Having hosted someone from Italy for 12 days in our Australian apartment in January we are still waiting for payment. We received an automated email saying we would be paid on January 23rd. We have been on Airbnb’s books for four years now and have Superhost status. Despite numerous calls to their call centre – the staff of which point blank refuse to pass you on to the management level and if you persist with the request, cut you off – nothing has happened. All they do is pass a so-called ticket to their non-responsive team. Despite many emails to this group no one comes back and now my emails are bouncing back saying they are not deliverable. I wonder what filter they are using to do this? Is it fraud? The work of the FBI or maybe Brian Chesky? On top of this, someone within their organisation has switched my daughter’s bank account details back to those of one that was closed in 2014. So despite receiving money being deposited in 2015 and 2016 now it has been changed back. Hence my use of the word fraud. I can’t help but notice articles in Forbes Magazine where this is now a worldwide issue regarding non-payments and the behaviour of their call centre. It also mentions that the company is worth $25 billion, which clearly adds up to a lot of non-payments. I also noticed that they had a TV ad shown during the Super Bowl. What’s the cost of one of those, three million dollars?
Friday evening my guests texted me with photo evidence that they broke our keys in the door lock. We are in Milan. I knew from experience that it would cost at least 500-600 euro to fix the issue. Forgetting about our evening plans, my husband and I rushed to the place with some tools, hoping we could fix it ourselves. There was no chance; the guests used the wrong key (even though we had explained during check-in which key was used for which lock) and they forced it in a way that the metal key had broken, leaving part of it deep inside the door lock.
The guests were a nice couple from Slovakia. They were terrified and felt guilty as there were five of us (together with the neighbour, who couldn’t get in as the door they broke was actually the common one) witnessing that it was their fault. It was as obvious as 2+2=4. Everybody agreed; there was no discussion there. We called a 24-hour locksmith. They said they would arrive in half an hour and make a determination as to whether the lock needed to be changed completely. It would cost 400 euro without a receipt and around 600 euro with a receipt. The guests were shocked and almost crying. The neighbour needed to be let in; he had already waited outside of his home for an hour. The locksmiths were pushing us, saying that they had a 94-year-old lady waiting for them and that we needed to make up our minds.
We called Airbnb and explained the issue. They suggested we pay and then claim the money back from the guest through the problem solving center. If the guests refused, they would get involved. Everything is protected under the one million dollar warranty. So, we went for the official option and my husband paid the 600 euro. I wasn’t nervous about reimbursement as it was very obvious whose fault it was. We finally got back home at 2:00 AM, but our Friday evening was ruined. The next morning I started the process according to the rules of Airbnb. After a few weeks I received an answer: “We’ve carefully reviewed the claim you submitted and unfortunately, we’re unable to fulfill your request because we do not believe that the guest can be held wholly responsible for the damages caused.”
After a series of messages from my side, they answer was that we could not get a cent back for what we have paid for another person’s mistake hoping for the support of intermediate. Not even the deposit of 80 euro. Nothing. No explanation why, no references to the Terms and Conditions. They simply did not believe me. This was the final decision and end of the conversation. I am really disappointed. Does anyone have any ideas about what can we do in this situation? What lessons can I learn from this? Thank you to everyone who has read this until the end and for your comments.
We are a mother and daughter from St. Petersburg, Russia. We travel a lot and used Airbnb for several years. We often stay in apartments in different countries; we have been to Italy many times and also stayed in many apartments in different cities. On previous visits everything was perfect: we hadn’t experienced any bad treatment or a shocking situation before. However, our most recent trip to Italy was terrible; Francesca was the worst host.
Our stay in Milan (which was short) was completely ruined by Francesca (on Airbnb her apartment is called “Mi casa es tu casa – Milano”). We booked her apartment from November 8-11, 2015. Our plane arrived on November 7th at 23:20 at Bergamo Airport. We took a bus at 00:00 and arrived at Milan Central station on November 8th at 01:10. We calculated our route in advance and wrote Francesca several times about our route in detail: when we would depart, when we would arrive, when exactly we would be in Milan. We were worried about a non-standard check-in time; that’s why we repeated our message with all information about our arrival several times, and immediately before our departure we texted one more time.
The most important fact is that Francesca accepted all our conditions and even added 25 Euro for an early check-in. We negotiated this itinerary: when we arrived from Bergamo Airport at Milan Central Station, we would take a taxi and send her an SMS that we were on the way. She was supposed to meet us at her flat, in the street. And then the worst began… we are still in shock. We took our bus, and decided to text her before we got in the taxi. It was a good decision. We informed her that we had arrived at the Central Station by bus and we were ready to take a taxi and go to her place. It was 01:30, November 8th, as we discussed (and she confirmed in her messages that it was ok).
Francesca didn’t reply for 10-15 minutes; all this time we were standing with our luggage at the railway station and waiting for her answer. Finally we got a message that shocked us: she said that there are other guests in the flat and she cannot help us, because she thought we would arrive the next day. She advised us to go to a hotel. Can you imagine such a terrible situation? We weren’t waiting in the safest place at night – the central railway station – and we were advised to run around and look for a hotel in the middle of the night? We have no words to say how terrible it was. In addition, we had an exhausting trip. We left from St. Petersburg to Tallinn on November 7th at 10:30 by bus. It took eight hours, then we took a flight from Tallinn to Bergamo – two hours more – and an hour more from Bergamo to Milan.
It took us 11 hours on several different means of transportation, and when we finally arrived we were looking forward to get to the apartment to get some rest. Instead, we received such a “nice” piece of advice: search for a hotel. Of course, we didn’t have any options. Almost all hotels near the central station were fully booked. After a while, we found one hotel. It was terrible, but we didn’t have a choice; we were so exhausted and Francesca’s message killed us. One night in the hotel (nine hours) cost 113 euros and didn’t include wifi. It was very expensive for us; we hadn’t planned on spending this amount of money at all, especially to search for a hotel in the middle of the night. In the hotel everything had additional charges and it was dirty and dusty.
When we checked in to the hotel, we wrote to Airbnb support asking for help, explaining the situation. Unfortunately, we only had wifi for three hours but a reply came in the morning. We spend a terrible night waiting for an answer and not sleeping. At 11:00 AM we checked out and were in the street again with heavy luggage. All this time we were sending messages to Francesca, explaining that because of her we were in a terrible place. She pretended she had no idea what dates we were talking about (as her English is so bad) and she insisted that it was not her fault but Airbnb’s booking system. We didn’t receive any understanding and support from this person. Finally, she “kindly” offered to let us check into her flat on November 8th at 11:30 am, when her guests left.
But the problem wasn’t solved. She didn’t want to compensate us 113+25 euros, which she took for an early check-in. We had to call Airbnb several times and try to solve this problem, walking with luggage around the city; it was a nightmare, and it was all because of Francesca. The support team called her and she said that the flat would be free ONLY at 16:00, though she told us that it would be free at 11:30. She lied to us. It was a crazy day. Instead of enjoying Milan, we were carrying our luggage around until 16:00. We regretted many times that we chose her. In the end, we took a taxi for 25 euros and came to her place around 17:00.
Tired and exhausted, we found one more unpleasant surprise: her flat was VERY far from the center, almost a suburb of Milan. There were not many people around and there are NOT any cafes and shops; you have to take a bus to reach them. It takes 20-30 minutes to reach the closest metro station by bus, then also the same time by metro. The district is very strange and a bit marginal; we always saw some suspicious people. We were warned in shops to be careful with valuables and money. It wasn’t pleasant to come back in a full bus in the evening, it is different in the centre. There is a criminal atmosphere in the district.
In the flat it was not so bad but we were confused that the host smoked inside, because we don’t smoke; it wasn’t nice. There was no blanket on the double bed, so we had to sleep under a cover. There was no electrical kettle; we had to find an old one, and clean it to boil water. Such things spoil first impressions especially when they were spoiled from the very beginning. On our first day at check-in we showed our bus tickets from Milan-Bergamo to Francesca, on November 11th at 16:40. She told us that it would take us 1 hour 40 minutes to get there. On our departure day we were in a hurry to clean the place and pack before 15:00.
We were a bit confused Francesca recommended we leave at 15:00, because we had gotten to know the city pretty well. That’s why we were ready at 15:20 and came downstairs to throw out our trash (we had several bags). Near the entrance we met Francesca, who opened the door. She didn’t expect to see us (she thought we would leave at 15:00) and told she wanted to say goodbye. It was the first time this had happened with Airbnb; we always say goodbye with an SMS, and leave the keys on the table or in a post box. Nobody came to say goodbye to us because it is not a convenient moment when you are packing and the host is staying above you. When Francesca saw the trash bags in our hands. she decided to show us how to “correctly” separate it. She started looking into our trash bags and separating them. Before this trip, we had stayed in Rome and the host told us how to separate the trash. Francesca didn’t say a word about it before; that’s why it was very unpleasant and unusual she would now.
Later we came back to the flat, and Francesca came with us. We hoped she would stay outside until we left, but no… We started packing our luggage, and quickly changing. Francesca was in the kitchen and was checking if everything was ok (in front of her guests): she replaced cups, turned on the gas, opened the fridge, and smoked. We could have been eating before our departure. We had to leave our products in the fridge, because the kitchen was occupied by our smoking host. Before our departure she reminded us to go to Garibaldi Station and change to get to Central Station. But everything was much easier, because there is a direct way from M Romolo to Central Station. It took us 30 minutes to get there. Francesca told us on purpose to leave the flat earlier because it takes 1 hour 40 minutes.
To sum up, we think it was unacceptable behavior with the guests. Our trip was completely ruined because of her, and it was full of disappointment. Such people mustn’t host guests, because she doesn’t respect them and thinks she is right. We don’t recommend Francesca’s flat of course, if you don’t want your holiday to become a living hell. After our trip, we wanted to write a not very positive but truthful review, and we did. However, our review was removed in just a couple of hours. We wrote customer support. And what do you think happened? The support agent wrote to us that our feedback had been rude, vulgar and not objective. She also wrote that the responses can not be removed, but in some cases there are exceptions. So our review will be deleted. We realized that the guests are not protected by anything. Airbnb is always on the side of the owners rather than the guests. This is very unfair.
My situation began when I was planning a 25th Anniversary trip to Italy and booked a place on Airbnb many months in advance. I saw the strict cancellation policy but the place looked so cute and private that I didn’t want to take a chance of losing it; the ad stated that this place was usually booked far in advance. I emailed the host to ask how close to the beach it was. He replied it was a 25-minute hike downhill. This was acceptable to me, but when I went back to the page to book, the price had gone up by $25. I questioned this but he said many people had inquired for the dates I wanted so the price went up accordingly. That was my first red flag and I should have stopped right then… but I didn’t. I booked it.
The list of house rules was excruciatingly long with a long explanation of it being some sort of backpacking club in the past but to ignore the reviews about that because now he was only licensed to rent privately. So I did ignore the part about backpackers needing an additional “club membership” that had to be paid in cash when we arrived. I assumed this was in the past, like the rules read. It also said it was a 15-minute hike uphill to reach the property and so it was not for mobile disability renters. I am not disabled and I do run quite a bit so I felt we could handle a 15-minute hike up the mountain after the bus took us the rest of the way.
When we arrived that day, we took the bus up and when we got to the point where the hike started, it was extremely steep. After 15 minutes, I began to wonder where this place was. We kept at this rugged terrain for a bit. Finally, after about 25 minutes, I called the host because the trail split and I did not know which way to go. He kept saying to follow the trail and when I asked which way he insisted there was only one trail. He finally said he could see me and to look up. I saw him way up there. So we figured out which way to go but it was obvious this was more than a 15-minute hike. My knee was starting to hurt because I had been running a few days before and somewhat overused it. Nothing major.
We finally made it to the top and I was so disappointed. This place was tiny and dirty. The tile was cracked everywhere and he had handwritten us a map that showed long hiking distances back down to the beach. He also asked for payment for the club membership. I explained that I thought that was for the backpacking club in the past and that we were private renters. He said, “I sent you the rules.” I thought that was my misunderstanding but I didn’t have the cash on me. He left and I started to take a shower. This is in Italy in the Cinque Terre. There was no shower curtain so water sprayed all over the tiny bathroom. After two minutes, it turned ice cold.
I was really upset by now but there was no way I could leave because I couldn’t make it back down that mountain in the dark. I headed up to the loft to go to bed. Once settled, a mouse ran across the conduit. I freaked out. I tried to catch it on video but only got a bad quality blur because I was so shaken and the mouse was so fast. It ran around the room four times. That was the final straw.
When we got up in the morning we took the trek back down the mountain, which was much longer than he said. We did not find a beach. We found a marina. I messaged him that we would not be staying the next night and why. He denied the problems with the house. He said it was a problem with me because my husband had mentioned my knee was bothering me after the climb. He denied there was a mouse. He said the hot water was normal and that all they have in the area is a marina, which is a beach to them. He said if I wanted a refund, the steps on Airbnb were to start with cancelling my reservation.
Now, my phone did not work well in Italy at all so I could not log onto my account at that point. I should have contacted Airbnb right then and there but my number one priority was finding new lodgings before my phone quit working again. So I did. I then did what he said, which was to request a refund. I immediately got a notice that it was denied. My phone was out at that point and I did not try to contact him again until I returned home and could look at the listing in full to see where the communication went wrong. I realized that Airbnb said I should have contacted them immediately, which I had not done. I tried to leave feedback, and realized that I could not do so even though I had stayed one night.
I contacted the host again. He still denied a mouse was there but said he would reimburse me $20 out of the $232 that I paid out of the goodness of his heart. I saw in my account that he had sent me money but it didn’t show up on my credit card. I did not see any way to reach Airbnb or to claim this tiny refund. I wanted to give this story to them but can not seem to find any way to contact them at all. It was very frustrating. I went back to his listing and he has five-star reviews. I find that hard to believe. He must be pulling this “cancel your reservation” scam a lot. I had great stays at all the other places we stayed with Airbnb but this one bad experience is enough to keep me from ever using them again. I made some mistakes but this host definitely has some experience doing this to others; he knows he owes me. I told him to set some traps and he would definitely catch a mouse but he refused and said I was lying. I will chalk this up as a lesson learned and hopefully enough people will read this site and stay away from Airbnb.
Recently my boyfriend and I stayed in an apartment in Bologna, Italy. We had a rather unfortunate start with poor communication from the host about arrival times and confusion about who would be greeting us, leaving us stranded outside the apartment block for over an hour in 34-degree Italian heat with no water, no access to a toilet, and no contact from our host in response to our phone calls and messages. The stay itself was relatively good once housekeeping had let us into the property, though we had some slight issues with the area around the apartment being quite dodgy; this left me in particular feeling quite unsafe.
We returned home yesterday and I wrote a review about my experience. This afternoon my boyfriend received a missed call from our host. Confused by this, I emailed the host asking why he had been calling my boyfriend from Italy. At around 10:00 PM English time I received a barrage of messages from my host, whereby he advised he was calling to “thank us” for the bad review and continued to shout at me about my review, how he felt it was not accurate. When I tried to explain I felt I wrote a fair assessment of the situation that happened he then called me a “ugly little princess” and told me to “stay away from my balls.” He stated that I was not attractive to him and never will be and he has better things to do with his time than talk to me… when he took the initiative and went to the effort of contacting me from the start.
I have since had to contact Airbnb to ask them to intervene as the correspondence is becoming prolonged and making me feel uncomfortable. They say they will investigate. However, I don’t have high hopes after a brief dalliance with their customer service department while staying in a moldy apartment in Tokyo; at that time, they essentially told me that the host had such amazing reviews they felt my opinion went against this and they didn’t personally agree. Even though I had photographic proof of the endless black hairs in the bed and the mold in the bathroom.
After informing our host, Angelo, of our arrival time at his place, 11:30 PM – well in advance of our trip (even in the first message) – we called to check everything was okay and he claimed he was not in the area. We could not access the accommodation until he arrived, four hours after our scheduled arrival time. We were stranded in the middle of the night after a long journey from Rome and effectively homeless. We were forced to find an alternative (and expensive) accommodation, as we were not prepared to sleep in the street until 4:00 AM. Angelo has since claimed this is not grounds for a full refund, and believed that refunding half the money was a “decent” goodwill gesture. In the end, Airbnb refunded the rest after opening a case on the site. Do not plan to stay here. Lecce, however, is lovely, well worth the trip, but find other Airbnb. It turns out that this profile is fake, Sabrina is in fact Angelo.