We were looking for somewhere to stay in Hout Bay, South Africa and as a member of Airbnb we went onto their website and saw Villa Barry advertised. The picture clearly shows the villa with a swimming pool on the property. We pressed the “get a quote” button (which clearly states underneath “you will not be charged yet”). The agent emailed back to say the price would be £367. This seemed reasonable but we thought we would clarify that the swimming pool was included in the price. The agent mailed back and said there would be an additional charge for using the pool of approximately £5 per day. We thought this outrageous to be charged extra for the use of a pool which is clearly on the property so we did not take the matter any further as we had not confirmed the booking. Since then we received a rude email stating that we will only receive a refund of £167 instead of the full amount of £367. We contacted an Airbnb customer service agent to say that we never confirmed the booking; we only asked for information on the swimming pool so there was no reason for her to take any money at all. We expect a full refund. Since then, she has not had the good manners to even acknowledge our email and as yet, we have received no communication from her whatsoever. We have now put this case in the hands of our credit card fraud department. We have used Airbnb before but never been treated so badly by a so-called agent. As we have been treated so shamefully we would never recommend Airbnb.
I would like to bring to your notice the inconvenience I faced by booking my accommodation using Airbnb. I had booked (on August 19th, 2016) an accommodation in Cape Town for three nights, December 29th until January 31st using Airbnb for a group of four adults and one child. Airbnb confirmed my booking and I could see on the app that I was supposed to check in on December 29th. When I reached the accommodation on that day the owners were not even aware that we had a booking with them. The house was horrible and the owners themselves informed us that they did not pass the verification criteria set by Airbnb and they have never confirmed Airbnb for any booking. We were in a fix as it was already 6:00 PM local time. We talked to Raven from Airbnb and she assured us that she would be able to book an alternate place for us. We tried to book alternate places through Airbnb but none of the owners were able to host us at such a short notice. It was 9:00 PM by then. Then we started to make a booking through other websites but as it was holiday season everywhere we tried was full. Finally we got a booking in the Capital Hotel for a night. As the Capital Hotel was booked for the other two days, we had to go for accommodation hunting again the next day instead of enjoying the holiday as planned. I can assure you that we tried to find the cheapest options and everywhere was full. So, finally we had to book into Protea Hotel for the other two nights.
The accommodation was way over our budget but we still had to book it as the only other option was to sleep in the car. To add insult to the injury, we had to spend extra on food as well as we had booked accommodation with a kitchen and the hotels did not provide us with any self catering option. The $50 for food and the refund which Raven offered us doesn’t even cover for the inconvenience caused to us by the miscommunication on Airbnb’s part. We had to spend a day and a half looking for alternative accommodations instead of enjoying our holidays, which spoiled our stay in Cape Town. On top of that, nobody even contacted us from Airbnb to even find out if we had managed to find something else. I expect Airbnb to reimburse ZAR 11491 for my accommodation and food bills as it was a mistake on their side that spoiled our holiday, and forced us to spend so much extra than our budget. If a place can not even pass verification, how could they have it on their accommodation list? If the owners did not confirm the booking, how can Airbnb confirm the booking?
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.
The rude host started by sending me an SMS at 5:00 AM with a string of texts about whom we should contact to get into the property. He offered an “apology” about the time by saying he was a surgeon on call 24/7… so, of course, that makes it okay to wake me up early on holiday. Then I had to use my UK phone to call this guy and arrange everything. I am originally from South Africa and decided to treat my partner to a romantic night with a jacuzzi overlooking Hout Bay. What we got was a block of flats by the bad part of the harbour with electric fencing, two armed guards and a jacuzzi that could be reached by a narrow fire escape. But wait, there’s more. The guy didn’t switch on the jacuzzi, so we were told to wait five hours, until 10:00 PM. In the meantime, I would have been too terrified to leave the premises at night for fear of being hijacked or robbed. It is miles away from the town of Hout Bay and just look up because if you look down or around you realise you have a cannery and are in a very poor area. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you become a target for crime. I had a rather rude awakening to Airbnb policies and wondered why the host continued to be so arrogant – if you don’t stay there you can’t leave a review. Because of his cancellation policy, I couldn’t get a refund. So the fact that it was unsafe and misrepresented cannot be published. Good luck to any unsuspecting tourist because sooner or later there will be a crime reported.