Where are you?
I was in a predicament where I couldn’t locate my Airbnb place via the standard maps app in my phone. According to the place written in the Airbnb app, it pointed to an alley but no exact building name and number was written on it.
Equipped with the full address noted beforehand, I asked the taxi driver the place and he drove me there. Nowhere was a building that matched the description in the address (because there wasn’t one in the first place). However, a building with multiple floors seemed to match where I was supposed to stay.
Attempts to enter the building failed as the supposed lockbox was not available, and the entrance was locked.
Contacting the host
There were multiple ways to contact the host. Prior to my trip, I had requested a change in accommodation stay length via the app but it wasn’t entertained.
Sending multiple private messages via Airbnb’s feature proved to be unfruitful as the host didn’t respond to any of my messages. At that point, I felt frustrated.
I called the host’s registered Taiwanese number, yet I was greeted with a message that the phone was switched off. The friendly taxi driver voluntarily called the number using his phone, yet, no one had answered the call.
Seeing this situation happening, my heart immediately sank.
The accommodation rate in the capital was very high, especially during the holiday/peak season.
As it was late in the night when I searched the accommodation, I resorted to stay in a nearby hotel. Indeed, the rate was multiple times higher than the planned Airbnb accommodation, yet, this wasn’t unexpected.
For the rest of my stay in Taipei, I stayed at another hotel relatively near to my girlfriend’s university at a reasonable rate.
Requesting for a refund
According to Airbnb, one can request a refund, but depending on the timing when the refund is requested, you could get either a full, partial, or no refund. Cases where the stay period has begun are entitled to no refund usually.
In my case, I was entitled a full refund after I sent a support request via their Resolution Center. In my request, I did send screenshots of the conversations between the host and I, and a detailed explanation of what happened.
Here are some takeaways I had noted for myself. However, I hope some of these can be of a help to you too!
- Ensure the address provided is available in English and the local language (e.g. Traditional Chinese or Japanese).
- Make sure the provided address can be pinpointed in a maps app (e.g. Google Maps, Apple Maps).
- Take note of all contact information of the host beforehand.
- Take note of the refund information/ways via the platform you used to book the accommodation in case similar cases had happened.
- Take photos (screenshot) of all interactions with the host. If physical paper is used, be sure to scan/take a photo of it.
- Do not use platforms other than the one that hosted your accommodation to perform any operation concerning your stay (e.g. sending extra money unofficially to the host, such as a direct bank transfer to the host’s account, sending a private message using other apps, such as Whatsapp to request for room related services).
- While in doubt, contact the host immediately, and escalate to the platform provider should the host is not responsive.
- Always prepare an emergency fund in case the accommodation is not available for you, and you need a place to settle down fast.