Airbnb goes silent after promising to investigate a bad rental

By | October 22nd, 2016

When Bob Yoo and his family checked in at their Airbnb rental in Bellevue, Wash., they found trash everywhere, soiled carpets and cobwebs in the corners. The house was uninhabitable.

The Yoos immediately contacted Airbnb to complain. Airbnb’s agents were sympathetic. They promised to get the Yoos a full refund of their deposit. But they didn’t follow through.

Yoo’s story contains some valuable takeaways about self-advocacy: When filing a complaint, do so as soon as possible. Document your case as thoroughly as you can. And never lose patience — even if your claim isn’t settled overnight, the company may still act in your favor, provided you haven’t alienated its agents with harsh language and sarcasm.

As part of Airbnb’s flexible cancellation policy, its agent immediately credited the Yoo’s account with a partial refund of $253. Then they asked for pictures of the property, which Yoo sent them, albeit “with some difficulty.” (We don’t know the nature of the difficulty.)

The next day Yoo received a call from an Airbnb representative who told him that Airbnb would investigate further. According to Yoo, “he sounded encouraging regarding a full refund.”

But after that call, Airbnb went silent.

The only communication Yoo received from Airbnb indicated that it was closing the case. It neither explained why Airbnb was closing the case nor indicated whether its personnel were investigating Yoo’s rental situation further. There was no comment from Airbnb’s agents about the pictures Yoo sent to Airbnb.

Then Yoo asked if Airbnb sent someone to inspect the property prior to taking the owner’s side. That question didn’t yield any response from Airbnb.

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You can understand why Yoo was irritated. Airbnb was giving him the silent treatment after leading him to believe that he would receive a refund for the remainder of his deposit. But asking that question was a mistake and apparently alienated Airbnb’s agents. It didn’t yield any answers to his questions.

At that point, Yoo contacted us to ask for help in securing a refund of the rest of his deposit.

Although we agreed to advocate for Yoo, he opted to escalate his complaint to upper-echelon executives of Airbnb, using the contact information for Airbnb on our website.

Within hours of Yoo’s emailing Chip Conley, head of global hospitality for Airbnb, Yoo received a response from Conley indicating that he was assigning Yoo’s case to an agent to follow up. And shortly after that, Yoo was told by another agent of Airbnb that he and his team members had reviewed Yoo’s case and were issuing him a full refund of the remaining deposit.

Yoo contacted us to provide us with an update and thanked us for our contact information. “If you didn’t have a list of names for Airbnb I am not sure I would have been able to move things up the line to a satisfactory conclusion,” says Yoo.

We’re happy to help out whenever we can — and however we can. You’re welcome, Bob!

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