Will Never Use Airbnb Again After Construction

I used Airbnb for the first time a week again and I will never use them again. The studio we rented was totally misrepresented. When we arrived at the rental, we discovered the building was a construction site. The hallways and stairwells were being decorated and the floors tiled. There was dust everywhere, building materials on the landings and stairwells, doors held open with fire extinguishers, and bags of rubbish left in the halls. There were workmen coming and going, and they were grouting the hall outside the rental while we were there.

The studio rental was also directly above a nightclub. The host gave no indication of the nightclub in the description and at no point contacted me beforehand to let me know about or apologise for the building work. In addition, the keypad system to enter the building stopped working. We were in fact locked out of the rental on our first evening. It was late and only by the sheer luck of another resident turning up with a key were we able to re-enter the building and get back to our belongings. I emailed and left a voicemail for the host the following morning about this issue and to date he has still not had the decency to contact me. Fortunately the estate agent next door that managed flats in the building was able to get us a key. However this took over an hour of our time, during which we could not leave for fear of not being able to re-enter.

As soon as I returned I logged an issue with the resolution centre. Again, the host has not had the decency to respond to me. I have now forwarded my issue to Airbnb directly, and despite a standard response saying I would be contacted within 24 hours, I have not had any communication from them. Previously I have used Booking.com and Hotels.com for both personal and work travel and I will be staying with them from now on. They are both excellent services that Airbnb could learn a lot from.

No Compensation for Trouble with Host and House

I’ve been an avid Airbnb user for a while now, paying for around nine consecutive months in my travels. I used to trust the service and recommend it to anyone. I recently booked a new place. The listing said it was for two people, a private room with one bedroom and six beds.  I messaged the host, who should have been a woman based on her profile picture. I asked to book for around a month and a half from March 11th. The response I got was that the house was not finished yet, but should be by March 17th. I said that it was important for me to arrive on the 11th. I got a response saying that they may have everything ready by that day, and if I was fine with that I may come; they sent a special request for the new time I stated for the same price. Later, I found out that they changed the cancellation policy to a stricter one as well.

Unfortunately, my flight was cancelled twice, leading to me getting there a day late. The owner declined a refund for that day when I asked. This is where things started to go astray. I met the owner, a middle aged man nothing like the woman featured on the profile. He showed me the place, which wasn’t where it was listed on Airbnb but a few minutes’ walking distance from there. He explained that the house wasn’t ready yet, and led me to a house still under construction, unfurnished, and filled with cardboard and dust. Basically I had a decent room, but no shower, kitchen, or almost any of the amenities that appeared in the listing. Construction workers woke me up everyday when they started working, and there was no internet in the apartment, though it had been listed – something that was specifically important for me.

There was another guesthouse rather close by where there were some of the amenities listed (like a shower, kitchen, internet). I used that for whatever necessities I had. On the second day, I was locked outside by the construction workers and had to call the owner in the middle of the night for help. The first time this happened he asked me to sleep in the other guesthouse’s attic, which I myself had suggested earlier. However, I found out later that this wouldn’t be a good idea since people go in and out of there many times and it wouldn’t be possible to sleep. I called once more and he angrily refused. I had to make him come and open the door to my house, which was very bothersome for him. The living situation wasn’t comfortable at all and it was very cumbersome to move between these places and in between the construction going on in the building.

He had said things were expected to be finished by March 17th. So I waited. Things didn’t improve much, besides the shower and adding a few hangers. There was still no internet, no common areas, and no kitchen. I decided to call Airbnb customer service, and had a talk with a guy named John who was nice and promised to help me. He said that he could refund all of my money and help me find a new place. However, after a while we couldn’t find anything feasible so he said that he would advise me to keep looking for places and his colleagues would help me. After that, I got few responses from the team, in which they sent me links to places that were very different from my requirements: much lower standards, way over budget, or very far away from where I was. I talked to them once more and tried to explain that right now, apartments in Tokyo are hard to find with such short notice. It was also a busy tourist season, which would make it even harder.

More time passed, and I called again. Emailing customer service was slow and cumbersome. This time I spoke to another guy who asked for pictures of the place, which I provided. He agreed that the pictures showed the place in construction. However, he decided to call the host. What followed was a long conversation I had between him as a proxy towards my host. I basically said that I would like to get a refund as well as some compensation for the trouble that I got. It is simply unfair to customers to sell them places that are still under construction and not ready; I wanted to get some compensation for the days I stayed in that house as well as the days I was looking for a new apartment. The customer service personnel told me that since the host sent me a special request that showed the value of the new place with construction and everything, and made it clear to me that the place was under construction, I would not be compensated. They also said I should have expected that construction such as this go well past deadlines.

This would have been a good response, if it weren’t for the fact that it was simply not true. The price was exactly the same price, and not a special offer at all. This was simply done to change the date as well as the cancellation policy, in and of itself something a scammer would do. The message I had been sent was “the house was not ready”. I always assume that the houses listed on Airbnb are held to some sort of standard. In no way do I think that “not ready” is equivalent to “there will be construction workers with helmets building rooms and running around you filling your socks with dust.” I was given a date when everything should have been finished. There shouldn’t be any excuses on that point. It’s a business. I paid money. I expect things to be on time. If they are, the minimum response is to compensate and apologize. I tried explaining this to the case manager but he wouldn’t really do anything about it. He decided to give me a coupon for Airbnb and said that this was already above and beyond what I should get. I left with a feeling that I would rather spend my next twelve months of traveling with a different company. I advise you to do the same; there is not much added value for a middleman if he doesn’t help you once things get shady.

Here are some pictures of the apartment on the first day.

Airbnb Hosts in Cuba Can’t be Trusted

First, the place was advertised as “Casa Jesus & Maria” and it looks and operates as a hostel (a bad one). I booked the place about three weeks in advance for two days and had been in contact with the host almost every week. The last message was exchanged only two days prior to our arrival and, at that moment, we were told that the room we were supposed to stay had been under construction for over a month. We arrived in Cuba at around 11:30 at night (the host was informed about this a week earlier) and were greeted by Jesus and Maria. We were promptly informed that they did not have a room for us. Maria ushered us in and, as if to prove her point, showed us a room with a scaffold inside and no furniture and claimed that the only reason why the room was not ready was due to heavy rain.

My friend and I were puzzled since it clearly looked like the room had been under construction for a while and they probably rented the room to us without it being ready. Worst of all, they probably knew very well that it was not going to be ready more than a day before our arrival and never told us about it. Maria informed us that she had arranged for us to stay somewhere else and that she was going to call the person to come pick us up. It was after midnight and we were stranded at some stranger’s place in Havana, without any local currency, and thinking that these people are really trying to screw us. Maria spent over 40 minutes on the phone, trying to find us another place since her arrangements did not follow through. They barely looked us in the eye while we were there and did not speak to us at all.

Finally, someone knocked at the door and we were escorted to another place by Ana. Ana’s place was definitely not in good shape and it was completely different from what we had signed up for. We were taken upstairs through these very narrow steps (our carry-ons barely fit) and shown an area with a queen bed and a bathroom without a door. The room was as big as the bed, the bathroom had no hot water, and the shared bathroom downstairs did not have a toilet seat. After we finally got ready to go to bed, about 2:30 AM, the bed broke. We had to move the mattress by ourselves since Ana was nowhere to be found. I had an asthma attack because the mattress was extremely dusty.

We woke up the next day and went back to our first host to try to give them a second chance; they had told us that they would have another room ready. Of course the room was not ready and we finally lost our cool. I told Maria that what they were doing to us was not fair and I wanted my money back. I did not raise my voice and spoke to her calmly. Maria got extremely upset and told me that if I wanted my money back I had to deal with Airbnb. We took off and, unfortunately, spent almost the whole day trying to find another place to stay. I speak fluent Spanish and all I could think of when all this was going on was: what if we did not speak the language? We would be even more desperate.

I called Airbnb and spoke with Kendra in customer service. She said that I was going to get a refund and that the incident was going to be “investigated”, that the host was going to be told to “honor the ads.” I was really expecting a little bit more of sympathy from Airbnb since this experience basically destroyed our vacation; we had only planned to stay in Havana for two days. I understand that Airbnb has little control over how hosts act but I was truly expecting more concern from the operator. I do not want anybody to go through what we have been through, especially if they do not speak the language. Now the host is threatening me with Airbnb messages. Needless to say, I had to dispute the charges with my credit card. I closed my account and will never use this service again.