Airbnb has Standards for Hosts? What Standards…?

Let me start with the link to the luxurious, custom and tastefully decorated house we rented in Union City, California. Whatever you do, don’t believe anything you read concerning this house on Airbnb and don’t rent this house. If you do, you won’t be able to say I didn’t warn you.

We rented this house because it was big (for seven people), it seemed nice, it was well situated for us, and the comments of past renters were all good. The stay started with the host saying that the house was not ready for us when we got there, one hour and a half after the check in time. The host then told me that he was told by the last renter that she might have heard a mouse during the night. We later learned that this was a lie because when the comments of the previous renter was posted, after our arrival, the mouse traps were already there before she got there.

The next morning we went away early for the day. We had time to see that the place was not very clean. We ate out that night and got home around 10:00. To our disgust, we killed two roaches in the kitchen. That was when we first contacted Airbnb. To our surprise, Airbnb replied immediately. We said we were disgusted and we wanted out. They told us we had 24 hours upon our arrival to file a complaint so we could get out of there with a refund. We had been there 28 hours.

To make a story short, here is a list of all the issues we experienced with the house and Airbnb:

1. We saw a mouse, we killed two roaches and we found many other bugs in the house.

2. The stove was out of order, the BBQ grill was disgusting, and there was supposed to be a gaming room with pinball machines, foosball, and pingpong table.

3. The house was not very clean: curtains were stained, the BBQ grill was disgusting, the doors to the bathrooms were dirty, the windows were filthy we could barely see through, and on the side of the house we found a dozen empty old paint containers.

Attached you will find a few pictures to show some of the nice things we had to live with. You should also know that these three points contradict two of Airbnb’s standards and regulations. However, Airbnb doesn’t care about their own standards and regulations and their customers. Like I said earlier, Airbnb were very quick to respond and seemed very helpful. We had constant contacts everyday. I was on vacation and the last thing I wanted to do during my vacation was run after Airbnb customer service.

In fact, they were not helpful at all and they were all but productive. I had seven case managers involved in my case, all seemed very understanding of my situation but none of them answered my questions. When our trip was finally over, I asked for a refund. After a few exchanges I was told that I could get a partial refund by one of the case managers involved. He changed his mind because the host sent him a copy of the invoice of a pest control company that supposedly visited the house during our stay and it said there weren’t any traces of vermin in the house.

I didn’t believe a pest control company came to the house so I asked to see the invoice or the name of the pest company, but Airbnb told me the host didn’t want them to share that information with me. Talk about transparency. If you have nothing to hide, show me the invoice, right? Not with Airbnb. The host did not want them to share it with me. I didn’t believe that a pest control company came because the host told me that when it came it didn’t find traces of vermin.

That same night we found traces of mice in two different places in the house. Then the host told me that the bag in which we found different bugs under the fridge were long dead according to the ‘pest control company’. In fact, I had killed the bugs myself the night before their visit. Lastly, we found rolled up paper coming from the mouse traps on the counter after their ‘presence’. It is not very professional for a company to leave their trash on the counter after they left, isn’t it. One last thing: my reviews, that were very negative, were never posted on the site. Maybe that is why we see few negative comments concerning the houses we can rent on Airbnb. Transparency…

Changing the Number of Guests for Airbnb in Okinawa

I made a reservation from January this year for my family trip to Okinawa, Japan in October. Upon making the first reservation, I only paid around 43,000 yen for five of us. However, my oldest daughter couldn’t join us so I needed to change the numbers from five to four so as to save money. I had to pay about 18,000 yen for this change. I have tried to solve this stupid problem with the host and the host agreed with my complaint that I didn’t have to pay. He also said he didn’t understand why should I pay more and did not know how to make the change. He advised me to contact Airbnb directly. However, Airbnb insisted that the host had to agree to give me a refund. Is it normal to pay more to decrease the number of guests? What a horrible policy! I wouldn’t use Airbnb again.

Airbnb Steals Your Money And Then Makes You Angry

We just found that Airbnb didn’t transfer our money a few days after the client paid until we contacted them about this issue. Later, they cancelled one payment from another guest who actually already checked in and was not entitled to get any refund; we had a strict cancellation policy. We charged a very low fee under Airbnb’s instructions because they told us that our listings would not be found if our fee was higher than Airbnb’s lowest rate. However, Airbnb will take any comment against a landlord seriously and punish him or her without any investigation or fairness. Even though I have had my place listed on Airbnb for just a few months, I have felt very stressed and offended because Airbnb staff kept bugging me all the time as if they were the police with complete authority; this is ridiculous because everybody knows Airbnb started as a small website and is now getting bigger by coddling landlords while pissing off small ones.

I will never use this stupid website anymore and we will not have to because there are many other better ways. I think the reason Airbnb would like to get rid of small landlords is now they have bigger bosses in and they would not make much money by keeping small landlords and small tenants. Please remember that Airbnb never works in your best interest but by sucking as much cash as they can out of your pocket.

Unauthorized Credit Charge Out of Nowhere from Airbnb

Never leave your credit card saved on the Airbnb app or website. My card was fraudulently charged for over $200 but promptly credited back, as shown on my statement. I did not even log in to the website or app for more than eight months. I lost out on more than $10 due to currency exchange differences. Airbnb refused to credit me back, and refused to say why my card was charged without authorization. It took them more than two weeks to even reply to me. My bank can’t do anything because Airbnb returned the amount they scammed from me. My big question is how can Airbnb charge a credit card without approval or authorization? This amounts to a scam and should be considered criminal. I thought my case was isolated, but a quick search on Google turned up similar stories.

Worst Customer Experience, Fake Airbnb Fees

I booked an Airbnb about a month in advance of my trip to San Sebastian, Spain. I had a few messages with the host and felt good about the booking (good location, all good reviews). My last comment to the host was that I had to arrive late: about 10:30 PM due to traveling all day from another city in Spain. I sent this 24 days in advance, yet four days before my trip he replied saying that he will have to collect a 40 euro “late check-in fee” at the door.

I immediately contacted Airbnb to voice my concerns and to find out if this was something he had the right to do. This “late check-in fee” was nowhere on his listing. After three phone calls and a lot of being put on hold, customer service at Airbnb said the host is not allowed to charge an extra fee that’s not clearly on the listing for all to see. They said they would reach out to him right away to “resolve” this as they did not want to cancel the booking without hearing his side of the story.

I called Airbnb for three consecutive days begging for some sort of answer up to the point that I had passed the cut off for cancelling without a penalty and no one could help. Finally I had to beg and plea the night before my trip to escalate to a case manager. She attempted to assist, but literally said she was hamstrung and they do not issue refunds or reimbursements – ever – without at least letting the host respond. Since it was past the cancellation period, she said there was nothing she could do now that they should have reached out to the host sooner. She also said they could issue a coupon for a future stay, but that the max they could ever issue is $200 USD. I don’t know if any of this is true, but it sounded like complete BS to me.

I called my credit card company. They said I was not the first to dispute an Airbnb charge, that it’s not a problem, and they would take care of me. How dare Airbnb take the side of the host. He had three weeks to reply to me and towards the end I bet he was dodging the calls and emails from Airbnb. Airbnb needs to get their act together.

Malibu Horror: Charged More for a Dinner Guest?

If anyone is considering staying in Malibu, please read about my experience with this host. I will include the email exchange I had with him so you can see what type of person he is.

All I was trying to do was have a relaxing two-night stay on the water. I told the host that we had four people in our immediate family plus my niece and her baby may join us for dinner. I texted and emailed; there was no response. Nearly a week went by. He said that if my niece stepped foot in his house that I would have to pay him an additional $800 plus a cleaning deposit, that she couldn’t come over for even a moment without me paying him. This would bring the total to $1600 for two nights.

He waited one day past the time that I could cancel for a full refund to tell me this. I have spent two solid days, countless hours, and twenty phone calls disputing this with the resolution department. They all say they are sorry and that this is unbelievable and awful, but they are letting the host do whatever he wants. Here is the communication between the host and me. If this helps one person not to have to deal with a host like this and the hell I have been through, then posting here is worth it.

Me: We are a family of four: two adults and two kids (9 and 10) wanting to enjoy the beach. My niece will stop by with her baby. We are quiet people just looking for relaxation. We would not be bringing any pets. We do not party, just want to hear and enjoy the water. We have one car, a van, and my niece has an Altima.

Me: I sent you a text many days ago but didn’t hear back so I’m going to try through here. I wanted to let you know my niece and the baby (two years old) will be spending one night. No one will be partying; there won’t be any loud noise. Will we need to meet you for the keys or will they be inside the unit? Is there any chance of getting into the unit before 4:00 PM? Maybe 2ish?

Host: You’ll need to update your guest count, please. I can check with my cleaning service but they will charge extra.

Me: The information about the property says that it can accommodate ten people. Why would there be an additional charge if I’m within the number of guests that the property can hold?

Host: It’s a flat rate, up to four and then an additional charge per guest after that – all explained on the listing page at the time you booked.

Me: Never mind. I didn’t see any of that in the listing page. This is my first time using Airbnb. It’s my birthday and wanted something special. I will just have them come for the day and put them in a hotel nearby if it’s a problem. They will rejoin us in the morning.

Me: Can you please let me know if I will need to arrange a time to meet you for the keys or if they will just be inside? Will 2:00 PM be okay for check in? If there is a problem with the reservation, please let me know now so we can arrange an alternative while there is some time to do so.

Host: Everyone who needs to come to the house needs to be on the reservation please. This is all stated very clearly multiple times throughout the listing. My cleaning service will charge extra for an early check in.

Me: I wrote “very clearly” that my niece and her baby were going to come over. If this wasn’t acceptable why did you accept the reservation as it was? I’m not able to pay another 700-800 for the reservation. If this isn’t going to work on your end just cancel it and we can get something else.

Host: I didn’t accept it – you Instant Booked it after agreeing to the house rules and terms of service

Me: It shows that it was accepted. If you’re not going to allow me to have a guest then cancel it. I’m not going to alter my plans if I can’t see my family on my birthday.

Host: I can’t cancel it – you Instant Booked it after agreeing to my house rules and terms of service. You have to cancel it if you don’t intend on staying and following the rules.

Me: So you’re saying I can’t have my family over for a meal unless I pay you another 700-800?

Host: Your reservation is for four – how many more people would you like to invite to my home? I will do my best to come up with a fair solution for both of us.

Me: My niece was going to stop by after work with her 19-month-old daughter.

Host: Two more? Any others besides the original four?

Me: It’s just those I have already mentioned. I don’t understand this. If I book a hotel and someone comes into the room I don’t get charged extra.

Host: I’m sorry I wasn’t clear – is it two more, or more than that? Will there ever be more than six people at any point, day or night?

Me: I contacted you Thursday, June 29th initially. You never responded. If anything that I had initially written had been an issue, Thursday or Friday would have been the time to say so. Now nearly a week later, problems are arising. I don’t feel comfortable staying at your property based on our interaction. I expressed that this is my very first booking. Instead of you gently guiding me through, you are making me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t feel like staying at your property will be the relaxing birthday experience that I want. I feel like I will be under scrutiny. You said in your profile that you are laid back. Pretty much the only things you have said to me are that I have to pay more and more money. You have said I need to pay for my niece to have a meal with us, then that I need to pay for an additional cleaning fee, beyond the original $100. If I want to come at 2:00 PM instead of the very late check in time of 4:00 PM I will need to pay extra for that as well. All I have heard from you is money, money, money. Where is the humanity or comfort of your guests? In addition, I have from Thursday said that my niece and her baby may come over. I have never heard of being charged for someone to spend some time with you in a place that you are already paying for. Please just cancel the reservation. We clearly are not seeing eye to eye on this.

Host: I can’t cancel the reservation for you. All of this is outlined on my posting – so I’m a bit surprised you are acting like this wasn’t disclosed at the time of your booking which you very clearly had to agree to in order to complete the booking. We came to an agreement for a stay for four people from 4:00 PM on the 11th to 10:00 AM on the 13th as outlined on your confirmation. If you’d like to change the terms of this I’m willing to work with you but please do not act as if I am being unreasonable. Feel free to check out my reviews – I have a ton of experience with this. If you do wish to cancel, my suggestion would be to do so ASAP so I have the opportunity to re-rent it. Otherwise it will become increasingly difficult

Me: So you’re saying I can cancel it for a full refund?

Me: I very clearly said who would be there. I very clearly saw that your place can accommodate ten people. I very clearly didn’t see that there was an additional charge. Why do I have to pay for a family member to step foot onto the property? It’s illogical and unreasonable.

Me: Why can’t you cancel the reservation?

Host: Your refund will be based on my ability to re-rent and the new reservation amount

Me: That doesn’t give me a figure. If it’s a $50 hit I’ll take that, even though this isn’t my fault as I clearly stated who would be in the property. You would rather I be forced to go to your property and not be able to have my family with me on my birthday unless I want to pay 800 plus a cleaning fee. Thereby I would have a bad experience, and write a review reflecting this experience. I have stayed at properties all over the world and have never experienced anything like this! This is a two-night reservation. I agreed to the initial amount, clearly stated who would be there, contacted you, waited nearly a week, never heard back from you, and now you want an additional 800 plus. I feel like I’m being extorted. I believe it is within your purview to cancel but you won’t because you’re only interested in money.

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.

Boyfriend and I Wanted a Unique Airbnb Getaway

My boyfriend and I wanted a unique vacation. We found a small place a couple of hours away that offered “glamping”. We figured it would be a fun experience. The strange thing is this boutique glamping hotel exclusively uses Airbnb as its booking platform. I wasn’t excited about that but figured I’d sign up and give it a shot.

It’s been nothing short of a hassle. First of all, signing up is pretty invasive. It asks for you to upload a picture of your ID or to give your social security number in lieu of that inconvenience. I don’t know about you, but no one is getting my social security number. I reluctantly uploaded a picture ID.

Secondly, have you read the terms and conditions? They are already assuming you are a dirty, messed up person and they are already thinking of ways to kick you off the property and keep your money if you have to cancel.

Apparently someone signed up for the same nights as me right around the same moment I made the reservation. Instead of contacting me, they just let the 24-hour period run. I got an email saying the host had not responded to my request and so I should simply pick another place. Another place? This place was the only reason I was on Airbnb in the first place. Why isn’t there an option for picking another weekend? Maybe it is because Airbnb really shouldn’t be used as the booking platform for a hotel. I had to go back through the system again and pick another weekend.

My second request was accepted pretty early and my card was charged at the same moment. That is fine. What’s not really fine are the hidden costs. The ad for the place reports you will pay $X per night, a $75 cleaning fee, and a $250 deposit. I thought the deposit seemed hefty, but I budgeted for it to be held. It turned out there were additional charges. On top of the things advertised above, they also charged me $56 just for using Airbnb (hefty – I’ll pay for the service but $56 seems like they’re gouging me). There was also a $27 occupancy tax, which I expected. All fine and done.

I received another email saying my host had requested even more money. $61 more was needed to cover taxes (6% county, 7% state of Texas). Taxes are taxes but I could not figure out how they arrived at $61. I calculated $50 and some change. I didn’t find the $11 worth asking or arguing over, so I sent the additional money while wondering how Airbnb could possibly be cheaper or better than a hotel. They’re currently sitting on $856 of my money (if you count the $250 deposit being held in suspense) for two days in a fancy yurt in middle of nowhere Texas, where you make your own meals, etc.

Is this an Airbnb scam? I start doing more research to see if others found it to be a little too expensive. Apparently Airbnb is being used to scam money out of people and seemingly not doing enough to stop it or help. I wish my $56 would go toward designing a more secure platform.

One week before we were supposed to check in, I received a call from the “host” (he claims). He was very nice but I was immediately suspicious. He went into a long, rambling, nearly incoherent story about how the property just switched owners and as a result, I booked under the wrong owner. He said (I think) that Airbnb wanted me to rebook with the right owner. He said it should be easy. He confirmed my email address and said I would receive an email asking me to “reapply the funds to [his] account”. I told him I would await the email.

It’s been three days and I haven’t received an email. I’m supposed to check-in in four days. I hope all goes well. I am already preparing myself to be kicked off the property or not booked due to a misunderstanding. I will probably pass on any hotels that use Airbnb as their booking platform exclusively from now on. I just feel it’s a bad business model. Why let another non-affiliated company have a say and a share in your business?

Update 6.12.2017:

I never got the email from Airbnb that the host said I would receive. I called Airbnb yesterday morning to ask about it.  They had no idea what I was talking about and put me on hold for 10-15 minutes. They then said they would look into it and contact me. I got an email this morning saying that my reservation had been canceled and that I had been given a voucher for what I paid with the option to reapply the funds to the same or similar place (like the host said I would).  I started going through the steps and realized the voucher does not cover the $88 in tax that I already paid. Airbnb wants for me to repay the $88 in taxes in order to complete this process. In addition, Airbnb is actually requesting that I reach out to the host to work this out… encouraging me to reach out to the host to discuss bookings even after all these scams they’ve been having?

It sounds like Airbnb and the host screwed something up and I am the one being inconvenienced.  I sent an email to the Airbnb team explaining how inefficient and frustrating this has been and this will be my first and last Airbnb stay.  Also, I asked the host to reach out to Airbnb if there is anything else he needs.

Airbnb Promises to Pay us Back for Damages, but then…

While Airbnb claims it has people in every major city of the world, they remain unreachable when you are locked out in the middle of the night in Paris. Whatever action you take, such as calling a locksmith, Airbnb will not cover the inconvenience, even when you rent one of those superstar flats. We had to call a locksmith who ultimately cut the lock open and charged us 1200 euros, and left us with an open door all night. When the host calls the help center (they only respond when it is a host), they promise to reimburse the guest, but then after one month of back and forth lingering, announce they are not covering the costs. Here is our 1200-euro story.

We arrived at the flat after a romantic dinner in Paris at about 12:30 in the middle of the night. When we inserted the key, it somehow got jammed in the lock. After trying incessantly to unlock the door, we finally called the host. There was no answer. The Airbnb help center? No answer. Our passports and belongings were in there, including our credit cards which are required to book a hotel. So we called a locksmith… on a public holiday. Finally we got hold of a locksmith that came over, and forced the key out. Now that the key was broken, the only option was to cut the lock with a mechanical saw. Once inside, the locksmith is quick to pimp the bill with holiday and nighttime labor fees which finally amounted to 1200 euros. The next morning we got a hold of the host who quickly contacted Airbnb (she is a Superhost and quickly gets their attention). Because she insisted, Airbnb called us and told us not to worry about the money; they would reimburse us. After one month of back and forth emails, always asking for the same clarifications, they finally announced that they closed the case, and that we should ask the host for reimbursement. Bottom line: Airbnb is like renting your friend’s flat, but without insurance. Just pray nothing bad happens.