Airbnb Studio in Beacon Hill Makes Guests Sick

My wife and I booked a stay at a Beacon Hill area studio in the city of Boston recently and we had a horrible experience. The experience was so bad that it will make us reconsider ever using Airbnb again as guests. Although we really like the idea of Airbnb and we have been strong supporters, we feel that we will likely be victimized by the poor way that Airbnb operates in dealing with guest complaints. We’ll likely lose a bit of money and be left out in the cold even though we have been champions for Airbnb and have contributed to their bottom line.

The listing we booked presented the rental as the “Perfect Little Stay in Beacon Hill”. The unit was everything but perfect; it was overpriced, tiny, not clean, and not safe for us at all health wise. We have been using Airbnb as hosts for some time now and we’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences with the guests who have stayed with us. The guests love our property and the services we provide and we love having them. These experiences led us to try out Airbnb as guests. This turned out to be a huge mistake.

We selected the Boston property because of its location. Beacon Hill is a nice area – we figured – and the few photos online for the property looked good, though there were no photos of the building, which should have been a red flag. We communicated with the manager of the property online before arriving (initially asking if they had availability for a second night and if there was a place we could drop off a bag before checking in) and those communications went smoothly. So far so good.

However, when we arrived, things started to go bad from the start. We were a bit surprised by the overall condition of the building: the front door had a missing lock, the entrance was extremely dirty and in need of repair, there were boxes all over the entrance that we had to climb over, trash bags and laundry bags were piled all over the place, and there were big stains all over the carpet. It had the overall appearance of a drug dealer’s apartment.

We found the key and went to the unit only to discover that the door was unlocked. We dropped off our bag, but as we tried to lock the door we discovered that there were problems with the lock. Fortunately as we were leaving, the cleaning person came by. We showed him the lock problems and he told us that he would take care of it. He struggled with the lock as well and finally was able to latch it. This made us wonder about the security of the building and the bag that we were going to store.

Our first impression of the property was that it looked like poorly managed student housing – cheap, dark, dingy, not decorated well, very bare bones – not something you’d typically expect to see in a nice area like Beacon Hill. However, we figured this is what we selected and we’d make the most of it. Unfortunately, things got a lot worse. I came back to the room in the later afternoon to rest up. The room had been cleaned, but I was really surprised by the condition of the room. It was very tiny, poorly decorated, dark, no frills, had lots of wear (the wood floor was badly scarred up, stains on the bathroom walls, the shower had mold, a window was painted over with latex paint, there was caulk peeling in the bathroom, the view outside the window was of things being dumped in the alley).

I was hoping that my wife wouldn’t be disappointed when she got there and really took a look around. Again, these aesthetic issues were only the tip of the iceberg. After resting in the room for a couple of hours and turning the A/C on, I started to get very ill. I started having trouble breathing, was very congested, developed a bad headache, and felt nauseous. When my wife got there I felt really bad so she took a look around. She noticed several gallons of chemical products and garbage bags of stuff strewn about the stairways directly outside our room. She also noticed some odd chemical smells. We also were concerned about the condition of the A/C as it had some moldy odors. The longer we stayed in the room, the worse we felt.

My wife suggested we go out for dinner to get out of the room and get some fresh air. We did and after about an hour I started to feel better. My wife suggested that we go look for a hotel to stay the rest of the night. Fortunately, we were able to get a booking at the Bostonian, not far away. We went back to the room and my wife made me stay out on the street as she went back in and packed up our things and took all of the bedding off of the bed as we were instructed to do by the printed house rules. We never really used the property, such as the shower or fridge, as we spent so little time there. We were basically in panic mode because of the condition of the building and the fact that the building and room were making us sick. The whole experience felt like a frightening Steven King short story.

Fortunately, we had a good stay at the Bostonian. We checked in around midnight, though this set us back as the last minute booking was very expensive. I feel that we made the right call as one’s health, safety, and well being should always come first. As bad as the limited experience with the property was (poor condition, toxic environment, false advertising, etc.) what was even more troubling was the reaction and later communication with the property manager who listed the property.

I sent her a message in the morning as soon as I got up to tell her about how the property made us ill. In one message she seemed concerned but then in another message she seemed to be blaming us for the situation. This is very wrong to do from a hospitality standpoint, something a professional would never do. I didn’t go into a lot of details about the poor condition of the property, but did tell her we couldn’t stay in the unit and had to move to a hotel because of the condition of the property as something in the room or building was making us ill.

I wanted to give the host an opportunity to address the problem as I would if I were a host and one of my guests with a problem contacted me. She responded by saying that she would look into the matter and she offered to provide us with a 50% refund. We never actually asked for a refund; we just sent her a note about the problem we had with staying in the room. I did respond to her to indicate that her refund offer would be acceptable since we didn’t spend the night there.

She then turned around and changed her mind later in the day (after the Airbnb 24-hour complaint policy would expire) about providing a refund, indicating that she felt we did stay here, which of course was not true. So basically after all of the abuse we suffered by staying here, she conned us. It became clear later that she was just working the Airbnb policy system about guest complaints to her advantage.

For anyone who gets in this situation, be very careful. Make sure you find some way to contact management at Airbnb management immediately instead of trying to work out things with an unprofessional host who can take advantage of you. For this experience from hell we paid over $260 for a one-night booking. This property had a serious environmental problem that effected our health. The host was not forthright and in our opinion was using Airbnb to operate as a slumlord.

My wife took a lot of pictures of the condition of the property and we have our hotel bill to show that we did not spend the night there. We are trying to make an official complaint to Airbnb management to see if they can step in and provide some remedy, but from my quick research this is probably not very likely or will take massive effort on my part. Problems like this hurt the Airbnb experience for all of us. I really believe that Airbnb management needs to screen hosts better. I was always very honest and professional in my communications with this host, who unfortunately did not operate with the same standards.

My best advice after having quite a bit of experience operating as an Airbnb host is that you have to be very careful when you rent a property as a guest. Airbnb seems mainly concerned about protecting hosts and not guests. They seem to make it really difficult for guests to contact Airbnb and make complaints. If an unprofessional host takes advantage of a guest there’s not much a guest can do to get satisfaction, especially if the host is not honest and professional. Evidentially this will come back to haunt Airbnb. Just look at what’s happened to Uber and the company’s CEO.

I have one last point to make, and this is a very important one. In the earlier days of Airbnb many of the rentals listed were made available by actual owners of properties who took some care and pride in what they offered. This is really changing in a big way. Many listings that show up now (especially in competitive larger cities) are by sales people and shady real estate people just trying to make a quick buck by renting inferior properties by the night. They do not offer any kind of hospitality; they just want to make a big profit and exploit the marketplace. My wife calls these new generation of operators “Airbnb Slumlords.”

If you see a host like this offering so many properties with limited photos and generic descriptions, be very careful. After looking closer into the situation we encountered in Boston, I realized that this is what happened to us. The person we dealt with was operating as an agent with a group of others, marking up inferior properties, and trying to take advantage of less experienced guests. So called “hosts” like this know how to work the online sources such as Airbnb to their advantage. As a guest, be really careful as this will likely become a much bigger problem with Airbnb. It could really hold back Airbnb’s growth if they don’t find a good way to deal with this problem. I will certainly spend countless hours contacting Airbnb and trying to inform the public about my experience and knowledge. Maybe something good will come of it. I’d love to hear from others about their stories related to this.

Double Booked, Impossible to Contact Airbnb Support

I have used Airbnb 20 times to stay in Charlotte on business with no issues. Two weeks ago I landed in the morning and had a packed day of meetings ending with a dinner meeting with clients. I was wiped out and ready to relax. I noticed I did not have an email from the host. I had stayed at this Airbnb before and they used an electronic keypad app for your phone. I called the host and he said I needed to call another guy to check me in. I called the other guy, who said: “Who are you? The home is already rented. Someone is staying there now. You can try the Comfort Inn… maybe.”

I called the other host back and he said: “Let me call the guy and see what is up.” Keep in mind it was 9:30 PM and I was sitting in my rental car in front of the property. All I wanted was to check in. Thirty minutes went by and there was no call back. I called again and was told that the “other guy messed up, he’s not quite sure what was going on,”

He never said anything like “I’m sorry, let me help fix this”… nothing. I scrambled to find a hotel room (the downtown area sells out often) and I paid $700 for three nights after I had paid Airbnb $425 for those same three nights. It has been two weeks and I have been chasing the guy to get my refund. Today he said Airbnb thought it was fair for him to give me back half. Are you kidding? You need to give it all back and cover the additional $275 I have now paid for the hotel. It is too bad. The idea is great but Airbnb has almost no customer service; it is like the wild west.

Airbnb Will Leave You Stranded With Incompetent Customer Service

I started my Airbnb account with problems. Their “jimeo” scanner for verification has so many bugs it’s useless. I provided my credit card number and information. In the middle of my stay I decided to extend and was asked to send them a copy of my bill. I had already made the reservation and paid for it ten days prior to this request.

Who brings a paper copy of their credit card statement to the beach on vacation? Who would trust these incompetent idiots with such personal information, only to have them send a “mystery” temporary authorization hold to my account which took 2-3 days to post. I don’t do online banking for security purposes.

I tried to contact Airbnb – no response – and had to look up their phone number on a different company’s website (filled prompts on the Airbnb app make you run in circles with no help). I spent 15- 30 minutes on both the San Francisco number and general customer service line multiple times. No one picked up. There is no customer service in my opinion, only PR lies to deceive people.

Then they claimed I cancelled my stay the day before with no refund. I stayed there; the host was great. It was if they didn’t even read the email and just lied. I had to spend $50 for an uber home instead of another night’s stay. Luckily I was close to home. I would never use Airbnb again. This was just local for a weekend in California. I feel sorry for the poor souls who would trust this garbage lying incompetent company with a trip in Europe with expensive airfare. I hope another company comes along and puts them out of business. In a word, these people are asinine.

Double Airbnb Booking in Hawaii on Fourth of July Week

I booked a vacation to travel to Hawaii with family and friends for the week of July 4th. We excitedly booked a beautiful home in early February, and counted the weeks down until we would land for our respite in paradise. I’ve used Airbnb many times, recommended it highly to friends, and have had nothing buy incredible experiences, until 11:00 PM on June 30th.

We arrived at the airport, rented a car, and headed toward the property. It dawned on me that I had not received the email I had grown to expect from each host with a greeting and instructions. I had received numerous emails from Airbnb, and recalled seeing one with the house rules, so I decided that I must have just overlooked the details on how to enter the home. We were weary travelers, and had wandered our way to this property down a narrow road with no street lights.

As we arrived, we exited the rental car and went to the front door, assuming there would be a lock box, or instructions, or an indicator of sorts how to enter the home. Nothing. I promptly pulled out my cell phone and dialed the property manager. No answer. I pulled out my laptop and looked up the email from Airbnb to see if I had overlooked instructions. Under the ‘House Rules,’ there was no information about entering the home. I dialed the property manager again. No answer. I sent a text message. I looked up the number for Airbnb and called them. An automated system placed me on hold. There was no messaging explaining how long I would be waiting, and given the fact that it was late at night on a Friday, I had no idea if a person would even come on the phone.

I waited and waited and waited (for twelve minutes), and finally I received a call from the woman who was listed as the property owner (who was actually the property manager) on Airbnb. She explained that she had been fired by the owners, and they had retained a new property manager. She told me I needed to call the new manager. I promptly hung up and dialed the number she provided. The woman explained that someone else was in the home, and I wouldn’t be able to check in until they checked out the next day. I asked her what she would have me do in the interim. She told me she’d have the former property manager phone me back. I tried to call Airbnb again and waited and waited and waited yet again (in excess of ten minutes).

We decided to drive to a restaurant so that we could have light and hopefully wifi. About twenty minutes passed when both women called me back on a conference call. One explained that they had a miscommunication and the property had been double booked, and that I can only stay there for 2 of the 8 nights I had rented. I asked them what they would have me do. Both women sat in complete silence on the phone. I explained that it was now midnight on an island that was closed down for the evening, on one of the busy travel weekends of the year to Hawaii, and we had no housing accommodations. I again asked them if they had suggestions about what we should do. Again, dead silence. I explained, calmly, mind you, that I was traveling with four additional people, and that we have no familiarity with hotel or rental accommodations on the island, and asked what they can suggest. My questions were met with silence.

The fired property manager explained that she would have Airbnb refund my money. I asked if they had any suggestions about a hotel I could call to get last minute reservations. Silence. Literally. I finally explained that they were not being helpful, and that I needed to hang up so that I could find accommodations for five travelers at midnight. With no wifi (the little diner didn’t have it) and bad cell reception, all five of us got on our cell phones to research options, which turned out to be a painfully slow process. Every hotel was labeled “sold out” except two.

I called the first one, and they explained they no longer had rooms. I called the second one, and explained our circumstances. The front desk staff at the resort explained that they had one room prepared and one room that was dirty. She said she would find a way to get the room cleaned, and advised us to come over. Traveling to the resort required us to traverse the entire island.

En route, during the 1.5-hour drive, a representative from Airbnb called me, and explained that the property manager called to advise that they were canceling my reservation and had requested my money be refunded. He was very nice, and kept repeating that this situation was horrible and unacceptable. He repeatedly apologized. He advised that he was going to do something to make this right, and he would send me an email with the details so that I could focus on driving. Including tax we paid $600 for each of the two hotel rooms, a total of $1,200 (the only two hotel rooms we could find on the island).

Our entire week at the house rental was going to be $2,300. I was panicked because we could not afford a $9,000 hotel bill for our vacation. I woke up the next day and phoned Airbnb to see if we could find another property. The agent told me they would have my particular customer service agent call me back. Fearful of being unable to check out of the hotel, and with the clock ticking, I got online to see if I could find another property myself. I lucked out. I found a beautiful house and the property owners were lovely, and incredibly kind. I was able to do an “Instant Booking” which allowed me to get contact information for the homeowner. I called them immediately, and explained our circumstances. The couple was great, and prepared the house for us.

Eventually, the agent from Airbnb called me back. By this point I had received an email from Airbnb explaining that they were going to refund my money, and give me an additional $100 refund to held defray my expenses of having to stay some place else, and additionally they would give me $100 credit towards a future rental. When the agent phoned me, I explained that I had already booked a new property, and no longer required his assistance to do so as time was of the essence. I inquired about whether Airbnb would considering reimbursing my additional out of pocket expenses due to this mishap. He explained that he would have been able to do more for me had I called Airbnb the night prior when the crisis was occurring.

I explained that I had attempted to reach Airbnb multiple times with no success. He explained that due to the holiday week, they were exceptionally busy and their hold times were very long. I shared that there was not even an indicator in any of their recordings that someone was actually working that late at night. I told him I just started to assume that it was so late, I actually might be holding until someone reported for the next workday. I explained I was very surprised when someone actually did call me back, and considering that he had worked the late shift, I was further surprised that he himself was calling me back again the next morning to help me find a new place. I jokingly asked him was he working a 24-hour shift. Ultimately, I asked Airbnb if they would refund me any additional money, as I was out $1,000 in hotel expenses. They refused.

Lessons learned: check, double, and triple check with the host prior to departure. Assure they are ready for your arrival. When a host is not personally responding timely to your email messages or seems to have disappeared, that’s a huge red flag. Based on my past experiences, I assumed all was well. I had found Airbnb hosts to be remarkable people with incredible attention to detail. My mistake.

Lesson number two: don’t count on Airbnb to rescue you or reimburse your expenses. Had I not found another location, I could have netted an additional $6,000 in hotel expenses, and Airbnb would have not suffered any loss. Additionally, the moment Airbnb cancelled the reservation at the original property that night, they disconnected my ability to leave a review or comment about my experience with the property owners/agents. The Airbnb agent assured me that they were taking ‘disciplinary’ action against the property owners, noting that they had ‘other complaints’ from other travelers about them as well. By the agent’s comment, Airbnb knew there was an issue was this property, but I had not been warned. I was out $1,000 in addition to the night from hell we spent on the first night of our vacation finding new accommodations and driving. Buyer beware. I wouldn’t have believed it myself had it not happened to me.

Summer Vacation Went Terribly Wrong With Airbnb

My daughter took her children for a vacation this summer to reward them for doing such a great job in school. She had never used Airbnb before, so I recommended it. She arrived at the place where the host was supposed to meet them; instead, she waited two very long frustrating hours with her very excited children. One of her children has a disability and doesn’t handle stress very well.

When they were finally let in, the place was not at all the same as the one advertised and was so dirty there was no way they could stay there. When she reached out to Airbnb, they said she would not have to contact the host and that it would be resolved quickly. The second case manager said that she should have contacted the host to have it cleaned up. Not only was the hygiene a problem, it was fraud. She is home now with her very sad children because they only had a small amount of money for this vacation and a short time. The booking was for July 6-10 and still not resolved. I have been on the phone with up to fifteen different representatives for five days and they keep telling me that a case manager will get back to me. I’m not sure what this company spends their billions of dollars on but it sure is not customer service. VRBO is the way to go.

Why Does Airbnb Continually Break its Promises to Help?

As Airbnb guests, we encountered what seemed to have been a fairly straightforward question about a refund. The landlady agreed to give us a refund on our room. The only problem, she said, was that she didn’t know how to formally give permission to Airbnb to activate the refund, so she sent us a mail to show to Airbnb, as evidence to get the refund. That was several months ago. I must have called and talked with Airbnb advisors a dozen times now. It’s the same pattern every time – the advisor listens to the story, agrees that we ought to get a refund, and promises to pass the problem to a higher level – and that they will get back to us in a few days. They never do. Every time, they fail to do what have promised. How can the company behave so irresponsibly? They are not even together enough, or honest enough, to give us a straight ‘no’. Instead they just leave us hanging, every time. This has really put me off using Airbnb. If they can treat me like this over a fairly minor issue, what happens if a really serious problem comes up? Will they just run away like they did here? I am thinking of making a YouTube documentary of this saga, together with recordings of the phone calls and broken promises.

Seven Guests Who Will Never Use Airbnb Again

On May 1st, 2017, through Airbnb, we booked and fully paid for a beautiful property at Helensvale on the Gold Coast which perfectly suited our needs in order to spend Christmas with other family members who are residents there. On June 15th, the host withdrew the property for personal reasons. We received a perfunctory automated email from Airbnb that the property had been withdrawn, our booking had been cancelled, and a full refund had been initiated. Seven people were left with no accommodation and out of pocket to the tune of all the credit card costs.

We immediately emailed Airbnb to ask why we were not offered the choice of a refund or assistance to rebook a suitable equivalent property, as per the policy published on their website where it supposedly explains what happens if a host cancels. It took five days to get a response from Airbnb that this cancellation policy only applies in very specific circumstances and not to us. We asked Airbnb to refer us to where we could read and understand the specifics of this policy and how it didn’t apply to us. Airbnb refused to do this. We also asked Airbnb why they had immediately refunded us without consultation, again apparently in contradiction of their published policy. Again, Airbnb refused to provide an explanation.

In fairness to Airbnb, they did provide links to several alternative properties which they said “may suit our needs”. We had been very specific that we needed five bedrooms and large living spaces, even if it meant a higher cost. The alternatives Airbnb suggested were 2, 3, or 4 bedrooms and all entirely unsuitable, as though they had completely ignored our requirements. When we asked why Airbnb kept offering completely unsuitable alternatives which were in no way equivalent to our original booking, Airbnb refused to respond. When we tried to pursue the matter further, Airbnb effectively terminated the conversation saying they could offer no further assistance. Further emails to Airbnb have met with zero response.

The lesson from our experience is that Airbnb may work satisfactorily when things go well, but if there is a problem, such as the host cancelling, Airbnb will leave you high and dry. They are very difficult to reach to resolve an issue in a timely manner, they seem to apply their published policies arbitrarily, they refuse to respond to the specifics of a guest’s legitimate questions, and their responses are generalized as to what Airbnb “can’t” do rather than what they “can”. In summary, don’t expect any useful assistance when things go wrong. You have been warned.

Airbnb Nightmare in LA Leaves Family Stranded

My wife accompanied our daughter on a move to Los Angeles to start a new job. We own resort property and list through VRBO because they provide exceptional customer service and communication. A previous experience with Airbnb was problematic. We were reluctant to book through Airbnb again but my daughter liked one of the listings and it was close to her new job. When they arrived, they were met by the son of the owner who was out of the country. He handed them the key, wasn’t helpful in any way, and he left. When they opened the door they found a filthy apartment with bits of food on the dining table and kitchen counters. The appliances were greasy, there were stains on the furniture, and there appeared to be blood splatter on one of the walls.

My wife found the son to ask if the unit had been cleaned and he handed her a bottle of Formula 409. She asked to speak with the owner and he got him on the phone. He claimed his son is a “idiot” and lazy. My wife requested he arrange for a cleaning crew to come in while they wandered through LA. The owner went ballistic, said my wife was rude, and she wasn’t going to order him around. He also said they would not get their money back.

She took pictures with her phone, then called Airbnb. She spoke with someone who seemed helpful at first. She sent the pictures, and he said he’d call her back in five minutes; he never did. When she called back, she was told that he left for a minute and would call back, her credit card would not be charged, and they could apply the amount to another Airbnb property.

They found one that was acceptable, called Airbnb to advise them to move the funds to the new property, and were told that they processed the charge, and her pictures weren’t good enough evidence to cancel the reservation. My wife called her bank who reversed the charge, and they were left with no place to stay. Her credit card was tied up while she waited for the credit.

I believe the owner violated his agreement with Airbnb because his home was not safe, healthy, or inhabitable. He also failed to resolve what clearly was his responsibility. In addition he failed to disclose that there was a massive excavation construction project next door that was quite noisy and caused the ground to vibrate. Airbnb needs to better vet their hosts and create a more user friendly process for their guests. Perhaps they are unaware that guests may also own rentals and could be clients of Airbnb as hosts. I’m a real estate broker with influence in my market. I am going to do everything in my power to share this story and review. My attorney will be calling the owner to discuss his abusive language and fraudulent real estate activity.

Stranger came to my door but I’m not on Airbnb

I am not a host or a guest. A week ago Friday we had a lady show up at our home saying she booked our property and wanted to get into our home. After a lengthy discussion with this lady, we looked at the Airbnb listing and it was indeed my address. However, nothing matched my home’s description. There were lots of misspelled words, and the “host” spoke about Satan. The whole post was a sham. We both contacted Airbnb several times to take down the post. We explained to them how it’s a safety issue and eventually someone will come knocking that paid for the house and wants in and won’t be as nice as this lady was. Airbnb has not given this guest her money back, nor have they taken down the fake listing. I’ve made several phone calls within a week to this place, as well as emailing and calling them out on Facebook. Nothing is being done. This is so ridiculous that I have to check online everyday to see if my home has been booked and if an unwanted person will be arriving. Why can’t they just take it down?

Broken Door Claim at Airbnb in Las Vegas

I have a condo at the MGM Signature in Las Vegas that i just recently started listing on Airbnb. I had a guest stay on Mother’s Day weekend with her boyfriend. I got a message on Airbnb from the guest saying that she was locked in the room for two hours and that MGM employees had to break down the door to let her out. After following up with the employees I found out that the door was broken on arrival. It appeared that someone had kicked in the door at the lock, causing it to malfunction. The engineer had to take apart the lock to let her out. It cost $580 to repair the door. I have statements from the engineer stating the door was broken when he arrived yet Airbnb has refused to pay. Also, she was not locked in for “two hours”. The engineer had her out of the room 20 minutes after the call was placed. She says she waited two hours to call because she was trying to open the door herself. The manager stated that her boyfriend was clearly intoxicated when the incident happened. I am furious that Airbnb let her get away with it. There is no “host guarantee” – none at all. It’s false advertisement; a class action suit needs to be made against Airbnb.