I'm Ukrainian. Why did Airbnb suspend my account?
September 8, 2022
Airbnb suspends Maksym Bidnychenko's account, but it won't tell him why. Now it won't even respond to him. Is there any way to get his account reinstated?
I had to leave Russia because of my Ukrainian citizenship when the war started. After that, I was supposed to travel from Turkey to Georgia and stay in an Airbnb. But Airbnb asked me to confirm my identity, and then it suspended my account.
I had no history with Airbnb. I've only stayed in an Airbnb once, as someone else's guest. I tried contacting Airbnb support on Twitter. A representative promised to forward my request to the right department.
After a couple of hours, I received their standard "we are blocking you, goodbye" email. Then Airbnb ignored me on Twitter
I'd like to know why they froze my account. I'd also like to get my account unblocked. Can you help me?
Maksym Bidnychenko, Lviv, Ukraine
I'm so sorry to hear about your account suspension. I can't even imagine what it's like to have your country invaded. But then to have your Airbnb account disabled, too -- that's just adding insult to injury.
Earlier this year, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Airbnb decided to stop doing business in Russia. It also suspended all Russian accounts. How did it know if you have a Russian account? When it sees the +7 country code on your contact phone number, Airbnb assumes it's a Russian account, and it's automatically suspended.
I reviewed the emails you received from Airbnb about your account deletion. The notice was vague and arbitrary. "We want to assure you that we carefully studied the situation before making such a decision," Airbnb said. "Further questions on this appeal will not be considered."
I think Airbnb should have explained why it shut down your account. Instead, it just stopped talking to you.
To get Airbnb talking again, you can appeal to one of the executives I list on my consumer advocacy site. Here are the names, numbers and email addresses of the key managers at Airbnb.
I wondered about your first Airbnb stay. It appears you stayed in the property but that someone else used their account to reserve and pay for the rental. Did that someone else have their account disabled, too? And if so, why? But it appears Airbnb took no action against your friend.
So what happened? As I dug deeper into your case, I realized the answer was staring right at you. Since you lived in Russia, your phone number started with +7. Airbnb banned you because it thought you were Russian. Ironically, you are Ukrainian.
I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. The company responded to you almost immediately. "We apologize for the inconvenience caused," the company said. "Your account has been restored and you can use Airbnb as normal."
© 2022 Christopher Elliott