DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I've been banned from Airbnb and I don't know why. I have been using Airbnb for more than five years without any problems. I always get great reviews from my hosts. But recently, when I logged in, I got a cryptic message about being banned without any explanation. I haven't been able to get help from anyone I've contacted.
I am a graduate student in medical school, and I have to travel extensively for my residency interviews. I trust Airbnb for things like this, because with more than 20 residency interviews in different cities across the country, I need reliable places to live. Help me get my account back online.
I highly doubt that I did anything wrong, and I am so frustrated to not be able to contact a real person for more information on why this happened.
– Chiaka Aribeana, Redwood City, California
ANSWER: Airbnb should not have banned you for no good reason. I considered the correspondence between you and Airbnb, and I am now as frustrated as you are. The only thing the company will say is, "We are sorry to inform you that we cannot support your account in the future and that we have exercised our discretion in accordance with our Terms and Conditions for deactivating your accounts."
It doesn't help at all.
Airbnb offers more vague information about its ban process on its website. It also links to that page from your alert. But the most specific information it offers is that you can get banned by breaking the terms of service.
So how were you blacklisted? Your guess is as good as mine. Companies prohibit customers for all sorts of reasons, from fraud to simple misunderstandings. I recently had a case that Airbnb blamed for a system failure.
What really bothers me is that every email you sent to Airbnb was answered with a boilerplate reply, saying it "regretted" the decision, but has decided to uphold your ban. It won't say what you did – or offer any steps to fix it.
Well, I understand that Airbnb is a big company and can't respond to all customer emails. But if you want to ban people, I think they are entitled to a fair explanation.
You could have appealed your case to a manager. I show the names, numbers, and email addresses of Airbnb executives on my Consumer Advocate website.
I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. It reactivated your account – of course, without any explanation.