A Little Piece of Heaven is Airbnb Hell

Our daughter has been attending college in Maryville, Tennessee. She contacted us with the logistics for graduation. After speaking to several family members it was decided that we would look for a cabin to rent instead of all of us finding hotels. My son, who has been an Airbnb host for several years, suggested that we use Airbnb again (we had used it once before with excellent results). The search was on to find the perfect spot for 14 of us to meet and stay for the May graduation. After several emails back and forth amongst the group we had narrowed it down to two places. The reviews were great for both, and the price was about $100 difference per couple between the two. We made sure that the cabin would accommodate the group, and that it would be handicapped accessible, which was confirmed by the host.

After asking a few more questions of the host for “A Little Piece of Heaven” in Sevierville, Tennessee it was decided that we would take that one. On January 2nd, 2017, we paid $1498 for the booking.  It was rented for May 18th through the 23rd. All of us were excited and I exchanged a couple of emails with the host, “Jouandot Enterprises”, telling him that we were excited.

Fast forward to the week of the trip. We were driving leaving Naples, Florida on May 17th heading to the cabin to meet up with family coming from Michigan and Pennsylvania. The host emailed me with the code for access to the cabin and wished us a safe trip. It would be a 15-hour drive and we would stay in Pigeon Forge for the night. We could not check into the cabin until 3:00 PM the following day.

After meeting up with our daughter in Pigeon Forge after her last final, we looked around and enjoyed some of the sights and then decided we would go to the grocery store and then head to the cabin.

We drove in still excited, and upon walking onto the deck noticed that there was an overturned trash can, and what looked like a planter with no plant that had been tipped over. There was dirt all over the deck. We then walked further onto the deck and there was a mop leaning against the wall and a picnic table that when leaned against literally swayed with you. There was a hot tub whose top looked to be either too small or badly damaged as there was a thick layer of dirt and waves in it. Coming onto the deck from the other side, there were molded slats around the hot tub. We saw the two rocking chairs that we had talked about sitting in to look at the view (which was by the way, still stunning). It looked like some type of varmint had been eating the wood above them, and there were wood chips all over. There were spindles on the railing that had been kicked out and had not been repaired. The gate to the deck downstairs was barely hanging on. Looking over the rail, someone had tossed a bag of garbage into the woods below and trash was scattered about.

We saw a gas grill and thought: “Well, at least there is a grill to make the burgers.” Upon further inspection, the three burners were completely rusted through and the grill was filthy.

I used the code and opened the door to look directly at the arm of a dining room chair hanging off the chair to the right, and to the left a spring sticking out of the back of the couch, which was supposed to be one of the beds.

Underneath the dinner table, there was a yellow stain. Urine? Vomit? The rug was disgusting and you could tell that it not only had been there for a while, but it had not been cleaned in a long while.

By this time, I was more than a little upset and my husband said maybe we could just clean up a little and make the best of it. We looked around in the bedrooms and there was not a blind there that hadn’t been broken or was about to fall apart.  We were going to open it up some as it was overcast outside, and dark inside the cabin.

The surfaces looked to have been wiped down, but there was no pot in the coffee maker. I opened the cabinet to find the pot, with a hole in the bottom of it. There were thin quilts on the beds and questionable sheets, with no mattress pads at all. The only spare linen we found was stuffed in a magazine rack in the living room, and blankets had been thrown – not folded – in the top of the closets in both bedrooms. So the question in my mind is: how clean were they?

There were ticks in the bathroom tub and dead roach carcasses in the windowsills and on the dresser in the upstairs bedroom. There was a broken lamp stuffed in the closet that we found when looking for any spare linen.

Trying to make this cabin work was just not going to happen. I stepped outside and tried to regain my composure; I was just sick. I placed a call to the hosts and left a message. By then I was in tears as I had no idea what we were going to do… there was more family en route and nowhere to stay.

There was no way to make this cabin work; it was awful. After about fifteen minutes one of the hosts phoned me, and I explained that I was so disappointed that the cabin was filthy and in such bad disrepair. He said that he was so surprised to hear this as the people who checked out the day before said nothing. I told him that I can’t speak for other people, and I asked if he had another cabin nearby that we could try. He said that they did not. I was mid-sentence telling him that we could not stay when the call was dropped. I couldn’t get him back on the line. He texted me a few minutes later that he would call his cleaning service. I responded that we would be leaving the cabin and going to find rooms in town. I also told him that this was not just a cleaning issue; this place was in disrepair.

The host proceeded to offer us a 20% discount on the cabin if we wanted to stay. I thanked him and told him that even at no charge, we would not be staying.

As I was texting him, my sister-in-law arrived with her family – they have the handicapped son. She took one look and told me we would get a room in town.

One thing the host did say while I had him on the phone was “it is a ‘rustic’ cabin.” My response was: “I have stayed in many ‘rustic’ cabins. I’m from Idaho originally. Rustic doesn’t mean filthy and falling apart.”

I think this would be a lovely place to visit, but hosts need to have pride in their properties. Keep them clean and in good repair. This was one cabin where the reviews and the pictures did not match what we found.

For the record, we work every day.  I cleaned houses and offices for many years and I am now an office manager. My husband is a painting contractor. We work very hard for our money and to be able to afford to take trips, so to find this was totally unacceptable. It was not a great way to start what was to be a celebration trip.

We went into Pigeon Forge and I tried contacting a couple of other Airbnb hosts to find available places that were available to rent for our group. We saw a Cabins USA office, and our daughter’s coach suggested we give them a try. She called them and they had one place available. It was a little bigger than we needed and more expensive; however, it was available, so we took it.

Once we had settled into the new cabin, I phoned my son and asked him what I needed to do. He instructed me to go online and cancel the reservation and then email the host and to do it through Airbnb. I got online at Airbnb and tried using the Help feature in the app to cancel. It kept giving me an error message and just continued to ask me to check in. I then typed out an email to send and tried to send it tree times, receiving an error every time.

Frustrated, I emailed the hosts from the listing on Airbnb. I explained that we had left the cabin, and would not be staying. I asked what I needed to do to request a refund.

The next morning, (19th) I emailed the host again to confirm that we had left and asked what I needed to do to request a refund.

Within the hour, they texted me back and said that they would issue a refund through Airbnb. I responded thank you and went about the day. I thought the matter had been resolved.

We had several activities going on at the college which were about a 45-minute drive. We were there for a graduation, so we proceeded to visit with family and attended some of the festivities.

Later in the day I was shopping and I received a call from Airbnb. I explained that I was in the store and asked if they could call me back? I shared that I thought the matter was resolved as the host said that he would be issuing us a refund. However, I would be happy to speak to them, just a little later. I did ask if I could call them? I just asked that they email the contact information.

That night I checked my emails, and there was an email from Airbnb. I typed a response stating that I felt the matter was resolved. The email was sent at 10:47 PM, May 19th. This email was sent in response to the complaint that I had sent on the 18th – the one I thought had not gone through. I found this out from Airbnb Customer Service.

On the 20th we were scheduled to move our daughter out of her dorm and into an apartment in Knoxville. It wasn’t until later that night I saw different emails on the 20th.  It had taken the better part of the day to move, and I really didn’t think anyone else would be contacting me. Graduation was on the 21st and we had a dinner out so we did not get in until late. I was not looking for any emails or calls from anyone. We were just trying to enjoy this time with our daughter and family.

On May 24th after we arrived home in Florida,  I reviewed the emails from different Airbnb people from May 20th. I emailed a response. There were also several “rate your stay” emails, which I kept deleting as I didn’t want to kick a dead horse. Then about the fifth time, I left a one-star review. It was short and sweet: the cabin wasn’t what we expected, we did not stay, the matter was resolved. The cabin could be much better with a little TLC. No lies, no trashing the people. Short and sweet.

In the meantime, I keep looking at my credit card and waiting for the refund. Then towards the end of May, I sent an email to the host asking if there was something more that I need to do: contact Airbnb, or what?

The next day I receive an email from them stating, “there will be no refund.” Airbnb had left it up to them since I didn’t respond. I responded with an email that stated that I had copies of the responses sent to Airbnb and to him. I explained that I didn’t think I needed to do any more than I did as he told me he was going to issue a refund. I thought the matter had been resolved. However, I also told him I understood that he did that likely so I would tell Airbnb that and not pursue the case any further.

I was so angry. Was he serious? This “host” was just going to take the $1500 and dismiss us? Well, not without a fight.

He also stated that I left him one star… so in my response, I told him that I wasn’t even going to leave that. I explained that I didn’t lie and I didn’t blast him or his cabin, I just said we didn’t stay. This guy is a real piece of work. He works Airbnb to his benefit, and the fact that he did it the way that he did, indicates he has done it before. He also shared that his reputation speaks for itself, and he wished me well.

Again, I got on the phone to Airbnb. I reached them on the same 415 number listed on this site. I spoke to a representative who sounded genuinely concerned at the predicament. She said would email me and I needed to respond. I told her I was at work, so it would be later that night or in the morning (this was Friday, June 9th). There were other photos on my husband’s phone that I needed to send as well.

She told me that I had time, just get them together and send them. On my lunch hour, the same day,  I printed the texts and emails and emailed them to response@airbnb.com. This was a reply to the email that she sent to me as promised. That email went through fine. When I got home I put all of the photos together. I then tried to email them to the same email address and immediately received an error email that Airbnb did not receive the email with a link.  The link took me to the listing for the cabin and hosts along with the help page.

I then called a 415 number and it was a recording that said my response person would get the message that I had phoned and be in touch. Nothing.

This brings me to June 14th at 6:00 PM. I was just walking in the door from work and my phone rang; it was Airbnb. There is a woman who confirms who I am and proceeds to tell me that they are closing my file as I have not responded to their requests… what have I been doing, then? I proceeded to explain that yes, I have responded, several times what is she talking about, and we would not be closing the file, not by a long shot.

Is there anyone there that even reads these responses? We talked for a few minutes more, and she said she understood that there was likely some confusion on my part about the need to respond since you felt the matter was resolved. Not until recently did she find out that it wasn’t. She told me that she would speak to her supervisor and get back to me by phone or by email.

Today, June 14th. Email from BobbiLee:

Hello Kim,

Thanks so much for your patience throughout this process. We appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your concerns with our team. However, we have issued our final decision for this case and we will disengage from further discussion on this topic.

We’re truly passionate about providing our community of hosts and guests with the best possible traveling experience. I’m really sorry that this hasn’t been the case here. Just know that we’re always working to improve our products and policies, and even when we aren’t able to accommodate requests, we absolutely value our users’ feedback. As a customer of Airbnb, your voice is both powerful and essential and I’ll be sure to pass your thoughts on to the right team.

Thank you for your cooperation during the mediation process and for your valued time and contribution.

Best wishes,

BobbiLee

www.airbnb.com/help

My Response June 15th:

BobbiLee,

Airbnb will “disengage” from further conversations even though this matter is far from resolved. I have not spoken to the same person twice and Airbnb feels that they have done a thorough job investigating this case? I’ve sent copies of texts and emails. I was unable to send photos, as the email address that I used to send you copies of conversations had with the hosts always produced an error. I called your corporate office number and it said that someone would be in touch, I sent emails asking what to do… and nothing. Now this?

I did send the photos to the owner. He knows what the property looked like and still couldn’t find anything wrong? He never even commented on it. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t have to provide anything to you, because Airbnb really didn’t care one way or the other? You ruled in his favor, as that’s what he told me, and left it up to him to decide on a refund? So, instead of making your host follow through on what he wrote to me, you threw me, the customer under the bus and let him decide. How convenient for you.

I find that more than a little disturbing and it is apparent to me that I will need to seek other advice. I can’t afford to just throw away $1500 for filthy accommodations.

Shame on you as the company, and shame on the hosts for thinking that this is acceptable.

We were told that we would receive a refund on the 19th at 11:47 AM from our hosts. I thought the matter fully resolved and wrote as much in an email to your staff. A refund is what I was promised and a refund is what I fully intend to pursue.

I will seek legal advice in the matter of this rental. I work hard for what I have and we paid your company up front for a cabin advertised as something it was not. These are unacceptable business practices and I’m more than a little insulted that you think that what Airbnb did was a “resolution” to this situation. You and your “host” turned what was to be a celebration of our daughter’s graduation into a nightmare!

Rest assured I will let others know what happened here. It is like being robbed.

You and your host stole money for a service that was promised and not provided, then lied.

Then neither of you notified me of anything that had changed… a little cowardly don’t you think?

Bad form Airbnb, very bad form. Question is, do you really care? I think not.

 

Pennie Kimberlyn Hall

Very Disappointed Consumer

 

As a follow-up, my husband then phoned and got a young lady on the phone to again explain what had happened. He asked to speak to a manager as it is apparent that the people who answer the phones can’t get anything done. She asked to whom we had spoken and the name of the person we last spoke to. I gave them the name of the representative and then told her there was an email signed by BobbiLee. She told us that she was trying to get through to her, but couldn’t get an answer. She said that BobbiLee was in the office. She said that she would message her to call us back ASAP. It never happened, and we have not heard from anyone since. This was the call that I was told they had received the pictures that I sent, and the cancellation email that I sent, even though I received an error message on my end? So, if they had all of the information and the pictures, how can they say that I didn’t respond to their requests for information?

I found this website. Maybe there is something that I can find out here… thanks for letting me vent. However, I am so truly disturbed by this experience that I will never use Airbnb again. The good experiences that I have had have been overshadowed by this one. I’m disgusted that others may have to go through this as well. I am going to keep working on this, I assure you. I would appreciate any feedback.

Airbnb is a Nightmare for Guests of All Ages

I am still fuming following outrageously dishonest treatment from a host in Leatherhead in the UK in early May which was arrogantly backed by Airbnb. They took over $849 AUD without providing any accommodation. I refused to stay in the accommodation shortly after check-in after enduring parking hell involving a building site with extreme restricted access in the “designated parking area” (see photo) and access to the flat. I was met with a drummer in the room above practicing and a room/flat which would never be described as “spacious” and certainly not “homely”.

The host was overseas at check-in and unreachable for three days. Instead he sent his mother to officiate, who showed no sympathy and was only concerned with defending her son. Airbnb even phoned me on my 50th birthday to tell me to take a hike and reduced me to tears as I apparently “hadn’t followed the cancellation procedure.” As far as the website was concerned, I had done so to the letter. The Airbnb representative was just nasty: she refused to take my photographic evidence into account that backed my case, saying that it was ” irrelevant” and condescendingly told me that “she didn’t have a problem with the website”.

I will never use this company again. I will certainly be warning others. The way the company operated towards me was utterly immoral and shameful and appears to deliberately make it extremely difficult to contact them. I would not trust them ever again. A disgusting organisation. Go to hell Airbnb.

My Case was Closed Before the Case was Closed

I booked a place in Cusco, Peru that only said it accepted up to two people. When a friend decided to join us, I had to cancel and find a new place. However, upon contacting the host, she confirmed we could have three people; I rebooked the same place for the same time. Airbnb refunded $229 of the $401 fee but hasn’t refunded the cancellation portion of the fee ($172) of the first reservation that was placed in error. I am now staying at the same place for the same dates and have overpaid by $172.

Now let’s discuss Airbnb’s Customer Service or lack thereof. I contacted them to explain what had happened and the agent claimed she would try and contact the host to resolve the situation. The whole issue happened because the Airbnb system won’t allow for the correction of a cancellation made in error and they force you to rebook and pay again. Anyway, the agent wasn’t able to reach the host and I received a followup email asking if the case was resolved. I had one week to reply or the case would be closed. I did reply (three times) and finally after a few days, Airbnb sent me an email stating the case has been closed and I could resubmit to open a new case.

What just happened? There are now several other companies that do the same service as Airbnb (Hometogo for example) so I guess I’ll be looking elsewhere for my next vacation booking.

Refunded Double to Guest and Won’t Accept Responsibility

I issued a refund to the guest according to instructions on the Airbnb website. It was more than the amount Airnb originally charged. Airbnb gave the guest the amount they calculated as the refund I owed as well as the amount that I refunded. Trying to resolve this is a nightmare. I have called and been disconnected or hung up on twice. Even though I gave my phone number for the second call, they never called back. I did finally get an email several days later saying that I had made a mistake, not them. When responding to that, my email was kicked back saying the ticket was closed. I have never worked with a company so intent on avoiding customer service.

Airbnb Customer Service Handles Lack of Wifi Poorly

I booked an apartment through Airbnb in Madrid for a long-term stay, about 60 days. I never met the host. This wasn’t a problem, as I was shown around by her friend who was also the person I was to solely communicate with about any problems. The first thing I did when I arrived was check the wifi signal, as it was listed as an amenity on Airbnb. The connection was terrible and always disconnected due to the router being three floors away and shared by a number of other guests. I told the host’s friend about this problem as well as the host herself and they mentioned that they would bring a signal booster around within the next couple of days. I waited patiently whilst delaying my work and losing some income.

Eventually the host’s friend arrived with the signal booster which we set up and tried but it didn’t make a difference at all. The host’s friend also mentioned that some guests have had problems with the wifi in the past too. After fiddling around with the signal booster by putting it in different positions for about an hour the host’s friend gave up and left. At this point I phoned and complained to Airbnb, who told me that they would help me find a new place before my next installment of £1000+ was due. However, they did not keep their promise and this forced me to cancel my booking.

When cancelling my booking the website told me the amount due was for the next 30 days; to cover myself, I paid this so that after the 30 days were up I could move somewhere else. However, this was not the case. Upon canceling my booking on the Airbnb website it stated that I must pay for the following 30 days but it didn’t tell me that I was not entitled to use the apartment for these 30 days that I just paid for. At this point, I was in such a panic and contacted the host telling them what I had done. Luckily they agreed to still let me stay (as they should – I paid for those days). During the 30 days I was staying there I complained a number of times to the host and the host’s friend as well as Airbnb and nothing was done about the situation with the wifi.

After the 30 days were up, I moved into a new place and this time talked to Airbnb to request half of my money back. After a few emails back and forth with the woman who was dealing with my case, she stated that according to their terms and conditions I am only entitled to four days of staying there as after these four days is when I cancelled… even though I paid for 30+ days and lost out on thousands of paid work. On top of this, Airbnb could clearly see in the chat log that the host was lying through her teeth as she said that I sent her a message saying that the wifi was working when there is no such message; there were only messages of me complaining about it. I am never going to use Airbnb again. I thought being a modern company they would have some ethical consideration and take things into account rather than blasting ”according to our terms and conditions” in my face.

To sum it up, I spent £1300 on an apartment for 33 days, and they told me I was only entitled to four days’ refund as I cancelled my booking to prevent myself from losing out on more paid work due to the amenity problem. If Airbnb reads this then they can be assured that they’re going to lose a lot more money than the modest refund that I requested for being screwed over by them and the host.

Bachelor Party Last Minute Cancellation – Nowhere to Stay

Having booked an Airbnb to stay three months before my bachelor party, we were notified at 9:00 PM the night before check-in that our host had been evicted. In the email notifying us, the case manager provided a refund and a $200 credit, along with three listings that were 30-50 miles away from our original location. Needless to say, there were no desirable homes, and very few suitable ones for a group of our size. After finding a number to call via a friend who works at Airbnb, I spoke with an agent on the phone, and the agent told me they were going to run a few more searches and call me back. An hour later, I called again, found out that outbound calling was having trouble that evening, and the agent wasn’t able to call me back. They also weren’t able to help us in our search for housing either. We ended up finding two entire homes on the site our own and booked them that night, utilizing the $200 credit as well. In the morning, we were denied one house (it had already been rented, apparently) and were told that the host would be staying with us in the other as they weren’t able to find alternative housing on such short notice… tell me about it. We cancelled the second home, although we were charged for a day because we were within 24 hours of check in. We ended up booking hotel rooms instead. A week later, we still haven’t received a refund for that one day and have no credit to compensate us for the additional cost of a hotel and pain that this cause. Overall, I couldn’t be more disappointed with Airbnb’s customer service and lack of effort with what was a really important weekend for me.

Caveat Emptor: Worst Customer Service Ever

My wife and I recently booked 30 days of travel through Iceland and Western Europe through Airbnb. I would caution anyone who considers using Airbnb to consider that after eight days of calling and hours of dealing with customer service there is no way for a traveler to reach a manager after a case worker. Once it reaches a manger at this level the case is basically frozen in time. If you have an issue there is no resolution. I am quite worried about leaving a trip like this in the hands of this company. I know that before leaving my front door that if I have a problem there is no chance to get help. I did open a Twitter account to try to communicate with Airbnb when I couldn’t get through via email or the phone center. I received this response from them: “We see that a final decision has been issued on this matter and will disengage from further discussion. Thank you.”

I can only warn people at this point to run the other direction from Airbnb. If it goes badly you will regret it.

Airbnb Slumlord and Customer Service Torture me

I planned a trip to New York from Feb 23rd until May 31st. From the day I arrived the place was filthy. I brought my own linens and a shower curtain out of fear. Then mice and cockroaches started running through the place. We came home to a mouse just sitting on my son’s pillow. The fresh paint was a patch job and already caused mold to form. The heat didn’t work for three days. When it finally was turned on, the radiator was leaking and so loud you couldn’t even hear a person speak. The steam ruined the entire room, and the water caused the flooring to rot. My son must sleep in that room and the water shot all over our stuff.

I have now had to wait three different times for a repairman to come. This has messed up most of my days and the issue is still not fixed. A couple weeks after arriving, the hot water started turning off. I have had the city health department out here numerous times. Still, you never know when you can shower. For a month I tried to contact Airbnb; they always say a supervisor will call back. This of course never happens. I even sent pictures and explained about the mice. Still, there was no answer. I finally decided to do my own research. It was not hard to find who owned the building… the same guy who is our host. I Googled his name and his family is listed on the NYC worst landlord list. His mother was actually sued in court over being a slumlord.

Does Airbnb have no responsibility to at least investigate the product they are selling? They make money off me as well as the landlord, so does only the landlord deserve protection? I am now in fear of these people as Airbnb has notified them of my complaints. I wake up and, no hot water. He can now torture me if he wants. I just want out for my own safety. I feel there needs to be more responsibility or laws for Airbnb as they are making a fortune and do not have to comply with rules we apply to hotel owners. My entire trip has been destroyed.

In regards to Airbnb customer service, I finally have just been continually calling as I have not only been to the hospital because the property made me sick, but now I have an eye infection from the filth. They still refuse to help. I have been through ten case workers in two days. Most of them lack knowledge or even decency. If I sue I will request all taped calls as most have admitted to the terrible conditions and that they themselves would not stay here. I even will have a tape of one of the agents who forgot to put me on hold, and was discussing me with the supervisor, who refused to get on the phone. They had a nice conversation about how their break was more important and were laughing about me. I have sent videos, pictures, hospital notes, health department notices, all the text messages between the host and myself, and even the articles on the host’s reputation, and they are still giving me the runaround. I need to get out but they have all my money. Anyone that can help, please give me some suggestions.