Canadian Nightmare: Complaints Treated as Joke

This is an ongoing story. We received no help from our hosts, Alex and Julie, who treated our complaints as a joke, and no help from Airbnb who made it very difficult to make contact. We arrived at the apartment in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood during a snow storm. The apartment was obviously not ready to receive guests: no wardrobe space (closets full of Alex and Julie’s clothes, no provision for our clothing), no drawer space in the dressers (again full of Alex and Julie’s personal belongings), no space for our effects in the bathroom as the shelves and cabinets were full of toiletries belonging to the hosts. No allowance at all was made to receive guests. After everything we had heard about Airbnb we wondered if we were even supposed to be in the apartment. We took photos of the bathroom, the wardrobes, and the filthy oven in the kitchen and posted them. We contacted Alex and Julie about the problems with the apartment and our complaints were treated as a joke. We left the apartment early the next morning, leaving the keys in the mailbox. Airbnb has thanked us for our feedback.

Airbnb Hoarders: No Room for Anything

We arrived at the apartment in Montreal at four o’clock in the afternoon, as had been arranged. We had trudged through a snowstorm and were looking forward to what was described in reviews as a clean and comfortable apartment. What we found was that absolutely no provision had been made for guests. In fact, we thought at one point that perhaps a mistake had been made. There were boots and shoes everywhere, with no room for our own. The wardrobes were full of the young woman’s clothes with no space (no hangers) for our things. Every surface in the apartment was covered with the owner’s trinkets. The medicine cabinet in the bathroom was overflowing with no possibility of putting anything of ours away. We had to remove items that were left on the toilet seat and on the toilet tank just to be able to accommodate a few of our own items. We’ve never liked the habit of Airbnb guests (or hosts) leaving opened containers of food in cupboards and fridges. In this case, the fridge, freezer, and cupboards were full. The bottles of liquour in the cupboard might have been for us to use but we weren’t sure that we were supposed to partake. Personal items were left in the apartment with no appearance of expecting guests. The money left on top of one of the dressers wasn’t even tempting – just one more example of the negligence of the hosts. If someone shows up at the door tonight offering to remove dresses, shoes, lipstick, booze, frozen bagels, etc, I don’t think I’ll want to speak to them.

Terrible Bed, Dildo in Nightstand: Harsh Review

We booked a stay in an Airbnb for four nights in Toronto. The location was great. However, there were a few major issues:

  1. The bed was terrible. There was no box spring or support for the mattress, so it sagged badly.
  2. Not an inch of closet space or a single drawer was available.
  3. The apartment was not very clean.
  4. Living room was totally open and exposed for the neighbors to see; there were no blinds or curtains.
  5. The patio advertised in the listing didn’t have any furniture on it at all.
  6. Light bulbs went out and there were no replacements.
  7. The nightstand had dildos, vibrators and owner’s underwear inside.

I gave an average review on Airbnb. They cut my review and only posted the positive: the location. How would the next renter know about any of the problems? This is the second time I had a problem with an Airbnb rental. I’m not likely to rent through them again.

Airbnb Canada Does Not Have Your Back

We paid the full cost of renting (or rather, trying to rent) a condo in Toronto. After delays – hours after the check in time – we were told via text to proceed to the unlocked condo. It was immediately obvious that the condo was not fit for occupancy: there was wet paint still on the walls, splattered paint over most floors, painted wall light switches, and painting around wall pictures. The stove was filthy, there was dirt in several corners, closet doors were missing, and the list goes on. Airbnb had to intervene and finally stated that we could have given the owner time to fix these deficiencies. The owner refunded part (less than half) of the rent. There was no further refund from the owner and a refund from Airbnb for the service fee, about $95 Canadian and a whopping $50 Canadian for future bookings. Pathetic!

Bad First Time Experience in Vancouver

My husband and I planned a vacation to Vancouver in August 2016. We had never gone the Airbnb route, but knew friends who had good experiences. We decided to book a studio apartment in the heart of Yaletown. This was in May 2016. Reviews for this place were excellent. The pre-booking responsiveness from the host was very good. As soon as she had our booking, everything went downhill. After the booking, I tried contacting the host, as I had a couple of questions about the unit. No response, even though I tried contacting the host via Airbnb messaging, email, and telephone (left messages).

A month later, I really began to question if we did the right thing. You really shouldn’t have to worry about this stuff when you’re planning a vacation. I tried calling the host again, but this time did a *67 so that my telephone number would be blocked. Sure enough, the host answered. She was in Costa Rica for a vacation, and said she answered because a “weird number showed up.” I told her I had been concerned because I hadn’t heard from her in a month and that I was relieved to talk to her. She apologized and said everything was fine and not to worry; we could meet up at the Starbucks at the bottom of her building at a specified time. Everything seemed good.

In August 2016, a week before our stay, I tried contacting the host to see if we could meet a bit earlier (flight issue). Again, there was no response, even with follow-up Airbnb messaging, email, and phone message. I contacted Airbnb the night before we were scheduled to arrive. They said they would help us find alternate accommodation if there was a problem. We arrived at the meeting spot, not knowing if the host was even going to show up. Fortunately, she did, and apologized, saying that she had been very busy. At this point, I was just relieved to see her and just wanted to get to the unit. She gave us the keys, did not come up to show us anything, and said she had Apple TV only, not cable (as specified in her ad). This was not a big deal, as we were on vacation and probably only going to watch TV in the morning or late at night. We told her we didn’t have any experience with Apple TV, and she said, “Just play with it. It’s really easy.”

Thankfully, the unit was okay, but it could have used more cleaning in some areas. There was salt all over one part of the kitchen counter, the top of the fridge was very dirty (only noticed because we were placing something there), the microwave oven was very dirty on the inside, and there were leftover items in the fridge from previous guests (not perishables, but used bottles, etc). The place also hadn’t been dusted in a long time. Thankfully, the bathroom was clean and the sheets had been changed. Even though I didn’t think I should have to do this, I did a quick clean of the place, as we were going to be there for a week. Not a huge deal, as the place was small, but guests should show up to a clean place: that should be a given. My husband spent about an hour and a half figuring out how the Apple TV worked. Of course these things are easy when you know what to do. All was good.

After about three days, the Internet and Apple TV died. We figured it was temporary, but after half a day, I contacted the Internet provider, and they told me the host didn’t pay her bill. Really? I was surprised they even disclosed that information to me. We had to play the contact-the-host game again, which I knew was not going to be fun, based on our past experience with her. No response, but no surprise. The next day, we contacted Airbnb to let them know about the host’s lack of responsiveness and the Internet issue. They also couldn’t get in touch with the host, and offered to find us new accommodations (including hotels). It was very late in the evening, and they couldn’t find a reasonably priced hotel in the area where we were staying.

We wanted to stay in the Yaletown neighbourhood, as we were vacationing with relatives, who had booked a hotel a couple of blocks from our unit. We were also concerned for the next guest, who was slated to arrive right after us. Airbnb told us that if they didn’t hear from the host within a specified time, they would find alternate arrangements for the next guest. This was communicated to the host, and all of a sudden she got back to us the next day. I suspect the only reason this happened is because she was afraid of losing the next week’s business. She apologized again, said it was a billing glitch, and that it would be resolved quickly. Thankfully, it was resolved within 24 hours. By that point, we had spent so much time and energy dealing with this that we decided to just stay put. We really didn’t want to use up more vacation time dealing with all this by moving to another place. Airbnb ended up crediting us $250 for our trouble.

In my post-stay review, I didn’t go into details, but said that the host’s post-booking responsiveness was terrible, and that, for that reason alone, I would not book that unit again. The host is then allowed to comment on your review. In a nutshell, she said she was troubled by my review, that the key passing went fine, and that I must’ve been a little worried about the check-in process and lack of concierge to check us in. Really? She didn’t get it at all. We were never worried about the check-in process. It was the lack of responsiveness that caused us issues. I don’t understand all the great guest reviews. Maybe we were just unlucky, or maybe people who had issues don’t post reviews, as it’s always more difficult to post a negative review after you’ve met the host, especially if the person is nice. If someone wants to be in the Airbnb rental business, getting back to guests on a timely basis is really important in my book. Not sure if we would go the Airbnb route again. Maybe we’d try it again if we were going somewhere nearby for a couple of days, but only with a backup plan.

Not My Blood on that Airbnb Host’s Duvet

I needed a break. I had work on a business plan that needed to be done but I was distracted and my apartment (and the city) were loud; I wanted silence. A friend recommended a cabin in the woods and the idea took hold. With somewhat limited time – an earlier planned vacation fell through and I was scrambling – the need for a location with wifi, and budget constraints, I decided to join Airbnb after recommendations from friends. The host I found was in one of my favorite spots in British Columbia and in my budget for a four-night stay. I could cook, visit local trails, watch deer on the large property, and walk a pleasant 40 minutes to the nearest town center. I thought it was perfect, and the host agreed it was a great spot for writing especially after I specified I wanted peace and quiet. I thought it was only going to be a retired couple in the adjacent home so I wasn’t worried about loud parties.

When I got there and the host showed me the place, he casually mentioned I might hear the odd noise from the person renting the suite next to mine. I brushed it off, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. The home was older, made of wood, and the walls were very thin. The neighbors woke me up in the morning and kept me up at night (they went to bed later). It sounded like they were constantly renovating or building something. Then the neighboring property had a loud party that went on quite late. I had to leave each day just to get the peace and quiet I went there for. It was disappointing and I didn’t get any work done. Before I left, I made sure my dishes were done and put away. I used the carpet sweeper on the rugs, cleaned the bathroom and made the bed. Things you do when you stay at someone else’s place.

When I got home that evening I opened up my email to find a ranting message from the host saying I had left a bloody mess on the duvet, tried to clean it, and then made the bed to “hide the now wet and bloody mess.” She wanted money for the damages. I was stunned. First off, it was a very hot week (mid-August) and temperatures were in the low 20s C even at night. I pushed the duvet off to the side along with the wool blanket covering it and used only the top sheet, none of which had any stains. I made the bed as a courtesy, and didn’t notice any stains. I was not menstruating and had no wounds that would have bled. If that stain on top of the duvet was blood, it most definitely was not mine.

I explained this to the host along with my surprise at the tone of her accusatory message and asked for more detail about the stain. She provided pictures of an orangey stain she was adamant was blood. After hearing my side of things, she agreed one of her cats could have brought something in and left it at that with the hope I would write a nice review. I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. Not wanting to leave a bad review, I said nothing hoping this was a one time misunderstanding. Airbnb closed the claim and labeled it resolved. I should note they have a 48-hour window once a reservation ends to file a claim. I was relieved.

Three weeks later (too late for either party to leave a review) I received another message stating she wanted money because she couldn’t remove the stain. I declined responsibility, citing the earlier resolved claim. Two days later Airbnb reviewed all the facts and documentation and sided with the host, charging my credit card the security deposit. Since Airbnb’s head office outside of the US is in Ireland, I would have to attempt to reach someone at 2:00 AM, which is when I was receiving messages from them. They are not in the business of hospitality; they are there to “handle the money so you don’t have to.” Successful hosts and guests have been lucky. Please use due diligence and do your research as there is no recourse for you should something go wrong. Better yet, don’t use Airbnb.

Airbnb’s Model is Designed for Scammers

We booked and confirmed a two bedroom apartment in midtown Vancouver four months in advance. Everything seemed fine except the host told us she did not have “front desk” privileges and access would be via the side entrance. The host’s name was Ashleigh P. A few weeks before leaving for Vancouver, I noticed her listing had disappeared from Airbnb. I messaged her and she said she had to take it down because she was getting too many requests. She replied using the name Nicole P. One week before leaving for Vancouver I contacted Airbnb to discuss my rising doubts. I was told there was no need to worry. They were confident everything was above board. Why were they so dismissive?

Five days before arriving I got a message reminding me she had no “contract” with the management at her condo for concierge services so she would meet me personally to let me in and show me around. At 8:30 AM on the morning of the booking I was boarding a plane to fly to Vancouver and I got a text saying to meet her at a different address in Vancouver. I called Nicole/Ashleigh and she told me she could not provide the apartment to which she agreed as her access pass had been blocked but she moved us to a one bedroom in a different area of town. She was not prepared to explain or “argue with you about this.” The booking had been changed and she had no obligation to do more.

What transpired was that she had been subletting an apartment illegally in a building and the owner/building management found out and blocked her access. She had been doing it successfully for some time and had good reviews but now had been caught and barred. Obviously, the assurance she had given Airbnb was false. When I raised this with Airbnb they said: “We have hundreds of thousands of hosts. We can’t verify all their claims.” Airbnb cancelled the booking and helped us find another that we had to accept with just four hours’ notice. It was a long bus ride out of town and the unit was on a very busy highway. Our holiday was completely ruined.

What is my complaint? Airbnb said Nicole told them she had a last minute hiccup and they accepted her excuse. They agreed it was unacceptable but they had absolutely no plan to do anything other than help me find an alternative accommodation; after all, she was a successful host (i.e. she made big money for Airbnb). I was told this really did not happen often and I was unlucky. I was told four times that Airbnb took great care to look after their customers and that my experience was unusual. The bottom line is that Airbnb will keep Nicole/Ashleigh. She is a valuable source of income to them. They understand what has happened but if she tells them she is okay to offer an apartment then they will take her word for it. Airbnb’s model is set up to facilitate scamming and they know that, believing they can “manage” victims when they inevitably emerge. It’s a “let the buyer beware” portal. So beware.

Airbnb Theft: Montreal Penthouse Hell

Guests beware: you are not protected by Airbnb if your host enters unannounced and without consent. I had the left the residence for a few hours only to return to find out the host had entered the property while we were away and had gone through our belongings and left a visibly noticeable mess. My first reaction was to take photos of everything, email Airbnb and then text our host to notify him of what we had occurred. The reaction from our host was blasé; he had forgotten some of his belongings and was in a hurry so he came back to his apartment to find them. After confronting him about why this was unacceptable, he tried to justify his actions by telling us that he also came home to give us quilts…. the weather for that scorching July summer day was 33 degrees Celsius without considering the humidity and the lack of any central air conditioning.

We were robbed of our money and a few pairs of ladies underwear according to my female friend. What did Airbnb do? Nothing! I consider myself to be fairly progressive with my use of user driven business applications such as Uber, eBay, and Stubhub, and for the most part have had extremely positive experiences. However, in the rare case when I, the consumer, have needed assistance to protect my well being, they have always been incredibly responsive and empathetic to my customer experience. I have yet to hear from Airbnb, and its been three weeks and counting.

Airbnb Nightmare: Marooned in Montreal

My family had come to Canada from various other international destinations for a highly anticipated and active family vacation. However, while we were in transit to our Airbnb lodging in Montreal from Toronto, we received a somewhat cryptic text message from our hosts stating that they were cancelling our Montreal reservation (for that day) due to some “unavoidable issues” with our lodging. My husband had to lookup our original reservation as there was no contact information for our Montreal hosts to ask for clarification. After we were “eventually” able to make contact with our hosts they continued to be exceptionally vague as to what happened that caused our reservation to be cancelled. When we asked what happens now that our reservation was null and void – thus, making my ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL FAMILY NOW HOMELESS – our hosts simply advised that we would have to “consult” the Airbnb contracts to determine if we were entitled to a refund if we “chose not to find and use another Airbnb lodging.”

We attempted to ask additional questions and for assistance in locating alternative housing, but our hosts stopped responding to our requests and Airbnb has no direct lines of communication to their corporate headquarters or any legitimate form of customer service or quality control services. We were forced to find what we honestly believe happened to be the last two very over-priced hotel rooms in Montreal that ALL of our extended and immediate family had to share as it also happened to be Canada Day. The situation certainly brought our family together, but in a most uncomfortable and precarious fashion. So, if you are thinking of utilizing Airbnb as lodging for your travels, make sure you have investigated all other options FIRST. I would advise that you especially avoid Host Kick in Montreal on Airbnb as they can cancel on you at the last minute.