Breaking into Paris Airbnb… for Laundry Soap?

What I’m about to describe is a horrible experience with Airbnb (both on the guest end and maybe even worse on the customer service end) that has since unfortunately led me to decide that I will never use Airbnb again. I wish this wasn’t the case because it is such a unique and affordable option for travel, but their company really showed me how little they care about their customers.

I was originally just planning to simply write a review about the safety issue directly on my guest’s profile and be done with it, however as I will explain after I tell about my experience as a guest at the Airbnb in question, they removed/censored my review (obviously this was done because my host was a Superhost that brings their company in money). I decided that I was not about to let the public not know about the safety concern that this host presents and Airbnb’s customer service and censorship/control over its guests. Without further ado, here is what the review was originally going to be.

Our trip to this host’s apartment started off well. He was in good communication with us, and the place looked clean and had tons of amenities like it promised. He was out of the country, so he had his friend staying in the apartment to check us in and show us around. His friend was super helpful. It was going great, until five days into our two-week stay.

The fifth night there I was taking a shower, and when I got out I heard a knock on the door (I was not fully dressed at the time as a result of having just taken a shower). My girlfriend and I also did not want to answer the door because we were in a foreign country and did not know anybody, so we stayed silent.

The man on the other side of the door started getting his keys out and tried opening the door. At this point we were terrified about this because we had not received any contact from our host since the day we checked in. I told the man trying to open the door that this was a private Airbnb and he was not allowed to enter. He responded saying that he was a friend of the host’s friend, and that he needed to get the laundry soap in our room (which we found very suspicious, since laundry soap is certainly not too expensive to just go down to the store to get some new soap).

We told him it was not okay, since we hadn’t heard anything about this from our host so who knows if he was who he says he is. At this point the man on the other side continued trying to force his way to open the door with his keys (all the while I was also still not fully dressed). Finally, after we yelled at him that he needed to leave, he did, saying on the way out that he would be coming back after he called his boss.

After this I messaged the host, and his response is (quoted): “Sorry for the inconvenience. Don’t worry I’m out of France. He was supposed to call you.”

I do not have the original review, and the part at the end that I didn’t include above was when I explained what Airbnb’s customer service did after I contacted them. When I submitted the review I got a message stating “The reviews are only to state your experience at the listing, and with the host. You can not disclose any information regarding the case with Airbnb.”

The review was removed. I asked if I could submit a review without the part where I said what Airbnb’s customer service did, but they said once a review has been removed, it can not be re-submitted (how convenient for them). Anyway, the last part I wanted to talk about was the customer service experience that followed the safety concern… on with the story.

After the incident occurred in the apartment my girlfriend was understandably shaken. She had never been in a foreign country before and just had some weird man she never even knew existed try to break into our apartment (all for some laundry soap?).

I immediately contacted Airbnb’s customer support. The customer service person whom I got a hold of asked me what happened; I told her, and asked what our options were. She said that she needed to get in contact with her supervisors and that she would call me back (which is another thing I hated… why not just put me on hold? I had no idea what was happening and was totally in the dark about how long it would take for her to call me back, all the while my girlfriend and I had no idea if that random dude was going to come back and try to break in again).

While we were waiting for her to call back, my girlfriend told me that she didn’t feel safe here. I asked her if she would be okay with another Airbnb but she understandably said that because it’s her first time in a foreign country she would prefer to stay in a hotel if possible.

Airbnb finally called me back and said she can refund us and try to help us find a new Airbnb. I told her that my girlfriend feeling safe is my top priority so we would need to be moved to a hotel. She told me she has to check with her supervisors again if that’s something that they can help us with and hung up. She called back and said that they never offer any help finding a hotel or giving any money to cover the costs. She then told me that we will be refunded within a few days and once she hangs up we will be trespassing and need to pack and leave immediately because we will be considered “trespassing”. She hung up and we started packing frantically.

With the scary incident we just had with the guy trying to break in, we had no desire to see our host or any more of his “friends” in person again, so it was extremely stressful trying to pack all of our things in around twenty minutes. After we finished packing, we did a quick search for a hotel nearby.

In our haste we made a huge mistake: we didn’t make sure they had air conditioning (Paris was experiencing a heat wave at the time). The place that we ended up finding was about a sixth the size of our Airbnb, had no AC, no kitchen (or any of the appliances we were expecting to have like a fridge), and no washer.

Since we had to book the day of, it ended up costing $600 more than the amount we were refunded. We planned our trip a year in advance, only to lose all of the amenities we planned to have and had to pay a large amount of extra money.

What I wanted to emphasize is the fact that what scares me most about all of this, and should scare the rest of the public too, is how my host was a Superhost with 183 reviews averaging five stars… this shouldn’t have happened. If we were staying at a non-Superhost’s place that only averaged like three-star reviews then okay, fair enough; we took the risk, and we got burnt. This was not that. This was supposed to showcase the best Airbnb has to offer, and instead we got a horrible situation.

It makes me wonder, how many reviews like mine have been removed/censored from Superhost profiles? How many people had even scarier/more dangerous experiences, but got their review removed, and just didn’t care/didn’t know how to get their message out to the public about their situation?

For those looking for an Airbnb in Paris, this is the listing in question. This is the other listing the host owns. This is the profile of the host.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

5 Comments

  1. I read the whole post excepting something big will happen at some point, and realized after my reading that the big issue was this guy trying to open the door with a key… It is such a tiny incident that it made me laugh. Do you live in some sort of Mormon community ? An advise for your future life : never take that strange thing called the “subway”. Equivalently “serious” (lol) stuff happen here, on a daily baisis, and your girlfriend could really have a heart-attack by experiencing them.

  2. The long post, the immediate move to a hotel, the mentions that the hotel was not as nice as the Airbnb rental and cost $600 more than the amount refunded by Airbnb, the links to the listing & host give the appearance that you are pissed-off that Airbnb didn’t give you the $600 for the hotel charges. You said they refunded what you paid—why do you feel entitled to more?

    Did you girlfriend realize that no matter where you stay, some one else will have a key? This was not like he kicked in the door.

  3. Reviews by guests or hosts that violate the Airbnb rules can be removed by Airbnb—the superhost doesn’t have “special powers of removal”.

    The correct thing to do was pre-arrange the visit but the host didn’t (error on his part). However this is the same as housekeeping would’ve done—knock, if no answer enter. There was no breaking & entering, he had a key & knocked to announce entry. You chose to not answer so he thought the rental was empty.

    Your long post feels over the top. Why so much drama over a “nothing bad happened” event?

  4. I wouldn’t personally barge into a house with guests but think you’re massively overreacting to someone dropping by in the afternoon to quickly get something. A hotel cleaners etc come in and out and maybe the soap was a particular one they needed and accidentally left there. As you realise after, you had an amazing deal and so many amenities at an amazing price and the house is very well reviews.. you should have just politely told them not to come in again with prior notice and chilled out and enjoyed your vacation!

  5. Superhosts get little or no special attention, except (possibly) higher rankings in the search results. Airbnb dumps on them just as much as guests.

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