My First and Last Airbnb Stay, Accused of Damages

I graduated recently from school, and my parents were visiting me for graduation from outside of US. I decided to take them to Florida, and I booked my first Airbnb. Being a first timer on Airbnb, I was very cautious of everything. I tried to keep the entire house clean and tidy, and I tried to make sure I did not damage any part of the property. I won’t damage the property of anyone either now or in the future. My stay was good (not perfect, but nothing is, so I kind of ignored any small problems). I didn’t want to sound like a complaining guest; I didn’t know I could make complaints and get a refund (partial or full).

So here’s what happened. On my third day (last day, the day I checked out), I was washing the dishes in the kitchen sink of the property hosted by a shady couple. While doing that, I started the garbage disposer in the sink and within a moment, before I even realized what was happening, the plumbing below the kitchen sink broke and dirty water started to spill onto the floor. It could have caused an electrical short circuit as well as a fire. Anything was possible. I’ve attached the pictures of water coming out on floor. Then, I texted my hosts immediately. First, the woman told me that she would come and see what happened. Then, after some time, the guy called me and asked me what happened. I told him what happened and he was very calm after that. He said he knew what must have happened, as if he knew the plumbing was fragile. They also told me to put towels on the water and then leave the house; they would come and take care of the damage later.

I trusted them (my biggest mistake) and left the property. I was roughly four hours away from the property by car. I stopped at a gas station only to find out my hosts were demanding $200 in compensation for a broken pantry door (when did that happen?) They said that we broke the pantry door. If you think carefully, there is a connection. The plumbing was broken. They must have had to spend some money on the repairs. However, it was their fault, so they could not ask for money for that. Instead, they found another way out. If you look at the door, the wooden strips that are not present in the door are easily removable. They just removed them, took pictures, and filed a claim with Airbnb. There were slots to put the strips in or remove them if required. And it worked. Airbnb asked me to pay $152 in the end, because the hosts were so called “superhosts” and I was just a recent graduate staying at an Airbnb for the first time. Now it was their word against mine, and I lost.

If they had asked me for another $100 while booking the property for any legitimate reason, I would have given them that money. But, in this case, they falsely implicated me. My parents traveling 9500 miles to see me were not visiting their property to damage it. If we had damaged it or if there were any accident, we would have told them promptly. To add to that, when I gave a bad review of the property, the host used the weapon of good reviews and ratings they had in past(as I expected them to do), to say my claim was false a and make themselves feel secure. When you are so good at hosting, you can get away with doing one wrong thing so easily by pointing at all the previous good karma. That is what they did and victimized me.

I know some of you readers may find them right and more credible than me, but remember: you could also be in my place someday if you do not take enough care. I should have demanded the host walk me through the property at check-in and check-out so I could have confronted them easily if they said anything was damaged, but they used clever planning to avoid doing so, so that they could later blame me. My family and I were pretty much shocked and saddened by what happened. I quit Airbnb and will not return.

A few things went wrong or felt odd during my visit. These so called superhosts did not walk me through the property at check-in and check-out. I did not get sufficient information on how to get around the house and operate appliances; I had to figure it out myself. It would have been best to walk guests through the house at check-in and check-out so that host could have made guests aware of any pre-existing damages and any problems the host may have found at the time when guests walk out of the property. Because they filed a claim four hours after we left, I could not go back to the property to verify anything. To top it off, as Airbnb says, if the host and guest cannot reach an understanding, hosts can go to the Airbnb resolution center. However, this host did not contact me at all; he went straight to the resolution center. They didn’t talk to us directly before reporting the damage to Airbnb, because they were super liars.

The property was immensely dark in and around at the time of check-in. It was very frightening because when I lit the house I found some chameleons walking on the grass and trees around the house. The pantry door, shown in the picture above, was perfectly in the good shape, except one wooden strip below the door knob was not placed properly in its slot on the right side. The kitchen had empty chocolate wrappers (that’s how much cleaners attended to the property) and a rotten apple. My mother was this close to eating it, but fortunately, she decided to cut it in two pieces before she ate it and she found that it was rotten. The kitchen was not complete: there was no single appliance with its lid, so when I wanted to cook rice, I couldn’t. The soap bottles and shampoo bottles were almost empty. And they were Suave, which is very cheap. Everyone knows that. The lowest quality soaps were purchased to show the host didn’t care about guests and wanted to maximize his profit. The water pressure in the shower in the bathroom was also very low, equivalent to the gardening bucket we used to water the plants. Despite so many problems I did not want to complain, but I should have done it. Since it was my first stay, I was unaware of all the ins and outs of the Airbnb. Now I have decided not to continue using Airbnb but to book a regular hotel next time I need to go somewhere. If I can afford four days with Airbnb and two days in a regular hotel, I will still go with a hotel. At least there won’t be insecurity and frustration of being falsely implicated for damages which I never caused.

Another Airbnb Debacle: What do Mediators even do?

I called Airbnb to let them know that I had a signed contract with my guest, Ms. Ponga, which superseded theirs and any dispute was to be handled with the American Arbitration Association. I have never called to notify them of this before, but I knew this guest was trouble. My big mistake was caring that I would lose my Superhost status if I cancelled. Anyway, customer service ignored this fact as well. I also doubt that they looked to see if this guest has done to other hosts what she did to me. I am sure she has. I am the kind of host who provides luxury robes. Ms. Ponga vandalized my apartment. I have had so many bad, horrible things happen using Airbnb because of the incompetence and unconscionable behavior of the mediators and case managers. The other problem is the “Guest Refund Policy” which attracts con-artists, criminals, and extortionists. Airbnb just attracts thieves and criminals in general. I have never had a problem with guests from any other site.

The biggest problem is that the people who work at Airbnb do not know what the “Guest Refund Policy” says. They do not seem to have been trained. I am starting to doubt that they even graduated from high school. One guy on the phone gave me the impression that either he or some of the people that work there are high school dropouts. Anyway, this story is a rerun of so many I’ve seen on Airbnb Hell. Actually, there are so many incompetent people in this story that I am going to submit a separate complaint for each person. I am also going to go back through all the unconscionable things they have done and submit separate complaints for all of those things too. There are actually some people with common sense who answer the phone who can understand what happened was wrong, but when it gets to the next level, the supervisors say their subordinates promised something they can’t deliver. They always use the excuse that the case is closed, as if I closed it.

Patricia Ponga was my guest; she has now changed her name to Ruth. I suppose this is because of my review which has been taken down, put back up, and taken down again. Maybe when Ruth realizes the review is down she will change her name back to Patricia. First, she told me that she would be staying seven or eight days but her friend would only be staying three of those days. She asked if I could I give her a discount, which I did. It turned out that story was a lie. I have some terms. I made the mistake of pre-approving her and saying if she agreed to my terms to accept my invitation to book, if not she could decline. So she booked the property. She also said she agreed, but she did not follow through with her actions. In my experience, if people do not agree with the terms, they do not book, and if they do agree, they comply with my terms right away to show good faith. Not this lady. She wanted to change everything up and renegotiate after agreeing.

One of my terms was that instead of getting a deposit, I would have them buy a $59 Property Damage Protection Plan for insurance. She and her friend tried to tell me that they have been using Airbnb and this other site for a long time and I couldn’t ask them to do that. However, this other site told me as long as I am listed on their site and I have the listing number, people who booked rentals on other sites can buy insurance. Somewhere along the line, someone on the phone at Airbnb told me that I was not allowed to ask guests to purchase insurance, so I purchased it on their behalf. Later, I learned that Ms. Ponga told Airbnb that I forced her to buy insurance. This was a lie, and I can prove it with my credit card statement.

Ms. Ponga wanted to check in late, so I told her I would leave the keys at the 24/7 deli. She said this was perfect, but later complained about it. There was one mistake because the deli guy gave her the keys to my apartment and not her apartment. Luckily, my place is steps away. She knew she had the wrong keys but she used them to open my door and walk in. Later, I gave her the correct keys. She was clearly aggressive. She clearly acted like a person who is not afraid of anything. Next I got a call from her saying that the apartment was not habitable because there was no heat. I told her there was; she just needed to push the heat button on the central air and heat. Then she complained that there was a window she could not shut. I told her once she got the heat turned on she would be boiling and dying for the window to remain open, but she insisted that I come there right then. I said I would, and had to reiterate, right now. So, I arrived in about three minutes. She had not turned on the heat and told me that she knew how to circumvent my strict cancellation policy; if I did not get the window closed she could get me thrown off Airbnb, as she is friends with Brian Chesky.

The window was a bit hard to close, but I did it and I told her the window guy was coming on Monday. She complained that he never came on Monday, but she was never there on any Monday, so clearly that was a lie on her part. Then I did not hear from the guests for about four days. On the fourth day, I received a message on the thread saying everything was fine and they just needed more towels. Never mind that I had already given them four sets of brand new towels, and there were two sets in the bathroom. I said there were more towels in the cabinet next to the bathroom. I did not hear anything and it seemed all was well. In the middle of the night, when I was in bed with a migraine, she called me and demanded I bring clean towels from my apartment. I said there were clean towels there. She said they were not clean because she got an ear infection. Ear infections in adults are caused by flying, seasonal allergies, and smoke.

I tried to explain to her that the towels in my apartment are laundered by the same company, and were in the same load as the towels that were over there. I even had the new towels washed because I wanted them to have the smell of whatever the laundry uses on them; it’s so wonderful. In addition, who knows who has been touching them? Anyway, she would not listen to reason, and she told me the TV is also broken. The TV was not broken. It was a pretext to get me out of bed. You have to use both remotes, and if you do not get it, you can read the house manual. I gave them the phone number to call for customer service. The bottom line is that I am such a nice host that if I had not had a migraine, I would have gotten up to help them. It is my nature, but I couldn’t do it. I offered to have them come get towels from my apartment, but the towels there were better.

Now enters the Airbnb mediator, who does not know the meaning of the word mediation. He ignored my strict cancellation policy with no proof, no photos, without talking to me and released them from the reservation. When I called Airbnb they said it was because of the dirty towels and a broken TV. I sent Airbnb a photo of the cabinet full of clean towels and the working TV. Then he told me that I forced them to buy insurance. Also, not true. I sent him the credit card summary showing that I paid for it. The next excuse was that it was because I told them if any neighbor asks, to say they were my friends. Apparently, the mediator took that to mean that I was not allowed to sublease my condo. Also, wrong! A lot of people in my neighborhood work in the hotel industry. If they get fired or something, I do not want them to think it is my fault. However, since he doesn’t know the meaning of the word mediator or mediation, he doesn’t know that he should have talked to me.

According to the “Guest Refund Policy” I am supposed to be given a chance to remedy any real or imagined problem. This mediator did exactly what other incompetent mediators have done. When his initial reasons for ending the reservation turned out to be wrong, he made up new reasons. Airbnb owes me $900. Mediators: don’t assume. Talk to both parties. Read your company’s policies; get a dictionary. They took down my review of Patricia Ponga AKA Ruth, put it back up, and took it down again. I suppose someone decided to do the right thing and then the next person up the chain said no. That has always been my experience with Airbnb. Maybe Ms. Ponga called her friend Brian Chesky and he had them take it down.

 

Guest from Hell’s Complaints Neverending

I accepted an instant book for six nights starting in a few days time. I have hosted on Airbnb for nearly two years with great reviews (even from other hosts). My mobile home is based in Florida and is offered for sole use. Recently a guest brought in some bugs not native to the US and we had the unit treated several time to kill them. The guest that arrived started complaining the moment they walked in the door: “It’s dirty, the locks didn’t work, there were hairs on the sheets, the light bulbs weren’t working, the sink was blocked.” The list went on and on. However, as soon as we “corrected” an issue, even if there wasn’t one, suddenly there was another. We then got an email from Airbnb saying the guest wanted a refund! That’s when the resolution center came into the picture. I requested the guest leave, with Airbnb’s permission (she said). It took two days to get her out. I still have not been paid and now I have to deal with a case manager who has no supervisor to whom I can speak. I am so disappointed that Airbnb is so bad at customer service. I am thinking of cancelling all future bookings, telling the guests why, and getting them to contact Airbnb.

Condo in Beautiful Hawaii Filled with Bed Bugs

I went on vacation to the Big Island of Hawaii recently. I booked four nights at the Kona Islander Inn in Kona. The host’s name is Ann, who is from the Seattle area. From the very beginning I should have known better to rent from her. Upon my initial booking back in September she did not greet me in any way, shape or form as a host. That was a huge red flag right there: no communication. I checked in on November 18th, 2016. On the second morning I woke up with bed bug bites on my arm. I contacted Ann about the situation, and sent photos of the bite marks as well. Her response was: “They do not look like bed bug bites; I have never had any problems before and I keep my condo so amazingly clean it’s not even possible for there to be bed bugs.”

Her strategy about this entire situation was to simply deny, deny, deny. Not getting any honest information from Ann, I went and talked with the lady working at the front desk that morning. I asked if there have been problems with bed bugs at this condo complex, she informed me there have. At this point, I informed Ann I was checking out of the unit and expected a refund for this awful experience. So I checked out, washed all my clothes at a laundromat for two hours, and spent another two hours trying to find new accommodations. The only thing in my price range I could find was a run-down hostel about a half mile from where I was staying. Dealing with this bed bug situation ruined my entire plans for that day, one of the very last days of my trip.

I requested a full refund for all reasons stated above through the Airbnb Resolution Center. Ann’s response, once again, was to simply deny any problem existed, that she kept her condo very clean, and stated she was not refunding my money. Now I have petitioned Airbnb to intervene to get my money back from this money-grubbing host who does not care one bit about her guests. Her unit is #142 of the Kona Islander Inn in Kona, Hawaii. Also check out the overall Yelp reviews of the Kona Islander Inn; they’re really horrible.

Extortion and Invasion of Privacy: Illegal NYC Airbnb

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

Host: When will you be arriving?

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

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

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

Host: Okay.

(24 hours before said time)

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

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

Host: As soon as possible.

Me: Okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Selective Airbnb Scammers: No Damage to Boat

We recently had a lovely stay on a houseboat in Italy. Only a couple of nights, and beautiful accommodation. However, a day and a half after leaving the boat (in exactly the condition we found it) we were accused of stealing a knitted jellyfish that had been hanging up in the boat, and accused of breaking the special toilet installed on the boat. Both my partner and I used the toilet before we left – and locked – the boat for the last time. It worked perfectly for both of us. There was no handover back to the hosts, as the boat was in a private secure marina. We simply locked it, and left the key where instructed. Neither of us have any desire to steal anything from anyone. We are not thieves, or vandals.

The host demanded we pay 200 Euros to repair the apparently broken toilet. When we asked for proof of any damage, none was provided. When we declined to pay, the issue was escalated to the Airbnb Resolution Centre. Having submitted all of the evidence in my possession (which wasn’t much), I waited for Airbnb to be in touch. Today (two weeks later), Airbnb emailed to say that they’d decided we should pay for the damages and, by the time I’d finished reading their email, had already billed my PayPal account.

The host had relatively good feedback. About 90% positive, and about 10% very negative. One or two of the negative reviews detail  experiences eerily similar to my own. The host alleging damage, theft or loss of items, which the guest claims were not damaged/stolen/lost. It seems very suspicious that the negative reviews are of a very similar nature to my experience. I’m very disappointed that Airbnb decided to rule on behalf of these con artists, and even more disappointed that I heard nothing from them until they decided to just take my money.

Please be careful with Airbnb in the future: take plenty of photos or even video when you arrive at the property, and when you leave.

Airbnb Resolution Centre is a Lame Duck

I prefer to not even recollect the awful experience with a past guest, but I’ll try (above all mine is a criticism against Airbnb). Basically the guy started complaining from day one. He seemed to be bent on finding any hidden cracks and obscure issues – a truly nasty character who refused to provide the time he was arriving and then dared to complain he had to wait in his review (like it was someone else’s fault?). However, that was only the start. After three weeks I was left with two broken appliances (cooker and washing machine) and for the very first time I decided to use Airbnb’s Resolution Centre (after having about ten guests and very positive reviews).

The documentation they requested was nearly impossible to provide. The appliances had been there for nearly 20 years (but Airbnb wanted the receipts). Secondly, I wasn’t in the property and most of the documentation requested was out of reach; I was miles away from any “useful” documentation, but I posted the bill from the technician and the receipt for the new washing machine. The technician was paid the day my nasty guest left, as he didn’t notify me of the issue (the cleaners found out) and I had to fix the problem for a new guest arriving the next day. So I had to order a new washing machine just the day after receiving confirmation the old one was properly broken.

The other problem – the gas cooker – we discovered later on (remember: I wasn’t there and couldn’t verify these issues on the spot) that there was no cooking involved. The guy took some pictures of the burned knobs but no picture of any meal he made? A burned chicken? Or any dish ready to enter the oven? Nothing whatsoever. The cooker oven (electrical) was then turned on and left unattended for how many hours? Days? That’s a very good recipe to burn any cooker! It’s called inappropriate use or negligence, but the guy clearly omitted this fundamental detail (of course, I’m not there) and blamed me for being irresponsible for not providing an extinguisher and access to the gas canister and assembly.

Now, I’ve been a guest in certain properties advertised on Airbnb and I can assure you none had facilities which are common in hotels (would you paint an escape route in your house?). So basically the guy wanted the professional approach of an hotel at a fifth of the price. In my opinion we have a typical opportunist who deliberately stays in Airbnb properties (many like mine) where he knows there is no extinguisher to be found and he knows there is no escape route marked on the wall, then deliberately uses these issues as weapons whenever he files a complaint with Airbnb.

So the company is a lame duck; they can’t see this guy for what he is and boot him out of the system. Let’s face it: Airbnb can’t check all these properties and can’t compete with hotels in terms of a professional approach to guests (in general, certain hotels lack that too). This is the root of the problem. When first approached, Airbnb staff seem reasonable; they promise you a full investigation. The truth is that they don’t really want nor need to find out. I’ve received two calls from their headquarters in California during the period of the investigation. The phone rang only once and as I tried to answer, they hung up (so they can safely say, “look we tried to contact you but you didn’t answer the phone”?)

Their task is simple, to discourage complaints and break down any attempts at compensation: you start complaining and they put you under immense stress. It reminds me of the origins of eBay – does anyone remember the reviews? On paper you might have the advantage but Airbnb has the perfect solution: they encourage your opponent to escalate the matter (even without any evidence) and they too are allowed to ask for compensation for issues which were never ever mentioned during the whole stay. For example, my guest never complained about the Internet or noisy neighbours but all of a sudden these and other issues were presented and the guy is encouraged to request the full amount he paid back into his pocket? What kind of mind game is Airbnb playing here? This is the cheapest trick, the kind kids do in kindergarten. The guy shouldn’t be credible (not if there was no previous complaint), so how can Airbnb fall for it? They aren’t failing to investigate, they are just at the mercy of nasty guests like mine. Enough of Airbnb.

Black Mold is Considered Clean and Sanitary to Airbnb

This was my first experience with Airbnb and it went terribly. I really wish I had researched the company a little more before committing to a four-night stay in Myrtle Beach. I thought I had found a great deal and was excited about my trip. Unfortunately, the condo reserved was covered in mold and filth. There was black mold on the curtains, shower curtain, the walls, and the baseboards along with just general filth and stains everywhere else. I went to take a shower and the shower liner was covered in mold and the most disgusting part is that there were pubic hairs on the walls of the shower. There were random stains on the floor that didn’t even look like they had been attempted to be cleaned.

I contacted the owner who said that they would send someone to clean it. The longer I was in the room, the more I realized that this wasn’t a “cleaning lady” job and that someone needed to come in to remove this mold as it was a health and safety risk. I was also wasting precious vacation time on a long weekend away. I waited two hours for a cleaning person to show up. When no one had come, I reserved a room elsewhere assuming that once Airbnb saw my pictures, they would completely be on my side (that’s how dirty the room was) and would feel the same level of disgust. I followed the online steps and submitted a request through the resolution center within the 24 hours stated. Unfortunately, Airbnb restricts the number of characters that you can put in your request so I just tried to give the general run down and attached the pictures of the filth.

When I hadn’t heard anything the next day, I wanted to contact Airbnb directly. It was difficult to find the contact number but I eventually found it and spent quite some time on hold. When I finally spoke with a representative, the woman stated that we needed to give the owner time to respond and that she thought a refund wouldn’t be a problem… she was wrong. Airbnb denied my request for a refund and only provided me with a $200 credit (why would I be interested in using Airbnb again?), not the $475 that I paid on the room. The response from the resolution center claimed that I didn’t give the owner time to have someone come and clean. When I reminded them that I waited two hours and then sent additional pictures of the mold stating that my short stay wasn’t adequate time for them to take care of this issue, the representative then told me that I didn’t follow the proper procedure.

I not only contacted the resolution department within 24 hours but the next day, I called and spoke to a representative who gave me the feeling that I wouldn’t have any issues. As a reminder, their policy states, “at the start of a guests reservation, the accommodation: (i) is not generally clean and sanitary (ii) contains safety or health hazards that would be reasonably expected to adversely affect the Guest’s stay at the Accommodation.” At the start of the reservation… so, at the start of a reservation, the room should be clean. Also, I would think that black mold would be covered under both statements (i) and (ii) considering how dangerous it can be. Apparently not. The room is still up for rent. Airbnb and the host are still collecting their money.

I honestly cannot describe what I’m feeling right now; it is enough to want to cry. $475 is a lot of money to me and this falls in the midst of me trying to save every penny for a wedding. Not only am I out the money for the Airbnb but also the money for a safe hotel that wasn’t covered in mold and stranger’s pubic hairs. I feel like the money was stolen from me. They falsely represented a clean and SAFE room. They didn’t deliver and are keeping my money anyway, even though I didn’t stay at the accommodation. It is so unethical on the host’s side as well as Airbnb and is such a hard thing for me to accept about a company that appeared to be reputable. I have many more pictures but only attached the number of photos that the system allowed. The attached photos are what Airbnb and the host consider to be “generally clean and sanitary” and with no safety to health hazards. They “reasonably expect” the condition of this room not to affect my stay. They are crooks.

Not My Blood on that Airbnb Host’s Duvet

I needed a break. I had work on a business plan that needed to be done but I was distracted and my apartment (and the city) were loud; I wanted silence. A friend recommended a cabin in the woods and the idea took hold. With somewhat limited time – an earlier planned vacation fell through and I was scrambling – the need for a location with wifi, and budget constraints, I decided to join Airbnb after recommendations from friends. The host I found was in one of my favorite spots in British Columbia and in my budget for a four-night stay. I could cook, visit local trails, watch deer on the large property, and walk a pleasant 40 minutes to the nearest town center. I thought it was perfect, and the host agreed it was a great spot for writing especially after I specified I wanted peace and quiet. I thought it was only going to be a retired couple in the adjacent home so I wasn’t worried about loud parties.

When I got there and the host showed me the place, he casually mentioned I might hear the odd noise from the person renting the suite next to mine. I brushed it off, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. The home was older, made of wood, and the walls were very thin. The neighbors woke me up in the morning and kept me up at night (they went to bed later). It sounded like they were constantly renovating or building something. Then the neighboring property had a loud party that went on quite late. I had to leave each day just to get the peace and quiet I went there for. It was disappointing and I didn’t get any work done. Before I left, I made sure my dishes were done and put away. I used the carpet sweeper on the rugs, cleaned the bathroom and made the bed. Things you do when you stay at someone else’s place.

When I got home that evening I opened up my email to find a ranting message from the host saying I had left a bloody mess on the duvet, tried to clean it, and then made the bed to “hide the now wet and bloody mess.” She wanted money for the damages. I was stunned. First off, it was a very hot week (mid-August) and temperatures were in the low 20s C even at night. I pushed the duvet off to the side along with the wool blanket covering it and used only the top sheet, none of which had any stains. I made the bed as a courtesy, and didn’t notice any stains. I was not menstruating and had no wounds that would have bled. If that stain on top of the duvet was blood, it most definitely was not mine.

I explained this to the host along with my surprise at the tone of her accusatory message and asked for more detail about the stain. She provided pictures of an orangey stain she was adamant was blood. After hearing my side of things, she agreed one of her cats could have brought something in and left it at that with the hope I would write a nice review. I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. Not wanting to leave a bad review, I said nothing hoping this was a one time misunderstanding. Airbnb closed the claim and labeled it resolved. I should note they have a 48-hour window once a reservation ends to file a claim. I was relieved.

Three weeks later (too late for either party to leave a review) I received another message stating she wanted money because she couldn’t remove the stain. I declined responsibility, citing the earlier resolved claim. Two days later Airbnb reviewed all the facts and documentation and sided with the host, charging my credit card the security deposit. Since Airbnb’s head office outside of the US is in Ireland, I would have to attempt to reach someone at 2:00 AM, which is when I was receiving messages from them. They are not in the business of hospitality; they are there to “handle the money so you don’t have to.” Successful hosts and guests have been lucky. Please use due diligence and do your research as there is no recourse for you should something go wrong. Better yet, don’t use Airbnb.