Airbnb’s disability problem

The other day I decided to sort out accommodation for going to Edinburgh for next year’s Comic Con, and Dublin in August for the Worldcon. The latter is a priority as Dublin will fill up and I’ve already bought a membership, so with the former all I need is a bed as I’ll be working the con, while at the latter I’ll need something a bit more as although I’ll be spending most of my time at the con but also going round Dublin. Looking to save some money I popped onto Airbnb where I found two homes who were free and made provisional bookings as I had a few things to sort out before confirming.

A day or two later I logged back on to book, and pay for, both rooms but I dropped both a quite line to mention I’m disabled and would the rooms be secure as I’d be leaving my meds (well, most of them) in the room when I’m out. Over the course of yesterday I got two replies which both went along the same lines that they were ‘really sorry’ but the rooms ‘were actually booked’ for the times I wanted them. Sensing something wrong this morning I checked to see if the hosts had marked the dates as booked. Nope, in fact both are still advertising as available. I then got a mate to enquire about the same dates; no issues.

A shufty through the internet sees folk with similar problems, and in June 2017 a study found AirBnb hosts were more likely to cancel disabled guests than able bodied ones. As a company AirBnb have to comply with equality laws but hosts are pretty much allowed to run a free hand because already written equality legislation didn’t anticipate the sharing economy. Sure AirBnb have bought a ‘disabled AirBnb’ company in reaction it seems to the study last year, So to put it bluntly, hosts can do what the fuck they want; AirBnb have the thinnest veneer of giving a fuck because trying to complain about this to them is pointless.

There is a problem with new tech companies like Uber (where they have a mass of issues) and AirBnb but there’s a particular issue with these companies treating everyone the same because they don’t. Now what this effectively means is the disabled are excluded from the sharing economy, and worse, the sharing economy feels like it doesn’t need to abide with the laws and practises of society.

So don’t want my money? Fine, I’ll spend it elsewhere though the likes of AirBnb won’t care as they’re making so much money but perhaps its down to us to now have a conversation about how these companies run themselves and how we drag them to play by the same rules other companies have to?

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