London hotels are notoriously expensive, and we needed accommodation for our family for three days. I was told Airbnb was the answer.
We soon found the perfect apartment in Notting Hill Gate (Hello Hugh!). The images showed a stylish, white and beige apartment with high ceilings and trendy furnishings. What could be easier? Goodbye hotels and hello Airbnb from now on, I thought.
But that was then and this is now.
So what went so horribly wrong? And why would I actively discourage others from using this accommodation site?
First up, the registration process took me 45 minutes. Seriously, I could take out a mortgage in less time.
During this tedious information gathering process (my theory is they want my data in order to bombard me with advertising at some later date) I was asked for a reference image (but needed to download the bloody app to enable the software to do this). Next, I needed to scan and upload the front and back of my driver’s licence. Seriously? Why did I need to supply this? No other site requires it – not my bank, my broker or my airline.
Anyway, having uploaded that, I then had to pay with my credit card, which I did. Within a few minutes, my confirmation email arrived. At last, I could tick that box – London accommodation was sorted.
Sadly, this sense of achievement was short-lived, as six hours later I received a cancellation notice on this booking with no reason why, and a chirpy note that my AUD $1,100 (yes $1,100) would be refunded in five working days.
What was going on here? Airbnb took my money within a nanosecond of the booking, but needed a week (including weekend) to send it back, despite the fact that it was them who cancelled this booking, without warning or reason. So I no longer had the funds to book something else.
Because I was so angry, I contacted the owner of the apartment directly. Guess what – it was available, so there was no logical or defensible reason why this booking was cancelled.
Several long days later, the money was refunded. My revenge was to rebook the apartment directly, thus saving on the Airbnb commission fee.
But that is not the point. No matter how good an apartment looks, I will never trust Airbnb again.
What about you? It seems most people have far better experiences than this – so was I simply unlucky?