Airbnb is not a platform for guests

I hopped between airbnbs for a 5-month period where I needed to rent a place but couldn't rent a traditional apartment due to red tape (credit score, 3x income requirement) and having no cosigner, so I had no other option except for similar platforms (vrbo, flipkey) which seemed to offer even worse prices.

I'd probably be dead if airbnb didn't exist, and it may be the lesser evil compared to all other renting options, but it is still a terrible platform for renters.

Airbnb is biased in favor of hosts. One example is the asymmetry of the cancellation policy for stays longer than 27 days. Hosts can cancel at the last second, *even after you arrive*, for any reason at no cost to them, but if the guest cancels, no matter how far in advance or how soon after reserving, they get a "full refund minus the first 30 days and service fee". In other words, no refund at all for most cases.

Another form of host bias is that not only are you unable to *see* the place before you reserve it (which is understandable because Airbnb is usually used for short-term stays and traveling), but you aren't even told the exact address. Imagine trying to get away with this in the traditional rent system!

The platform fees are enormous, too: often more than 10%! And they aren't even straight up about it: the prices shown on search results exclude both this and the cleaning fee. Together they usually add up to $200-300 more for a month in a shared apartment. And for some reason, Airbnb falsely claims the map includes the cleaning fee:


I also had the misfortune of experiencing their dispute resolution process. I disputed when a host lied that there was WiFi in their apartment and then refused to give me the pictured room and I had to argue to even be allowed to spend the night in the living room while my partner and I figured out what the fuck to do. After being on phone hold for about half an hour with Airbnb support and then establishing the facts with them, they agreed to refund only the price of the nights we didn't spend there. They owed it to us to refund the night we spent too beacuse we weren't given the features I paid for and with such short notice of the scam, we had no other choice except to sleep outside or pay an outrageous price for a hotel. Even that insufficient refund took a month and a half to arrive.


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