5 ways Airbnb is just another big, evil, corporate company

After praising Airbnb and welcoming over 120 guests to my home, it’s time to also points out the ways that Airbnb does not treat its hosts fairly. Airbnb may be all colorful, wonderful and friendly hiding behind their their “Belo” PR campaign, but when it comes to their hosts, it’s just another big evil corporate company. These experiences are the ones that are making me reonsider hosting on Airbnb after being a Superhost for the past 2 years and after 127 5/5 star reviews.

1. Hypocrisy: Cancellations are on the host, not on Airbnb. If a guest makes a mistake when making a booking and it needs to be cancelled, it is up to the host to refund the reservation. However, Airbnb fees are never refunded. It’s designed so that Airbnb can never loose. If a guest cancels and you don’t accept the refund request, Airbnb representatives will call you and “mediate” by asking that you refund them, but they’ll never offer to refund the Airbnb fees. They wash their hands of the water by telling the guest that the host has to refund the reservation and play off the fact that they’re not willing to refund the Airbnb fees. Isn’t it hypocritical to ask the host to refund the guest but to refuse to do it themselves?

2. Not recognizing that the guest is NOT always right: I went camping this past weekend and I did not have phone service. So, in preparation for a reservation, I made sure my itinerary email had clear check in instructions and the keys were accessible. I also spent several hours scrubbing the toilets, making the bed, cleaning up the apartment and left some fresh snacks for the guest (Yes, there’s a lot of work behind each reservation so there’s a high cost to a cancellation). Unfortunately, my guest was negligent and did not read the itinerary email that was sent out to him with the check in instructions and did not know how to get in. Ironically, he found my phone number in the itinerary email, but didn’t bother scrolling down to read exactly how to get the keys. When he finally called Airbnb, the logical thing would have been for Airbnb to suggest he read the check in instructions that over 120 guests had previously used to check in without a problem. Instead, Airbnb sent me an email saying that if I didn’t respond within 30 minutes, the reservation would be cancelled and the guest refunded (except the Airbnb fees). When I came back from camping and asked them why this was cancelled since I had left clear instructions and the keys available for the guest, it took them 3 days to respond to my question. Their response had a link to their terms and conditions which points out that one of the conditions to claim a travel issue is:

If you are a Guest, in order to submit a valid claim for a Travel Issue and receive the benefits with respect to your reservation, you are required to meet each of the following conditions: (b) you must not have directly or indirectly caused the Travel Issue (through your action, omission or negligence).

I believe that not reading the check in instructions should clearly qualify as “negligence.” However, to this day, I have not been contacted by a supervisor as I requested or paid out on this reservation.

3. Making careless mistakes: Airbnb deleted my listing pictures by mistake when trying to move something around. Therefore, I had listings with no pictures, and any host or guest can tell you that they would never rent out an apartment without pictures! The rooms that I needed to rent out to pay the mortgage were not going to bring in enough money that month. It took 6 weeks to get a photographer to come back out, and after that, it took 7 weeks for Airbnb to upload the pictures that the photographer had taken! The photographer was not allowed to email me the pictures so I could do it myself because of “the rules in their contract with Airbnb.” It was because of Airbnb’s mistake that my listings were empty and they did nothing to remediate this quickly or to apologize.

4. Not setting an example: Airbnb expects hosts to be available 24/7 to provide excellent customer service to their guests. However, when a host is in need, they can be on hold for anywhere from 5 minutes to over an hour just waiting for a response. Follow ups are generally done by email. Generally, email responses can take 3–5 days. How does this compare to their host rating system where they expect hosts to respond within minutes to any inquiries they might get, or go back to #2, 30 minutes to an “emergency” that simply required reading the instructions that they require hosts to have?

5. Lying: Airbnb claims that they have a Superhost program, and one of the perks of being in this is having priority phone support. This is absolutely bogus, because I’ll call from the registered number I have with my Airbnb account and also from my work phone and I’ll get the same exact response time and team. In case the seniority of the reps is what they mean by “priority” instead of response time, I’ve asked the reps if I’ve reached the “Superhost priority support” and they never have any idea what I’m talking about. Why advertise something that doesn’t really exist?

It’s the hosts that make up Airbnb and the experiences the guests discover on the platform. Without the hosts, Airbnb is nothing. So, will Airbnb contact me within 30 minutes to make things right?