Another Airbnb Debacle: What do Mediators even do?

I called Airbnb to let them know that I had a signed contract with my guest, Ms. Ponga, which superseded theirs and any dispute was to be handled with the American Arbitration Association. I have never called to notify them of this before, but I knew this guest was trouble. My big mistake was caring that I would lose my Superhost status if I cancelled. Anyway, customer service ignored this fact as well. I also doubt that they looked to see if this guest has done to other hosts what she did to me. I am sure she has. I am the kind of host who provides luxury robes. Ms. Ponga vandalized my apartment. I have had so many bad, horrible things happen using Airbnb because of the incompetence and unconscionable behavior of the mediators and case managers. The other problem is the “Guest Refund Policy” which attracts con-artists, criminals, and extortionists. Airbnb just attracts thieves and criminals in general. I have never had a problem with guests from any other site.

The biggest problem is that the people who work at Airbnb do not know what the “Guest Refund Policy” says. They do not seem to have been trained. I am starting to doubt that they even graduated from high school. One guy on the phone gave me the impression that either he or some of the people that work there are high school dropouts. Anyway, this story is a rerun of so many I’ve seen on Airbnb Hell. Actually, there are so many incompetent people in this story that I am going to submit a separate complaint for each person. I am also going to go back through all the unconscionable things they have done and submit separate complaints for all of those things too. There are actually some people with common sense who answer the phone who can understand what happened was wrong, but when it gets to the next level, the supervisors say their subordinates promised something they can’t deliver. They always use the excuse that the case is closed, as if I closed it.

Patricia Ponga was my guest; she has now changed her name to Ruth. I suppose this is because of my review which has been taken down, put back up, and taken down again. Maybe when Ruth realizes the review is down she will change her name back to Patricia. First, she told me that she would be staying seven or eight days but her friend would only be staying three of those days. She asked if I could I give her a discount, which I did. It turned out that story was a lie. I have some terms. I made the mistake of pre-approving her and saying if she agreed to my terms to accept my invitation to book, if not she could decline. So she booked the property. She also said she agreed, but she did not follow through with her actions. In my experience, if people do not agree with the terms, they do not book, and if they do agree, they comply with my terms right away to show good faith. Not this lady. She wanted to change everything up and renegotiate after agreeing.

One of my terms was that instead of getting a deposit, I would have them buy a $59 Property Damage Protection Plan for insurance. She and her friend tried to tell me that they have been using Airbnb and this other site for a long time and I couldn’t ask them to do that. However, this other site told me as long as I am listed on their site and I have the listing number, people who booked rentals on other sites can buy insurance. Somewhere along the line, someone on the phone at Airbnb told me that I was not allowed to ask guests to purchase insurance, so I purchased it on their behalf. Later, I learned that Ms. Ponga told Airbnb that I forced her to buy insurance. This was a lie, and I can prove it with my credit card statement.

Ms. Ponga wanted to check in late, so I told her I would leave the keys at the 24/7 deli. She said this was perfect, but later complained about it. There was one mistake because the deli guy gave her the keys to my apartment and not her apartment. Luckily, my place is steps away. She knew she had the wrong keys but she used them to open my door and walk in. Later, I gave her the correct keys. She was clearly aggressive. She clearly acted like a person who is not afraid of anything. Next I got a call from her saying that the apartment was not habitable because there was no heat. I told her there was; she just needed to push the heat button on the central air and heat. Then she complained that there was a window she could not shut. I told her once she got the heat turned on she would be boiling and dying for the window to remain open, but she insisted that I come there right then. I said I would, and had to reiterate, right now. So, I arrived in about three minutes. She had not turned on the heat and told me that she knew how to circumvent my strict cancellation policy; if I did not get the window closed she could get me thrown off Airbnb, as she is friends with Brian Chesky.

The window was a bit hard to close, but I did it and I told her the window guy was coming on Monday. She complained that he never came on Monday, but she was never there on any Monday, so clearly that was a lie on her part. Then I did not hear from the guests for about four days. On the fourth day, I received a message on the thread saying everything was fine and they just needed more towels. Never mind that I had already given them four sets of brand new towels, and there were two sets in the bathroom. I said there were more towels in the cabinet next to the bathroom. I did not hear anything and it seemed all was well. In the middle of the night, when I was in bed with a migraine, she called me and demanded I bring clean towels from my apartment. I said there were clean towels there. She said they were not clean because she got an ear infection. Ear infections in adults are caused by flying, seasonal allergies, and smoke.

I tried to explain to her that the towels in my apartment are laundered by the same company, and were in the same load as the towels that were over there. I even had the new towels washed because I wanted them to have the smell of whatever the laundry uses on them; it’s so wonderful. In addition, who knows who has been touching them? Anyway, she would not listen to reason, and she told me the TV is also broken. The TV was not broken. It was a pretext to get me out of bed. You have to use both remotes, and if you do not get it, you can read the house manual. I gave them the phone number to call for customer service. The bottom line is that I am such a nice host that if I had not had a migraine, I would have gotten up to help them. It is my nature, but I couldn’t do it. I offered to have them come get towels from my apartment, but the towels there were better.

Now enters the Airbnb mediator, who does not know the meaning of the word mediation. He ignored my strict cancellation policy with no proof, no photos, without talking to me and released them from the reservation. When I called Airbnb they said it was because of the dirty towels and a broken TV. I sent Airbnb a photo of the cabinet full of clean towels and the working TV. Then he told me that I forced them to buy insurance. Also, not true. I sent him the credit card summary showing that I paid for it. The next excuse was that it was because I told them if any neighbor asks, to say they were my friends. Apparently, the mediator took that to mean that I was not allowed to sublease my condo. Also, wrong! A lot of people in my neighborhood work in the hotel industry. If they get fired or something, I do not want them to think it is my fault. However, since he doesn’t know the meaning of the word mediator or mediation, he doesn’t know that he should have talked to me.

According to the “Guest Refund Policy” I am supposed to be given a chance to remedy any real or imagined problem. This mediator did exactly what other incompetent mediators have done. When his initial reasons for ending the reservation turned out to be wrong, he made up new reasons. Airbnb owes me $900. Mediators: don’t assume. Talk to both parties. Read your company’s policies; get a dictionary. They took down my review of Patricia Ponga AKA Ruth, put it back up, and took it down again. I suppose someone decided to do the right thing and then the next person up the chain said no. That has always been my experience with Airbnb. Maybe Ms. Ponga called her friend Brian Chesky and he had them take it down.

 

Airbnb Insurance for Damages is a Joke

This is a real story that proves that Airbnb insurance is a fraud. Although they state that they cover all costs for any damages caused by guests up to $1,000,000, when it comes to paying they simply don’t. I have a house in Crete, Greece, and hosted a family this August. During their stay, they burnt the counters in my kitchen by placing a hot pot there. The guests accepted their responsibility, so I filed a claim for a refund. Unfortunately, the bench had to be completely replaced, as there was no way to fix the marks. This cost me 877 Euros and Airbnb replied that the cost was too high for such damage; they refunded only 160 Euros. Their response:

“We’ve determined that that you should be compensated for your losses, however your guest has offered a higher amount than what we concluded would be the appropriate amount for the damages. As such, the total that we are able to provide for the damages through your guest’s offer will be 160 EUR. I have gone ahead and processed this payout to your current preferred payout method.”

This is totally unacceptable for Airbnb and its reputation. The eventual result is that I paid 877 Euros to cover my guests’ damage and Airbnb refunded only 160 Euros, just because they decided so. I’m really disappointed by them and their service.

Airbnb Built on Institutionalized Fraud

Airbnb takes the full payment amount from guests when bookings are made. Then they keep the money for however many days, weeks, or months before the guests actually arrive and are supposed to pay the host as follows: “Airbnb releases your payout about 24 hours after your guest’s scheduled check-in.” What actually happens is that Airbnb sends an email to the host at the point when they should pay and suggests that the bank will take time to pay. This is a total lie. In New Zealand, payments are processed very quickly. The banks may sit on interbank payments for up to one day and do not process interbank payments on weekends and public holidays, but they do not just sit on the money for days as Airbnb suggests. What is actually going on is that Airbnb sits on millions of dollars of guests’ and hosts’ money for days. Meanwhile the guest has checked out and often even left the country before the host is paid. This is just another way that Airbnb is screwing the market. Remember, Airbnb does not have any property. In fact, they have nothing except an APP which causes frustration in communications, so they can keep the guests and hosts at arm’s length until they have got their money. I would strongly suggest that guests instead find a property outside of Airbnb, especially if it is a hotel or guest house and they can check the price directly. When there is no commission to Airbnb, hosts can often offer a better price. If you pay money out to a host who owns a hotel or guest house that has been in business for some time, you at least know where they are; they have a physical location. Whereas you struggle to even get Airbnb on the phone in some random foreign country. Best wishes from a host still waiting to get paid.

Airbnb Nightmare Before and After Christmas

I didn’t want to repeat my entire nightmare, but I do not wish this drama upon anyone. This was the nightmare before and after Christmas. We feel very upset about all the effort we have made to try and accommodate this family. So here is the letter I have written to them instead of an entire story.

I hope you are having a wonderful day. From the beginning you have made it very difficult for us, firstly by arriving earlier than the time you said you would. When we tried to reach you to confirm what time you would be arriving, we were unable to get a hold of you and then you arrived two hours earlier. You left your bags outside for my friend and I to carry inside even after we told you it would rain. We have driven four hours both ways in traffic to come and remove a field mouse from the house over Christmas and our only holidays. As we have stated before, we do live in the Kogelberg Biosphere, a very sensitive and fragile environment. We do have animals passing through our property, including three-striped field mice, baboons, leopards, mongooses, and many species of birds. This has always been something our guests have loved about our home. For you to have put poison down disturbs this natural habitat (and risks killing our endangered owls). When traveling to Africa, things like this happen. These animals’ behavior are beyond our control. This is why people choose to live in my home – to be closer to nature. We do not have vermin in our home as you have suggested. We have a little field mouse that frequents the house.

This is our second time hosting with Airbnb and we were not prepared for these circumstances: namely, your son’s musophobia. You have insulted our home, and accused us of having vermin. You have ruined our Christmas with your complaining and making us drive back. Each time we have driven back to the house, you told us repeatedly that you are happy in our home and all we need to do is remove the mouse (which we still haven’t seen). You have caused us to damage our own property in search of an invisible “mouse nest”. We have cracked a hole in to my cupboard to show you that there is nothing there. We have offered as much help and assistance as possible and each time you have told us everything is fine.

We are very upset that two days before you have to leave, you now suggest that we must refund you or give you a discount. When we asked whether you were satisfied you answered “yes”. Had you brought this to our attention earlier we may have been able to come to another arrangement. However, we are very close to the end. You have stayed over peak season in our home, we have gave up our Christmas to come, help you, make sure everything is okay, and spend a lot of our time and money in doing so. We are not talking about a dirty rat, vermin, or a plague. We are talking about a little field mouse that has never before caused any problems or made himself visible when we or other guests have stayed in our home. We are happy for you to contact Airbnb as we will be doing the same. We do not wish for anyone else to endure what we have over their holidays or festive season. Unfortunately, we cannot poison the animals that live in the garden as we are at the foot of a nature reserve and with this come animals that may come into the house by accident. I have suggested that if you are so unhappy, we can collect the key. You have chosen to stay on.

Guests Refuse to Use our Plates, Cup and Cutlery

We have been hosting with Airbnb for two years now and have had over 400 guests (we live near an airport in the UK) from 30 different countries. There have been mostly very good experiences but obviously with over 400 guests you do meet a few weirdos. This one booking was for six weeks for a guy living in Australia coming to the UK for a training course. He was an aircraft engineer and very nice guy in general. However, I noticed from the first day that he seemed to have an issue with using the cutlery, cup, and spoon provided in his room and was downstairs in the kitchen, i.e. washing the items then cleaning them quite thoroughly. I thought this was very strange as we make sure everything is spotlessly clean. A couple of days in and he was asking for more toilet rolls to be put in the bathroom as he was going through at least one a day. It seemed like he had a cleaning fetish of some kind or a compulsive cleaning disorder.

Anyway, we had to go to our property abroad for a month and left him alone in the house (our part of the house we can keep locked so he only had access to the kitchen, bathroom, and garden). On our return he was due to leave in a few days but on the last day asked me if I wanted to keep the cutlery, plate, bowl, and mug that he had purchased new because he did not need to take them back to Australia. He obviously did not want to use our items and we found this to be incredibly rude, to say the least.

Another time we had a young girl arrive for three weeks with a large suitcase and a big box full of cooking pots and herbs, spices, and food. This girl was cooking Indian food twice and sometimes three times a day because she didn’t want to eat food from the supermarket. The house stunk of Indian food for the whole three weeks and I was having to apologise to our other guests (as we rent two rooms in our home) every day due to the smell. Lastly, we had a girl stay for a couple of weeks and she had to be told to stop using the kitchen at midnight. She was always cooking (like a frying pan full of eight chicken legs) late at night and the smell would move throughout the house, even into the bedrooms. Since the last guest, we added “no cooking after 8:00 PM” to the house rules.

What has happened to Airbnb? Why are guests so bad?

I’ve been hosting for three years. The last guest turned up at my house drunk, took his shoes off to release a cheesy foot odor that I could taste but still declined a shower and drank another bottle of wine while I sat with him. Then within one hour after I went out, he broke my ceramic toilet lid, left his light on, went out, and wouldn’t respond to calls. Unfortunately, I have to say, though this person was a little extreme, most guests lately are just rude and horrible. Is it because Airbnb encourages through their advertising that people ‘make themselves at home’ at another person’s house (read, hog the bathroom and splash water everywhere, sit around in the open-plan kitchen all day, help themselves to condiments from the cupboard, get packages delivered that hosts have to pick up because it’s their address, get drunk in their room, slam doors while people are sleeping, etc)? What is the solution? My house rules are comprehensive. Should Airbnb politely ask guests to mind their manners while they are in another person’s home?