Airbnb lost my reservation and then banned me

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By Christopher Elliott

When an Airbnb host doesn’t recognize Mehar Satsangi’s reservation in London, it sets her off on a misadventure that leaves her $1,780 poorer and banned from the platform. Is there a way out?

Question

I’ve had the most harrowing experience with Airbnb. I recently had reservations at an apartment hotel in London. When I arrived, my host told me I didn’t have a reservation. (This was despite paying months before and receiving a  booking confirmation from Airbnb.) I had no place to stay.

I contacted Airbnb, and it issued a coupon to stay at another apartment. But the pictures were a complete misrepresentation of the apartment. The host even admitted that some of the images were wrong and apologized. Since it was getting late, I spent one night in the apartment and checked out the next day.

I ended up booking a hotel out of my own funds, where in I spent $1,875. I spoke with a senior ambassador, who agreed to refund only $500 of the hotel and issue the rest as a coupon. 

There were pretentious apologies with no real solution for the entire duration of my remaining trip. I was short of funds to spend for the rest of my vacation because of this new hotel I booked with my own money. 

Forced to use the coupon code for my next stay despite the horrible experience we had, I tried logging into my account to utilize the coupon only to find that they had blocked my account. Can you help me?  — Mehar Satsangi, Mumbai

Answer

Wow, talk about a bad stay. Just about everything that could go wrong with this Airbnb experience went wrong.

First, Airbnb should have conveyed your reservation to your host in London. It’s not clear what went wrong. Did the host have the reservation and then turn you down when you arrived? Or was this a glitch with Airbnb’s reservation system? Either way, Airbnb should have taken full responsibility for it. (Related: Airbnb promised to pay for his hotel. So why didn’t it?)

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Airbnb’s rebooking guarantee promises to assist you with finding “comparable or better” accommodations. But that didn’t happen — instead, you ended up in another apartment, the pictures of which were not representative of the property. (Related: The secret of disabled Airbnb accounts: Is it sabotage?)

Two strikes, Airbnb.

But Airbnb wasn’t done with you. After promising you a credit for future use, the company disabled your account. That’s three strikes.

So are you out of luck? Maybe not. I reviewed your correspondence with Airbnb, and you were clearly upset. That may be why it banned you, although I can’t be sure. Your chats and phone interaction with the company may have crossed a line. (Related: Could Airbnb really ban an account for no good reason?)

What would have worked? First, you want to invoke its rebooking guarantee in your correspondence. Airbnb promises to take care of you when a host cancels your reservation. I might have also reached out to one of the customer service managers. I publish the names, numbers and email addresses of the Airbnb executives on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. Also, I have a free guide to booking your next vacation rental, so that this never happens to you again. (Related: I’m Ukrainian. Why did Airbnb suspend my account?)

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. The company restored your account and issued a refund for the full $1,875 as a coupon code. You also report having a productive conversation with an Airbnb manager about everything that went wrong with your apartment. Hopefully, Airbnb will use that information to ensure this will never happen to anyone else.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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