I booked a stay at what was described as a beautiful retreat in the Yosemite area. My friends flew in from across the country to join me on a hiking trip in Yosemite and we were excited to be going. Dan, the owner, was very happy to rent to me, and it was all set up. We arrived to find the place to be uninhabitable. No running water, no promise of repair, and the oven looked as if it was vintage 1970s and had never been cleaned. There was a huge crack in the microwave rendering it unusable. We had to use water from the hot tub to flush the toilets. There was nothing about the place that was as described and I let him know it. He would not offer a refund and told me that if I wrote a bad review he would sue me. I called Airbnb repeatedly for help. We had to search for another place to stay. They promised callbacks that never came, and when I did reach someone, it sounded like I was talking to someone overseas. Whether or not that was the case, they asked me to write a letter – which I did – and to email pictures, because I definitely had plenty of them. They were not willing to try to help me in any way. Ultimately I disputed the charge with Visa and won. Today, I went to the site for the first time since that nightmare, and there was a negative review of me as a guest written by the host of the uninhabitable filthy place that Airbnb had listed for rent on their site. When I tried to reach out to Airbnb to discuss removing the review as it was unfair and they had proof of it, I could not get anywhere with customer service and couldn’t even find an email address. Airbnb is a terrible site and I will never use it again.
When you’re traveling alone for business, you would think it might be nice to save a few dollars and spend it elsewhere by getting an Airbnb a few minutes away from the conference you’re attending. I can put up with a lot but when you start to feel like a vagrant in a homeless shelter, I think that’s where I draw the line. I should’ve figured something was up when I exchanged texts with my host who told me to head upstairs and open the door because it would be unlocked. Nothing of value and nothing to worry about, I suppose. I walked into what was obviously a college student’s bachelor pad. All furnishings were kept to a bare minimum except for a rack full of men’s sneakers. At least it looked clean, if not bare. I walked in to find a partially exposed full-sized mattress on a bare metal base with a single dingy dirty flat sheet, a thin ratty looking blanket on top, and a blue/brown pillow that looked like it should’ve been either blue or brown (but not both).
However, it was late at night, I was tired, and I tried to overlook this but I couldn’t get over how cold it was there. The “furnished living room” was surrounded by windows across two walls with a connected balcony door. That’s when I discovered that there was a gaping hole in that balcony door and a thin garbage bag taped over the opening was still flapping in the wind. Now, mind you there was an extreme cold advisory and windchill warnings in Portland, OR that week. It was 29 degrees outside and there was a hole in the window. The heat wasn’t working – of course – and despite what my host said should have been an easy flick of the knob, I wasn’t able to force it on. So I sat on this dingy ratty looking mattress with a dirty looking sheet, blanket, and used looking pillow and thought about why I made such a poor decision to take a risk on Airbnb. I went to the bathroom and found it bare, stained, and moldy looking with no toilet paper. None. Nowhere to be found. I mean, I was already thinking that it’s a little ridiculous to ask me to bring my own bath towel, but should I have brought my own toilet paper too? Even public restrooms stock their toilet paper. What am I paying for?
In the end, I left because even the host had decided he wasn’t going to stay there until the window was fixed (likely after a drunken college party as I found bottle caps and tabs under the bed). He was at dinner with his friends and wouldn’t be back for a few days, after the window was fixed. I tried to get a refund, which is obviously a joke. The host said he was never paid the full amount, Airbnb said he was. He would only give me the “portion” of the money he received, because he didn’t want to give me money of out his pocket (I guess only fools like me do). Airbnb said the $25 service fee was nonrefundable but I laid into the poor man I spoke with on the phone and he gave me a $25 credit on the site. I’m not sure why I agreed to that (maybe because I obviously wasn’t going to get anything else).
Reservation total = $125 for 2 nights. The host refunded me $57 out of the $97 reservation cost; so I’m out $40 for being stupid (-$3 which just disappeared) with a $25 credit to be stupid again. I’m so disgusted with the whole situation.
Here is a description of how we were moral policed and character assassinated during our stay at a host’s residence. Some details are left out due to the sheer number of these instances we had to put up with during our stay. The description of the place on the listing was not even close to the real condition of the residence; the room and linen smelled musty (we had to insist that the linen be changed periodically), the room was infested with mosquitoes at night, the walls, fans, and bathroom were dirty, and we had to either take the initiative to clean the place ourselves or personally supervise the cleaning as the host would grudgingly offer to have place cleaned or come back to us with statements like “previous guests put up with this so why should it be a problem for you?”
My partner and I have both backpacked (in India and abroad) and understand that hygiene levels slightly vary from the listing to reality but I’m talking about hygiene levels akin to living in a shanty, (things like coats of dust, grime and oil stains on the walls and switches of the alternative kitchen we were given, a filthy bathroom). The host even had the audacity to lock her kitchen at night without informing us (reason being – she did not list that non-vegetarian food was not okay and hence locked the kitchen to keep us away from using her utensils and basic cooking items). Though highly unacceptable, we tolerated these aspects (primarily because she refused to negotiate a refund or solution) and either cleaned things ourselves or made sure we were supervising when these issues were not taken care of (a clear responsibility of the host that was not fulfilled).
However, what was uncalled for and down right insulting were the remarks, attitude, and judgement that the host and her husband had towards us during the entirety of our stay. The final straw was the incident on the last day when the host’s husband simply insulted me by openly making a character judgement. Earlier they had turned down our request to have a buffer zone of a couple of hours to use their facilities on the final checkout day as we had a train that same night. Having taken enough time already, we checked out at 11:00 AM and were waiting for our taxi with our luggage at the main gate. I went to get a taxi to our location, while my partner monitored the luggage. The host’s husband passed my partner at the main gate without saying a word and then halfway down the road met me and started yelling – literally yelling at me on a busy street in front of all to see – saying:
“You came home at 5:00 in the morning – I know what kind of a girl does that!”
“Is this the behavior that your family raised you for?”
“What type of character does a girl like you have to behave like this?”
“Take a good look at your behavior and disgusting character! My wife and I are extremely glad you are leaving! Take a look inside yourself and stop being like this!”
This could have been completely denied by the host but instead she called us to confirm that this incident took place and went onto say that her husband always behaves like this and creates a problem every time. Then she sheepishly told us that “I know you will leave a bad review because of this and we have only been good to you.” I mean, there are ways of being two faced and this host really showed it. Basically she was calling to do damage control for this entire incident and tried to make it seem like she had nothing to do with any of the moral policing, insults, and character assassinations that we had put with for the past nine days. We were essentially being held for ransom to continue staying there because she had our money and refused to come to a negotiation even though we made it clear on numerous occasions that we were unhappy with the hygiene conditions, insults and passive aggressive judgements of the host and her husband. This is one experience that has definitely disgusted us and made us really wary of choosing listings.
My husband and I booked an Airbnb, for the first time ever, to travel from Eastern Canada to spend two weeks in Scottsdale, Arizona. We arrived only to find the property in a deplorable, filthy condition. I don’t mean dirty; I mean filthy. There was urine and dried feces on the toilet and pubic hair in the sinks. The bedding had not been changed and the pillows, instead of being white, were a golden brown, as were the stains on the bed covering. The carpeting, which was suppose to be tan, was a dirty mess of brown and black. There were dirty dish cloths and open food containers in the kitchen. One of the bedrooms had an air mattress.
After complaining to the host, who was leasing in violation of her Homeowners Association, she tried to tell us that the cleaner had come to clean the house, her water broke, and she had to leave to have a baby. Really… she was nine months pregnant and cleaning? Our host also told us that she had moved to San Francisco; however, when I texted her that the house was dirty, she showed up five minutes later to say that the house wasn’t bad, she tried her best and continued to tell us that she would pray for us. Being thousands of miles away from home with no place to stay, we did not need someone praying for us; it all felt more than a little weird.
I have been trying to resolve this issue with Airbnb; however, they say that they are not responsible for refunds, if the host does not agree to a refund. How can this be? Do they allow anyone to list their properties? People with questionable hygiene, sexual perverts, murderers? Is there no obligation on the part of Airbnb to screen hosts, ensure properties meet a certain standard, and ensure the safety of guests? Have you tried getting ahold of anyone at Airbnb? Just finding a phone number for them is like trying to pull hen’s teeth and they don’t have any. I have learned a very valuable, expensive lesson from Airbnb and I would like to pass on to those considering renting through them: don’t do it. Use VRBO or HomeAway.
I recently stayed at an Airbnb in Philadelphia. It was so disgusting: black mold in the shower and urine stains on the sofa. The window to the fire escape did not lock. I had my family with me. It was New Year’s Eve weekend. We bravely stayed for one evening. I thought I would wake up with bed bugs. I contacted the host the day we arrived multiple times. He was very responsive. I contacted him again in the morning asking for a refund because his place was just so filthy and unsafe. He said he’d refund me. He’s not so responsive anymore. Two weeks later, and I’m still waiting. Airbnb customer service said to read over the cancellation policy. I guess they don’t care what type of accommodations their hosts offer. I will never, ever, use Airbnb again. Unbelievable.
In order to allow our son to stay with us in New York, we foolishly responded to an Airbnb posting describing a quiet, modern, spacious and well-appointed apartment. We were due to move in early in the evening after returning from New Year’s in Boston. Perhaps the first clue was a request not to tell other apartment owners that we were paying guests. When we arrived we found a dark, old, ground floor apartment, on the street. We could hear people talking outside and traffic noise. There was a stupefying smell of bleach, mould in the bathroom, and a living area dominated by a fridge with no extra room. The flooring was old and dirty, the blinds were broken, and there was a general sense of disrepair. We stayed long enough to survey the disaster and then checked back into a hotel in which we had previously stayed. We immediately reported our concerns to the host who simply denied everything. We reported the issues along with photographs to Airbnb. Despite numerous phone calls we had little response until today when our case manager informed us that our request for a refund had been denied. So we are $4,500 out of pocket with nowhere to go. This appalling organisation needs to be stopped immediately.
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.
We stayed in an Airbnb apartment that had not been cleaned when we arrived. The place was filthy and smelled bad. We contacted our host who said the cleaner was running late because of the recent holiday period. We were very annoyed because we had both traveled a long way that morning and had already waited outside the apartment for two hours in the heat, as we arrived before check-in time. We asked for a partial refund due to the inconvenience, which our host kindly agreed to. Seven business days later and we still have not seen the refund in our account. First of all, it was really difficult to get in contact with Airbnb, and when we finally did after being on hold for a long time, the lady that answered was very rude and not helpful at all. We originally paid for our stay with my friend’s PayPal account. Months after we paid in full for our accommodation, her account was hacked, her money stolen, and then her account was permanently closed by the hacker. Airbnb refused to pay our refund to any other account other than the one with which we paid, fully aware of my friend’s unfortunate circumstance. Calls were made back and forth trying to get our money back and we spent a lot of time on hold. In the end, they did not give us our money back, even though PayPal customer service said it was their responsibility. Not only has our host missed out on money, so have we (and a substantial amount of time), Airbnb was the only one to benefit. I am really disappointed and annoyed, and will let everyone I know not to trust them. Their customer service is horrible, they are not empathetic at all, and their policies need some serious reviewing.
We were supposed to spend a month in an apartment with good reviews. We arrived there pretty late. The place had not been cleaned at all. There were mounds of dust on one of the doors, a refrigerator filled with half-eaten food, a bed sheet that was very old with hairs of debatable origin on it, toothpaste on the countertop, brown stains and hair on the back of the bathroom door, soda cans and bottle caps under the bed, and hair and dust at accumulated levels in the bedroom. Large food particulates were in the toaster oven, most drawers had things in them, and nothing seemed cleaned. It was late and we called Airbnb for help. They told us we could not get a refund because the unit owner had a strict refund policy and we were already in the apartment. Of course we were in the apartment; that’s when we learned that it was disgusting. Are they really that stupid at Airbnb? Whatever genius was working that day should be fired. Supposedly I am getting some money back, but so far nothing has been refunded. We are talking about thousands of dollars, and I have heard nothing about getting my security deposit back even though we never stayed in the apartment. I tried calling Airbnb; it’s all so automated that you can’t speak to anyone. Big time nightmare. Bottom line: the concept seems good when it works. But if your host is a pig, Airbnb could care less. Never will I use that company again.
My nightmare began when my fiancé and I decided to rent a place for a short stay in New York City to do some Thanksgiving shopping before returning home. I was obviously misled by the price ($55) and the attractive title: “Historic Harlem walk up.” First of all, the room is not located in the artsy, bohemian, historical, Columbia University area of Harlem, but on 7th St and 5th Ave, which we have come to learn is basically one of the blocks of “Dominicans Don’t Play,” a Latino mafia, as we were told when the police came after we reported a brawl at the entry hallway at 2:00 AM. When the officers left, they recommended we tried to find a hotel somewhere else: “You’re here at your own risk.”
The building is located between liquor stores packed with Haitians gambling with dice at the entrance. The morning we left we had to literally give two dollars to a homeless sleeping in front of the door, or else… Why did we end up there? Well, as people can see in the listing, the picture and description give the impression the room has enough light and space for two. I should have read the reviews first. The space you’re renting is not a room; it’s a locked closet with no ventilation, smells like weed and sometimes gas at night, and it comes with its own door to a bedroom where pretty much anyone else can enter and invade your space. That space, of course, is not even where the landlady lives, which by New York law is illegal to rent.
Let me warn you about the landlady. She goes by several aliases in Airbnb. She’s one of a kind. As soon as you see her, you can tell she’s up to something. She made totally inappropriate comments to my wife, and was moody all the time. Forget about the Airbnb commercials where the local host is warmly welcomed. Her face suggested she hadn’t slept in a week and gave a creepy air to the place. I was so happy when we left. This host definitely has a language barrier and does not speak proper English or Spanish (I speak both), however she replied to my review that I was the one to blame, despite the fact I am fluent in both languages.
Things to remember: Avoid Airbnb, and if in New York, avoid this listing. I have flagged her profile, but of course Airbnb does not care as long as people keep flowing in. I also warn families and couples not to rent to her because something fishy is going on in that building.