This hasn’t happened often since we retired early to travel the world in 2015: we had an Airbnb host problem. In fact, we were bothered by the experience and reached out to Airbnb support.
You might experience this same problem as international travel rebounds in the COVID-era.
In the interest of transparency, chat screen shots with Airbnb about out host complaint and transcripts are provided below, as well as financial disclosures.
Let’s start at the beginning.
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Airbnb host problem
Our reservation requests were repeatedly declined.
The rental units appeared to be available.
Malaysia had just reopened from COVID.
Demand low. Vacancies everywhere.
Something didn’t seem right.
We ended up booking a different unit (pictured above) for 10 nights in Kuala Lumpur.
The place is OK; $18 per night, clean, quiet, good AC & fan, kitchenette, solid WiFi, small smart TV, great rooftop view & pool.
We can handle the lack of hot shower water and a spongy mattress for a short stay.
Actually, the best thing is that we are immediately next door to the hospital where Ellen is getting her broken wrist treatment and long-overdue breast cancer related screenings (so far so good).
We easily walk over to the various daily doctor appointments.
Still, confounded by the difficulty we had with our first rental choices, I contacted Airbnb.
Airbnb support chat
Below is the transcript of the ensuing exchange regarding the situation.
TEDLY: (5/1 4:32 p.m.)
We tried to rent 2 different rooms from this host. It appears the person is running a ‘bait and switch’ scheme. The units are available– until one applies. We have wasted 2 days in this process. NOT APPRECIATED.
The Airbnb that I know would not allow this kind of deception and manipulation. Please review the communication between myself and this host. You will see exactly what I’m talking about.
Additionally, please let me know if Airbnb is now operating like Booking or Agoda or others- where ‘anything goes’. I realize the travel world has changed since COVID. If necessary I will use other services to avoid this kind of reservation nonsense.
AIRBNB SUPPORT (BOT):
Okay, I’ve sent your message. The person who responds will be able to see everything you’ve already shared. Feel free to add more details to help our team understand and resolve your issue faster.
If you leave this message thread, you can get back to it from your Airbnb inbox.
AIRBNB SUPPORT: (5/1 10:57 p.m.)
Thanks for taking the time to reach out. I’m going to forward your case to a member of our team who’s in a better position to resolve this for you.
We can appreciate that this may have caused some inconvenience to you Tedly, so we’re grateful for your patience.
Support chat response
TEDLY: (5/2 1:17 a.m.)
Thanks. Yes, it was a unwanted 2-day process — for nothing.
But I solved it – we booked with someone else.
Still, I’m asking Airbnb to look into this host, so other travelers don’t have that same experience. Malaysia reopens on May 1 — so probably some growing interest.
As can be seen in my host communication, they advertise 2 or 3 more desirable rooms — but say they are unavailable when you try to book — then immediately offer a WhatsApp contact number and OTHER suggestions. I call that a ‘bait and switch’. And blatantly trying to move the conversation off of Airbnb! Shady!
Admittedly, this operator has a large number of rooms in this one specific neighborhood – and will claim they are just ‘efficiently managing’ their business. Yes, by deception!
Its very concerning to long-time users. Airbnb was never a ‘hotel consolidator’ – but this sure feels like exactly that.
If I want to be jerked around, I would book accommodation thru Booking or Expedia where I am forced to endure all kinds of deceit and doublespeak.
Undoubtedly, COVID has changed travel. Here’s hoping Airbnb hasn’t become another game of “gotcha”.
Airbnb host responds to problem
The Airbnb host did respond.
Tap to enlarge.
More Airbnb complaint communication
AIRBNB SUPPORT: (5/3 10:12 a.m.)
I’m Aaron C with Airbnb and I help to support our guest community—I hope you’re doing well today!
We really do apologize on the inconvenience this has caused you. I am really glad you were able to book a reservation for the dates you desire (at) the location you prefer.
As for the host that doing this, we also have (a) penalty that will be implicated once we verify their violation with Airbnb. This can cause their listing or account to be suspended or permanently removed from Airbnb.
Here’s a helpful link for more information about Host Reliability Standards
We are continuously working to improve our platform to provide a seamless experience to our valued hosts and guests, and we acknowledge the fact that there is still a huge room for improvement. We would like to make sure that you are given the most out of our partnership and the opportunities it brings, and so we keep on striving to innovate and provide resources aimed at providing ease and efficiency to business partners like you.
The strength of our platform is thanks to the valuable insight and feedback we receive from community members like you.
We’re always looking for suggestions that could make the platform better for Hosts and guests alike, so once you’re logged into your account, let us know your thoughts at:
Thanks in advance for sharing!
I wanna make sure I fully addressed your concern today, is there anything else I can help you with?
AIRBNB SUPPORT: (5/3 10:51 a.m.)
My apologies, but I won’t be able to respond to this query until tomorrow.
If you require urgent assistance, please call us on +1-844-234-2500. Otherwise, I will continue to work on your case tomorrow.
AIRBNB SUPPORT: (5/4 2:08 a.m.)
I hope you are doing well. I want let you know that I am already back at the office.
I just wanted to follow up and make sure you received my reply to your inquiry. I hope all is well! Please let us know whether we can still be of help; otherwise, we’ll close out this issue for the time being.
Thank you for reaching out to Airbnb Community Support Team, we are here for you whenever you need us at: www.airbnb.com/help
Response to Airbnb about host problem
TEDLY: (5/5 1:35 p.m.)
Hey, Aaron C…
Just to close out our communication… I do appreciate your reply and information and efforts. And while I don’t wish to make trouble for any given host or small business, I do expect and demand that they ‘play by the rules’. What we experienced seems ‘out of bounds’ by my Airbnb expectations.
Still, to be fair, the host DID respond and apologize for our reservation problems. He explained some difficulty in being able to efficiently manage booking calendars for many different units across multiple rental platforms.
If true, I can understand that explanation. But as a user/customer it’s not my problem — until it is. Airbnb guests like me, detest pretense.
Here at the start of the COVID endemic era, travel industry rules ALL seem to be in flux. Undoubtedly, some shakeout is occurring. But I truly believe Airbnb has the opportunity to be different – as it has always been. In my opinion, transparency, trust, and some measure of ‘profit sacrifice’ is how to do that.
Already, as CONSTANT world travelers, my wife and I sense a new desperation, on the part of various ‘travel providers’. Their websites and processes are filled with trickery and subterfuge. It is greatly discouraging.
Further, with Airbnb now being a public company, I can’t help but have concerns about the lure/demand for profit outweighing the best interest of any individual user.
In my view, Airbnb has always successfully balanced the inherent conflict of interest in its position as a ‘middleman’. And I remain hopeful such will continue.
Please follow through on whatever steps are necessary regarding the host I have complained about. Bottom line, I want the Airbnb system to be as reliable as possible for all users. To that end, this vendor must rectify whatever issues they have.
Lastly, feel free to share my comments with the host in question – and even with Airbnb management. Indeed, I’d love to know Mr. Chesky and top Airbnb officials have noted my input. Without a doubt, they – and the industry – face a difficult and tumultuous future. Yet I believe it is one where an ethical, beneficent operator could be hugely successful.
Finally, I doubt anybody needs my pep talk, but it can’t hurt either. Be assured, what I say comes from a ‘little guy’ on the front lines of the new travel landscape.
Regards, Ellen & Ted Kortan
EarthVagabonds dot com
(Full disclosure: we hold ABNB stock through mutual funds. Our only current travel-related equity holding is TRVG.)
Airbnb’s final reply to host complaint
Thanks for reading it all – if you made it this far.
I’ve had no more contact with Airbnb or the host in question in this regard — and I don’t plan to.
Even now, I don’t know exactly what to make of this Airbnb host problem. Managing a supposed 40 units is no doubt a difficult task. By his own admission he doesn’t seem to be ready to do it.
COVID-era international travel
Overall, the COVID-era travel restart will likely remain precarious in a world struggling with economic, environmental, geopolitical, and health uncertainty. We all need to be watchful and wary.
Of course, we do appreciate whatever attention Airbnb gives to this matter. We intend to keep using the platform. In fact, we kinda feel the protection and support they offer is presently more valuable than ever.
Candidly, we’ve not always been happy with the ‘outcome’ on the rare occasions when we’ve had Airbnb issues. But as I stated in the message text, they have a difficult role to fill as a middleman/arbitrator. Obviously, we are pleased enough with their service to remain customers.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
Thanks for reading, “Airbnb host problem and support chat.”
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