Construction Airbnb Nightmare in Napa, No Refund Given

I initially booked a home in Napa for the weekend of April 6 through April 9, 2017, through Airbnb. The home was advertised as recently renovated. The pictures provided on the website displayed what appeared to be a clean home in reasonably good condition. Upon arriving at the home late on the evening of Thursday, April 6th we found that the driveway was inaccessible due to heavy construction equipment (a skip loader to be precise). A portable lavatory and run-off barriers blocked the driveway entrance which was still in the process of having a roadbed installed for what must be assumed as subsequent paving and surfacing. It was evident that the property was still undergoing construction as another home was under construction in the back of the property.

The entryway leading to the front steps of the home was laden in mud and debris from the construction and lack of any ground cover to absorb the recent rains. Little if any illumination made it treacherous to maneuver to the front steps of the home late at night and several of the guests stepped in deep puddles of mud, ruining their shoes.

The beds had no sheets and linens and towels were piled near the washing machine in the laundry area. It was very evident that the home had not been prepared for the arrival of new guests that evening. I immediately sent the owner an email expressing my displeasure with the condition of the home and received no response. The following morning, Friday, April 7, I attempted to take a shower only to find out that there was no hot water. I called the owner but was unsuccessful in reaching him. Shortly thereafter he returned my call and explained that his cleaning woman had gotten into an accident that same Thursday and did not show up to clean and prep the home for arrival of new guest. I also mentioned the lack of hot water and he indicated that he would have his plumber come by immediately to inspect the situation.

When I asked how long that would be the owner indicated that his plumber would be arriving within 30 minutes. I did impress upon the owner that this was unacceptable and that we had a very tight schedule that morning and may not be able to wait around. The plumber did arrive and I personally accompanied him to the basement to review the hot water heater, which was dated 1990, yet the listing for the home clearly stated that the home was recently remodeled with new plumbing. I stood by and watched the plumber attempt to get the pilot to the hot water heater ignited, which after several attempts he was successful in doing so.

I along with my guest waited for over twenty minutes for the hot water to begin flowing so that we could take our showers but the hot water never did come on. In addition, we noted several GFI receptacles in the kitchen had been tripped, suggesting that there may have been a short somewhere along that electrical line, which I was quick to point out to the plumber. He offered no suggestions, which meant that several of the electrical receptacles in the kitchen were inoperable.

We left for our morning appointments and later that day I contacted the owner to inquire as to the status of the cleaning of the home, changing of the linens and towels, and most importantly the status of hot water. The owner assured me that all issues had been rectified to our satisfaction. Upon returning to the home later that evening, the ladies wanted to shower prior to dinner only to find out that of the four guests only two were successful in taking a warm shower as once again the hot water heater shut off.

The following morning, Saturday, April 8th, I again contacted the owner but this time he did not respond to my calls or text messages. I was successful on my own in getting the pilot lit for the hot water tank but the hot water stayed on only long enough for two of the four guests to get a shower. That evening and the following morning we had no success in getting hot water in spite of my numerous attempts to contact the owner.

From all accounts, the property was not ready for placement on Airbnb and was grossly misrepresented. Although there was clear evidence of some significant remodeling to the kitchen, the simple amenities that travelers expect (e.g. hot water on demand, a mud-free entry to the premises, clean linens, towels, soap and toilet tissue) were all lacking. Upon my personal inspection of the crawlspace below the home there was no evidence of new plumbing but instead, a patchwork of some replacement pipes. Advertisement for the home clearly indicated the home had recently received new plumbing yet the owner had failed to upgrade a hot water heater that dated back to 1990; this was an egregious misrepresentation of the condition of the home.

Having stayed at Airbnb homes all over the world this was unquestionably the worst facility I had ever had the misfortune of renting, not to mention the embarrassment of having another couple endure this hardship with us. The Tuesday following my return home, I made one last attempt to contact the owner to give him a chance to make some reasonable accommodation for the terrible hardship we endured at his home. Again my outreach fell on deaf ears as he never returned my calls.

One most interesting lesson learned from this ordeal was you need to choose your credit card company carefully. I have been an American Express Card holder for over 37 years and my attempt to obtain a refund through American Express would not have posed any difficulty for me. However, this is not the case with Chase and the Mileage Plus Visa Card, which unfortunately I chose to use to secure the property with. I initially disputed the charge with Chase but with each volume of documentation provided to them as requested, was met with another ridiculous request for further documentation.

From the outset, Chase contended that the charges were valid and sided with the merchant (in this case, the host). Never once did Chase speak or receive any documentation from the host to refute my claims but nevertheless, they were reluctant to resolve the matter yet provided a phone number to contact them to discuss. Needless to say, each attempt to contact a human at Chase was met with “the person you are trying to reach is away from their office right now”.

I did finally seek assistance from Airbnb who attempted to reach out to the host but was also unsuccessful in receiving any return call from him. Airbnb did post a small credit (just under $300) to my account but I felt considering the gross misrepresentation of the property by the owner that a more meaningful adjustment was required. I am currently still pursuing the matter and seeking a further adjustment through Airbnb. I have since cut up my Chase Mileage Plus Visa Card and the other Chase Card and returned them to Chase with a stern directive as to where they now can place their cards.

Moral of the story: there is a reason why I have held the Amex card all these years and have no problem paying the annual fee. Had I used the Amex card for the this trip I would have had this resolved back in April. Further, Airbnb needs to do a far better job at screening their hosts and protecting their customers.

Abandoned by Airbnb When Berlin Host Cancelled

I was already in Germany and moving around, enjoying the flexibility that Airbnb offers. I made a booking request on July 19th for two nights, from the 25th-27th and then left Berlin for a campsite for a few days. I wasn’t able to check my account again until the 24th but found that the host had accepted my request the day after, on the 20th. So far so good.

Unfortunately the morning of the 24th, four days after she’d accepted the booking, the host cancelled on me. A crisis of some kind. I was obviously not pleased. I contacted Airbnb to ensure they knew of the problem and begged them to call me ASAP. I was sure they would call but they didn’t. I logged on again that evening (I have a very old phone) to find a cursory and unhelpful response. An insulting offer of £4 compensation, some very stupid suggestions of alternative places to stay that were well outside the S+U Bahn network, and no phone call at all. I had no choice but to rebook at 12 hours’ notice for twice the price.

I resolved to pursue this matter when I got home on July 27th. On checking my email, I discovered Airbnb had informed me on July 26th they considered the matter closed. On the 28th I made it clear it was not in any way closed and asked them to call me. On the 29th I was called by someone who required me to explain the whole story to him from scratch. He offered me $25 in compensation which I said was nowhere near enough. For all the trauma and expense, I believe they should pay all of my last two nights (£80) if not more for having abandoned me when I needed help. The Airbnb representative assured me I’d be called again shortly by his superior. It is now August 9th and I’ve heard nothing. They’re ignoring my emails.

My faith in Airbnb has been torpedoed. I’ve just used the opportunity of reviewing my last host to post this complaint about them (I told her I was going to do this and she didn’t have a problem with it). It doesn’t seem to have appeared though. They’re watching out for this kind of thing.

UPDATE: Interesting development. A few hours after submitting my story Airbnb contacted me. They apologised, refunded the £78 for my last two days in Berlin, and gave me a £50 coupon code for my next stay. They did the right thing… eventually.

Blocked Toilet and Freezing Shower Make a Bad Stay

I have been trying to get in contact with Airbnb for days to resolve an issue. The only time I got to talk to them was the day I decided to cancel my booking. The only person at customer service was a lady who was really hard to understand; it seemed like she had a muffin in her mouth, or was talking under a pillow. Her instructions were not clear; they left me even more confused and disappointed.

I made a booking for six days in one place. The toilet was blocked and every time I flushed it, it overflowed. It was the first day and first time entering in that toilet; it was supposed to be my private bathroom but it was dirty. I really needed to use it and felt uncomfortable telling the hosts the toilet was dirty. When I flushed everything just came back out. It was very uncomfortable because my host accused me of blocking in up when I had just arrived.

It was late and I took a shower before bed. The hot water was off and the shower was freezing cold. Coming out of the bathroom, I had to go through the baby’s room. He started to cry, and then the host said I was not allowed to use the shower or toilet at night because the baby would wake up very easily. I started to feel really annoyed.

The next day, due to jet lag, I slept all day. However, I woke up to eat something in the middle of the night since I was also very thirsty. The host’s mother came to the kitchen to say I was making noise, when in fact I was as quiet as a mouse. Again, I could not take a shower so I decided to cancel the booking the next day. In the morning, while getting dressed, their baby bumped my door open when I was practically naked. I notified the host and Airbnb about the cancellation and left the place.

Airbnb told me when the booking was completed they were going to refund me for the days left. I have been trying to reach them without any success, only to have them direct me to the host. I asked the host for a refund but she decided to insult me, saying that my change to the booking didn’t work. When I cancelled the booking, Airbnb didn’t get back to me at all. They paid the host the full amount.

What is going on? Where is the guarantee and protection for the guest? This is not fair.

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.

Dirty Airbnb House Not Suitable for Children or Adults

We rented a house in Massachusetts for $4,500 for one week for the entire family: adult children and grandchildren. The host told me we could enter the night before our start date. I thanked him and said my son would probably do that. At 2:30 AM, my son arrived at the host’s house. Early Saturday morning my son called me and said he was very disturbed by the condition of the house. He hadn’t even wanted to sleep there with his wife and three small children but felt he couldn’t find a hotel in the middle of the night. He reported to me that the house was not reflective of the pictures on the Airbnb website: it was dirty and in disrepair.

I phoned the host and told him what my son had reported, saying we could not stay in the house. Almost immediately he said he would return our money. Additionally, he said he’d drive from Boston and meet me there at 12:30. At 12:30, the host and a companion of his met me at the house. I was distraught over not only the inside but the outside of the house. It did not look like the Airbnb picture; it was overgrown with weeds, some of them four or five feet tall around the garage door. The three of us entered the house, and there was no resemblance to the pictures of the house I rented.

The host asked me to show him exactly what I was unhappy about, which I did. As a result, he got angry and said I was rude. All I did was document the condition of the house as he had asked. As an aside, I am not a rude person; I’m a psychologist and I’m accustomed to dealing with all kinds of people. My son arrived while we were going through the house. We continued to cite the unacceptable conditions of the house.

When the conversation became heated, I asked the host for our money back. His companion said: “Just give them their money back”. He said he would but we had to “cancel the reservation right now so I can rent it.”

My son and I went out to our cars and immediately canceled the reservation. I had no contact with the host after that morning. He was supposed to refund $500. We’re in a resolution dispute with Airbnb. They have not responded to phone calls and emails were returned as ‘Airbnb did not receive this email’. I believe that at one time this was a nice house and actually looked like the photos on Airbnb; however, it has been abused and neglected. It has not been thoroughly cleaned in a very long time as indicated by the considerable thick dust on top of the refrigerator and other areas. The insects, mold, and broken moldings, as well as the state of general disrepair are not only a health hazard but a safety hazard. I have 38 photos of mold, insects and filthy broken furniture. Screens with holes big enough for a child to climb through. I want my money back. My biggest frustration is that Airbnb will not respond.

Airbnb Cozy Modern Studio Over a Dumpster

We were super excited to stay at this property because all of the photos on the Airbnb ad showed a lovely walk and beachfront condo. Little did we know that none of the exterior photos were of the unit being advertised. All of the exterior photos showed views of a beachfront unit with a patio and grill, when in fact this unit was in a separate building, facing the other direction, over a wall and an alley. There was no view, and no patio.

The only furniture near the patio (which was between the beach view units) was walled off with a sign that said: “owner only, no trespassing.” There was no view and no outdoor space, and it was the opposite of beachfront property; it was dumpster alley front. The inside was tiny, with no fans or air conditioning, only a tiny bed you had to climb a ladder to reach that faced an alley. There was not even a window that opens, just a tiny crank window in the bathroom that opened about two inches. We couldn’t sleep because there was a window (that does not open for air flow) right next to the bed with no shade. Cars drove down the alley all night with lights shining in our faces. It was also extremely loud due to all the drunk people fighting and running up and down the alley all night. It turned out, the bed was actually over the alley dumpster. Good luck sleeping with drunk people throwing bottles in it all night.

There was also a sunken shower that extended into the middle of the walkway – super dangerous and not at all family friendly. The Airbnb booking included TV. There was a TV, but it was mounted about nine feet off the ground, had no working remote, and was not actually hooked up even for local channels. For $250 a night, most people would think things like TV and air conditioning are standard. This is clearly a professional investment property. No one lives here – or could – full time. It is a tiny closet-sized box in an alleyway.

Airbnb did not care that the place was not as advertised. Simply not advertising them doesn’t relieve the host of his responsibility to be accurate. Accuracy includes divulging information, not withholding it. There should be a map showing that this is a back wall-facing unit with no views, no air conditioning, no TV, and no patio. I paid $978 and the place was so bad that we packed up and left at 7:00 AM, and moved to a hotel. I immediately messaged the host and agreed to pay 25% of the total price, so $734. He messaged me back and said he would refund me in accordance with the moderate cancellation policy. I thought that meant we had an agreement (which is more than fair, considering that we only stayed one night).

I didn’t hear from him again until I had arrived back in my hometown and he messaged me saying I would be refunded only $195. This really made me mad and I am sure it was tactical. He then told Airbnb that because I didn’t click “cancel” on my reservation, he couldn’t rent out the place for the remaining three days. He never told me that I had to do anything other than notify him. I am sure that this guy is out for the maximum return on his investment and doesn’t care about the comfort of guests. He also clearly was comfortable crossing the line into false advertising because he knew Airbnb wouldn’t do anything about it. They didn’t. They even acknowledged that some of the photos could be misleading, but have done nothing about it.

Crazy Host and Terrible Customer Service for Beach House

My family went to South Haven, MI for a weekend trip. We reserved an entire house. Everything started feeling a little strange the day of arrival. The host sent my wife incessant messages regarding the names and ages of all the guests. Even after we gave this information to her, she kept asking the same questions over and over. She sent a rulebook to us and quizzed my wife on it when she arrived. We were planning on having local day guests for beach access. Once the host heard about this, she forced us to add them to the guest list and wanted more money. My wife’s parents brought a guest with them we didn’t know about.

We were happy to pay the host for this guest, but she freaked out and started taking pictures of everyone with her phone, without their permission (including two boys under the age of eighteen and my ten-month-old daughter). She ran to the house and locked the door, refusing to talk to us. I can’t comment on the quality of the house, as I never made it inside. My family drove seven hours and had no place to stay.

I wasn’t aware of Airbnb’s policy that didn’t allow bad reviews when a trip is canceled and I couldn’t request a refund unless I canceled the trip. That was where I messed up. I asked the host for a refund (about $2000), which, of course, she ignored. We contacted Airbnb for arbitration and it was initially agreed that we would eat the first night’s rent and be refunded the rest. This was acceptable to us. Airbnb cowardly called my wife at 11:18 that night to tell us the decision was reversed. Of course, she was asleep. She has since called back 12 times. Every time our case manager is conveniently unavailable or the bastards simply hang up on us when they get tired of listening. As of this moment, we haven’t gotten anywhere.

Here is the listing for anyone who wants a great place to get screwed over in Michigan.

Foreign Phone Number Only Contact for Airbnb Host?

Please don’t book any rooms or apartments listed by this host. I had made a reservation through Airbnb for a one-night stay on June 23rd, 2017 at a studio apartment listed in Boston. An amount of Rs.5708 was paid for the stay upfront and the reservation was confirmed by the said host. As per the details provided to me through email by Airbnb, check-in could be done anytime after 8:00 AM.

I reached the address at around 6:00 PM. To my surprise, the building at the address was an office and there were no apartments. I tried all possible means to reach Airbnb and the host to provide the correct address of apartment. The phone number provided by the host was a Vietnam number and was unreachable or temporarily out of service. I used the messaging platform provided by Airbnb to contact her at periodic intervals; however, nothing developed. I had also written emails to the address provided by Airbnb. No response was received from the host, even on that medium.

I tried reaching Airbnb Customer Care, however they kept me indefinitely on hold and I was not able to speak with any of its Customer Care Agents. In fact on one occasion, they kept me on hold for twenty minutes and I was still not able to connect with any Airbnb Customer Service Agent. This incident was also brought to the notice of Airbnb through emails. The following response was received from Airbnb:

I’m sorry to hear that you have had difficulty with host responsiveness. We urge our hosts to keep their calendars up to date and respond to all inquiries and requests. Although we do our best to encourage all of our hosts to stay active, some hosts may not be as responsive as we would want them to be. I will be forwarding this to our trip team. I hope this helps but if you have any more questions, please let us know.

It may be noted from the aforementioned communication from Airbnb that even its team members had failed to get in touch with this host. Please note this was the last communication I received from Airbnb on the matter. Because of the Airbnb host, who had failed to provide details of the correct location and access related details, a situation had arisen where I had to spend the night on the side of the road or the lobby of this office building.

As no details of the apartment had been received, I had to make last minute arrangements for an alternative stay. I could not have waited the whole night on the road expecting communication from Airbnb or its host. No such communication from them even happened in the end. The last minute arrangements cost me an additional $215. Airbnb and its hosts are in the business of servicing clients by providing arrangements for guests to stay. Once a stay-related request of a client like me is confirmed from the side of Airbnb’s host after receipt of payment, it becomes a contractual agreement on the host’s part and the part of Airbnb that has to be fulfilled.

I was surprised to see that a host at a US property had a Vietnam mobile number listed and Airbnb displayed it as a verified number. Furthermore, this number was actually out of service and thus there was no way to speak with her. Even Airbnb employees were not able to reach her. Thus, as a result of poor management and insensitive behavior of Airbnb towards me (i.e. their client), including insensitive and irresponsible behavior on the part of Airbnb’s host, I was forced to look and make alternate arrangements. This had cost me $215 in addition to the amount I already paid to the host.

As Airbnb and its host had failed to fulfill the said commitment, I have sent numerous emails to Airbnb and the host to refund INR 5708 that was charged to me, compensate me $210 that I had to pay for making alternate arrangements for the night as a result of the failure on the part of the host and Airbnb, and $1000 for the mental agony and torture I have undergone. I have not received any response from them to date. I would suggest potential Airbnb users avoid making any booking with this host and in fact, avoid Airbnb as it does not provide any help in situations when it is most needed. Airbnb and its hosts can leave you stranded in a foreign land without shelter, and as a result spoil your holiday by gifting you the worst mental agony.

Downtown Dreamer Airbnb Nightmare with Trains Blaring

We took a job in Biloxi and had to find accommodations for two months. Of course, the day we got the job was the day that the summer rates kicked in so we struggled to find something in our budget that was within ten miles, had a kitchen, and was available for the full two months. We’d never used Airbnb before but after relentlessly searching for the traditional extended stay hotels without any luck, we found a property on Airbnb that was available, fit into our budget (barely) and advertised a full kitchen. Here’s the listing and description:

This spacious 900 square foot two-bedroom apartment is nestled on a side street just off of Washington Ave across from a city park. Private parking and walking distance to shopping, dining and all activities in the downtown area.

The space: Close to everything, downtown Ocean Springs.

Other things to note: We hope your visit to Ocean Springs creates wonderful memories that will last you a life time.

Further down the page there was a section called “House Rules.” Here’s how it looked as I scrolled down:

No smoking, no parties or events, check in time is 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM, prices subject to special event pricing and all local and state taxes. Listed price is for weeknights with a two-night minimum. Pets possible, deposit required. Possible sleeping arrangements for children. No more than four adults. Rules can change without being written on this site. However, the rules will be acknowledged by parties prior to completing the reservation. Cancellations must be made one week prior to stay for a full refund and three weeks prior on special event pricing nights. Enjoy your stay in beautiful downtown Ocean Springs.

You must also acknowledge the potential for noise – a train runs through the city of Ocean Springs.

This “acknowledgement” about trains running through Ocean Springs is the absolute last thing on this long list of “House Rules” and something that would be more appropriately listed under the “Other Things of Note” section, wouldn’t you think?

If you’ve ever used Airbnb, you will know that when you’re looking for the place, they don’t give you an address. They just provide a circle on a map and the property is somewhere in that circle. We didn’t notice the “acknowledgement” about trains until we were about to pay, but it seemed rather innocuous. I suppose we assumed that if the host had to warn us about noise, the warning had to adequately reflect the noise level. The fact that a train ran “through Ocean Springs” which covers about 12 square miles didn’t seem like the property would be close and based on the description that the property was right across from a city park, it sounded like the property was across from the only city park in that area; that was about as far southeast from the train tracks as you could get.

We booked it. Our job started, as did our reservation, on July 5th. We couldn’t check in until 5:00 PM, and we started work at 7:00 AM, so we didn’t actually get to the property until 4ish, which is when we discovered that the “city park” described in the listing was actually the railroad easement that runs along the tracks. The property was directly adjacent to the easement, separated only by a residential street, less than 100 feet. Being optimists, we thought, well, surely the trains don’t run at night because the host would have had to disclose that.

At 8:00 PM, the first train came blasting through. The whistle was earsplitting, and the entire property shook. However, we thought 8:00 was manageable. The next one was at 10:30 PM. It woke us both up and I thought maybe that was it. The next one was at 1:30ish. I almost laughed out loud because it was right out of “My Cousin Vinny.” The next one at 3:30 wasn’t even a little bit funny, and the 5:00 AM one would have been fine, since we had to get up anyway, if it hadn’t been for the three prior.

I immediately notified the host (at 5:30 AM) and Airbnb that there was no way we could stay there with the trains. We are working 10 to 12 hour days with heavy equipment, and we would either get hurt or hurt someone else if we weren’t able to get enough sleep. Airbnb sent an automated reply almost immediately assuring me that someone would be reaching “very soon.” I didn’t hear anything from our host until 4:00 that afternoon, and still hadn’t heard from Airbnb.

In the meantime, we were on the job starting at 7:00, and didn’t get off until 5:00, a short day. We were exhausted, but had to return to the property because we had no other place to go. We started looking for another place and actually found one that was available starting the next day. I reached out to that host and they preapproved us, but I was still waiting to hear from Airbnb about our refund. Our host had essentially not responded in any meaningful way so I knew we were in for a fight.

The second night the 8:00 PM train rolled through right on time. Then there was another one at 8:40, then another around 10:30, then another at 2ish. I was so tired I could not make myself get up for the 2:00 AM one, but I did record the 8:00 and 10:30 ones. Here’s the link to the video of the 8:00 PM one, and as you listen, keep in mind that the loudest part of the train has already past by the time I started recording.

I had not heard back from Airbnb by the next morning, so I called. I explained to my case manager that we could not stay one more night because we were exhausted and that was a problem at work. I needed to book something ASAP. She asked me to hold off for a couple of hours so that she could complete my claim and transfer any refund to my next booking. Four hours later, I had not heard from her and we lost the other booking by that time. We had to drive home, exhausted, and would have to drive back again tomorrow, though we have been able to book another place, just not through Airbnb.

Airbnb had nothing for us by the time the case manager got around to trying to transfer our refund. As for the refund, it’s pretty obscure what it would be. She said that the host was refunding half the fee we paid. However, her numbers didn’t add up. Here’s what she said: “As we’ve talked over the phone, I will now process the refund amounting to $3662: $1022 will be from the host, and $2640 will be from the nights not spent in the listing just for us to use the money for another listing that you want to book.”

The problem with her math is that we paid $2,428 for the first month of the reservation. We have not paid for the second month. A refund of $1,022 from Jeffrey amounts to less than half of what we paid. The remainder of the refund appears to be for amounts we haven’t paid yet (and won’t) so that’s not a refund. I was very suspicious of that garbled reference to using the refund “just for us to use the money to another listing that you want to book.”

I have written her back and asked for clarification, but I am already drafting a complaint to file in small claims court in Ocean Springs against this host. If I have to add Airbnb, I will move the case to federal court. The case manager was nice enough and definitely knows how to handle irate customers, but she told me things that were misleading at best, or flat out lies at worst. She told me that she had to negotiate with our host, and if he didn’t agree to refund us, then her hands were tied.

According to Airbnb, they have the final say in resolving all disputes. Since I have objected to this particular resolution, it is unclear if I will receive any kind of refund at all. I guess we’ll find out. At this point, I see no point in using Airbnb except that to rip off both legitimate hosts and guests by hiking up prices as a go between service without offering anything of value except a website. Rather, call a local realtor and check local listings for vacation rentals. Maybe it’s less convenient, but at least you won’t get ripped off. Because we cancelled, we are not even allowed to give a review of the host.

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The Dungeon of Horror at NYC Airbnb

This was my first and last time using Airbnb; it is a total scam. I picked a room from an ad on Airbnb in NYC. The price was very much comparable to that of a decent hotel (about 100 EUR per day) but I had heard the Airbnb experience was great. Since I was planning to stay seven days, it was about 700 EUR altogether.

I arrived at the place. It turned out a total dungeon owned by an old lady. The picture the ad showed was actually the kitchen/living room in which the lady had put her bed just beside the fridge and the cookers. The angle of the picture made it look like a cozy place to stay, but in reality it was below human standards. It also turned out the room I had rented was not the one in the picture (the actual living room) but some smelly dark hole in which I was not ready to stay for one moment.

I politely said to the woman that the place was not what I expected, and she said “no problem; we can cancel.”

I tried to cancel the booking through the app, but it turned out Airbnb would retain around 250 EUR. Then I called Airbnb to see how I could recover my 250 EUR. They said I should request a refund from the owner – that she only had to accept the request, and that would be it. I did what they asked, she claimed that she had returned them, and everything seemed okay. It should have appeared in my account after a couple of days.

I went to a hotel and after a couple of days, there was still no money back. I contacted the host; several times she confirmed she had accepted the request. A few days more… still no money. I called Airbnb, and they said the old lady hadn’t accepted the request after all, and that they could not do anything.

To sum up: an ad which was absolutely misleading, miserable conditions in which only a poor old woman can live in, an obvious scam where she claimed several times she had returned the money, and Airbnb washing its hands and taking its share of the scam despite of the whole conversation concerning the return of my money was clearly stated in their message system. Airbnb – a total scam. Save your money and your nerves. Stay away.