Tell HN: Airbnb can charge you anything and there is nothing you can do about it

57 points by tomas789 2 months ago

As a part time digital nomad, I use AirBnB quite oftern. It just happened to me that something broke during our stay. Host submited a claim to AirBnB about that (which is Ok) and they included a few other supposedly broken things. Fortunately I took some pictures before departure. I submited those to AirBnB as part of the mediation process they have. So far so good.

And the result? A single person reviewed the case and concluded that I should pay for everything. I asked them to review it again as they probably missed that picture. The response was that I agree in T&C that their decision is final and they will not be reviewing again. I asked to escalate the issue but the answer (from the same person who reviewed it) was the same.

I understand they have to draw the line somewhere but a single person deciding whether you need to pay something without any way of re-reviewing is probably too much. So probably keep that in mind as it can ruin the budget!

csomar 2 months ago

My experience is that this is a lost cause. AirBnB will always favor the host guilty or not. They provide no support for the end user.

Everyone hates AirBnB now. The only problem is there is no sensible replacement available for it. Anything that claims so is 2x more expensive. Otherwise, for short stays (2-5 days and unless you are a family) a hotel is cheaper now.

What you can do is, in the future, replace your credit card with some dumb Debit Card. And pay with Apple Pay.

  • akvadrako 2 months ago

    There are plenty of alternatives to AirBnB. Even has single apartments from individual owners who set their own rates. Last vacation I took (skiing in France) they were cheaper than AirBnB.

    There is also and independent vacation rental websites.

    • 2rsf 2 months ago

      Friends booked a house through booking, the house was not what promised, they complained to Booking that forwarded the complaint to the owners saying they can't be involved.

  • mike_d 2 months ago

    > The only problem is there is no sensible replacement available for it.

    Hotels? They are already a regulated entity in most parts of the world for good reason.

    • sacnoradhq 2 months ago

      Yep. Airbnb's heyday was 2010-2014.

      There are too many money-grubbing, anti-social, weirdo hosts who don't clean the linen. In a hotel, at least you have recourse and can switch rooms.

      • hifromLA 2 months ago

        Honestly that early to mid 2010 period was a great time to use VC funded services. They all pretty much ended up going south once they had to make money for real.

    • csomar 2 months ago

      For 2-5 days, sure. But for 1+ month, it's way more expensive than what AirBnB proposes. If you are digitally nomading around the world, there are little options left.

      • anonzzzies 2 months ago

        Probably depends where but everywhere I have been, just walking into a small hotel and doing a deal with the owner was almost always cheaper than any airbnb around given similar quality/size (and includes breakfast usually and of course cleaning daily; in Thailand they even threw in laundry once a week).

        And yes, indeed talk with locals if no hotels: I stayed for cheap/free for months with locals who were just lonely.

      • eek2121 2 months ago

        FYI long term hotels are a thing. I've encountered them in most areas I've visited. There is one near me that charges $190/week. Some don't offer housekeeping, etc, however they are quite common. The one near me includes all utilities except any type of TV, and does not include housekeeping.

        My first home away from home was a long term hotel FYI. They are definitely common, they just tend to fly under the radar, especially since many allow pets and possibly smoking depending on the area.

      • quickthrower2 2 months ago

        Maybe talk to locals? Look at local ads. Maybe it is a good thing in a way. Would make travelling more esoteric and less like ordering a latte

        • csomar 2 months ago

          That's what I do. I start the relation with AirBnB then hit a deal with them later. You can do the "talk" but you are shopping around and AirBnB allows you to be very efficient at that.

    • 2rsf 2 months ago

      Not for larger families, if you have a family of 4 or 5 than you'll need two rooms which will double the price.

  • toomanyrichies 2 months ago

    Out of curiosity, how does paying with Apple Pay circumvent this issue? I’m 6 months into a year-long nomading trip and would love to avoid a similar fate as OP.

    And is Apple Pay alone sufficient to solve the issue, or is it the combo of debit card AND Apple Pay?

    • csomar 2 months ago

      My understanding is that Apple Pay just gives permission to pay the presented bill. Unlike adding a Credit Card which they can charge without notice. The trick I am using is Gift Cards. I've been in a 1.5 year-long nomading trip so far and paying with Gift cards only.

    • mike_d 2 months ago

      Never use a debit card outside of your home country (or really for any purchase). Credit cards have far stronger consumer protections and don't provide direct access to your bank account.

      • anonzzzies 2 months ago

        I charged back on debit cards quite often. Outside and inside my home country. But agreed; use credit normally; less hassle. I would’ve not paid these things like OP has and charge it back; let them come after me (they won’t anyway).

  • edmundsauto 2 months ago

    Yes, the host owns the asset that is monetized. They are more important to keep happy than a guest, because the host controls an (often) million dollar bit of capital.

    It sucks as a guest, the only solution is to either accept that you are just a magstripe or to stay in a hotel.

    Long stays are difficult but I recommend furnishedfinders.con as an alternative.

Meph504 2 months ago

There is absolutely something you can do about it...Stop using this shit service.

It cost a crazy amount in most cases, you accommodations are hit or miss and you have little recourse, let's not forget the insane cleaning requirements and fees.

I just can not at this point see the advantage in staying at a hotel/motel.

  • addandsubtract 2 months ago

    The advantages to staying in a residential apartment compared to a hotel are pretty obvious. You have a full kitchen to prepare, stock, and eat food, high speed internet, no loud guests / cleaning personal running by your door, perhaps even a working desk with a monitor. Overall, miles ahead of a hotel stay.

    • eek2121 2 months ago

      For the price I would pay on AirBnB I can (and do) rent a hotel suite with all of those benefits. A suite only costs a bit more a night than a regular room, and typically includes a bedroom, living area, and kitchenette with plenty of space.

      I've never had an issue with noise.

      Note that I'm not "pro Hotel", they have plenty of issues, early and/or varying checkout times, lackluster breakfast, pushy cleaning people, broken amenities, etc. However AirBnB hosts are demanding that you mow the grass. Like dude, I don't even mow the grass at my own house. Someone else does. Why would I mow your grass?

    • Meph504 2 months ago

      The problem is you are comparing the best to the worst when in reality it is rarely that. Hastily converted spaces with subpar equipment, dirty when you arrive but you are required to clean, and pay a large fee for the perk.

      And there seem to be far more horror stories in this thread than people suggesting that Airbnb is a better experience.

      So I would suggest those unhappy with the experience not repeat it, and look into the variety of offering of other rentals offer.

VoodooJuJu 2 months ago

I like how every tech startup and their wide-eyed users are coming around full-circle:

1. modern finance --> crypto --> modern finance

2. hotels --> airbnb --> hotels

3. taxis --> uber --> (it's only a matter of time)

Reality hits like a ton of bricks and pounds to dust whatever fragile trends are in its way. The Old Way of doing things is that way for a lot of good reasons, and it seems that people are discovering those reasons, essentially reliving the evolution of those systems and all their warts that had to be ironed out over time.

Really makes you think.

  • toast0 2 months ago

    > taxis --> uber --> (it's only a matter of time)

    The issue with that is Uber brought unlicensed taxis to a lot of places that didn't have usable service levels from licensed taxis. I'd rather have a licensed taxi, but having a taxi at all is better than nothing.

    I think that's a lot different than modern finance and hotels which basically work for the most part.

vhcr 2 months ago

23.2 Overview of Dispute Resolution Process. Airbnb is committed to participating in a consumer-friendly dispute resolution process. To that end, these Terms provide for a two-part process for individuals to whom this Section 23 applies: (1) an informal negotiation directly with Airbnb’s customer service team (described in paragraph 23.3, below), and if necessary (2) a binding arbitration administered by the American Arbitration Association (“AAA”). You and Airbnb each retain the right to seek resolution of the dispute in small claims court as an alternative to arbitration.

  • 2rsf 2 months ago

    How does American arbitration work if you are from another country, renting in yet another country?

bmarquez 2 months ago

> that their decision is final and they will not be reviewing again

I had a similar response from eBay when a fraudulent seller sent me fake tracking numbers (same city, not my address) instead of actually shipping the item.

Credit card chargeback solved the issue, and I wasn't banned. But if you're willing to risk getting banned (there are alternatives to AirBNB these days) then that's an idea.

  • olyjohn 2 months ago

    Man, eBay doesn't really like sellers either. I got fucked trying to sell an old Cray that I had sitting around. Kept getting bid on by zero-feedback buyers who would then not pay. Then you have to sit and wait 7 days for them to respond to a non-payment before you can re-list it. Maybe eBay is on your side if you're hawking 3000 shit trinkets built by child slaves... that's the only thing I can figure.

_tom_ 2 months ago

You could file a complaint with the local police. I would think that filing a fraudulent claim would be a crime.

bentt 2 months ago

We got hit with a charge of $7000 to replace the floor based on bogus pictures of very minimal damage. Airbnb eventually ruled in our favor but it took months and we felt like crap. Not in a hurry to use them again.

leahcim 2 months ago

We have had a similar issue too. Our child was injured due to a faulty piece of furniture in the rental house. He was even injured! This was 100% not intentional.

All these talks about aircover is crap! This fully protects the host and puts all the blame on the guest.

iudqnolq 2 months ago

You also need to worry about the review the host will leave you. I won an Airbnb dispute but the host left a toxic review that means no host will every accept me again.

Plus they got my negative review of them removed on the grounds that one sentence accused them of something the Airbnb terms state isn't their responsibility. (Editing isn't allowed).

tacostakohashi 2 months ago

Perhaps you have a fun credit card dispute or small claims court case in your near future!

  • nicenewtemp84 2 months ago

    From what I heard that if you do this, odds are high you will be banned from the service.

    If someone uses the service often, being scammed a few % points of their yearly spend on that service might just be considered a cost of using that service. Like a scam tip in a way.

    • olyjohn 2 months ago

      Or you could just quit using AirBnB... And not continue to encourage them to rip off their customers.

bemmu 2 months ago

We had bogus damage pictures as well, but luckily in our case in the end did not have to pay. But it made a time when we were supposed to be relaxing stressful instead, which didn’t really make us eager to use AirBnB again.

OsintOtter69 2 months ago

I will sleep in a dumpster before using airBnb