Airbnb cheats, then offers the most cheap customer support ever.

I had rented an apartment in Singapore via Airbnb. And I had to make an extension to the booking. So after having a word with the host, I logged on to Airbnb to request an extension for my booking.

Airbnb shows me on the first screen I need to pay $468 more (which unfortunately I did not grab a screenshot of), I accepted that and moved to next. And I did grab a screenshot of the next screen to send my other guest the net new rate, where they showed me a total rate of 3423 SGD against the previous 2955 SGD I had agreed to pay. Again $468 more.

But when I get charged on my card in the next step, I got charged for $545 which is like $80 more. This figure did not even show anywhere on the receipt. Airbnb failed even to provide me with a separate receipt for the extended days only. Something felt very fishy, and this was my issue. All I needed from Airbnb was someone to explain to me why they charged me more and separate receipt clearly showing the breakdown of the additional cost.

Then the hellish experience with their support started. First of all, you have to go through a questionnaire and many pages to get to a place where you can click “I still need support” and get to an actual support page. We all have had such experience on some cheap and free service websites where they do this to cut their support cost. But I didn’t expect this from Airbnb where I was paying hundreds of dollars in the service fee.

Anyways on the support page, there’s just one option – chat with us. No direct email or telephone support. So you have to wait for an agent to join you for the chat. And waste your immediate time chatting instead of sending an email to have a record of your support request. I got connected and disconnected from two three agents. Spent 10 minutes just to get connected to an agent with whom I shared my frustration about Airbnb support.

This agent was entirely unsympathetic. When I requested that she create a support request and send me an email response to my complaint as it was already very late in the night and I couldn’t spend more time on a chat, she just closed the chat, and that’s about it. So I get very frustrated and get on another chat, that agent does help me with an email. I follow up on that and make a complaint against the previous agent with the chat history attached as well as my screenshot of the pricing asking them why I was charged more than what was showed to me.

Then they get back saying they are working with the ‘payments team’ to help me on this. And that’s about it. Two days later I get an automated email saying my case has been closed and if I needed to reopen it, I need to respond within 24 hours to that email. So I respond to the email again and wait for an answer. But no word from Airbnb support at all. I again reply to the same email to find out that it bounces! The case has been closed with no explanation ever!

Now am left totally frustrated and just had to go through another chat to raise another support request on what happened to the previous case. Never expected this from a billion dollar company to whom I am a paying customer. But that’s how it is with Airbnb – I realised they are very cheap, cut costs on customer support which reflects not only in the effort needed to reach support but also the quality of support offered.

Moreover, please beware that the pricing they show on any page need not be what you will end up paying, and better take screenshots of every page to at least back up your claims. Now I am left with no choice but to go to the small claims court on this wasting more of my time. And someone just told me Airbnb is not even legal in Singapore; they are operating under the radar with hosts who are renting out their HDBs and Condos against rules. Not sure about this but if true will never patronise such an unethical service again.

A.S.S. Contributor

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