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Guest complaint leading to cancellation of account with total lack of transparency

hosting

#1

I had an absolute nightmare with airbnb over the past week. I have been a superhost for most of the 18 months I have been doing this, with 52 most 5-star reviews and many of them very glowing if I may say so, because I have always gone out of my way to help my guests have a good stay.

Apparently 1 guest had filed what they called a “safety concern”, and they called me to hear my side of the story. I was absolutely blissfully unaware, and asked what the complaint was about. They could not tell me for reasons of protecting confidentiality, but can I please give a response, as depending on my response they may have to close down my account. I obviously found it impossible to respond not knowing what I had to respond to, and got rather annoyed. Next thing I know, I get a message that my listing has been taken down and all my future bookings as a guest have been cancelled.

Absolute lack of transparency over how 1 persons claim of unknown nature, has defied 52 fantastic reviews on someone who has been a superhost for 18 months ?!!

To top it all off, in this same week, AirBNB had given my address details to a guest despite his payment having failed. When he turned up at 22:00 in the evening, I took him in in good faith and I reported the matter to airbnb the following day. The customers service staff member suggested a half-hearted solution, which again in good faith I followed. Eventually I had someone staying in my place for 2 days, and the payment has never come. On contacting the customers service again, they then claimed the booking technically didn’t exist since it was automatically cancelled due to failed payment, and as such they (AirBNB) could not be held responsible.

I had been always very passionate about the AirBNB concept, but will now take my listing elsewhere to a place where a host is hopefully better respected. Certainly I will cease to encourage friends and colleagues to make use of airbnb, the system is as far as I am concerned, broken.


#2

So sorry to hear you’ve been unceremoniously booted by the Airbnb overlords. Can’t help it, I am now imagining them as Vogons, with their version of tortuously bad poetry including the phrase “I’m reaching out to you.” Grab your towel and head to VBRO, etc. You will survive; this is not the end of the universe!


#3

Could it be that the ‘safety issue’ is related to you accepting that particular guest without the valid reservation?


#4

Don’t torture yourself trying to figure it out, it could be anything from “The stairs were steep” to “I was intimidated because the host had tattoos” to “There were people in the neighborhood who were a different color than me and I was scared of them.”
You could put a brief post on your facebook (if you do facebook) or other social media “I am no longer listing on Airbnb. I’ve enjoyed being an Airbnb Superhost, and the many interesting and wonderful guests I’ve had the privilege to host. I love providing hospitality in my home and am still in business; please see my new listing on VBRO [link].”


#5

Nope, they said it was a separate matter…


#6

I am sure I will survive on a different platform, I must admit it is more exactly because of how passionate I had been about the concept; I would for example walk someone to a nearby takeaway because they arrived late and hadn’t had dinner yet, or I would drop someone at their place of work in the morning because I was heading that direction anyway. I am now listed on Trip advisor, seems all a bit more "business-like, so, alas, gone is the charm of being an airbnb host…


#7

Do I understand correctly that they called you about a safety issue, you said what issue, and they wouldn’t tell you? Didn’t you just say you didn’t have any safety issues? This doesn’t make sense.


#8

I am not sure I understand your question and maybe to clarify; apparently a guest had filed a safety concern, but I was not aware of any problems that had occurred, and couldn’t think of any either. Because the AirBNB staff member remained cryptic about it, we essentially had a conversation over nothing. To me it was a matter of AirBNB contacting me to ask me to give a response without telling me what it was that they expected me to respond to ? Hope that makes sense, or at least more sense than the conversation I had with that particular staff member.


#9

This sounds like a nightmare.


#10

You might want to also read: A guest whose been banned from Airbnb?

It is crazy and it seems if the wrath comes down, there is no recourse. A few years ago, there was a thread about some host with listings …they cancelled his account (and any subsequent account he tried to open on the properties he was managing) and he was out off thousands of $$$ in upcoming reservations practically overnight.


#11

Well that’s what I thought you said and meant. That’s too crazy! That shouldn’t be happening.


#12

I don’t care so much about having to rent out my place on a different platform, but I would have liked to be able to continue using it as a guest, it’s a bit of a pain :frowning:


#13

It seems absolutely bonkers, and the AirBNB seems to exercise random power without even a shred of accountability as to how they came to their decisions…


#14

It shouldn’t but it does. And they will happily tell you that they do not owe you any explanation.


#15

So the safety issue seems to be about you personally and not the rental, otherwise there is no reason to stop you from using Airbnb as a guest.

You were a bit too helpful or friendly and someone didn’t feel comfortable is what it sounds like to me.

As other pointed out, life goes on.


#16

I just saw this thread. This sounds like a Kafkaesque nightmare, and is quite worrying. To summarize, Airbnb wanted you to respond to something, but they wouldn’t tell you what you needed to respond to??!!

Personally, I’d escalate this. Have you got any of this documented? With something like this, it’s always good to write stuff down. People have had success in posting publicly, on Facebook, for example. And it’s sufficiently weird that a journalist might be interested. Personally, unless we are all planning to give on Airbnb en masse, I think a certain amount of pushback is a good idea, especially when an Airbnb rep does something that is over the line. And this strikes me as not just over the line, but quite mad.


#17

Thank you Faheem and you’re absolutely right; it is abuse of power in the background of a non-transparent process with absence of complaints or appeal procedure. These are all statutory processes that need to be in place, mandatory by law as the matter of fact, whether national or international company. It just shows how multinational companies such as these are trying to suppress the users of their platforms by virtue of the sheer size of the thing that they run. It doesn’t occur to them that the bigger this thing becomes, the more important it becomes to implement democratic structures.
I had put up a couple of posts on social media to create awareness and had been thinking of taking it to the national ombudsman for the principle of it. I do have a life however and it goes on. I will however support anyone who wants to take in a case with all the information I can give. With a little luck and given enough time, even this big companies will eventually have to sign up on the 21st century concept that there is a mandatory stakeholders representation both for hosts and guests that act as a conscience for the corporate management structures. Until then I will thoroughly discourage everyone I know to ever nake use of AirBNB and I will steer them to the alternative platforms such as Wimdu, or Flipkey…


#18

You could link those social media posts here. Why not? Also, what’s the National Ombudsman? Some UK thing?

You didn’t say how documented this is. Was this communication mostly verbal, or do you have stuff written down?

Of course. But these people have damaged your business with their actions. I think you certainly should make a little effort to make this public.

Are those platforms any better? And perhaps more importantly, can you get good bookings there?


#19

Hi Faheem, the national ombudsman is indeed u UK/European thing. I have a string of emails and all my telephone conversations are recorded in an app on my mobile phone. Plenty of material. Currently however I am in the midst of changing jobs, trying to spend as much time as I can with my young children, and well, we’ll see about the other sites, alternatively I can always take in a long-term lodger… After all, it is not my main income but something I enjoyed doing with the bonus of some extra income on the side…


#20

Hi @ronroncelup,

Sounds like you’ve indeed got enough material. Can you link to your social media posts? Unless there is some reason you don’t want to.


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