If you've never stayed at an Airbnb, count yourself among the few and far between. In August of 2008, Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia founded their company by opening up rooms for rent as an alternative to hotels or hostels. Between 2008 and now, their company has grown to a $31 Billion valuation. Unfortunately, they're losing users left and right. Here's Max's story.
Max needed an Airbnb for a month and made a reservation for one that cost him a hefty $3000. In the initial reservation process, he forgot to add his girlfriend as a second guest, but when he went to do so, he found an extra charge of $2000 would apply despite them sharing a single double bed. Unable to afford the $5000 bill, he requested to cancel the reservation, seeking a full refund as it had only been a matter of a few hours since he placed the reservation. For Max, the response from the Airbnb owner was surprising in a nauseating way.
After requesting a refund, the host told Max there would be no refund of his initial purchase of $3000. Now, not only is he out that amount of money, but he and his girlfriend no longer have a place to stay. He can't afford to rent another space and is in a predicament. Frustrated by his experience and the unkindness of the host he interacted with, Max took to social media to lament his encounter. When his story hit the internet, plenty of netizens had advice for the longtime Airbnb user.
1. Put up a Fight
One interested party thought Max should work at getting his money back and offered a solution that may work. “A credit card chargeback could work if you never use it again. For $3,000, put up a fight.”
2. Dispute It
Another commenter thinks Max's only recourse would be to dispute the charge. “Screenshots of the convo and time stamps and argue it with the credit card company. I hope you used a credit card and not a debit. Your only recourse is to dispute it but for $3,000. What's your time worth? I got time for $3,000.”
3. Chargeback Bust
One individual quickly let Max know that a chargeback might not work as he'd hoped. “Chargeback will be a waste of time. I charged back once after a host wouldn't let me on their property unless I gave them a ridiculous off-platform deposit, which their listing didn't state. I canceled the listing instead of just leaving it, and Airbnb ended up putting together a huge file showing the UX and terms and got the chargeback undone because I canceled instead of letting the listing sit, just as Max did. Once you do that, you're out of luck.”
One contributor noted the fees and “chore” lists that some Airbnb's tack onto their requirements when booking a stay. “AirBnB seems nuts for anyone who wants consistency and dependability, especially as a loyalty member with status at two hotel chains. I stopped considering listings three years ago as Airbnb wants a premium for a worse, unpredictable stay.”
5. One Person Rental
Several users wondered why Max didn't just use the Airbnb without adding his girlfriend as a guest. “You didn't consider staying with your girlfriend as a one-guest reservation? You won't be the first person doing it; what's the worst thing that could happen: get banned from Airbnb? You are quitting it anyway now.”
6. Attorney General
One person even suggested a call to the Attorney General's Office. “Go through your state's AG and try to get your money back. Point out how stoked the host was that you accidentally clicked something they could have easily dealt with. That's thousands of dollars in a place nobody's staying in.”
7. Why Again?
Someone wanted to know why Max took the process he used. “Why did you cancel the reservation? You've now let the host rent this out to another during your planned stay and make more money. Plus, you won't be able to leave a negative review. I would have kept the booking open and ignored his messages and emails when the time arrived.”
8. Extra Towels
One knowledgeable traveler suggested always inputting the highest number of free guests allowed to stay wherever you're booking accommodations. As they said, “I always input the highest number of free guests even if I'm solo. Worst case, I get some extra towels for free.”
Several respondents agreed that Airbnb can be sketchy, way too much hassle, and often more expensive than a quality hotel. “Concur hotels are often cheaper, less hassle, and known quality; hosts charge exorbitant hidden fees and act like they're doing you a favor.”
Once Bitten, Twice Shy
Even reading the fine print here might not have saved Max from flushing three grand down the proverbial toilet. A chargeback seems iffy, given the responses online, and even reaching out to Airbnb directly seems like a long shot. I can almost guarantee that Max won't be using Airbnb for a long time, and even a hotel's fine print will get a fierce once-over considering this terrible mistake.
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