AirBnB: Support for Hosts, nightmare for renters.
The lack of sleep from the last few days in what has been some of the most shocking service from AirBnB will require a lot of energy on my part to make sense of this unbelievable situation.
The beginning of the beginning:
It all started when my friend and I decided to spend a few months in Mexico City to kickstart our freelancing dream and work on projects together. Looking at a bunch of different avenues to find places to rent, we obviously made use of craigslist, some local places but settled for AirBnB assuming convenience and peace of mind unaware of the nightmare ahead.
Stranger AirBnB Things
See here’s the funny thing about AirBnB that people, especially nomads, need to be aware of when booking. We’ve all heard the horror stories of orgies happening and AirBnB having to step in to help hosts cover costs and cleanups etc… and that’s perfectly understandable . What they don’t really get into is how this platform mainly benefits hosts and not renters at all.
A renter on a long term stay is required to provide 30 days notice prior to canceling a long term stay reservation and is fully charged for those 30 days. I completely understand and respect that policy but here’s where things take a turn for the worse. A host can apparently cancel the reservation at ANY time and you’ll often hear AirBnB throw around their “extenuating circumstances” spiel without really ever getting into it potentially leaving a long term renter stranded and struggling to find a new place to stay.
Could you imagine being in a city with few listings, or costly ones for that matter, having to negotiate with the host for a decent price and finding yourself having to finding another place soon after? Quite stressful I can assure you.
A Trip into Upside down world courtesy of AirBnB
Here’s where our little story took a turn for the worse. I’d love to say that it’s twists full of laughs, emotions and surprises but it has been nothing but stressful, incredibly inconvenient and at times completely disrespectful in the manner it was handled by AirBnB.
So here we are, my friend and I, in Mexico City after finally having negotiated and booked a 4 month stay in a great location with a very well reviewed host. We got used to the neighbourhood, we signed up on contracts to a gym nearby and started settling in comfortably until…
A month into our reservation, our host sends us a nice little e-mail informing us of work to be done in the building that is to be intrusive and very disruptive without really getting into much detail and informing us that we need to cancel the reservation and have a week to leave. He also suggested we get AirBnB involved to help ease the transition to a new booking ( which seems like a joke in very poor taste looking back) and so we did.
From one case manager to another, our case got handed over to countless people who sent us listings that were completely inadequate based on number of bedrooms and locations. At times, even the dates required were unavailable but i’m assuming they didn’t really want to go too much in depth to really help out. I was informed I needed to still get in touch with the hosts to negotiate the price and that they would help with price differences .
It seemed very supportive at the time until I found myself consistently having to follow up by calling because their generic firstname.lastname@example.org often dumps replies into No Man’s sky ( Are people still playing this game?) and ends up being the most ironic email address in the world. I must have spoken to at least 10 different people, all with different explanations and no solution to our very stressful problem ( I’ve opted not to put any names but I really want to because if I could get a hold of some of the recordings the shock value of the customer experience and the arrogant responses I got from some of them were comic relief.)
Eventually, they ended up telling me that the host would get penalized for breaking the reservation early on and the burden of proof is on him. I ended up speaking to one case manager who advised me that both payments made ( one for the month we stayed in and the other for the upcoming one) were reversed and credited back to us as penalty to the host and that airBnB would attempt to provide a travel credit for rebooking.
Diving deeper into Upside Down World
So after 2 days of negotiating and finding new listings, I finally found a place and informed my case manager to try and get him to help me negotiate and book the place. When I finally tried to check out, I noticed the credits were not being applied to my payment schedule and decided ( again!) to give AirBnB a call because the email@example.com was surprisingly not being responsive and this lead to a 2 HOUR PHONE CALL!!!
A new representative that was unaware of my case did a bit of research and placed me on hold 6 times ( I informed her I would learn the lyrics of the hold music by heart to which she responded I could do whatever I want and if I wanted to learn them then to go ahead) and finally got back to inform me that it wasn’t a canceled reservation but an altered reservation ( whaaaaaa?!!!) and that I wasn’t entitled to the credit. I felt like i was in an altered universe. After a few minutes of arguing I asked her to get ahold of a supervisor and ended up speaking to him. I explained my whole situation all over again and informed him of the stress and the whole nightmarish scenario this turned into.
He busted out the typical corporate empathy response 101 “I understand your frustration”, “That must be really stressful”, “I hear you and I will do this for you” which amounted to absolutely nothing at all .
So here we are, after days of negotiating with new hosts, back and forth conversation with AirBnB to try and sort this situation and honestly some of the worst customer service I’ve ever witnessed.
Stranger Things season 2
To conclude, I honestly do not wish this experience on any travellers in long term stays. The time and energy wasted in the last few days is completely lost and I’ve informed AirBnB of my intention to publicize this nightmare to make sure renters are aware of the risks involved when renting long term stays. YOUR HOST CAN CANCEL AT ANY TIME.
They provided a quick fix solution that still ends up costing us a lot more than what we were initially promised and rebuked any attempts to follow up with “ We’ve made our final decision regarding your case and no further discussion will be made”.
My question at the end of all of this is the following : What’s the point of following house rules?
You respect the house rules and the host only for the possibility of still finding yourself without a place for no reason at all. So what’s the point?
We’ve all seen the stories about orgies and how AirBnB steps in with a damage fund of $1 million dollars ( i could be wrong about the amount) but what about the renters? What about the people who rent long term and trust this platform and could find themselves without a place because the host decides to cancel the reservation?
So that’s that. I apologize for any mistakes made in writing this as I have not been sleeping much in the last two days and wanted make sure people are aware of the risks involved when using AirBnB.
On the bright side, Netflix renewed Stranger Things for a second season and who knows this could make great content for the show.