Another Customer Service Incompetency Story
Guests complain the house is not clean. I offer to send a cleaning lady the next day, they refuse saying they have already dusted the place. They ask for a refund of the cleaning fee. I say OK. The next morning, guests complain they, 7 people, drank limited water because the fridge is not cooling. !!! At first, I am guilt-tripped into thinking that the house is in such an awful condition that seven people had to go thirsty. They ask for 2 days refund. I accept that too. Then they say I should be paying right away. I say I haven't got my money from Airbnb and can't refund something I haven't got. They keep on pressuring. When I ask why they are in such a hurry, they answer they want to have money to spend on vacation.
At that point, I become aware that they are not so good-intentioned. I also realize how stupid a comment is saying they spent the night with limited water just because the fridge was not making ice! Mind you, I had bought a 19 liters tank and several water bottles along with fruit and ice-cream as hospitality. So it's not because there is no water available in the house, not that they couldn't drink water, it's their caprice. Realizing their exaggerations and trying to put blame on me even when I am trying to help them, I no longer accept their claims. I tell them to contact Airbnb.
They stay the week and leave. Stove top full of grease and burnt meat, my camp chairs broken and gone. I chalk it up and forget about it. More than a month goes by. Airbnb writes to me to ask if the guests completed their stay. It is a Sunday night. And as I said, it has been more than a month since the guests have left. I say to myself I'll be answering Airbnb the next day. There is no urgency, after all.
Surprise! Bad surprise! Airbnb has written that they are refunding the guest since they haven't heard from us. Hey! It has not been even 24 hours!
I go mad at their unjust way of handling the issue, making a refund on our behalf without hearing our side. I write to them several messages. Case managers change, but none of the four see the injustice of their conduct. They keep repeating the same useless rhetoric, not giving any answer to my totally valid questions.
We walk out of the platform.
We have a summer house in Kaş, Turkey. It's a beautiful house with a wonderful view. We gave it on Airbnb once during holiday season and that was it. This year, again, we just gave it for a week. I wish we hadn't as it turned into yet another snake story down the rabbit hole.
The story with the guests' messaging is on a Turkish post, but is recounted here too as answers to Airbnb Support. The conduct of Airbnb after the guests' complaint is simply unbelievable and should be thought at management schools as a case study; as a mismanagement example that is.
The booking was from August 16th to August 23rd. More than a month had passed after their leaving our house. I thought it was just finished and gone down the drain. Then, on September 27th, we got a message from Airbnb.
Ok, I thought. I'd be answering in a day or two... This was a Sunday, I had better things to do, other priorities to attend to. After all, it had been more than a month since the guests had left, it could wait two more days, there was no urgency.
But what is that?! The next day, there was a big surprise waiting for us!
I was, as understandably (I hope), furious!
They had reimbursed the guy! Reimbursed him without waiting to hear from us!
During the time of the guests' entrance and during their stay, I take care to be online. Just so that I can take care of any problem that may arise immediately. However, we are not people who are constantly online. The emails come to my husband's phone and as that is a private email, he doesn't check it every second like the work email on workdays.
Besides... As I said, it's been more than a month since the guests have checked out, what's the urgency? How can Airbnb take such action without hearing our side of the story??!
Right afterwards, there was a bot, asking if we got the assistance we needed!
I responded no and sat down to write a full rebuttal, a diatribe!
"You cannot imagine how outraged I am at this obnoxious conduct of yours! And this is Airbnb?? A multi-million dollar company with I don't know how many millions of users worldwide??
So you processed a refund on my behalf without even waiting for an answer from me for 48 hours?????!!!! So we, as hosts, have to be online and at your demand within 24 hours to any message or we get punished???!!!!
This is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!
I was thinking you'd have read my answers to Veysel at least through translation. I was going to respond to you later on during the day but seriously, this is disgraceful, scandalous and appalling! Veysel and his friends have stayed in my house and finished their reservation even though I had accepted to refund them even the first night, even when your policies do not provide for that. They chose to stay. Sure, I accept there were some issues with the cleanliness in the house but definitely not as much as they tried to convey. They didn't accept my offer to send a cleaning-lady over the next day, they said they dusted themselves and wanted money back. I said okay. Then, they complained some more. As I said, I told them they could leave and I would refund them in full. You know very well that they have a right to that anyway. They chose not to use that right, they stayed.
They were obviously trying to exploit the situation and get money back from me. I even accepted paying them, they insisted I pay immediately, even before receiving my money from you. They even said themselves that they wanted this so that they would have money to spend during their vacation. Obviously, they were cheapsters trying to get their cheap vacation even for cheaper.
They have written to me in the morning saying “We seven people had to drink limited water due to the fridge non working.” Come on!... I again accept, the fridge was not cooling properly but it was NOT totally unfunctional. Plus, what kind of a person does not drink water if it is not freezing cold and prefers to go thirsty??! Their message, emphasizing the 7 people and pressuring me was obviously a way to stress me to abide by their requests. I emphasize the fact that I had bought and put a 19 LT bottle of water, plus several 1.5 liters bottles in the fridge for them. I also bought fruits and ice-cream as a treat because I was working with someone new for looking after the house as I live abroad. I do NOT accept any of their claims and I find your refund to them, deducting money from us totally against any concept of fairness.
The fact is, I have claims against Veysel and his friends for all the trouble they have caused me with their baseless claims, wasting my time for all this, plus, my camping chairs have been broken and gone missing, my hair-dryer has gone missing. The way they left the kitchen was totally unacceptable, with burnt meat and grease all over my gas-stove. It was disgusting to clean. But I chose to chalk it up instead of filing a complaint with you.
I have read so many horror stories, even national scam stories about Airbnb, I have heard several complaints from guests who were refused their valid refund claims. If this is the way you are ruling over, I suppose you seriously need to oversee either the personnel or your policies.
So we were supposed to drop everything we had to do right now only to answer you within 24 hours, for a reservation that was completed more than a month ago, something which had no urgency at all? Is that what you are saying? And not even a line of warning? For example saying that you will be getting ahead with the refund unless you hear from us?? Seriously??
If you have actually gone on with the refund, I ask you to please kindly take it on yourself and put our money back on our account. We will not be accepting this kind of conduct. If you disagree, of course we cannot force you. We will just be leaving the site and publishing your unfair procedure online all over social media and on our websites.
Then I realized... They had not waited even a day. So five minutes later, I added that point too:
"Actually, you didn't wait even 24 hours! We get a message from you asking if the reservation was finished at 3:55 PM Sunday, September 27th. The next morning, at 11:30 AM, you say “Since we haven't heard any response from you we will do action according to our policy.” and go on with the refund right away, informing us at 1:43 PM on September 28th. Even before it has been 24 hours have passed from your first message!
You owe us 275 Euros for this damage and inappropriate conduct!"
The response from Airbnb was short, that is dismissive.
I was once again furious at this... how should I say... this insolence! No word about their processing a refund without even hearing from us! Without even waiting for 24 hours for a response from us!
I sat up way past midnight and wrote another message rebuking their conduct.
This was sent on September 30, at 1:49 AM.
Oh so you "UNDERSTAND" we are not happy about the “resolution” you provided for this issue!
WHERE IS THE SORRY FROM YOU FOR COMING TO A CONCLUSION WITHOUT LISTENING TO OUR END??! WHERE??? WHAT KIND OF A PLATFORM DECIDES ON SOMETHING WITHOUT GIVING THE OTHER PARTY THE RIGHT TO ANSWER TO A COMPLAINT????
Oh yes??!! You can see there is a violation on OUR END???
Oh yess?? So you have “just based the severity of the issue from the photos they have provided” to you???
OH You did?? Good for you!
And what if I provided you proof that I sent money to their account in Turkey? What then??
Do you know if those photos belong to my house or which parts they belong to??? Hmm?? Do you??! Have you seen the photos of how neat and clean the beds were? How brand new they were?? Hmm?? Have you??
Do you know if those photos were taken after they dirtied or if they were like that when they entered?
And why did they not leave my house if it was so horrible??
Do you know they asked the neighbor for a breakfast price and do you know how much he quoted and they found “expensive”??
Do you know all the things they have said to me, giving away their intentions??
And seriously... Did I agree or want them to stay in my house for the full term under these conditions at this price???
Do you know how much a camping site charges in Kaş and how prestigious the peninsula where my house is? Do you know how many square meters they've got to themselves?
You should know that our nextdoor neighbor charges the same price I charged for the whole house for just one room as it is listed on your site too! And a very tiny one where you cannot move around at that??
So you think it is fair that these people complain and send some unrelated photos and get refunded 30 % of what they paid?
And I repeat my question: WHY DID THEY NOT LEAVE MY HOUSE IF IT WAS SO DIRTY??
Plus, why did they say all was fine when the person in charge showed them the house when they entered?
Oh but my house is in such violation that they deserve a 30 % refund, oh so you based the severity of the situation and your decision from their photos. Good for you (!)
Oh good, so you have answered us within 24 hours! Good for you!
But you still have exceeded the amount of time you have allowed us to answer you before going on deducting money from our account! So based on my argument of YOUR UNFAIR ASSESSMENT WITHOUT GIVING US A RIGHT TO ANSWER, PLEASE JUST GO ON AND PUT THAT MONEY BACK, PLUS AN EXTRA 275 EUROS FOR YOUR UNACCEPTABLE CONDUCT!
And this is SENIOR management??!
We are not obligated to be at your beck and call 24/24. or are we?? I mean we basically are obviously! Otherwise, you just assume we will not answer and say Ohhh... “Since we haven't heard any response from you we will do action according to our policy.” !
It is YOUR JOB to answer questions and complaints on your site. And you reply late. LATER THAN YOU ALLOWED US TO!
Let alone that, why has it taken you more than a month to come back for this issue?? If you were going to refund them, why didn't you refund them back then?
So why did you even bother to write to us??? Why on earth?
Why did you even bother to say “I would like to know if you have made arrangements with guest and if they were able to finish their reservation with you.”??
Did I want these people in my house??? They are the ones who did not leave after the first day, they are the ones who refused the cleaning-lady, and they are entitled to a two days refund plus the cleaning?? WHAT FOR???!
Oh I know... They are the ones claiming they have lost two days when it had not been even 24 hours since they entered the house! Oh, of course, such people are supposed to be given credit (!) The more they exaggerate, the more they assert and stress the host, the more right they are, right?!
And they are the ones who complained that the fridge was not working when they had in fact food in the fridge and the person I sent to check -paying an extra amount of money at the top season in a posh neighborhood asking for urgent attendance- confirmed that they had food in the fridge and it was working?
And then they are the ones claiming I did not send anybody! Even when they are the ones who have left the key in the postbox for someone to check! Just because they were out late and were not home at the time, it makes it that I did not send anybody, right?!
And you give credit to someone who writes that -oh 7 people had to drink limited water because the fridge was not cooling??! When there was about 25 liters of drinking water in the house? Water that I had bought for them?? SO THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHOSE WORD AND COMPLAINT IS SUPPOSED TO BE HEARD AND GIVEN CREDIT TO?? SERIOUSLY??
I have this message written in my sms box. So you say such people's complaints and claims are valid??
Goood for you (!)
Plus... Oh you understand I am not happy (!) What “not happy” are you talking about?? I am OUTRAGED! And it is not only about the money you deducted, even though it has a part... I AM OUTRAGED BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU DID THIS THING! UNACCEPTABLE UNACCEPTABLE UNACCEPTABLE. TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!
And there is no acknowledgement of that even after I have written about it and made you aware of your wrong conduct! (If you were not already! Which is something not acceptable at all on an international platform of your size and prestige!)
I am waiting for someone from TOP MANAGEMENT to sort out this issue and say sorry!
You owe me big big time for this waste of my energies, time and upset due to your total mismanagement of this issue!
Airbnb responded five days later.
Again.... No sorry about their improper, unprofessional and unethical conduct.
"I personally apologize for the decision"?? What does that even mean??
I took my time to respond this time. One cannot spend so much draining energy on a useless topic that shouldn't have taken place in the first place.
On October 7th, at 11:32 PM, I wrote:
Hello Bianca. Just to notify you in advance, I am going to be very blunt here. Please cut the bullshit!
“I wanted to sincerely apologize for the late response, hoping that things have been well with you. I'd hoped to reply sooner, but due to this unexpected crisis we are all experiencing right now, we had a huge number of tickets that needed to attend to.”
Seriously?? Ah thanks for your genteel concerns and thoughtful apologies! I counted roughly, I've asked you about 46 questions in my previous message. Guess how many answers I got to those questions from you? Well, this is obviously a rhetorical one and I will answer it myself. Zero! 0! NIL. Sıfır. I could write it in other languages for you to understand but Zero is Zero in many other languages as well, I am sure you have the capacity to understand what it means. Or do you not understand English or do you just pretend not to when you cannot answer questions?
Look... I even wrote this in capital letters and I repeat:
WHERE IS THE SORRY FROM YOU FOR COMING TO A CONCLUSION WITHOUT LISTENING TO OUR END??! WHERE??? WHAT KIND OF A PLATFORM DECIDES ON SOMETHING WITHOUT GIVING THE OTHER PARTY THE RIGHT TO ANSWER TO A COMPLAINT????
If you were going to “judge the severity of the issue from the photos they have provided,” why did you even bother to write to us in the first place?
Why did you even bother to say “I would like to know if you have made arrangements with guest and if they were able to finish their reservation with you.”?
Do you really believe 20 hours is enough time to wait for an answer and then say “Since we haven't heard any response from you...”?
I SERIOUSLY WANT ANSWERS TO ALL OF THE ABOVE. AND I WOULD ALSO LIKE A VERY HUMBLE, SINCERELY REMORSEFUL APOLOGY FROM A TOP AIRBNB EXECUTIVE AS IT IS SO IN YOUR FACE OBVIOUS FROM THE ANSWERS YOU CANNOT GIVE TO THESE QUESTIONS THAT YOUR CONDUCT IS UNACCEPTABLE!
I also want answers to all the questions below too, that I will be listing with numbers for you to respond properly and easily. Don't worry, I cut out the majority of the previous questions, just keeping the most important ones; again, just to ease things out for you:
1) What if I provided you proof that I sent money to their account in Turkey? What would you be doing then??
2) Do you know if those photos belong to my house or which parts they belong to?
3) How do you know if those photos were taken after they dirtied or if they were like that when they entered?
“Most of the time, adjustment should be 50% from the affected nights, but my agent just adjusted 30% as we can see you've also provided a resolution in the best way you can.”
Obviously, you have NO GRASP of the issue at hand. First of all, where does it say on your website, that if there is the slightest “violation” as you call it, that “adjustment should be 50% from the affected nights”?? I haven't seen anything like that in the link you provided.
And the indication of why you don't have any grasp on the issue can be seen from the fact that you are not even aware that 30 % was NOT something you evaluated but it was the amount that the hosts asked for. Of course, plus the cleaning fee, that makes 33 %. Which is certainly not acceptable in any case, (the most you could refund was the 35 Euros cleaning fee and that they have already recompensed for that by breaking and taking things from my house.) let alone your doing this without hearing my side of the story.
And your CEO talks about us being “partners”!
Yeah, some partner you have been!
As Chesky confesses, you could have been better partners and apparently you still need to work on that!
GET ME SOMEONE WHO CAN ANSWER ALL THESE QUESTIONS OR WHO HAS THE MATURITY TO ADMIT THAT YOU HAVE MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE, THAT YOUR CONDUCT WAS APPALLING AND ABHORRENT AND UNACCEPTABLE. AND MOST OF ALL, UNBECOMING TO THE REPUTATION OF A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INTERNATIONAL COMPANY LIKE AIRBNB.
WHAT'S MORE, A DRY APOLOGY IS NOT ENOUGH AT THIS POINT, WE ARE EXPECTING YOU TO COMPENSATE US FOR YOUR VIOLATION OF FAIRNESS. AS OBVIOUSLY, THERE IS A GRAVE VIOLATION ON YOUR SIDE, OF TAKING AWAY OUR INALIENABLE RIGHT TO ANSWER.
Also, Please stop giving me links to your website!
I'll give you a link for you to read and study so that YOU ABIDE BY YOUR STANDARDS in the first place, then talk about violations to others.
The global Airbnb community is as diverse, unique, and vibrant as the world around us. Fairness is what holds us together, what makes it possible for us to trust one another, integrate seamlessly within communities, and feel as if can we can truly belong.”
Do you think it is fair to pay out someone without listening to the other party?
I don't think it is possible for anyone to say yes to this even though you have tried to lamely say that by your evasive answers.
I give you one last chance to answer me properly, I have wasted more than enough of my time on this matter. So unless I get a proper apology with a refund of the money you deducted from our account, plus a similar amount deposited to our bank account, I will take this to social media, to all the top management of Airbnb, Brian Chesky and all the key executive team, and also contact traditional media to see if I can get this news of your unfair practices out there. If you believe you are too big anyway and you get negative rep anyway and do not care, fine with me. We will just be leaving the site and advocating people not to use a site with such unfair practices.
I expect integrity from such a company. I suppose almost everybody does. If you believe, Veysel needs to be refunded, take it on yourself, out of your pocket and pay him as you have not done the judgement properly and fairly. Please act like a respectable company and do the right thing.
I understand that this low performance of yours showing a complete lack of judgement capability is a direct result of your overwhelming workload due to the pandemic and the layoffs back in May. But this is no excuse. If you need to attend to too many “tickets” that you will not be able to judge properly, just refuse to do it like this. It harms both your integrity and the name of the company.
A company is as good as its customer care. You cannot tell how good a company is when everything goes fine. This unjust refund based on only on a one-side claim shouldn't have happened at all. I believe you are aware, if not, you should be aware that this has been a very wrong decision in your part. We read so many horror stories relating to Airbnb, I suppose this might also be a reaction on the other side to please guests whatever the cost. However, hosts are your clients too. Or rather, we are your partners. And such an unfair conduct is, unfortunately I have to repeat once again, is UNACCEPTABLE.
I understand that now that you have taken an action, you cannot undo it and obviously you cannot accept the wrongdoing either. So please, get me someone who has the authority to undo this action and take responsibility.
PS: The capital letters are not shouting, even though I am admittedly and rightfully enraged at your unacceptably unjust conduct. I wrote in capitals because there is no possibility to write bold letters to emphasize important points.
PPS: Oh, I said we would be leaving the site unless a proactive solution is found. But actually, we should not be leaving Airbnb. After all, we have just found the way to get accommodation at half price: Any time we stay at an Airbnb, we will just send you some random photos from any unrelated place or after we dirty the toilet seats or bed sheets etc. You will just be refunding us without listening to whatever the host says, right?
Oh how well they know how to embellish their values and standards!
Fairness my ass!
Three days later, we got yet another "case manager"!
It took Angelica four days to get back. Once again, no understanding of my main point, no remorse or accepting of wrongdoing.
Actually, you can tell from the above answer why they don't get it. These people who are answering me do not even know English! What is “a money”? Or take this sentence: “When my agent message you, we have in contact of the guest already...”
I understand, most companies today delegate this offshore to save money, but this is supposed to be top management to respond. And I know... Someone's English is not a sign of their competence; their English may be not so perfect, but they can be competent. However, it is obvious that that is not the case here.
Still... I couldn't help but refute this improper message too:
Once again, I am going to be blunt. You obviously do not understand a shit about where I am coming from!
I'm sorry for the expression but this level of incompetence -especially at a multi-billion dollar international company- is something I cannot stand!
You are again trying to defend your undefendable manner of handling the issue, i.e not listening to what we had to say before passing judgement and making a reimbursement on our behalf. Not waiting even 24 hours for an answer from us for God's sake!
How is it not possible for you not to be able to understand this simple thing??
What's more, so many different responsible people from Airbnb looks into the issue and not one of them gets this! Seriously???!
So you “were able to validate the pictures sent” (!) and “it is similar to the photos uploaded on my listing.” (!)
So the mattress, for example... I suppose you got that it belonged to my house, because obviously, I posted photos of bare mattresses without any sheets on my listing and the brands of the mattresses matched, and obviously that couldn't be any other mattress but my mattress (!)
So you verified the cable of the iron as I have published a photo of the iron plug on my listing (!)
So you validated that the photos belonged to my house as I have posted photos of my kitchen cabinet doors opening up and displaying them (!)
I also posted photos of my toilet seats on my listing (!) so you could validate that too with 100 % accuracy.
Woooow! What kind of strange details of our house have we posted?!
(* All of the above are sarcastic remarks. I felt the need to mention as you may be incapable of getting that too.)
What's more, you also validated that our toilet seats were dirty when the guests walked in and not after they had dirtied it themselves!
Woooow! I congratulate your super vision- all seeing extra capabilities! Can you please tell me the secret of your superpowers or send some over to me as well? That would be great to be able to divine all such details. So that I would know who steals things from my house and who dirties it when I am away.
I have validated that Airbnb is a crap company, as evidenced by the crappy answers of its representatives, their ineptitude and most important of all, their unjust practices.”
By the way, we removed our listing from Airbnb but for anybody interested, these are the photos of our house on the Airbnb website:
As you can see, there is no photo of our TV even. What's more, the bed is no longer on the floor, there is a proper bed. In other words, there are improvements from the photos seen on the Airbnb listing.
And below are the photos that the guests took to complain:
I am not contesting that there were some problems with the house, what I am contesting is the validity of the extent of the guests' complaint and the inappropriateness of Airbnb's conduct.
The guests tried to find some irrelevant corners, looking at behind the doors when there was such a beautiful view in front of them.
The moldy mattress was not a mattress that was given to the guests to sleep on. The house is fit to accommodate eleven guests, so it was just one of the four extra mattresses. Apparently, the previous tenants left it wet somehow and it got ruined. It could and should have been discarded by the person looking after the house, but obviously he wanted to save it. I told the guests to throw it away if they wanted to.
The plug of the iron... Again obviously, the previous tenants forced it somehow. But then again... Who goes looking for an iron the moment they walk into a summer house? I mean okay, of course they have a right to that as it is listed as an item in the house. I told them they could buy an iron and I'd be refunding, but they didn't. Obviously, they didn't really care about it. But it was something they could use to complain.
Apart from all this... All these Airbnb "senior" managers are just so incapable of understanding that that is not the point I am trying to make! The point is Airbnb making a judgement based on one-side only, their not bothering to listen to us.
In the meanwhile, while I was writing the above answer, yet another person support had written to us. After Glazia, Bianca, Angelica, we got Princess E.
I took the time to answer her too.
"Hello Princess E,
We don't want you to apologize DEEPLY for the adjustment that happened in our payout. We want an apology for passing judgement without even listening to our side of the story, be it for show, without waiting even 24 hours for an answer. Of course, at this point, we are not accepting just dry apology in words but something concrete to show your remorse. Or we do not care, we are out of this platform anyway."
That was supposed to be it; but I cannot stop when someone doesn't take responsibility for a serious transgression on their part:
Plus... Even if you take the guest's complaints as 100 % valid... Tell me... What is so grave there that they deserve a 33 % refund? How come they deserve a refund more than the 35 Euro cleaning fee? Hmm?? Tell me... How come? You think this is fair? Especially given that on our listing we state it openly that the house is being setup and that's why we kept the prices low. When the next door apartment charges the same amount for only a single tiny bedroom, they get a place with four huge bedrooms at such discounts, plus they get a 33 % discount on that? And what for?? Was it so unhygienic, was it infested? Were the bed sheets not brand new? Ok, so it was not sparkling clean and there were some messy corners in unused parts of the house. Oh no, of course they deserve much more than the cleaning fee (!) People who complain about not being able to drink water because it was not cold... Yeah, they deserve to be taken seriously for their complaints and compensated for it (!) Wooow, great judgement on your part!
Again.. I couldn't stop at that. I keep repeating the same points in different words, hoping they might understand. I suffer from a teacher's deformation.
Another point... I go into an Airbnb house. I dirty the toilet, go in with my dirty shoes and dirty the stairs, use the kitchen and then send you photos. And then you'll be refunding me without asking the host, right? You'll say to the host "Oh there was feces in your toilet" and "Sorry but "the decision made was based to evidence we've gathered from the guest" (!)
Your conduct is so unacceptable and horrifying. Only one sided. Don't listen to the host. And of course, how are we to prove that the house was not dirty as the guests claim? Why don't you make a policy for all hosts to send you photos of the house right before guests walk in? Then you may have a right to take the guest's claim without consulting the host.
To me, if they haven't left the house, I'd take it that there wasn't a grave issue validating a 33 % refund. At least, not on the grounds of cleanliness.
You are all so very wrong in every aspect of your responses. I wish there was some decent, capable person to understand this over there.
Basically... My house may not have been in optimum condition; nevertheless, this doesn't excuse or even justify Airbnb's response. I was not there, but they were not there either. So neither of us can tell the veracity of the guests claims. I have two witnesses, one totally objective party, the electrician who went in to check the fridge and told me that there was food in it and it was working. And I entered the house the night of the day the guests left, and the fridge was functional. There was no sewage smell coming neither in the toilets nor in the terrace. That is a touristic area and if there was any such smell, it would have been reported by the neighbors immediately. The person who cleaned the house refuses any kind of dirt in the toilets and I trust his honesty as he is someone I know.
On the other hand... What I can tell from the guest's responses to me is that their complaints are not valid and their intentions did not sound well-meaning. Pressuring me to pay them even without us being paid, saying they wanted to use the money while on vacation, asking how much discount I was going to give them, demanding three days of loss even when it had not been 24 hours, refusing my proposal to send a cleaning lady, saying the fridge was not working when they had food inside it, making it as if it was a disaster not being able to drink ice cold water etc. They even said "You are changing your mind every ten minutes," when I had not changed my mind but had just offered them a discount instead of leaving the house, and I did that only not to put them through the trouble of finding another accommodation.
Had they been well-intentioned and not pressured me, not blamed me when I was only trying to be helpful, not exaggerated every little thing... I would have refunded them myself. But not under these conditions... Not after all their unfounded accusations and their greedy pressuring.
I wrote one last message to Airbnb Support:
Just one last thing... Let's suppose that the guests are right in everything they said, let's say for the sake of argument, that our house was dirty, we violated your rules and everything... I will never ever accept that refunding the guests 275 Euros is justified, but let's put that aside for now and concentrate on the main issue as you insist on not understanding or pretend not to understand.
Three questions I want answers to. The questions are open and clear, and similarly open and clear answers would be appreciated:
1- Why did you even bother to say “I would like to know if you have made arrangements with guest and if they were able to finish their reservation with you” if you were not interested in hearing an answer from us?
2- Do you think 20 hours is enough time to wait for an answer and then say “Since we haven't heard any response from you...” to go on making a refund to the guest?
3- Is making a judgement without listening to one side, a side you claim are your “partners” in line with your ethics and standards? Do you think it is fair?
I strongly urge you to read your own documents first. Mainly, your standards:
where it says... that is, you say:
“these five standards—safety, security, fairness, authenticity, and reliability—remain central pillars in our efforts to help ensure safety and foster belonging. We’re always working to make sure they’re upheld and enforced.”
Actually, there is a fourth bonus question:
4- What punishment do you get when you don't abide by your own standards and violate your own rules? How do we enforce the rules on you, if as Airbnb, you do not uphold your own standards?
I suppose the answer to the last one is clear, as all the others. We just walk out, but just curious to hear what you have to say.*
Still... Let's say my house was problematic. A super host's account was deactivated too due to Airbnb Support's ineptitude. I'm sure there are so many similar stories out there. We read them here and there. They are generally short complaints. Few people have the energy to write in such detail and document all this stuff. And I admit, it is sooo consuming. It would have been much simpler to walk out without bothering to write all this, but I still believe that these are important to take lessons from.
As Jon de la Souza says "Airbnb is no community, no sharing economy, but just a Silicon Valley money making machine."
Asher Fergusson took the time to document the problems with Airbnb, too.
"Is Airbnb Safe? We Analyzed 1021 Horror Stories to Find Out"
Or if you want to see thousands of complaints TrustPilot is a nice place to start from.
I wish everybody simply walked out of this unfair, problematic platform. Yet I know that people will still be using Airbnb as they see it in their interest. That's the way of the world. Even Allie Conti, who wrote an article on Vice titled "I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb" admits she cannot say she will leave the platform.
First of all, I don't think Airbnb is actually cheap. There are many hidden costs that pop up later and you pay unawares if you are a novice to the website. More than that, I couldn't care less about "a bit cheaper"... I care about principles. I left Booking because they were allowing illegal activity on their site and did not bother to do anything about it. As regards to Airbnb, I would rather rent my place through some other platform or simply not rent it. Or I would rather pay more or simply stay in a random place and take my chances. I'd rather be in a position where I will not have an agency to refer to when things go wrong. I'd rather be independent and flexible. I'd rather accept the failings of a place than try to grab a bite back from them. I'd rather just walk away instead of deal with all these troubles of inefficient bureaucracy platforms require.
I understand that everybody wants some sort of protection from misconduct of other parties and Airbnb is supposed to be doing that for us, be it as guests be it as hosts. However, when the decision platform is the source of misconduct, it all goes wry; and unfortunately, Airbnb is such a platform.
Listening to both sides before coming to a conclusion is the basics of trust. Let alone basics, it is the foundation of any relationship. If that foundation is not there, you shouldn't be there either.
Count us out!
PS: I know that many people may shrug their shoulders at my recount and say "So what? They made a mistake and refunded money without listening to you. Everybody makes mistakes."
Yes, every makes mistakes. That is not the problem. I could have understood and forgiven that. What makes me so upset is the insistence on the mistake and no apologies, no stepping back from it.
* Actually, I should have left the platform at that point but since I asked questions in my message, I said I should wait for an answer... One last chance... Just out of curiosity...
I wasn't holding my breath for a decent answer. However, perhaps, I still had some small flicker of hope. Perhaps, if they passed it on to a higher manager, finally someone might accept the clumsy way this issue was handled. Instead, we got this:
There was again a bot asking if we got the help we needed or still needed assistance; I didn't even bother to answer, I promptly went to deactivating our account. They asked for the reason of deactivation and I wrote this:
“I suppose you already know. It's because of the ineptitude of dealing with a complaint and not listening to us, not answering our valid questions. Listening to both sides before coming to a conclusion is the basics of trust and fairness. Let alone basics, it is the foundation of any relationship. If that foundation is not there, if you are not given a voice and you are not heard, you shouldn't be there either. We are out.”
No way... No way people accept any wrongdoing at whatever point in an argument. No way! Okay, their decision may be final. But at least, I mean at least say “You are right that the case was not handled properly, we should have waited for your answer.”
No, not even that!
“Not ever in my life did I get even that!” I feel like saying so, turning it into a doomed postulation. However, that's not true. HAL-Holland America Lines once accepted my claim and refunded us 2000 USD. It still took a long, time consuming, excruciating amount of exchanges, but when I finally managed to reach a top level management, someone finally accepted and said “You make a very strong claim.”
Yeah, indeed I had a very strong point :) And I knew it. (Just like in this case with Airbnb.) But that recognition almost never comes. When it did, I had so much gratification. Not about the refund, even though that was a good amount as well, it was more the recognition of my being right. And that was so right in your face, too. I was right, the contract was so open, but they kept telling me that their procedures were like this over and over again. I mean, there are things that are up to discussion and argument sometimes, I am not talking about those cases, I only get into things that are so very clear cut. In this case with Airbnb, their decision about the refund may be up to discussion, but their conduct, their unfair way of handling the issue is so very crystal clear wrong.
Well... Life is just trying to weed out the bad apples and finding yourself a handful of trustworthy, decent people and companies to keep in your life ;)
I feel it very important that my being right be recognized. I suppose it is very natural, too. People who are victims of abuse, rape etc. always want the acknowledgement of society at large that they were wronged. I feel that need, too. I know I feel it too much, I know it is problematic, and I suppose I now know the reason why. Because I have never been acknowledged in my family. They have wronged me and never showed any remorse for it let alone say sorry. It is a bleeding wound in my heart. Perhaps I am trying to heal that wound by all these endless tirades against these companies. But it's over. May I go to hell if I ever get into such disputes, or publish such an article about anybody or company for wrongs they do. It's their conscience, it's their level of understanding and capacity... I'll leave it at that.
A wonderful caricature for those who know Italian! It's a play with words: "Errare humanum est" is Latin for "To err is human." And "perseverare" means "persevere/insist" on the mistake... Which is diabolical, as the saying goes. Instead, Snoopy turns it into "To persevere is surely west" as "est", that is "is" also means "east"