AirBnB horror story – chatting with AirBnB support about a $2,000 refund request

Welcome to Fireside Chats with AirBnB support. Today we’re looking at a chat with AirBnB support inspired by real life events. This is an AirBnB horror story. Those real life events are told in a story on YouTube if you want to check out the video at where I talk about the shock of losing 2,000 euros on a non-refundable apartment booking over the AirBnB platform. The TLDR version is the host was rude, the booking was cancelled, AirBnB refused to provide a refund, and the host got to keep every penny of the payment in exchange for nothing. And me as the customer, I got that nothing. I got all of it, no housing.

My rent money was gone, I was still scheduled to be in Spain for another month and I had nowhere to live and not enough money to pay for another expensive Spanish apartment rental. Beware of non-refundable bookings, but more importantly still beware of difficult hosts that might make staying at their property seem so undesirable that you would risk your entire payment. In this AirBnb horror story, although I regret losing 2-grand, and I regret booking with AirBnB (and never will again), the fact is I don’t regret standing up myself and not be willing to stay with a host that I thought was acting like a complete jerk.

This is our AirBnB horror story of the day, sponsored by our friends at AirBnB, give them money, get nothing in return, don’t book with AirBnB. Thanks again to our great sponsor today. By the way if you have an AirBnB horror story to share, drop us a line and maybe we will actually make this into a regular feature on our blog.

We hope you enjoyed this look into what it’s like to deal with AirBnB support after they have clearly decided to side with the host in a dispute. In this AirBnB horror story, one of the factors that I talk about in the longer story on YouTube is that the AirBnB support staff had been contacted previously by the host in advance of me ever speaking to them. This seemed like it had an impact, that it influenced the support staff to be in favor of helping the person they were originally assigned to help, which was the host. The long and short of it is I was able to take measures to protect my rights as a consumer, the first was removal of my credit card from the AirBnB platform because in fact there was another payment on the booking scheduled for 30-days after the initial payment. Had I not done that, the robbery would have continued as they would continue to bill my credit card for nothing.

Aftermath Decisions

In addition to removing my credit card later the same day as the money was transferred from me to my host in exchange for nada, I also later closed the AirBnB account entirely. This was an account where I had spent until that point about 100K across dozens of bookings. Having been a digital nomad for the better part of 10-years, most of my apartment rentals were through the AirBnB platform that entire time. Guess now I’ll have to find another platform with lots of great rentals. Wait there are none and AirBnB has a monopoly on most rental markets?

Oh that’s too bad, well I guess that explains why the monopoly gets to act like a monopoly when it’s setting it’s billing terms and refusing to accept cancellations even when they are greatly justified by the hosts words and actions. If you enjoyed this AirBnb horror story, let me know in the comments below if you’d like to hear about the 3 times AirBnB hosts filed false complaints in order to try to get money for maintenace or upgrades to their apartments for rent. Fortunately in those cases AirBnB is actually the hero as they denied all those requests and saved me from paying a fraudulent claim by the hosts involved.

Travel Booking Tips for Spain

Despite this AirBnB horror story it’s hard to actually steer anybody away from booking with the platform. After all, they do seem to have a near monopoly on apartment rentals in most regions. However, one thing you’ll find in the Spanish capital of Madrid at least, is that if you look on Google Maps there are a surprising number of apartment buildings with websites. Some of these take direct bookings. Maybe by using this travel tip you might avoid having an AirBnB horror story of your own.

airbnb horror story
Tip 1 on how to avoid an AirBnB horror story, head to Google Maps and find apartment buildings advertising suites for rent. In Madrid there are many around the Airport neighborhoods including Bajaras.

There are of course lots of hotel booking sites, which includes and Expedia. I’ve found Expedia good for both flight and hotel bookings. The site also offers deals on combinations of flights and hotels although I can’t speak for whether those deals are good deals or not, they usually seem to recommend quite expensive hotels in those packages. I do think their selection is quite good and usually covers most of the major hotels in the area plus many smaller places like hostels and inns.

Like with any situation where you are concerned about 1 company, it’s as simple as avoiding that one company and once you close your AirBnB account, that’s it, no chance of an AirBnB horror story ever happening again. The only problem is, where to stay now!

Casey Milne

Founder of SaberWP. PHP Programmer for the past 20-years.