If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the conclusion I came to after my recent Airbnb experience. Upon being tagged multiple times in my mini-rant, the Airbnb Help Desk reached out to request my contact information. They said they would forward my information to a Case Manager, who would follow up with me directly.
It turns out the Case Manager was the same “Resolution Specialist” I was already corresponding with. Her follow-up consisted of an email filled with microaggressions. She repeated the scripted remarks from her previous email and chastised me for not being familiar with Airbnb cancellation policies. (This was a false assumption on her part. I’m quite familiar with the policies, which wasn’t the issue.) She further recommended that I thoroughly read through the host’s cancellation policies moving forward.
I crafted–then deleted–an email saying that reading cancellation policies was pointless since I’m no longer utilizing their services. She later sent an email notifying me she was out of the office (again) for the next five days and would follow up on September 3rd.
September 3rd passed with no word, and I was certain I’d never hear anything else. She emailed a week later, announcing they would give me a $75 coupon toward a future reservation.
After a month of correspondence and nearly $900 for an Airbnb I never stayed overnight, this is the best resolution?
It may seem like I’m whining, but this subpar decision is the icing on a series of less-than-stellar Airbnb stays. I’ve dealt with it because I love the concept of Airbnb, but I can’t excuse it anymore. Here are a few reasons I’ll no longer use them during my future travels.
Decline in Quality of Accommodations
I was incredibly impressed with the first Airbnb I stayed at. Located on the corner of a quaint neighborhood in New Orleans, it included an awesome kitchen with a huge island, unique furnishing, and colorful, artsy wall decorations. That, plus the outdoor patio seating, made me never want to leave my temporary digs.
This was two years ago, and the quality in Airbnb stays since then has taken a turn for the worse. None have come close to the place in New Orleans, and a few have made me visibly cringe upon walking in. One Houston Airbnb literally had just a bed in the room. When I sent a text to the host asking if he had a microwave available, he responded that he didn’t, and was “just starting out” with hosting.
I’m fairly low-key in terms of lodging expectations but appliances for reheating food seem fairly basic. Because Airbnb is now a common side hustle option, it seems anyone can throw a twin bed in a spare room to make some quick cash. This may be a perk for hosts, but it has diluted Airbnb’s reputation in my opinion.
Little to No Interaction with Hosts
To piggyback off the previous point, I’ve only met two Airbnb hosts face-to-face in the past year. One introduced himself and his partner, gave a brief tour, then quietly sat in his living room without any engagement the rest of our time there.
The other host was friendlier, although a bit pushy when my friend and I realized our flights left several hours after our checkout time. I asked if it was okay to store our luggage at the house until we left for the airport, which she agreed to. She ultimately set our belongings outside the door prior to our departure. Not cool.
All other communication with Airbnb hosts has been solely through text or email. I understand hosts have busy schedules, but welcoming guests into their home appears to be at the bottom of the priority list for most.
I’m an introvert, so I don’t expect to be attached at the hip with my Airbnb host. Still, part of the allure of Airbnb—for me, anyway—is meeting locals from the new cities I visit. It adds a human touch and missing out on that makes it as impersonal as a hotel stay.
Indifference when Issues Arise
I’ve been a consumer long enough to know every service/product isn’t perfect, and that’s okay. I’m not the type to throw a diva-sized tantrum if a restaurant messes up my order. However, when things don’t go as planned when dealing with a business, I do expect a genuine effort in providing resolutions.
Out of the 10 Airbnb reservations I’ve booked in the last two years, I’ve had to involve customer service twice. Both incidents involved situations beyond my control, and both times I was levelheaded and respectful despite my frustration.
What I got in return were the typical “I apologize for the inconvenience” and “Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do” statements from customer service reps who sounded like they would rather be playing on train tracks than speaking to me. If I hadn’t insisted on a better resolution from my recent experience, they wouldn’t have bothered offering the $75 coupon.
It’s Time to be a Conscious Consumer
This post speaks on the (misguided) media distress over millennials killing businesses. Honestly, if businesses focused on treating their customers as more than dollar signs, they wouldn’t have to worry about that.
Airbnb is probably in a position where there’s no need to provide exceptional customer service. House/room sharing is the “in” thing right now, so I’m sure companies in this industry feel invincible. However, we all know trends fluctuate, and no one is exempt from economy shifts in supply and demand.
It may not faze Airbnb to lose me as a customer (for now), but I have peace of mind knowing they’ll no longer get my hard-earned coins.