Airbnb Supports Misleading Property Pictures

I had a mini break from school and decided to visit my husband in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). For the last four nights of my visit we decided to book an Airbnb close to downtown so that while he’s at work I could easily go shopping as well as easily find a place to eat when needed. He saw a reasonably priced suite, ‘Avala Suite’ and he booked it based on the pictures associated with the ad and recent reviews. Thursday night we checked in at approximately 11:15 PM. The first thing I noticed was the bed didn’t have a frame like it did in the pictures; to me, that was minor and didn’t warrant a complaint. Then my husband went to the kitchen and I decided to checked out the bathroom. To my surprise, the bathroom was completely different from what was posted on his ad. I called my husband’s attention to this and he too was shocked. We revisited the ad, because we both knew that what we were both viewing was not what we saw.

The suite was so stuffy and we noticed the ‘clean’ sheets folded in the linen cupboard had hairs on them and looked like they needed to be washed. We used our own pillow covers and sheets to put on top of what was on the bed and decided to go get Febreeze at the nearest gas station to help with the dusty odour. When we got back to the room we decided to rest and contact Airbnb in the morning. Unfortunately when we woke up and tried to locate the ad, the property was no longer listed on their platform, so we did not have the supporting evidence from the ad. We still sent an email informing them of what we saw in the initial ad and sent pictures of what we are now seeing and explain to them that we cannot access the ad to send a screenshot of what was advertised. To my surprise Airbnb replied saying the bathroom was the same and it was just a cleaning issue. Now I became irritated because I felt like we were being taken for fools.

On Saturday I decided to send an email to Airbnb, still being unable to view any ad from Avala. The email sent is as follows:

According to Airbnb’s Content Policy which clearly states that you do not condone listings and profiles which contains contents that are fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive. If your company does not support misleading contents, why is it that my husband is clearly being taken for granted after filing a complaint about the host of our reservation posting on his ad being completely different pictures of the bathroom for his suite. It is quite clear that the pictures being advertised are completely different as he posted a bathroom with bluish colour wall tiles and the tiles noted in the bathroom on arrival is of a creamish colour. How can your representative sum this up as a cleaning issue? It is clearly not a cleaning issue; the ad was misleading. Secondly, where is the cleaning issue in the host posting a picture of a wooden trimmed toilet seat compared to the white one we viewed on our arrival? I am only left to sum this issue up as either the representative was not interested in doing their due diligence for a proper investigation to see that the ad for the suite is false and misleading or this host may be making you guys a lot of money. In that case, complaints against him fall on deaf ears. Either way, it is not right to treat customers in this manner. Hosts should not be allowed to falsely advertise their space. It is the pictures shown that help clients select the property that seems suitable for visits. This is not ok Airbnb.

I got no reply. Finally on Sunday, Avala’s platform was back up on the website. I took a screenshot immediately and decided to call again. The representative that I spoke to told me that the case manager that dealt with the matter has summed this up to a cleaning issue and asked what I wanted him to do after I informed him of the situation and letting him know that not only is there is picture of a bathroom that does not exist at all in suite but all of a sudden there is a picture of a clean version of the pictures they sent to us the day before which was not there at all when we viewed the ad. I highlighted to the representative I spoke to on Sunday morning that it is not ok for the company to be saying they don’t condone misleading postings of suites, yet, this matter seems to be falling on deaf ears. He simply stated he would send me an email and a case manager will contact me. Honestly I get the feeling that because this host has numerous suites and possibly makes a ton of money for Airbnb, that the rules do not apply to him about false, misleading advertising. However, as consumers, to book a place to stay for visits we only have the reviews of others to help us determine which place to select and most importantly the actual pictures of where we will be staying. I feel wronged by Airbnb and they don’t seem to care at all. Shame on Airbnb.

Tampa Nightmare: Airbnb Doesn’t Care About Guest Safety

I really wanted to have a good experience with Airbnb. Really. The concept is simple enough: rent out a room in a “host’s” home and save considerably over the cost of a hotel room. Unfortunately, my first (and last) reservation with Airbnb has risen to the top of the list of the worst customer service experiences this quinquagenarian has ever seen. I accepted a new position with a software company in Tampa with the hopes of relocating my wife (and our dog, Lucy) sometime in the first quarter of 2017. Unfortunately, President Trump issued an Executive Order that implements a hiring freeze for all non-medical employees of the Veteran’s Administration, my wife’s employer. Since her move was postponed, my employer has graciously allowed me to return to North Carolina every 2-3 weeks. Because this situation is no fault of my employer, I am responsible for my housing while in Tampa.

It’s only natural that I would look for the least expensive roof to put over my head. My philosophy is that for the majority of the time I’m under the roof, my eyes will be closed, so my decorative expectations are low. I started by searching for a no-tell motel near the office. It turns out most motels in downtown Tampa double as retail crack and prostitution outlets. Who knew? The chain hotels, including the long-term suites, are just outrageously expensive. I resigned to the idea that the least expensive route was probably going to involve a shared property or roommate.

Enter Airbnb. I searched the site and discovered that not all of the listings are for roommates. Some listings were for entire homes and apartments. Others are homes that are set up like European hostels with digital bedroom door locks and shared common areas. I was optimistic as I inquired about several properties. One of the first hosts to get back to me were “Chris and Loni” who listed a “Luxury Private Room” in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa. Chris and Loni don’t live in this Ybor City house, but it appears as though they recently purchased it and have set it up as a hostel. I have driven through Ybor many times and it appeared that parts of it were being redeveloped. Other parts seemed to have not come around yet. Naturally, one of my concerns was the safety of the neighborhood. Before I made the reservation I asked about safety. They responded: “I can assure you this is a safe and friendly neighborhood.” I accepted their assurance and made the reservation.

After a nine-hour drive last Sunday, I started to approach Chris and Loni’s “luxury private room.” The first thing I noticed was the dilapidated houses, overgrown yards and then… there they were. Plain as day. Practitioners of the world’s oldest profession, approaching slow moving cars within 100 yards of Chris and Loni’s hostel. I continued down the street and past the little blue house, until the street dead ended at train tracks. To Chris and Loni’s credit, their house appeared to be the nicest one on the street. People were relaxing on their porches and in folding chairs and milk crates on their lawns. Many of them sipping on beverages wrapped in brown paper bags. I decided that it was probably best for this unarmed, white male driving a Prius, not to get out of the car. I found a McDonald’s, called the Airbnb customer service number, and expressed my safety concerns. The agent on the other end of the line offered to contact Chris and Loni and request a refund. About twenty minutes later, I received a text from the hosts that read: “This is a last-minute cancellation and we will not offer a discount. You’re welcome to cancel and address this with Airbnb.”

This text was followed by responses defending the safety of the neighborhood. I have been addressing this issue with Airbnb for four days now. Here’s a synopsis of my Airbnb customer service experience:

Sunday, February 19, Afternoon – after those texts from the hosts rejected my request for a refund, I called Airbnb customer service. After being on hold for 25 minutes, I finally spoke to “Miriam” and presented my case. She offered to contact the hosts and attempt to negotiate a resolution. Later on the same day, I received a phone call from Miriam indicating that she had not been able to reach the hosts.

Sunday, February 19, Evening – I booked and checked into another (more expensive and safer) place I found on Craigslist, called Airbnb, and asked to speak to a supervisor. I spoke to “Billy” who offered to open a resolution case. He suggested that I cancel the reservation, so that the dates would be made available to rent to someone else, thereby giving Airbnb more leverage to negotiate with the hosts. I promptly canceled the reservation. I am also told that my case manager, Miriam, will be off until Wednesday, but Billy was going to assign it to someone else.

Monday, February 20, Morning – I do as Billy suggested and covered all bases by going online and opening a resolution case with Airbnb. I submit crime statistics for the neighbor that show the area is 52% more unsafe than any other Tampa neighborhood. No communication from Airbnb.

Tuesday, February 21 – I contact Airbnb to determine the status of my request. I’m told that they have not yet received a response from the hosts. I tweet my frustrations to Airbnb and its CEO. I get a response indicating a case manager will be in touch shortly.

Wednesday, February 22, Morning – Miriam calls to tell me that the hosts have not responded to both email and telephone calls.

Wednesday, February 22, Evening – No more communication by 6:00 PM. I tweet: “Day 4 of no resolution and no refund from Airbnb or slumlord “host” Brian Chesky probably spends my $300 on bottle of wine at dinner tonight.” Shortly thereafter I receive a call from Miriam indicating that the owners had responded to resolution case with additional BS about their neighborhood being safe and refusing to offer any refund or compromise. She tells me that “safety” is not among the hosting standards of Airbnb and it is my word against the owners about crime. I suggest they review the crime statistics I sent. She tells me that I will not be getting a refund or even a partial refund. I go on a rant and asked to speak to a supervisor who can make a decision. Miriam tells me that supervisors don’t talk to customers and that they are only there to guide her.

My gasket is blown. It’s not enough money to sue over. My credit card company says it may or may not allow me to challenge the charge. The paperwork is extensive, has to be notarized, and may take 30 days to get an answer. This morning I sit here, for the first time in my life, contemplating contacting one of several Tampa-area consumer reporters who I’m sure would love to take on Airbnb. Does anybody have Keith Morrison’s cell phone number?

The Inner Workings of Airbnb: What They Won’t Tell You

While I am still waiting for an outcome on my own host nightmare – 35 days and counting – I thought I would share this bit of information with all you wonderful people here on Airbnb Hell. I’ve been perusing the stories of hosts and guests alike. It’s all very sad and alarming as to the rate that Airbnb is burning bridges with hosts and guests. Something that everyone needs to understand is how a company platform like Airbnb works. There is this illusion that they make all their money when a host offers his home and a guest rents it. While Airbnb makes a tidy sum from the 3% they take from the host and the 18% (I have heard) from the guest, that is not their real moneymaker.

1. 21% of the money is collected from the actual physical ‘rental’ of a property.

2. Interest on money held. Airbnb collects all payments at booking (sometimes months in advance) and sits on it, only release it to hosts after the guest checks in. Even if these funds were collected and sat on during just one overnight period alone, the interest that is compounding is almost staggering to think about.

3. Negotiated credit card processing rate. While hosts and guests are paying a certain advertised percentage rate for credit card processing, this rate has been negotiated (behind the scenes) with the credit card company. Airbnb collects their advertised rate from hosts and guests and then pays their ‘negotiated’ rate to the credit card company. Maybe 0.017% doesn’t seem like much, but when you are processing hundreds of thousands (or possibly more) dollars a day it adds up very quickly in Airbnb’s pockets.

4. Selling your information to third parties. This is Airbnb’s goldmine. This is why they want access to all your private and pertinent information. This is not to protect the hosts. Platforms already exist where Airbnb could act as merely a ‘Yellow Pages’, connecting hosts and guests alike. It would then be up to hosts to vet guests of their own accord. However, that is not where the money is. Airbnb wants all your information because that makes you more valuable.

Your age? They have lists for that.

Your gender? They have lists for that.

Your Facebook friends? Yes, they have lists for that too.

You are a potential goldmine and you don’t even know it. Everyday your information is sold for a huge profit to all the ‘marketers’ out there. Now don’t worry: they aren’t selling your actual name and then all your personal information attached to it (at least we don’t believe they are – because that crosses into illegal territory). However, with that having been said, I personally do not trust Airbnb and that could be happening while you are reading this. You and all the others like you of the same age, gender, nationality, etc. are being grouped together and being sold off like cattle at an auction barn. This is how you keep getting all that wonderful advertising ‘tailored just for you’ – because the marketers already know you because they bought your information.

You can get angry when they screw you over hosting and pull your house from their database, or as a guest who has rented a home that doesn’t exist and is sitting in the rain in the middle of the night trying to call the help center and no one is home. To really make a difference and an impact is to let your friends and family know not to do business with them and if they choose to do so anyway, don’t let them have access to your or any of your friends’ and family’s information. Don’t tie your Facebook account or any other list to verifications. If you are truly done with Airbnb, go in and delete your account from their database. Deleting an account only deletes it from us, the public; Airbnb still has all your information. What you need to do is go into your account and make changes a few days before. Delete out as much information as you can from your profile. Don’t just make fake changes. If you change your birthday, you have still given them an opportunity to put you on a list. Remember they are there for quantity, not quality.; they don’t care how much of the information that they sell is accurate. Let that be a problem of the marketers. Remove what you can. Then a few days later, delete your account. Now all that is left on their end is the scant bit of information you left them with days earlier. Remember people: the only way to eat an elephant is ‘one bite at a time’. Now, where did I lay that fork…? Good luck out there friends.

Moderate Cancellation Policy Leads to Terrible Customer Service

After our Airbnb reservation was canceled by the host less than 24 hours prior to our arrival in Los Angeles (it had been booked for two months), we were in desperate need of booking a new place as soon as possible. We quickly booked the first one that looked good to us but unfortunately once they showed us the address, we realized it was in the wrong location. We then canceled it so we could book a new place in the right location. The cancellation policy was ‘Moderate’ which essentially means they only refund you 50% of the full payment. The Airbnb property had been booked for less than twenty minutes and we felt we should have gotten a full refund. We could have used it towards a new reservation in the part of the city we were expecting. After speaking with about six different customer service representatives who all told us the exact same thing – we cannot get a full refund because it’s ‘policy’ – we were furious. We were in a 24-hour battle over the phone with a number of different reps who did absolutely nothing to help us. They were unsympathetic toward our situation which we wouldn’t have even been in in the first place had our original Airbnb host not canceled on us. They refused to refund us the rest of the costs and did nothing to even put us up in a replacement Airbnb. We ended up having to book a hotel room for our first night in LA because our Airbnb account had been disabled. This was a huge inconvenience for us and had a huge negative impact on the rest of our trip. We will not be using Airbnb in the future and will tell all our family and friends to boycott it as well. Airbnb should get better customer service.

Airbnb charged us for a flood that was not our fault

Airbnb first said this house we rented last summer was a four bedroom. One of the so-called bedrooms was a half room, with no door and a crib and air mattress inside the alcove; that’s all it was, an alcove. Then we had this flood, which had something to do with the huge construction site two doors down. My daughters were bathing in the upstairs bathtub and when we let the water out, all the water from the toilet in the powder room came flooding up – black water and everything. When we arrived you could see it had happened before as the wood tiles in that bathroom were curling up and jagged. We had to vacate the house which was not easy as we were in high season. We contacted the owner who sent a plumber but we did not see him until he knocked at the door and said we were all good; the blockage was in the street. In the dispute they would not declare who the plumber was, nut Airbnb and our host blamed us and charged us 1000 USD. Beware using Airbnb; try any other good options as an alternative to these bandits. Happy Travels!

Airbnb Host Slammed Door in my Face, No Help Offered

My host “cancelled” by saying something about not speaking English in German and then slamming the door in my face. When I arrived late after walking for over an hour, I could see the lit-up house. I knocked and shouted hello, but the host refused to open the door. I set up my tent in their front yard in subzero temperatures. In the morning they came out to tell me I couldn’t camp on their yard. I tried to say that I paid for the entire house already, but they basically said something in German about not speaking English, then they just slammed the door in my face. For hours upon hours I tried to reach Airbnb to get my service fee refunded. I am also completely screwed by having my vacation ruined since the dates and locations were planned according to my reservation. I still had to attend a conference in the area, but with no place to stay.

Now I am homeless, in a half-broken tent in sub-zero temperatures because Airbnb took five days to refund my money. The service fee and currency conversion fee will probably never be paid back and I have tried many many times to file claims with all kinds of subjects in the header, including “EMERGENCY”. Five days after filing a claim (which took hours – it is close to impossible to email, chat or get in contact with a human being) I was contacted by an agent. He offered no help at all, apart from booking a new place for my two remaining days (unclear if this would be free of charge). However, I had already made arrangements at that point, and couldn’t risk having to pay for those two days either way. All in all, there was no help, no compensation offered, and the host is still up for business. Airbnb cares more about making cents on the dollar than people running the risk of losing fingers in the cold. Airbnb may be cheap and lucrative, but do you want to risk freezing to death? If there is any problem, what will you do? It is impossible to get in contact with a human being. The only support available (as far as I could tell) is totally worthless enough it makes me wonder if people created it as a bad joke to those stranded.

Tax Season: Airbnb Team Lies About Paperwork

On January 10th, 2017 I contacted Airbnb customer service. I am in the process of filing my taxes and found that my 1099-K for 2014 was missing. I do have the 1099-K for 2015. I have logged eight hours talking on the phone with customer service representatives and have been referred to their “Tax Team” who haven’t yet responded. Each time I call I get a different explanation as to why in 2014 they withheld 28% of my payouts and why I may not have received a 1099 for that year. My request to the Tax Team has been made urgent and yet forty days later I have not heard from anyone. This raises the question for me whether the 28% they withheld went into their own pockets, what kind of organization they run that they can get away with not responding for over forty days, and why is there no other recourse? Do I need to contact a lawyer? We are talking about $4000 that they withheld and told me but won’t provide documentation that they may or may not have paid it to the IRS.

You be the judge: Who is at fault, the host or guest?

My experience with Lane & Elizabeth was absolutely awful. As I reached out to Lane attempting to meet at the house at 3:00 PM to check in, he could not make it at that time and it wasn’t convenient enough for him; he pushed it to 4:00. The second I walked into Lane’s place there was an overwhelming smell of chemicals. Lane spoke to me as if I were a child being given a lesson, as he barely showed me around, handed me the key rudely, and left. I already felt uncomfortable. As I began cooking dinner I could hear the neighbors walking around above me and clearly hear conversations from the hallway, outside and through each of the walls of Lane’s place. It was already an issue that the walls were so thin and if I would have known they would so easily let sound pass through I never would have rented the place.

I continued my evening with a few friends. I made sure they kept their voices down to avoid any noise complaints and sure enough after Lane responded to my question about how to set up the television he mentioned a noise complaint. At first he explained how clearly the neighbors would hear anything happening on the balcony so I warned my guests. Soon afterwards I received another text demanding “the party be shut down”, labeling my gathering as a crazy party Lane was stressing over. He said the neighbors were angry and he didn’t want to have to drive over and leave his pregnant wife at home. This is Airbnb, an official business under a professional transaction. Although I understand Lane’s complaint about having to deal with his nine-month pregnant wife it was very unprofessional and did not concern me as the cause of the stress he was experiencing. He continued to text me that the “Party needs to end now. The party needs to end.”

Receiving these texts was beyond annoying because there was no party happening. On a Friday night at 10:00 PM I was being told to send my few guests home and make me feel like we were being extremely loud when it was truthfully not loud at all. Next an Airbnb manager called and spoke to me about the complaint purely being about loud voices on the balcony and nothing else. By this time I had completely silenced the music and had minimal friends over who were all just talking and eating. It was extremely frustrating to be yelled at by Lane over text when I had followed all his instructions and kept the noise to a minimum. This still wasn’t enough. At this point we were over the night and extremely disappointed to have been bothered multiple times, complained about when I had been responsive, and in communication with Lane and the Airbnb manager who had called twice. The Airbnb manager was very polite and understanding and completely willing to accept a compromise in the end.

Five people did sleep over, which I honestly had not known would cost extra or be an issue, but I did agree to pay an extra $25 per person. This was my fault and I just wanted to compromise in some way. This $705 will not be paid to Lane because my experience was just as unenjoyable as his. He complained that there was a balloon stuck in the fan which would cost $100 to fix. We had meant to remove it but no one was tall enough to reach. It was not tied in or stuck at all, it was simply wrapped around and an easy fix for any of us. It is crazy how angry Lane was the next day. He texted me saying his place was trashed which was completely not true. We had taken out all the trash, washed all of our used dishes and cleaned all the trash and food. Anything we had brought was removed from his unit.

I paid a $45 cleaning fee and all we left for Lane’s cleaning crew – himself and his nine-month pregnant wife – to clean was the floor which had chip crumbs on it. Lane also complained that we had left a phone and bullets, which was innocent enough. A friend of ours came from the army and left them with his phone, there was nothing more going on with them. I do understand how this was probably scary but I assured them it was an innocently mistake and we could provide any proof if necessary. My friend was not able to retrieve his phone right away because Elizabeth held it hostage in exchange for her blanket, which we mistakingly took because I thought my friend had left it. She sarcastically responded to us finding it saying: “Oh, all of a sudden you now have the blanket”. She was extremely rude, and harshly accused my friends of trying to steal it.

The last complaint Lane left was regarding burns on the sofas and carpet. These burns were there when I had first come into his unit. I saw them myself and asked Lane about them because I clearly read that one of their few rules was no smoking whatsoever. There was no one smoking at my gathering and I can assure you that I am being wrongfully accused and attacked. I do not feel it is right to charge me $705 and unprofessionally handle this situation due to the anger and rage Elizabeth held towards us, someone to whom she had never spoken.

Airbnb – Are they burning down their house?

A little over a year ago I wandered into this vacation rental business, first signing with VRBO- then Airbnb. 2 very different platforms – 2 very different types of clientele.

We had our first booking within 20 minutes of going live on VRBO and within 24 hours had 2 more confirmed weeks by different families. (We only rent multi-day/weekly rentals). Now granted I was smack dab in the middle of my town’s ‘season’, but we continued to book up to capacity for the next 5 months. We spent the summer booking 2 of the 4 weeks of each month, allowing my family time to spend in our home.

The Airbnb platform was new to me and at first this was not a good fit. Being paid for my rental 24 hours after guests checked in was not conducive to renting an entire home ($500-$700) nightly rate. Nor was billing guests months in advance and sitting on thousands of dollars until check ins. On the other front – the cancellation policies that allowed guests to cancel just days before a scheduled check-in with little to no repercussion could cause the home to sit empty due to the initial turning away of previous guests also wishing to share that time period. When these detriments were discovered I had to respectfully decline doing business with Airbnb. At this time I was contacted numerous times and ‘courted’ for my business. I stood firm – the terms would simply not work. Airbnb relented giving me a 30 day prior pay out period and a strict cancellation policy to guests. Perhaps now we could do business.

My itinerary of guests throughout the year bounced back and forth between VRBO, Airbnb & my website. All my guests were kind, gracious and took extremely well care of my home and property.

Until lately ~ 2017 came in a like a LION

2 Airbnb groups back to back.

The first group were a WILD bunch.
Numerous complaints from the neighbors to the noise from the teenage boys.
I had to ask for them to keep things under control.
A broken pool due to the diving/jumping of rowdy teenage boys from the sides (pool coping broken off – skimmer broken – $400 repair bill)
Although this group partied like it was 1999 – they did pick up after themselves and left the rest of the home in good condition.
We did NOT ultimately turn this claim into Airbnb – as we had our hands full with the below folks and the husband said it was not worth the time & grief to have both cases going. Just get thru the big one and say goodbye to Airbnb.

Then comes group 2 – and Good Grief is all I can say to describe them.
I have been a landlord in my home state for 22 yrs. I have seen the ‘best’ of them come and go. What is TRULY frightening about this group is they only had possession of my home for FOUR days. And in those 4 days they turned it completely upside down.

I blame myself in the onset – the contact was very difficult to work with. After booking I sent documents for signatures and had to ask 5 times over a weekly period to have them returned. We require copies of driver license to accompany docs. It did not come – 5 more times over the next few days I reminded guest docs were not complete until the DL arrived. On the 4th day of asking I finally received. As the time for check in approached I contacted guest as to her arrival time so that the caretaker could meet up with her. This contact began on a Monday morning – for a Friday check in. No response and each day I asked again and again. I was finally awarded with an answer Thurs evening at 7pm. This inconsiderate action on her part waiting to get back with us caused my caretaker to keep his entire day open on Friday to receive them.

Upon arrival at the home on Friday at 4pm – the caretaker met with guests. He gave them their personal codes for the home. He showed them how to use the locks and then gave them a complete tour of the home answering any questions they might have. – For his services the guest gave him a score of a 3 on Airbnb’s review system. I do not know what MORE she could have expected from him – her dinner made and sitting at the table upon her arrival???

1 hour later after her settling in – I called to say “Hello and welcome to our home” and see that everything was in order or if there was anything that needed to be addressed. I was told that we had a beautiful home and they were very excited to be there and everything was just perfect!!

7pm my phone rings. “We have no power” – what happened? Is the neighborhood out? She could not answer either of these questions. I called a neighbor to confirm. The neighbor stated that while the rest of the street was in good condition – my home gave her no surprise that the power was out. She told me she was “surprised that planes were not landing on the lawn mistaking my home for the airport and runway. Everything was that lit up”. I knew then we had blown breakers. I called the guest back asking her if she knew how to flip breakers to which she replied she did. We walked thru the panel and found that there appeared to be no tripped breakers. I let her know I would call for backup and to hang tight.

Calling my caretaker to find that he was out of the area, I called upon another individual who helps with the maintenance of the property. He and is wife went over to the home and checked the breakers. They too could find no problem and at that point we called the electric co. The gentleman gave the ladies a box of emergency candles (reminding them to NOT set them on anything – to which they responded that they KNEW information like that already). As an inspection of the home was made at that time it was determined that EVERY electrical device that could be found was activated. Every switch in the home on (interior/exterior/floods), every appliance running, all their personal items plugged in- the home was completely over-loaded! He explained to them that even though there is an outlet/switch on every wall – there is no home that can support EVERYTHING in the home running full force along with every personal item that they brought at the same time. It is also at this time they he witnessed the home becoming in complete disarray with clothes, personal items strewn about, half-eaten food, dirty dishes, furniture moved and items just generally tossed about. (A stmt letter was supplied to Airbnb of his findings).

The power company gave us a 2 hour window to get to the home- putting them there no later than 9pm. However, we STILL did not know what the source of the problem was as the breakers were all in good condition. I imaged that I might have to bring an electrician in to check wiring if the power co was unable to restore power. While we were waiting for this to happen – I called the guest and explained to her that IF the power could not be restored I would put them up in a hotel (16 folks) and have an electrician work through the night to remedy. Or – they could stay in the home and ‘camp’ (while electricians worked) and I would refund their night. They elected to stay in the home. I told them then we would wait to see what happened at 9pm.

At 9:06 pm the power company restored the power to the home by flipping one of their main breakers outside the home. Yes, they had used SO much power that they blew it OUTSIDE. After the home was back up and running I was confronted by ANOTHER member of the party that I still owed them a FREE NIGHT as they were without power for 5+ hours. (They checked in at 4 – the power blew at 7 – it was restored at 9) – I reminded them of this. They argued about the inconvenience – I didn’t bother arguing back that THEY caused it. Out of the goodness of my heart I gave them a refund of 1/2 nts stay ($280) – they were without power 2 hours – they had 22 more hours to spend – that was ALL I was doing I told them. They accepted it. As they should have been more than ELATED to do so.

All was quiet through the night. In the morning I noticed that they still had on all the flood and exterior lights burning. I called and asked them to please turn off during the daytime. They said they would. They never did. And although repeated calls and texts were sent to them for the next 3 days – they never turned off any of the exterior lighting on the home or even acknowledged me. I gave up. (Fast forward to my electric bill: These guests used $110 of electricity for 4 days – avg over $27 a day in usage – comparing the graphs to other guests usage the highest we ever had was a wedding party of 22 folks at $17 a day) and the temps during these guests stay was in the low-mid 70’s – this was NOT A/C usage).

On the last night I called to wish the guests a safe trip home and to remind them about the checkout procedures list that they had agreed to and signed. They assured me no problem – we are taking care of it. I volunteered them to stay in the home til noon and they told me they had to leave at 9am to catch flights home. I wished them well – and that- I thought was the end of the story.

My alarm system tells me they exited the home at 3:39am the following morning. At 8:45am I called my caretaker to do his exit walk-thru. My caretaker arrived at the home to meet the pool cleaner in the driveway. They had a quick discussion as the pool cleaner described the ‘carnage’ around the pool area. He also told the caretaker that he was ‘screamed at’ by the guests for interfering with their vacation when he came the previous day to check on the status of a repair (that being the previous guest mentioned ‘coping broken’)

At 9:30am my caretaker entered the home – called me and said, “Oh.My.God.” as he walked thru the front door.(The caretakers letter was also submitted to Airbnb as evidence) He then proceeded to take me on a ‘virtual tour’ through the home describing to me his findings. – Including an empty left on coffee pot sitting burning on the counter.

I immediately called Airbnb – was treated rather RUDELY by a CS rep. At this point we had NO idea to the true extent of damages to the home. I was only ‘reporting’ that we had an issue. He told me that I would need to send in pictures, etc. After we had a telephone discussion he sent an email giving me a link to respond. The caretaker took many pictures, sent them to me and I forwarded to the email supplied by Airbnb.

I then called the owner of the housekeeping company. She sent a team over to access the carnage. I asked if I should come – she said, “No – it’s BEST if you stay away”. To which I took her advice. The housekeeping team returned the next day and they spent 12 hours over the next 2 days cleaning, re-organizing and putting the home back together again. For this I incurred a $600 cleaning bill. The guests were charged $280 at the booking.

Numerous more pictures were taken, statements recorded from the cleaning company owner, caretaker, maintenance man and they were all forwarded to Airbnb the next day.

2 days after that I get notice that the guest has written a review on me. Are you kidding me? She trashed my home and wrote a review? I didn’t really know how to respond just yet to this information. With Airbnb no party can see the others review until both are written or 14 days comes up if one party fails to write. I pondered LONG and hard on her review. I knew I needed to wait to write it until it could be written from a fact-based point of view instead of a emotional one. I was still very too RAW to comment on the issue.

On the 13th day I wrote a review. And I wrote a review that my MOTHER would have been proud of. It was short & to the point. I stated that due to the condition that my home and property was left in I would NOT recommend the party to other hosts. And that I had to contact the Resolution Ctr because of damages.
I was now privy to the guest review. It was short and sweet – ‘Big beautiful home for a very large guest party’. Then she proceeded to give me all 3 stars – for cleanliness, ease of checkin, working with her, location, amenities, etc…. In her notes to ME – she stated that my water smelled like SEWAGE and that she recommended that I get it checked out. And who KNOWS what she said to Airbnb behind the scenes.

I was LIVID with this review and her comments! 3 stars for a host, caretaker, maintenance man that BENT over BACKWARDS to help & accommodate her.
Then to trash my home – tell me that my water smelled like sewage- I believe the smell came from the garbage that was hauled from the home (7 trash bags full picked up just from AROUND the home and pool area). I have had NOTHING but 5 stars from EVERY guest that came through my door. I am hosting guests now that are coming time and time again. If I HAD a sewage problem I would have KNOWN about it by now.

I contacted Airbnb about this review and how it needed to come down as SHE trashed MY home and this review was unfair/unjust. And you know what they did??? They took MY review down. That’s right. They informed me that my review was in violation of their ‘terms/policies’ and that I mentioned that I had to contact the Resolution Ctr and that is NOT information that is given to other hosts. WHAT?????? That is EXACTLY what other hosts need to hear and know. WHY would I rent to someone that was not even cooperating with a host and the case had to be mediated? So now – this woman is out there in Airbnb land. No reviews – and maybe she has already done this to others, who knows. But now other Hosts are exposed to her and they have have no protection.
This is something that AIRBNB is really WRONG about – and this is one of the MANY reasons I will NEVER use Airbnb again. This is deception by Airbnb at it’s very best!

But backing up a bit before the review issue – I am still trying to get satisfaction on my case – and I am being put through one ringer after another.
Below is a timeline of what Airbnb had done to me so far:

DOCUMENTED Emails & calls relating to this case:
1/18 12:24pm – CALL – house trashed – was treated VERY poorly by MARK R.
1/18 12:46pm Mark R sent request to turn in info
1/18 1:46pm all info was returned to Mark R
1/19 10:10am more info to Mark R
1/23 8:00 am –CALL – WHY have I heard NOTHING
1/23 8:05am  STOCK canned response from response @airbnb – send us your info
1/23 8:30am -CALL – how do you NOT have my info?? rwestmoreland – send it to me personally
1/23 9:05 – 9:07am 1, 2 & 3 info emails sent AGAIN to @response
1/23 9:05 – 9:07am copies of emails of info to Rwestmoreland
1/27 9:20am CALL – WHY are you not doing anything???
1/27 9:26am Richard J – send us information about your case
1/27 9:30am  sent SAME info AGAIN + a Resolution form this time
1/28 2:15pm Another request for the SAME info AGAIN from Richard R
1/28 2:30pm CALL – are you people freaking crazy???
1/31 7:00pm Thank you for submitting your forms –  the team
2/2 10:17pm – Another discovered damage – email, pic sent to – the team
2/6  2:07pm Lizz – You are in violation of your review – it’s being removed
2/6 6:19am ME:  Unfortunate you are hiding review from other hosts -cancel my acct
2/6  7:17pm MEL:  We are not covering your cleaning – send your info again
2/6 9:04am Lizz:  We have final say about your review- cancel your acct & there will be repercussions
2/7 12:41pm ME:  Please clarify where damages are not covered
2/8 6:01pm – ME: still waiting for a response
2/9 12:45am   Give us your feedback – tell us how we are doing….. yeah – right!
2/9 7:06pm MEL– we are NOT covering your damages – you have 72 hrs to send us your info again
2/9 9:37pm  ME:  Have I died and gone to hell or something?

The day after the review issue I get another email from Mel; We do not cover cleaning costs. WHAT????? Why? It’s not part of the terms/policies. No cleaning is paid for if the property can be restored back to it’s original condition. Is that NOT what cleaning is??? Putting things back to their original condition? What is the DAMAGE Dep for then? Well, we don’t ACTUALLY collect any money from the guest. If you have a problem – you go to them and ask for your money – if they won’t give it to you – that’s when we get involved. This is a joke- right? WHY would a guest that trashed your home then willingly GIVE you money to clean it up simply because you asked? This is STRIKE 2 against Airbnb. The amount we are allowed to put on our listings for ‘damage’ deposit is a farce – it’s a feel-good, because there is NO damage money collected.

After that the communication just STOPS with Airbnb. And that is when I take it to Social Media. I have a personal Twitter Acct that was not tied to my vacation home. I started tweeting out photos – Airbnb got wind of it and had no idea who I was. They started sending messages to please contact them. I realized I had them over a barrel and I kept tweeting. And the requests kept coming. Finally I sent them a message so that they could contact me. They sent (what I would later discover is just another CANNED response they send to shut people up).
I waited for help, and I waited. And then I went back to Twitter and I started beating the heck out of them. My follower count started climbing like crazy (I already had 67,000+ followers) – in one week I gained another 2000 followers. To make matters worse for Airbnb I started re-tweeting everything coming over their help timeline. Folks were eating it up and we were letting them have it.

I have tweeted to various media outlets, wrote a BBB complaint, wrote a letter to my Senator (I understand there has been a special committee formed to investigate the practice of Airbnb and the consumer complaints) – and generally have been a pain in the neck for Airbnb on social media, And I will NOT let up.

Last night I get another email from them. We want to work with you. (I bet you do) – let us know what it is you want – replaced items or repairs and we want to let you know that we have received authorization to get ALL your items repaired and we can talk about those that can’t. That’s beautiful. It really is. However, they are forgetting about the 12 hours that we had to have the place cleaned up. They are forgetting about the utilities that the group blew through, or the time and expense I have with having main. man come try to fix a problem guest caused and the $280 I gave BACK to guest. Or the extra time caretaker was paid to document, inventory & take photos. They are forgetting about all the grief and time I have spent chasing this case when I should not have had to.

I have yet to respond to their email. I am ‘thinking’ on it – but I promise they WILL be made accountable for their actions and in-actions. As I am NOT finished with them yet – not by far….

Worst Valentine Getaway: No Help from Airbnb

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.