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 didn’t want to repeat my entire nightmare, but I do not wish this drama upon anyone. This was the nightmare before and after Christmas. We feel very upset about all the effort we have made to try and accommodate this family. So here is the letter I have written to them instead of an entire story.
I hope you are having a wonderful day. From the beginning you have made it very difficult for us, firstly by arriving earlier than the time you said you would. When we tried to reach you to confirm what time you would be arriving, we were unable to get a hold of you and then you arrived two hours earlier. You left your bags outside for my friend and I to carry inside even after we told you it would rain. We have driven four hours both ways in traffic to come and remove a field mouse from the house over Christmas and our only holidays. As we have stated before, we do live in the Kogelberg Biosphere, a very sensitive and fragile environment. We do have animals passing through our property, including three-striped field mice, baboons, leopards, mongooses, and many species of birds. This has always been something our guests have loved about our home. For you to have put poison down disturbs this natural habitat (and risks killing our endangered owls). When traveling to Africa, things like this happen. These animals’ behavior are beyond our control. This is why people choose to live in my home – to be closer to nature. We do not have vermin in our home as you have suggested. We have a little field mouse that frequents the house.
This is our second time hosting with Airbnb and we were not prepared for these circumstances: namely, your son’s musophobia. You have insulted our home, and accused us of having vermin. You have ruined our Christmas with your complaining and making us drive back. Each time we have driven back to the house, you told us repeatedly that you are happy in our home and all we need to do is remove the mouse (which we still haven’t seen). You have caused us to damage our own property in search of an invisible “mouse nest”. We have cracked a hole in to my cupboard to show you that there is nothing there. We have offered as much help and assistance as possible and each time you have told us everything is fine.
We are very upset that two days before you have to leave, you now suggest that we must refund you or give you a discount. When we asked whether you were satisfied you answered “yes”. Had you brought this to our attention earlier we may have been able to come to another arrangement. However, we are very close to the end. You have stayed over peak season in our home, we have gave up our Christmas to come, help you, make sure everything is okay, and spend a lot of our time and money in doing so. We are not talking about a dirty rat, vermin, or a plague. We are talking about a little field mouse that has never before caused any problems or made himself visible when we or other guests have stayed in our home. We are happy for you to contact Airbnb as we will be doing the same. We do not wish for anyone else to endure what we have over their holidays or festive season. Unfortunately, we cannot poison the animals that live in the garden as we are at the foot of a nature reserve and with this come animals that may come into the house by accident. I have suggested that if you are so unhappy, we can collect the key. You have chosen to stay on.
I’ve been hosting for three years. The last guest turned up at my house drunk, took his shoes off to release a cheesy foot odor that I could taste but still declined a shower and drank another bottle of wine while I sat with him. Then within one hour after I went out, he broke my ceramic toilet lid, left his light on, went out, and wouldn’t respond to calls. Unfortunately, I have to say, though this person was a little extreme, most guests lately are just rude and horrible. Is it because Airbnb encourages through their advertising that people ‘make themselves at home’ at another person’s house (read, hog the bathroom and splash water everywhere, sit around in the open-plan kitchen all day, help themselves to condiments from the cupboard, get packages delivered that hosts have to pick up because it’s their address, get drunk in their room, slam doors while people are sleeping, etc)? What is the solution? My house rules are comprehensive. Should Airbnb politely ask guests to mind their manners while they are in another person’s home?
I accepted an instant book for six nights starting in a few days time. I have hosted on Airbnb for nearly two years with great reviews (even from other hosts). My mobile home is based in Florida and is offered for sole use. Recently a guest brought in some bugs not native to the US and we had the unit treated several time to kill them. The guest that arrived started complaining the moment they walked in the door: “It’s dirty, the locks didn’t work, there were hairs on the sheets, the light bulbs weren’t working, the sink was blocked.” The list went on and on. However, as soon as we “corrected” an issue, even if there wasn’t one, suddenly there was another. We then got an email from Airbnb saying the guest wanted a refund! That’s when the resolution center came into the picture. I requested the guest leave, with Airbnb’s permission (she said). It took two days to get her out. I still have not been paid and now I have to deal with a case manager who has no supervisor to whom I can speak. I am so disappointed that Airbnb is so bad at customer service. I am thinking of cancelling all future bookings, telling the guests why, and getting them to contact Airbnb.
I prefer to not even recollect the awful experience with a past guest, but I’ll try (above all mine is a criticism against Airbnb). Basically the guy started complaining from day one. He seemed to be bent on finding any hidden cracks and obscure issues – a truly nasty character who refused to provide the time he was arriving and then dared to complain he had to wait in his review (like it was someone else’s fault?). However, that was only the start. After three weeks I was left with two broken appliances (cooker and washing machine) and for the very first time I decided to use Airbnb’s Resolution Centre (after having about ten guests and very positive reviews).
The documentation they requested was nearly impossible to provide. The appliances had been there for nearly 20 years (but Airbnb wanted the receipts). Secondly, I wasn’t in the property and most of the documentation requested was out of reach; I was miles away from any “useful” documentation, but I posted the bill from the technician and the receipt for the new washing machine. The technician was paid the day my nasty guest left, as he didn’t notify me of the issue (the cleaners found out) and I had to fix the problem for a new guest arriving the next day. So I had to order a new washing machine just the day after receiving confirmation the old one was properly broken.
The other problem – the gas cooker – we discovered later on (remember: I wasn’t there and couldn’t verify these issues on the spot) that there was no cooking involved. The guy took some pictures of the burned knobs but no picture of any meal he made? A burned chicken? Or any dish ready to enter the oven? Nothing whatsoever. The cooker oven (electrical) was then turned on and left unattended for how many hours? Days? That’s a very good recipe to burn any cooker! It’s called inappropriate use or negligence, but the guy clearly omitted this fundamental detail (of course, I’m not there) and blamed me for being irresponsible for not providing an extinguisher and access to the gas canister and assembly.
Now, I’ve been a guest in certain properties advertised on Airbnb and I can assure you none had facilities which are common in hotels (would you paint an escape route in your house?). So basically the guy wanted the professional approach of an hotel at a fifth of the price. In my opinion we have a typical opportunist who deliberately stays in Airbnb properties (many like mine) where he knows there is no extinguisher to be found and he knows there is no escape route marked on the wall, then deliberately uses these issues as weapons whenever he files a complaint with Airbnb.
So the company is a lame duck; they can’t see this guy for what he is and boot him out of the system. Let’s face it: Airbnb can’t check all these properties and can’t compete with hotels in terms of a professional approach to guests (in general, certain hotels lack that too). This is the root of the problem. When first approached, Airbnb staff seem reasonable; they promise you a full investigation. The truth is that they don’t really want nor need to find out. I’ve received two calls from their headquarters in California during the period of the investigation. The phone rang only once and as I tried to answer, they hung up (so they can safely say, “look we tried to contact you but you didn’t answer the phone”?)
Their task is simple, to discourage complaints and break down any attempts at compensation: you start complaining and they put you under immense stress. It reminds me of the origins of eBay – does anyone remember the reviews? On paper you might have the advantage but Airbnb has the perfect solution: they encourage your opponent to escalate the matter (even without any evidence) and they too are allowed to ask for compensation for issues which were never ever mentioned during the whole stay. For example, my guest never complained about the Internet or noisy neighbours but all of a sudden these and other issues were presented and the guy is encouraged to request the full amount he paid back into his pocket? What kind of mind game is Airbnb playing here? This is the cheapest trick, the kind kids do in kindergarten. The guy shouldn’t be credible (not if there was no previous complaint), so how can Airbnb fall for it? They aren’t failing to investigate, they are just at the mercy of nasty guests like mine. Enough of Airbnb.
My boyfriend and I used Airbnb for a place in San Diego, CA. The place was not like the listing seemed. We contacted Airbnb and they only gave us $140 (one-night refund). We still had to pay $400 for a crappy place that we left at 1:30 in the morning on the first night we got there! We lost money, lost sleep, and lost time. There was no real refund. We will never use or recommend Airbnb ever again. It’s not fair we should lose so much of our hard-earned money over this (we are in college and could barely afford our vacation, let alone paying for a place we didn’t even stay in on top of a nice hotel). Stick to the chain hotels because at least they’re concerned enough about their customers to right any wrongs that happen, and give refunds where they are due. Don’t use Airbnb unless you aren’t concerned about your own protection.
I want to make sure I also include the complaints we had with the place we stayed, as we can’t even leave a review for the host we had when all this happened. This is the message we sent the host:
“You have two complaints about street noise in your reviews. We had to hear the noise as it was well after 8:00 last night, and your fan barely functioned. We knew about the lack of AC, but the fan was completely useless; even at its highest level it was still extremely under powered. While I realize you cannot control the weather, we expected that the fan would at least be somewhat useful. As for the spider, I am not sure what to say. At roughly 10:00 pm Ashley closed the window (as we would rather be hot and uncomfortable then have to deal with the cars outside) and lay back down. At this point she felt something crawling on her, picked it up, and threw it on the floor. I turned on the light and found a large brown/black spider (looked like a wolf spider) on the floor. I killed it and flushed it, but have a bite on my arm now. I would be glad to provide pictures. There was sand all over the bathroom floor and the shower. Ashley wouldn’t take a shower unless it was clean so she cleaned it with Lysol and water.
Concerning the sprinklers: we came back from our family’s house at 9:00 pm. We stepped out of the car and got completely soaked. We should not be deterred to come back to the place before 9:00 pm. This also left water spots on our car (would be glad to provide pictures) and soaked my shoes / pants.
Concerning your neighbors – the people directly above us, anyway – around 12:00 am there was a really loud squeaking noise, like a bed above us. While we could deal with this and understood it happens, not a minute later we heard some really loud moaning that lasted roughly ten minutes. This made both Ashley and I really uncomfortable, and was the final straw to us leaving. The bed was extremely squeaky and firm as well. The heat that could not be beat from a useless fan + being bit by spiders + sand all over the floor + getting soaked by sprinklers and water spots on our car + people having loud sex upstairs + a terrible bed completely ruined our first time experience with Airbnb.
We left at 1:00 am as there was absolutely no chance of us being able to sleep there. We did not do a thorough investigation of the apartment as soon as we got there. Either way, it would have resulted in the same conclusion: leaving. For what we got we would have had a much better experience at something even as cheap as Motel 6 for much less money. While I do not mean to come off as rude, this was an extremely frustrating experience. Especially as we do not have much money (in college) and had to find another hotel room at 1:00 in the morning.”
Our host then replied tough luck. Never again.
My family decided to vacate the house they live in throughout the year during the summer to rent it out and help pay the bills. The property is located in southern Europe in a region that’s highly sought after during the high season. After accepting reservations booked by guests months in advance we had to turn many away, including requests from other guest on alternative booking sites. We had many added expenses getting the place ready, including cleaning as well as check in and check out fees.
Two consecutive guests decided to cancel their booking at the last minute for medical reasons. (for two separate reservations); the second guest cancelled his booking days AFTER he was supposed to check in. In spite of us having a “strict” cancellation policy, Airbnb agreed to reimburse them for the full cost of their booking leaving us with an empty house at the last minute in the midst of the high season. To justify their decisions, Airbnb only sent us the link to their extenuating circumstances policy, which lists a very wide variety of circumstances left broad and vague on purposes. In this instance, given that both guests had emailed saying their cancellation was due to medical issues, we asked Airbnb which objective criteria had been applied and the list of documents provided by guests to justify the fact they had to cancel at the last minute. In spite of our repeated queries, Airbnb refused to provide any objective criteria used to determine the circumstances of the cancellations. Of course they make these arbitrary decisions without losing any money themselves. Hosts end up losing money without having any say in the decision. These cancellations should be handled with a strict process similar to those applied by travel insurance policies. Hosts are NOT protected by Airbnb and this certainly doesn’t feel like a community.