ACT N.1 ‘Automated Vacation’ / Glitches from the Pandemic

by slutty urbanism


Laura and Bob are stuck in a traffic jam on the highway. They are in a rented car and the overheat is kicking. Both on the edge, they need to reach their destination for the vacation. In the pandemic city after the lockdown, they are waiting to know where to collect the keys from the Airbnb host. They have no contact with the host, only access to the digital platform via their smartphones. They still ignore that this vacation will be utterly automated. The host doesn’t respond to their multiple messages and the phone number is disconnected. 


Airbnb bot 1:32 PM

Hi, thanks for contacting us. 

We’re here to get you the support you need. Do you need help with this reservation? ******* in ******. 2 Guests. August 1-5.

Laura 1:35 PM


Airbnb bot 1:43 PM

What else should we know? The more details, the better.

Please avoid providing sensitive personal info (ex: credit card numbers). Some requests are sent to third-party community experts to provide quicker responses.

Laura 1:44 PM

Our host cancelled at the last minute. We want to be refunded.

Airbnb bot 1:45 PM

Is this about one of these things?




Laura 1:45 PM

[ticking Refunds option]

Airbnb bot 1:45 PM

Do you still need help?

Laura 1:46 PM

Yes, I still need help.

Airbnb bot 1:50 PM

Thanks for the info. This answer may help:

Refunds options for your reservation. If your travel plans have changed due to COVID-19, you can change or cancel your reservation from your trips page.

Go to your trips

Learn more

Laura 1:55 PM

I still need help.

Airbnb bot 1:58 PM

Thanks for letting us know. We’re sorry that we can’t help you over the phone right now.

You can wait for a reply from a support specialist or try contacting us again later.

Wait for a reply

Contacting us again later

Laura 1:58 PM

[ticking Wait for a reply]

Three hours and twenty-eight minutes later:

Message from Airbnb Service 

We’re forwarding you to a team that can better assist you.

Airbnb Support 5:28 PM

Hi Laura. I just want to follow up. I can see that you clicked the option Wait for a reply. 

I want to let you know that our Extenuating Circumstances regarding COVID-19 are available at this link:

I just want to ask if there’s anything else I can assist you with? Please let me know, so I can further assist you. By the way, it’s almost the end of my shift and I will be out of the office for two days, so I might not be able to respond after this. You can send all your queries here on our thread, and I will address all of it once I get back in the office. Thanks. 


Laura: Okay Bob, now you tell me what are we gonna do? We do not have so much money left… you don’t have any gigs around, do you? We are kind of screwed, you as a DJ especially, aren’t you? I told you that Airbnb platform was a pervert! The poorer we are, the more we need them… I am sure that support will put us in contact with the host, just to force us to negotiate. Airbnb does not refund anyone! If there is someone to blame this is on it is fucking capitalism, putting people against people… 

Bob: Laura wait! Don’t freak out…

Laura: You know what, I am so fed up with your tech-optimism and savvy-ness.

Bob: let me check the extenuating-circumstances-policy. 

Laura: I don’t like the dependency on chatbots and stupid policies. I don’t want to spend my energy providing feedback, data and all my shit to these unicorns from Silicon Valley. 

Bob: You were the one saying that it was much more convenient than hotels… 

Laura: Yes, because it is a slutty-ish choice… we are precariat Bob! Millennials-bourgeois-bohemian caught up in a capitalist nightmare! Platforms are everywhere. Our dependency on the smartphone is even stronger than emotional dependency. Haven’t you been observing us at home? During this pandemic we spend at least four hours every day on our phones. I don’t want to be locked inside any kind of digital platform. Instagram, Airbnb, Facebook, Uber… Call me a bitch, call me a slut, whatever… but I will quit this dependency… I want to have a digital detox, but also from you Bob… you sound like a bot. I do not have access to your sentiments. I have only access to your knowledge… 

Bob U there? Bob… 

Bob: August is still a typical Fordist time to go on vacation.