In March 2017 I received an email from Airbnb stating that my email had been successfully changed. As I was not traveling at the time and hadn’t used Airbnb recently, I went on the app and realized that not only had someone changed my email but the picture, the name, and the phone number. He also booked a luxury condo in Montreal for 572 GBP ($750USD) the same day. I immediately canceled the booking, changed all information back to my own, and contacted the host, Sophie, as she could potentially host someone who is not me and empty the house. Sophie couldn’t seem to be bothered and her lack of interest made me think she was part of the scam. She apparently has three luxury condos in Montreal and almost too many reviews per month to be real. I’ll let you be the judge. Two months later, I am still battling with Airbnb to get refunded or investigate.
This is my personal Airbnb Hell story. I was born in Canada but had not been there in almost 50 years as I had moved to the United States when I was very young with the rest of my family. However, I had no choice but to return for personal reasons. I arrived at the Airbnb listed as “Comfy Room” at a house located in Surrey on August 21st, 2016. At first, everything went well. In fact, I lived there for several months before things starting falling apart.
I began to notice the following issues. Every time that Lyn Taylor (real name Evelyn Mercado) would clean my room she would turn off the nightlight that I had plugged in so that I would not be stumbling around in the dark when I woke up during the night to use the restroom. The nightlight only uses 0.7 Watts. She later complained to me that I was leaving that light on – how cheap can you get? The weekly housekeeping started turning into every eight days, then nine days, then ten or more days. Eventually it got to the point where I had to get myself a clean towel as I could not depend on either Paul or Lyn to take care of that.
They have Instant Book so people would be checking in at all hours of the day and night, including 2:00 AM in one case. Many times they were not even there when people would come to check in and I would have to answer the door and explain to them that I was only a guest. Many guests were told that the key to their room was in the lock box outside the front door, but when they opened the lock box there was no key inside. They were staying in the basement suite underneath the house but it began to feel at times like they were absentee landlords.
I stayed there only because I had no close family in that area. At that time I had not driven in over four years and did not have a drivers license. The weather was turning cold, so I did not want to take the chance of going through all of that hassle to find another place that might be just as bad, or even worse.
One time I was having trouble sleeping. It was almost 2:00 AM; I heard noises outside my room and noticed that some lights were on. I opened my door and discovered that Lyn was cleaning downstairs, in the middle of the night. Another issue I noticed is that several times when I was taking a shower the warm water disappeared and all that came out was cold water. One time the water was so cold when I got out of the shower I actually felt warmer. They rented out all five rooms in their house and were staying downstairs in the basement. When the house was full there could be nine people or more using the hot water to take a shower, wash clothes, etc.
I also noticed that as it got colder outside that I would feel cold in the house even when I was wearing a flannel shirt over another shirt. I mentioned this many times to both Paul and Lyn and they would always say “the thermostat is set at 22 Celsius” even though I complained numerous times. I know that 22 Celsius is the same as 71.6 Fahrenheit so I knew that was not the real temperature; 71.6 Fahrenheit is a very comfortable temperature. I told Lyn that I was feeling cold one time and she told me that “I am sweating inside here while I am working.” Of course this ignored the fact that she was dressed in very cold weather clothing and was vigorously cleaning around the house. Many other guests also complained to me personally about feeling cold. Eventually it got to the point where my hands felt like ice even when I was fully dressed. One evening another guest who had also complained to me about feeling cold took their meal out of the oven and then told me that they would leave the oven door open for a while to heat the room up. I noticed that soon after he did that the room started feeling warmer. This other guest and I began to use the oven to keep us warm. Otherwise, we would have felt like putting on our jackets inside the house. That is how cold it felt. We did that for about a week.
The other guest left on a Saturday morning as he was retiring and moving to a property that he had purchased. I continued to use the oven every now and then to warm things up and on Sunday, the day after the other guest left, Paul and Lyn confronted me about using the oven to stay warm. I told them that I had only been using it for a week and had only used it because I was so cold. Lyn became very angry and told me that “ever since you have moved in our electric bill has gone up.” She told me that “I want you out of here tomorrow.”
I truly believe that she would have thrown me out then and there even though it was cold with snow on the ground outside except for the fact that her husband Paul said, “Nothing is going to happen tonight.” Lyn threatened to report me to Airbnb and give me a bad review if I did not accept their cancelling my reservation. I left the next day as they requested. Lyn sent me an email in which she accused me of taking hot showers even though it was “minus 5 outside.” What does she think I am going to do, take a cold shower when it is so cold outside? She also accused me of leaving the oven on when I went to bed which is not true. I owned up to what I did and told them why I did it. I would never have done that if they had not ignored my numerous complaints, as well as the complaints of other guests about feeling cold.
I had paid for the entire month of March yet I moved out on March 6th. I received a message from Lyn in a day or so in which she said that she and Paul were in line to become Superhosts and they would appreciate it if I could give them a good review as she felt I was a good person. Against my better judgment I gave them a good review and Lyn had stated that she would review the February and March billing for the electric and get back to me about a refund. I never heard anything back so I contacted Lyn in April about my refund. She stated that she was still having jet lag (even though she had returned home about two weeks before) and that she would get back to me by the end of April.
When May arrived I then contacted Airbnb to see what I could do as I was told by my bank that I had to contact them to see if I could resolve the issue as they were the actual merchant. Airbnb checked with Lyn and their last message stated: “Thanks for your patience. I wanted to give you an update on your refund request for your reservation. At this time, Lyn hasn’t agreed to issue you a refund for the adjustment to this reservation.” I have now filed a formal dispute with my debit card issuer as I am owed for the 25 days in March that I paid for and did not receive. The only refund I received was $18.00 Canadian dollars and a $75.00 credit from Airbnb. I am owed about $840.00 Canadian dollars. It is obvious to me now that Lyn never had any intention of refunding my money and just tricked me into giving them a good review to help them become Superhosts. I feel used, to put it lightly. Basically I got ripped off big time. I will never use Airbnb again. I could care less about the $75.00 credit they gave me.
I booked this entire place from a girl named Danica, in Vancouver, the Westminster area. When my boyfriend and I arrived, we followed the instructions to enter the place, but then we saw the front door wasn’t locked. We went up to the number of the suite as we were instructed by the host in the message, then we were surprised that the suite door was opened and not locked. We opened the door: the bed was a mess and looked like someone had just used the room. I went in and checked the rest of the place. There were trash bags still in the kitchen.
Then I messaged the host to ask her what happened; she didn’t answer my text or calls. I asked someone in her complex if she was home, and one girl said she was. We asked her if she could call her down to talk to us, and the girl just disappeared. A few seconds later, Danica answered my texts… so she was home the whole time but didn’t want to come down and resolve the problem. When I told her I wanted a refund, she initially agreed, then she said her housekeeper must have made some mistakes. I said I didn’t care anymore; this was just unacceptable to us. We had just arrived in Vancouver and went all the way from the airport to her place (a 34-minute trip).
Then she told me that she was trying to resolve her divorce case… excuse me? I don’t have to know about a host’s personal matters, and would we be in any position to understand her issues? I asked her to refund me ASAP, then she just ignored me. Nothing has been resolved, and I still haven’t gotten my money back. It’s so difficult to contact Airbnb customer service: I called, and no one picked up. This is outrageous, the worst experience with Airbnb ever.
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.
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.
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.
Here’s my horror story; it’s nice to know I’m not alone. I had a person Instant Book my place with a stolen Airbnb account. The account holder was in Belgium and this guy was from Canada where my property is. I texted her to see how things were going only to find out she had no idea who I was and that she definitely had not booked my place. I called Airbnb and explained the situation to them. They put me on hold for 45 minutes at 3:00 AM in the winter in Montreal, so I called the police. They never came so I grabbed a baseball bat and entered my property. There was no one to hit with the baseball bat. No one was there, and most of my electronics were gone. That is not why I’m mad; it’s because of the way Airbnb handled the situation from there. I spoke to at least ten customer service representatives. They were all very nice, but my situation never got dealt with. After months of calling the only thing I could do was file a dispute with the person whose account got hacked, which they told me they would deny. They said they aren’t responsible for any stolen items, and that they would help resolve the situation if the guest had stolen anything. They would never pay my losses with their money. Obviously I can’t go after the guest who had her account stolen. Now it’s obvious that I can’t reason with Airbnb.
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.
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.
We booked a stay in an Airbnb for four nights in Toronto. The location was great. However, there were a few major issues:
- The bed was terrible. There was no box spring or support for the mattress, so it sagged badly.
- Not an inch of closet space or a single drawer was available.
- The apartment was not very clean.
- Living room was totally open and exposed for the neighbors to see; there were no blinds or curtains.
- The patio advertised in the listing didn’t have any furniture on it at all.
- Light bulbs went out and there were no replacements.
- 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.