What to Do when your AirBNB Goes Wrong

Kylee Hayes Opinions 2 Comments

As you arrive in town and make your way to your AirBnb, you get excited to spend some time in new destination. The adventurer in you is ready to explore, but as the cab brings you to the area you notice your new surroundings. The neighbourhood looks pretty dodgy and you start to question what the hell you booked.

As the taxi drives away, you knock on the door and the host answers. You’re brought into your booked accommodation and it is nothing like what you thought it was going to be. Your heart sinks as you frantically open up your booking to make sure you were in the right place.

What to do when AirBNB Goes Wrong

In the case of something small, such as a WiFi issue, hot water, missing towels etc., contact the host of the property and see if it can be fixed. Most of the time they are willing to help and sort out the problem right away.

If the issue can’t be resolved but isn’t so bad it might still be worth staying at the place. Even though it is not exactly what was said in the description. Just contact AirBNB about the situation and be clear of any discrepancies in your review. This situation is far from ideal, but sometimes you aren’t able, or are simply too tired to look for something new. Especially after a long flight, bus ride, train journey.

If you are in danger for any reason upon checking in, get out of the place and seek a nearby restaurant/cafe, get on the phone and call local police, then when you are safe, contact AirBNB.

Sometimes it’s something a little more serious, like what recently happened to us. We arrived at our accommodation that was listed as an “entire apartment,” that ended up just being a room in a hostel. The shared bathroom and communal kitchen were across the patio, one floor above us. We were supposed to be staying for a month. This was unacceptable.

If something serious happens with your AirBNB booking, these are the steps to follow.

Whatever you do, DO NOT CANCEL your reservation on AirBNB. The host will be penalized for cancelling your reservation, which is what you want, not the other way around. You have done nothing wrong. If you cancel, regardless of the reason, you will lose money according to the property’s cancellation policy.

You need to report the accommodation issue to AirBNB within the first 24 hours or they may not refund your money.

Check the AirBNB Website

Visit the booking page and check the description and amenities page. Make sure what you thought the place was supposed to have actually says that. Take a screen shot of what is in the description and take a photo of what is actually there. AirBnb likes to receive photos of evidence because otherwise it’s a case of “he said, she said”. If you believe the description or amenities page was changed, check your e-mail, sometimes it is written in the confirmation email you were sent.

We recommend you take a screenshot as soon as you book. Learn more about how to properly book an AirBNB.

Kitchen counter and small bar fridge

This was supposed to be a full-sized fridge and we brought a ton of groceries.
Thankfully, we had a screenshot of the listing to back us up.

Contact your Host Immediately

Tell them what you expected and what is different/wrong with the place. See if they can fix the problem (obviously this is only in a small problem type of scenario, WiFi doesn’t work, no pillows/towel/soap, stove not working etc.). If you have a good host (as most are), they will do whatever they can to repair or remedy the situation.

In the unfortunate situation that the host flat-out refuses to do anything about the problem, stick with this post!

You have to contact the host first, this is an AirBNB policy, and they will ask you if you did this when you call. Always do this via AirBNB.

Decision Time

This is the time you need to make a decision. Are you going to say fuck it and stay or are you going to pick up your bags and leave?

Weigh the pros and cons. Is the problem bad enough that you can’t or won’t deal with it? Is it a health or safety issue? What about the time spent trying to find something new, is it worth the effort? This is where private booking services like AirBnb suck! With a hotel, they can usually give you another room. But with AirBnb you are simply out of luck and have to find a new place to stay last minute. This usually means options are limited and prices are considerably higher.

Unfortunately, sometimes the situation is so bad that you need to leave. It’s one of those temporary down-sides to travel that will ultimately make a fun story later on.

Once you’ve decided that the place is not what you booked online, you will have to tell AirBNB what you have decided.

Call AirBnb

Don’t email them, call! If you have no phone nor SIM but you do have the Wifi from the accommodation, get Skype on your phone or computer and call the toll free AirBNB number.

Press one stating that you are currently in a reservation so they answer right away. Tell them what is going wrong with as much detail as possible. What is different to the description and photos to what is in front of you right now. 
AirBNB will give you the decision to leave the AirBNB. This will technically count as a cancellation on your behalf, but going through this method will allow you to qualify for a refund. If the host blatantly lied in the description, you should be able to get your money back, though it can be a process. This is one of the most important reasons to contact AirBNB within 24 hours. If you wait longer than this, they can do nothing for you, regardless of the situation.

Two tin cans connected by an ethernet cable.

Whatever Method you use, Call AirBNB Directly!

If you decide to leave, AirBNB may offer to help you find a new place. Though this often just involves a list of properties in your budget and isn’t much “help.” Sometimes they’ll give you 10% toward a new booking.

Once you have found another place to sleep, AirBNB will check in to make sure it is all okay. At this point they will let you leave a review for the host that you just left, if you want to. They will also make the host correct the way the booking is written, so that others do not get into the same situation. If you do write a review, it’s a good idea to wait a day or to to calm down.

Touch Base with AirBNB

If there were obvious discrepancies between the listing and the accommodation itself, you should receive a refund. As long as you followed the steps in this post, there should be no issue. If you do not hear anything back or haven’t received your refund within a few days, contact AirBNB to find out why.

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1 year ago

Yikes. This has always been my hesitation of using AirBnb. We stayed in a couple of air bnbs in Australia and both were great and we are booked for a couple in Italy and now I’m freaked out! Haha. Margo (the other half of the blog) loves Airbnb’s. Thanks for this info – I never thought to take screenshots at booking in case they change it afterwards.