Our Airbnb Booking Disaster in Auckland

Airbnb Auckland

When you book an Airbnb stay six months ahead and pay in full you don’t expect any problems when the time comes do you? That’s exactly what we thought when we booked our stay in Auckland and it didn’t quite work out that way.

Planning and Booking well in advance

We’re not last minute merchants and like to get all of our accommodation and transport booked well in advance or our trip. So all of our Airbnb bookings for this JWalking trip of New Zealand were made back in July 2017. The best thing about booking early is that you get to pick from virtually all available accommodation and can try to get something that fits the budget too.

So we booked a 9 day stay in Auckland and enjoyed a friendly email conversation with the host Sheldon. And paid in full. Sorted. No worries then.

Confirming our Stay

A few days before we are due to arrive at a new Airbnb we always email the host to let them know where we are and to check any arrival details such as times, where to find keys, etc. Always works well and my email to Sheldon 3 days before we were due in Auckland was no different. He was ‘looking forward to meeting us’ and told me how to access his house. Great news. So we headed for the beach in Christchurch for a day out safe in the knowledge that all was ok.

Sumner Beach

A Bolt from the Blue

Arriving back in our lovely Christchurch house that evening, 2 days before Auckland, we found an email waiting for us from Airbnb saying that our stay had been cancelled! What? Nothing from Sheldon, or as I’ll now refer to him Snivelling Sheldon, just a business-like cancellation. A few minutes later another one arrived, this one was from Joey.

Joey Airbnb

Unfortunately it wasn’t Joey from Friends as that would have been brilliant, this was Joey from the Airbnb Support Team who was ‘reaching out’ to us and even started his email with ‘Good Day‘ (how nice). He explained that Snivelling Sheldon‘s ‘health condition is not letting him go further‘. We assumed that meant he was ill. Also that ‘sending out a personal message was not permitting him‘. At this point we guessed that Joey may not be the Airbnb Support Guys real name.

Now no-one can help being ill and we totally understand that these things happen but not even a quick note to say sorry for letting you down? I emailed Snivelling Sheldon immediately asking what was happening whilst continuing to deal with Joey Tribbiani over at Airbnb Support. He sent through a list of available properties in Auckland for our dates which were all several hundred pounds more expensive or were unacceptable (like sharing a 2 bed flat with 3 guys).


Our Airbnb Booking Disaster

At this point we had to start getting busy and whilst I engaged with Joey Tribbiani, Jo got going searching for alternative places to stay. Obviously most of the good ones had gone and what was left was prohibitively expensive. My email exchange with Joey was deteriorating and when he explained that ‘I really don’t know what to say as I am also in shocked‘ I truly feared the worst. He offered us £50 to assist in the rebooking and said ‘I will be on standby for you’ and that was the last thing we ever heard from Joey! Brilliant.

So with the support gone Jo really kicked up a gear and found a nice looking place that we could afford. She emailed the host, Carol, and we retired to bed hopeful that the situation was resolved.


Was it all a Dream?

Our hosts in Christchurch, Pam and David, were so supportive and just let us sit at their table working all morning. There was no sign of Joey Tribbiani but there was a message from Snivelling Sheldon. Perhaps it had been a great big mistake? Unfortunately not. He sort of apologised but bizarrely said we could stay for a few days if we wanted to! Huh? It was at this stage that a new character appeared on the scene, Emily from LA. We had a new dedicated Airbnb Customer Support case manager and she was also ‘reaching out to us’. Lovely.

Now Emily from LA seemed a little more switched on than poor Joey and had a bucketful of sincere supportive words. She really wanted ‘to take some of the stress away from us‘ and also ‘do some of the legwork‘. Neither was going to happen obviously. While I was jousting with Emily from LA, Jo logged in to check if Carol had accepted our booking from the previous evening. Unbelievably Crafty Carol no longer existed and had removed her property from the website. Was it something we said? Back to square one.


Are two bookings better than one?

Well it seems not as Joey Tribbiani had informed us that our £50 voucher would only apply to a single booking so if we booked 2 separate places for exactly the same time in the same city we were not entitled to anything. Unbelievable. This took my email exchange with Emily from LA to a different level and as we fought to the death over the question of recompense Jo quietly and efficiently found two apartments that would suit our needs in Auckland. The first was accepted immediately by the more than helpful Glenn in Mount Eden and the second came through soon after with the lovely Jilly in Mission Bay. We had somewhere to stay now.

However, the fierce financial face-off was still going on and as Emily from LA informed me that she was going off-shift she made the final offer to cover the complete difference between all the bookings so we wouldn’t be out of pocket. About time and something that should have happened immediately our original booking with Snivelling Sheldon was cancelled.

So completely shattered and a little stressed we headed back to Sumner Beach for a few hours safe in the knowledge that we wouldn’t be sleeping on the streets of Auckland.


Our Airbnb Booking Disaster in Auckland

Between you and me we actually ended up a few pounds better off but that’s not really the point. Sheldon couldn’t help being sick but Airbnb should have made the process much easier and stress-free from the start. We had as much worry and hassle dealing with them as we had finding new accommodation. Shouldn’t be like that. Anyway, it all ended up okay and both places in Auckland proved to be fabulous. In fact they turned out to be so much better.

25/01 – 26/01/2018


    • We’ve only had three problems with over 80 bookings so not a bad percentage really. I’ve always had to go to Twitter to get some real support though.


  1. So in the end it was a disaster not a disaster then. Could have been worse but what a great adventure/story having a night or 2 sleeping on the streets would have been! It does amaze me why they make customer service such hard work when they relented anyway. Is it because so many people just don;t bother or accept the first offer they get. Obviously AirBnB hadn’t reckoned for the Relentless Ringwoods. Glad it all worked out in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Not too sure about sleeping rough for a couple of nights although it would have made a great story I suppose. You’re right about customer service though, shouldn’t have to fight for it.


  2. I’m so glad it all worked out – shame on airbnb for that poor customer service! If it is possible to rate them on it, be ruthless! However stressful it was, I am glad you came out better for it!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is what scares me about using Airbnb, funnily enough I was looking at their site for the first time yesterday, based on the fact you guys have used them prolifically on your travels. I’m a planner too and this would have sent me over the edge, I’m impresssed how calm you both were. It’s very frustrating when issue like this do flare up and the initial support is lack lustre. I’m glad it all got sorted and like you say small percentage of errors in your adventures, but I’d be reaching for the Valium! Hotels to me one thinks

    Liked by 1 person

    • We’re still huge Airbnb fans as there are so many decent hosts out there in some fabulous places but the support could have and should have been much better. We’ll always go Airbnb before a hotel though.

      Liked by 1 person

        • No that particular host wasn’t money-orientated but it does change the feeling of responsibility towards the customer if money is the hosts prime motivation rather than actually meeting travellers.


          • Yes, that’s true. I like to use Couchsurfing for that purpose. Because it’s completely free for everyone involved, it’s usually really about meeting people or helping travelers. But then, I can’t use that all the time on a trip because some hosts also expect you to spend a lot of time with them and then you don’t have any private time. But of course that can/should all be talked about before agreeing on a stay.
            I have the feeling that a lot of people have moved from Couchsurfing to AirBnB once the latter came up and that’s when it became commercialized. Whenever I live somewhere where I have an extra room, I only put it up on Couchsurfing because I feel that for AirBnB I would need to keep it tidy and organized, whereas Couchsurfing is more like having friends over.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. We had something similar happen to us 2.5 years back – surprisingly in Auckland only. And yes AirBnB response was just the same had to argue to death before they agreed. We had arrived in middle of night… to find an apartment not livable… We were travelling with 3 kids and 2 of them were under 5 years and it was cold to add to our misery

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Things happen even when you book through well know companies so I think you have done really well to face so few problems. However I can understand how stressful it must have been. We paid top prices for a good chain of hotels – Mal Maison – only to find the rooms were cold, service was bad in the restaurant and food was appalling. They had also booked a large party in for an event which kept everyone awake until 4am. We did end up with a big discount but that wasn’t the point. Xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re so right, these problems don’t just happen with Airbnb. We’ve had several hotels/motels over the years that have been ‘sub standard’. You just have to try and be positive and roll with it don’t you? The majority are great.


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