Q: I tried to book a vacation rental through Airbnb while traveling in Spain. I received a notification that my Airbnb account had been closed.

I e-mailed Airbnb to find out why. In response, Airbnb said it “regretted” informing me that it would be unable to support my account. It said it had exercised its discretion under its terms of service to disable my account.

I don’t know why my account has been closed. I last rented a property through Airbnb in Switzerland in 2018. I received a very positive review from the owner after the stay. I’m dumbfounded.

I had my attorney mail a letter to Airbnb in an effort to understand why this occurred. To date, he has not received a reply. Can you help me get my Airbnb account reopened?

A: You’re kidding, right? I thought we had dealt with the last “Airbnb closed my account” case a few weeks ago.

Airbnb, like any other business, can close your account if you’ve violated its terms. It would be helpful if the company told you which terms you violated, but it said nothing. That’s frustrating, and it’s not a responsible way to handle an account closure.

Airbnb can close your account if you’ve “materially breached” its terms. What’s a material breach? It can include violating its payment terms, policies or standards or applicable laws, regulations or third-party rights. Airbnb may also cut you loose to protect the safety or property of Airbnb, its members or third parties.

The notice you received from Airbnb is a standard termination notice. But it’s so vague that you might never know why the rental site made its decision to close your account.

Airbnb should have given you a quick and frank answer about your suspension and offered a way to fix it. You could have appealed to an executive at Airbnb. I list the contacts for Airbnb’s customer service managers at elliott.org.

Beyond that, I think Airbnb needs to stop closing accounts without being prepared to offer a reason for the banning. I support a company’s right to close the account of an abusive customer. But you were a model renter. You shouldn’t be on anyone’s blacklist, especially Airbnb’s.

I can only speculate that the company has automated its systems to flag suspicious accounts and ban them. The algorithm may need some adjustment if it’s flagging people like you. It always helps to have a human involved in delicate matters like closing customer accounts. So Airbnb, if you’re reading this — free advice!

I contacted Airbnb. You received an e-mail from Airbnb that it reactivated your account. No explanation as to why. I’m not surprised.

 

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.