We made reservations for three days in Simon’s Town (near Cape Town), with plans to go shark diving. We also have two little kids, so it was fairly important that a particular location was large enough; we also wanted a pool for the kids. The reservation was made three months before the scheduled trip dates. Ten days before we were to depart for South Africa (from the United States), I received a message from the host that she didn’t realize the dates we selected were during the Easter weekend and that she had to cancel the reservation because they would be using the house. While we were able to find different accommodation, this was highly unprofessional. Airbnb also doesn’t allow you to leave feedback for a host that cancels a reservation; there is only an automated message that’s posted to their account. This is very frustrating because it doesn’t let you express your views of the host and thus there is little incentive for a host to think carefully before cancelling a reservation. I’ll think twice before using Airbnb again.
We had our vacationed ruined by Airbnb and a host who was an absolute nightmare. Upon arrival at our condo we opened the door to an overwhelming smell of raw sewage. I’m not talking about a slightly unpleasant smell but a “you had to cover your face and eyes watering” smell. The condo looked nothing like the pictures that were on the Airbnb website. It was listed as a two bedroom but was actually only a one-bedroom condo with a three-foot crawl space with two mattresses thrown on the floor, which I guess made the second bedroom. In the end, none of that mattered as the condition and smell of the unit made it unlivable. We tried to phone the owner who told us to throw a couple of cleaning tablets in the toilet and the smell would eventually go away. There was no way this smell was going away anytime soon and the fact that we could not air it out due to the cold weather with open windows and doors only exacerbated the problem. The ultimate insult was when we stated the smell was not going away and the owner hung up on us. At this time, he is still refusing to return any calls.
We could not live in the accommodations and so literally had to spend our evening wandering, trying to find a place to lay our heads during spring break. We finally found a place that could take us for two nights for literally double what we had anticipated paying but we had no choice as we were at their mercy. I guess we will spend the rest of our stay trying to find accommodations for the rest of our stay. I have tried to call the Airbnb customer service line only to be disconnected before I ever reach a live person. The reward is not worth the risk. Don’t risk ruining your vacation and being put in financial distress by using Airbnb; it is just not worth it. I would not wish what happened to us on our worst enemy.
I booked a place in Delhi around December 22nd, 2016 (our trip to the Himalayas started on December 24th). I made a booking for the night of December 31st at a place whose host was called Kshitij (the listing was “cozy room for three”). He had amazing reviews on Airbnb, and before our trip we had a brief chat in which I told him about the flight details and the place to which we were traveling. The Himalayas have yet to receive reliable wifi service and as we were a little distracted by the beauty of the place, we didn’t check our phones (our mistake, I agree). We reached Delhi on December 31st at 5:00 AM and from that time I tried to reach Kshitij over Airbnb messages, considering Airbnb sends an email or text for each Airbnb message. We waited for him to wake up, have his breakfast, and so on and so forth. By 12:00 PM I got hold of his number and called him to find out he had completely forgotten about the booking and was not in Delhi. We paid him 15 days prior and he forgot; I was sure he had used the money by then already.
Anyway, he helped us to find a hotel near his place which straight away said no to an ‘unmarried couple’ (yes, we’re Indian and not married). We had to pay double our booking charges with Kshitij to find a room for the night. Since then, I have been contacting Kshitij through calls, messages, WhatsApp and Airbnb texts; he hasn’t responded properly. He also said he has started the refund, however I haven’t received anything. I called him again on March 1st, and eventually after an argument he disconnected the phone, and sent me a text: “This is the number for Airbnb. Please call them and share all your grievances from the last three months.” I am shocked to know how these people are exploiting guests in the name of a big organization like Airbnb. On the other hand, Airbnb has no support system or help available for anyone using services from Airbnb. I have attached our conversation screenshots in case you want to browse through them.
On October 14th, 2016 I made a reservation through Airbnb for a two-bedroom apartment for myself, my wife, and our three kids – two boys and one girl. The address featured on the Airbnb website was in Earl’s Court in London. This reservation was between December 24th, 2016 to January 3rd, 2017. I made a payment of 19,596 NOK (Norwegian Kroners). Airbnb then allocated me this booking with a reservation code and the name and contact details of my host. My host was Ulya, and the Airbnb system provided her contact number.
Both myself and my wife started to have a hunch there was something amiss about this host since around November we started to receive both SMS and email correspondence related to this booking. What confounded us was that each time we responded it would transpire that these messages were not from Ulya but from different intermediaries. Since we had already paid, we continued to confirm our date of arrival and departure, grudgingly so.
On December 24th, 2016 we arrived from Norway at Gatwick Airport, London, and proceeded by train to Victoria Station. From the station we took a meter taxi to the address Ulya had given us which was in Earl’s Court. As we were in the taxi we realised that the address Ulya (the Airbnb host) had tendered on the Airbnb website was not valid. Whilst at the the taxi we made numerous calls to Ulya and her numerous intermediaries. Their phones were persistently engaged, so the taxi driver dropped us in the street. We related our plight to a stranger we found at the bus stop; she intervened and called the numbers for Ulya and her various intermediaries to enquire about the correct address for this apartment. This time one of Ulya’s intermediary gave us the correct address for the apartment we had booked, and she further advised that the apartment door was black. However upon our arrival at this address the door was purple and not black as we had been advised. It was at this point that it dawned on me, my wife and kids that we had indeed been swindled.
Realising that it was getting both late, dark and colder we then decided to proceed the Kensington Police Station at Pembroke Mews to report our plight. We received a hostile reception at the police station… perhaps the Kensington police thought we were either refugees or looking for accommodation. In either case, they gave us quite a hostile reception. They didn’t allow us anywhere near the precinct of their office. They ordered us to go and wait across the street. Our five-year-old daughter asked to use the toilet facility, an appeal that was not granted. After some time one police official came to us and harshly engaged us. We appealed to the police to at least assist us by calling the Airbnb host again. During this engagement it transpired that they learned I was a South African diplomat and that together with my family we were travelling on diplomatic passports. After having verified the authenticity of our diplomatic passports the police made numerous calls to both Ulya and her different intermediaries.
After these one of Ulya’s intermediaries gave the Kensington police an address on Ifield Road as the correct one for the apartment we had booked on Airbnb. We then took a taxi to this address. We stood at the street parking near the door of the apartment on Ifield Road for Ulya’s intermediary to give us the keys so that we could enter the apartment. Much to our surprise, the apartment door was not locked since the lady who came to give us keys just pushed it open and gave us a sets of two keys. Upon entering the apartment the first thing that we noted was that the bedrooms downstairs were cold and dirty. We immediately alerted the host intermediary about this. She indicated that she was in a hurry as it was Christmas the following day and that she didn’t know much about the apartment. She further indicated that Ulya had sent her to give us keys for the apartment. We nevertheless further appealed to her to at least turn on the heating mechanism for the two bedrooms, and she declared that these were on and would be warmer with time. She then left the apartment.
On our arrival we were greeted by garbage at the door. On seeing us entering at the apartment the neighbors complained that this pile of garbage had been there for a while. The very entrance to the apartment was visibly dirty. Later on, Airbnb’s partisan Resolution Centre dismissed this garbage as being of no significance. In the kitchen – which is combined with the lounge – the seats were falling apart such that it was not safe to sit on them. The only seat that seemed safe was the sofa couch which could also be converted to a bed. Again, Airbnb’s partisan Resolution Centre dismissed this as being of no significance. When we tried to connect our gadgets to the wifi which we found at the kitchen we discovered that whilst the modem was plugged in, there was no electric current. We tried it on the power outlet where the microwave was plugged in and it worked. To our surprise none of the power outlets in the bedrooms were functioning.
Upon proceeding to the ensuite bathroom we discovered that the light was not working and that the warm water was not functioning. We then tried the other bathroom and discovered that it was visibly dirty, just like the ensuite bathrooms. We alerted Ulya through a WhatsApp message about these problems and she promised to send an electrician to fix them. At around 19:30 Ulya informed us via WhatsApp message that she would be sending an electrician promptly. As we were exhausted both physically and emotionally after the aforementioned debacle of looking for an invalid address, we retired to bed early with our clothes on since the heating mechanism in the bedrooms was not functional. We also couldn’t wash ourselves since the warm water tank was not functional and therefore the water was cold. I took sleeping pills and slept much earlier than my wife and kids.
At around 22:50 I was woken up my wife saying there was someone banging on the main door. Fearful as I was, I climbed the apartment stairs and proceeded to the door to find out what was happening. I enquired who was knocking. The gentleman at the door indicated that he had been sent by the owner to check whether the warm water tank, power plugs, light in the ensuite and the heating mechanism were indeed not working. I opened the door for him to enter the apartment. He consistently purported to be engaged in a telephone conversation. Upon engaging this gentleman he indicated that he was not an electrician and didn’t have a toolbox but would call an electrician once he had confirmed that indeed the electrical problems which we had raised with Ulya were valid.
Clearly according to the Airbnb host our views were are not worth of respect. In the first place she didn’t do a basic quality assurance test to ensure that everything was in order in her apartment prior to us occupying the apartment. Even after registering our concerns inter alia about electrical problems in her apartment she elected to send her contact person who is not an electrician to ascertain the validity of the problems we had raised with her. What further astounded us was that even this gentleman kept on telling us us that he had been sent by a “he” not a “she”. When we enquired from him as to how come he is not an electrician since Ulya had made a promise that she would send the electrician straight away. This gentleman’s assertion confounded us even more since Ulya had told us that she was the owner of the apartment. Ulya later claimed that we refused her electrician entry into the apartment. Fortunately I had a gut feeling that something was amiss with this gentlemen and I took a picture of him inside the apartment.
Later on after cancelling the booking, a faceless member of Airbnb’s partisan Resolution Centre dismissed this picture of Ulya’s electrician inside the apartment as being of no significance and deemed not to give an idea of what transpired in the conversation between me and this gentleman in spite of me having indicated quite clearly that I had relayed this picture to refute Ulya’s false claim that we did not allow the electrician whom she had paid £100 to enter the apartment to fix the electrical problems we had raised with her. There was also insufficient linens on the bed; my two young kids coughed and cried bitterly the whole night complaining about the cold. With the bedroom’s heating mechanism not working, the bed linen provided by the Airbnb host was not sufficient. I again alerted the host about this fact and she maintained that there were was enough linen in the apartment. We live in Oslo, Norway, which is much colder than London, however we have never felt as cold as we did in Ulya’s apartment. Again, the Airbnb Resolution Centre deemed this fact did not warrant the cancellation of the reservation and a full refund.
Earlier on, immediately after assuming occupancy of the apartment and after realising that the electrical outlets in the bedrooms and some in the kitchen were not functioning my wife and kids went to a nearby shop and purchased an extension cord to charge our gadgets and continue to keep the wifi connected. I remained inside the apartment as I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. Upon their return we discovered that the main door keys were not compatible the door lock and therefore not opening. Fortunately I had remained inside the apartment and I opened it for them. Otherwise we were going to be literally stuck on the streets in a foreign country on Christmas eve.
Again the partisan Airbnb Resolution Centre deemed this fact did not warrant the cancellation of the reservation and a full refund. On the morning of December 25th, 2016 I awoke with my family hopeful that perhaps the the Airbnb host will send the electrician to fix the problems cited above which we had duly reported to her. As the day progressed without the electrician showing up, we washed ourselves by pouring water in the black bucket we found behind the apartment’s kitchen door. This bucket contained detergents and a mop for cleaning the floor. At around 12:15 PM on Christmas Day, and after it became clear that was going to be no substantive intervention by the Airbnb host to our plight, my wife and I agreed that we should cancel the reservation. Immediately after cancelling the reservation, the Airbnb host promptly sent me a message informing me that since I had cancelled the reservation our continued presence inside her apartment amounted to trespassing. She further threatened that she was sending her team to deal with us. We left the apartment.
On December 26th, 2016, the Airbnb host sent me a WhatsApp message claiming that we had damaged her apartment and therefore she had taken our fingerprints and would send us claim forms. At first after the cancellation I got a message from Airbnb confirming the cancellation of my reservation and informing me that my reservation was not eligible for a refund. This message further indicated that if there was an extenuating circumstance I should click on the link for the resolution center. Upon clicking this link I discovered that I qualified for a refund 17,650 NOK from the 19,596 NOK that I had originally paid. I accordingly filled in the message box included in the link. I got a prompt response from the host stating I would not get a refund because I had refused her electrician entry into the apartment and called her people names.
Since I had cancelled my reservation with the Airbnb host I had to endure further costs for an alternative accommodation and for changing the date of return for our flight. Given the Airbnb host’s refusal to refund me I escalated the matter to Airbnb’s resolution centre and I was given a reference number for my case. On December 29th, 2016 I got correspondence from someone at Airbnb’s Resolution Centre asking me to send him any pictures related to this matter. I immediately sent him pictures I had managed to take. Initially my correspondence with pictures did not go through. I kept on trying and then ultimately they went through. He responded that they were not convincing. I asked – among other things – if he thought I would leave the comfort of my place and subject myself and my family to cancelling a long arranged festive holiday accommodation for no valid reason. I further asked him how is he going to prove from the pictures that the electrical outlets and the warm water tank are not working.
In the first place, both Airbnb and their hosts have a responsibility. Ultimately the faceless member of the Airbnb partisan Resolution Centre gave me a meager refund of 5,000 Norwegian Kroner which did not cover the additional 10,000 Norwegian Kroner for changing the departure date for the family flight ticket due to the problems we had experienced with the apartment I had booked on Airbnb. Ulya’s Facebook profile picture was the same as her WhatsApp profile picture. The only difference was that on Facebook she used the name Elly. Her Facebook profile also indicated that she lives in London. Upon looking at her pictures on her Facebook timeline I recognised the area around the apartment we had booked. A dew days thereafter, with the intention to alert Airbnb and my bank about this, I searched for her on Facebook and couldn’t find her.
I’m just wondering if there is anything that can be done to assist me in this matter. It pains me quite profoundly because I lost a lot of money from this debacle and subjected my family to an infelicitous drama. I also believe that other people need to know about the shady side of Airbnb. I’m also wondering if anyone can kindly assist me to get a physical address of Airbnb’s offices either in South Africa or Europe.
I know a listing that must be taken off Airbnb. Customer support has not helped. Fay’s place was a nightmare. It’s unsafe – three dogs, broken guardrails – and has dirty floors, couch, kitchen and bathroom. It is not a private home, but rather a shared upstairs living room. She and others live there with three large dogs separated by a curtain with no door. It is a dirty studio with a view of her garage (guest house conversion) and three large German Shepherds which go outside and inside freely with no separation between them and your private space. Before arriving I contacted her several times with no response. The house was dirty and clearly thrown together at the last minute before we came in. The location would be ok if it was not the worst house on the block and an eyesore. Having three large dogs in the back yard barking at us was not ok and inviting them into the house without consulting us was also not ok because they bark at you aggressively. Also having Fay yell shut the hell up aggressively did not help us feel comfortable in this situation.
Airbnb was not helpful in resolving these issues and did not care about our safety and comfort. Instead they only asked us to take pictures of these issues at night in an unsafe house and conditions. Jolanda, our customer support case manager, answered the phone several times without responding for minutes while we were forced to listen to the room full of side conversations until she decided to answer the phone out loud (clearly someone was in training and rude side conversations dominated the actual support). After getting Jolanda on the phone and explaining these issues she said there was nothing Airbnb could do and they said that they wanted to contact the host and resolve the issue while we were there, without considering our safety and comfort in this terrible situation.
If a listing is unsafe and uncomfortable, then Airbnb should refund the cost of the rental and take the unit off of the market until the issues listed in the reviews have been resolved and reviewed by an Airbnb agent. They did not facilitate finding another location to stay even though they said they would and they would not acknowledge that several others have had these same issues (which we later found in other reviews). Also, after Jolanda said that she would find us a place to stay in 5-10 minutes she did not get back to us at all. So after waiting for 40 minutes I called Airbnb and stayed in contact with their team for over four hours with zero helpful customer support and no access to a customer support manager or supervisor. There is no excuse for this level of service.
Other important notes: if the outside railing of the second floor is rotting and spilling over to the bottom floor then this unit should not be listed as safe. If it is not a private home then it should not be listed as such. If it is not a penthouse then it should not be listed as such. If the host cannot fix these complaints and cannot prepare her home properly then she should not be a host. Also, Airbnb provided zero follow up with me now 15 hours after the event; customer support was rude and provided no conflict resolution for the four hours I was on the phone with them. After traveling with Airbnb for years and having many positive experiences I can only imagine that this was a freak event at a freak location. I would like to hear a response from Fay and Airbnb explaining the resolution to these issues.
I booked an apartment for a week in Toronto in December. The listing said it was a two bedroom. However, what the host didn’t disclose was that the second bedroom had an old futon with broken wooden slats (held together with tape). The first night I slept on the old futon and had terrible back pain. The second night the bed broke. I looked under the sheets and found the issue. This wasn’t a mattress; it was a cushion. There was no box spring, just broken wooden slats. I called Airbnb who suggested I get in touch with the host to see if she could help. We emailed her and she didn’t respond for hours, saying she was out of town and could come to the apartment the next day. I called Airbnb expecting them to help. Instead I got the run around. I was told I could go buy an air mattress and they’d give me the money back. Did I mention this was at 5:00 PM over Christmas and I was sick? I was then told they’d give me $150 as a total refund. I explained I still had three nights at the Airbnb and $150 was the price per night for a hotel. They refused to give me any more money even though there was no solution to help me. I have been trying for over a month to get my money back from Airbnb. I filed a formal complaint on Airbnb and received no response for three weeks. I called eight times and was given the run around over and over again. I sent emails, and received no responses. I was promised return phone calls that I never received. I was even hung up on when I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was then sent an email saying there was nothing wrong with the bed even though it was an old futon held together with tape and that I wouldn’t be getting a refund. I am now going to go into arbitration. Airbnb is a horrible company that allows hosts to do anything they want and not support their guests.
Is there no way to contact Airbnb directly to present a major complaint? This was the first holiday season in 40 years that my husband was able to take off work. We had a wonderful and very expensive Christmas vacation planned for us, with our grown sons and their significant others, in Palm Springs. We live on the East Coast. This was our first Christmas ever away from home, and we chose this particular property over many others with the same amenities because of the beautiful and unique looking heated pool and hot tub/spa, framed by the mountains. The first thing I checked when booking was that the pool would definitely be heated since temperatures are in the 60s in December. It was the main thing my husband and I were looking forward to in terms of relaxation and exercise. We arrived to find a cold pool and a half empty hot tub. To attempt to make a very long story as brief as possible, we spent four days of our seven-day stay, phoning, texting, pleading, and questioning the property manager about it. A variety of service guys were sent to fix it, to no avail. Four days of anger, frustration, and incredulity.
The last service man, who said he had been called to the property many times in the past, said the whole system was old and needed to be replaced but the owner refused to do anything about it. I say four days because after that we gave up. To add insult to injury, the property manager treated us as though we were being unreasonable about being so upset. The only offer of compensation was to refund the extra charge – over and above the advertised price – that we had to pay to heat the pool. If I were the host or owner of the property and this happened to a family spending their holiday at my house only to find the “crown jewel” of the property broken down, I would have offered either a refund or an invitation to come back at another time for a seven-day stay to compensate for this disaster. That didn’t happen of course.
It was then that I realized that Airbnb has major pitfalls. As per the agreement, Airbnb holds no responsibility for ruined vacations and is not obligated to offer any form of compensation for a major amenity not in working order and not delivering what is promised in the description; the property manager or host is not obligated to do anything in terms of compensation (they take half of the fee) and guests have absolutely no rights whatsoever. $4,000 rental for a Christmas trip? Just suck it up. I’ve used Airbnb many times, but never will again. I’m wondering how long it’s going to take me to feel anything other than pure rage every time I think about it.
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.
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.
I rented a four-bedroom house in Reno from Christmas to January 1st. My daughter, husband, granddaughter, and two nephews were staying here with me to attend my other daughter’s wedding December 30th. When I arrived at the house, it was clearly dirty: poorly made beds, food and ants on the floor and counter. I emailed the host through Airbnb and listed the items. He sent over his mother-in-law and friend to address the issues. She was on an oxygen tank. I left for the day and when I got back, the bathrooms were still dirty, the sinks still did not drain, and I found ants all over the kitchen floor. I took pictures and used the host’s personal email to send them and complain again about the ant problem. He never responded. I sent him another email a day later asking for a $400 refund since he was not addressing the ant issue. He never responded. After dealing with the ants constantly, we could not leave a soda can on the counter, or a crumb of food anywhere without the ants swarming.
I filed a complaint with Airbnb seeking half of my money back. I paid $1936 for the week and asked for $1000 back. They took several days to get back to me and I had already returned home when they contacted me. Customer service asked for more pictures, which I sent, and called me back a few hours later. They said that the resolution was now closed and the guest agreed to refund the $120 cleaning deposit. I said that was not even close to compensating me for the amount of time we spend cleaning and killing ants. They told me I would be banned from Airbnb if I disputed the charge, that there were other arbitrators who would do the same if I disputed it again. They advised I should have left if it was that bad. I reminded them that this was over New Year’s in Reno and the hotels were charging a premium. Getting three hotel rooms and moving all our stuff was not an option for our family. She offered me $75 off a future stay, to which I said “No thanks.”
I am waiting to hear back on my second resolution complaint. I have never spent $276 per night and had to deal with ants constantly. I am appalled at my first resolution. I have also seen my review, which was censored and cut in half, while they left the host’s review, twice as long. He personally attacked me saying I was a dissatisfied type of person looking for problems. Trust me, I didn’t have to look far to see ants all over our food and drinks. I did purchase something to unclog his sinks, set out ant traps, and thoroughly cleaned the bathrooms myself. I feel extremely let down by this experience. If this had been a hotel and ants destroyed our food and drinks, they would take a much better approach at compensating a guest for their stay. I will update this when I hear back regarding my second resolution complaint.