Saturday, February 10, 2024

Airbnb puts money first and people's safety second

Airbnb does the job and as long as you read carefully u should be fine, EXCEPT, there has been a glaring hole in their booking process for many years now. If you book a place the does not provide the "immediate booking" option then if the host refuses to accommodate you (most often because he/she had not updated the eligibility status of their property) you do get a full refund BUT only after 1-3 weeks depending on your bank's policies. They tell you something like "sorry, we pre-authed the amount and then when the host refused to host you we issued a full refund - it is just that the credit card hold will take at least a week to clear". Bottom line is that if you are low in funds in your card at that moment and you need a booking right away you are basically screwed.

The "full refund but time to reflect" story is just a cheap excuse they have been using for years to excuse outsourcing all risk and hassle to the client while not considering that they sell SHELTER, one of the most basic human needs, and not Gucci bags or some other frivolous thing.

Someone who has had his reservation denied and his funds withheld for weeks before refund may find himself homeless in a place like El Salvador and die in the streets like some homeless bum, if his card is not at the moment loaded enough to make a new reservation. Airbnb is quite indifferent and callous to this possibility, although well informed about it, because the current, in purpose flawed, booking process they keep using is convenient to them.

This is serious traveler safety issue and It would be interesting if some some NGO or even GO investigated how many people suffered, got in danger, got injured or died because of this practice worldwide.

Process needs to change and credit cards should be actually charged - NOT PRE-AUTHED - when host accepts. Then if something goes south the money would remain as booking credit you can use immediately for another booking.

At the very least a dialog should be added that warns you of the possibility of denial when u are trying to book a property that may refuse to host you resulting in your money getting frozen for weeks - but no; they don't want that. Instead they try to make it look like it is your fault: "You did not properly read our terms or service", etc. Typical corporate sheep herding.

Airbnb simply does not care - all they want is the money and their peace of mind and if some poor travelers die, well, poor people die every day.

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