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 Ponga, which superseded theirs and any dispute was to be handled with the American Arbitration Association.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.

 

Guest from Hell’s Complaints Neverending

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.

Possible Prostitution from Airbnb Guest

I received a guest’s reservation for one person from 12/10-12/29. After the reservation was confirmed, Airbnb sent me an email saying he did not finish sending payment and the reservation was not confirmed. The next day, Airbnb sent an email saying the payment had been confirmed and the reservation was confirmed. Before arriving, the guest texted me around 6:00 AM Saturday morning saying “we arrived early in Boston” and asking if they could check in early. Seeing him use “we” seemed to indicate the reservation for one person may be wrong. I asked how many people were coming, and he said three. I asked them to update the reservation through Airbnb as three people. He agreed. I replied it was okay to check in at 10:30 AM.

When they arrived, I saw the guest and three young girls (in their 20s, claiming to be college students). His profile on Airbnb indicates he is married with his wife and son in the picture. Some hosts reported negative experiences with him. I chose to trust him and accepted his reservation. During check-in, I asked what they were here for as they are spending Dec 10th-29th with me, which included Christmas. The girl hesitated for about five seconds and looked at my guest, as if she didn’t know what they were here for. Then she said they were here for work. Then he started to explain: he lives in Boston and has a food packaging business with a warehouse near Acton. The three girls were his employees and were staying at the Airbnb; he would not be staying as he lives in Boston.

It all seemed very sketchy, so I asked for his ID. He showed me his driver’s license, on which a California address was printed. I could not verify what he said was true and if his driver’s license was authentic. He said he could not change the reservation to three people so I did. He accepted the change. However, right after the acceptance notification, Airbnb sent me an email saying he had not paid for the new change and will email me if they confirm payment. I would not receive payment until it had been confirmed he paid. Fast forwarding to that first night: the guest never left. They were very loud and noisy. I texted them asking them to keep their volume down and also follow through with their payment. No response was received. I did not force them to check out as it was late and I didn’t want to interrupt three girls living downstairs even though I heard the guest and knew he was staying with them downstairs.

The next day at 1:52 PM, Airbnb notified me that the reservation had been canceled. I won’t be receiving payment as they did not receive my guest’s payment confirmation. Note that Airbnb did send an email confirming payment had been received for the initial reservation before it had been changed. That is how the initial reservation had been confirmed. I saw no record of the reservation and I was not even able to comment on this negative experience with this guest to warn other Airbnb hosts about this incident.

More facts: the guest cancelled his reservation without paying anything (as far as I know from Airbnb emails). He complained my place was cold and not safe while there was central heating; I told him upon arrival that it was set to 68 degrees. Other previous guests felt it was warm and comfortable but he thought differently. They broke a vase and left something red dripping on the floor and the carpet (partially wiped off on the concrete floor side but I can still see the red color; red bloody dots on the carpet are clear and visible). It is hard to tell if it was a red drink or blood but it’s certainly disgusting.

That night was loud and noisy. I am not sure if Airbnb can and will send any payment to cover the one night plus the cost of the broken vase, but I am not hoping for much. I removed my listings. I had another experience with a German guest, who broke the bathroom handle. The German guest paid $50 in damage fees but it turned out to be an $800 cost to change out the complete bathroom set. Of course I complained to Airbnb afterwards with nothing being done.

Conclusion: Airbnb is not doing what they are responsible for, keeping hosts safe and protected. Hosts are left vulnerable by any illegal actions committed by the guest and may become responsible or punished for other people’s wrongdoings. Guests who should not belong to Airbnb community cannot be checked and verified properly through the website.

Deceitful Guests with Unauthorized Dogs Given Full Refund

I own two La Jolla, CA beach area homes that I manage.I use HomeAway and also Airbnb. I’ve been hosting and managing the properties since early 2013 and haven’t had one negative review. I accepted an Instant Book – never again! – 65 days prior for Thanksgiving: November 22nd for 6 nights. During the summer, peak season dates require a minimum 60-day cancellation notice to receive a full refund. The guests were a family of six, the renter’s name Elizabeth Razanno from Franklin, Massachusetts. Hosts should make a note of this name and blacklist her; otherwise, you will have problems. She’s a true deceitful law bender. During our chat (after the booking was confirmed, thanks to Instant Book, I specifically asked her to confirm the total number of guests, and if they would have a pet dog; pets were open to discussion, but I wanted them to declare them first.

She skirted the question pertaining to the dog. Again, I stated: “Please answer the question regarding the dog or I will cancel your reservation.”

She replied “Oh, it’s just us.” I should have cancelled her reservation… A few days before their arrival, she contacted me and stated, “Our flight doesn’t get in until the 23rd, one day after our arrival date. My daughter who lives in San Diego will be staying the first night.” A bell went off… not a good vibe.

I said, “Well, okay, but you are the responsible guest and I don’t have a good feeling about having someone other than the responsible guest entering my $2,200,000 home.” I stated, “She must be at least 25 and she cannot have any guests with her as the rental agreement states.”

She replied “Yes, she is 25 and won’t have any other guests with her.”

At 7:00 PM my Cellular Controlled Electronic Front Door Lock notified me her access code was used. I waited until 8:00 PM and arrived to greet her and verify her ID as I do all guests. I walked up as a male was unloading a box of alcohol from the trunk; the gate was open and the front door was wide open. As I knocked on the outside front door before walking in, I verbally announced myself, saying “Hello, owner.” The young girl appeared quickly and attempted to close the door in my face. I said, “I’m the owner of this house and I need to speak with you please. I need to check you in as per the listing states and the rental agreement your mother signed, may I please see your photo ID?”

At that point, two large black dogs appeared. One jumped up and with its front paws almost pushed me down the front steps. The girl had to restrain the one dog while the second was hurling itself from one sofa to the other across the living room wooden table. I immediately saw scratches in the coffee table. I was pissed off… I asked the girl, “What are these dogs doing in my home? They are not authorized, nor discussed with your mother. They are not authorized. You have not paid the pet fee, and I never would allow these types of hyper-aggressive dogs.”

She responded, “Oh, these are my dogs, your listing says ‘pet friendly.’ What’s the problem?”

I responded, “Get these dogs off my property now, before I evict your mother before she even arrives. These dogs are not authorized and your mother failed to declare them and ask permission to have them.”

The girl then said, “Oh, and what if they were service animals?”

I responded, “You and god know neither of these aggressive dogs are service animals so don’t even attempt to go there. If one was a service animal you would have informed me as soon as I walked in, and even more likely, your mother would have made it clear when I vetted her. But she did not.” I told her to get the dogs off my property now: “You can stay, but your pet dogs are out now.”

The next day at approximately 5:00 PM (almost 19 hours later, Airbnb called me and said, “We are giving the guest a full refund and cancelling the reservation from you, the host.” I went home and all three beds’ white linens were stained with dirt marks from the damn dogs jumping on the beds. Every light, every ceiling fan, the central heating, and all four wall-mounted flat screen TVs were on. I argued with Airbnb and they basically told me to pound salt. They said, “The guests said they had a service animal and you forced them to remove it.”

I have eight future reservations booked on Airbnb (Christmas, New Year’s Eve, January, February). However, I am going to terminate my Airbnb account and tell the guests to find me on HomeAway. I would never suggest Airbnb to anyone, ever.

Guest Breaks Furniture, Leaves Early, Demands Refund

My guest – let’s call him Jake – was supposed to stay from July 10 to July 18. Instead of staying for the entire trip, he had to take a flight back to the United States. He had to resolve an issue with his embassy after his passport got stolen. I was not notified of his change of plans. I repeat: I was not notified. My partner and I came back to find the toilet seat and the armchair broken (after warning Jake that the armchair was fragile). After attempting to reach my guest numerous times, he wrote me on July 18th (the day of his scheduled departure), stating: “Hi, I emailed you multiple times informing you that I left the apartment last Tuesday. I had to leave earlier based on the embassy’s guidelines. I left the keys in the mailbox as instructed.”

This was puzzling, because I had received no email, either through my personal account or through my Airbnb account. No message was sent to me between July 8th and July 18th. Had I been notified of his change of plans and had he asked for a refund in a timely manner, I would have done so. But, since he had to leave early due to unfortunate circumstances and since I didn’t ask for a security deposit initially, I decided to let the matter drop. Suddenly this former guest (over a month after the end of his reservation) messages me on August 25th, noting his “surprise” that I did not refund him for the days he did not stay. Also on August 25th, Jake began to complain about the supposed unacceptability of my Airbnb listing. However, the other guests who have stayed with me after him have been satisfied. Rather, this is a clumsy attempt to steal money using scare tactics and playing the victim.

So, on the whole:

1. The guest only notified me of his wish for a refund over a month after the fact, after not having followed any of the cancellation procedures during his reservation and having failed to contact me to inform me of his early departure.

2. We know that his allegations regarding the problems and presumed “dangerousness” of my listing are false, since other users have been satisfied. Rather, he is dishonestly claiming that the listing is unsuitable to justify a full refund.

3. This guest alleges to have not caused any damage when I have a dated photograph stating otherwise. He even claims to be offended, and has called me a liar numerous times. He is playing, simultaneously, the role of a victim and a bully.

4. He may have been dissatisfied, but considering that he didn’t cancel in time and that the damages he caused have cost 200 euros overall, I think this is a fair trade.

5. This guest is manipulative, vengeful, dishonest, and petty. He is hysterically implying that I broke host rules and that this justifies me refunding him for the entirety of his stay. He, and the obtuse labyrinth that is Airbnb customer service, is making me reconsider staying on as an Airbnb host. Airbnb hosts, beware of an overweight dark-haired guest in a penguin suit. He doesn’t know how to respect property and will use any manipulative tactic imaginable to bully a host into a refund.