My grotesque experience with AirBnB. A warning to all hosts:
I recently started AirBnBing my downtown condo after being encouraged by a friend. My first few experiences were promising as I was learning the ropes and getting into the swing of things. I even got 5 star reviews! However, I quickly realized that the extra income I was making came at a steep price.
I was away on a business trip and allowed a guest to Airbnb my place for a few days. During work, I got a call from my condo’s security guards… To my complete shock, the police were called in due to domestic violence in my unit! My AirBnB guest was escorted out of the unit for abusing his partner! If that wasn’t bad enough, I came home later that week to find my place in shambles. There was so much damage I couldn’t believe it! Even my doors were split right down the middle! When I tried to report this to AirBnB, I kept getting canned responses and being told that someone would call me back… no one did for weeks. I had to call back multiple times a day in order to get anyone to listen. Great customer support... :S This situation took over a month to get straightened out. It was a nightmare.
Now, I thought I would give AirBnB one more chance.. I kept receiving those emails tailored to hosts, encouraging me to host again. I thought, it can’t happen again… what are the odds I get another bad guest?
Well, I was dead wrong!
This nightmare guest threw a party in my condo, consumed all of my very very expensive alcohol (hundreds of dollars worth), left stains on my couch, wall, carpet, and floor! She even stole my towels, wine glasses, and other items. And left a bunch of things broken!
The damage was in the thousands! I was horrified.
I contacted AirBnB about the damages and it (once again) took them forever to get back to me. Finally someone got back to me and after weeks of deliberation, I was approved for a partial claim. Now this is where the story gets interesting… and the truth about AirBnB’s customer service gets revealed.
So, I was approved for a claim and was sent an email stating that I had 24 hours to click on a link in order to accept the amount - strong arming me to settle. Now, I was still debating the reimbursement with the agent as she did not acknowledge a few damaged items and forgot to add the tax to the reimbursement amount. The email was also worded in a way that sounded like her and I could still discuss the amount before she would close the case. I responded to her within a few hours of receiving the link and nothing… radio silence for 2 whole days! Of course, now I am freaking out because this link she sent me apparently expired and I was being ignored. (Horrendous customer service.)
Then I get another email (48 hours later) stating that the case has been closed because I failed to respond and that I could still reopen the case by responding to the email.
What?! I responded to each and every email and got ignored multiple times. How could this case be closed? And guess what… the case was definitely not reopened (as promised) after I responded thus leaving me with thousands of dollars worth of damage.
I called support multiple times to resolve this matter and got blocked each and every time. On multiple occasions, the case managers told me that I am owed the initial amount and that they would get the decision to close the case appealed… and then, guess what… radio silence.
I feel hurt, manipulated, and taken advantage of by the AirBnB team. I feel like they never wanted to help me with my claim, rather use any delay to meet their own agenda (not paying out legitimate claims).
I learned a valuable lesson from all of this.
AirBnB claims to support their hosts and ensure their safety and that their home will be well kept but at the end of the day, I don’t feel safe hosting with AirBnB and I especially don’t trust their ‘Trust and Safety’ team.
Questions: if it wasn't for the Host Guarantee assurance, would you have started renting at all? Is that the reason why you went with Airbnb in particular?
Without the Host Guarantee, I would never have started hosting. But... now that I know how AirBnB treats hosts when something actually happens, I will never host again and I will highly recommend that none of my friends host on AirBnB.
The problem with this logic is that other insurance will also most likely not cover you either - prosper etc will charge 2-300% more than normal, and will have $10k deductible which would require devastation to claim.
So without some offer from Airbnb the STR market would be a lot smaller. The other approach would be to have a real damage deposit.
Hi Pete. Regardless of that point. What I am most upset about is the customer service I was provided with. The number of times that I was promised a follow-up call that never happened or that a representative stated that they would get my case appealed is ridiculous. The agent that first approved the amount (which by the way took weeks) had mentioned that I could reopen the case by replying to the email. However, when push came to shove, she just ignored every email I sent her and just closed the case completely. Then other agents kept sending me canned responses.
No one really wanted to help.
It's funny because it takes weeks to get anything done but less than a day for AirBnB to just close a case and ignore their hosts. I am honestly disgusted by how they treated me. And if you read through their facebook page, they do this a lot to other hosts. They promise a reimbursement and then just disappear. Once they do, I would bet that some people forget about their claim and AirBnB got just what they wanted - not having to reimburse those people.
This is the risk you take with Airbnb. Normally when you rent real estate you take a wire transfer deposit equal to a month's worth of rent. This discourages people from destroying the place.
I always shoot video of my guest suite before each guest. That's evidence.
You might also consider writing down the guest's license plate number in case they somehow booked with a fraudulent / stolen credit card.
I do have before and after pictures. But that is not what I was trying to say with this post. I think AirBnB's customer experience is a joke. The issue with the guest cannot be taken back but AirBnB should have supported me (and other hosts) and ensure that hosts feel comfortable. The people I spoke to were incredibly rude. They couldn't care less what the outcome was.
In regards to my first claim, they even asked me to resolve the issue with the guest directly! That's crazy! This guy assaulted his partner and lives an hour away from me (knowing exactly where I live). How could they even dare to ask me to contact them? This was a slap in the face and a very dangerous suggestion. Just no common sense....
No but they were verified and I spoke to AirBnB... they always said that 1st time guests are not a high risk.... I now know that that is not true and that they just want hosts to accept any guests because they are the ones paying.
Further, this guest's profile should have been disabled. I checked and she is still active. So irresponsible for AirBnB to keep her as a guest. :S
Sorry to hear, but the tale has been told thousands of times. It happens mostly to newbies and those renting out the whole house. Whole house rental without a hard deposit of funds is playing russian roulette. AirBNB really needs to start looking out for those that make this possible. They are getting squashed by city regulations and also not making friends with hosts. For a billion dollar company they can do better. VrBO and homeaway are much better options in your situation.
Thank you Zacharias! That means a lot!
I have learned my lesson. The sad thing is that I will also never use the service again (as a traveller as well). I feel taken advantage of by AirBnB and their customer service left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't think they understand the power of a good referral because I was a huge advocator for the company. I converted about 10 people (all my parents' friends) into users and would have continued to promote them. Now, it's the last thing I'd do! If anything, did you know that Hotline.com and Hotel Tonight are much more affordable services than AirBnB? And the value (hospitality level) is incredible! I highly recommend those two services!
dear Eropa, what a terrible situation! I am so sorry for you!
This summer there was a very big storm on the lake and my awning have been destroyed because it was left opened by the guest. After many calls he answered and closed the other awning of the other terrace where other my guests were and this avoid desruption on that too.
after 4 years airbnb and more than 400 bookings I asked a refound for the awning to airbnb insurance and they told me I had to ask it to the guest. I cannot do it!
I cannot really understand!
they got so many many from me!!! and I was asking so few many....
what really covers the insurance??
I've read many similar stories and this is every host nightmare :( Alll those stories could be avoided by taking REAL SECURITY DEPOSITS.
Booking.com has it, VRBO has it... why not Airbnb?
I don't understand...
All of us here on Airbnb are playing russian roulette..
@Branka-and-Silvia0 The reason they do not take a real deposit is they would lose half of their bookings. AirBnB was built on the air mattress and cheap accomadations idea. An 18-21 year old, which AirBnB insists you must rent to has about a $500 to $1,000 credit limit on their card on average. My $500 deposit would eat it all or at least half. A lot of other guests would also not be able to afford to put an additional $500 on their cards because the home rental plus what they need to spend for the trip for food, gas, flights, etc. will max out their cards. In the US the average credit card limit is around $8,000 and the average debit on the cards is $5,700, but for most this is spread over multiple cards. This is what brought on the Pay Less Up Front and the Group Bookings which thank heavens have been stopped.
Jun 13, 2018 - The national average credit card limit per credit card across all U.S. consumers regardless of their credit score was found to be $1,110.
I personally find this hard to believe, but it's what they stand by and actual documention verifies it. HA/VRBO attracts a higher end guest because of the deposits they must pay. I personally have paid an actual security deposit of $2,000 on one rental in Maui over Christmas and New Year's. AirBnB is sticking to it's roots and attracting the cheap rental guests by not requiring a true security deposit. I had a guest recently that got canceled by their first host. AirBnB called me and asked me to take them. They did not have available credit to rebook elsewhere. AirBnB took well over 24 hours to move them to me and switch the payout to me vs. the other host for a 3 night stay. They were wonderful guests just lower income and could never have paid a true security deposit. The $289 a night plus the $170 cleaning fee just about killed them. Here's her review:
I know, but air mattress era is long gone... today they have high end apartments, villas and castles listed on Airbnb and they should reconsider security deposit problem again. If not, they will attract more and more bad guests and Airbnb will eventually be banned all over the world.
We all know how neighbours are "happy " with Airbnb :(