I have had several problems with Airbnb in the past and I am a Superhost. This time was so crushing. I specifically stated I have a no pet policy because my oldest is extremely asthmatic to dogs and cats. I came home to find the guests brought a dog into my home and it defecated all over the house. It was disgusting. After 40 emails and pictures, Airbnb would not refund the carpet and house cleaning bill. Sadly, this is not the first time Airbnb has sided with a guest over a Superhost. I had a guest cancel on me at the last minute and I have a strict cancelation policy; Airbnb refunded the guest in full. Airbnb customer service is perhaps the worst I’ve encountered. You cannot actually speak to Trust and Safety and when you call the help desk they claim they have no way of getting a hold of the team. What is the point of a security deposit if a guest can break house rules and not be held accountable?
As long term Airbnb users, we can say it that is starting to go south and management doesn’t care. Firstly the currency conversion fees: when I book in a location with a different currency I am forced to use Airbnb’s woeful rates (more profit to Airbnb). I’d rather use my bank’s rates, but can’t do that anymore. Next we have awful hosts (looking at you NYC). What happens here is you enquire about a booking for given dates at the advertised price. The host comes back with a ‘special offer’ which is much higher than the advertised rate and may or may not include a ‘please pay me XXX on arrival in cash as well’. Nope, the calendar price is what we will pay. Suddenly, ‘I’m sorry the house is no longer available’. A bit of a grey area, but customer support doesn’t really care as there has not yet been a confirmed booking. Although a confirmed booking does not seem to matter either, as my next and last gripe will explain.
This has happened twice now. We make a booking, it is accepted, paid and confirmed, and we are all happy. Then sometime before the arrival date, the host decides to increase the price. We refuse, and ask Airbnb for advice. In the meantime, the host contacts Airbnb and they cancel on the host’s behalf. There are no penalties to the host, who is also a Superhost. We are left to find alternative accommodation and Airbnb doesn’t even follow their own terms and conditions.
Having hosted someone from Italy for 12 days in our Australian apartment in January we are still waiting for payment. We received an automated email saying we would be paid on January 23rd. We have been on Airbnb’s books for four years now and have Superhost status. Despite numerous calls to their call centre – the staff of which point blank refuse to pass you on to the management level and if you persist with the request, cut you off – nothing has happened. All they do is pass a so-called ticket to their non-responsive team. Despite many emails to this group no one comes back and now my emails are bouncing back saying they are not deliverable. I wonder what filter they are using to do this? Is it fraud? The work of the FBI or maybe Brian Chesky? On top of this, someone within their organisation has switched my daughter’s bank account details back to those of one that was closed in 2014. So despite receiving money being deposited in 2015 and 2016 now it has been changed back. Hence my use of the word fraud. I can’t help but notice articles in Forbes Magazine where this is now a worldwide issue regarding non-payments and the behaviour of their call centre. It also mentions that the company is worth $25 billion, which clearly adds up to a lot of non-payments. I also noticed that they had a TV ad shown during the Super Bowl. What’s the cost of one of those, three million dollars?
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.
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.
I was a superhost. My listing was always booked which means I was making Airbnb the 18% commission they get from each booking. My reviews were amazing, averaging to 4.7 Stars. My location prevented getting 5 stars. I am 6 miles from the local attractions and most found that 6 miles was worth not giving 5 stars, but that’s okay. Many of my guests just raved about how I was the best Airbnb experience they ever had. I was listed with instant book, meaning that I welcomed anyone into my home that booked. I never cancelled the first guest. My criminal background is clean as a whistle and I never did anything that would go against Airbnb’s Terms of Service. Hurricane Matthew came around and I had many guests cancel. That was all good. Of course this applied as extenuating circumstances and guests received full refunds. The Hurricane was on a Friday. On Monday I checked my inbox and saw nothing but cancellations. I was panicked, scared, and in disbelief. So because I was a superhost I had a direct phone number for Airbnb that got priority service. I was panicked but I knew that Airbnb would help me fix this right away as I figured it was just a glitch in their system. The customer service representative who answered the phone was also shocked, said that they would escalate it, and a manager would call me in a few hours.
So I waited. The call never came so I called back in four hours. I was then told that I do not exist in the Airbnb system and they could not find my account. However, I was told not to worry; they would take care of this and a manager would call me back. We played this phone tag game for three days. Finally I received an email from Airbnb and told me I had been dismissed from Airbnb and this decision was irreversible. I was told that no further support would be available for me and that they were under no legal obligation to provide a reason. They cancelled my account.
I was devastated. I was in love with hosting. It was the best experience of my life. I never received any bad guests or reviews. I had one guest whose father in law passed away a few hours before boarding a flight to come and spend the weekend with me. Needless to say, calling Airbnb to cancel was not her highest priority. I offered her a full refund and she refused. So I told her when she is ready to rebook, the trip would already be paid when she arrived. I advised I would just credit her the money towards a future booking. The greatest sadness I felt through all of this was that I could not honor that lady’s booking. I do not have her contact information as all of that was removed when Airbnb cancelled my account without warning or explanation. One guest cancelled six hours before his arrival time and Airbnb gave him a full refund and a $100 credit to stay elsewhere. I feel abandoned and just saddened by the loss of hosting and all that the Airbnb community stood for. Despite all the horror stories you may read I was in love with the program. I still do not have anything negative to say about the company other than the way they cancelled the guests with no explanations and no warnings. I live in a major city so the chances of finding last minute accommodations are slim to none.
I had my listing posted as having a STRICT cancellation policy, due to the fact we all know how guests can be. I did not realize that Airbnb can override these restrictions. I just had t0 give a full refund to a guest that canceled the same day they were supposed to arrive. I had it marked as strict, as I did not care why they would need to cancel. I know if I were the one cancelling a reservation I had made somewhere I would not have received a dime back. I had expenses: hiring a cleaning company on a Sunday in order to provide accommodations; as well as having to drive an hour to pick up a key that was left out for this guest. Airbnb continued to give every penny back to this guest, with of course their own fee. A few days earlier I received the “superhost” badge… what a joke. No more, lesson learned. They will not make another dime off of my property. I do not see how someone can control another’s property like this. I’m very disappointed with Airbnb.