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Guest Manipulations

I am submitting my experience for anyone’s review and to mostly share what I feel has been an alarming experience for others to be aware of.

Guest X instant books room for Oct22-28 for 2 people. I am contacted by Guest X through whatsapp that they will arrive around 10pm (check-in hours are 3pm-9pm). I respond to guest that it is in house rules to send all messages through Airbnb and as listed in house rules, late arrivals from 9pm-11pm are $25 late fee and $75 for after 11pm arrival. Guest X replies that Airbnb has locked out their account and they are not able to access the messages. I reply that I understand that Airbnb does have (in my experience) consistent problems with messaging service and if it is their only possible way to communicate then I will accept it but prefer everyone to correspond through Airbnb. I later receive a reply that they solved the connection problem and will respond through Aribnb. On the arrival day I receive messages through whatsapp, not Airbnb, notifying me that they will now arrive around 11pm.

Guest X arrives with boyfriend after 11pm, where I greet them and I give keys and tour of home as I do for everyone and then invite them to make themselves at home, let me know if they need anything, and promptly excuse myself to go to sleep since I must wake up at 4am for work. They spoke perfect English and appeared to understand everything I said.

I send a message to Guests the following day requesting the late fee through Airbnb. Guest responds asking to pay only $25, stating that they don’t understand English so well. I reply that they arrived after 11pm, I waited up for them and it is not fair to all other guests who have complied with late fees so that it is only fair to pay the $75 fee, as listed in house rules. I return home from work and while in the kitchen I hear guests call my name to which I respond to while making a cup of tea, while they are getting their things together to depart by the front door. They say hello, I say hello. They ask hows it going, I respond that I’m feeling pretty exhausted to which they respond “well, at least its the weekend”, and I say “sure”, while shrugging my shoulders and continue to get stuff from the fridge while they finish getting their shoes on and leave.

On Oct. 27th I am contacted by Airbnb Case Manager who says that Guest X did not feel comfortable due to a cold welcome. The reservation dates at some point were changed without my consent to Oct22-27, and the case manager informs me that the guests left the premises (no communication to me about this) and that Airbnb has refunded them at my expense for the 2 days that they did not stay there, and did not mention anything about also altering the dates of the reservation, so I lost a total of 3 days of payment that they deducted from the next amount of received payments.

I immediately responded to this and am still waiting for weeks now for another case manager to review the actions taken. I have expressed my frustration and anger of the situation and have asked how it is that the host is not involved in these decisions whatsoever and what right Airbnb has to change reservations and issues refunds with no regards to cancellation policy or communications with the host in any way prior to making a decision that negatively affects a host and allows guests to break the rules, give an arbitrary complaints, and also be allowed to give a potentially bad review despite not following rules.

My impression is that the guests are fully aware of what they are doing and know that they can manipulate the system to be refunded without having to cancel and I feel that this is a violation to hosts. I am not aware of anything that says that Airbnb can change reservation dates at whim and issue refunds for any reason they want. Perhaps someone can educate me for what I am not understanding about this situation.

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Some guests are fully aware, some are not. Either way, Airbnb is acting based on what the guest tells them.

Have you read the complete terms of service? Airbnb can pretty much do anything they want.

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I have read through the terms of service and cannot find anything that stipulates that “Airbnb can pretty much do anything they want.”

In fact, there is a specific list of reasons for issuing a refund that I will paste here, and none of these reasons apply to my circumstances and experience with these guests:

What if I need to cancel because of an emergency or unavoidable circumstance?

We may be able to give you a refund or waive the cancellation penalties if you have to cancel because of an unexpected circumstance that’s out of your control. Below is a list of circumstances covered by our Extenuating Circumstances Policy. Before you cancel, check that your circumstance is included in the list below and that you can provide the required documentation.

Penalty-free cancelations are only available for extenuating circumstances that occur before the official check-in date for your reservation.

Circumstances that require documentation

Death of a host, guest, or their co-host, additional guest, immediate family member, or caregiver. You’ll be asked to provide one of these documents:

  • Death certificate
  • Obituary
  • News article naming the deceased
  • Police report

Unexpected serious illness or injury affecting a host or member of the traveling party. You’ll be asked to provide a statement from a physician confirming that the person can’t host or travel due to an unexpected, serious illness or injury. The statement must be also dated after the reservation was booked and provided within 14 days of cancellation. At this time, pre-existing conditions known to the user at the time of booking are not covered by our Extenuating Circumstances Policy.

Government-mandated obligations including jury duty, travel restrictions, court appearances, and military deployment. You’ll be asked to provide a copy of the official notice dated after the reservation was booked, including the name of the person fulfilling the obligation.

Unforeseen property damage, maintenance, and amenity issues to the Airbnb listing that makes it unsafe to host guests, or that prevents guests from accessing basic amenities like running water. This doesn’t include planned renovations. You’ll be asked to provide all of the following documents:

  • Proof that the issue is being fixed
  • An estimate of when it will be fixed
  • An invoice for the repairs being done
  • Photos of the damage

Transportation disruptions , including road closures and flight cancellations, that make it impossible to travel to your destination. This includes closures and cancellations caused by natural disasters like earthquakes or severe storms. You’ll be asked to provide a notice of the road closure, or notice of the airport closure, or documentation from the airline that the flight was canceled.

Train, bus, or ferry cancellations where no alternate trips were available on the same day. You’ll be asked to provide documentation that clearly shows the carrier was not operating on that day, such as a screenshot of the company’s website or a link to an official statement from the carrier.

Circumstances that require special review

There’s no required documentation for these circumstances, but our specialized team will review each case to confirm that you’re directly affected.

Open Homes reservations that have been cancelled. More info about Open Homes.

Natural disasters, terrorist activity, and civil/political unrest that prevent the guest from traveling to or from the destination, or that make it unsafe to host guests.

Endemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people. This doesn’t include existing diseases that are associated with an area—for example, malaria in Thailand or dengue fever in Hawaii.

Travel restrictions imposed by a government, law enforcement agency, or military that restrict travel to or from the listing or experience location.

Safety and security threat advisories issued for the listing or experience location or the guest party’s departure location.

Essential utility outages that affect the listing or experience location.

Changes to visa or passport requirements that make it impossible to travel to the destination. This doesn’t include lost or expired travel documents.

What to do next

If you’ve confirmed your circumstance meets the requirements above, first cancel your reservation and then contact us to file a claim. We’ll walk you through the next steps, which will include submitting any required documentation and waiting for our team to review your case. Claims must be submitted within 14 days of cancellation.

That is really weird. Did you call the CS to ask for your late fee and complain about this whole situation? ABB need to hear your side of the story as well.

When you call please mention their complaint so they can be linked together. I had some guests who stayed for a week and after they left they call CS and asked for all of their money back for “dust in the rooms and a hair in the bed sheets”.

I called and explained my view of the story and they linked the 2 complained and their refund was completely denied.

Some other time when a guest left earlier that the specified time, a CS called both of us and got us to agree with the terms. They can’t just modify the dates without your consent. If you have proof that this has happened (email or such) present to the CS as evidence. You just don’t know what these people did.

And always, always do stuff via Airbnb. Let me tell you what happened to me when I didn’t: a request came in at 5 PM when I was leaving work because I had it set that everybody needs to send requests for approval. It was for the same evening and for 4 nights. the guy had stellar reviews. I was missing the bus so I told myself I’d approve it in the bus or something. on the phone the approve button was grayed out. There was nothing to approve. The guy kept messaging me on the platform saying that my place is not available anymore. I told him it was; i had no guests in the house and no upcoming guests for like a week. I didn’t know what was going on, but the ABB software is so buggy, I told myself we’ll figure out. The guy said it was getting late; is my place available or he needs to find another host? In my confusion I told him, yes, lets meet at the but stop where i was getting off; you’ll follow my car home and we’ll figure out why this has happened. We’ll call CS together asd straighten things out.
OK, I met him, he followed me home. Show him to the room. Very nice, guy, very pleasant. I said, ok, let’s call CS and figure things out. I’ll approve you and you pay. He replied that he was there already and wouldn’t it be better if he simply gave me the money in cash and be done with it?
I said ok. He went out to grab a bite and I got scared: who was this guy and if something happened I was on my own! I called CS. The CS was BS basically. She told me weird stories as of why this has happened. After talking to her I figured it out myself. The listing was linked to the other bedroom which had “need 1 day preparation time” and ABB automatically added 1 day after someone left. But this wouldn’t explain why the guy was able to send the request. Anyway, I removed the dependency and was able to approve his request.
The guest comes home from dinner and I said I spoke to CS and approved his request and he needs to pay via ABB rather than cash. He said yes and went to his room. The next morning he was out at 6am and left a note for me in the kitchen that due to work hours changes he needs to go home and doesnt need to stay in the city anymore. No money, no payment for the night whatsoever. He never approved the money request I sent him. All this from a guy with 3 5* reviews! I couldnt review either because he didnt stay officially at my house.

So the lesson here I would never, ever accept anything outside ABB platform. If these people refused to communicate via ABB, I would have contacted CS right then and there and said that to them. I would have probably tried to cancel their reservation under the “not comfortable” blanket. You know that when a person refuses to communicate via ABB and is not reliable with the ETA and refuse to pay the late fee that its spelled out clearly, something is going on and there will be trouble.

Of course it doesn’t literally say that. Here are some sections that enable Airbnb to pretty much do whatever they want.

2.3 Airbnb may make access to and use of the Airbnb Platform, or certain areas or features of the Airbnb Platform, subject to certain conditions or requirements, such as completing a verification process, meeting specific quality or eligibility criteria, meeting Ratings or Reviews thresholds, or a Member’s booking and cancellation history.

  1. … If you disagree with the revised Terms, you may terminate this Agreement with immediate effect…(in other words, if you don’t like it you can leave)

9.5 In certain circumstances, Airbnb may decide, in its sole discretion, that it is necessary to cancel a pending or confirmed booking and initiate corresponding refunds and payouts. This may be for reasons set forth in Airbnb’s Extenuating Circumstances Policy or (i) where Airbnb believes in good faith, while taking the legitimate interests of both parties into account, this is necessary to avoid significant harm to Airbnb, other Members, third parties or property, or (ii) for any of the reasons set out in these Terms. (Sole discretion are the key words. Read that as in any circumstances we damn well please)

15.4 Airbnb may immediately, without notice, terminate this Agreement and/or stop providing access to the Airbnb Platform if (i) you have materially breached your obligations under these Terms, the Payments Terms, our Policies or Standards, (ii) you have violated applicable laws, regulations or third party rights, or (iii) Airbnb believes in good faith that such action is reasonably necessary to protect the personal safety or property of Airbnb, its Members, or third parties (for example in the case of fraudulent behavior of a Member).

19.4 Agreement to Arbitrate . You and Airbnb mutually agree that any dispute, claim or controversy arising out of or relating to these Terms or the applicability, breach, termination, validity, enforcement or interpretation thereof, or to the use of the Airbnb Platform, the Host Services, the Group Payment Service, or the Collective Content (collectively, “Disputes”) will be settled by binding individual arbitration (the “Arbitration Agreement”). If there is a dispute about whether this Arbitration Agreement can be enforced or applies to our Dispute, you and Airbnb agree that the arbitrator will decide that issue.

There’s probably more but there is just so much of it I can read at one sitting.

Yes, I have read this. Sole discretion can refer to not needing consultation of others and because they refer to listed “Extenuating Circumstances Policy” while stating sole discretion occurs only in certain circumstances; they have actually listed what conditions will support a refund, and no where is it written that arbitrary claims can be made like, “the welcome was cold”. It clearly states that they can terminate “if” the things they list occur, which they have not. I am not opposed to arbitration. Airbnb has legally outlined a premise for these events of which my situation is not included and according to their own documentation they themselves have broken the terms of service by not issuing payment for services rendered. I do not think it helps people to suggest that Airbnb can do whatever they want. I am sure many people are frustrated for many good reasons, but there are still rules that Airbnb must also follow. It appears to me that the Case Manager has rashly made a biased, flawed decision based solely on one input with expectations that people will just accept it. They have the wrong person. Thank you for your correspondence.

Thanks for your input Adrienne. Yes, I called immediately once I learned that they had left and all this was going on. I had replied to the first Case Manager that had contacted me and stated that under no circumstances should they receive a refund and that it would be in violation of cancellation policy. No one attempted to contact me to follow up about it or discuss the matter in any way. I called and asked to speak to someone about the decisions made and received a message from a different case manager who stated that they didn’t understand why that happened and was investigating it. I feel like I have been dragged along by them with this as multiple times the new case manager has apologized saying that he is so busy with so many cases, and then suggesting that he sees no reason why I wouldn’t receive payment. Statements have been made multiple times now that I would receive a call, but I have not received a call. The last correspondence was that he was talking to the other case management team about it. I now am receiving no replies.

In reference to their contacting me outside of Airbnb: she has 5 star reviews and is a host and she explained that Airbnb had locked her out of her account, and because of my own experience with Airbnb not providing consistent, reliable, stable service, I believed her. I believe that there are exceptional circumstances for everything and try my best to work with people if something isn’t working properly. If they had shown up and paid the late fee at any point during their stay everything would have been perfectly fine. Instead, they chose to leave, refused to pay late fee, and told ABb that they needed a refund due to a cold welcome and got what they wanted with no communication or contact made to me. It cannot be that guests can be the sole dictators of events for reservations with the ability to avoid cancellation penalties by claiming absolutely anything as a problem of discomfort. This passive-aggressive behavior will not stand.

What would help you Alex? I can tell you whatever you want if you really think it will help. My comments are based not just on reading the TOS but on the accounts of many trustworthy hosts here and elsewhere. And what they have said is that in case after case they found themselves losing to Airbnb and being forced to give up. Some people are even dismissed from the platform and then ghosted. There is another host posting as of yesterday @supermeansnothing who is alleging just that, that he was removed from the platform for charging for damages and then complaining too much.

Particularly in your situation as someone hosting rooms in their home, Airbnb has a complete monopoly on that market in the US. There is one non-US member here who fought Airbnb and was removed from the platform. After months, maybe years, he was reinstated. He said this about his experience after it was finished “They represent 7 bookings for everyone we get else where. We even joke. If a Airbnb client wants to punch a hole in the wall. Give them a hammer.” Thrown off for absurd violation? Thank you so much. I tell you what at this point we can’t survive without them."

We have had a member post here about her attempts to sue both Airbnb and a guest for a false review. So far as I heard she was unsuccessful.

Everyone here is rooting for you (whether is sounds like it or not) and would love for you to be vindicated. I hope you will share the methods you used to be successful with the forum members here.

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in the future please take that with a grain of salt. nobody locks host out of their accounts. Case managers are trying to establish a trail of paper for auditing purposes. It seems that you and them spoke with different case managers and there was no link between them so it’s good to merge them. They will reach a faster resolution. Be persistent. You are right. The woman, even if she was a host, she might have done something stupid and she was banned or something.
Wasn’t this available on her profile?

All they have to do is interpret (at their sole discretion) what the guest says as the guest “feels unsafe”, and then it becomes a “travel issue” which is covered under the guest refund policy. The guest refund policy supersedes the cancellation policy.

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Didn’t this just happen to @Rolf?

I just can’t look at this with a hopeless outlook is all. This forum is extremely helpful and I look at everyone’s input for its value of experience sharing that could happen to any one of us. I truly appreciate everyone’s opinions and am hopeful that appropriate logic will prevail. It is frightening to hear about other cases of people being dropped or ghosted, that’s even worse and suggests an incredibly poor trajectory for business. I appreciate everyone’s advice, opinion, or experience and have just posted this so that its an example of what could happen to increase awareness or to see if its happened to anyone else and to find the best path forward.

I messaged the case worker again this morning, however there continues to be no response. Hopefully some resolution is found. I’ll update any results I get, thank you!

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The guest who claims they were locked out were also hosts.

For individual hosts, yes. For AirBnB, not so much – there’s always another host willing to sign on with them.

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I was blocked from the public (nobody saw my listings so were unable to book) but not locked out.

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I completely agree with you on this. I once had a guest leave my listing at 1:30 AM because she said she saw a cricket. Then proceeded to tell airbnb she left earlier in the day so they refunded her a full one day at my expense without even confirming her departure time with me (I have electronic door locks that show exactly what time she left). When I told CS I could send them the report they didn’t want to have it and eventually credited me for the one day out of their own expense.

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