These are the things I liked and didn't like about using Airbnb.

3 things I didn’t like about using Airbnb

I found myself using Airbnb for the first time ever on my return trip to Bali. I know, I know. I’m a bit late to the party. The thing is though, I’ve never really had a need. I’ve done group tours where the accommodation is organised, or independent travel where the accommodation is organised, or I’m only staying a few nights somewhere, so I use Booking.com* and book myself into a hotel (or a guest house, which is what I did on my first trip to Bali). I like using Booking.com because a) you don’t have to pay straight away b) generally, you can cancel your booking free of charge with no penalties, and c) there are so many properties to choose from. Of course, the downside is that you pay the going rate, be it hotel, or guest house etc.

So back to Airbnb. On this return trip to Bali, I thought I was going to be loved up, but it didn’t happen. I also wanted space to write and a more local experience. I was conscious of my budget, and knowing I was going to be there for three weeks (maybe more if there was volcano activity), renting an apartment seemed the logical choice. I checked the Trip Advisor forums, and subscribed to rental property updates, but it all seemed too hard. So Airbnb it was.  I’d had an account for ages, so that wasn’t an issue, and before you could say: I’ve booked my flights back to Bali, I had booked accommodation too. I ended up booking in an upstairs apartment in a family compound in a little village outside of Ubud for $30 per night and it was delightful.

However as delightful as it was my apartment was—and in the interests of sharing my travel experience—here is what I didn’t like about using Airbnb.

What I didn’t like about using Airbnb

These are the things didn't like about using Airbnb. A companion piece to what I did like.1. I had to pay the entire amount upfront

I was not prepared to pay the entire amount up front, plus a booking fee when I booked my apartment. It’s not that I didn’t have the money (I did), but I’d prefer to use the service before I pay for it vis-à-vis Booking.com. I can see that this system protects property owners from travellers who don’t turn up or travellers who renege, but I don’t like it because it provides me with no flexibility. What if I get ill or change my mind or find a better offer or want to pull up stumps earlier than I intended? I’m stuck, and I don’t like being locked into things.

2. I couldn’t use my debit card to pay

So not only did I have to pay the entire amount up front, I couldn’t use my debit card (my everyday working card) to complete the transaction. I clearly had money in my account, so what was the deal? It took at least half an hour of me trawling through the Help and FAQ pages trying to find out why my payment was rejected. I discovered that you can only use a credit card to complete payment (I always carry a credit card when I travel for that very reason because some hotels won’t allow you to use credit cards) but I did not expect this to be a thing with Airbnb. I couldn’t even use PayPal, which sucked. Every merchant-type site worth its salt allows you to pay via PayPal! Urgh.

3. The Help and FAQ pages

I did not find Airbnb‘s FAQ and Help pages helpful. At all. I couldn’t find an email address to contact anyone with my query, apart from my host. Maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place or hard enough or I had the wrong sort of problem to solve but—and be that as it may—it was a frustrating experience. If you are reading this Airbnb, please fix. I’d be happy to help you out!

I’ll also be doing a follow-up post about the 3 things I liked about using Airbnb. Stay tuned!

*The link to Booking.com is an affiliate link – I have literally just signed up today (2/2/16). If you make a booking using this link, I will earn a small commission.


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5 Comments

  • Anne February 2, 2016 at 4:03 am

    Such a shame that you didn’t like this part of the AirBnB process, for me it has all been good so far! My profile is set to payments with PayPal by the way, I don’t really like using my credit card if I don’t have too. Really weird that it wasn’t an option for you, maybe there is some bug in the site atm that didn’t make it possible! Looking forward to your post about the positive bits!

    Reply
    • Diane Lee February 2, 2016 at 7:11 am

      I couldn’t see the PayPal option, Anne, but I’ll go back and have a look. If it’s there for you, it *should* be there for me! Maybe it’s me being a klutz on their website? Still, these things *should* be intuitive and designed for the klutziest klutz!

      Reply
    • Diane Lee February 2, 2016 at 9:21 am

      I checked Airbnb and PayPal is only available for selected countries. I guess I’m not in one of them 🙁

      Reply
      • Anne February 2, 2016 at 8:06 pm

        That is kind of weird that it would only be for selected countries, I guess I’m lucky that I’m in one of them. I thought however that PayPal was worldwide? And to be honest, I’m not even in a country where it is very popular or widely known! Such a shame for AirBnB though, I bet they will be missing on new members just because of this!

        Reply
  • Diane Lee February 2, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    I thought so too. Incidentally, Airbnb contacted me on Twitter about this post… I think they thought I was trying to book *NOW* and was having trouble! Better response than most Australian airlines, though!

    Reply

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