Airbnb Tilghman Island – Where Guests Are Housemaids

Welcome to your Airbnb rental! Your host knows you love doing housework. That’s why he didn’t bother to have the place cleaned before your arrival. I hope you like dirt and grass clippings all over the floors, food dropped on the stairs, globs of toothpaste in the bathroom sink, dishes in the kitchen sink, unmade beds, and wet towels in the washer. That was the experience we wound up with when we chose to rent an Airbnb property for a weekend getaway on April 22 -23, 2017. The rental fee was $554 for the two nights, which included $395 for the property, plus (laughably) a $100 cleaning fee and a $59 service charge. The check-in time was at 3:00 pm, but when we arrived, we found the place was left unlocked by the previous tenants and we actually entered and saw it between 1:30 and 2:00 PM.

I immediately called the owner to complain, but naturally, he didn’t pick up. I left a voice mail message describing the condition of the house and stating that we did not want to stay there under those conditions and requested a full refund. The owner didn’t respond, so I followed up with a text message at 3:30 PM. Hearing nothing, we located and rented a hotel room (another $143 apiece) for the night. Finally, just before 6:00 PM, the owner sent a text message with an apology but no solution to the problem. When I told him we were staying elsewhere and asked about the refund, he replied that he couldn’t process a refund without proof, so I sent several photos I’d taken at the house documenting the conditions (see attached). He responded saying the previous tenant denied having left the house as I described it. When I pointed out that I had the photos as proof and a picture of the note they left to the “housekeeper” as evidence that they fully expected that the house to be cleaned upon their departure, he texted back that he would come to see the place the next day to verify my story.

The next day, we waited for the owner to get back to us throughout the day but heard nothing from him. Finally, around 5:00 PM, we decided to cut our trip short and return home a day early. Around 8:00 PM that night, I finally texted him myself to ask if he’d visited the house to verify the conditions I described. Surprise – he had not. A day later, he sent a message stating that he would refund $400, which he characterized as “very fair given the facts. I would have gladly worked with you to make this right on the day of your arrival.” Since he didn’t even respond until 6:00 PM on Saturday night, it’s safe to say there was no way he was going to “make it right” on the day of our arrival, especially since he lives in another state at least a 2.5-hour drive away from the property. Given that this dispute stems from the place not being clean, it’s somewhat amusing (but nevertheless galling) that the refund he offered is essentially the amount of the two-night rental cost less the “cleaning fee” and “service charge”. My advice to potential customers: do not rent from Airbnb. There’s no third party resolution support if anything goes wrong (hence my writing on this website). This is my first and last rental through Airbnb.

Toronto Host Gives us Runaround for Six Hours

We asked for an early check in and our host said it would be fine at least three days before check in. As we were driving she asked for an estimate as to what time we’d arrive because her previous guests asked for a late check out. We arrived about an hour before check in to drop our luggage and leave. That’s when we heard a key enter the lock to the outer door and a man walked in, said “sorry,” and disappeared. We were scared as he opened the door with a key and then was gone when we went out to ask him who he was. So we immediately left and called Airbnb to say we were uncomfortable and wanted to leave with our money back. They said they had to speak with the host and figure out the whole story. At that point we had been driving around for about an hour in another country with all of our stuff in the car, having nowhere to go. They called back saying they were having trouble getting in touch with her and that we should try to go grab something to eat. As we’re eating (now about two hours after the incident) the customer service representative called saying that it was “probably” just the cleaning guy and that we shouldn’t worry and to just go back to the place. No one could tell us definitively that it was a cleaning guy, but it probably was. For all we knew it could’ve been the previous guest who still had a copy of the key and could come in at any time during our three-day stay.

After being hung up on twice and being on hold for about two hours they also said they couldn’t give us a refund; only the host could. We tried to get in touch with her and she said to “go ahead and cancel” to which I replied: “Will we get our money back?” She didn’t reply for another five hours. Airbnb refused to help us, saying they needed to protect their host and they couldn’t take her money as it couldn’t be proven we were in any immediate danger. No one cared that we were not safe and felt uncomfortable and had to barricade the door with the couch just to feel safe; they had to protect their host. To top it all off, after we returned home the host sent an email requesting money saying we checked in early and wasted her time because she was on the phone with Airbnb for 39 minutes. She wasted the entire first day of our vacation and she wants to be compensated. Absolutely the worst customer service I have ever dealt with.

Beware Airbnb Service Fees: Refunds are Impossible

This isn’t terrible, but I feel like a lot of people are probably getting ripped off right now without realizing it. I booked a place that was covered under the 100% refundable policy. This policy clearly states service fees are refundable up to 24 hours before your trip, and the Airbnb refund policy in general says service fees are refundable for guests up to three times a year. See the attached pictures, screenshots from the Airbnb website. When I cancelled and requested a refund, it was not automatically given. After drilling down through multiple levels of their help center clearly intended to prevent you from talking to anyone, I finally go to chat with someone. He told me it was against Airbnb’s policy to refund service fees, but he would do me a ‘favor’ this once because I had booked another place. I thanked him for the refund, but afterwards I pointed out that it said in two places that the fee was refundable. He said, “That’s right, our service fees are not refundable” along with some other wholesome crap about Airbnb being a community. At that point, I moved from classifying customer service representatives as humans to examples of a failed Turing test, and I just hope their developers look at this and at the very least clarify their policy.

Cockroaches, Ants, and Construction Disruption in Airlie Beach

There were cockroaches, ants in the bed, and no privacy. We were even kicked out of our room for construction work. We booked a four-night stay at a place in Airlie Beach that was advertised as a ‘penthouse apartment’. The listing can be viewed here. This is possibly one of the most misrepresented listings I have stayed at through Airbnb. Advertising this as a penthouse is like advertising Adolf Hitler as a peacekeeper. It was dirtier than a Rawalpindi market, and the host, Leah, was as helpful as fly screens on a submarine. Jokes aside, here is the story.

The ‘King Bedroom’ was separated (used loosely) from a storage room by a tall cabinet and a piece of material draped over it, with a car’s sun visor leaning against it. This offered little-to-no privacy from the adjoining storage hall. The glass doors to the room had gaps between the walls, letting sound and light easily pass through. The sliding door to the balcony was old and unsturdy. It had a gap where, even if shut properly all the way, wind could come through and made sleeping at night impossible.

There were cockroaches. We saw several crawling around during our stay: two in the room (see pictures), and one in the laundry/bathroom area. There were also ants in the bed and on the walls. As we walked into the room at check-in, the building manager picked up a pinchful of ants from the floor. In the middle of the second afternoon of our stay, the building manager asked us to leave the room so that a wooden board (making up part of the wall of the room) could be patched up and fixed. We were trying to take a nap because of the lack of sleep we had on the first night.

By the second night, we’d had enough. It was approximately 8:00 PM when we looked for an alternative place for accommodation. As it was a Friday night, there was nothing available close by or within our price range ($100-$150/ night). We reluctantly spent the second night there and agreed to cancel the stay the next day, forfeiting the second half of the stay that was booked and paid for. Upon cancellation, I reached out to the host to try and request a refund for the total amount paid. We had not stayed for the last two nights, and the first two were atrocious. I did not think it unreasonable. I sent through photos of the uncleanliness and explained the poor experience we had. She sent back an animated response, wrought with spelling errors and incomprehensible sentence structure. I could barely understand the bulk of it.

I managed to deduce that she had denied the request, so I pushed on to Airbnb’s Resolution Centre. After several email exchanges, the case manager concluded that as per the terms and conditions, 24 hours was the window for cancellation and receipt of a refund. He offered a credit of 49 AUD as compensation towards my next stay. I responded by saying I would not be using Airbnb again to redeem this credit, so it is useless. I explained 24 hours to request a cancellation was an unreasonable part of the terms and conditions, as the bulk of the issues were encountered after this window. I referred to the ‘extenuating circumstances’ clause, highlighting the exception to their policy of ‘severe property damage or unforeseen maintenance issues’. He ignored this. He thanked me for my time in corresponding and my understanding in the matter.

Needless to say, I couldn’t understand a single shred of logic observed by this case manager. I initiated a chargeback through my bank for the $400 charge to my credit card. The outcome is pending. I have resubmitted a formal dispute with Airbnb. The result is pending. I have also investigated using the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) regulatory body to lodge a dispute. This will only take place if my bank is unsuccessful in recovering the charge. I’d like to note that this is not about the money, so much as the principle. Even if my bank is successful, I would like to warn users and non-users of Airbnb’s unreasonable customer service policies and poor support, as well as this host’s lack of consideration and diplomacy with respect to her guests. Stay here at your own peril.

Airbnb Not as Advertised for Elderly Parents

We arranged for my elderly parents to stay in what was advertised as a full house/apartment in Greenville, SC. When my parents arrived, we met them at the Airbnb they had reserved and discovered it to be a room with a king size bed, one chair, and no dining room table. There wasn’t even a full kitchen (a sink, coffee pot, microwave, and fridge). This is not an apartment or a full house. Neither a person nor a couple could live there for two weeks. They could sleep and shower there, but that is all there is room for.

When we told the host we would have to move, my parents and I said we would like a refund for the booking on the first night. She told us we must just not like it and that she had had only good reviews so far. If we had a complaint, we needed to take it to Airbnb. We took it to Airbnb. Their customer service people have been trained to be empathetic and understanding, so one thinks their case will be heard and that they will help. However, after several hours total on the phone and online chat, my parents only received a 50% refund. The 50% refund was because “they had not received a response from their email.” Not only had they received a response, they had received more than one response.

All told, we have contacted Airbnb six times. The last time they sent us back to the owner, who has not yet responded. The third line in the cancellation policy says if you leave early you will be refunded the remaining balance. This did not happen. Airbnb also said, on the fifth call, that we had not provided photo evidence of our complaint. This is true. However, we were never asked to provide photo evidence. We cannot even give a bad review as they make sure there is no place to do it.

We cannot request money for the trip because the trip has already passed. We cannot make a report to the BBB because my father or mother have to do it. My father had a major stroke a month ago and is unable to do it, and my mother, who is his power of attorney, wrote a letter to the BBB asking them to allow me to complain on her behalf because of her poor health.

Dirty Airbnb Leaves Guest Without Refund

The first time I cancelled, Airbnb kept the reservation fee. I paid $226 for a week’s stay. I spoke to the owner and he was very forthcoming and helpful. He is operating his property from a foreign country and has a caretaker. I walked in to a big surprise. The bath room had not been cleaned and the toilet was filthy, to put it mildly. The beds were not made and they were using the same sheets without washing them. Dirty and clean clothes were all over the place and the dusty floors had not even been cleaned. I called the owner; he was very understanding and agreed to pay me the whole sum once I cancelled, but Airbnb only refund me $83 out of the $226 or so I paid. I didn’t even spent ten minutes in that place. You cannot contact them over the phone. They have no idea how they ruined someone’s good time and money. My host is willing to give me my money back but not Airbnb… how about that?

Strict Cancellation Policy Means Hosts Can Keep Your Money

I travel quite a bit for my job. Someone told me about Airbnb. I checked it out, then used it for the first time in Pennsylvania. The host and the house worked out great. I thought Airbnb would be perfect to use because of the travel required for my job. I was wrong about that. I was scheduled to be in Casa Grande, Arizona on a Thursday. I contacted my host Tuesday night before my Thursday arrival to book after asking him multiple questions. I thought this place was perfect for my ten-day to a month stay. The next morning I received a phone call from my boss stating we had an emergency; we were going to the east coast instead of Arizona. I immediately contacted my host. Oddly enough, my host wouldn’t respond to Airbnb messages, phone calls, or text messages. So, I went on the Airbnb app to cancel. That’s when I discovered the host has a strict cancellation policy; I wouldn’t receive my full refund of $685 – I would only receive a refund of $178.

I called Airbnb. The gentleman to whom I spoke on the phone was hard to understand with his thick accent. He did explain to me he could do nothing to help. The host I rented from has a strict cancellation policy (which basically means the host can do whatever he wants with your money) and there’s nothing Airbnb can do. I didn’t accept what he was telling me. I couldn’t believe a company this big would allow someone to keep my money, when I called to cancel less than 24 hours after I made the reservation. Even airlines let you cancel within 24 hours of a reservation. The guy on the phone said he would escalate my complaint to a case manager. Another 24 hours passed and no one contacted me: not the host, not my case manager, no one.

I took matters into my own hands: I sent out 10-12 tweets while tagging the CEO of Airbnb in every tweet. Eventually someone contacted me from Airbnb. About 36 hours after my original complaint, the case manager told me he could help. All I had to do was send in a document on letterhead explaining what my extenuating circumstance were; my time frame was 48 hours. I had my boss fill out a letter. I also showed how my company is contracted by the government, and presented W-2’s to prove where I worked. I emailed Airbnb five times, and in every email I asked for someone to verify they had received it. Of course, no one called – I had to call and ask the day of the deadline.

The case manager sent me an email stating my claim had been denied. Apparently, the government I subcontract for isn’t the same government they were talking about in their rules for extenuating circumstance. I sent an email back and received no response. Then I started tweeting again. I have posted as many stories on Twitter as I can to warn others not to use Airbnb. Their customer service is obsolete. The company does not look out for their guests. This company is a great concept but if something goes wrong don’t expect Airbnb customer service to help you. I’ve read stories way worse than mine. I want to share my story because everyone needs to know how horrible this company is; if problems go south on your trip this company will not help you. If you cancel, guests can’t even warn others about any terrible mishaps.

Ripped Off After Last-Minute Cancellation in Milan

Early in the day when we were due to leave for Italy, our host sent an email advising she could no longer host us. Whilst she offered five other accommodation options through her booking agent (I presume a group that handles a number of bed and breakfasts in the Milan area), we simply had no time to try and communicate with those hosts to get a booking confirmation and arrange a meeting before our departure as we simply would not have access to any communication tools whilst travelling. Because of this, we had to urgently try to find alternative accommodations, settling on a hotel in Milan so we knew we would have reliable accommodations upon arrival, in 24 hours’ time. Since our host cancelled, I have been unable to get a refund of the $418 we paid for our booking. The host’s email no longer works and she will not respond to SMS messages sent to her phone. She has also removed our booking from the Airbnb site so we cannot contact her via our “Trips and Reservations” area of the website. Airbnb has no way of offering help on their website, instead referring people to Q&As on their website, which are useless. As a first time user of Airbnb, this has been a really bad experience and I will never use it ever again. I will do all that I can to persuade others to stay away from Airbnb. I feel totally ripped off.

Host Didn’t Respond Correctly and Won’t Give Refund

We booked an apartment on the morning of April 12th after having confirmed with the host for an early check-in time as was allowed in the Airbnb rules. The host confirmed and said it was fine. We left the previous apartment where we had been staying and reached the given address. Then we contacted the host for the keys and he didn’t reply. He started saying he could not let us into the apartment before 6:00 PM; we reached the apartment at 10:45 AM. We started beseeching him, saying that we had only left the previous apartment because he confirmed with us… now he starts saying he couldn’t check us in before 6:00 PM?

It was really unfair when we booked the apartment and then someone says it is not possible. After an hour-long discussion with the host I said I would be cancelling the booking as it was not possible for us to wait till 6:00 PM with family and luggage. He messaged me by asking where we were. I told him we were waiting at his door step, which was unfair. Then he refused to give a refund and started saying that he would offer a 50% discount. I said I didn’t even have the keys yet… how could he deduct the amount? It was because of his own rules.

I would welcome any suggestions as I have requested a full refund. The host has not been replying anymore. We were not able to cancel our booking, so we didn’t get a room in Paris that day, just roamed from one hotel to another because of this incident. At night we got an apartment from booking.com and then I cancelled my Airbnb booking. I had a talk with the host to refund 50% of the cost, which has still not been done yet. I’ve attached screenshots of the messages. I don’t want to lose this money. This has made me lose trust in booking from Airbnb.

Homeless in Prague After Host Cancels Last Minute

Tonight I will have to spend the night in the streets of Prague because of an irresponsible hostess. Five weeks ago I booked an apartment in Prague through Airbnb for me and my two friends. Although the hostess has cancelled reservations for other people a couple of times before, I decided to take the risk because the place and the price were excellent; however, this was a huge mistake. This woman sent me a message the night before my arrival (yesterday) telling me that she couldn’t accommodate us because she was apparently sick. It was terrible for me, of course. I told her to cancel so that, at least, I could receive a complete refund, but she didn’t. She alleged that she couldn’t do it but then she asked me for my bank account number to transfer my money back to my account plus some compensation. The whole day has passed and she hasn’t done a thing. I need Airbnb to give me a refund as soon as possible, though that is not going to fix our situation right now, at least I will get back my money.