May. 7th, 2013

gusl: (Default)
I'm going to Rio for WWW2013 next week. Exciting!

I went to AirBnb look for rooms near Barra. I found a studio here, for $150/night, "Enjoy Nature Studio in Lagoon RIO!":



The conference is near the Sheraton, which is a 20-minute walk from the center of the pink circle, and I'm otherwise not very picky, so I didn't mind the Strict cancellation policy. I accept the charge of $750 for 5 nights + $82 in AirBnb fees.

Once I book, I get the address: Av. Armando Lombardi 370. I tell my friend in Rio, who walks by and tells me that address given is a gas station! I call the host, and her daughter explains to me that the studio is on an island: Ilha Primeira, which falls completely outside of the pink circle (the triangular island just North of the pink circle), and that this address is where the boat picks you up. I understand why they did this: AirBnb requires a street address, and Ilha Primeira doesn't have streets.

The place sounds very beautiful, but it would be extremely inconvenient to have to depend on boats all the time. After I make a few inquiries about the boat service, the host advises me to cancel. I agree, pending her reassurance that she will give me a full refund. I call AirBnb twice, and learn that their resolution procedure is essentially: "you guys find an agreement", and they tell me that I'm going to lose the fees ($82) regardless. They heard my complaint about the misleading address, and seemed to agree with me, but didn't want to take any action on it.

Anyway, I accept losing the $82, so just before midnight, I cancel... Today I spoke to the host again, and she told me that she will refund me all the money they give her, but that this is only $727. So it sounds like AirBnb is charging her $23, on top of the $82 from me! Unfortunately, this means that my total loss would be $105... which crosses the threshold for picking a fight with me. Maybe this means that I need to call AirBnb again and threaten them with reversing charges. I have a debit card, but my bank reassured me that they will give me the benefit of the doubt in such a dispute... but first I have to wait until the transaction posts.

For the future, I should probably use credit cards more often: my understanding is that they are better when it comes to dispute resolution.

I do worry about burning my bridges with AirBnb, but this is a matter of principle. Hopefully they wouldn't do anything to my San Francisco booking if I reverse charges on the Rio booking.

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