Shalom Home? More Like Cold, Dark, Nightmarish Airbnb

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We recently stayed in a very cool home in the mountains of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, but it turned out to be awful. I tried to post an honest respectful review on Airbnb, it was quickly removed. When I asked the customer service rep how many reviews the host had had removed, the representative went quiet.

First of all, the host seemed to be represent herself as Jewish. When I walked in, she had Christian music playing and there was Christian and Republican literature all over the house. Was she hoping to convert us? My friend mentioned how lucky she was to live somewhere so beautiful and she told us it wasn’t luck, it was Jesus.

When we came home the first night after skiing all day and swimming in the hot springs all evening, the lights didn’t work, but we were too exhausted to say anything. The next day, the sun was out and we forgot all about the lights. We tried to shower, but the water would not get hot. I asked the host about it and she said to let it run. We let it go for a half hour and it never heated up. My ten-year-old daughter tried to take a cold shower but came out crying hysterically because she was shivering to the bone. Five of us didn’t shower for four days.

When it got dark that night and we realized there were no lights, my friend was trying to turn on one lamp and a sharp edge of a decorative wrought iron leaf sliced her hand open. When the host came to figure out the lights, she dismissed the cut as nothing. We did get the lights working, but the TV was useless. We took a photo of the lamp and the cut and Airbnb did nothing.

The host also stated in her rules that we could only eat in the kitchen. There were two chairs and a tiny table so I told the kids to go ahead and eat in the living room because if she couldn’t provide electricity and a shower in the 21st century, then I don’t have to following her eating rules. That night we had bought firewood to build a fire and sit around and enjoy the great outdoors of Colorado. When we returned, the host told us that the fire pit was closed for the season, but there was no mention of this in her description. She sent us the rules after she decided it was closed.

I tried to post this all on my Airbnb review, less the Christian stuff because I wanted to keep it unbiased and stick to the facts even though her proselytizing made us very uncomfortable, but it is her house and those books wouldn’t cause a bacterial infection like open wounds and not bathing. Airbnb took down the review and said it was not in accordance with their policy. Not bathing during a pandemic is okay to Airbnb?

Barbados Nightmare and $4,500 Taken During COVID

I rented a place through Airbnb in Barbados on Jan. 13 for one month to start on Jan. 20. The price of the rental was $4,500. On Jan. 17, I flew to Barbados and went to a COVID-holding hotel as required. Barbados required that we needed to stay at one of those hotels until we tested negative on the island for COVID and then we could move to our final destination. The Barbados website said that tests were taking about 24-48 hours so we booked the hotel until Jan. 20, adding a one-day buffer.

When we arrived, we were told that the COVID tests were taking up to 12 days to come back, if we could even get a test. They said the island was so behind because the demand was so high and they only had one testing lab on the whole island. We had prison-like wrist monitors on and we were not able to leave our hotel room under any circumstance until this test came back or we’d be fined $6,000 each. This was going to be our lives for up to 12 days and we were paying for it. We could not even go for a walk or get any exercise during this time. Getting food was super hard as well. It was nothing short of prison.

While we were trying to sort all of this out, we learned that the U.S. changed its travel regulations on Jan. 17 and that the new policy was to go into effect on Jan. 20. The policy said that if traveling outside the U.S. we must have a valid negative COVID test that was no older than three days and if we could not effectively rely on getting one we should get home immediately. The U.S. Embassy in Barbados put a warning up and called all American travelers home before Jan. 20 if they could meet the new travel restrictions.

With the slow response time for test results effectively we could not get onto the island and we were not going to be able to get home. We decided that the safest thing to do was abide by the embassy warning and go home. We wrote the owner of the house who had our money for a 30-day stay and told them we needed to go home and shared that it was related to the change in U.S. travel restrictions. I generously and thoughtfully offered a week’s rental money not wanting to inconvenience the owner, but the owner refused to give any kind of refund, fully knowing the circumstances were out of our control and kept our full $4,500.

Airbnb told me that no one had requested a rental with this owner since we had, four days prior, and that my offer was generous, but sometimes they had “stubborn and greedy” owners that were unable to work with their renters. They told me that my reason for needing to cancel was valid and they understood my need to go home, but oddly they told me they could do nothing to get my money back. I provided their policy that had just been put into place that said if there was government policy change, put into effect due to COVID, that interrupted any stay after Jan. 20 the renter would be entitled to a full refund. Even with that policy and knowing our circumstances, they did nothing to give us our money.

Additionally, Airbnb has a cancellation period where you can cancel up to 7 days prior to your stay. I tried to use that policy to say that if we pay for the first week, we were essentially cancelling 7 days prior for the other 21 days and they said no to that as well. We sent our claim to the bank. They read all our paperwork and said that this was clearly “unethical and unscrupulous behavior” and that it was clear this owner had “scammed” us and that it was essential for us to fight to get this money back, but that under Visa’s policies they could not reclaim the money due to a technicality based on a bank error.

We are working with the BBB because we are still trying to recover the money that was unethically taken from us. I am also trying to find a lawyer. If anyone can recommend one, I’d appreciate it. There was absolutely no way that we could use our rental.

We showed them their own policy that if there was a government policy change put into effect that interrupted any stay after Jan. 20, the renter would be entitled to a full refund. Even with that and knowing our circumstances, they did nothing to return our money and continued to say that this was the “owner’s decision.” Though they stated and agreed many times that it was unfair and that it was a lot of money, they could do nothing about it. I still have never seen or gotten a copy of the owner’s agreement and I am perplexed why it is a different policy than Airbnb’s.

We need help recovering the money that was unethically taken from us. We showed proof of the embassy warning, the U.S. policy, Airbnb’s own policy, what the hotel was telling us about getting negative test results and our airline tickets home but no one would help us. We offered to pay for one week which would mimic a 7-day cancellation for the remaining time. This owner unethically kept $4,500, provided no service, was given fair notice and did not follow the company’s policy.

As the representative between the owner and myself, Airbnb has a responsibility to mediate this fairly and or rectify the harm we have received. They did not. We need help reclaiming our money.

Loopholes Enabling Unethical Airbnb Host to Bait and Switch

I booked a long-term stay for a two-bedroom apartment in NYC on Airbnb for two people. When I was doing the search, it showed the same price for one, two, or more guests in the same apartment. The confirmation came back for one person somehow, so I immediately (less than ten minutes from booking) corrected that in the app and received another confirmation for two people.

I was looking into the address details of the booking I just paid $3,500 for. Surprisingly it still only showed the street name without any other details. So I contacted the host — appeared to be some company instead of an individual host — who insisted that because the reservation showed only one person (who is rich enough to book a two-bedroom apartment for just one person in NYC?), they wanted to charge me more than $1,000 for it.

I looked back into the app, which in fact, still showed the same price for even three or four people. They claimed that it was a system error. At that point, I believed them, and allowed them to cancel so I could rebook. There were plenty other properties around that did not cost more than what they originally charged plus $1,000. This was within 20 minutes of booking.

I contacted Airbnb support. They said that on their end I was confirmed for two people and the price was right. So I let them handle it. The operator also said if I felt uncomfortable with the host, I could cancel for free within 48 hours. The next day, Airbnb support called me, informed me that the host insisted on extra charges even though it was advertised with two people with the price I already paid. And if I cancelled, they could only offer a $150 coupon to book again on Airbnb. They just pocketed $3250 dollars.

The host claimed it was an error with Airbnb, but they refused to accept the full refund cancellation request. Instead they intend to just keep my money or ask for even more. This is all within 24 hours of booking. So, Airbnb leaves me with two choices: either pay $1,000 above the market rate to accept the booking, or lose $3,000 more to cancel. That is the place where Airbnb want their customers to be.

Airbnb Host Accuses Guest of Having COVID

I was staying at an Airbnb location in New York City at the height of the pandemic in April 2020. Fifty three days into a 60-day stay, the host contacted Airbnb and accused me of having COVID-19. I had no symptoms and have since tested negative with the swab nasal test and the antibody test.

Just after 9:00 AM on a Friday I received a text from Airbnb that the host accused me of exposing her to coronavirus and I had to leave within 90 minutes. Not only was my reservation cancelled but Express Booking was disabled and I was told that I would have to call and get permission to stay with another Airbnb host.

I refused to leave and the host called the police three times, but first she changed the locks. Just before calling the police for the third time, she began throwing my personal possessions onto the street. While all of this was going on Airbnb was threatening penalties, although they did not specify how much.

Airbnb refused to refund a subsequent reservation at another location and only refunded a fraction of the pro-rated charges for the first reservation. Ultimately, I did use my second Airbnb reservation at my next stop without a problem. Airbnb did apologize, but this situation was so over the top and the pandemic is still raging I would warn all guests.

Also during the three police visits, nine officers were dispatched. It was very intense with the officers. I am not exaggerating when I say I could have been killed, but thanks to connections I had I was able to get through to the commanding officer of the precinct to give him the facts directly.

The host is still being investigated. The owner of the property is being investigated. The police were investigated and my complaint was found substantiated and is now awaiting departmental trials. Finally several agencies are involved in investigating Airbnb at the state and federal level.

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Money Hungry Airbnb Host Gets Guest Banned

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If you’re going to need a place to stay in the Lincoln-Omaha, Nebraska area, stay clear of this host. This greedy bastard tried to squeeze every dime he could out of me.

I was traveling as an essential worker. I needed a long term stay in Lincoln for me, my disabled wife and our two dogs. I saw the listing and the price was reasonable.

After about a month, he started raising the weekly rate. When the rate doubled, we decided to leave. We stayed there 83 nights and paid $8,000 for a dingy basement apartment. Then that’s when the real nightmare began.

He sent me texts threatening me and calling me a criminal, demanding $400 for carpet cleaning, $250 for extra cleaning fees, $700 for a stained shower, $220 for lost revenue, $120 for a urine-stained mattress (we never used it), $250 for a broken mirror frame, $60 for a dirty microwave, $60 for dirty towels, and $100 for torn comforters.

Here is my response to the host’s complaint with Airbnb:

I have rented Airbnbs all over the country and Mexico. This host was by far the worst host I ever had. He priced gauged me every chance he got. I messaged him letting him know I need a long-term stay as I am a traveling essential worker. When I first moved in I was paying around $550 a week. Then after about a month he raised it to over $700 a week.

I went ahead and paid it because my wife is disabled and it’s hard to up and move at a moment’s notice. Then he raised the rent to over $900 a week. That’s insane. He was taking advantage of us. I can’t afford that. He waited until we were good and settled and then surprised us with the higher rates without notice.

Had I known the rates would go up like that, I would have never booked this place to begin with. That’s something a con artist would do. Very deceptive of him. He was charging me more than he was charging for the four-bedroom house above us. I believe that after 30 days I have tenancy rights. That would mean that he would have to give me a 30-day written notice before he raised the rent. He owes me money for every week I was charged more than $550 a week.

We had to deal with bats. He did not respond when I informed him about it. He did not properly remove snow from the property and my wife fell and sprained her ankle. We had to duct tape a window to keep the cold out. The heaters were not adequate to keep the apartment warm. Now he is being greedy and is trying to extort more money from me. Instead of contacting me and talking to me like an adult, he sent me threatening texts privately, not on Airbnb, trying to bully me in paying him a bunch of money.

He was threatening to call and get me thrown out of my current Airbnb, call my job and call the police if I didn’t pay him by the end of the day. He also called me a criminal. If he would have talked to me like a human being, I would have worked with him to find a solution. I would have come back and cleaned the carpet, the microwave, and the shower basin and wash and bleach the towels. But instead, he wanted money. He wanted me to pay the full retail value, not the actual depreciated value. No one peed on that mattress. That was there before. Also, it is twin mattress, not a full.

I know that this is not the first time he found a urine stained mattress and it won’t be the last time. He should be prepared for it. Hotels have ways of cleaning mattresses. If I had an Airbnb, I would have had a mattress cover on it to protect it.

The carpet is old and dingy. It needs to be replaced. There were already stains all over it. It’s not worth the $400 he wants to clean it. Also, I found $79 carpet cleaning service for five rooms on Groupon. I’m not responsible for cleaning all the carpet in the apartment. I’m only responsible for for the three stains caused by my dogs, not the yeas of neglect this carpet has had.

The comforters were not ripped to shreds. If you pulled the comforters from the bottom of the bed, they would sometimes catch on the bed frame. That’s how they got ripped. Anyone with a sewing machine could easily repair them. I’m not paying him to get all new bed in a bag like he wants.

The mirror frame was already broken when we moved in. If we broke it, the mirror would also be cracked. He mounted the mirror right above a heater. Over time, the heat probably caused the wood to delaminate from the glue holding it to the mirror. You can go to Home Depot and find a piece for the mirror fairly cheap.

The microwave was not burnt. It just needs to be cleaned. Only one towel was ruined when my wife colored her hair. The rest were just dirty and need to be washed and bleached. The towels were dingy to begin with. The shower basin can be cleaned with Comet, CLR and some scrubbing. It’s not permanently stained. You have to do more than just pour bleach on it.. He’s trying to get a new shower out of me.

I don’t owe him for lost revenue because no one is trying to reserve the place. He is charging too much. He has it listed for $250 a night. I don’t owe him the extra cleaning fee. He is not paying for extra cleaning if he is having professional carpet cleaners come over and providing tub cleaner that he is already charging me for.

He acts like we ransacked the place. That’s not true. My wife scrubbed and disinfected the place from top to bottom. She made the beds and wiped everything down. We don’t owe him anything. He did not give me the opportunity to fix anything. He is greedy and trying to extort everything he can out of me.

He is mad because he thought he could keep raising the rent and I would keep staying there. I asked him the last time the rent went up he said he had no control over the rate and it was based on an algorithm. Most places would cut a deal with their long term renters to keep them there.

This was Airbnb’s reply:

After careful review of all photos, documentation, and related communication provided by both parties, we determined your host should be reimbursed for the damage caused during your stay. Thank you for your patience throughout this process.

As a guest, you’re responsible for leaving the property in the same condition that your host provided. These responsibilities are detailed in Airbnb’s Terms of Service. Based on the information available, we have determined that your host should be compensated $822.76 for their loss. The host timely reported the damage and was able to provide valid documentation of the loss and the cost to repair or replace the damage.

The total amount of the loss is $822.76, which breaks down as: 1) Mattress : $104.80 2) Shower repair/cleaning : $385 3) Mirror frame repair : $250 4) Lock safe: $33.08 5) Microwave : $49.88. Please submit the $822.76 using the below secure manual payment link. You must be logged into your account to access these links. We request that you complete payment within 24 hours.

Once payment is complete, please let us know by responding directly to this message.

I gave the host a $150 deposit after I booked the place. He requested through the Airbnb app. Also, I did not agree with the amount Airbnb said I owed. So, I sent this reply:

This amount does not reflect the $150 deposit that the host stated in his claim I already gave him. Also, the mirror is not worth $250. I did not break the frame. It is old. Years from being in a hot moist environment from the shower steam and being mounted over a heater caused the frame to break.

However, since I’m being held responsible for its damage, I’m going to prove that it can be repaired for a grand total of $14.74. At Lowes you can get an eight-foot strip to cut out the small piece of the frame that needs to be replaced for $3.46. Then you can a 1-qt can of paint that you can color match to the rest of the frame for $10.28. Add Lincoln sales tax of 7.25% for a total of $14.74.

This is very minor damage to an old mirror. If it’s going to cost $250 to fix it, then show me an estimate. I also attached a picture from the host’s rental page of the shower. It clearly shows permanent stains on the wall and the basin. It is not white like the rest of the shower. What I left was dirt, not tar. No effort was used to clean it. The host said in his statement that he let it soak in bleach for two hours. That is not going to clean it. He does not mention anything about scrubbing the shower. Comet cleanser and a scouring pad would clean that up. The host is trying to scam me and Airbnb.

A few days later I got this reply from airbnb:

Thanks for your reply and after a full review of the incident, we have decided to remove you from the Airbnb community. This means you can no longer access your account and cannot create a new one. We determined that you violated the Security section of the Airbnb Community Standards, which you agreed to in the Terms of Service.

The violation involving property damage was reported on Feb. 27, 2021. Any upcoming reservations have been cancelled and you’ve been fully refunded. We consider this decision final. You can read more about removal from the Airbnb community.

Now I’m banned from Airbnb. All because I stood up for myself. Airbnb will always be on the host’s side.

Hawaii Vacation Turned Nightmare with Bed Bugs

Let me start off my saying I am not usually a complainer. I like to think of myself as someone who goes with the flow. However, a week into my three-month long stay at an Airbnb in Honolulu, I found myself turning into someone who wants to raise hell.

I woke up with lots of tiny red, itchy dots on my arms. I thought maybe I had gotten bitten during my run in the park the previous day. I waited a day or two but they only got worse. Around this time I also started noticing tiny black specks on my sheets and pillows. I did some investigating and found out that these could be bed bug fecal stains (gross, right).

I contacted my host who told me to go to the doctor and see what they said about my bites. I went to the urgent care down the street to pay $40 to have some idiot look at my arms for five seconds and told me it was a rash. I knew it wasn’t a rash at this point because I have sensitive skin and get rashes quite frequently. This is when I decided to try and contact Airbnb, and subsequently put myself through customer service hell.

I contacted Airbnb about this bedbug problem on March 2. It is currently March 11 and I am sitting in a hotel, still with no answer about this problem. The first person assigned to my case was the most unresponsive customer service agent I have ever experienced. He would take hours, sometimes even days to respond, with only vague responses.

I called a few days later requesting a new case agent and was told that someone was already working on my case. I called almost 3-4 times a day for the next few days until someone said they could take over my case. They told me that he was supposed to have transferred my case to a new agent after his shift was over, but instead left it to be handled by no one.

It’s now been a week of me getting bitten every single night. My physical and mental health are both plummeting. I have bites on my arms, hands, back, and even my face. On March 10, I finally found two bed bugs. Up until now I was getting bitten and saw stains but couldn’t see the actual bugs. An exterminator, who I had to call, came later that night and was able to confirm that it was bed bugs.

Mind you, this is a long term rental from Feb. 15 – May 15. My friend and I are currently without somewhere to stay for about another two months. Airbnb has constantly changed what they said they will reimburse and has refused to tell us if they will put us somewhere new. They won’t even tell us how much of a refund we will be getting.

I honestly don’t even want to stay at another Airbnb because of how they have treated us but I guess that would be better than living out of our car. I can never get in touch with the person actually working my case and whenever I call they say that they’ll tell the case manager to call me back. Have they ever actually called me back? You guessed it, nope. This has been ongoing for almost two weeks at this point with no end in sight. Airbnb hell indeed.

Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

From Free to Strict Cancellation Policy Before Stay

I live in London and I needed to book a house for my family in the same borough. My family was supposed to come here for my wedding. I found one house for them on Airbnb last October. I booked it accordingly with the cancellation policy, which reported a total refund if you cancel by 15 days before the check in date. This was perfect for me as I wouldn’t have booked a house with a strict cancellation policy in October for May given these strange times, the COVID issues related to many aspects of life and travels, as well as the age of my parents.

I even put this deadline in my agenda to remember it and not risk losing my deposit. Moreover, I remember a strange fact: I wrote to the host because when I was trying to pay to book it, the system was stuck. After a few minutes, it worked normally again. Unfortunately, my family cannot come in May as the situation with COVID is still risky and they are older people. In any case, I did not need to explain the reason to cancel the house as I was supposed to be on time to get back the whole deposit.

On March 2 when I was cancelling my reservation, I noticed a different cancellation policy in the house page on Airbnb. This ‘new’ policy said that you can have the whole deposit back only if you cancel 48 hours after the reservation. Or you could have 50% back by May 3.

I immediately wrote to both the host and the Airbnb Help Center. The host was upset, writing me back that she didn’t have my money that I had to ask Airbnb for it. The Airbnb Help Center asked for my money back from the host but she declined it. So, again, no money back for me.

Airbnb said that the booking confirmation email in my inbox reflected the correct policy. I noticed that it showed the ‘changed’ policy, not the one that caused me to book the house. It’s my fault for not having checked it properly when I received it but I was sure that it was alright. If I saw it, I would have cancelled immediately.

I also tried to get back at least 50% of my deposit, asking for it from the host. She declined, saying “I understand your frustration but it’s policy.”

Given the circumstances, this was gratuitously unfair. For this reason, I have been asking Airbnb to send me some evidence that shows what happened while I was booking, if it is possible that the host changed this policy while I was booking. My belief is based on what happened when I wanted to pay to book the house. The system was stuck for a few minutes. Is there anyone here that had this kind of experience?

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Even a Plus and Superhost Place Still Went Wrong

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We booked a lovely Airbnb Plus with a Superhost for New Year’s. We booked early since this place is very popular. We were so happy to be able to snatch it in time this year.

After we booked, it was confirmed. Later, the owner messaged to inform us about the possibility of future cancellation because the local community was banning Airbnb. Why was this not mentioned in the description?

The owner should also have not put this up for grabs why ahead of time if there are these known risks. We were not made aware of this risk in the description. Now that we are trying to cancel, we will lose some money due to the service fee.

This is neither reasonable nor fair since the owner did not inform customers of this and still put the listing up. We would have sought other accommodations if we had complete information that allowed us to make a sound booking.

After knowing this new information, that our place may be potentially cancelled and we would get our money back, who would go through such risks? I tried to cancel and we couldn’t get everything back because of the service fee. I reach out to Airbnb several times and they agreed with me that the owner should cancel and I would get the fee back as well.

I reached back to the owner who had given no apologies whatsoever until this point. They refused to cancel. How irresponsible. We had to do it. They offered to pay half of the fee which was better than nothing, but it still sucked that we had to cover for something for which we had no wrongdoing. I also told the owner to fix and be transparent in the descriptions so that no one else would have to face this. We just wanted a happy relaxing holiday — it turned out far from it.

Penalized for Cancellation due to COVID Exposure

My friend and I booked a week in a New York state lake house for August. Five days before the vacation was to begin, her roommate was exposed to COVID, and said roommate wasn’t aware of her exposure until three days before our trip, at which point she informed my friend.

Out of an abundance of caution, concern, and unwillingness to potentially spread COVID, we made the painful choice to cancel our trip. The host was immediately rude, behaved like we’d set out to screw her out of money intentionally, and mocked us for believing COVID to be a concern. Airbnb was zero help, and didn’t seem to give a damn about the fact that we were operating under extenuating circumstances while trying to be good members of our national community.

We managed to get half our money back after extensive time spent publicly confronting Airbnb on various social media channels, but the entire thing was disgraceful, and cemented the distrust I’ve always had for Airbnb (I mean, what with destroying rental markets, pricing locals out of their communities, and the racism far too prevalent on their platform). I will never book through them again.