What happens when something goes wrong with Airbnb? More specifically, what do you do when your host isn’t there or maybe doesn’t exist? I’ve been using Airbnb for years and have always been pleased with my lodging.
In my last post, I hinted that something negative did happen when I visited Folly Beach. I think it’s worth writing about.
I booked an Airbnb room in Folly Beach, South Carolina – two blocks from the beach and two blocks from the town center. The description of the property went on and on. It sounded great.
I got in touch with the owner, Beth, via the Airbnb email system – you never seem to get the host’s email, but you do get their telephone number.
“There’s a keypad at the front door and we send out the code on the day you arrive.”
That sounded reasonable, but the code never arrived. I called her number and I got a Verizon message which said that the number was not in service. That should have gotten me worried, but by then, I was well on my way to Folly Beach.
I arrived in town and started looking for the property. No number 55. I walked up and down the street and asked anyone I could corral if they knew where the house could be. No one did but my GPS stopped at a large house with a keypad.
At 4 pm, when she said I could check in, there was no one there. I called Airbnb. To their credit, someone answered within a few minutes.
“I will try to reach out to Beth,” Solomon, the Airbnb employee said.”
“Good luck with that.” We exchanged the phone number we had for her. It was the same nonworking number.
“We give the host an hour. Someone will call you within an hour. No one did.
By then, it was almost 6 pm and I was standing in front of an empty house by myself, with just a phone – and my car. No matter how technologically astute you are, in this situation, all you have is a phone and cell servive.
I noticed a conventional Bed &Breakfast two doors down and walked over. I made a reservation for three times the price but it was there.
I called Airbnb again. Now another employee said two hours. They sent me a list of other properties via email. Did they really expect me to try to make a booking from my phone on the street for tonight? What host was going to answer immediately?
“Please just make a reservation in the area and I’ll be there.”
“We can’t do that,” he said.
After two hours, Ruby, a supervisor, called. I told her about the real B&B I had booked. She said that she was refunding my money and 50% of the difference between what I would have paid for an Airbnb and the price of the more expensive inn.
The credit for my stay was applied to my credit card right away.
For the 50%, I had to wait until I got a bill from the Inn. I sent a copy right away to Airbnb.
I have to fill out a payout method, as if I was a host. They won’t just refund it to my credit card, so I gave them my checking account details. You could also use PayPal, but I wasn’t in the hosting business.
A few days later, I received an email that my host had canceled my reservation. No reason, of course. But I did get my 50% difference from Airbnb.
Airbnb hosts are independent operators. They don’t have a staff like a hotel or conventional B&B. If something happens to them – whatever – they just don’t show up.
I was lucky that an inn was just up the street and that they had a room.
I was impressed with Airbnb’s quick response. The moral of the story is that I must be prepared to act as soon as I see that there’s a problem with the host.