the system entails, but I imagine it can't be too difficult or something you couldn't help the guest with. There really isn't a logical reason a refund should be granted, but you never know...
What I would do at this point:
Hello, Thank you for your story - I am relived to hear this is a common airbnb problem and I am not alone!
Airbnb has no respect for hosts and no intention to apply aribnb terms to their arbitrary decicions, without consideration of any host defence, to void cancellation policies.
Here is my quick story -
Guests are savvy and know how to get out of any cancellation policy by lying to airbnb staff.
Airbnb favours guests without considering hosts defence against travel issue claims.
A travel issue MUST be a real and significant issue, as per airbnb terms. (please see the copy of airbnb terms at the bottom.
Airbnb has let me down so many times with cancellations and do not allow a host to counter any false claims when a guest has a change of mind or recieves a better offer after check in.
However airbnb does not follow its terms nor consider a host defence to guest claims...
OK so thats one issue and worse
AIRBNB had me running around all day misleading me, actually asking me to fix issues even after they had encouraged the guest to leave and promised the guest a full refund,
heres some proof....
Here is the text,
So who are we paying fee's to for a matchmaking service? AIRBNB, who has youre back? Not Airbnb.
It really is time for an airbnb alternative to BOOK DIRECT as Airbnb has no respect for hosts and no intention to apply aribnb terms to arbitrary decicions, without consideration of any host defence, to void a cancellation policies.
"A “Travel Issue” means any one of the following: (a) the Host of the Accommodation (i) cancels a reservation shortly before the scheduled start of the reservation, or (ii) fails to provide the Guest with the reasonable ability to access the Accommodation (e.g., by providing the keys and/or a security code). (b) the description of the Accommodation in the Listing is materially inaccurate with respect to: (i) the size of the Accommodation (e.g., number and size of the bedroom, bathroom and/or kitchen or other rooms), (ii) whether the reservation for the Accommodation is for a private room or shared room, and whether another party, including the Host, is staying at the Accommodation during the reservation, (iii) special amenities or features represented in the Listing are not provided or do not function, such as decks, pools, hot tubs, bathrooms (toilet/shower/bathtub), kitchen (sink/stove/refrigerator or major other appliances), and electrical, heating or air condition systems, or (iv) the physical location of the Accommodation (proximity). (c) at the start of the Guest’s reservation, the Accommodation: (i) is not generally clean and sanitary (ii) contains safety or health hazards that would be reasonably expected to adversely affect the Guest’s stay at the Accommodation in Airbnb’s judgment, (iii) does not contain clean bedding and bathroom towels available for the Guest’s use, or (iv) has vermin or contains pets not disclosed on the Listing."
Hello @Gulay1 ,
Something similar happened to me with a guest recently. I was going to the community to see if I could write something about the situation but reading your story has helped me understand that we as hosts are not alone in these situations.
Airbnb should have a set rules or signs of red flags when it comes to guests cancelling at the last minute or making alterations without consulting the host. I understand Airbnb wants to make the guests to be happy with their stay but it doesn't mean the host or them as a company should be penalized or in jeopardy for the irresponsibility of the guest.
Hi @Noelia57. You are absolutely right, unfortunately. I've had last-minute cancellations honored with full refunds by Airbnb after this incident, but I am not hopeful that Airbnb will stop the abuse. The hard truth is, that they have a monopoly on the customer base, which gives them the power to treat hosts like they do.
In terms of business, it makes perfect sense for Airbnb to make rules flexible for guests and draconian for hosts. We're on the rock-bottom of the food chain.