Left in the Dark: Abandoned in the UK

I travelled in the UK Sunday for my one-night stay, planning to arrive late evening at 10:00 PM. During the day the host asked if I would switch to an alternate property. I understand now that this is common tactic from disreputable hosts. When I arrived at the property, there were three people having a discussion in the hallway – they were other residents in the same property. I headed upstairs to my room, but found it locked. As a surprise to me, the door opened and there was already someone else in the room. I phoned the host, but his phone was turned off. When I got back downstairs, the couple in the hallway had exactly the same problem. The third person was a regular resident, and he said: “At this time of night, just take any of the empty rooms.”

The couple took one such room. I investigated another but it was clear the sheets had not yet been changed from the previous resident. I tried to phone the host again but there was still no answer. I sent the host a polite text message to say I was giving up, and used my phone to book a room at the nearest hotel. Later that evening I exchanged text messages with the host, who promised a full refund, and apologised. Monday I had a busy day at the office, and then traveled home. On Tuesday, the host refunded me, but not all my money. When I pointed out that I was still owed a small amount the host said that it was Airbnb’s responsibility.

Here is where the problems start. First of all: a navigation hell going around in circles to get a refund. All options pointed me towards the host. Eventually I found a chat link. The customer service representative could see the refund message from the host, but told me they have to check my story with the host. I don’t like my word being challenged like this. Then customer support told me that if I really did not get my room there would be penalties for the host. I wondered why the host would volunteer to take such penalties? Surely it is in their interest to say, “I turned my phone on later, and if he had waited I would have cleaned and prepared another room.”

I argued for 30 minutes in the chat window trying to explain to customer service that I’m only asking for my £5 booking fee to be refunded, and do they not understand how foolish it is to upset customers. She only had one answer which is to quote the policy of checking with the host. I gave up trying to change her mind. Later I received an email from customer service saying I could not get a refund because I would not allow them to contact the host. This is definitely not true; I remember saying it was pointless, and not good service. Many emails have gone back and forth with Airbnb. It seems that each time I complain about the process, they take it as a reason not to perform that process. If you ever fail to get the promised room that you booked, cancel through Airbnb and rebook again if you choose to. Don’t let the host promise an alternative, or a refund. Don’t deal with the host. I don’t normally print the booking receipt, but the agent said that the Airbnb phone number is on the receipt, and with hindsight I should have called that number when I was left in the dark without a room.

Payment Not Received. What Can Airbnb Do?

A lady stayed for five days in my flat alone. Everything was fine then I noticed I never received payment, £898. Airbnb never told me; I noticed in my bank account. I have spent six weeks calling their San Francisco and London numbers over 30 times. I have not had contact from anyone on the payment team or a case manager. I have emailed constantly and messaged the guest myself with no luck. I have posted bad reviews on Instagram and asked them to DM me. No luck. So the lady has been allowed to stay for free in my home. It’s outrageous. I’ve been a host for three years. I have 80 reviews. This means nothing to them. You cannot get in contact with anyone. I very much doubt I will get my money; the guest is still listed on the website so she can do same thing again. I have contacted Watchdog in the UK and informed the guest and Airbnb. Six weeks and no contact. Being told my case is the highest priority for weeks now is just rubbish. If I don’t keep contacting them they will just ignore what happened. I never got compensation from a guest for a plumbing issue which came out of my security deposit. After so many messages I never got more than £89. I will go to the London newspapers with this story as the public needs to know that if they host they may never get paid.

Airbnb London Hell: Host Refuses to Cancel

I had booked an apartment with Isable and Hyder in London. I had made my booking at the end of October and paid three months in advance (all emails and payments are well recorded and can be provided if needed). Prior to making our journey to the apartment, we had contacted the host in the morning to reconfirm the booking and ensure everything went smoothly. The host had confirmed on several occasions that the apartment was ready for us. This was confirmed on the evening of December 28th, the next morning, and while we were on our way to the apartment.

When we arrived the consigner informed us that there was someone in the apartment we had booked. We tried to contact the host on several occasions and did not get any response from her; she avoided taking our calls. We finally managed to get ahold of the host, who then tried to relocate us to another apartment, which was much smaller in size, dirty and quite disgusting, and without a working shower, heathers, cooker or oven (recorded in photographs above). We informed the host that we would not be able to stay in such an apartment and she asked us to cancel our booking without any refund or compensation for the trouble they had caused us. However, we informed them we would be willing to take another apartment, similar to the one we had booked, but this was unavailable. The host then informed us they would compensate us £100, which was very insignificant, and an insult to the damage caused. We refused to cancel the booking and went through the process of a booking a hotel in the same area, which cost much more. At 7:02 PM the host decided to cancel the booking and a refund of £1041 was made to our PayPal account. However we had spent a lot of time and money in planning our five-day trip: £100 in household shopping including fruits and vegetables, £28.67 for our Uber from Harrow to Saint Edmund’s Terrace, £8.98 to Forset Court, and £25.24 back to Harrow. Our hotel booking is now £510 per night for three people and we are staying a total of five nights, totaling £2,550.

Guests Refuse to Use our Plates, Cup and Cutlery

We have been hosting with Airbnb for two years now and have had over 400 guests (we live near an airport in the UK) from 30 different countries. There have been mostly very good experiences but obviously with over 400 guests you do meet a few weirdos. This one booking was for six weeks for a guy living in Australia coming to the UK for a training course. He was an aircraft engineer and very nice guy in general. However, I noticed from the first day that he seemed to have an issue with using the cutlery, cup, and spoon provided in his room and was downstairs in the kitchen, i.e. washing the items then cleaning them quite thoroughly. I thought this was very strange as we make sure everything is spotlessly clean. A couple of days in and he was asking for more toilet rolls to be put in the bathroom as he was going through at least one a day. It seemed like he had a cleaning fetish of some kind or a compulsive cleaning disorder.

Anyway, we had to go to our property abroad for a month and left him alone in the house (our part of the house we can keep locked so he only had access to the kitchen, bathroom, and garden). On our return he was due to leave in a few days but on the last day asked me if I wanted to keep the cutlery, plate, bowl, and mug that he had purchased new because he did not need to take them back to Australia. He obviously did not want to use our items and we found this to be incredibly rude, to say the least.

Another time we had a young girl arrive for three weeks with a large suitcase and a big box full of cooking pots and herbs, spices, and food. This girl was cooking Indian food twice and sometimes three times a day because she didn’t want to eat food from the supermarket. The house stunk of Indian food for the whole three weeks and I was having to apologise to our other guests (as we rent two rooms in our home) every day due to the smell. Lastly, we had a girl stay for a couple of weeks and she had to be told to stop using the kitchen at midnight. She was always cooking (like a frying pan full of eight chicken legs) late at night and the smell would move throughout the house, even into the bedrooms. Since the last guest, we added “no cooking after 8:00 PM” to the house rules.

My First Airbnb Experience: A Mentally Unstable Host

I’m an incurable optimist, so I’ll start this write-up with the prelude that I’ve been treated incredibly well by so many people here in London. I’ve been treated to a free meal, drinks, bus rides and a gym visit; people have consistently lavished me with admiration and kindness here. Everybody except for my Airbnb host, that is. I had to submit a more concise version of this review through the website, but I had so much more to say about the nightmare than 500 words. This is the unedited version.

There should be a 0 stars option. When I stayed with the host, he must have gone off his meds. From the start, he overstepped his bounds and was obnoxious. By the end of my stay, it was obvious that he’s mentally unstable. I witnessed him being a decent person to the gay couple who left the day after I arrived, so I know he can sometimes be personable. I booked because he had good reviews. He’s chatty, and so appears friendly on first meeting, but I think maybe he’s bipolar and I got the unhinged version. Even his chattiness is telling and catty though: often it’s negative put downs of his previous and pending renters (mostly women), which tells me more about him than it does about them. Maybe if you’re a gay couple, he’d treat you well. However, my experience was atrocious and the host went out of his way to inconvenience me.

First, after my booking, he asked me to bring a “small” parcel to him from my country to avoid duty fees. I agreed to his request but the package turned out not to be small and was the size of half my carry-on suitcase. It was fragile as well, and I was liable for its protection. He was not empathetic to what an imposition that was, having the nerve to tell me how much luggage he brings on a trip as a justification that I should have the space to spare. As lip service to putting me out like that, he promised to make me a meal during my stay but of course that didn’t happen. In the flat on the morning after my first night there, the host asked me if I needed the shower as he wanted to do household washing in the tub. I said I didn’t need it then, but that I would after I came back from the gym later in the afternoon. A few hours later (after the other renters had checked out and I was left alone with him), the host had continued to commandeer the bathtub and wouldn’t allow me to have a shower after I’d returned from the gym. He wanted me to wait for an hour and 45 minutes. It was really inconvenient, as I had a scheduled event I wanted to go to.

He then argued that I was miffed I couldn’t access the shower when I needed it because I wasn’t familiar enough with the principals of Airbnb. We ended up bickering about it. “This is not a hotel, this is my house,” he said, as if expecting to get to the shower when I’m paying him for the rental is some diva-like demand, even after giving him several hours notice that I’d be showering in the afternoon. I ended up having to leave without one as I was running very late and he still hadn’t made the shower available. If showers are only allowed in the morning, then the ad should state as much. Coincidentally, at that event I went to, I met a lady who also did Airbnb hosting, so naturally I talked to her about what I’d been experiencing with the host where I was staying. She assured me that his behavior is very atypical and she suggested that I cancel. I actually didn’t have to, though, because the situation got even worse.

I got back late that night. Shortly thereafter I got to hear him having loud sex in the room next door. The next morning, I was rudely awakened by him, yelling and accusing me of putting a pink dye (as some kind of sabotage to a duvet) into his dryer, which I never touched. Truth be told, I wasn’t even aware of where the dryer was (nor do I travel with pink dye). He raged that he’d contacted Airbnb about this fabricated act and that I would have to leave the rental immediately, even though I had another night left on my stay and two nights booked on future reservations later in my trip. It seemed a ruse to get the rental cancelled so that I wouldn’t have a chance to poorly review him for the previous grievances. “Wow” is all have have to say; it was completely crazy and unethical. So of course I had no problem leaving his vortex of insanity.

The stress of packing up to leave unexpectedly and finding a new place to stay on the fly was not something I bargained for; it was actually the opposite of why I booked an Airbnb in the first place. To top it all off, he spent the next couple of hours yelling at me through the door (whilst I packed and tried to sort things out with Airbnb customer service over the phone), threatening to call the police on me if I didn’t get out faster. He has the lack of empathy and calculation of a sociopath. I’m not sure he has the ability to cognitively understand the ways he inconvenienced me; he’s unstable. It was a horrible nightmare of a first experience with Airbnb. As he’s shown no qualms about making things up about me, I expect him to continue his lies on his review of me, potentially jeopardizing my stay with other hosts in the future. But it may not matter as he’s soured me on room rental through the site, so much so that I write this from a hotel; I’d prefer not to be suddenly thrust into living with a obnoxious and crazy stranger who I would not have otherwise chosen. But for their part, I will say Airbnb customer service was gracious and empathetic about his treatment of me, and they took my side, giving me a partial refund on the nights I already spent there, and a full refund (despite the host’s strict cancellation policy) for the remaining bookings with him. The long and short of it is: save yourself the hassle and steer clear of this nutjob.

Airbnb Providing Refunds to Gift Cards

First of all, I want to say that I’m really an Airbnb fan and I’ve used it in Southeast Asia, China, and Korea. Every time I got a surprising experience and I’ve been trying my best to recommend the site to my friends (you can see the list of friends I’ve invited in my account). Now here is the problem: I booked a house in London for my next trip there on January 27-28, 2017 and I fully paid for it with my Airbnb gift card. The host just cancelled this booking today without any communication ahead of time. What he did really caused a problem with my trip planning. Because we have four people in our group, we need three beds total and as you know, the houses in London are always very hot (difficult to book) – that’s why I booked it three months prior. Now I need to choose another house in London, which becomes more difficult. I saw Airbnb’s statistics during my booking which showed only 13% of houses were available in London for those dates. What’s more, I checked my booking today but found that the host had already cancelled my booking on November 3rd; Airbnb didn’t send me this information until today, November 29th. I want to ask for the reason, but there’s another problem. As I said before, I paid for this booking with my gift card one month ago and now I found Airbnb said they provided a refund directly to the gift card. After my payment, I just threw away the card, code and all. I need the refund to come back to my account so I can use it to book another house in London. In brief, I have nothing and lost 1087 RMB. Meanwhile, I don’t know how to spend that night in London as houses for four people are difficult to find now. I think Airbnb is always responsible for its customers and I look forward to receiving compensation from them.

Dirty, Dusty Apartment in London: No Refunds Given

So I went with my wife to London the week of November 1st because she had an interview on November 2nd. We rented this “clean” place from Airbnb. We got to the apartment at midnight (there were only late flights out of Milan) and as soon as we started to make ourselves comfortable, I realized that the place was dirty. Now I understand we, Brazilians, have different standards of cleanliness. But the place was full of dust, and a lot of spiderwebs and spiders (3-4 in the bedroom alone) were inside the apartment. Under the mattress there was a lot of dust. Dust makes me feel sick and I knew that if I slept there I would wake up feeling terrible the next morning. I can’t imagine how my wife would feel, having a job interview the next day.

So at 2:00 AM, I decided we would leave this place and I booked a hotel room through Booking.com. We walked outside on a 4-degree night to the new hotel, where we could use a shower not full of rust and dirt and have a proper night’s sleep on a nice and clean bed. Funnily enough, the next morning we canceled our reservation through Airbnb and filed for a refund. It took until today (15 days) to received confirmation from AirBNB. And their decision is that they won’t refund us. We stayed at that place for two hours. We left in the middle of a cold night, to walk to an hotel because I knew we would have woken up sick with all the dust. The host didn’t agree with our request for a refund (what a surprise), even though we stayed only two hours. I can expect that from someone who has a dirty place, but I would expect more from Airbnb. I won’t ever rent anything else from them and I urge you to use other methods for finding a place when needed. When the time comes, Airbnb won’t help you at all. In our case, I ended up spending twice what I had in mind: a full reservation on Airbnb that I canceled within ten hours of my arrival, after having stayed there only two hours, and the hotel reservations. I hate Airbnb.

P.S.: My wife can’t even post a bad review on the apartment because we canceled our reservation within ten hours. Funny how I can’t warn other travelers about how this apartment is a bad option (if you like clean and dust-free places), but Airbnb can charge me the full amount.

Crazy First Time Airbnb Guest in London

I live in a penthouse in central London and I was renting out my room; I mistakenly allowed guests for just one night. Someone decided to book at midnight for the next day and I accepted. As soon as I accepted she sent me a message asking me to light up the balcony with candles, organise a charcuterie board and have champagne on ice (attached image) – this was after I accepted and this set off massive alarm bells, (Also cheddar? Honestly, she really is that basic if she can’t ask for any other cheese). She was a total nut job. I am not a concierge.

I couldn’t cancel because of the last-minute issue. I met her and her partner; she was about 28 years old, looked nothing like her picture, and frankly was so chavy. Her partner was a middle aged man. I suspected they were getting away from the wife. Anyway, she failed to read that it was a private room and was shocked when I didn’t leave my own home. Totally ridiculous – although she looked illiterate. She got over it; they left to go out for their dinner and got home late. I was stressing out, decided not to go into work tomorrow morning, and agreed that they could check out late at 2:00 PM. In the morning, they didn’t come out of the room at all apart from one time when she came out in just a towel asking for more cold water bottles. I obliged and they went into the room, closed the door, and just kept moaning from the sex they were having. It was so grim.

I knocked on the door at around 1:00 PM because it seemed like they still hadn’t even gotten ready to leave. They left at 2:00 and told me they had left some water bottles and the keys in the room. It specifically says on my listing that there is no food or drink to be kept in the room other than water. In the room were about ten half drunk water bottles (so odd) and half a bottle of champagne that had been left over night and absolutely stunk up the whole room; it smelt like a booze den. There was mud all over the wardrobe, weird black flecks on my white walls and brown stains on the Egyptian cotton sheets from the kilos of makeup that freak uses. Worst of all, there were other stains on my very expensive sheets. I hired a professional cleaner to come in to steam the carpets and bed, threw away the sheets, bumped up the price, made the house rules clearer, and put a two-night minimum stay on my listing. I bloody hate those scumbag chavy disrespectful weirdos. The worst part is, because I’ve only been doing this for a short time, I want to keep the good reviews that I have so I’m too nervous to give her the super negative review that she deserves.

Airbnb: A Place for Scammers and Fraud

So I will start from the beginning, at the end of September beginning of October I was looking to book an apartment for 10 to 12 people for a friend’s hen party, Airbnb had been recommended to us and even some of the girls had booked and used them i

I will start from the beginning. At the end of September, I was looking to book an apartment for 10 to 12 people for a friend. Airbnb had been recommended to us and even some of the girls had booked and used it in the past with no issues. So off I went in search of an apartment close to the centre of Amsterdam. I found one that looked great, sent the photos to everyone, and we all agreed it would be perfect for us. The listing even said we could add people if needed. I looked through the reviews – all fine – and it even said the host was “approved.” I clicked on the contact host section of Airbnb’s website to make sure our dates were available for next May. I got an instant message back to say they were and an email would be sent for me to secure the booking if I wanted. The email came directly to me, with my full name, a booking number, an Airbnb letterhead, the works… it all looked official.

I followed through the payment service, sent everything over, and let the girls know it was all booked. I then received an email from the “host”, who called himself Frank Bider, to introduce himself, tell me the best way to get to the apartment from the airport, and to let me know if I needed help on things to do or places to go to just contact him. I thought nothing of it and said I would probably contact him closer to the time to find out how I could check in, etc. A few days later another email from Frank came to say that Airbnb had not validated my payment and the confirmation number was incorrect for my booking; a refund had been sent and I could make the booking again if I wished. I asked Frank how long this would take and if he knew what had happened. He replied saying that it was an issue with Airbnb and should be sorted in a few days. I waited 24 hours but received no email from Airbnb about this refund or anything. I contacted them directly, waited, and still heard nothing. I sent email after email to Airbnb but still nothing.

All the time Frank was still in contact with me. He then asked me to send another payment but this time by bank transfer. This was when something in my brain figured it was not right. I was frantically trying to contact Airbnb but I had no response from them. Finally I got the standard robot response saying I had no bookings with them. I sent a copy of all the emails with their letterhead, and then the worst happened. I received an email back from Katie at Airbnb to state although these email had an Airbnb email address, they were not official and had not come from them, stating they would never contact me off site via email to make a payment. I couldn’t believe it. I started to email to ask for help and see what I could do: phone my bank to see if they could help?

Again, Airbnb went silent. There was no contact whatsoever, so I took to Twitter. After days of me sharing bad stories I had found and my experience someone contacted me and said I would receive an email soon. Finally Chris from Airbnb emailed me. I asked time and time again for a phone number but nothing. Chris asked me to send proof of my booking and the money leaving my account so I did. I sent a copy of my statement and all the emails with their letterhead and everything on it. He then asked for a copy of the fraud report I had made to the police so I sent that as well with contact details of the person to whom I spoke. I then received an email back to state that because the emails were not from Airbnb and I paid through a payment system that wasn’t theirs there was nothing he could do. I felt this was a very generic answer and then asked Chris what they have in place for their customers to safeguard them against this type of fraud, as at no point when making a profile on their site or when looking for an apartment were there any notifications or advice to say “don’t do this”, or if you receive a direct email, report it.

Then again I suppose if they did this they would lose customers and scare people away with their warnings. Chris then asked me for proof that I had been on their website in the first place. He asked if I had taken screenshots of the profile or a copy of the web address or anything to show I was on their official website? I thought this is absurd. Who would take a screen grab or snapshot when searching for anything online? I was most definitely not on their website looking to get scammed out of £1000; I was on there looking for accommodation and to book a trip. I advised Chris of this and explained how I though it was ridiculous to ask a customer if he had documented his search on Airbnb’s website to prove he was on their website. I know that this information will be on their servers and they would see I was on there website. He then told me he couldn’t see my profile but backtracked to say he could see I had logged in and confirmed my email address and added another. I replied back to say I had not been on Airbnb since and had not done anything with my account or email address.

When I went on to check this information for myself my account had been locked and stated I must take a photo of my ID before I could log in again. I will not be sending Airbnb or anyone a copy of my ID and think it is a complete joke my account has somehow been locked. The simple answer I keep getting from Airbnb is that without screenshots to prove I was on their website I cannot say I originally went through them for contact or that they initiated this contact between me and this so-called host as I have no proof. Even though all logic would say if I was not on their website why would the fake email of come through to me with an Airbnb letterhead, Airbnb logos and Airbnb information? Why would the fake host contact me saying “thank you for booking through Airbnb” and “Airbnb has not validated your payment”?

The problem with Airbnb is the security is not tight enough. Anyone can be a host and anyone can set up a fake profile. They do not check anything and only after an incident has happened do they start to change things on their website. Their customer service is shocking. I have been going back and forth with them via email this whole month asking for a contact number and only this week did I finally receive a response with a number to call. I have said I will be reporting this to ‘Watchdog UK’, ‘Ripoff Britain’ and other review companies but the problem for me is I’m over £1000 out of pocket. With no light at the end of the tunnel for me to be getting my money back, no compensation, nothing. All Airbnb says is that I can’t prove I was on their website so they won’t compensate me and hope I use Airbnb again. Well trust me… I won’t.