About two days ago, starting at 5:00 AM, I got a text from an unknown number with a prefix of “Airbnb:”. Since then, about three times an hour, I have received similar texts. I almost immediately tried the standard return text, “STOP”, but I got a message back every time that basically told me they don’t have my number on file. Then why did I receive the texts? Each of those return texts have a link to their website to edit a user account. I don’t even have an account. Don’t they confirm phone numbers before sending out massive amounts of texts. Don’t they confirm phone numbers before they give them to hosts to correspond with guests? In my searching, they don’t seem to have an email for customer support, and I’d really prefer not to make an account just to get my phone number off their text list. Wish me luck!
Last night, using my own Airbnb account but my mother’s credit card, I booked accommodation in Kiev and Prague. I spoke to my mother earlier and she asked me why she had received messages and emails addressed to her. I was confused because I had not received any emails. I had used my own account to make the booking, yet the messages were addressed to her. I proceeded to go to the Airbnb website into which I was automatically logged and it was so strange: as far as the top right corner was concerned, I was logged in (there was a photo of me, my account settings and the logout option) but the rest of the page showed my mother’s account. Bear in mind I live on the other side of the world as my mother and have never logged into her account before. This is a security issue and when it comes to myself, my mother, and the hosts; it’s quite annoying and inconvenient. I logged out of my account and logged back in and the glitch had disappeared. However, when I wanted to message the hosts, I had to log into my mother’s account and explain what happened. The hosts may have not accepted my booking if they knew I was a 25-year-old male as opposed to a 63-year-old female.
My first Airbnb experience was so awful it was nearly my last. Unfortunately for me I endured an embarrassing accident on the second night of a two-week stay when I wet the bed. It wasn’t just a little bit that could be hidden; everything was totally soaked through the mattress to the bed base. I was burning with shame but had no choice but to get up, shower, and change the sheets. In the morning I took the mattress out to dry in the sun and explained the situation to my host along with a thousand red-faced apologies. She wasn’t happy in the least but what was done was done. I remade the bed the next night and tried to put the embarrassing situation behind me. I’d forgotten about it until two weeks later when I received my review and a damage bill for $1200 for a new mattress. My review (which is public and has my photo) said something like “Joel has problems controlling his bladder at night and was made to pay the full cost of replacing the mattress he ruined when he peed on it.” I overheard the host telling two of her friends and a customer service lady from Airbnb. I learned a valuable lesson that stay and every time since I bring my own waterproof mattress protector… just in case.
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.