Scam Alert in Atlanta: Beware Hosts Telling you to Cancel

I was planning a trip to Atlanta from Australia in October last year for one month. I found a place to stay (the listing has since been removed). The host, Valerio, advised he would be able to accommodate the one month’s stay and I paid the 2800 AUD fee. A few weeks later, Valerio contacted me and advised that I would no longer be able to stay and would have to cancel. I checked the cancellation terms (make sure you do this before any cancellation). It was a strict cancellation policy, which meant the host would get to keep the full $2800. I advised the host of this who said that he had called Airbnb and they had “told him” I’d be fully refunded.

I didn’t trust him and after a while searching online I was able to locate a contact number. Airbnb Customer Service advised me that I would not get refunded if I were to cancel and I needed to tell the host to cancel the reservation to get my money back. I repeated this to the host, who denied everything and said that this was incorrect. I still refused to cancel and contacted customer service again. This time they went into my account and pulled the chat history between us. They also messaged the user that I would lose all my money. He attempted one more time to get me to cancel, saying it would affect his rating and he would wire transfer the money back… I don’t think so…

Eventually he relented and cancelled the reservation from his end. How do I know this is a scam? A week later the apartment was listed as “available” again and my friend went ahead and tried booking it as we still hadn’t found other accommodations yet. The host waited a week and tried to pull the same thing, saying: “Oh, you need to cancel from your end.” He knows at this point (I’m sure he knew before) that if a guest is to cancel she will lose all her money. Again he said “I contacted customer support and they said you would be fully refunded.” Try again buddy.

She convinced him to cancel from his end. The listing disappeared and a few days later it was back up for the exact dates we needed. If you are to cancel yourself you cannot leave a review to tell people what the user is doing as an automatic “This booking was cancelled by the guest” appears under the listing so you have no way of letting anyone know. Be wary when cancelling and check the cancellation policy beforehand.

Airbnb Not as Advertised for Elderly Parents

We arranged for my elderly parents to stay in what was advertised as a full house/apartment in Greenville, SC. When my parents arrived, we met them at the Airbnb they had reserved and discovered it to be a room with a king size bed, one chair, and no dining room table. There wasn’t even a full kitchen (a sink, coffee pot, microwave, and fridge). This is not an apartment or a full house. Neither a person nor a couple could live there for two weeks. They could sleep and shower there, but that is all there is room for.

When we told the host we would have to move, my parents and I said we would like a refund for the booking on the first night. She told us we must just not like it and that she had had only good reviews so far. If we had a complaint, we needed to take it to Airbnb. We took it to Airbnb. Their customer service people have been trained to be empathetic and understanding, so one thinks their case will be heard and that they will help. However, after several hours total on the phone and online chat, my parents only received a 50% refund. The 50% refund was because “they had not received a response from their email.” Not only had they received a response, they had received more than one response.

All told, we have contacted Airbnb six times. The last time they sent us back to the owner, who has not yet responded. The third line in the cancellation policy says if you leave early you will be refunded the remaining balance. This did not happen. Airbnb also said, on the fifth call, that we had not provided photo evidence of our complaint. This is true. However, we were never asked to provide photo evidence. We cannot even give a bad review as they make sure there is no place to do it.

We cannot request money for the trip because the trip has already passed. We cannot make a report to the BBB because my father or mother have to do it. My father had a major stroke a month ago and is unable to do it, and my mother, who is his power of attorney, wrote a letter to the BBB asking them to allow me to complain on her behalf because of her poor health.

Airbnb Nightmare in Paris Leaves Guest Struggling

This was the worst Airbnb experience I ever had. I had booked a room at Catherine’s Hostel from February 27th to March 13th and from March 21st to April 1st. The first week everything was fine; I had a single bathroom which was quite fine and so forth. However, a few weeks before March 13th Catherine told me I couldn’t stay in her flat any longer because she had too many guests and there was no room left for me. She wanted to arrange another hostel on Airbnb for me, but the room was located in the 19th arrondissement, which is quite dangerous for someone who’s new to Paris. Even my local friends suggested I not stay there.

I’ve told her this whole situation is unacceptable: after all, I booked the room prior to my arrival and confirmed it before I came to Paris. Now I’m here but I’m not allowed to have a room? This is completely unreasonable. I told her I can’t accept how she dealt with this situation; she took a strong stand against me saying I couldn’t stay at her place, even if I had made a reservation. She said she would give me a full refund if I couldn’t deal with the change. I asked her to do so and found myself another place to stay. I was supposed to receive a refund of at least €300, but for some unknown reason in the end I got €255. I didn’t argue with her because I didn’t want to ruin my holiday mood. If you’re not fond of unanticipated situations in your travelers, I suggest you avoid this Airbnb in case of any trouble.

Airbnb Cares about the Guests, but not the Hosts

I received an extremely bad, fabricated review in retaliation from a guest who I reported to Airbnb because she had additional people staying in my apartment for whom she did not register or pay. Although our email correspondence on the Airbnb website clearly showed that the woman had additional guests, Airbnb awarded me a minimal and unacceptable settlement. Their reason? The guest did not make herself available to them for verification of my claim, and the term of infringement was not clear to them. I made numerous complaints to no avail. Airbnb’s inflexible transparency policy has allowed this false review to remain on my page. Since it appeared, I’ve had 73 views of my page but not a single rental. Previously, my apartment was always being rented. That means not a month has gone by without guests until now. Airbnb is more concerned about the guests than they are about the hosts who make it possible for them to earn money. I intend to change to Vacation Home Rentals and hope my experience will be better there.

No Response from NYC Host, Keeps Half my Money

This was (and is) my first and only experience with Airbnb. I booked an apartment with Janine for nine nights in July 2016. I made the reservation in February, five months in advance. I then started seeing recent reviews about poor communication from the host, and difficulty with getting the keys to the apartment once in New York City. Since I would be traveling with a family of five, I wanted to work out any miscommunications in advance. I sent two messages to the host in February on the Airbnb website, and received no response. I sent an email to the address Airbnb had listed for the host in March. Still no response. In late March, I read more negative responses from recent guests about being told to say they were a relative of the host if anyone asked and more issues with cleaning and getting the key from a local café with changing hours of operation. This continued to raise my level of concern. I then texted the phone number listed for the host. Again, no response.

A week later, I called the number and left a voicemail. Still no response. At this point I began to wonder if I would land in New York to find that I had no place to stay. I could not locate any way of contacting Airbnb, so I cancelled my reservation more than three months prior to the arrival date. After cancelling, I discovered that the host keeps 50% of the money on all cancellations. Allowing the host to keep over $1000 for a place at which I never stayed and cancelled over three months in advance because she would not communicate with me at all does not sit well with me. After cancelling the reservation and requesting all of my money back, I got one simple response from the host, stating that I never contact her. She also declined to refund any of my money. The listing can be viewed here. The reviews can be viewed here.

Smoke and Mirrors: Guest’s Performance Art Scam

The reservation was for two people. On Wednesday, March 8th, our guest arrived with her mother (who had a black eye), two dogs, and a cat. We expect people to tell us in advance that they are traveling with a pet. They just showed up this way. Who does that? Because of the black eye, I ignored the imposition of these pets and let them in. For a few days everything was just fine as far as I could tell. Then on Monday afternoon, March 13th , I got a text from the guest saying that the toilet was blocked and water was coming up in the shower. This must have just started, right? Wrong. An email from Airbnb was timestamped at 9:30 AM. It stated that we had exactly two hours to get in touch with Airbnb about the guest complaints that had apparently been mounting for days from the bowels of the quiet clean apartment. If we fail to act by this deadline they will automatically rule in favor of the guests. Well, that boat had already sailed. The plumbers damaged the sidewalk, but had the pipe dug out and replaced by early evening. It cost me $2500 to repair the blocked sewer line quickly so no one would have to go the night without toilets. The stoppage from that apartment had put all three units in the complex out of service.

The next day was exciting. I received a series of bizarre pictures from Airbnb that had been taken by the guest and submitted as proof of the unhealthy conditions that we allowed to go uncorrected here in our slum. Our place was, mind you, the cleanest apartment in the world, but not in those pictures. There were bugs and bits of debris in the narrow tight shots of various kitchen surfaces with rust (like the bottoms of pots) and in one of the pictures the living room sofa was sitting with the upholstery covers removed. The foam cushions were in their underpants and one such garment had been pulled apart at a corner to look warn and dilapidated. They included, of course, a picture of the sewage in the shower.

This makes me laugh because the plumbing had clogged (I was told) at around 2:00 AM. I was intentionally left out of the loop about this until 1:30 in the afternoon. They were painting me as negligent so they could ruminate about my failure to correct a disgusting condition and setting the groundwork for the timeline of hardship that would win them a refund. They hung out with a sewage pond for nearly twelve hours so that it would remain unresolved until after they were rewarded the damages they requested. Some things are just worth the extra inconvenience, don’t you agree?

Ultimately, Airbnb gave them half of their money back, which was entirely too much for me to refund on top of the $2500 it cost me in repairs. The whole ten-course tampering they served us was so weird that I felt like I funded a conceptual art project that was meant to be seen from many different angles and leave the onlooker with a residue of mystery and cultural significance. The person at Airbnb that made the misguided decision to refund this money did so because she was still operating under the belief that the photos of the dirty conditions are authentic. I am lost for an explanation as to how anyone with such a dazzling analytical mind could be allowed to operate in a position that requires rational processes to reach feasible conclusions. There is a problem with the way Airbnb gathers and fact checks the information it receives. It needs to do much better. It has failed to establish a stream of reliable data for its policy decisions.

Memorable Anniversary Hell on an Airbnb Boat

We had an issue with a host. She flatly refused to offer assistance. The result was a prematurely short weekend – a memorable experience for sure – and the loss of almost $400 in Airbnb payments. We simply wanted what was fair, and we got a “we’ll gladly reduce your next stay by 25%.” What a joke. We started our trip with grand hopes of a romantic getaway; it was our one-year anniversary. An Airbnb on a sailboat sounded wonderful. We arrived on Friday afternoon, March 10th, a bit early for our check-in. We had been told earlier than we could check in anytime, and we were excited about that. Upon notification of our arrival, we were given authorization to board “the Lydie” and await Clint Austin’s (the captain) arrival.

When he arrived, he briefly walked us through the cabin, and tested faucets. They didn’t work, so he flipped a few switches, the water came on, and viola. He showed us the bathroom and said there was plenty of water for the weekend. We tried the stove and oven; they didn’t work. He tried to get the pilot lit, but it eluded him. We never did get the stove or oven to work. A few more switches flipped, and Captain Austin was away. We were on our own. The trouble began on Friday evening; while getting ready for dinner, we noticed the smell. There was air freshener beneath the bathroom sink, which we used not sparingly. Showering, we noticed the water not draining. We made contact with the host to explain our concern about standing water in the shower, and she absently suggested we wait for it to drain or “use the showers above.” We had just spent $400 dollars to stay the weekend, a romantic getaway, on a sailboat, and we were told not to worry about the water because the showers above worked fine. Incredibly, the host’s reaction to a stopped-up shower gave her no pause, nor any real concern for our comfort or wellbeing. She simply didn’t care. Taking her advice, we waited for the shower to drain, but it did not.

By the next morning, the smell was beginning to become an issue, and our next contact was with Clint Austin, the captain. We tried calling, then sent a text at approximately 8:00 AM. As our day had been planned – a leisurely trip to Catalina Island via ferry – and we were going to be gone all day, we figured any issues would have been taken care of and the boat would be back to an acceptable condition. We arrived back to the boat well after 6:00 PM with the same water standing in the same shower and the smell was now unbearable. We again notified the host and was told not to use the showers, which were directly tied to the toilet, and that this had not happened before. At the end of the day we’re dealing with a marine toilet and marine shower. They were not as fool proof as your own home toilet, but the good news is no one got stranded, as we had showers and toilets at the marina within walking distance to the boat. Walking distance. Outside the boat, 50 yards away, through a gate, across a parking lot, through a locked door, and into 1970’s ripped shower curtain hell.

Though there was evidence someone had been on the boat at some point in the day, the issue was not resolved: the boat smelled horrific, and our host seemingly had no intention of making right what had gone so wrong. We were heartbroken. This was supposed to be a memorable weekend. The next morning at daybreak (6:00 AM), after a horrible evening of no sleep, horrific smells, standing water in the shower, an unusable toilet, an oven that didn’t work, a stove that didn’t work, and a host with better things to do, we left the boat. We notified the host of our departure, requested a partial refund (we were willing to split the difference, as the first night wasn’t perfect, but not worthy of challenge, even though nothing worked), and were told “no”.

We realize things go wrong. We understand that. We simply requested a partial (one night) refund as things certainly weren’t worthy of the money spent, and simple requirements, not creature comforts, were unavailable at the time of our stay. Toilets are necessary in a $200 a night room, regardless whether it’s marine, or otherwise. When we requested a refund, the host gave every indication she was unwilling to pay. I suggested that our review hadn’t yet been left and it would be great for me to be able to say “our host, though we experienced some technical difficulties, did the right thing, and we would highly recommend the Lydie, etc.” However, if she continued to be unwilling, our review would reflect as such. She took that as a threat, though none was intended. We were simply trying to get her to understand our experience wasn’t what was purported, advertised, nor expected, and that she, as a host, was under an obligation to right a wrong. The wrong was simple: that which she sold, and we purchased, was not provided. Our contract was breached, and though we were willing to compromise, she flatly refused. She even had the gaul to comment “at least it turned out to be a memorable weekend.”

We are therefore requesting a complete refund of our weekend. To date, though it clearly states within 72 hours we will have a resolution, we have had none. We have had no replies from Airbnb, nor the host (other than to offer a 25% reduction in cost on our next stay – as if that were a possibility), and are currently frustrated at the process. We simply want a favorable resolution to our issue, as the circumstances certainly warrant it.

Airbnb Raw Sewage Nightmare over Spring Break

We had our vacationed ruined by Airbnb and a host who was an absolute nightmare. Upon arrival at our condo we opened the door to an overwhelming smell of raw sewage. I’m not talking about a slightly unpleasant smell but a “you had to cover your face and eyes watering” smell. The condo looked nothing like the pictures that were on the Airbnb website. It was listed as a two bedroom but was actually only a one-bedroom condo with a three-foot crawl space with two mattresses thrown on the floor, which I guess made the second bedroom. In the end, none of that mattered as the condition and smell of the unit made it unlivable. We tried to phone the owner who told us to throw a couple of cleaning tablets in the toilet and the smell would eventually go away. There was no way this smell was going away anytime soon and the fact that we could not air it out due to the cold weather with open windows and doors only exacerbated the problem. The ultimate insult was when we stated the smell was not going away and the owner hung up on us. At this time, he is still refusing to return any calls.

We could not live in the accommodations and so literally had to spend our evening wandering, trying to find a place to lay our heads during spring break. We finally found a place that could take us for two nights for literally double what we had anticipated paying but we had no choice as we were at their mercy. I guess we will spend the rest of our stay trying to find accommodations for the rest of our stay. I have tried to call the Airbnb customer service line only to be disconnected before I ever reach a live person. The reward is not worth the risk. Don’t risk ruining your vacation and being put in financial distress by using Airbnb; it is just not worth it. I would not wish what happened to us on our worst enemy.

Not even a Response from Airbnb Customer Service

Don’t trust the information on the Airbnb website. I have had three good experiences with Airbnb in Australia so I thought I would use it for a recent overseas trip. Two of the four were terrible. The Dublin accommodation did not mention it was a very old building with no lift and the room was on the third floor; not even a mention of the unit being an apartment, just ‘self contained accommodation’. My travel partner was unable to use the stairs so we had to cancel. We cancelled before the cut off date for a 50% refund but the host refused to process the refund. We contacted Airbnb with absolutely no response.

The second experience was in Edinburgh. The room was uncomfortable and the host rarely spoke. When he did, he was very rude. We paid top dollar for this property as it was central, but we were very glad to get out of there. We contacted Airbnb and once again, there was no response. Absolutely no response to disputes and concerns is extremely poor customer service. I will never use Airbnb again. I would rather pay extra and feel confident in my choice of accommodation.

Bad Airbnb Guest Invites all her Friends to Stay

I had a guest who stayed at my place for two months. In summary, she violated Airbnb policy many times by bringing many guests, including her boyfriend and more male friends. I clearly told her to stop (except once for her boyfriend) when she asked whether it was possible, but this girl keep pulling it off night after night bringing in different guys. I didn’t want to make it embarrassing so avoided confronting her as I had other guests. One day when I went overseas, I reminded her not to bring unregistered guests as she was alone in the house. To deter this girl from bringing guests I placed an IP camera in a visible location at my main gate a few days before I left. This girl has a very thick skin; she brought another guy home again. When I texted her from overseas to remind her, she argued that it was her right to bring guests because Airbnb didn’t mention anything about additional guests and blamed me for it. Then she made all sorts of crazy threats regarding reporting me to the authorities and a ton of other BS. I tolerated her and tried to behave as professionally as possible.

A few days later she proceeded to cancel her booking without my knowledge and blamed Airbnb for the cancellation, explaining that they had made a mistake. She stayed on the property. I checked with Airbnb but they took two weeks to respond and concluded that this girl had actually cancelled her booking. Airbnb refunded her money and refused to honour my cancellation policy, blaming me for surveillance of the entrance of my rather large property. I leased a room, not my house. This girl basically stayed for free for half a month and left the room in a filthy condition after using it as a motel and without notice or penalty. Further calls and complaints to Airbnb were ignored. The Airbnb Service Fee was fully deducted for two months obviously. There were no deposits, no documentation, and one non-paying guest. Who believes in Airbnb standards now? I am really tempted to expose the guest and the evidence which I have submitted to Airbnb’s resolution center. I think the problem here is not with the guests who don’t follow rules, but Airbnb’s insane policies and self-interested actions that have destroyed the experiences of many hosts and guests. I would strongly recommend others find an alternative to Airbnb or build a platform that can replace this selfish monster.