Wednesday, February 3, 2016

10% bonus credit not enough

I’m sure many consumers describe a positive first venture in the sharing economy.  I’m sure many have a delightful and fulfilling experience.  Not so for me.

On booking family holiday accommodation with airbnb recently a search criteria set prioritised as i) location, ii) quality of host, iii) accommodation attributes was established.  Location was rapidly established – a country retreat of comfortable driving distance from home.  Host selection was facilitated by reliance upon airbnb’s own system – in this case a airbnb designated ‘superhost’ was selected.  Superhosts are described by airbnb as “experienced hosts who are passionate about making your trip memorable”.  Finally, sought after attributes of the accommodation were considered.  Identifying with a superhost lent trust that the advertised features of the property would be at or above expectation at check-in.  By selecting based on attributes I sought to tailor a holiday experience. 

Two attributes in particular were chosen with holidaying interests in mind.

The experience turned on the two attributes. On accepting the booking the host sent a wordy email that explained that attribute one (a BBQ) had been “blown away in storms”, and that attribute two “had been removed from the house to Sydney”.  I was flabbergasted.  There had been a critical failure of online commerce.  The host had ready access to an edit function that allows rapid alteration of household features.  So, if the BBQ had been blown away and the other item removed then a user should not need to learn of such after booking.  Instead, the airbnb page should have been edited to ensure that all attributes were current.  Accordingly, the consumer could then deselect the property based on the absence of attributes.  And truly, does a BBQ get “blown away”?

After some thought I decided to move towards seeking restitution.  While attribute two was a nice to have – in fact it was a delightful addition to what was otherwise a superb home – attribute one was critical.  Attribute one served as a means of allowing the holidaying adult male to cook and thus save the holidaying adult female from labour in the kitchen.  Besides, if the family alpha hunter males were successful in the nearby watercourses there would be provision of line caught fish - who wishes to cook fish in a kitchen?  My chosen path was to request the host (by email) to consider the absence of the items and to see if such items could be restored so as to fulfil the booking.  The path of action was not insensible as a customer review showed that the BBQ was made good at short notice when one customer had found it absent.

 The host implemented an immediate follow-on action.  The action resulted in cancellation of the booking.  airbnb supported the cancellation with one of two options that were exercisable at my choosing: i) full refund of original cost, or ii) deployment of full monies plus a bonus credit of 10% value against a subsequent booking.  In implementing the cancellation the host prohibited my conclusive consideration of BBQ options – would I, for instance, bring my own BBQ?

airbnb is unlikely to attract my future interest - a 10% bonus credit is not enough!  I approached airbnb with trust and had identified with their ranking of a superhost.  Something closer to 25% would compensate for the encounter and encourage pursuit of an alternate property from airbnb’s many offerings.

Shalom,
Ozhamada

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