964 Airbnb, the place to go and make a request

Dear readers, there is an aftermath to my funny Airbnb story, eventually I had this email from Airbnb:

Hi Carsten,

Thanks for your reply. 


I read your blog. It's a partial copy of the Airbnb message thread. Here's a link to the messages: https://www.airbnb.com/z/q/692411356


I think this was a misunderstanding that escalated to a point it should never have reached. Reading the thread as a neutral, and having shown it to my team, we feel there were unnecessary responses from both parties. 


When Jacqueline informed you that her place was unavailable for those dates, she's not obliged to give a reason why. It's her home, and she has the right to decide who will stay there.


If she had been using Instant Book, and had forgotten to block the dates in her calendar, she would have been in the wrong had your reservation been instantly accepted. She's using request to book, so there is no obligation on her part to accept a reservation request. 


Jacqueline has done nothing wrong, Carsten. You sent her a request to book, and she declined it. As mentioned, she's not obliged to accept it. 


Kind regards, 



This was my response:

Dear Mick, I knew Jacqueline had done nothing wrong weeks ago, I did go to the Airbnb website and informed myself. My issue is this:  

Does Airbnb condone hosts responding to customers' concerns with vitriol and insults? 

Does Airbnb consider this a pathway consistent with aiming for customer satisfaction?

You say, "we feel there were unnecessary responses from both parties." 

Well, not really, I am a writer, and a  writer of blogs ... that's what I do; so I think my responses were not unnecessary. That is a strange attitude; I think you missed the point of my doings entirely. I am not concerned anymore with the misunderstanding of the booking. I am bemused by the replies I get from Airbnb, especially the one I got in the very first instance from Jaqueline’s partner. But the answer to my two questions obviously is “yes”. 

Thanks for the entertainment, Airbnb.


Funny story this, I trust you'll be entertained by it: we were on holidays and we thought we had booked an Airbnb, not realising we only had 'requested' a booking ... as a result we feel that Airbnb is rather an unreliable platform.

We arrived in Bangalow just before 3:00pm and settled into a cafe. We then proceeded with looking for Airbnb accomodation ... by 3:30 we thought we had made our reservation, seeing we had made the required payment (we are new to Airbnb, we didn't realise it was just a "request"). We closed the computer and left the cafe to explore the town, with its shops and galleries. At 4:45 we though it was time to go to our accomodation, sat in the car, started the engine and opened to computer for the address ... this is what we found:

"Hi Carsten, unfortunately we won’t be able to host you tonight. The room is unavailable. Thanks (names withheld)."

Thanks? Thanks for what! In our view that is major system’s breakdown, close to utter Airbnb-anarchy. How is this possible?

How can a place be available at booking time but not at confirmation time? Airbnb offered us four other places as alternatives, only one in Bangalow, the others in Byron Bay ... none of which suited us. To say we were disappointed is an understatement.

Then - instead of going to dinner at our chosen restaurant in Bangalow - we had to travel to Byron Bay and book into a hotel, the very nice Atlantic. But the room was considerably more than we had expected to pay for our accommodation. We were rather much inconvenienced and will probably keep using hotels for a while.

My questions to Airbnb are:

Does Airbnb agree that if a place is shown as available on the website, it should be available?

Does it happen often that service is denied for no cause or reason? The host says they are perfectly within their right to do so.

Does Airbnb condone hosts responding to customers' concerns with vitriol and insults?

Does Airbnb consider this a pathway consistent with aiming for customer satisfaction?

We have a friend who uses Airbnb & runs an Airbnb, I asked her:

On your Airbnb travels (one year in Europe) were you ever declined after you applied for a place? "Never Declined."

Do you yourself ever decline an application? "Only if they want more people to stay than we allow or dogs etc." *

*This is interesting; after a lengthy email exchange the host finally said, we were declined service since "we didn't meet Airbnb's guidelines":

"... Our accommodation is never vacant, or available unless you meet the guidelines put in place by AirB&B, even then we will decide wether or not to confirm a booking. I’m sorry but you do not meet those guidelines ..."

Now, admittedly I had not read the fine print, but I'm bewildered as to how we "did not meet the guidelines" ... I mean, a couple (unbeknown to them), booking a place, no kids, no pets?! But we didn't meet Airbnb's guidelines?

Anyway, a lengthy e-mail exchange ensued (a link to the full catastrophe below) ... my first response is below the host's initial reply to the above case history, which I had posted as a comment on their Airbnb page:

here's  the full transcript  of our exchange


Hi Carsten,

Thank you so much for taking time out of your obviously very full, happy and fulfilled life to share your story/complaint/review/what ever its supposed to be, very entertaining.

You seem to be a little confused as to how the AirB&B platform works, unfortunately I don't have time to explain the inner workings of the platform, however, if you took the time to read and understand the policies, procedures and rules then you wouldn't find yourself still "quite angry" after all this time.

Your first mistake was thinking that by 3:30, as you where settling into a café, you thought you had made a reservation, quite clearly you had not!! 

I know it is difficult for some people to have a full grasp of the English Language, but here is a little pointer, "Request Sent" means...... that you have sent a request to stay with the host, they then assess that request to see if it suits THEM, to have you stay on their property (crazy I know!). If they decide to let you stay then they will approve you, if for any reason it does not suit the host then they can decline your request, (also crazy I know) that someone can decide who stays on their property.

Hopefully this explication goes someway to reliving your anger and you can move on with your life. 


the host.


Hi there,

“very entertaining” is the key here, I am deeply in debt to you for your explication … and thank you sooo much yourself, for having taken the time out of your most likely equally full, happy, fulfilled (hopefully not unduly frustrated and misundstood) life.

Many, many thanks for clarifying how the Airbnb platform works … I had no idea! This was our first attempt, and I had operated under the naïve misconception that Airbnb was an easy-to-understand if not self-explanatory business system, indeed like most other businesses: A service provider offers a service, advises that the service is available here & now (with an interactive web facility that is clear and easy-to-use - hopefully for both parties: service providers and receivers), one fills in a form, clicks a button, makes a payment, and Dave’s your uncle ... but I learnt now, ONE HAS TO read the fine print.

Obviously you do know just how difficult it is for some people to have a full grasp of the English language (lower key ‘l’, Dave), but, fair-go mate …

(... ellipsis; from the Ancient Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis, 'omission', is a series of dots, typically three, such as "…"; sorry, I digress)

… “Request Sent” - in this context - could well be taken as “Mission Accomplished” (... and go out now, enjoy the afternoon, explore the town and above all don’t worry about a pesky, smart-aleck service provider turning out to be choosey as to whom they will tackle that night; that they need to see if it suits THEM [indeed crazy, once vacancy was advertised]; and then decide rather not to provide said service [truly, unspeakably, crazy ... probably a blatant abuse of the spirit of Airbnb's philosophy]).

So what was the reason our request did not suit you? The dog had been run over? The house had burnt down? But you probably just decided to throw the Airbnb principle of “we have a room, you can have it for a fee” out the window for no good reason at all.

(No, as it turns out there was a good reason the room was not available:

The host's mother was ill and she had taken off to Ireland to attend. She points out, they have the right to decline 'requests', which seems fair enough if, like my friend explained ... the booking didn't suit, the request was for more people than allowed or a dog. However, in absence of such circumstances, is it reasonable?

Furthermore - and this really is more to the point - if there is an emergency and the host is not in the country, why is the room advertised as available? Now, if the original return message had read ...

"Hi Carsten, unfortunately we won’t be able to host you tonight. The room is unavailable due to a family emergency. Thanks for understanding."

... we would be living in a different world now, wouldn't we?)

Tell you what, though, ‘angry’ was a poor choice of word ... in fact not true at all; 'bemused' would have been better.

However, ‘entertaining’ is most befitting here.

Cheers, C.


I'm moving on with my life ... I am, I am;

writing, telling stories, is my thing