Airbnb Screws Guests with Refund Policy

I’ll keep it short. I had a place reserved for a month on Airbnb and the host (Laila) did not have the apartment ready. She told me that she would give me a full refund, but then decided to change her mind that night. That was on a Friday night. She kept telling Airbnb that she would let my family and I stay (my wife and I have a two year old), but would ever answer our calls. Finally, after three days in a hotel, Airbnb cancelled the reservation on her behalf and gave us a full refund. That was on Sunday night. They did not take the word of the guest at all, only what the host said.

As Laila was not ready, I reserved another place in a last-minute situation to get my family somewhere to stay for the month. When I arrived at the apartment I asked the host if he was allowed to rent to me, and he said he wasn’t but that it was ok because he had just bought a house. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with that, and to please cancel the reservation. He told me no, and to get out of his apartment. After he kicked my family and me out, I called Airbnb to explain. They then cancelled the reservation on my behalf, without my permission, and gave me a $2 refund on $2350. I called his apartment complex to confirm that he was not allowed to rent, and they provided me with the portion of the lease saying that he is not allowed to sublease or use online rental sites.

I let Airbnb know and sent them the portion of the lease, but they said that I needed to provide his full lease with his name and address. Seriously? They know that I can’t provide anything other than the contact information for the apartment complex so that they can reach out. I’ve been going back and forth with them for over a week, and they gave me an 80% refund, but at this point it’s looking like he’ll keep $600. Now I have to go through the process of filing a claim with my credit company in the hopes that their lawyers can resolve it. If you have the option, do not use Airbnb. There are other sites like HomeAway and VRBO that will provide you with a much better service, and offer protection for this exact situation.

Hour of Hell: Quick Glimpse at Potential Nightmare

This is the review I left on the host’s page:

I stayed for an hour. When I met Jason to pick up the key, which he was in a hurry to do so he could go watch a football game, he invited me and my under-21 kids to come back and “kick it” with him. He talked and talked about his job and how he broke his hand punching the wall. The bathroom had cockroaches as did the room I was going to stay in. The room is right next to the street so you hear all cars and anyone walking by. Around 8:00, in he came with a friend laughing, talking and turning the TV on very loudly. There is no trash can in the bedroom which I feel is needed. The entire home is very dirty with paint peeling, dirt and dust. My hour here was a nightmare!

This is the host’s reply…

First of all, I want to say that I take great care and effort in hosting Airbnb travelers in Charleston. This review is a slander in order to get a refund where this traveler ended up staying with one of their kids attending CoFC. I offered a complimentary bottle of champagne of which I do to some guests upon their arrival. The distortion of relayed information on how I broke my hand unloading my DJ equipment off a stage the night prior is in no ways hitting a wall, first and foremost. I have never even seen a cockroach on my property and considering the traffic my house sees with guests it gets cleaned daily. No trashcan in the bedroom is a first for a complaint [for this property] which has almost 50 great reviews… The timelines don’t even match up with an hour there when her check in was earlier and I never even saw her after check in. I really hope this isn’t a common practice with this Airbnber with her check ins abroad as it is wrong to a host to do such practices and falsify information. I took the high road and decided not to even leave a review for this Airbnber.

As of November 2016, I have sent numerous requests to the “Resolution Center” to no avail. I am now in contact with our company’s legal department.

Airbnb Changed my Review to Favor Host

Unless I have very bad recall of what I submitted, Airbnb edited my review to eliminate part of my comment about the “value” being over priced for what turned out to be the conditions of the lodging, and Airbnb upgraded the rating I provided in response to their question about “value”. Airbnb also upgraded my “cleanliness” rating from 4 to 4.5 stars. I have been unable to discover any method to communicate with Airbnb about this concern. Ten minutes after I submitted my review, I thought of something that would be a useful addition to my review for future customers, but there is no way to amend or augment the review after it is posted.

Airbnb Edits Review to only Show Positive Feedback

We rented an apartment in Oslo, Norway for two nights early in November. Though offered, there was no Internet, wireless or otherwise. We needed to buzz in to the third floor apartment, but the buzzer did not work. We stood on the street attempting to reach the owner by phone to advise her cleaning lady to come down and let us in. A balcony door handle was broken so the apartment could not be locked securely. No paper towels or cleaning supplies were provided. We mentioned all these details in our review; our one positive comment involved how helpful the cleaning lady was in showing us the apartment and surroundings. This was the only part published by Airbnb.

Terrible Bed, Dildo in Nightstand: Harsh Review

We booked a stay in an Airbnb for four nights in Toronto. The location was great. However, there were a few major issues:

  1. The bed was terrible. There was no box spring or support for the mattress, so it sagged badly.
  2. Not an inch of closet space or a single drawer was available.
  3. The apartment was not very clean.
  4. Living room was totally open and exposed for the neighbors to see; there were no blinds or curtains.
  5. The patio advertised in the listing didn’t have any furniture on it at all.
  6. Light bulbs went out and there were no replacements.
  7. The nightstand had dildos, vibrators and owner’s underwear inside.

I gave an average review on Airbnb. They cut my review and only posted the positive: the location. How would the next renter know about any of the problems? This is the second time I had a problem with an Airbnb rental. I’m not likely to rent through them again.

Host Lies About What Happened During Our Stay

I made a booking to stay at Surry Hill (Sydney) where Debbie was my host. However, in her review to me, she totally lied about what happened and blamed us for all the unpleasantness:

1. She sent me three messages through Airbnb, with general information about her place and how to get there. This was great, but later on during the message exchange, her information conflicted with that of previous messages, so I had to ask again to verify her information. In her review to me, she said that I did not read her email at all.

2. My reaction when she told me there was no lift or Internet in the house was “Ahh??” If that’s considered rude, I wonder what’s the definition of “surprise”? At the time my husband and I made that booking, we both saw the “elevator in the building” option available, but not Internet. However, when we checked again after moving in, that option was gone.

3. When we arrived, we noticed the house was clean, but the detergent she used left a strong odour in the house. We immediately opened all windows to air the unit out, because this is quite normal. After that, when we came back from dinner, the smell was not completely gone; there was still a strong smell near the bathroom, and in the kitchen. We texted the host to ask, but didn’t receive a reply. So we searched the house and noticed that the smell was coming from the dirty toilet, behind the toilet bowl, and from her spices in the kitchen. I spent an hour cleaning up the toilet, while my husband cleaned up the kitchen at the same time.

4. Our second night, when we came back, we heard a very loud humming sound all around the house. We called the host immediately. After three calls, there was no answer. So we went out to check the source of this sound, and noticed it happened to fill the whole block. Ten minutes later, when we already decided to use ear plugs to sleep, she finally called us and offered to help, saying that she’d contact management to settle it. I’m not sure what she did, but around an hour later, the whole block was in a blackout, and the humming sound only stop around 1:00 AM (one hour after the blackout), when my mother in law already passed her bedtime.

5. The next day, Debbie texted me to mention that the previous guest gave her an extremely high five-star rating, and mentioned that we could move out to the hotel across the road; she would give us the refund for the night we haven’t stayed. Although it appeared to be a fair offer, I found it ridiculous she mentioned other guests gave her five stars, which was no use to solve our problem, and also it’s not really fair as we all know how expensive hotels would be for an immediate booking. Therefore we did not take that offer, to save us time and hassle from the move.

6. On our last day, we cleaned the house as our general practice using Airbnb, but I made the mistake of forgetting the rubbish in the hall. I texted the hosts immediately because I already left the keys in the unit; I couldn’t access it to remove the rubbish. Both replied nicely that it was not a problem, which turned out to be a lie. She mentioned in her review as if I purposely left the rubbish in the hall.

I still gave her a good review because I thought it was my mistake forgetting the rubbish in the hall, but I regret my kindness now. The way she replied privately to me and publicly in the review gave me impression she’s a liar. This was my second try with Airbnb. Although the first try was wonderful, this second try really dissuaded me from using Airbnb again, and if there’s another host like that, I’d prefer to go back to traditional hotels.

Families Love This Airbnb! Sorry, No Kids Allowed!

After months of looking for a special location for a quiet family vacation in Wisconsin my husband and my kids decide to take the Airbnb plunge. A few people at my office suggested I was crazy. The phrase “Aren’t you afraid of being killed?” came up more than a few times. A very good friend suggested that we might be video taped. Sadly, it turns out it might have been better if I had been. But I digress. We were tired of paying for tiny overpriced hotel rooms with stiff sheets and cream walls.

I started my search in early August for a quiet fall October weekend. I had specific needs: seclusion, a fire pit, a stream, and trees. Right away I noticed the limitations of the Airbnb search engine. I could not search for these criteria at all. I could only search for the number of guests allowed, the type of living arrangement, location dates, and other qualifiers that did not apply to my needs. I couldn’t search for any key words in my listings… all 350+. So, I searched and searched and searched. I found that many listings did not even match their own descriptions. Places that were listed as “the entire place” when they were half a house or even just a room. Many places said two guests only, but listed additional pricing for more guests.

I started to read the reviews of the actual guests. They made everything sound so good. Always five stars. Rarely did I see a grumpy review. Some reviews were so glowing, they seemed unreal. Certain hosts have little metals by their names. How did they get metals?Tonight, after a long hard week, I gave my kidney, drivers license, social security number, blood type, references, and money to go to an adorable purple cabin in Birchwood, Wisconsin. It was an uncomfortable bit of data collection that was scary… like, NSA, Snowden, scary. Two nights for $465, seclusion, peace, and cookies (all the reviews said we’d get cookies). I sent a message to the host about our four-year-old son. I asked if he was okay to come as he is four and pushed our numbers above the “limit of four people with $15 dollars extra per additional person.” I figured this would result in a price increase… Nope, I got a confirmation.

It was so fast. All the stress of planning and searching started to melt away. Victory! About six minutes after I was charged and my money was whisked away I got a message: the cabin is not safe for kids. Immediately, my mind went to the “guest experience” reviews that lead me to this magical looking place… they would say “great place for kids,” “great place for my family,” and “everything your family needs.” I did not text the host anything except for a question about how to get my money back. I started to cry. The app began to malfunction. I spent an hour or so steaming. Then I got the most “it’s your fault” email I have ever received from a company. Basically, the email said that Angel (yes, her name was Angel) from Airbnb was available to help me and that it was my fault that the host accepted and gobbled up my money before reading my questions.

After several nights of research I did not see the no-children clause for this place so many families have enjoyed. They said, and I quote, “It’s in small red letters underneath the About This Listing section.” Tiny, small, little red letters which probably should have been part of the filters for Airbnb or at least a series of questions about guests and ages. In addition, the host thought my four-year-old would not have been safe around a spiral staircase. The advertisement stated that we should use our best judgement regarding the use of the apparently deadly staircase. My son is very physically capable. I used my judgement. Airbnb called me twice while I started to look for another place to go and their voicemail directed me to an email. They have offered to help me find a place to go via email. How about an apology? How about reviewing your host locations’ reviews to make sure they are consistent? I called their number back just to see what I would get. If I wasn’t having an emergency I should email them. I emailed them.

Tomorrow, my family will wake up to realize our vacation is not happening and our money is gone. The money should be returned in ten days… I guess I’ll take a second vacation then. My boss doesn’t care. It’s not like I work for a living or anything! I might have to call so they can explain this to my kids.

Crazy Host POUNDS on the Door for a Simple Message

Airbnb sent me a review reminder stating clearly that I had through September 9th to post it; I tried to do so and the website wouldn’t let me post a review. When I spoke to customer service on the phone the agent said that there is absolutely nothing they can do to help: the company’s program code is the code; this is just the way it is and there’s nothing anyone can do to change anything in it (and it was more than clear none of them care to, no matter what problems it results in). The email reminder I received gave the wrong information, since in reality, customers only have 14 days on the clock to submit reviews, starting from some nebulous time of day that was never made clear to me throughout the entire 24-minute conversation. In short, their website actually shut off the possibility to post my review sometime part way through the 9th. When I said that sending emails with dated statements like the one I got is plain misleading, the agent repeatedly weaseled out of agreeing and kept either referring to the company’s terms of service – which according to him mean we agreed to everything and anything the company does – or saying the meaningless phrase “I respect your opinion” and nothing else, in an annoyed tone that made it more than clear that he absolutely does not.

There isn’t even any option to file complaints at this company; they only “take suggestions.” You can probably guess how likely I think it is that they ever do anything about any of these suggestions. In short, sometime back in the dark ages they had programmers do the original code on their website, and ever since then everything is set in stone. They just don’t feel like paying anyone to do any additional work to fix anything, and never will.

Why do I want to post this review so much? I had a hellish experience that ruined nearly my entire vacation, and I wanted to warn other users from suffering the same fate. It was so bad that I needed a lengthy mental break after this so-called vacation and didn’t feel emotionally ready to compose my review and go over the whole traumatic experience again until the last day – what should have been the last day I could post it where it rightfully belongs, on that host’s listing.

Below is the original review I was going to post with a 1-star rating. However, I’d like to add something here I didn’t write in the original review because it seemed almost too crazy to be believable, given that this host (somehow) has a very high rating on Airbnb. About a day before I was scheduled to leave the place, the host came up and suddenly started pounding on the suite’s door, shaking the wall so strongly that I thought she must have been using a bat or a brick. As I was in the bathroom at the time, I was unable to come to the door for 4-5 minutes. She kept pounding on the door nonstop the entire time, so violently I was certain she was going to break it down; it seemed she really intended to do so. The noise and duration of it, even through my earplugs, was sheerly unbelievable. The experience for me was like unexpectedly finding myself in a scene from a movie when police are trying to break down a reinforced door. Just about the last thing you want or expect to experience on any vacation. I thought for certain there must, surely, be some terrible emergency going on to justify her doing something so unprofessional and frightening to a paying guest.

When I answered the door (as soon as I humanly could and wearing only a towel), I was first shocked that the woman turned out to not be holding some sort of blunt object with which she’d been performing that violent pounding, and secondly that her hands were not bleeding from it. I asked her if there was some kind of emergency. She said “no,” with an oddly matter-of-fact tone and facial expression of the kind you’d expect to get from a neighbor who’s politely asking to borrow a cup of sugar after having daintily and briefly knocked on your front door – as if what she just did was absolutely normal and she does it all the time. She claimed she was only “concerned” that I hadn’t answered her numerous calls, texts and emails. She didn’t apologize for the insane pounding or seem to realize that she’d just done anything odd.

It became clear during the following conversation that this entire scary episode was only because she wanted to know exactly when I was leaving; she wanted me to clear out as early as possible the next day so she could have time to bring in cleaners before the next guest showed up. She told me that the check out time was 11:00 and I should leave by then, even though her listing clearly states that it’s 12:00. Apparently it was my problem that she had back-to-back guests and scheduling difficulties. The weirdness and unprofessionalism was plain astonishing given the very large number of years she’d been renting out the place, and just how much money I’d paid for this rental in a private residence. She sent a terribly phony sounding apology a full two days after the incident (half blaming me for not answering her mountain of calls and messages on my vacation), clearly because she was wary of a very justifiable negative review or even a complaint to the website.

This incident was just the icing on top of an entire cake of unpleasant things that filled my stay at this place. The original review:

Well, it is a beautiful house, and it is actually within close walking distance of Middlebury town center, the university, etc. (unlike many other Airbnb offers in the area that claim to be close and turn out to be miles away.) & the 2-room suite looks nice. The bathroom also looks nice but certainly not close to hotel standards, as some of the plumbing is noticeably old: the toilet has to be flushed multiple times. Shampoo, conditioner & bodywash are provided, but the towels are the most harshly starched, wooden pieces of fabric I’ve ever touched anywhere – bringing your own is a must. More significantly, if you’re looking for a restful vacation, you’re highly unlikely to get it staying here: – The bedroom has no blackout curtains like in hotels and the windows face east: in summer that means you get to wake up around 5:30 am and be tired all day, every day. – The house is on a heavily used road and traffic starts up early: heavy, noisy trucks and the like drive by all day. – There are frequent emergency sirens heard as well – surprise: the place is near a police station. – There’s a very active business running in this house: employees and customers are in and out all day during the week, including on the 2nd floor right next to the guest suite; the acoustics and creaky wood floors of the house mean that you get to hear non-stop noise anytime you’re there morning to evening.

After I left I discovered a small mountain of emails, calls and texts – some sent before 6:00 AM; I’m glad I had my cell silenced – that the host sent me during the last two days of my stay, most of them desperately wanting to know when exactly I was leaving (apparently they’re not even aware of their own listed check-out time). I didn’t see these at the time as I don’t check my phone or email while I’m on vacation – being as it is, in fact, vacation. But you can judge for yourself how pleasant that kind of thing will be when you’re meant to be resting and relaxing on your rare time off. I would have thought that a note under the door would have sufficed for any urgent communication – like they do in hotels – and been more sensible and professional.

Airbnb Doesn’t Care about its Customers

So, we recently moved to Portugal and needed somewhere to live for three months before our permanent home was ready. We found (what we thought) was a lovely listing on Airbnb. The host was great – the pics looked great – there was a river view, and it was a pretty decent price at around €800/month. When we arrived, we thought, “hmmm… this place does not look as good as the photos.” There was a foul smell coming from the kitchen – but we thought: “ok, we’ll look for another Airbnb in a week or so.”

The host was actually really nice – however, he hasn’t been to his apartment in ages and lives in the north of Portugal. He had the sink looked at and the smell was taken care of. Then the rain came. That’s when we had pots on the floor catching leaks. Next, we noticed a lot of black mould coming through. We brought it to his attention – he apologised and said someone would look into it. At this point we couldn’t find another Airbnb available until July 1st. So we said, “alright, we’d stay for now” – mainly because we’d come down with a cold and case of food poisoning within the first two weeks and couldn’t bear the thought of moving all our stuff in our condition.

So we’re looking and looking for another Airbnb – suddenly – I’m locked out of my account – no notification or anything. I’ve seen other people post with a contact us lock. Nope – I can log in but the website disappears and only the header and footer show. Wtf. No contact info either for Airbnb – they make it a challenge to figure out how to get a hold of them. The best excuse I got for that? “Well, we only want that number used for emergencies!” HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, when an emergency happens the last thing a person wants is to have to stress and become a Google ninja to find their contact information. Makes total sense.

Anyway, with nowhere to go, we negotiated to stay after our booking date ended until we could find something else and sort the place out at a reduced rate. FINALLY, we find an Airbnb phone number and call – the girl says she’ll send the issue to the correct department… crickets for two weeks. I respond to the email they sent me (that says “reply here”) to no response. Now I’m pissed. We’re almost two months in a toxic mouldy place with no way to book another location on Airbnb. Also, I was told if I set up another account it would be against their terms of use. Plus, I want the good feedback I have on my account from previous rentals so people would trust renting to me.

We finally had to set up a Facebook account – thinking we could message them on there. Nope. So we publicly posted with photos of the conditions we have to live in and I can’t access the booking system to get us out of it. They respond with the typical “We’re sorry here’s an emergency number.” That girl? She couldn’t care less. She said, “sorry- because you’re past your booking date when you first got in touch.” Umm, yeah- because you made it impossible to find your contact information!

Anyway, she tells us she sees we’re in the emergency queue but they have a lot and are backlogged (weeks apparently) so we are screwed. We’re both getting sicker by the minute and we can’t find anywhere else to go on holiday because it’s also high season and places have been booked up. Airbnb should be ashamed of themselves letting sites like this be rented to people. I’m not going to lie – our host has been as nice as possible and apologetic – he didn’t realise it was in the condition it was in (or so he claims) but Airbnb staff have been dicks. I don’t appreciate their lack of transparency when it comes to being able to reach them. I’ve included some pics of our lovely place and its mould. The whole place is damp and wet. I’d include the link to our sublet but I still can’t access it.

Airbnb in Colombia: Nearly Tazed by Property Owner

A small group of friends went to Medellín, Colombia for a quick getaway and good times. We rented the place about three weeks prior. Knowing that we wanted to party (make noise), we rented a house with no noise ordinance. The pictures appeared relatively decent. After the house was booked, it dawned on a few of us that there were really no common areas where we could hang out, which is what we wanted to do in the first place! So we emailed the host over three weeks and all she did was dissemble and evade us. When we arrived and voiced our dissatisfaction she continued to evade us. It was clear she had our money and had no intention of making us happy customers. She only paid us lip service. What was interesting was there were good reviews, which for the life of me, I still cannot understand. The breaking point for us was the fact that there was no air conditioning and the place was an oven. We found cockroaches in the kitchen and bedbugs.

We called Airbnb as per a friend’s recommendation and the customer service agent was very helpful. She did say they had an hour to rectify the issues. She did not rectify the issue and the reservation was cancelled and we were given a credit. Ok, phew! Let’s find a decent place. Well as we were packing up, some guy named Gino, who was visibly mad and speaking in perfect American English, knocked on the door, and identified himself as the owner of the building. He was with another guy and they were using walkie-talkies (strange in this day of cell phones). He told us to get out. When I noted we needed to pack our stuff, he said you have five minutes to get out. As we were preparing to leave one of the other people in the group saw a stun gun. Needless to say we hightailed it out of there and never looked back. This rental is way overpriced for Colombia: disgusting, dirty, shady, and DANGEROUS. Stay away from this rental and others run by the same people.