Arrogant and Opaque Conflict Resolution – Host Extortion

I went to visit my daughter in Seattle, planning to stay for a week. The apartment, given that it was the host’s primary residence, was pleasant. However, after five days the host called my daughter on the phone and informed her (not me) that I was to vacate the apartment immediately. He claimed that if I didn’t his landlord was going to evict him and charge him $600. My daughter was distraught; she took one of my checks and gave it to the host. The host gave me about twenty minutes to pack up and leave. The only review of the host stated he’d abruptly cancelled the reservation of two young women who just happened to be counting on staying in his apartment when I was requesting a reservation. I doubt that was a coincidence.

Of course, Airbnb would have liked to have washed their hands of the whole matter. I persisted as best I could and the host offered a small settlement. Airbnb claimed they’d tried to reach me; they tried exactly once. After that, they screened my calls. In the end, being the clever person I am now and then, I had my bank cancel the check due to fraud. I also immediately cancelled the credit card Airbnb had on file. Once they have your card they can do anything they like. In the end I guess I prevailed. The $600 was returned, the security deposit was returned, and I still received the settlement.

Now they send an email a day over a bill for $19. I go to their help section and tell them I’ll send them a check. I just put one in the mail. The point is that their customer service is dreadful. It’s all skewed towards the hosts. How many young people get caught up in this kind of nonsense? They’ve gotten too big, too fast. I do give Airbnb some credit. The host has lost his privileges after extorting cash from my distraught daughter. No cash should ever change hands directly between host and guest.

 

Airbnb Nightmare in Tokyo: Hotel was Necessary

We booked a place in Tokyo only to arrive after 4:00 PM to a dirty room with soiled sheets, pubes all over the bathroom, scum on all the mirrors, dirty glasses and stovetop, and reversed sheets to try and hide the stains. We couldn’t stay there. We tried to contact hosts as we were tired and just wanted to shower and rest but didn’t receive any replies. We had to find a hotel. We found a reasonably affordable one, a little more expensive than the Airbnb but we weren’t going to look or travel far as we had already had enough. Finally, the hosts contacted us after a few hours when we were already in a hotel, saying they were sorry: the place had been cleaned but the quality was not so good. They didn’t check. After a while they offered a refund, minus the cleaning fee. They had to be kidding. There was no offer to cover the extra expense of our simple hotel costs. I’m hoping Airbnb can help us out?

Host Asks me to Leave Early, Stabs me in the Back

I would like to briefly highlight one issue here. When I reported to my host that some things were not good at her apartment, the very next day she asked me to leave, which was alarming to me. She agreed to refund me the pending payment for one night which had not yet gone through and also the Airbnb service charges. Upon asking why she was doing this she said she was getting a potential long-term client from February 1st and after that her offer changed into request mode. When I found that she was requesting me to leave so she would not incur a loss by losing a long-term client, I agreed on one condition: that I wouldn’t pay more for one night’s rate at her property at another place.

The next day upon searching jointly we found a place next to her apartment which had a bit of a high rate. I negotiated further with that host and brought down the rate further. Later she jumped into my negotiation and tried to spoil it. Earlier she asked me to leave on Friday January 27th, so I negotiated with the guy accordingly. Later she confused him and said that I would come to his apartment on Monday January 30th, without even informing me. That guy shouted at me but somehow I managed to control the situation. Afterward, I told my host very clearly that I didn’t want to leave the apartment because of how she wasted my time but I would on humanitarian grounds, her having a potential long-term client.

The last evening at her place I was informed that the apartment where she was transferring me was asking for a R1000 security deposit. I told Annette that I helped her but didn’t means that she could force me into paying R1000 extra. I am comfortable blocking payment to a big company like Airbnb but I wouldn’t try to do so to a random person. I also asked her that in case that guy wouldn’t pay me back my R1000 for whatever reason, then she had to take responsibility if I didn’t do anything wrong… which she denied. Finally she showed her true colors and said that she didn’t ask me to leave; it was me who wanted to leave. When I told her that I have everything in writing as well as her call recording too then she got afraid and backpedaled, saying that I was threatening her. She made a Whatsapp call (because they can’t be recorded) and said so many things to me, including:

1. If she reports me to Airbnb then they will charge 300USD to my account.

2. As I have no reviews on Airbnb then my case is weak.

3. I wrote so many messages to her, she got fed up (I can show who has written more messages, me or her).

4. I bring negative energy to her flat and she wanted me to leave.

I told my host that if she filed a complaint with Airbnb then I would do the same, with all the messages and voice recordings, letting Airbnb decide who is right or wrong. Then she got offended.

This was my first time booking through Airbnb and I landed in a heap of trouble by helping my host on humanitarian grounds. I have documentation of our exchange of messages and voice recordings, which can provide a clear picture as to who is right and wrong. My only mistake is I helped that lady without informing Airbnb because my parents always taught me to help everyone until my last breath. My last concern is that I am leaving her apartment on Monday January 30th and I told her (through Airbnb message and Whatsapp) that I wanted a thorough check of everything and needed a clear signal from her that everything was in order before I left. I am afraid now because if she can change her statement in front of me (when I have all the proof), someone who helped her, then god knows what will happen when I turn my back.

Unsanitary Airbnb Stay in Anaheim, California

I am not sure who to reach out regarding my recent Airbnb stay in Anaheim. I am conflicted between leaving a negative review for my host or contacting Airbnb. Christine was responsive and genuinely a nice person when I meet her but the place that she hosted was not sanitary. She met with me and gave a quick tour of the studio. Upon entering, the studio had a pungent smell – hence the multiple candles and air fresheners in the room. The place looked clean but upon settling in, we found the bed was covered in white dog hair. We know it was dog hair because she drove away with her boyfriend and a small white dog. Luckily, my fiancé and I are not allergic to dogs. We found dog hair on top of the comforter and inside the bed under the sheets. We thought a quick fluff would do the trick but the bed was disgusting. As we removed the bed sheets, the mattress was yellow and brown and had nail polish on it. We found a fake purple press-on nail. The towels provided were gross. She said they were clean but they left purple lint on us as we dried off. The other towel was folded nicely on the counter; we turned it over to find crusted white stuff throughout the towel. We had to use our shirts to dry off. We checked in at midnight so we couldn’t find another place on short notice. Instead, we placed pillows on the floor to sleep. The next day, we ended up crashing at a friend’s house. I do not want to leave a negative review for the host, as she was super nice, but the place she listed was not Airbnb quality.

Hour of Hell: Quick Glimpse at Potential Nightmare

This is the review I left on the host’s page:

I stayed for an hour. When I met Jason to pick up the key, which he was in a hurry to do so he could go watch a football game, he invited me and my under-21 kids to come back and “kick it” with him. He talked and talked about his job and how he broke his hand punching the wall. The bathroom had cockroaches as did the room I was going to stay in. The room is right next to the street so you hear all cars and anyone walking by. Around 8:00, in he came with a friend laughing, talking and turning the TV on very loudly. There is no trash can in the bedroom which I feel is needed. The entire home is very dirty with paint peeling, dirt and dust. My hour here was a nightmare!

This is the host’s reply…

First of all, I want to say that I take great care and effort in hosting Airbnb travelers in Charleston. This review is a slander in order to get a refund where this traveler ended up staying with one of their kids attending CoFC. I offered a complimentary bottle of champagne of which I do to some guests upon their arrival. The distortion of relayed information on how I broke my hand unloading my DJ equipment off a stage the night prior is in no ways hitting a wall, first and foremost. I have never even seen a cockroach on my property and considering the traffic my house sees with guests it gets cleaned daily. No trashcan in the bedroom is a first for a complaint [for this property] which has almost 50 great reviews… The timelines don’t even match up with an hour there when her check in was earlier and I never even saw her after check in. I really hope this isn’t a common practice with this Airbnber with her check ins abroad as it is wrong to a host to do such practices and falsify information. I took the high road and decided not to even leave a review for this Airbnber.

As of November 2016, I have sent numerous requests to the “Resolution Center” to no avail. I am now in contact with our company’s legal department.

Airbnb Party House Open for Business

So a few weeks ago I made a reservation in Oistins, Barbados for an employee of mine. I was staying nearby (at a resort). We checked in with the host and even though it was smaller than expected, had no air conditioning, and shared a bathroom between three guests, we decided it could work. Upon unloading the car we realized we had forgotten to ask the host about the wifi password. I stepped out onto the back deck to find the host rolling up a joint in front of the other two female guests. Being that this was a business trip and that I was putting my own employee in this situation made me very uncomfortable. I discussed what I had just seen with my employee, and she assured me that as long as the other guests were civil it wouldn’t be an issue. As long as no males were on the property she felt relatively safe and secure locked in her room. She had a working phone, a way to call me if she felt the need. So the next morning I went to pick up my employee and you could just tell it had been a long night. The other guests stayed up until 5:00 AM partying, yelling at each other, banging on the windows, having guys over, drinking, eventually vomiting, and dry heaving until sunrise. It was not the sort of environment you would want to be in professionally. When you have to be up early and on camera all day, this room obviously wasn’t going to work out.

I called the host, explained the situation, and told him I was going to have to move my employee to ensure she was rested and ready to go to work. He understood but was apparently more concerned with the other guests? If I’m renting out rooms from my house I want to take care of the people that take care of my place. That was not the case here. So we agreed that he would refund half of the reservation and since that moment I haven’t been able to get in touch with the host. I told him if he executed the refund process quickly I wouldn’t make a big deal, wouldn’t contact Airbnb, and wouldn’t leave a nasty review even though he was owed one for sure. A week went by and still nothing, so I escalated the refund to Airbnb management. They said they would be in touch. A few days later (on Christmas morning at 10:00 AM) I finally received an email from Airbnb saying the case was resolved, and my request for a refund had been denied. They couldn’t reach the host to verify my cancellation so they dismissed my claim. Long story short? Airbnb doesn’t care. They only care about making money, so guests should document everything. I told the customer service representative it would have been dangerous and ignorant of me to take a picture of my host smoking a joint on the deck. This was unbelievably bad customer service; to call it so would be a joke. Do yourself a favor: buck up and pay for a hotel to take the stress out of your next stay.

Sometimes, All That Matters at Airbnb is Wifi

Let’s start a hashtag #airdoesntcare (I just did on Twitter). Beware Airbnb. My host lied on his listing about several things but the Internet was the biggest problem for us. We are a party of four business associates in Costa Rica on business and have already been here a month. We moved to this place on December 13th and immediately realized the host and his property caretaker had lied about the Internet connectivity (among other things). The caretaker also lied about speaking English. We told him the night we arrived that we would leave. We stayed two days while looking for a new place. Our booking was for 32 days. Airbnb refunded me less than $250 and refused to escalate our case, regardless of the extensive and very specific email trail of problems and obvious lies documented.

Here is one of the first emails:

Your listing says you have Internet and wifi. Internet means you are supposed to have a working router. There was no router at all, and you would have known that. But we came prepared for the internet challenges in CR. We all have Kolbi chips in our phones but could only get service if we stood in your yard. Even that didn’t work all the time; the service went in and out. We also bought a Claro “hotspot” box to use in Costa Rica a month ago. That usually works when the Kolbi doesn’t but it did not work at your place. We had no service at all. We were depending on your Internet availability which you listed on your Airbnb profile. Also, when we first met Jacinto your caretaker, he said he didn’t speak English. My son speaks a little Spanish so he tried to communicate. Jacinto pretended not to understand but conveyed to us through mostly hand gestures that there was no Internet available. He pointed all around the neighborhood, indicating there was just bad service in the area. In fact, there was no router at all in the house.

Then today Jacinto called me and spoke perfect English (what a miracle – the guy must be a genius!) and said that we could use the neighbor’s wifi, providing the login name and password. This is not acceptable for business people. Even that option didn’t work; the neighbor probably changed the password. Why did you lie to us? We had to make plans last night to find a new place. Sorry, but we cannot stay there. We are working here. I had to move to a hotel last night because I had meetings all day today via Skype. I can’t sit in the middle of your yard getting some sporadic wifi signal. I am still in the hotel tonight. But it is very expensive here – during the very high season – and I have to move tomorrow because they are booked up. This problem has cost me and my group a lot of time and money. I rented your house based on what you said in the listing and we don’t like being told one thing and then – after we move in – being told something else. You also said in the listing that the neighborhood was quiet. The boys were there and told me it was very loud last night – some sort of major appliance tear-down situation with a truck arriving at 6:00 AM dumping dozens of refrigerators and washing machines in the yard next door for them to dismantle. Are you kidding me? If I would have been told this, I would have cancelled the reservation.

The bottom line is you shouldn’t trust hosts or Airbnb to make things right. Rent with them and you take your chances.

Canadian Nightmare: Complaints Treated as Joke

This is an ongoing story. We received no help from our hosts, Alex and Julie, who treated our complaints as a joke, and no help from Airbnb who made it very difficult to make contact. We arrived at the apartment in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood during a snow storm. The apartment was obviously not ready to receive guests: no wardrobe space (closets full of Alex and Julie’s clothes, no provision for our clothing), no drawer space in the dressers (again full of Alex and Julie’s personal belongings), no space for our effects in the bathroom as the shelves and cabinets were full of toiletries belonging to the hosts. No allowance at all was made to receive guests. After everything we had heard about Airbnb we wondered if we were even supposed to be in the apartment. We took photos of the bathroom, the wardrobes, and the filthy oven in the kitchen and posted them. We contacted Alex and Julie about the problems with the apartment and our complaints were treated as a joke. We left the apartment early the next morning, leaving the keys in the mailbox. Airbnb has thanked us for our feedback.

Extortion and Invasion of Privacy: Illegal NYC Airbnb

I had a really unpleasant New York City host somewhere in the financial district. Superficially everything was nice until a few hours after we met. Here is how the interaction went:

Host: When will you be arriving?

Me: I will actually be in the city a few days before so I can arrive whenever is convenient for you to give me the key.

Host: Anytime after 2:00 PM on this end works.

Me: Okay I will be there around or before 3:00 PM then. Does that work?

Host: Okay.

(24 hours before said time)

Host: I cannot be here to check you in. You have to use the temporary key from the doorman. The permanent key is in your room. The temporary key must be returned very soon after checkout.

Me: Okay. When do I have to return this key?

Host: As soon as possible.

Me: Okay.

(Arrive at apartment at 1:54 PM. Remember: anytime after 2:00 PM is ok; check out the temporary key for which my ID is retained. I go upstairs to said apartment)

Host: Oh, I didn’t think you’d be here for a few more hours; the room’s not ready.

(One hour is not a few more hours, and I was within her “acceptable window”. This host clearly does not read her messages.)

Me: Okay, I will just leave the luggage here next to the shoes, no need to hurry for the room. I’m leaving probably till evening.

She shows me the room. I thank her, pet her dog (which is actually not allowed to live in that building), take the permanent key, and return the temporary key. Upon return of the temporary key I again have my state ID on my person. Six hours later I got a few messages from this host that she will be posting an $100 charge to my account because I did not return the temporary key.

Me: Of course i returned it. Is it true that the doorman holds your ID for that key? Okay. Then how would I have my ID otherwise?

(Host continues accusing me in a couple more messages that the key is signed out to me)

Me: Okay, it is the doorman’s responsibility to find it because I returned it but nevertheless I will go see for myself that what you say is true.

I return to the building from an inconvenient distance away, and it turns out the doorman did have the key. The mistake was on their part as the key was stuck in the crack of the machine that reads the key. The host apologized. I calmly went to shower so my muscles would be relaxed before the New York City Marathon. The host’s roommate came back to the apartment with a bunch of drunk friends. One of the male friends barged in on me while I was getting out of the shower. At least I had some tiny clothes on. I made small talk with the drunk people for a little bit then went to bed, at 2:45 AM (technically 3:45 AM because of daylight savings time). The host barged through the apartment in loud heels, slammed a couple doors, then stormed out.

Well, goodbye sleep. This was going to be an interesting marathon. About 3:10 PM after the marathon:

Host: Your checkout is by 7:00 AM please leave the key on the desk. You can leave the luggage in the common area if you want and get it later by using the temporary key.

Me: No, thanks. I don’t want another $100 temporary key incident.

(I didn’t see anything disrespectful here – I was just protecting my wallet from her)

I vacated the apartment at about 12:30 AM and took a picture of the state of the room I was in, with the key on the desk and a time stamp. I brought a friend to help me with the luggage and to make sure I got uptown at 120th Street safely. He also saw the key on the desk and we checked the apartment ten times to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything. That whole piece of time was about 10-15 minutes. Maybe this host had work or something, but being reminded that I had to check out only 14 fours after a marathon is brutal. So I just preferred to forfeit this unpleasant experience and sleep uptown on the floor of a friend who was not evicting me.

The next morning when I woke up I saw a message that she did not find the key on the desk but that she is willing to not charge me the $150 it costs her to change her locks due to the trouble with the temporary key. I called Airbnb to complain and I said I will be requesting a $40 refund (from the $130/night it cost me) because I did not end up spending the night there. I also told the host that giving everyone access to the temporary key is a pretty bad security problem in her building. I obviously did not take her key. It’s of no benefit to me to keep a key from a place I would hate to live in, when I live about 2000 miles away anyway. I just needed a place close to the Staten Island Ferry for the marathon.

I proceeded to ask for a refund. The reservation was over; I had written the Airbnb review anyway so I was frank with this person. The Airbnb Resolution Center allows you to upload pictures so I showed her where the key was when I left.

Me: As you can see the key was left right there on the desk where I mentioned to you on the phone. You’re not accepting evidence by any other means, so I am sending it to the Airbnb Resolution Center. Accusing someone of theft is not only impolite but unprofessional as this is a business that you are running from this apartment. If you were the owner of the hotel, you would not be accusing your guests twice in 48 hours for items missing from the room before putting any effort into finding them. For example: at least double checking with the doorman that the key wasn’t lost by their own fault. The refund would be for the 17% of the total reservation time (from 2:00 PM Saturday to 7:00 AM Monday) that I did not spend in this rental. As I said before, it seems like your temporary key checkout is a security problem in the building so you should focus on that instead of throwing tantrums so you can charge your guests extra money. Feel free to cross reference the time at which I left your address with security footage. Also, I brought a friend over to help me with my luggage and so that I would get to 120th St safely at 1:00 AM. Therefore I also have one witness that the key was left in the right place. The very last thing I want to draw your attention to is that I left the door to my room closed on Sunday morning at 6:30 AM, and found it open at 4:30 PM, so someone went into my room while I was away. Have you even checked with your roommate to see that he didn’t stow the keys away somewhere? I am going to guess you have not.

Host: Hi, As I mentioned before, the key was not left on the desk. I apologized for the mishap with the temporary key, even after you arrived two hours prior (actually one hour and still in the time window she said was ok) to the time you said you would without asking. I did reach out to the doormen before contacting you. They were the ones that told me it was checked out under your name. When you spoke with them, they told you that the key was stuck in the reader and it did not register that you returned it. When you informed me of this I apologized and thanked you for letting me know of the mishap. You, however, were very disrespectful. As you can see from my house rules, you are not allowed to bring anyone into my apartment without announcing them to me and I charge a $20 fee (so by this logic should I charge her an $200 fee for her unannounced friends who saw me naked?) I do not appreciate that you brought someone to my home without asking prior. You can also see that my cancelation policy is strict. You cannot get a refund for leaving the reservation early. Therefore, I am not accepting this $45 refund. I was willing to waive the $150 fee and I might be willing to waive the $20 for the unannounced guest, so long as you do not contact me again. If I do hear from you again, I will be pressing charges and contacting my lawyer. You were the only person that had access to the temporary key and my apartment without me being there. There is video evidence of that as well as a record in the system of everyone with temporary key access. Due to this negative experience, I have removed my listings. Thank you.

She has not removed her listings and I will gladly privately share the link with you. In short: her drunk friends see me almost naked but I should get charged money for bringing someone to help me with the luggage through the subway at 1:00 AM, a time at which I’m leaving because of her irrational behavior? I was repeatedly accused of theft in my 48 hours of interaction with this psycho and threatened with an illogical lawsuit, but I’m disrespectful? Also she technically is renting two properties from what I can see in her Airbnb listings, so she can’t live in both of them at once. One of her Airbnb rentals is illegal by New York City law. I guess she forgot I can use this to get her an $1000 fine, right? NYC says rental types like Airbnb are legal as long as the host lives in the apartment during the guest’s stay. Here are all the messages I exchanged with her.

Bad Experience with Airbnb in Washington DC

The apartment was described as “cosy”. It was not. The place was dirty, dingy, run down and misrepresented. After two days of a four-day booking we could not take it any more and moved out to a hotel for the rest of our stay in Washington DC. We have not asked for a two-day refund yet because we were just so glad to get out. I notified the hosts, “Steven” and “Jane”, we were not happy with the apartment (without providing any details) and thanked them for their help before we arrived and also for the cleaning credit. We have heard nothing back from them. Like many other guests, we never met them before this trip.

Steven and Jane call it their home. We saw no evidence that it was used as a permanent home. For example, a complaint from another guest this summer about a big hole in the wall where there was an electrical plug in the bedroom was still there in mid-October of 2016. The small gas stove was so filthy inside and out that no one would ever want to use it. The air intake in a hallway was covered in dirt and could not have been cleaned for months or even years. There was no evidence at all of any male presence… and no man would ever put up with a toilet seat that would not stay up. The bathroom tub was rusted around the taps and the ceiling was peeling off above it. The place had not been painted for years.

To us this apartment looked like it was simply a substandard rental for unsuspecting tourists. It is in a very old run-down building which, unlike many similar buildings in the area, has not been kept up. The hallway and front door outside the apartment is filthy. When we arrived the place had not been cleaned. I contacted Steven and Jane by text and was promised a refund of the cleaning charge. So far we have not received it. The only good thing about our short stay is that people in the area were all very friendly. The attached photos are only a small sample of what this “cozy” apartment really looks like. I could only post five photos; they did not include the hazardous kitchen wall plug that has several adapters added to accommodate all the appliance plugs. We will be filing a complaint with Airbnb and also with the Washington DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.