Airbnb Dispute Resolution Center Process – Q&A

If you’re coming across this post it’s probably because you googled “how to win an Airbnb dispute” and you’re most likely freaking out right now because you don’t know what to do next. The Airbnb dispute resolution process isn’t very transparent and many people aren’t sure what information to submit, how things should be addressed, or what steps to take next. 

Airbnb Dispute Resolution Center Process – Q&A

A few years ago we were also in your shoes. We left an Airbnb apartment and within a few hours, we were accused of allegedly breaking the host’s couch.

Initially, the host requested $70—before we knew it she was demanding that we pay for a brand-new couch! We walked readers through this situation is, “How to win and lose a dispute with the Airbnb resolution center.” The article was designed to guide both hosts and guests through the process.

Our first dispute process (with the couch) lasted about one week and it was a total Airbnb nightmare. We won, but the entire situation was very stressful.

The article generated a tremendous amount of traffic and questions to our site. Since then, we’ve realized that a lot of people are going through the same heartache that we did during the unclear resolution process.

We’re hoping this Q&A will help add some clarity to the process and relieve some of this stress. Please keep in mind that although our past article was designed for hosts and guests, this Q&A is for guests only.

This Isn’t My Fault and I Don’t Want To Have To Worry About Paying. How Do I Get Out of Paying for This?

There are two ways to get out of having to pay Airbnb. Because Airbnb is purely a credit card-based business they need to function based on Visa/MasterCard merchant rules. This creates some loopholes for credit cardholders. Below are the two options to get out of paying:

  1. To prevent the charge, you can contact your credit card company and tell them not to allow any future charges from Airbnb. This option will most likely cause Airbnb to close your account. In other words, you won’t be able to use Airbnb under your current user profile for future bookings unless the balance is paid.
  2. If your credit card was charged, you should open up a merchant dispute by contacting your credit card company’s dispute department. According to Visa/MasterCard, “a cardholder may dispute a transaction if the cardholder can document and support with corroborating documentation a mischaracterization of the described goods or services, or dispute concerning the established quality of goods or services provided to the cardholder.” You should select one of the two reasons below for your credit card dispute and communicate them to your credit card company.
    • Services not as described
    • Services not rendered

What’s the First Thing I Should Do?

You should read our other article “How to win and lose a dispute with the Airbnb resolution center” and take away the following points:

  • You will need to begin to lay out a case/argument as to why this damage is not your fault.
  • Attempt to negotiate with the host without getting Airbnb involved.
  • Make sure all communication is done through Airbnb Messenger.

How Does the Dispute Resolution Center Process Work?

Airbnb will share with both parties what they deem appropriate to share. Airbnb will usually allow each party to state their version of the situation (only once) and will then base their decision on that. If you feel like you need to send more information to Airbnb during the process (before the case is closed), you should have a case manager assigned to you so you can forward that information onward.

The Host Is Still Trying to Get Me to Pay. Now What? What Are My Options?

If the host hasn’t opened up a dispute against you in the Airbnb resolution center then you should proactively notify Airbnb of the current situation. You can contact Airbnb directly here. Remember, this shouldn’t be an informal interaction. We typed up a formal letter to Airbnb that was two pages, single-spaced. In it, we addressed the following topics:

  • Check-in procedures
  • Initial impressions of the unit
  • Inventory checklist of the unit
  • Problems incurred during the stay
  • Checkout process
  • Extortion
  • Conclusion

You can see our entire letter here: Dispute Letter. While communicating with Airbnb you should also be communicating with the host, or at least making it look like you’re trying to resolve the dispute without getting Airbnb involved.

If the host has logged a dispute in the Airbnb resolution center then you should submit a similar letter to the one above and address the overall issues with the rental and submit any relevant photos/video.

I Can’t Get a Hold of Airbnb. How Do I Contact Them?

It does seem too complicated to contact Airbnb but don’t feel too bad because everyone’s going through the same thing. This is the best way to contact Airbnb.

In these initial communications, it’s important to emphasize the amount of duress you’re under. Use words like frustrating, nervous, and anxious.

My Host Just Opened up a Dispute Against Me. What Should I Do About Leaving Them a Review?

This is your opportunity to address every single thing that went wrong with the rental experience. Don’t hold back, but make sure to stay professional. Don’t get personal. State facts, not opinions.

Also, it’s against the Airbnb guidelines to mention the dispute in the review. In other words, don’t talk specifically about the dispute in the review. Here’s the review we left for the host from our “couch” rental experience: How to win and lose a dispute with the Airbnb resolution center

Should I Get Airbnb Involved in This?

You should get Airbnb involved if you feel like you’re the victim or you’re being victimized. Also, if you can’t work out a reasonable deal with the host as to the replacement/damages cost, then you should also contact Airbnb.

Remember, when a dispute is open in the resolution center, both parties are agreeing to allow Airbnb to determine who’s right and wrong. They become the chief decision-maker. It’s similar to small claims court, only proceed with the dispute if you feel that you can create a logical explanation as to why the damage was not created by you or is not your responsibility.

“So I Broke a Wine Glass, and the Host Is Charging Me for the Price of 6 (Plus “Service Charges” Totaling $30) Because They Cannot Find a Matching One. Are They Allowed to Make Me Pay for Something That I Did Not Break?”

I would try to explain to Airbnb and the host that this glass represents something insignificant and that offering a glass to a guest is a part of doing business. If the host continues to escalate the situation.

I would ask to see the purchasing invoice for the original glasses. Also, make sure to include depreciation costs (wear and tear). If the host cannot provide this information then they will automatically lose the dispute in the Airbnb resolution center. Hosts need to remember that minor accidents do happen.

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12 thoughts on “Airbnb Dispute Resolution Center Process – Q&A
  1. The same happened to me recently, I left the place one day earlier because there were roof leaks everywhere, even in the cabinets. Airbnb said that they will not refund anything because it was not reported within the 24 hours of check in time (This happened after the 24 hours).

  2. @Cindy Same thing is happening to me. I am waiting for Airbnb to return the Service Fee for cancelling. I cancelled well before the cancellation deadline and they said that because I booked another Airbnb, they can’t refund. What? How does that even make sense? I mentioned the “Free Cancellation” that was stated in their email and they messaged me saying “it wasn’t approved”.
    I’m going to fight this and make a claim with my credit card company as this is wrong. I’m wondering if this is illegal and if Airbnb is going to be hit with a class action lawsuit like the one in Quebec.

  3. Airbnb is like eating at new restaurants, in terms of the unexpected but worse. It’s completely random what you may experience, and when things go wrong, they go very very wrong. After a bad stay, even leaving the property or worse – not getting a refund for a stay you never had, your work with Airbnb will likely be just as random and often like tryin to convince a teenager about your situation. No fooling, I’ve used Airbnb for over 10 years and every single time I’ve needed them, it’s like dealing with my 16 year-old daughter. The agent you’re dealing with can be just as random, and I’ve had a few disputes lasting months before the right agent solved it or my credit card company did. One other thing, Airbnb protects “superhosts,” the opposite of what you would expect. These are revenue generators, and I’ve had them simply lie with impunity to Airbnb and get away with it.

  4. I booked on AirBnb with “Free Cancellation” for the next 2 months explicitly stated all over the reservation. Well, when I cancelled two days later, AirBnb kept a $500 service fee for themselves. When I inquired what happened to the “free cancellation”, I got different contradictory explanations, but eventually they concluded that another booking I had made invalidated the refund policy on the first one! What? No warning had been provided and even their support team couldn’t explain it. I filed a credit card dispute, but I’m furious and not sure I’ll get my money back. Imagine booking a refundable hotel room and not getting a refund because of a different booking with the same hotel chain – crazy!

    1. Keep working with your credit card company on fighting the dispute and I’m sure you’ll win. Emphasize that services were not rendered.

  5. Hi Harry

    Yes, thanks for that, I actually had already done this and they had initiated a Fraud investigation. The thing is that they advised me though also to deal directly with Airbnb to get clarification on the matter, and so hence followed up on this. This is where things went very quickly off the rails. The contact person at Airbnb resolution centre was extremely unhelpful and refused to provide the information I was seeking, which easily could have clarified the situation. He/she also refused to accept the information I truthfully provided and obviously made a decision to refuse re-imbursement on no sound basis. No evidence was provided to support their position, even though I asked for this.

    The other thing is that if they had bothered to do a proper investigation they could have readily seen I did not book any accomodation as this is evident from the Trips section on my member’s page. Refusing to accept the advice that no member of my family or friends has ever had access to my card was very poor judgement. Such financial information in my view is my private business and I would never have made this available. Furthermore, I was actually at sea, offshore on a sailing trip and hence out of internet communication, hence I could not have made two of the bookings attributed to me.

    I sought clear legal advice from a principal lawyer/solicitor with the Victorian Supreme Court and he clearly advised me that under Federal Consumer Protection Law, Airbnb’s refusal to provide me with certain information I was seeking to prove my case was in direct contravention of Australian Law and as such constituted and offence. I had legal rights to take them to court if I so chose. Airbnb’s claim that the information I sought, eg location (State, city, town or regional area and the dates for accomodation supposedly booked) was an issue of privacy confidentiality. It was clear that under Australian Law this position was legally incorrect despite what Airbnb claimed. I advised them of this in writing along with various other points which clearly proved neither I or anyone I know could have booked the accomodation. Needless to say Airbnb have declined to comment on this, I have received no further correspondence.

    The outcome, however, is that my credit card provider, having been provided with this additional information I had ascertained agreed it was a clear case of fraud and that I will be re-imbursed.

    As a customer based organisation in the tourism sector, all I can conclude is that Airbnb’s management processes are appalling bad and their lack of customer service is a downright disgrace.

    My position now is I will be cancelling my membership with Airbnb as a customer and I will never use them again. I rate them extremely low.


  6. Hi, I have a different situation regarding Airbnb, which is resulting in a dispute. I recently received my credit card statement which had listed 3 charges to me re Airbnb accomodation costs. The thing is that I not used Airbnb recently to make any such accomodation bookings. In fact the last time I used Airbnb was in February 2019. I have not travelled since then using this service and not all travelled anywhere overnight in 2020, given Covid and the restrictions in movement. Basically, our State borders closed back in late March/April and remain closed.

    In contacting my bank they initially advised me to take this matter up with Airbnb, but as you all know trying to find a ph number to discuss this matter with them is nigh impossible. I was put in contact with my bank’s Fraud investigation section who have started an investigation into this matter.

    However, I did manage to get in touch with Airbnb by email and since then have had numerous email exchanges with them regarding the claims agains my card. They initially tried to tell me I must have made some bookings that I had forgotten about and/or and have continued to maintain that the costs must have been made by a family member or friend and that they never told me. Ok the thing here is that (a) I live on my own and have done so for many years, and (b) when I was married and/or in a subsequent relationship thereafter, I never provided such information to my previous partners nor allowed them use of my card. In fact I rarely use this card as it is one I have been doing my best to pay off and to get rid of it. I have now many times advised Airbnb of my previous travel details and my personal situation and somehow they still come back with the same response that if it wasn’t me it must be someone in my family or friends who somehow had access to my card. Again I have advised them that such a claim is false, that no one in my family has travelled anywhere in the last year or more and moreover they don’t use Airbnb.

    The simple facts are that my credit card has been somehow hacked and I am being hence scammed by Airbnb.

    I have written to them demanding to know the dates and location of the alleged bookings, such that I can logically prove my case. They have failed to provide any evidence to prove what they are suggesting is true. I have demanded that if this isn’t provided in two days I will be instructing my lawyer demand this information, and similarly that I will provide all this information to the Fraud investigation section of the Bank such that they too can place this demand on Airbnb.

    Its appalling to have to be put through this fraudulent behaviour by Airbnb and I must say I am disgusted by the lack of co-operation. I will never use Airbnb again and will make this situation known on social media and/or by any other means possible I have at my disposal letting people know that Airbnb business practices are fraudulent.

    1. David,
      You’ll need to contact your credit card company and ask to speak with the “Disputes Department.” Once you’ve reached them submit disputes for these transactions, simply tell them that you don’t recognize these transactions and use the term “services were not rendered.” They’ll ask if you’ve reached out to Airbnb. Explain to them that you’ve called and written to them, and they still weren’t able to reverse the charges. Once your dispute is filed, the credit card company will immediately credit your account, and because these are fraudulent charges you will automatically win the dispute.

  7. Hi I don’t know if you answer q’s any ore but I’m in a bit of a rut. I cancelled a reservation due to a Cat 1 hurricane and it then turned into a tropical storm. The host had a strict cancellation policy yet it fell under their extenuating circumstances. They decided I’m out the almost 700 for the booking yet the host and airbnb are being completely unreasonable. I notified in advance, submitted weather reports, and I am at my wits end. Any suggestions?

    Thank you.

  8. We just had the worst, and most bizarre experience. We rented a house. According to the Air B&B site for the house, we were getting “the entire house”, and it had a picture of a Jacuzzi, and listed hot tub in the amenities. So, we were surprised to see the owner and his wife there, living in the top half of the house. Then, my kids went to go look at the Jacuzzi, they ran back to tell me a man was in it now. So, the host was using it while we were renting it. Anyways, the next night he wasn’t in it, and my husband went in, and I came out with our 4yr old. My 11yr old son played quietly inside the house. That was our evening. So then, imagine our shock when a cop shows up at our door the next morning, on Fathers Day, and asks to speak to our 11yr old. They asked him if anything happened the previous night because someone reported that he could be heard the night prior yelling “Stop hitting me dad, that is abuse!” My son was shocked and shaken at the absolute crazy fabrication, and my husband was humiliated by the accusation. Then the owner, Paul, came and said he heard it himself and that a “neighbor” who is never named, heard the same. We asked why he didn’t call the cops the night prior, if he really believed our kids were in danger, and he didn’t have a good answer. Paul somehow convinced Air B&B of this lie anyway, and they processed a full refund for us and we had to leave. We still don’t know why Paul did this, but we think he may not have appreciated our kids noise. They are loud. The 4yr old shrieks and screems whether she is happy and excited or whether she is yelling at her brother. As we packed our things, the cop suggested that since Paul was British, and maybe British kids are quieter, he might just not be used to the sound of loud American kids. Ummm, ok. Well clearly the cop didn’t believe Paul’s story, as they didn’t press charges or contact CPS or anything. So why does Paul get a free pass to lay false accusations to Air B&B against us? And if Paul had a problem with our kids’ noise, why didn’t he say something? And then, we got a notice that our Air B&B account was deactivated because of our failure to follow safety policy. We did absolutely nothing wrong. Paul made a false accusation to the police, which I would think should be in violation of a hosts obligations. So now this host is out there, getting off scott free for humiliating my husband, and causing is all great inconvenience on Fathers Day, and I can’t even leave a review! We did manage to move to a hotel, got very lucky to find one during peak season. But we feel we are owed restitution for what we have suffered. How can we get Air B&B to investigate Paul. I already called to open a complaint, but they have said their decision is final. Can we sue Air B&B for the emotional suffering and reneging on our contract without cause?

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