As mentioned last week, GM was planning on being out of town this week. The above scene–a lush green lawn opening on the lapping Chesapeake Bay–was to greet GM each morning. But sadly a terrible snafu with Airbnb means he’s stuck in DC instead. Read on if you’re looking for a cautionary tale.
GM made his reservation for the house in May, anticipating that with the city pool’s closed, a mid July break would be needed. While GM first found the house on VRBO, he also found it on Airbnb. Since Airbnb offers a better cancellation policy, GM put in the request with that platform. It was quickly accepted and the deposit was collected.
Cut to last week: the second half of the fee was collected in early July and all signs pointed to the reservation being in order. But late last week, GM started sending messages to the owner asking for check-in instructions, etc. After not receiving an answer by the morning of the trip, GM sent a text to the phone number associated with the listing. He got a confused text back from the owner. It became quickly apparent that a totally different family had reservations for the house for the same week, and that they had been made over VRBO.
The owner claimed that he hadn’t ever heard anything about GM’s Airbnb reservation. In fact, he claimed that while they started to list the house on Airbnb over the winter, they never actually finished setting up the account and definitely never approved GM’s reservation.
Long story short, the house was not available. And GM has learned that it is basically impossible to find a good house at the last minute. So he’s stuck at home.
Airbnb was basically no help. Waits to speak to operators reach nearly two hours. Although the matter was supposedly escalated, all GM got was an automated refund and a $200 credit. A family vacation ruined, and all Airbnb will give you is the opportunity to spend more money at their shady outlet.
As to who’s to blame: the owner claims they never finished the listing, never set up payment information, and never set up automatic request approval. Airbnb never claimed anything because they never actually attempted to explain it to GM. It’s probable that the owner was a bit careless in not checking on their supposedly inchoate Airbnb listing, but they almost certainly weren’t intentionally acting bad. So most of the blame rests with Airbnb.
So take a lesson from GM’s ruined holiday: don’t use Airbnb if you can help it. And if you do use it, make sure to exchange at least one message with the owner! Get them to acknowledge your reservation. If GM had learned back in May that the house wasn’t actually available, he could have gone with a whole bunch of other options that are now gone.