AirBNB why did you terminate my account? — An Open Letter to AirBNB
I never in my life thought I would be writing an article like this.
As many people know I am a strong supporter of AirBNB. Over the last 2+ years, I have hosted over 700 guests in my house and been an ambassador to AirBNB in so many ways, from presenting at a dozen local events educating new hosts, helping new guests become familiar with the platform, writing articles, going on podcasts, running TravelersChat, a Slack community for AirBNB hosts and currently developing a small SaaS app to help hosts. This year I was to speak at the AirBNB Open in Paris, my trip was being paid for by AirBNB. (airfare & accommodation). That’s why the past few days events are so surprising to me.
I wrote this throughout the last few days as this all happened. I wanted to give AirBNB a chance to correct it or give me a real answer before I hit publish. Since they have fallen silent I feel this is my last option to bring attention to this.
The Nightmare Begins
9:25 AM, August 14th, 2015
My phone rings with a San Francisco number, the person asked for me by name and said he was calling from AirBNB. I was a little tired, I had woken up at 6:30 AM to let some arriving guests in. But I perked up out of my bed, thinking it must be something about AirBNB Open coming in November. Then the person on the other end of the phone said…
“Kelly please listen to me carefully, your AirBNB account is being terminated”
The monotone voice continued to read a short script, telling me my account will be terminated on August 15th. I repeatedly asked why, the voice simply said they would follow up with an email. I was in complete shock, my brain was racing everywhere and I literally started trembling. What the heck is going on?
This is the vague email I received from them minutes after the call.
I have replied three times to the email. I got back a single nearly identical reply with no reason as to their actions.
9:30 AM, August 14th, 2015
I immediately called the country manager for AirBNB. She couldn’t tell me anything, saying that AirBNB HQ didn’t tell her the reason, just that she was aware of it a few days ago and she “fought” for me.
I logged into my account and started looking around. I noticed they had already started canceling reservations and credited my account for the $2,374. Which is just under 50% of future earnings, probably because my cancelation policy is set to strict.
I am absolutely crushed. I have no idea what I could have possibly done wrong. They will not even tell me. I have given so much to the AirBNB community.
My account is to be terminated on August 15th, but I still have to honor guests until next week. Am I even covered under AirBNB’s insurance since they canceled my account & liability?
I have already received multiple emails from guests that were to stay at my place asking why I canceled them. Throughout the day, I replied to them all like this:
Hello, AirBNB has cancelled the booking, not me, please contact them at email@example.com
I have no idea, no explanation, I feel bad for the guests that were looking forward to a smooth stay on their vacation and now have to deal with this at the last minute.
2:01 PM, August 14th, 2015
I decided to email all three of the founders directly. So far I have not received a response.
This is a letter I sent to the AirBNB founders.
Brian, Joe & Nate,
My account was terminated today and I have no idea why..
Let me introduce myself. My name is Kelly Kampen, I am one of the top Superhosts in Thailand with over 356 positive 5-star reviews. I have hosted over 700 guests in my home over the course of 2+ years.
I strongly support the AirBNB community and I talk at most of the AirBNB events here in Thailand. I help the community out in many ways by helping new hosts learn how to do good and work with AirBNB. I was invited to speak at the AirBNB Open this year in Paris. Paid for by AirBNB. Just 3 weeks ago AirBNB had a community blogger come film my listing about their AirBNB experience.
I have written about my great experience with AirBNB on Medium with over 61,000 views. This article got picked up in Huffington Post, Business Insider and other prestigious news outlets.
Medium Article: https://medium.com/airbnb-superhosting/i-made-41-879-as-an-airbnb-host-8c33423cd5b6
I have received an award from AirBNB: https://instagram.com/p/wBiyKIESzH/
Been featured on Podcasts about AirBNB: http://getpaidforyourpad.com/podcast/ep006-interview-w-kelly-kampen-airbnb-host-in-bangkok-thailand/
Spoke at events for AirBNB: https://www.airbnb.com/meetups/ea44tfkm5-airbnb-meets-bangkok
As you can see I love the AirBNB community and have been a caretaker of your brand since the beginning. This is why I am completely in shock to learn that my account was terminated today…. No explanation, no reason, just terminated.
I read your TOS and I have certainly not violated any terms. I have never had a problem with any guests, your platform or anything. My experiences has been nothing but great with AirBNB.
The only thing I can possibly think is this is a mistake, false accusation or hacker. There must be some way for me to understand why this has happened so I can defend myself or correct the issue.
There must be something that can be done to restore my account.
3:16 PM, August 14th, 2015
After I sent this email, I also got a call from my country manager again, she gave me a specific email address to write to. The “Trust & Safety Department”. I sent basically the same email as above.
So far the emails have been opened and read over 350 times, from multiple places around the world. Who knows who these email addresses really go to.
3:46 PM, August 14th, 2015
After looking around on my account trying to see what is going on I see that an iPhone has been logging in all over the USA for 2 months. I have never left Bangkok. I immediately change my password and log out all the sessions on the AirBNB website. I also sent an email to the country manager with the screenshot.
The country manager replied saying she cannot provide any details and I should email another person from now on.
I sent the same email to that new person and also the above screenshot. That person has read the email but never replied.
6:22 PM, August 14th, 2015
The country manager calls me and asks me to coffee at 7:30 PM, and sent an email to me to confirm the meeting.
I go to the coffee shop where she arrives with another person from AirBNB Singapore office. He has just heard about my termination a few hours before. He told me that one of the things that he wanted to do in Thailand was meet me because I am such a huge supporter of AirBNB.
The meeting was basically them telling me they are just as shocked as I am and that they have no clue of what’s going on. We talked about the situation, the whole time my mind is swirling. They offered to buy me dinner, I got an ice tea, I couldn’t eat. After about 30 minutes, I decided to leave. They said they would continue to try and get to the bottom of this. We hugged, said our goodbyes and parted ways, me feeling like I have lost a good friend in addition to my AirBNB hosting job. I just felt sick and no further along than before.
4:26 PM, August 15th, 2015
I received an email that the guest who was to check-in on Monday no longer needs accommodation and the inquiry is now closed. It wasn’t an inquiry but a full booking. I logged into my AirBNB account and see the other guests that were to arrive are now canceled and the funds no longer show as future payouts, not even for 50%. One more guest that is checking on August 15th is still showing as a reservation.
Tell you what, my last guest is going to be treated like royalty.
9:06 PM, August 15th, 2015
I decided to send another message to the founders.
Brian, Joe & Nate,
Is there anything that can be done here? I am still at a loss about why this is happening. I am deeply saddened.
I really cannot understand why I am being kicked out of a community I loved, promoted and cared for so passionately.
For the life of me I can not think of anything done incorrectly from my side.
10:45 PM, August 15th, 2015
I greeted my final guests into my home, who would be here for two days, leaving on Monday. Meeting them just outside as the taxi dropped them off. We said our hellos and went inside. I showed them how the house’s electronic door & lighting works. As they said hellos to my cats I carried their bag up to their room. I answered a few questions of where things were and how to get around in Bangkok. Making sure they were all settled in I went in my bedroom to get some rest.
8:36 AM, August 16th, 2015
A guest thats been with me for five days checks out while I am still sleeping. They send me an SMS saying thanks for the enjoyable stay.
10:59 PM, August 16th, 2015
I finally received a reply from one of the Founders. Made me feel like something is moving forward, otherwise why reply at all. Immediately after receiving this another email came in from a Michelle said one-word “Reviewing”.
Hi Kelly, sorry to hear this — — I will ask the team to look into it. Sorry for the delay!
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Co-founder & CTO
Airbnb.com | Profile
10:00 AM, August 16th, 2015
My last ever guest leaves the house. For the first time my house feels really big and empty.
6:50 PM, August 17th, 2015
Hoping things would be getting fixed now. I decided to leave my reply until Monday evening.
Thank you so much for the response.
I know you are a very busy person and I truly appreciate you taking the time to write me back on your Sunday.
I have received a message from Michelle saying its being reviewed. I will await her answer.
Thanks again :-)
I also sent a quick email to Michelle.
Thank you. I look forward to seeing this resolved. :-)
10:50 AM, August 18th, 2015
Still no reply from Michelle, so I sent my a last follow up email.
I have received no quality replies from AirBNB. Not only have I been kicked out of a community I loved, promoted and cared for, but I have lost a substantial portion amount of my monthly income that I depended on.
For me being terminated by AirBNB is like losing a great job that you’re passionate about, nurtured and cared for over 2 years. They never tell you why your job is gone, they just stop talking to you.
This very much saddens me, since I have no idea what the reason is, I can only speculate. I have spent hours going over everything & anything in my head, I have drawn a complete blank. Was a guest not happy? Did another host report my account for some reason?
If it was a guest that reported me for something, I would have thought I would be able to correct it. I treat every guest with the utmost respect and dignity, so a complaint like from a guest seems unlikely.
What in the world could I have possibly done to deserve such a drastic move on AirBNB’s part?
If it is so severe to terminate my account, why let more guests stay at my house after my termination date?
I thought the sharing economy was about just that: sharing, transparency and making the world better collectively?
AirBNB there is time to make this right. If there was something wrong, why not give hosts a chance to correct it?
I poured a great deal of myself & time into supporting AirBNB. I have no idea what steps I should take next, this is completely baffling to me. I still feel this is a horrible mistake, total misunderstanding or misinterpreted policy. Surely this was not the company Brian and Joe set out to build when they could barely pay their rent.
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Hi, my name is Kelly Kampen, founder of Dojo, a streetwear company with a mission. Great threads & giving back: 10% of every purchase goes to causes and charities all over the world. I also do Business Development for Oozou an awesome Ruby on Rails development agency.
Want to talk? Drop me a line here http://21.co/kellykampen