What Airbnb did:
Due to an employee mistake, and a violation of their own policies, Airbnb robbed me of $6800. I’m a mother of 7 children & listed my home to earn extra money for a family vacation. In Feb 2022, my home was booked for two months — for June and July 2022 — with a No Cancellation Policy. The guest NEVER mentioned that she had a dog allergy. According to Airbnb policies, it is the guest’s responsibility to notify hosts of health concerns, AND according to their policies, as an owner, I’m free to do ‘whatever I want’ with my property, including owning pets.
The guest checked in on Jun 3 and stayed one hour. She complained about minor issues, but said the house was ‘very clean’. Her husband then called mine to complain about the pool keys not working, and then said that they found dog bones in the backyard and his wife had an ‘episode’. This was the FIRST TIME we had heard about any sort of allergy to pets. They said they were leaving immediately. My husband told me about the call and I sent them a message saying they were welcome to leave but I would not be able to offer a refund because of my No Cancelation Policy. I didn’t hear from them again.
Airbnb messaged me later that day saying the guest had filed a complaint, saying that ‘she got an allergic reaction because of the smell and confirmed there was a dog because of the dog bones. She booked your reservation because it was pet free.’ The guest never mentioned a smell to me. And my listing stated we had a No Pet Policy for guests, NOT that it was a pet-free home. Airbnb said they were waiting for the documentation to prove that I had violated Hosting Standards, but that they would take both parties’ stories into consideration. This was not true. NO ONE from Airbnb EVER talked to me, even though I called twice and was promised a callback. I NEVER received one. And remember, it is not my responsibility to be aware of a guest’s health concerns, nor is it a violation for me to own a pet on my own property.
I sent a third party to the house to check about the smell. They verified that there was NO smell and the house was in perfect condition.
On June 4 Airbnb sent a message saying they were “going to forward your case to a member of our team who’s in a better position to resolve this for you.” I never heard from them.
On June 5 at 00:47, Airbnb messaged saying “we are still waiting for your guest to provide us documentation to support their claim.” [How could they prove there was a smell that caused an allergic reaction, I wondered??] They continued, “In the rare event that a host is unable to uphold the hosting standards, guests will be protected by our guest refund policy.” They still have not told me which hosting standards had been violated. The ONLY thing they mentioned was the smell (unverifiable) and the allergic reaction (not my responsibility nor part of MY hosting standards).
They continued, “Here at Airbnb we are coming up with decisions under fair conscience to provide the best options taking into consideration both parties.”
I sent a message on June 6 asking clarifying questions — what violation had been made, what documentation they were looking for, etc. I also added more information from my perspective.
Here is the 2nd message sent on June 6:
“I tried to call in to talk to someone. I would just like to outline the whole series of events as it occurred.
1. The guests tried to check in and had an issue with the lock box which they seemed to be irritated about, understandably. But after about five minutes they were able to get the key and get into the house.
2. They next asked about keys into the garage. The listing does not include access to the garage but only driveway and street parking. I explained this. She then said they wanted to use kayaks on the lake which is why she wanted garage access. I told her the kayaks were by the lake.
3. She next sent me a photo showing that the curtain rod had fallen down in one of the bedrooms. I apologized and said I would send someone to fix it, unless she didn’t care about the curtains being up, in which case she could put the curtains in the closet. She never responded back.
4. The next thing I heard was from my husband. The guest’s husband had called him. The first complaint was that the pool keys were not working. The HOA rekeyed keys last month and some neighbors complained they were having issues. Although we had tried out the keys and for sure one of them was working without issues. The other one was glitching occasionally. I messaged her and said we can get the HOA to reissue new keys.
5. Next the guest’s husband told mine that his wife had an ‘episode’. He said that she had found bones in the backyard and ‘dog balls’ and she can’t be around dogs. My husband told him that the house had been professionally cleaned. “The house is very clean, that is not the issue’ was the guest’s response. “She just can’t be anywhere there have been dogs”
6. I messaged the guest and explained that when we bought the house three years ago there were scratches on the door and windows of the deck and we found bones and other dog toys in the yard. I also told them that the balls belonged to our children. I explained that the house has been professionally cleaned more than a couple dozen times since then. And the last time there were any people on the house was over two weeks ago.
7. The next thing that happens is I receive a message from Airbnb. They tell me that the guest is complaining of a ‘dog smell’ in the house that caused an allergic reaction. THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I HAD HEARD ANYTHING ABOUT A SMELL. During all our interactions, neither guest had mentioned a smell. In fact, they had admitted that the property was in a very clean conditions and that this was not the issue. It was the bones in the backyard.
I’m concerned that the guests are trying to use an alleged ‘smell’ that was never mentioned to us to prove that she should receive a refund when they really may have just been irritated by several small but simple things that can be easily fixed.
She has had this listing booked since February and my entire summer booking schedule has been made around her two month stay. This is a significant chunk of my summer booking revenue. I believe it is completely fair for me to uphold my cancellation policy since I personally inspected the property myself after it was professionally cleaned and disinfected and it was in perfect order.
If her claim continues to be made I suggest that a third party go to inspect the property so they can prove to Airbnb that it is in excellent condition.”
On June 7, I sent this follow up message: “Can I please get a update on this?
When I called in I was told I would hear from someone in 24 hours but I haven’t heard anything. Now I notice that my guest reservation is canceled and it says it was canceled ‘by me’ but I did not cancel it.”
What happened is an employee logged into my account AS ME without my knowledge, permission, or even consulting with me, canceled the reservation, and initiated a full refund. (After calling Airbnb several more times they ended up changing this in their system to show that it was canceled by an admin and NOT by me, even though that’s how it first happened). I still had heard NOTHING from them, via message or phone call.
June 8, I sent: “Why have I not heard anything about this?”
Later that day, Airbnb sent a message saying:
“Please do understand that as a neutral third-party not present during the reservation, we must make a fair decision based on documentation and communication from both host and guest. [They did not communicate with me, at least in the way I requested which was via phone].
Continued from Airbnb: “Your guest were [sic] able to provide a valid documentation showing that she had an allergic reaction during the reservation and left the listing. I understand that you would like to uphold your cancellation but we have determined that there’s a violation in our hosting standards due to the documentation presented. Hence, your guest is eligible to get a full refund in accordance with our guest refund policy which will be automatically deducted from your future payout(s) until the full amount is collected.”
My message response was: “I followed the hosting standards to a tee. This is not the first time I have rented this home on Airbnb and it is always to the highest standards.
How was she able to prove that she had an allergic reaction because of being in my listing? I don’t understand how that’s even possible?
I don’t like the way this has been handled. I was not even involved in the process.”
After calling in twice, and not being able to get in contact with anyone who could actually ‘do anything’ about my case, I sent this message:
“I need to hear back from someone about this and have the decision reversed.
1. I was not counseled or even talked to by anyone from Airbnb before my listing was canceled and a decision made. And this despite the claim that Airbnb comes to decisions under ‘fair conscience’ by taking into consideration both parties.’ This is not true because I was never counseled with, even though I called in twice asking to talk to someone. My call was never returned.
2. The listing was canceled and the refund was given based on grounds that I had violated Airbnb hosting standards. I received the standards/guidelines AGAIN and nothing was violated. This was not verified by Airbnb (nor did they even ask me). They simply took the guests word for it.
3. One of the supposed issues was that the guest had an allergic reaction because of a dog allergy. There is no policy against owners having personal pets. If the guest had an allergy she should have made it know when booking and inquired if there had EVER been pets in the home. In which case I would have advised her against booking my listing. This was HER responsibility to disclose this information, not mine to guess her health concerns.
4. I have been treated unfairly during this entire process despite the fact that I represent the millions of people listing their homes on this site so that Airbnb can earn billions every year. I decide my own cancellation policies so that I can manage my own finances and mitigate my own risks, and this shouldn’t be discounted and ignored by an hourly employee working for Airbnb. I’m the one taking all the risks, not them. At the very least I SHOULD HAVE BEEN CONSULTED AND I WAS NOT.
This is completely unacceptable and unprofessional and I expect this decision to be repealed and my full payments to be paid out according to the cancellation policy my guest had agreed to.
There was no violation of Airbnb hosting standards and as such there is no reason to provide a refund because they no longer wanted to stay at my listing.
If the allergy was an issue then it should have been communicated from the beginning. It is not my responsibility as a host to anticipate all potential health problems if my guests. It is there duty to inform potential hosts of things that may trigger their known health issues.”
I STILL do not understand how HER allergic reaction was MY violation of Hosting Standards. This is NOT proof of a violation, according to their own policies, and there was actually NO Hosting Standards violation.
I called two more times on June 8. During the last phone call, I was promised a callback from a supervisor within two hours. I sent this message 8 hours later before going to bed.
I called Airbnb support four times today. Each time I spoke to a different person who told me that the person in charge of my case would be getting back to me (I was told twice, two hours apart, that she/he was at lunch). The last person I talked to at 1:40 pm promised me I would hear from a supervisor over my case within the next two hours. I have now been waiting for 8 hours and still have not heard back. But I’m going to bed now.
At this point, I’m beginning to believe there was either major incompetence or foul play from one or more Airbnb employees handling my case. If necessary I will be contacting my lawyer if I do not receive a response and resolution in a very timely manner.
Because it is unverified that I violated any of the Airbnb hosting policies, the claim made by the guest is unsubstantiated. I personally know that I did NOT violated any policies. From what I’ve been able to piece together from Airbnb support (since the case manager nor guest have communicated with me), the guest suffered from a pet allergy. I was not made aware of any allergies during the 4+ month period during which we communicated before the check-in date. (She booked in February and checked in June 3rd) The neglect was on the guest’s part since she was responsible for notifying or asking me about any pets at the property. This was acknowledged as true by two separate Airbnb employees whom I spoke with today. I’m not responsive for anticipating potential health problems of guest. And I’m also allowed to have a pet at my property if I choose.
Furthermore, an Airbnb employee logged into my account and acted as me to cancel my reservation and to approve a refund WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, KNOWLEDGE, CONSENT, or even CONSULTING WITH ME, making void my cancellation policy which the guest had agreed to when booking my listing.
I have made no violations and am not responsible for the health conditions of the guest — conditions which she did not make me aware of. Therefore the guest’s listing should not have been canceled and she should not have received a refund. Airbnb and it’s employees made a mistake in authorizing this cancellation and refund especially WITHOUT FIRST CONSULTING WITH ME.
As a result, Airbnb should be held liable and I expect to receive my payout from them in full as recompense for the mistakes of their employee(s).
Please advise ASAP if you will be fulfilling this responsibility or if I need to contact my lawyer.”
As of today, June 12 at 7:15 am I STILL have not received a callback. Employees I DID speak to on June 8th verified that a mistake had been made in regard to this case but could do nothing about it.
My entire summer had been planned around this 2-mos booking request that had been made in February with a No Cancellation Policy. I felt safe planning a road-trip vacation for my large family — even with outrageous gas prices — because I had this policy in place and new it would cover my mortgage plus extra for fuel.
Now I likely won’t be able to pay my mortgage because I’ve spent that on gas to take my children to visit their grandmother (who lives across the country in Utah. Our house is in Georgia). We have a large vehicle for our large family and it cost us over $1200 in fuel just to get here. We have to spend that much to get back now and have to return early since the guest canceled and we don’t have the $6800 payout from Airbnb. I’m unable to rebook the house because of my HOA’s restrictions — only long-term rentals are allowed.
Airbnb is $6 billion-dollar company built on the backs of people like me, with hourly-pay employees (some lacking critical thinking skills) making decisions affecting my finances! It’s outrageous!
Originally I would have been willing to negotiate. Then I was outraged by the incompetence and asked them to give me the full payout — $6800 — for their mistake.
I just checked my messages from them and they responded today, June 12, saying:
“I understand that it’s not the outcome that you were expecting. Please note that in the rare event that a host is unable to uphold the hosting standards, guests will be protected by our guest refund policy based on the severity of the issue, which you can read more about in our Help Center article…
As for the payout, we will stick to our decision which is based on Guest Refund Policy.”
Since this first happened on June 3rd I have been under huge amounts of stress. I wake up in the middle of the night worried and angry. I’m afraid to spend money. I can’t think about anything else. My body is coursing with adrenaline and sometimes rage. I feel helpless and out of control. It’s affecting my ability to parent and mother effectively. Not to mention the financial duress it is placing my family under.
At this point, I now would like my full payout PLUS damages.
Submitted by: Anonymous Airbnb customer in Dallas | Read more Airbnb complaints
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