Remember earlier this year when I shared my travel plans for 2019? Including my first foray into Airbnb for a trip to New York in September?
Yeah, that’s not happening anymore.
Last Saturday, with no explanation, I received an email from Airbnb to tell me my 6 night reservation at an apartment in Greenwich Village had been cancelled, and I’d be receiving a refund for monies paid so far.
Surely there’s been a mistake?
My first thought was that there must have been some mistake. I sent a message to the host asking him why I’d received the cancellation notice.
I sent a Twitter DM to Airbnb asking if they could help. They checked my personal details and the reservation and confirmed that yes, it was cancelled. Had I contacted the host? (well yeah, duh). In which case they would get a “dedicated case manager” from a “specialised team” to get in touch with me.
In the meantime I obviously started looking for alternative accommodation. We knew when we booked the ill fated apartment that it was incredibly good value for a stay in New York so, unsurprisingly, there was little out there in a similar price range. Hotels were coming up at £600 more than the Airbnb, and there were no other Airbnb apartments in the location we wanted.
Side note – New York accommodation is bonkersly expensive. £200 a night to sleep in a bunk bed with a shared bathroom? Daylight robbery!
Airbnb, while polite, were annoyingly hands off in terms of taking any responsibility. Their response when I asked for some compensation to cover the additional costs of rebooking was “Airbnb is a third party platform that bridges the gap between hosts and guests, and we do not offer compensation when a guest has to cancel a reservation.”
Screw you New York!
At this point we’d pretty much mentally checked out the trip. I’d been in touch with the airline to see if we could get any refund on the flights (we can get the tax refunded, which means losing about £300 total, which is still cheaper than paying £600+ for a hotel).
Meanwhile, the host had responded to advise that his property needs to undergo renovations and repairs (they mus be pretty major, because it’s still 3 months until our trip, sounds a bit fishy to me), and his reply included lots of exclamation marks and a seemingly non genuine apology, so that pissed me off even more!
Airbnb then offered me a £50 coupon (generous…not) and sent through some suggestions of alternative properties, conceding that the coupon wouldn’t cover the difference in cost but it would help. This was then upped to a groundbreaking £75. The apartments were an extra £300. You do the maths.
To cut a long story short…
We decided that one of the suggested apartments might be ok. Wouldn’t have been our first choice, but was better than nothing. And then we went to look into booking it and THE LISTING HAD DISAPPEARED!!!!
What fresh absolute fuckery! Airbnb’s response this time around “if you cannot access the listing then I would assume that it has been removed by the host. We do not have the option to check any further.”
Any last shred of wanting to use them evaporated there and then. Absolutely no faith whatsoever that we wouldn’t end up in the same situation all over again closer to our departure date.
Although I don’t want to use them again, I do now have £75 credit to use within a year! Which means that I inevitably will use them again. Next time will be for a UK stay only where there are no massive repercussions if it does get cancelled, and no flights or travel plans to pay for.
I’ve since heard cancellation stories from 4 different people, which I wish I’d known in advance of the original booking. I had no idea that Airbnb take no responsibility for cancelled bookings. When a host cancels they get charged a 50 dollar “fine” and can’t relist on the Airbnb site during that time period. But if you’ve managed to let your space for more money elsewhere then 50 bucks isn’t going to cause you any heartache.
I’m sure there are way more success stories than negatives out there, but that’s it for me!
Have you ever used Airbnb? Let me know your experiences.
Thanks, as always, for reading. x