Robert Jackson’s Airbnb account is suspended. But the company won’t tell him why he’s locked out. What’s the deal — and how can he resolve this problem?
Q: I was looking at Airbnb for a house in France. But when I logged on to the site, it said, “Your account has been disabled.” Airbnb claimed I violated its terms.
I haven’t used Airbnb in more than a year, but on every one of our previous bookings, I’ve had nothing but exceptional reviews. I haven’t violated any rules.
After calling and emailing Airbnb, I only received one reply: Its decision is “final.” Airbnb refuses to state what I had apparently done to break its rules. This is obviously due to either a hacked account or a platform software error on their part.
Could you get Airbnb to tell me, in detail, what happened on my account to render this decision? I’m guessing my account was hacked, but the frustration of the rude treatment from Airbnb is driving my anger. — Robert Jackson, Honolulu, Hawaii
A: Airbnb owes you an explanation for account suspension. And if it can’t provide one, then it should reinstate your account.
You already know Airbnb can suspend your account if you have “materially breached” its terms. That includes violating its payment terms, policies or standards, or its applicable laws, regulations or third-party rights. Airbnb can also ban you to protect the personal safety or property of Airbnb, its members or third parties.
It looks as if Airbnb sent you one of its standard — and incredibly vague — termination notices. It includes the following bit of corporate-speak: “Please understand that we are not obligated to provide an explanation for the action taken against your account.”
In other words, Airbnb doesn’t owe you an explanation.
Or does it? Given that this isn’t the first case of a wrongful banning, I think Airbnb should offer an explanation. It’s not fair to just ban someone and not tell them why. Also, there should be a mechanism for appealing a ban. And that’s not just for the benefit of the customer, but also for Airbnb and its hosts. After all, why would you turn down a good customer’s business?
I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Airbnb executives on my consumer-advocacy site, Elliott.org. You could have appealed your case to one of them in writing. But I suspect they would have kicked your case back to the customer-service department, which would have generated yet another automatic denial.
I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. It reviewed your file and sent you what appeared to be another form response:
“After taking a closer look, it appears your account was suspended in error,” an Airbnb representative said. “Your account access has been fully restored, and you can use the site normally.”