Airbnb Nightmare in Santa Margherita, Italy

My daughter and I were traveling in Italy and we decided to spend our last ten days on the Italian Riviera. We found an apartment in Santa Margherita that seemed to suit our needs: walking distance to town, two bedrooms, nice views. Our host, Angela, was super sweet in her responses to me prior to booking, confirming that she has wifi (very important to both of us) and the town was within walking distance. She said her English was not great but she communicated very well prior to booking. After booking, I had to ask her for the address, twice, as it was not given to me through our Airbnb booking. She also told me to converse with her son via WhatsApp instead of with her through Airbnb messaging. I told her that I do not have WhatsApp and would continue to contact her through Airbnb.

Incidentally, my daughter was sick so I was anxious to get to the apartment and get her in bed. When we got to Santa Margherita after a long train ride (without wifi), I found a message from Angela saying that we needed to copy our passports before she would allow her cleaning person to let us in to the apartment. I asked her where we could have that done (at 4 pm). The only information she would give us was to ask around a certain piazza in town… which we did – two places – and were told that there were no shops that had copying services. So we asked Angela if she would please at least let us drop off our luggage before we continued to look for a copy place and to please give us an actual address of a copy place (nowhere on her Airbnb page did it say that we had to copy our passports). My daughter and I had to keep going to the harbor to get free wifi to contact her.

This was Angela’s reply:

“Sandy, I’m telling You the way to reach the House, not going around the city. Piazza caprera, via palestro, piazza mazzini, via belvedere. from Piazza caprera to Piazza mazzini there are shops for the copy. You had to ask , no sing out of door. I’m sorry for Your daughter but I give You phone of my son , he speaks well , Why you haven’ call him? Why You havent’ call taxi? with heavy luggages and daugther not in well? I in Liguria the streets are steep, no good for person not in well and heavy luggages. Yesterday i give You a lot of facilities, but you wat speak only with airbnb airbn site!!! I you want to help must help!!! In my ad I specified that it was necessary passport copy ’cause you did not before ? I suggested You different formulas but you refused, how may can help You if you don’t want?”

Anyway, my daughter and I went to the apartment, which was up an extremely steep hill (not advertised). Angela’s housekeeper met us, at which point I started to cry as my daughter was so sick. The sweet housekeeper asked me for five euros and went into town to copy our passports but asked us not to let Angela know that she had let us in. The apartment was disgusting. The “views” were of a parking lot and a construction site. There was white powder all over the tile floors; we assumed it was for ants, which were everywhere. The TV didn’t work (no biggie), the shower didn’t work (could only take baths), the beds were horribly uncomfortable, the apartment above was under being renovated so we heard nothing but saws, and we could only get one of the burners on the stove to work, which was enough to make my daughter tea (but there was no teapot).

Once the housekeeper returned, I went back into town to use the free wifi and asked Angela four times for her wifi address and password. No response. So, I contacted Airbnb. No response. The next morning, I got a message from Angela saying that we had to go into town and PURCHASE wifi! Airbnb finally wrote back saying that it looked like my problem was solved because Angela responded. I wrote back saying that we were in an Airbnb nightmare. Airbnb called me. Mick, in Ireland, took our case and told me that he was stopping payment to Angela. I told him, in that case, we needed to pack our belongings as her correspondence to me was so mean (I have many examples) that she would probably confiscate our belongings. So, my ill child did just that and went back into town. However, Mick never loaded the right page to my Airbnb conflict page so I was unable to upload pics of the dirt, the broken window, and the things that weren’t working. I was sobbing.

Finally, I called, again, and got Brittaney in Denver, who loaded the correct page. Once she had our pics, she helped us find another apartment in the next town, Rapallo, with our host, Luca, who was such a sweetheart. And we loved his apartment. He met us, didn’t speak English but had a friend on his phone who acted as our interpreter, brought us espresso pods, milk, bottled water, and croissants (none of which Angela provided). Luca, alone, restored our faith in Airbnb. However, Angela then tried to get 1500 euros from us, although our total fee for our stay at her place was a little over 900 euros. It took two weeks but Airbnb finally closed the dispute – my guess is because she never proved damages – which, of course, there were none. I know that this site said it doesn’t want too many curse words but — Angela, you’re an asshole and shouldn’t be a host! I purposely left out that I am an Airbnb super host: five stars, with 80 ratings. This type of host ruins things for the rest of us. Angela still has her listing and no one looking at her listing will ever know of my nightmare experience, unless they happen to look here. Thanks for letting me vent.

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2 Comments

  1. Yes but inconsistent by the time-line. In other words, I suspect that other guests left the apartment and, thus, were unable to leave negative reviews (another huge flaw in Airbnb’s system). The other problem was that I was not able to access Angela’s reviews of her guests on the Airbnb app (and I did not bring my laptop to Italy). Had I seen one of the reviews she left for one of the guests, I would not have booked her place. It was nasty. The guest replied to Angela’s review with a list of complaints. I pointed out this flaw to Airbnb and got no response, as per usual. Their bad customer service is going to kill their business.

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