Airbnb’s concept is fair, but you always take a chance. How do you know that the host is a decent, law abiding person? How do you know that the host believes in keeping his place clean and as advertised? I recently spent four nights in the Bay Area, and I can tell you that I used every ounce of patience and kindness towards my host. The host was an older person who had health problems. Compound that with an extended stay in the hospital and the inability to adequately clean their home, and I was bitten by fleas for numerous nights. The stench from not being properly cleaned didn’t help either. What’s more, even after speaking to the Airbnb personnel, I didn’t get the response I expected. I asked immediately to be placed in another unit at their expense. Their response was that I had to document the host’s offenses. I was doing some important work and told them that it wasn’t fair that I had to spend my time, not to mention the possibility of humiliating the host, with the conditions forced upon me. I didn’t get a refund except for the last night, and this was due to the fact that I left two days early and actually booked with a very nice lady in another part of town. I asked them to remove this host from their listing, but I haven’t checked and seriously doubt that they will do so.
We’ve used Airbnb for years, both as hosts and as travellers across four continents. While we have loved many wonderful hosts and delighted in hosting guests, we have stopped using Airbnb in favour of booking.com due to Airbnb’s unethical management. You need to be aware that by using Airbnb you’re supporting a company that:
1. Has an arbitrary review process. We wrote a review of a nightmare host who had positive feedback. Our review didn’t appear, so we had to manually check for it. We had to contact Airbnb to ask why. They said that they ‘should’ have emailed us, and when it turned out they failed to, they investigated why our review wasn’t published. It turned out the host had objected; Airbnb had published her review about us, but not ours due to a technicality (we pasted a text message our host had sent us). We were happy to revise our review by simply removing the pasted phrase. Airbnb wouldn’t allow this. I don’t know of any serious site that conducts such a one-sided arbitrary (and faulty) review process. This was most likely the reason this nightmare host’s feedback didn’t feature anything negative – she uses Airbnb’s arbitrary feedback process to block reviews. So, you can’t trust reviews on Airbnb.
2. Sees nothing wrong with renting out properties that have been stolen. Yes, you read that right: stolen. Check out the campaign on SumOfUs and other sites. Airbnb will rent you property that by international UN law has been stolen in Palestine. Many have written or handed in petitions (over 150k signatories to date) and used other methods to get Airbnb to cease their unethical and illegal practice, all to no avail.
I booked a 76-day trip through Airbnb at the Marina Tower Complex (also known as the Waikiki Marina) in Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii. The property was hosted by Abron (rental agent/property manager).
The first part of the nightmare begins with having to contact Airbnb to give them a new credit card number as my other credit card had been hacked, used for fraud charges, and then cancelled by the bank. While this should have been a simple task, Airbnb turned it into a nightmare with incompetent error after error. The next thing I see is an email from them stating they were taking payments from both cards, failing to cancel the old credit card. I called to correct this, and then they double charged the new card, and tried to credit the now bank cancelled old credit card. They did this despite the fact charges from them on the old card had already been processed some 6 months earlier, and they already had my money long ago. At this point I had now overpaid for the entire stay by more than $1000, and they still showed I owed them even more money on the rental receipt. They stated I would get a refund on my old cancelled card somehow and I would have to wait fifteen business days to see if the money came to me. They also stated that if after that point I still haven’t received a refund, I would have to forward them copies of all my bank statements to prove this money never went into my accounts. I was supposed to be able to do this somehow while sitting in a hotel room with nothing but a cell phone. They further stated I would have to remove the old credit card number from their site myself but their software would not allow me to view or cancel it from a cell phone. They told me to go find a computer, which I did, only to find I could not login to my account as it is connected to my gmail account on my home computer and can’t be accessed on a different computer. Furthermore, they then stated their software wouldn’t let me remove this old card until the end of the trip, two months from then. While they offered apologies and an account credit for both the numerous human errors and software failings, I had wasted too many hours with them and my bank to count on this matter mostly sitting on hold for 30 minutes at a time trying to get through to call centers.
The second part of my nightmare with Airbnb began with a request for help in dealing with problems with the vacation property and the host. The vacation property had one of its elevators break down and management decided to leave it down until major repairs could be finished later. The other elevator was only partially working as well, where the call button would trip out on circuit overloads, and the elevator would not stop at your floor most of the time. People would be generally walking down the stairs, and the property is 40 floors high. To add to this problem, cockroaches began to appear in my unit due to some plumbing done in my area and a couple untidy tenants on the same floor according to building management. The rental agent/host (Abron) for the unit refused to have the unit sprayed until several weeks had passed to get a cheap $10 end of the month spray deal, arranged by building management. He maintained he had to wait so the other units on the floor could be done at the same time to make it effective. Since it became apparent no other units were going to be sprayed on my floor and the rental manger still refused, I was forced to buy cockroach pesticides myself, but they didn’t seem to help. I decided to call Airbnb to see what they could do to help. Big mistake. They decided to penalize Abron regarding the cockroach issue with a 20% reduction in the rental rates until the unit was sprayed. However since they could only charge him this penalty in the last days of the rental agreement as he had already been paid in full until well after the the spraying would take place anyhow, he terminated the contract early, to avoid paying the penalty. A 20% reduction probably amounted to all he would have made as a rental agent anyhow. Airbnb allowed this, stating hosts can terminate if they choose to, and I was forced to find another rental for that last 17 days of my vacation, having to pay higher daily rates and double cleaning fees. Airbnb and Abron (host) both minimized their losses at my expense. Airbnb claimed Abron would not be able to rent through them for those same 17 days, however he could rent it through any other means, for additional income and to come out ahead. Airbnb only credited me part of the fees they collected from me on what became 2 rental agreements with them. Airbnb should have paid all my losses associated with their misguided intervention on this property agreement. Therefore, I will avoid ever using Airbnb again, and/or make sure to inquire that the so called “Host” is an actual owner, and not just a rental agent of the unit, who would have more to lose by terminating an agreement with either the tenant or Airbnb.
Overall, I would call this an uncomfortable Airbnb experience. The host was Beverley in North Port, Florida and the room was called “It’s a large private bed and bath” Yes, it was clean, and Beverley provided 3 mini bagels plus some fruit, which was nice. The bed was super high and a bit wobbly, and the mini fridge goes off loudly for intervals in the night–but those are non-issues for a moderate/deep sleeper. However, much as I am the kind of guest who made myself scarce and basically used the room to sleep each night, I didn’t get the sense that common areas including the kitchen or living room were truly open to guests. That was one of a few unspoken rules/expectations that I encountered here, and I was walking a bit on eggshells by the end. I suggested things like the 10pm curfew could be put up front in the house rules section for everyone’s benefit. That there are children in the house REALLY changes the dynamic. I was accosted on the 2nd night by Beverley for coming home at 1am–she said her children were disrupted from their routines from asking about my whereabouts and the noise even though I tiptoed in each night. I felt bad and her children deserve to sleep, but this was something I completely didn’t anticipate. I figured if someone’s putting up her house for airbnb that they would have thought of the possibility that the guest may not follow their sleeping schedule. I didn’t pay $40/night to come home early every night on my vacation for fear of disturbing the sleep of children, and would have considered that before booking, if I knew that was an expectation.
There were other things which I won’t go into, because I don’t want to speak ill of a person who seems like an OK person, but the place just wasn’t suited for Airbnb. She did say some things that were slightly racial (I am Asian) and I talked to her about that and will give the benefit of doubt. Yes, I reached out to Beverley privately before writing this review. We talked out some things up there, but it was not an easy convo (she accused me of some things that I did not do and insinuated that her daughter had abilities to perceive when something is “wrong” with someone, and that she perceived that about me when she first saw me, which was VERY uncalled for) and there are some other things that I am leaving unsaid. I don’t think Beverly is a bad person, and I wish her well. I made one mistake which I apologized to her for, which was bringing my boyfriend in for 15 min after I had given her an estimated time frame about an hour earlier. He came later and I forgot to text her before entering the house, thinking we would just drop off the items quickly, but when we stayed a few more minutes to apply sunscreen before heading out, she had covertly entered the house and saw/heard us, and later accused me of purposely coming in the house with my bf while she went out, which was so not true. It was just a mistake on my part and I did apologize.
Conclusion: I just don’t think this was a house that was ready for prime time on Airbnb. If I could do it over, I should’ve just paid more to get a place where I could feel free to be a normal person operating on my own time and feel free walking around. I wanted to post this since it couldn’t get posted on Airbnb in time.
I was looking for accommodation via Airbnb so I completed all the verification steps as requested including email verification as well as mobile phone verification, I then got the ”pay now” message, and I paid. I then was allowed to book a place and I have done so. Then AFTER I booked the place and AFTER I paid for the place, surprisingly I got a ”just one more” verification process is required, a Drivers Licence – message. I followed instructions, tried to upload a pic of my Drivers Licence but couldn’t, I tried (as per instructions on the screen) to place in front of the Web cam and again could not do so – for four (4) hours. So basically I lost my money.
I googled the review section of Airbnb and looks like losing money and time and being ”transferred” to another agent/department and other horror stories from Airbnb is common. With me it is only money gone to the garbage bin, oh and half a day attempting to upload a picture of the Driver’s Licence. I am not against the DL verification, I am against asking for it AFTER the payment is done – this is where I lost my money, if the verification request had been BEFORE the payment, I would never have paid – oh and there is nobody to talk to, nobody to contact. Smart Airbnb, tricked me into this sh@#t/ So after posting this, they suddenly got back to me with ”regarding your offline ID, our system was unable to accept it because the image you uploaded was a mirror image of the ID” Well, first of all you are missing my point, why the payment was made BEFORE completion of the verification process, payment should be the very LAST thing to do. Hasn’t your Web Master heard the term ”process flow”?? Deliberately and intentionally placing additional processes and verifications especially those that not possible to fulfill AFTER payment is done clearly indicates to me that those verification steps are there to avoid providing the services – just grab the money and run. So I was robed inside my own house in broad day light!
In regard to the process itself, well the web message was to ”place the ID in FRONT of the web cam” – and you DELIBERATELY asked me to create a mirror image – which your web ”can’t read” – in one word it’s called a ”scam”! There was NO mention or error displayed at the time stating that the problem was ”MIRROR” imaging, the only message coming up was to place the Drivers Licence in front of the Web Cam and take a shot – which I did for 4 hours continuously. SCAM SCAM SCAM!
I don’t think the Australian Government should permit this sort of Internet Scam to operate and a draft letter to key parliament members is now finished and is about to be sent – I will be requesting to outlaw Airbnb – DO NOT DO ANY BUSINESS WITH AIRBNB – THEY COULD BE FORCED TO CLOSE ANY TIME NOW!!!!!!
For our holidays in Mexico City we reserved two apartments from Airbnb. About $800 USD for 17 nights. The dollars are gone, but the lodging was unacceptable. Neither of our apartments was ready to use when we arrived, we had to look (and pay) for other places to stay. To put it plainly – airbnb is a disaster, don’t believe the colorful pictures, the euphemistic descriptions. Never agree to “strict” cancellation rules because if you do, you’re really trapped. After almost 24 hours of travel to reach our destination we arrived about midnight in the first apartment. The fridge and kitchen cabinets were full of left-over food packages, the wardrobes were filled with used clothes, shoes and textiles of the “host”. Hair everywhere, on kitchen and bath towels, bed linen, sofa, carpets etc… it was disgusting. We did not even open our luggage and left the apartment immediately to look for a decent hotel. Because of the bad experience, we decided to have a look at the second apartment before moving in. The place was in a quite grubby district, the forecourt was full of construction waste and the apartment was 28 steep steps upstairs (for me an awkward challenge). None of this was mentioned at all in the description. To reach airbnb help you need a lot of time (and patience) to navigate through the site, through a lot of predefined answers only to get stuck in a dead end or circles. When you finally succeed, you should not really expect answers or support from airbnb. We have to add, to be fair, that after many arguments back and forth airbnb finally agreed to refund 270 USD. Obviously airbnb does not invest any time or money investigating to check their “hosts”, nor pictures and descriptions, nor the guests reviews to confirm their validity. The risk falls entirely on you, the guest!
A year ago I went to Hawaii, my favorite place. The flight was late and rental car was a no-show, so I was late arriving at the host location – it was between 8 and 9 pm. Half way through the stay, the host asked me to change rooms, but that required cancelling and re-booking. I had lost my credit card so the old one did not go through. I tried to reach airbnb to enter a new credit card number. The host also tried. We could not reach anyone. I offered the host cash but they refused, and then said that I had been nothing but trouble and told me to leave immediately or they would call the police! I am a 60-something, quiet, non-smoking, meditator-type. I went to a local hotel but some money was owed to me, and airbnb refused to refund it. They gave me some worthless coupons. They are worthless because the hosts of Puilani on the big island wrote a bad review of me and now I am not able to make other bookings and use the coupons. Airbnb still refuses to refund the money, or remove the host review. They have a poor business model for the travel industry. They need to have real people available real time to handle these kinds of issues. As for the hosts, they seemed to me to be burned out on hosting and unable to flow with the inevitable problems of travelers. I am very unsatisfied.
A guest retaliated about having to pay to replace my air mattress (a crucial item I needed for future guests) after they admitted, in writing, to damaging it so badly that they removed it from the property (threw it away) while I was not home (which is technically theft). Their retaliation was to write me a negative review, where they said they looked in my (closed) drawers and cabinets(!), and then revealed my personal items that they didn’t like or agree with its presence in the home. I asked AirBnB to remove or edit this review to take out the mention of my personal items. I had a year’s worth of entirely positive reviews and was nearly qualified for AirBnB’s elite Superhost status, and this was a first-time AirBnB user obviously seeking revenge for something they did wrong, but AirBnB’s customer service repeatedly told me they agreed my situation was unfortunate and morally wrong of that guest, but they stood by their policy, which goes like this: ANYTHING in your home is open for guests’ use, viewing, and mentioning in a review, so long as they do not reveal personally identifiable financial information (ex. driver’s license number, tax ID, or bank numbers). I had previously removed that stuff from my home, but I had no idea your guests can write about pretty much anything else, even if it is out of sight and in an obviously hidden or private place that most polite humans would never dare to look or publicly admit that they did look there. I specifically confirmed with AirBnB that their policy means guests CAN write reviews about your prescription medications, health info, religious artifacts, political artifacts, or any other object which someone, somewhere might find offensive, or that you might deem too “personally identifiable” or too private to be mentioned on the Internet. I could not believe a company knowing let go of one of their best customers in exchange for allowing an evil new customer to remain. This was not even ALL of the bad things that this one guest did or that I suspect they did, but those other issues are a one-on-one guest problem, not an AirBnB problem. The above described AirBnB policy and customer service issues are the reasons why I will never use AirBnB again and encourage all others to not use them for hosting or staying!
If you’re wondering if negative reviews get deleted by Airbnb, it is absolutely true. All the host has to do is telephone a representative they communicate with and explain why the negative criticism they received is nothing more than made up gibberish. During a recent stay at a Airbnb, the host showed me how easy it is to request a rating/review to be removed. The host complained about every previous guest. It makes you wonder what the host has in order for you after your departure. I encourage you to read the many reviews on the Airbnb website and you’ll find it quite hard to find a negative review based on bad experiences. 99% of the guests cannot have a “wonderful” experience, not even at a five star hotel. In addition, if you’re looking for privacy, as you would in a hotel, Airbnb is not for you. There are hosts that have locations that are completely host-free. It’s best to contact the host and ask how private your stay will be, while hoping the host doesn’t consider your question as offensive. In addition, remember that many hosts open their rooms because they’re either quite poor and want to execute Martial Law to their guests. I am in no way suggesting that guests should be wasteful, but keep in mind that you are paying for the room, paying for cleaning fee, requested to make a donation if you launder clothes, etc. Give it a try and experience what the pros and cons are. Unless you’re on a strict budget, you may find it much better to stay at a reputable hotel.
Turned up at apartment in Prague that one review had described as “luxurious” What a joke that was ! Didn’t even stay for 1 night it was that bad! Asked for a refund. Was told no. Asked Airbnb to help – probably the worst customer service that I have ever come across. Obviously I didn’t get even a parttial refund! Will never use them again which probably says it all!