Airbnb Supports Misleading Property Pictures

I had a mini break from school and decided to visit my husband in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). For the last four nights of my visit we decided to book an Airbnb close to downtown so that while he’s at work I could easily go shopping as well as easily find a place to eat when needed. He saw a reasonably priced suite, ‘Avala Suite’ and he booked it based on the pictures associated with the ad and recent reviews. Thursday night we checked in at approximately 11:15 PM. The first thing I noticed was the bed didn’t have a frame like it did in the pictures; to me, that was minor and didn’t warrant a complaint. Then my husband went to the kitchen and I decided to checked out the bathroom. To my surprise, the bathroom was completely different from what was posted on his ad. I called my husband’s attention to this and he too was shocked. We revisited the ad, because we both knew that what we were both viewing was not what we saw.

The suite was so stuffy and we noticed the ‘clean’ sheets folded in the linen cupboard had hairs on them and looked like they needed to be washed. We used our own pillow covers and sheets to put on top of what was on the bed and decided to go get Febreeze at the nearest gas station to help with the dusty odour. When we got back to the room we decided to rest and contact Airbnb in the morning. Unfortunately when we woke up and tried to locate the ad, the property was no longer listed on their platform, so we did not have the supporting evidence from the ad. We still sent an email informing them of what we saw in the initial ad and sent pictures of what we are now seeing and explain to them that we cannot access the ad to send a screenshot of what was advertised. To my surprise Airbnb replied saying the bathroom was the same and it was just a cleaning issue. Now I became irritated because I felt like we were being taken for fools.

On Saturday I decided to send an email to Airbnb, still being unable to view any ad from Avala. The email sent is as follows:

According to Airbnb’s Content Policy which clearly states that you do not condone listings and profiles which contains contents that are fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive. If your company does not support misleading contents, why is it that my husband is clearly being taken for granted after filing a complaint about the host of our reservation posting on his ad being completely different pictures of the bathroom for his suite. It is quite clear that the pictures being advertised are completely different as he posted a bathroom with bluish colour wall tiles and the tiles noted in the bathroom on arrival is of a creamish colour. How can your representative sum this up as a cleaning issue? It is clearly not a cleaning issue; the ad was misleading. Secondly, where is the cleaning issue in the host posting a picture of a wooden trimmed toilet seat compared to the white one we viewed on our arrival? I am only left to sum this issue up as either the representative was not interested in doing their due diligence for a proper investigation to see that the ad for the suite is false and misleading or this host may be making you guys a lot of money. In that case, complaints against him fall on deaf ears. Either way, it is not right to treat customers in this manner. Hosts should not be allowed to falsely advertise their space. It is the pictures shown that help clients select the property that seems suitable for visits. This is not ok Airbnb.

I got no reply. Finally on Sunday, Avala’s platform was back up on the website. I took a screenshot immediately and decided to call again. The representative that I spoke to told me that the case manager that dealt with the matter has summed this up to a cleaning issue and asked what I wanted him to do after I informed him of the situation and letting him know that not only is there is picture of a bathroom that does not exist at all in suite but all of a sudden there is a picture of a clean version of the pictures they sent to us the day before which was not there at all when we viewed the ad. I highlighted to the representative I spoke to on Sunday morning that it is not ok for the company to be saying they don’t condone misleading postings of suites, yet, this matter seems to be falling on deaf ears. He simply stated he would send me an email and a case manager will contact me. Honestly I get the feeling that because this host has numerous suites and possibly makes a ton of money for Airbnb, that the rules do not apply to him about false, misleading advertising. However, as consumers, to book a place to stay for visits we only have the reviews of others to help us determine which place to select and most importantly the actual pictures of where we will be staying. I feel wronged by Airbnb and they don’t seem to care at all. Shame on Airbnb.

Airbnb Charged USD when Price was in CAD

A few tips to potential Airbnb guests:

1. Customer Service is basically non-existent. So be extremely careful not to make any mistake, or you’ll have to pay for it.

2. Do not click “instant booking” if you are not 100% sure you want it, because you’ll be instantly charged if the host accepts, which usually happens in a few minutes. It’s better to contact your host if you have any concerns prior to booking.

3. Check Airbnb’s cancellation policies carefully. They’re stricter than those at most competitors.

4. Always double check the price with currency symbols because you might get overcharged.

I did my search via airbnb.ca and found an apartment listed for 157 CAD/night. I requested to book the apartment for seven nights with four guests. The host responded and the total price was 1238 CAD on the pre-approval email; the total price was calculated based on guest numbers plus service fees. I then clicked on the “Book Now” button from the email and got re-directed to Airbnb Canada’s payment site. The price amount on the page was still 1238 CAD, so I paid. Since I had been doing all the transactions through Airbnb Canada, I assumed everything was still in CAD. Apparently the currency symbol on the payment page switched to USD without me noticing. I was actually charged 1619 CAD and ended up paying $381 more in Canadian dollars. I tried to contact customer service but haven’t had much progress yet. Overall I think the Airbnb website has an appealing UI interface, but the business practice does not favor customers. I will not use it again or recommend to others.

Host Lied and Airbnb Refused to Help with Refund

I booked an apartment for a week in Toronto in December. The listing said it was a two bedroom. However, what the host didn’t disclose was that the second bedroom had an old futon with broken wooden slats (held together with tape). The first night I slept on the old futon and had terrible back pain. The second night the bed broke. I looked under the sheets and found the issue. This wasn’t a mattress; it was a cushion. There was no box spring, just broken wooden slats. I called Airbnb who suggested I get in touch with the host to see if she could help. We emailed her and she didn’t respond for hours, saying she was out of town and could come to the apartment the next day. I called Airbnb expecting them to help. Instead I got the run around. I was told I could go buy an air mattress and they’d give me the money back. Did I mention this was at 5:00 PM over Christmas and I was sick? I was then told they’d give me $150 as a total refund. I explained I still had three nights at the Airbnb and $150 was the price per night for a hotel. They refused to give me any more money even though there was no solution to help me. I have been trying for over a month to get my money back from Airbnb. I filed a formal complaint on Airbnb and received no response for three weeks. I called eight times and was given the run around over and over again. I sent emails, and received no responses. I was promised return phone calls that I never received. I was even hung up on when I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was then sent an email saying there was nothing wrong with the bed even though it was an old futon held together with tape and that I wouldn’t be getting a refund. I am now going to go into arbitration. Airbnb is a horrible company that allows hosts to do anything they want and not support their guests.

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.