In March 2012, my spouse and I booked a beachhouse in South Carolina via Airbnb, paid for it in full, and had a few emails back in forth with the owner, Rachel, confirming plans and inquiring about deposits, location, etc. All was well, until May 17, when we emailed her again asking if she wanted the pet deposit sent in advance or given to her when we arrived. This latest email generated an instant reply: Please call me. When we called Rachel, the owner told us she had no recollection or record of our upcoming reservation, and that she was very sorry as shed recently lost her mother and was, not all there. She also let us know that via another site, she had rented the beachhouse to another party for the same dates wed rented it, and that she was very sorry but it was no longer available. Oh, and she wished us "good luck" in finding another place. Sweet.
Obviously, we were livid. [continued below]....
..... We had plenty of proof showing wed rented the place six weeks prior: confirmation emails from the owner, emails from Airbnb showing confirmation details, and a debit transaction from our checking account register showing Airbnb had indeed debited the full amount from my debit card in March. We immediately called Airbnbs customer service department, who told us that per their records, we did still have a reservation and that we should contact the owner to clarify. So we emailed Rachel again, who said no, sorry, I am going to have to cancel your reservation as the place is no longer available. WTF???
We called Airbnb AGAIN and by then, Rachel had in fact emailed them stating she had to cancel our reservation due to a death in the family. As they told us this, we replied, Yes, we know. She told us that too but also told us shed rented it to someone else and was giving the place to them not us. So, as unfortunate as the death was, it was not the true reason. Shed already admitted the real reasonthat she was "not all there and had forgotten shed rented it to us first. So in spite of the fact that we had confirmation emails from both the owner AND Airbnb, customer service told us there was nothing they could do for us except A.) Refund our money or B.) Credit our money (plus $100) to rental of a similar property. Option B would have been fine except that because were traveling in six days AND our travel falls on Memorial Day weekend, there are absolutely no rentals available anywhere near our desired destination in our price rangenot even close to our price range.
We informed Airbnb that we are extremely disappointed in their business practices and that well be sharing this information with everyone we know, across every social media platform we can. We feel they should have honored our 6-month paid-in-full reservation by forcing Rachel to cancel the reservation she'd made with the other party and given the place to us. But Airbnb did not see this as a viable option. For all we know, they'll continue to do business with Rachel, and other people attempting to rent her property will encounter similar issues. Bad business, bad customer service. Do not use or trust Airbnb!