No Compensation for Trouble with Host and House

I’ve been an avid Airbnb user for a while now, paying for around nine consecutive months in my travels. I used to trust the service and recommend it to anyone. I recently booked a new place. The listing said it was for two people, a private room with one bedroom and six beds.  I messaged the host, who should have been a woman based on her profile picture. I asked to book for around a month and a half from March 11th. The response I got was that the house was not finished yet, but should be by March 17th. I said that it was important for me to arrive on the 11th. I got a response saying that they may have everything ready by that day, and if I was fine with that I may come; they sent a special request for the new time I stated for the same price. Later, I found out that they changed the cancellation policy to a stricter one as well.

Unfortunately, my flight was cancelled twice, leading to me getting there a day late. The owner declined a refund for that day when I asked. This is where things started to go astray. I met the owner, a middle aged man nothing like the woman featured on the profile. He showed me the place, which wasn’t where it was listed on Airbnb but a few minutes’ walking distance from there. He explained that the house wasn’t ready yet, and led me to a house still under construction, unfurnished, and filled with cardboard and dust. Basically I had a decent room, but no shower, kitchen, or almost any of the amenities that appeared in the listing. Construction workers woke me up everyday when they started working, and there was no internet in the apartment, though it had been listed – something that was specifically important for me.

There was another guesthouse rather close by where there were some of the amenities listed (like a shower, kitchen, internet). I used that for whatever necessities I had. On the second day, I was locked outside by the construction workers and had to call the owner in the middle of the night for help. The first time this happened he asked me to sleep in the other guesthouse’s attic, which I myself had suggested earlier. However, I found out later that this wouldn’t be a good idea since people go in and out of there many times and it wouldn’t be possible to sleep. I called once more and he angrily refused. I had to make him come and open the door to my house, which was very bothersome for him. The living situation wasn’t comfortable at all and it was very cumbersome to move between these places and in between the construction going on in the building.

He had said things were expected to be finished by March 17th. So I waited. Things didn’t improve much, besides the shower and adding a few hangers. There was still no internet, no common areas, and no kitchen. I decided to call Airbnb customer service, and had a talk with a guy named John who was nice and promised to help me. He said that he could refund all of my money and help me find a new place. However, after a while we couldn’t find anything feasible so he said that he would advise me to keep looking for places and his colleagues would help me. After that, I got few responses from the team, in which they sent me links to places that were very different from my requirements: much lower standards, way over budget, or very far away from where I was. I talked to them once more and tried to explain that right now, apartments in Tokyo are hard to find with such short notice. It was also a busy tourist season, which would make it even harder.

More time passed, and I called again. Emailing customer service was slow and cumbersome. This time I spoke to another guy who asked for pictures of the place, which I provided. He agreed that the pictures showed the place in construction. However, he decided to call the host. What followed was a long conversation I had between him as a proxy towards my host. I basically said that I would like to get a refund as well as some compensation for the trouble that I got. It is simply unfair to customers to sell them places that are still under construction and not ready; I wanted to get some compensation for the days I stayed in that house as well as the days I was looking for a new apartment. The customer service personnel told me that since the host sent me a special request that showed the value of the new place with construction and everything, and made it clear to me that the place was under construction, I would not be compensated. They also said I should have expected that construction such as this go well past deadlines.

This would have been a good response, if it weren’t for the fact that it was simply not true. The price was exactly the same price, and not a special offer at all. This was simply done to change the date as well as the cancellation policy, in and of itself something a scammer would do. The message I had been sent was “the house was not ready”. I always assume that the houses listed on Airbnb are held to some sort of standard. In no way do I think that “not ready” is equivalent to “there will be construction workers with helmets building rooms and running around you filling your socks with dust.” I was given a date when everything should have been finished. There shouldn’t be any excuses on that point. It’s a business. I paid money. I expect things to be on time. If they are, the minimum response is to compensate and apologize. I tried explaining this to the case manager but he wouldn’t really do anything about it. He decided to give me a coupon for Airbnb and said that this was already above and beyond what I should get. I left with a feeling that I would rather spend my next twelve months of traveling with a different company. I advise you to do the same; there is not much added value for a middleman if he doesn’t help you once things get shady.

Here are some pictures of the apartment on the first day.

Filthy Bed, Soiled Bed Linen = Airbnb Unfit for Use

This was my first experience at using Airbnb for accommodation in Sydney, Australia near Elizabeth Bay because so many places were booked solid. This will probably be my last time too. The place looked cute in the pictures, but when I arrived it was completely unclean. It was an old 1960’s apartment that was tidy, but so dirty. I did know that I would have to make up the bed myself and was fine with this, but I was not expecting to have to clean the whole place before I used it.

The previous guests had left four bags of garbage, even though they could have disposed of them; there were plenty of bins in the street. They also had left their soiled bed linen and towels on a pile on the carpet. If I could have vacated and found another place I would have. There was thick dust on the TV and stand. The bathroom floor was dirty – and I mean really dirty. Under the basin there was dust and debris, used cotton buds, and hair pins.

The toilet was not sanitary. In the bowl were fecal stains and the deodoriser was empty and soiled. The shower base was cracked, crazed, and dirty. On top of the toilet cistern was sitting a huge gilded mirror with years of dust on the top and mould on the air vent. The carpet stank of dog – the hostess did not disclose in her ad that a dog lived on the premises – and was dirty and gritty.

The mini refrigerator was dirty. The ice box was completely frozen over with a piece of fish in a plastic sachet completely “cemented” into the ice. The ice trays were mouldy and there was half-eaten food still in the fridge. The stove elements and rings were encrusted with baked-on food.

Now for the worst.: the bed. The mattress had many large stains. It also stank of dog. The sheets were not fresh smelling nor clean. The quilt that I had to go searching for was ancient, stained, and torn. So was the cover, which was also flecked with red paint which matched the colour of one of her walls. When I contacted the hostess she asked me to please “excuse the holes and tears”. I was horrified to learn that she herself sleeps with the same quilt that she supplies to her guests.

The next morning I purchased my own quilt and sheets. The hostess agreed to reimbursing me for these, but never did. Underneath the sofa cushions were years of dust, crumbs, and debris. I doubt whether it had ever been vacuumed. I found the vacuum cleaner shoved in the totally messy wardrobe. I switched it on to clean the carpet then quickly switched it off because it stank of dog. I took it all apart and scrubbed every component. It was clogged with matted hair and all kinds of filth. The filters had never been washed or replaced. I spent six hours cleaning and trying to make the place livable.

The large black-out curtain was folded underneath a sofa. At nighttime I had to hang this curtain on nails on a pelment. The curtain had a terribly cheesy odour. No amount of eucalyptus spray that I purchased could eradicate the stench. The other window had no covering at all. Fortunately I brought an eye mask, otherwise I would have awoken at dawn with sunlight streaming through the window.

The hostess gave me all sorts of excuses: “the cleaners were away”; “the previous tenants must have left the place dirty.” She even said that the carpet (which I vacuumed three times because the barrel filled up) had been cleaned with an “industrial cleaner” only three days prior to my arrival. This was a total fabrication. The woman who lives here is not one who has tidy habits. Just one look at her cupboards and you would know. I suspect that she relies on the kindness of her guests to clean up after the last. When I vacated, no cleaning was required, except to replace the linens. No basic amenities like tea, coffee, sugar or milk were provided. Fortunately, I brought my own. I was expected to go rummaging around in her dirty pantry. No garbage bags or cleaning cloths were anywhere to be seen. The only things that were clean were the towels. All this for a place that charges similar to hotel rates.

The hostess said that “my expectations were more than most.” Is it too much to expect a clean bed? I don’t think so. This hostess makes no attempt whatsoever to provide a clean environment for herself or her guests. I wish I could show you the photographs. The most puzzling thing of all is that my review was the only negative one.

Anyway, my advice: there are plenty of other lovely places listed on Airbnb and much cheaper ones too. Some even in the same building. Here is the link to the dirty dump I stayed in.

Awful and Stressful Experience Contacting Airbnb

The host was unreachable. I booked this reservation for my 21-year-old son. The host did not leave a building key and promised to let my son in by buzzing him in through his cell phone. My son was left out in the freezing cold a few days in a row because the host would not respond. He could not get into the building. We wrote to the host on Airbnb and barely got responses. He promised to leave us the building key but never did. He then claimed my son lost the key and was going to charge us for it; he never left it. This was an awful and very stressful experience. My son left the premises after just a few days because he did not have easy access to the apartment.

I am disputing the charge with my credit card company but it seems that I will have to eat this cost because Airbnb is completely unreachable. There is no email address to contact them. Their help on the site has questions and answers but no phone number. You can never speak to anyone. I used Google to search for a contact number, was on hold for over a half hour, and then hung up. No one answered if that was even the right number. Do not use Airbnb. You will be throwing away your money.

Tenant Hijacks Property, Airbnb Refuses to Help

I’m not really a guest. I am an owner whose tenant decided to operate an Airbnb even though it violated his lease and is a breach of our agreement. When we asked Airbnb to take the property down from their site they refused, indicating their arrangement with our tenant and stating only the tenant can take it down. The tenant has refused to do so, so we served him with a Notice to Quit, the first step to eviction. The process could take four to six weeks if we are lucky. Until he is out, we can do nothing about him continuing to be on Airbnb. Last weekend he rented out to a party of about 200 people. We are in California, where tenants have more rights than owners and when the state needs money they turn to the owners to provide it. We need better laws to defend honest citizens from the leaches that some Airbnb hosts are.

Complaint about Host and Apartment in Portugal

I am writing in regards to an apartment we rented in Albuferia, Portugal, to highlight how dangerous and dirty the place was. The oven and stove were unsafe and outdated; it got to the point where we expected to use matches and keep an eye on the oven just in case the gas ignited. The water was unsafe as it was scolding and you could not make it cold; it nearly burnt the skin off my hands. The apartment was filthy and needed a good clean too. When we complained to the host he was very short and abrupt with us, brandishing us as liars as he had stated that he apparently had nearly 5000 people stay there but only 29 positive reviews… so where are the other 4971 reviews? I wish I could leave a review as it was such a horrible experience. We decided to check in to a hotel as we did not want to stay with such horrible amenities or use the apartment of such a horrible host. We cancelled the booking and only got part of our payment back. This host needs to be vetted as he’s clearly not been to see the state of the apartment that he lets out and leaves his poor mother to do the dirty work. I am abhorred by the way that he has treated myself and my mother.

Host Forgets About an Advance Booking, Denies Refund

I booked a place in Delhi around December 22nd, 2016 (our trip to the Himalayas started on December 24th). I made a booking for the night of December 31st at a place whose host was called Kshitij (the listing was “cozy room for three”). He had amazing reviews on Airbnb, and before our trip we had a brief chat in which I told him about the flight details and the place to which we were traveling. The Himalayas have yet to receive reliable wifi service and as we were a little distracted by the beauty of the place, we didn’t check our phones (our mistake, I agree). We reached Delhi on December 31st at 5:00 AM and from that time I tried to reach Kshitij over Airbnb messages, considering Airbnb sends an email or text for each Airbnb message. We waited for him to wake up, have his breakfast, and so on and so forth. By 12:00 PM I got hold of his number and called him to find out he had completely forgotten about the booking and was not in Delhi. We paid him 15 days prior and he forgot; I was sure he had used the money by then already.

Anyway, he helped us to find a hotel near his place which straight away said no to an ‘unmarried couple’ (yes, we’re Indian and not married). We had to pay double our booking charges with Kshitij to find a room for the night. Since then, I have been contacting Kshitij through calls, messages, WhatsApp and Airbnb texts; he hasn’t responded properly. He also said he has started the refund, however I haven’t received anything. I called him again on March 1st, and eventually after an argument he disconnected the phone, and sent me a text: “This is the number for Airbnb. Please call them and share all your grievances from the last three months.” I am shocked to know how these people are exploiting guests in the name of a big organization like Airbnb. On the other hand, Airbnb has no support system or help available for anyone using services from Airbnb. I have attached our conversation screenshots in case you want to browse through them.

Airbnb charged us for a flood that was not our fault

Airbnb first said this house we rented last summer was a four bedroom. One of the so-called bedrooms was a half room, with no door and a crib and air mattress inside the alcove; that’s all it was, an alcove. Then we had this flood, which had something to do with the huge construction site two doors down. My daughters were bathing in the upstairs bathtub and when we let the water out, all the water from the toilet in the powder room came flooding up – black water and everything. When we arrived you could see it had happened before as the wood tiles in that bathroom were curling up and jagged. We had to vacate the house which was not easy as we were in high season. We contacted the owner who sent a plumber but we did not see him until he knocked at the door and said we were all good; the blockage was in the street. In the dispute they would not declare who the plumber was, nut Airbnb and our host blamed us and charged us 1000 USD. Beware using Airbnb; try any other good options as an alternative to these bandits. Happy Travels!

Airbnb Refuses Refund due to Loud Masturbating Host

We checked into Scott’s home in Silver Lake, CA after a couple of long flights. I’m from Chicago and my partner is from London. Scott welcomed us in and showed us to our room. He was very pleasant face-to-face. After no more than ten minutes, we left to get a late dinner. We returned around 11:00 PM and crept up the stairs to avoid awakening what we assumed was our sleeping host. We changed our clothes for bed, and my partner went to brush her teeth. She came back to the room wide-eyed and asked me: “Do you hear that?” She looked like she had seen a ghost. I said I had not. She gestured towards the door and whispered “listen.” I jumped up and took a step towards the door, immediately heard what she had, and understood the look on her face. Scott was vigorously masturbating and shouting to someone over the phone. I opened our bedroom door and he was yelling (he is somewhat deaf): “Yeah, you like it?” My partner said when she was on the toilet she heard him say “Eat that a#@$*le, you like that big hairy c$%k in your face.”

Scott’s bedroom is adjoined to the only bathroom in the house – the bathroom my partner and I, another couple, and Scott were to share. My partner said she felt sick. I went to brush my teeth and came back to the room with an idea: “I think we should just go down the street to the Comfort Inn. I don’t feel comfortable here.” My partner flipped her laptop around; she had the same idea and was searching for a new place to stay. We looked up Airbnb’s customer service line which was far too difficult to find. We called the Airbnb “Trust and Safety” line to make a report and the first thing they asked was for my partner’s phone and credit card numbers. After a complicated process (because my partner is British and the Airbnb system would not recognize her phone number, even though she booked the trip), we finally reached someone. My partner recounted Scott’s loud and aggressive masturbation session, said we were not comfortable staying with Scott, and would like a refund so we may stay somewhere else. The best they could do was refund roughly 30% of the 11-night trip we had paid for.

At this point, we had spent fewer than thirty minutes in the house. The “Trust and Safety” representative said that if Scott was not directing his sexual language at one of us, there was nothing Airbnb could do. The only avenue they suggested was talking to Scott, telling him our issue, and asking him for a full refund, which they reminded us would not include Airbnb’s fees. Nothing could convince the Airbnb representative that this was an uncomfortable place for us to stay. Their response was essentially: “It’s Scott’s house, and he can do whatever he wants in it.”

Yes, Airbnb, it is Scott’s house and we have just spent our holiday budget on a room in that house. Apparently feeling uncomfortable because of someone’s very loud and aggressive sexual behavior, audible from our bedroom and just short of inclusive while in the bathroom, does not meet Airbnb’s cancellation policies. Now we can’t leave Scott’s home because we can’t afford other accommodations. Airbnb offered no support or empathy. I suspect that when a person plans a trip to a new place, they would like to trust the person they are staying with, or at the very least the company that vouches for their hosts. It turns out, with Airbnb, you can’t necessarily trust either. It probably goes without saying but I will never plan a trip with Airbnb again.

Do Airbnb Hosts Take Any Pride in Their Homes?

Upon arrival we noticed the home hadn’t been clean. All primary areas in which we were to occupy were dirty. The home was not clean enough to stay in. The shower had mold, and the fridge and stove looked as if they hadn’t been cleaned in weeks. The linen was dirty with stains and what looked like pet hair. You could physically feel the dirt on the comforter. There were two locks and the key wouldn’t work for the bottom. Only the top lock worked, but it became stuck and hard to turn or remove the key. Some of the windows within the home did not have locks and the neighborhood appeared slight sketchy; the overall feeling wasn’t safe for two women traveling from out of town. Overall we did not feel safe. When attempting to contact the host to inform her we felt uncomfortable and unsafe she became very confrontational and basically said she didn’t care what we did as she had her money. She stated that the house had been throughly cleaned and cut me off as I was explaining the door situation. The host knew the home she provided didn’t conform to health code standards and should have been ashamed; no one would be comfortable staying in those conditions. Safe yourself from being robbed morally, financially, and probably even physically while using Airbnb.

Items Stolen by the Cleaners after Holiday Stay

The host in this story has told me to just accept that my items are lost, so that has now pushed me to the point of pure anger. I’m seeking some closure by hashing this out on my keyboard.

I went to my friend’s 30th birthday in Dorset, UK, only an hour or so away from us. Our mutual friends were staying in an Airbnb nearby for the week leading up to her 30th, so we went to stay in a spare room of the house for the one and only night we were there. Being a typical high-anxiety kinda gal, I like to take a few items of clothing to choose from when I know I’m going out in public, just in case I change my mind at the last minute because one actually makes me look like a primary school teacher/whale/idiot. I took two dresses and two suit jackets, and the morning after, I stupidly left all of those things hanging behind the bedroom door: barely worn, nice-ish labels (Phase Eight, ladies), average size for a woman, combined worth of £150.

Now, whilst I admit this was entirely my fault, naively enough I figured that of course any normal person would have found these and put them in a safe place ready to return to me, right? That’s normal; people are kind, right? My friend emailed the host to explain I’d left some things behind. There was no response. Then I emailed the host, saying I was happy to send over some money as per Airbnb’s “resolution centre”, and a few days later I got a response:

“Hi, I’m really sorry there was no sign of anything when I went in on Friday. Will talk to cleaners tomorrow for you as they are in.”

Great, that’s fine. Sure, it had already been a week by now and the cleaners were only just going in which was strange, but fine. I should mention here that I’m a cleaner of holiday lets myself. I heard nothing back for a few days, so I checked in, and the response was:

“There was nothing that I could see the other day. I will take a proper look on the next change over day. Will be in the new year now.”

It was December 27th, 2016. Ok, that was fine. There are people staying in the house over Christmas and New Year. I know this because Airbnb says it was booked out. However, that was fine; my clothes will stay wherever they’ve been left by the nice cleaners I’m sure. I waited until after New Years, or January 8th just to give her some breathing space. By this time I had let Airbnb know of the situation, and they were also trying to ring her, getting no answer. I got a message back a few days later:

“Hi Natalie. The cleaners are not aware of anything fitting that description. I have just been very busy and don’t live near the area. I’m not planning to visit the place until the end of the month. You might have to accept you have lost the items. I got a voicemail from Airbnb enquiring for you.”

So… no. “I’m really sorry, but we can’t find your things” or “I’m so sorry that we can’t resolve this but…” I just don’t understand this way of dealing with people at all. She’s not sorry, she doesn’t give a crap, and that’s that. But that just makes me even more concerned, and I kept prodding. I wrote:

“As a woman to woman thing, would you accept that you’ve ‘just lost the items’? I can’t just nip out and replace them. Do you understand that as a customer I therefore rely on you to help me? I paid to stay at your property and I feel like I’m being fobbed off. I’m sorry that you’ve been too busy to help out but it is a business you run based on trust and respect to your property and the people that stay there, and I have lost all sense of that. It is totally my fault that I left them there but if it was me, running a business like this, I would endeavor to make sure my clients were reassured. Can I please be put in touch with your cleaners as I’m guessing they live closer? Or your brother that goes around daily? Somebody who could go and check. As I said, I can wire money via Airbnb to post them back and I’m happy to add on more than the cost. I just want my things back.”

And nothing. That was it. Three or four cases opened by Airbnb, and closed again after 24 hours due to ‘no response from the host’. There’s been a bit of moaning and complaining to get their attention on Twitter. They told my friend that they saw no reason to continue any case for it (even though absolutely nothing was resolved) and they kept closing them. The scenarios that are going around in my head are: she took them, and she’s obviously not going to own up to that; the cleaners took them, and she’s also not going to own up to that (but she should); the cleaners are just bad at their jobs, didn’t see them, and another guest has taken them. Working out what happened with no proof just means thoughts pop into my head every now and again, I feel sick, like I’ve been robbed, and then I go back to realizing there’s nothing I can do. That’s my vent. I’m sure some people have real problems. Thanks for listening and don’t stay here.