On Sunday the 12th my wife and I were forced to leave our home because of a domestic disturbance of a family member. We were able to stay with some friends on the short notice. The next morning we attempted to book through AirBnB’s services for a 2 week stay so that we could have some time to look for a new place to live, based on reviews from friends and family and AirBnB’s website advertising their reliability, customer service and fraud protection because we were very short on funds.
We received a loan from my grandparents of around 1400$ for the booking (We had about 20$ to our name at the time of the event). Initially, we attempted to make the booking with my grandmother’s Discover card, but received some issues with verification (Discover is apparently notoriously strict on this), which we ran into some issues with because my grandparents were out of the house while we were doing this. Like is natural what you would do when you’re trying to pay for something, we attempted to use my Grandfather’s visa to make the booking, which worked fine. We were booked for two weeks.
That same night, we in the midst of communicating with one of the hosts, Bryan, his wife Gina the other person on their account sent us an email requesting for some further information, as they had just had a terrible experience with a booking with an empty profile. Our profile was empty because we had just made it. We responded promptly (7 minutes!), but apparently Gina had already cancelled our booking. We were already on our way on our 2 hour trip into the Rocky Mtns, but we were able to sleep at another friends (To this point, we have shared our beds with 3 dogs, a cat and a person. Not ideal.) It was too late in the evening we felt to book again through AirBnB, as it requires response from the host, but we considered this to be Strike 1, and patiently accepted that ‘these things happen’.
Now Tuesday the 14th, we attempted to make a booking first thing in the morning. We had a ‘coupon’ credit for the full amount of the original booking + a 10% cancellation bonus. However, when we attempted to make a booking the next day with the Visa (It was a 0$ amount as the 2nd booking was cheaper, but we needed the card for any incidentals). However, we received an error message citing the Discover card and that 2 charges of less than 1$ would be charge to that account and we would need to enter that in to verify the card. This is when I make my first call to AirBnB support, inquiring about why we need to verify a card that we don’t intend to use. We’re assigned our first Case Manager, Cathy. We’re told by customer support that the only way to resolve verification issues is with the case managers, and that they exclusively communicate by email. We’ve communicated our whole story to AirBnB support at this time, and explained that we’re fairly stuck together. Asking for a refund wouldn’t be available to us for 3-5 business days, and for our circumstance, it was agreed by everyone that trusting AirBnB to do their jobs would be the fastest way to get my wife and I in a safe, at least semi-permanent place. This is around 11am MST. We don’t receive an email from Cathy until 7pm after we had called for a follow up. She requests a Bank Statement from the Discover card. I ask her to explain why we would need to provide this, and how next to impossible that would be at that moment as my 84 yr old Grandparents are the only ways to get that information, it was already late, and we needed somewhere to stay that night. We contacted Customer Support again, and a supervisor Jhoe told us that he would reimburse us for a hotel stay that night, and he apologized for the inconvenience. Cathy didn’t respond to our 7pm inquiry until 3am, with just more insistence that we would need to bank statement. The hotel was around 150$, and is just more of our extremely limited funds in limbo. That night, Airbnb was able to make a second booking request, outside of our systems, via the visa card.
The next day, Wednesday the 15th, around 8-9am, we discover that the host has denied our rental as the location is already booked under a non-airbnb service. We attempt to make another booking, but we’re receiving the same glitch about verifying the discover card, however this time we’re being no longer receiving the screen that allows us to input the 6 digit code provided by the verifications, as following the steps gives me a prompt to contact customer support. We make a call again, get a new case manager, as Cathy has been unresponsive and I can’t wait that long in between responses, especially as I’m aware that she likely only has an 8 hr shift. We call consistently throughout the day, as we had to check out of the hotel and are now bouncing between McDonald’s, Starbucks and Barnes and Noble’s in our area to maintain a wifi connection with AirBnB. During this time we also make steps to ensure that Jhoe has the information for reimbursement, as well as providing a bank statement for the Visa card that we want to use, doing our best to do everything that AirBnB has requested. At around 6pm, we had yet to receive contact with AirBnB, and we call them and are in constant contact with constant phone calls until almost 1am, and it’s not until then that we get the go ahead to book another hotel for reimbursement. We need to drive an hour out to the closest hotel with available rooms (Prom season…), and aren’t actually booked into something until 2am on the 16th. That’s another 100$ in limbo.
The next day is more phone calls, but we have a system now and we’re able to set terms with AirBnB to what our expectations are going to be from here out. We’re required to check out of the hotel again, and we’re introduced to a few more case managers. At this point we’ve had Cathy, Rowena, Paul and Vicky all attempt to assist on our case. We have a lot of errands that day to attend to, so we’re driving 4-5 hours that day between Centennial, CO and Boulder, CO to make ends meet, and we’re contacting AirBnB representatives, asking for timelines on when we can receive calls back and setting deadlines for times that we will be permitted to book another hotel room. It’s at this point we’ve told them that we will be seeking arbitration in this matter. That night, we are able to make a booking at 9pm after having set a 7pm deadline, and we’re denied a request to book the hotel for multiple days assuming we’re able to negotiate the waiver of cancellation fees so that we can actually stay somewhere for more than 6 hours. This booking is in the 120$ range. To this point, on top of the 1400$, the 10$ bonus, the hotel stays and the 40+ sub 1$ verifications on my grandmother’s Discover card, we have almost 2k$ in Limbo by AirBnB, and to this point hasn’t really provided a single service. Amelia (my wife) was forced to call out of a few shifts at the restaurant she works at where she’s a contracted Events Coordinator, and we’re not sure she has a job at that location anymore because of it. On this day we record a video with my cell phone of the problem I have described a dozen times over. We send that via Google Drive link to Paul, who was my case manager that night. Additionally, I need to add that among these phone calls this whole week, we’re experiencing dropped calls, dropped connections, and needing to explain our situation literally dozens of times, even to case managers who had ‘just spent the last hour reviewing my case’. We received 2 pre-accepted options for a booking (in which AirBnB called and confirmed that we would not be cancelled or denied), but are unable to book them due to the glitch.
The next morning (Fri 17th) we’re greeted with more emails from different case managers (Miguel R), this time requesting the Bank Statement for the Visa that we had sent to a separate Case Manager on Wednesday. While I’m on the phone this time and Miguel is refusing to speak to me via the Customer Service agents (I’ve spoken to several case managers at this point, so I’m aware that this is a lie). At this point, we send two very long emails describing the actions we’re going to take (Arbitration/Suing in the small claims court), and the full gravity reiterated as to the trauma that they’ve caused. While I am on the phone, Amelia attempts one more time to book one of the options that AirBnB had proposed to us, the preferred of the two previously pre-confirmed options, and miraculously it goes through. No glitch. We insist that AirBnB maintains our various tickets open, as we still intended on seeking arbitration, and we want them to remain active until everything is 100% resolved, and that we’ll be expecting them to provide us with some kind of options as far as compensation for our troubles. We receive two calls throughout the day as we’re attempting to move into the condo and get some peace in our lives, both from Case Managers who have picked up our case without realizing that the primary issues have been resolved, from Butch and Irvin. In our call with Irivin, Friday night while we’re getting settled in the rental (which is admittedly, wonderful, but that’s more our host Kevin than AirBnB at this point), he apologizes profusely for our troubles, and admits that A. AirBnB was 100% at fault, B. There should have been no reason that we couldn’t have booked with the Visa or my Paypal since Day 1, and C. That he personally thinks that AirBnB SHOULD compensate us for our troubles because he agrees that our experience was unacceptable.
That is everything that I’m able to recall at this time, and detailed to the best of my ability. I have a fairly lengthy log of screen shots, emails and call logs to verify and fill in any gaps that may be required for arbitration or small claims court.
What would you like the company to do to fix the problem? (optional)
We’d like AirBnB to compensate us for the 5 days of homelessness, missed wages and trouble that we’ve experienced in this time. We also don’t think it’s right for us to pay near full price, or any real price for that matter at all for the trouble that this rental had cost us. A full refund plus compensation would be ideal, but I am unaware as far as the legal precedent as to what those losses are worth.