Well, it finally happened to us. After all these months of traveling to different Airbnb’s each week thinking IT wouldn’t happen to us, IT did. Let me explain…
About a month ago, we were beginning to plan the second…I guess you could call it “term” in Europe. We knew we were going to be flying into Rome (we had promised the kids we would take them there) but we didn’t know where else we wanted to go. We have some friends who live up in Dublin, so we thought it would be nice to go visit them. So, we booked the tickets from Rome to Dublin.
It took me an extra amount of time to find a place for us. First of all, Dublin is expensive! I thought London was expensive…well, Dublin is right about the same! So, unfortunately, that left us with not many options to choose from. So, I contacted our friends and they named off a few different cities in Dublin that they’d recommend as well as some areas that they wouldn’t recommend. They named one little town that was really close to where they live, which just so happened to be where a house was that had intrigued me. I had been a little bit on the fence with it though, because it only had a rating of 3 stars (I have never booked a place bellow a 5 star rating, unless it’s a brand new place and it has no ratings yet). One person rated it a 5 in January saying it was great. The other two reviewers had said that the host had cancelled on them. One was 6 days before their arrival day and the other was 2 days before their arrival day. Anyways, I went ahead and gave this host the benefit of the doubt and booked with them.
The day before we left for Dublin, I contacted our host to make sure they were ready for us to come the next day. The host said that yes, she was ready, she gave me the code to her house and explained where the key was. We were all set and ready to go!
Everything on the flight went relatively smoothly, we landed in Dublin and I went to turn on my phone to message our friends and let them know that we had landed (they were going to pick us up from the airport). That’s when I saw the message and my heart sank. Our host had sent me a message while we were in the air saying she had to cancel our stay because her ex-husband had stolen her spare key to the house and there was no way for us to get in. Awesome.
So, as we’re walking through the terminal going toward customs, where they just so happen to ask you where you are staying, I am feverishly messaging new Airbnb hosts to see if they are able to host us on such last-minute notice. I messaged 5. The first one I heard back from just as we arrived at customs saying they were going to check to see if their place was indeed available. When the border agent asked us where we were staying, my husband said we were staying at an Airbnb and I was so thankful he didn’t ask us for an address!
We ended up hearing from two other hosts, one was not available and the other one was available and we could arrive right then at the house to check-in! So, we booked with that host and I am so grateful we did! This house is perfect for our family!
Now, hats off to Airbnb and a lesson I learned that I wanted to share. When I received the message from our cancel-host, she asked me to cancel the reservation. I called Airbnb and they said that apparently a host cannot cancel last minute on a customer. Airbnb does not allow it. This is why the host had asked me to cancel. If I had canceled the reservation, Airbnb would have kept the finder’s fee they have and it would have been a mess. So, by calling their wonderful helpline and speaking to a real live person, I explained our situation and she was in return able to explain the rules and what they could do for me. She also reversed all the charges and said that that host would be heavily penalized for canceling on us like that (of course I relayed that same information to my husband and he asked what kind of heavy penalization the host would get. Unfortunately, I had not thought to ask that question, so I have no idea what they mean by “heavy penalties”). In the end, Airbnb did say that next time, before going ahead and rebooking another place to call them and explain the situation. By doing this, they would not only reimburse me, but credit me for a portion of our next stay. Unfortunately I did not know this before, but now that I do, I will keep that in mind–but I’m hoping it does not ever happen again! That was a little bit too stressful for me!
In the end, though, our experience with Airbnb has been wonderful! I am so grateful for the wonderful customer service. They were quick to answer their phones, they listened to what I had to say, did their best to fix the situation right then and there while I was on the phone with them. I am also so incredibly grateful for the wonderful hosts we have had throughout our journey these last few months! Each host we have met has been incredibly kind and warm and hospitable. I am especially grateful for the hosts we heard back from today on such short notice; willing to rearrange their schedule for the day so we could stay at their place. I wouldn’t want to travel any other way.