Airbnb Hell: Guest Shoots a Music Video

I allowed someone to rent my home because they were getting engaged. We do not allow parties at all and that is stated in the house rules. They said that there were only going to be four guests. When I showed up to check on my property – as I always do – to make sure everything was okay, there were over twenty people in my house and over ten cars in my driveway. We gave him two options: tell the truth, or we were going to shut it down and he would have to leave. The guest lied. He was black and thought because we were white we would discriminate against him. He was shooting a music video in my home. I live in an affluent neighborhood where Airbnb is frowned upon. The police have been called plenty of times because of guest lying to us and throwing parties. So we decided to do this guy a favor and allowed him to shoot his video, being that my husband is in the music and television industry himself. We stuck around because we didn’t want our neighbors to call the police and to protect our property; the gentleman was aware of that.

Now here comes the second nightmare: the guest reached out to Airbnb to get his money back because we stuck around and he said he felt uncomfortable. As the owner, I was pissed. Airbnb has a terrible customer service and resolution center. They offered no support in trying to remedy the situation and I still have not been contacted by a case manager. Please be aware that Airbnb doesn’t offer any support to their hosts when taking a risk and listing their homes on the website. They always tell you to reach out to the guest and try to resolve the issue before contacting them. They need to do better to help and protect hosts. You would think that they would understand that the little service fee that they make off the booking is not worth the thousands or millions that they could lose if they don’t do better.

Ripped off by Guest and Airbnb’s Horrible Customer Service

The guests checked in at 3:00 PM. At 8:40 PM they sent me a text complaining about seeing a cockroach in a 70-year-old beach house in Hawaii. I did not see it until 10:00 PM, so I planned to respond in the morning. I woke up at 5:20 AM to find an email from Airbnb stating I had until 5:40 AM to respond. I wrote them back immediately and at 5:50 AM I received another email saying the guest had been refunded completely for their booking: $3,600.

I disputed it and contacted Airbnb immediately. After a day of them ‘investigating’ it and getting staged photos from the guests showing the house was not clean I was sent an email with a link to their refund policy. Nothing. These guests and Airbnb just ripped me off. I will never use them again. They do not look after the host of a property. Stay away from Airbnb.

Airbnb Cares about the Guests, but not the Hosts

I received an extremely bad, fabricated review in retaliation from a guest who I reported to Airbnb because she had additional people staying in my apartment for whom she did not register or pay. Although our email correspondence on the Airbnb website clearly showed that the woman had additional guests, Airbnb awarded me a minimal and unacceptable settlement. Their reason? The guest did not make herself available to them for verification of my claim, and the term of infringement was not clear to them. I made numerous complaints to no avail. Airbnb’s inflexible transparency policy has allowed this false review to remain on my page. Since it appeared, I’ve had 73 views of my page but not a single rental. Previously, my apartment was always being rented. That means not a month has gone by without guests until now. Airbnb is more concerned about the guests than they are about the hosts who make it possible for them to earn money. I intend to change to Vacation Home Rentals and hope my experience will be better there.

Airbnb Customer Service Trusts Guests over Hosts

An Airbnb guest booked my apartment for one person over a period of three weeks. I learned that she actually had two additional guests staying with her when I visited her at the apartment on her last week. I told her she would have to revise the request and pay for the additional guests. She refused to discuss the matter. Ascertaining from my neighbor that all three guests had lived there most of the time, I made a complaint to Airbnb. Of course, Airbnb advised me to request additional payment through their website, which I did. Those requests were refused by the guest. After I made numerous requests and complaints Airbnb awarded me additional payment for only two days because the guests wrote in her email that her friends “only stayed a couple of days.”

Although it was clear from our correspondence that the additional guests were there for at least three days, Airbnb did not honor my request for additional payment since the guest who made the booking would not communicate with them about the issue. This guest retaliated by leaving my apartment in a filthy condition (I sent pictures to Airbnb) with all windows and doors left open – an invitation to robbery. In addition, since her bogus and scathing review I have not received a single request. I have a 4.5-star, business-ready rating with 26 excellent reviews. Airbnb’s inflexible transparency policy has effectively prevented me from receiving other requests. They won’t remove this scathing review or put it at the bottom of my page where it is less likely to be read. Therefore, I would have to start from scratch with a new page which is completely unfair to me. I am going to close my account and use another vacation rental service if this matter is not handled favorably.

Smoke and Mirrors: Guest’s Performance Art Scam

The reservation was for two people. On Wednesday, March 8th, our guest arrived with her mother (who had a black eye), two dogs, and a cat. We expect people to tell us in advance that they are traveling with a pet. They just showed up this way. Who does that? Because of the black eye, I ignored the imposition of these pets and let them in. For a few days everything was just fine as far as I could tell. Then on Monday afternoon, March 13th , I got a text from the guest saying that the toilet was blocked and water was coming up in the shower. This must have just started, right? Wrong. An email from Airbnb was timestamped at 9:30 AM. It stated that we had exactly two hours to get in touch with Airbnb about the guest complaints that had apparently been mounting for days from the bowels of the quiet clean apartment. If we fail to act by this deadline they will automatically rule in favor of the guests. Well, that boat had already sailed. The plumbers damaged the sidewalk, but had the pipe dug out and replaced by early evening. It cost me $2500 to repair the blocked sewer line quickly so no one would have to go the night without toilets. The stoppage from that apartment had put all three units in the complex out of service.

The next day was exciting. I received a series of bizarre pictures from Airbnb that had been taken by the guest and submitted as proof of the unhealthy conditions that we allowed to go uncorrected here in our slum. Our place was, mind you, the cleanest apartment in the world, but not in those pictures. There were bugs and bits of debris in the narrow tight shots of various kitchen surfaces with rust (like the bottoms of pots) and in one of the pictures the living room sofa was sitting with the upholstery covers removed. The foam cushions were in their underpants and one such garment had been pulled apart at a corner to look warn and dilapidated. They included, of course, a picture of the sewage in the shower.

This makes me laugh because the plumbing had clogged (I was told) at around 2:00 AM. I was intentionally left out of the loop about this until 1:30 in the afternoon. They were painting me as negligent so they could ruminate about my failure to correct a disgusting condition and setting the groundwork for the timeline of hardship that would win them a refund. They hung out with a sewage pond for nearly twelve hours so that it would remain unresolved until after they were rewarded the damages they requested. Some things are just worth the extra inconvenience, don’t you agree?

Ultimately, Airbnb gave them half of their money back, which was entirely too much for me to refund on top of the $2500 it cost me in repairs. The whole ten-course tampering they served us was so weird that I felt like I funded a conceptual art project that was meant to be seen from many different angles and leave the onlooker with a residue of mystery and cultural significance. The person at Airbnb that made the misguided decision to refund this money did so because she was still operating under the belief that the photos of the dirty conditions are authentic. I am lost for an explanation as to how anyone with such a dazzling analytical mind could be allowed to operate in a position that requires rational processes to reach feasible conclusions. There is a problem with the way Airbnb gathers and fact checks the information it receives. It needs to do much better. It has failed to establish a stream of reliable data for its policy decisions.

Guests Book Airbnb for their Dirty Laundry, Full Refund

A woman and her spouse booked my room for a night. They came over and everything was cordial. I greeted them, gave them the tour and left them to it. The woman had asked if she could use the washer and dryer. I said yes, so they brought in loads of clothes. That was still okay with me. I left to go have dinner at a neighbor’s house. I received a text from the woman saying there was an emergency. I got up and walked back to my house, where they proceeded to spout lies. Then is when I knew they were only there to wash their dirty clothes. I asked them if they wanted to leave because the issue was they thought I didn’t wash their sheets; they said they sound a strand of hair on the sheets. Before they even arrived I washed the sheets and made the bed. They proceeded to say everything was fine, they would stay and leave at 6:00 AM. I agreed. 6:00 AM arrived, and they got their things together and leave. Now once they left they somehow cancelled the reservation and I didn’t get paid. They stayed the night and left my room a mess. I don’t know if I will continue to be a host after this experience.

Scammed by Guests, Airbnb Denies me Due Process

Hello fellow Airbnbers. I’m a superhost with more than 100 five-star reviews, and although I’m new to this forum, I’ve certainly had plenty of experience with Airbnb bookings. I just had the most obvious scam pulled by a guest on MLK weekend (I’ve experienced this sort of fraud only once before, and Airbnb mediated, agreed, and ruled in my favor) and amazingly, Airbnb refused to pay me out for the booking (about $950). Things have really changed in Airbnb customer service. I’m an attorney and pride myself on being reasonable, but they totally denied me the opportunity to inspect my property, respond in full, and go after the $300 damage deposit when the scammers left the place trashed.

To make a long story short: I had guests who wanted to stay only one night, when my minimum is two (and on holiday weekends it is a three-day minimum). I had several requests for two-day stays, which I turned down when this scammer changed her mind and agreed to the three-day stay. She asked tons of questions which were fully addressed in the house manual I had sent her in advance. I have an old stone lake house – very charming but quirky in terms of small details – so my house manual is very thorough. The scammer kept trying to book it for one person so I pressed her for an exact number (I charge for extra guests after four since it involves a lot more cleaning). She finally told me it was going to be four.

I approved her request for three days; she then asked if she could arrive early on Friday since they needed to get ready for an event (her son’s concert at West Point). I agreed to let them arrive early since the house was empty. I also told her that I was in Australia that weekend and on long flights, and reiterated many times that if she had any questions or problems she should try me first, and if she couldn’t reach me, she should contact my professional cleaner/Airbnb manager or my handyman. Take note: she knew I was overseas and on my way back to the US that weekend and would be hard to reach. She counted on this.

The scammer and her family arrived (yes, more than four people as confirmed by my CCTV system) and fully used the house: all four beds were slept in, every towel was used and soiled, the entire kitchen was used for cooking a big greasy meal, my cast iron cookware was burned black beyond salvage and hidden away in a different place, glasses were broken, and the toilet was clogged and overflowing. They obviously went to their event Friday night, enjoyed the house until Saturday morning (which was all they had originally wanted) and then called Airbnb just shy of the 24-hour mark required before the payment is released, and filed a 100% premeditated and fraudulent claim that the place was dirty. To be clear, I have a consistent 4.9-star cleanliness rating with more than 100 reviews, and the house is always professionally cleaned before every guest.

Airbnb stopped the payout and sent me an email asking me to contact them. They included some photos in huge files (so big I couldn’t open them on my smart phone at all) of a cobweb in the skylight and some dust in a corner behind a big speaker. They even pulled up an area rug and took a photo of dust in a nonworking heating vent and some 20-year old microscopic paint splatter under the rug. They included a photo of water splatter on the bathroom mirror which was obviously caused by them. She also threw in non-verifiable (non-photographable) complaints about no hot water and no wifi. Both the hot water tank and wifi were working perfectly when inspected by my cleaner/manager an hour after they departed. This email arrived at 1:00 AM Australia time, so I was asleep. A full warning came through at 4:00 AM (three hours later) telling me that I had one hour to respond, and luckily I was awake to see it and call Airbnb (long distance, from Australia) to see what was going on. Airbnb could see I was in Australia because I had booked all of my stays there through them so it was obvious I wasn’t anywhere near my home in the US.

I was so freaked out to hear that the guest had abandoned the house that I thought something awful must have happened (like my cleaner forgot to prepare the house). I couldn’t see the photos on my phone, and the representative I spoke to, “Colleen”, chastised me and said that spiders don’t spin webs overnight (actually, yes they do) so the house clearly was filthy enough to give her a refund. I asked why she didn’t just turn around and leave upon arrival the day before if the place was so filthy, and Colleen had no answer for me. Colleen was so adamantly pro-guest and anti-host that if you told me that the scammer was her mother, that would be the only explanation for her bias that would make sense. Mind you, the scammer never called me, texted, or emailed me, my cleaner (who lives nearby), or my handyman at any time. This is how you know she is a scammer; she had no legitimate complaint and she didn’t want to give anyone a chance to inspect or remedy anything that might be a genuine complaint.

The scammer simply got online with her huge photo files and just lodged her complaint with Airbnb knowing they would not be able to reach me, and then left after that since they were obviously done with their one-day stay. I had my cleaner run over to the house to see if she could be of help. She was freaked out, obviously – she had to rouse her sick son from bed and bring him with her to run there. We really thought something horrible had happened. There was nothing wrong at all except the mess they had made and the destruction they had caused. The cleaner was so upset she didn’t want to work for me anymore because she’s afraid she will be blamed when scammers succeed with their false cleaning complaints. By the time my plane landed, before I had a chance to even get home and inspect my house myself for any damage and investigate fully their complaints (again, I couldn’t open the photos until I got to a computer), Colleen had issued the scammer a full refund and removed the listing completely from my roster. Not canceled. It has fully disappeared from my Airbnb history.

This is infuriating because I don’t even know the amount that I was supposed to receive, I have no way of asking for verification information on the scammer, and I have no ability to file a counter-complaint for all the cleaning and damages left behind. It’s now been more than two weeks. I have called and left multiple messages for Colleen, or preferably a supervisor, to review the case and get back to me about their frustration of my contract and denial of my due process rights to go after a guest for the damage deposit. Each time I call, the “system is down” so they can only send Colleen a message. They reassure me she will get back to me. The new representative I get each time puts notes on my ticket, and that’s all they can do. Colleen never has called me back even though I’m told the “ticket is still open.” This is baffling and infuriating – every time I have dealt with the customer service team in the past they have been thoughtful, thorough, reasonable, and communicative; it’s all in my history. I’m the sort who always pays people partial refunds if they have even a minor complaint, and Airbnb knows that.

I have sent at least five detailed emails, including photos of the damage and filth left behind in my house. I have received no response. Their method is clear: they hope they will just wear me down by frustration and attrition, never responding to my very reasonable observations supporting my claim that my guest was a premeditated scammer. For what it is worth, last year I brought in more than $100K in Airbnb bookings, and Airbnb happily kept 15% of that ($15K) plus all the interest on the credit card pre-booking payments they sit on. I cannot believe they would treat a three-year proven superhost this way. They just refuse to respond. Isn’t it reasonable that they at least explain how they came to their decision, even if they refuse to modify it? On principle, I’m ready to go to arbitration because my only other choice if I’m able to sleep at night is to completely divest myself of my Airbnb listings and go to Homeaway. Obviously, I want to do this as a last resort, so I’ll take all the advice you other hosts can offer.

Another Airbnb Debacle: What do Mediators even do?

I called Airbnb to let them know that I had a signed contract with my guest, Ms. Ponga, which superseded theirs and any dispute was to be handled with the American Arbitration Association. I have never called to notify them of this before, but I knew this guest was trouble. My big mistake was caring that I would lose my Superhost status if I cancelled. Anyway, customer service ignored this fact as well. I also doubt that they looked to see if this guest has done to other hosts what she did to me. I am sure she has. I am the kind of host who provides luxury robes. Ms. Ponga vandalized my apartment. I have had so many bad, horrible things happen using Airbnb because of the incompetence and unconscionable behavior of the mediators and case managers. The other problem is the “Guest Refund Policy” which attracts con-artists, criminals, and extortionists. Airbnb just attracts thieves and criminals in general. I have never had a problem with guests from any other site.

The biggest problem is that the people who work at Airbnb do not know what the “Guest Refund Policy” says. They do not seem to have been trained. I am starting to doubt that they even graduated from high school. One guy on the phone gave me the impression that either he or some of the people that work there are high school dropouts. Anyway, this story is a rerun of so many I’ve seen on Airbnb Hell. Actually, there are so many incompetent people in this story that I am going to submit a separate complaint for each person. I am also going to go back through all the unconscionable things they have done and submit separate complaints for all of those things too. There are actually some people with common sense who answer the phone who can understand what happened was wrong, but when it gets to the next level, the supervisors say their subordinates promised something they can’t deliver. They always use the excuse that the case is closed, as if I closed it.

Patricia Ponga was my guest; she has now changed her name to Ruth. I suppose this is because of my review which has been taken down, put back up, and taken down again. Maybe when Ruth realizes the review is down she will change her name back to Patricia. First, she told me that she would be staying seven or eight days but her friend would only be staying three of those days. She asked if I could I give her a discount, which I did. It turned out that story was a lie. I have some terms. I made the mistake of pre-approving her and saying if she agreed to my terms to accept my invitation to book, if not she could decline. So she booked the property. She also said she agreed, but she did not follow through with her actions. In my experience, if people do not agree with the terms, they do not book, and if they do agree, they comply with my terms right away to show good faith. Not this lady. She wanted to change everything up and renegotiate after agreeing.

One of my terms was that instead of getting a deposit, I would have them buy a $59 Property Damage Protection Plan for insurance. She and her friend tried to tell me that they have been using Airbnb and this other site for a long time and I couldn’t ask them to do that. However, this other site told me as long as I am listed on their site and I have the listing number, people who booked rentals on other sites can buy insurance. Somewhere along the line, someone on the phone at Airbnb told me that I was not allowed to ask guests to purchase insurance, so I purchased it on their behalf. Later, I learned that Ms. Ponga told Airbnb that I forced her to buy insurance. This was a lie, and I can prove it with my credit card statement.

Ms. Ponga wanted to check in late, so I told her I would leave the keys at the 24/7 deli. She said this was perfect, but later complained about it. There was one mistake because the deli guy gave her the keys to my apartment and not her apartment. Luckily, my place is steps away. She knew she had the wrong keys but she used them to open my door and walk in. Later, I gave her the correct keys. She was clearly aggressive. She clearly acted like a person who is not afraid of anything. Next I got a call from her saying that the apartment was not habitable because there was no heat. I told her there was; she just needed to push the heat button on the central air and heat. Then she complained that there was a window she could not shut. I told her once she got the heat turned on she would be boiling and dying for the window to remain open, but she insisted that I come there right then. I said I would, and had to reiterate, right now. So, I arrived in about three minutes. She had not turned on the heat and told me that she knew how to circumvent my strict cancellation policy; if I did not get the window closed she could get me thrown off Airbnb, as she is friends with Brian Chesky.

The window was a bit hard to close, but I did it and I told her the window guy was coming on Monday. She complained that he never came on Monday, but she was never there on any Monday, so clearly that was a lie on her part. Then I did not hear from the guests for about four days. On the fourth day, I received a message on the thread saying everything was fine and they just needed more towels. Never mind that I had already given them four sets of brand new towels, and there were two sets in the bathroom. I said there were more towels in the cabinet next to the bathroom. I did not hear anything and it seemed all was well. In the middle of the night, when I was in bed with a migraine, she called me and demanded I bring clean towels from my apartment. I said there were clean towels there. She said they were not clean because she got an ear infection. Ear infections in adults are caused by flying, seasonal allergies, and smoke.

I tried to explain to her that the towels in my apartment are laundered by the same company, and were in the same load as the towels that were over there. I even had the new towels washed because I wanted them to have the smell of whatever the laundry uses on them; it’s so wonderful. In addition, who knows who has been touching them? Anyway, she would not listen to reason, and she told me the TV is also broken. The TV was not broken. It was a pretext to get me out of bed. You have to use both remotes, and if you do not get it, you can read the house manual. I gave them the phone number to call for customer service. The bottom line is that I am such a nice host that if I had not had a migraine, I would have gotten up to help them. It is my nature, but I couldn’t do it. I offered to have them come get towels from my apartment, but the towels there were better.

Now enters the Airbnb mediator, who does not know the meaning of the word mediation. He ignored my strict cancellation policy with no proof, no photos, without talking to me and released them from the reservation. When I called Airbnb they said it was because of the dirty towels and a broken TV. I sent Airbnb a photo of the cabinet full of clean towels and the working TV. Then he told me that I forced them to buy insurance. Also, not true. I sent him the credit card summary showing that I paid for it. The next excuse was that it was because I told them if any neighbor asks, to say they were my friends. Apparently, the mediator took that to mean that I was not allowed to sublease my condo. Also, wrong! A lot of people in my neighborhood work in the hotel industry. If they get fired or something, I do not want them to think it is my fault. However, since he doesn’t know the meaning of the word mediator or mediation, he doesn’t know that he should have talked to me.

According to the “Guest Refund Policy” I am supposed to be given a chance to remedy any real or imagined problem. This mediator did exactly what other incompetent mediators have done. When his initial reasons for ending the reservation turned out to be wrong, he made up new reasons. Airbnb owes me $900. Mediators: don’t assume. Talk to both parties. Read your company’s policies; get a dictionary. They took down my review of Patricia Ponga AKA Ruth, put it back up, and took it down again. I suppose someone decided to do the right thing and then the next person up the chain said no. That has always been my experience with Airbnb. Maybe Ms. Ponga called her friend Brian Chesky and he had them take it down.