Horrible Host + Horrible Customer Service = Airbnb Nightmare

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My husband and I checked into our Venice beach studio late for a five-night stay. Exhausted, I fell into bed, but thought “This looks like a 3-star place, not 4.82.” The photos showed a bright and sunny room, but the reality was tired and sad: old bathroom and kitchen, tiny room sparsely furnished. We didn’t plan to spend a lot of time inside, so I didn’t think much of it.

The next morning my husband called “first shower,” but quickly retreated. The bathtub was covered in dried human feces. I immediately called the host and told her we were checking out and wanted a full refund. She agreed and we left immediately and checked into a much more expensive hotel. I tried to call Airbnb, but after a half an hour wait I was cut off.

That afternoon, as instructed by my host who said she could not issue a refund until I had cancelled the reservation, I cancelled online. The next day I filed a formal request for a refund with Airbnb’s resolution center. My host had 72 hours to respond and despite my repeated requests, she was radio silent. Finally, my host wrote that she had spoken to Airbnb and was under no obligation to give me a refund, but “out of the goodness of my heart” would refund less than half of our $1,226.

Then I entered Airbnb Hell. I filed a complaint with Airbnb, twice, and only got the response “Here are some articles that might help you.” I wrote to Brian Chesky and several people high up in Airbnb. No response. I DM’d Airbnb through Instagram and got an immediate response: “We are going to assign you a Support Ambassador, a specialist assigned to your case.” For eight days I awaited word from my Support Ambassador (and yes, I kept DMing Airbnb through Instagram and kept getting reassuring responses that they were very concerned about my case).

Eventually, a canned response came from my Support Ambassador which said, in essence, “Sorry. Not our problem.” In the meantime my host was again running the clock and although I did not post a damning review of her studio (or any review), she slammed me with one implying that I had caused the plumbing problem, that I had harassed her, didn’t wait for the problem to be resolved before leaving, and that she had issued us a full refund. Her last ageist jab was: “Cranky old lady. Don’t host her.”

This cranky old lady is also an experienced travel writer. Airbnb says the first thing when there’s a problem is to contact the host. Done. Then Airbnb. Done through the Resolution Center. Bad experiences can happen. Airbnb can be a crapshoot. But why won’t I use them again? Because they take no responsibility, despite their exorbitant fees, for their product. Brian Chesky was just listed as one of the wealthiest people in America. Let the attached photos speak for themselves.

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Nightmare at Mexico Airbnb Makes Us Leave Early

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A misrepresented listing led us to find serious issues with listing in Cholula Puebla, Mexico: three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, three-story house, two years old. It was not only dirty but there was no PPE or COVID-19 sanitizing protocols or cleaning supplies even though the host is a dentist. The host said they only cleaned once a month; there were no cleaning supplies at all, so guess we missed that window, right?

We walked all over the house. There was no gas or internet. We were told to wait for the gas truck and cable company to do installs, while the hosts left. The workmen took 7.5 hrs to finish (no PPE while going up and down the three floors) you can see the installation on the photos I will include. The gas people finally showed up and the pilot was lit, immediately there was a strong gas odor. The host said it was nothing and “just leave the boiler door open” except that the gas leak was very strong all over especially in the kitchen. I should say the boiler temperature never increased from the pilot level so the gas couldn’t get worse which meant no hot water.

We called the host several times about the gas leak, and they finally said a plumber would arrive right away. They never did. I opened the rear sliding door only to be met with all types of flies and mosquitoes. We had to keep it closed. I should add the home was very hot, with no window coverings. We were told the internet would work the following day but it only worked on the first floor due to the installation plus this was an old issue they were aware of.

We gave them benefit of the doubt but couldn’t sleep due to the gas situation and being bit by fleas or bedbugs as soon as we lay on top of the bed. Add to this house wasn’t as advertised — new, modern house completely outfitted — the living room furniture was badly stained, dirty and full of dust plus broken (they were same style as listing but different fabric), and the same for the dining room and kitchen.

The upper floors were stifling hot so they had small fans everywhere. Everything had serious calcium deposits which affected the use of any water, the microwave was dirty and greasy, and everything was old and mistreated. There wasn’t one pan for cooking, just old beat up pots but no spoons, spatulas, coffeemaker, blender, even where you drain dishes didn’t have base on it so couldn’t be used.

They say they’re set up for long-term stays? Definitely not. They also gave us limits for utility use: 500 MX for gas, 500 MX every two months, (roughly $25). You pay for anything over. The host made a abig deal of utility conservation yet with a gas leak, only multiple ceiling lights, no small table lamps available so you’d use much more electricity, plus a very hot house requiring fans everywhere gives the reason for their utility limits.

We left the very next day after seeing had odor was worse, there was no plumber and the internet was still not working properly. We notified Airbnb about getting a refund. It’s been over a week and even though they replied, there has been no resolution yet.

Ransomware Attack Doesn’t Qualify as Extenuating Circumstances?

My family booked a trip in the mountains for North Carolina. Three days before our trip, the Colonial Pipeline was hacked and held for ransomware. This lead to a gas shortage and state of emergency that was declared in the state. We contacted Airbnb customer service to see if we could cancel our trip due to the state of emergency and the fact that we wouldn’t be able to make it to our destination. They told us they would look into it.

We reached out to them every day for five days, and continued to be told they were looking into it. Finally, after our trip was scheduled to be over, they came back and said it wasn’t covered under the extenuating circumstances policy but wouldn’t tell us why, even though a government-declared state of emergency is clearly listed as part of the policy. We asked for a manager to give us a call, so that they could give us a better explanation.

Instead of a call, a manager that was based in Europe emailed us to let us know that the decision was final and that she couldn’t call us in the U.S. because of the time zone difference. We asked for a manager located in North America or more specifically in the eastern time zone. She came back and said if we want to talk to someone, we can call the customer service line again and start over with a new ambassador. We still believe that our claim falls under the extenuating circumstances policy and would really like to talk to someone that understands why the decision was made to deny the claim.

Airbnb Host Tries Bait and Switch Over Memorial Day Weekend

This is the letter I wrote to Airbnb about my experience:

I am writing to tell you about my horrible Airbnb experience in the hopes of getting some resolution. My family and I have used Airbnb several times and never had a bad experience before now. We are so devastated by what has happened to us that we will never use Airbnb or VRBO again.

I have reached out to customer service three times with no result. I get the impression that I am calling a call center in another country and that the people that are answering the phone are just telling me that my issue is being investigated with no result. I have reached out to the Better Business Bureau, the Virginia Beach Police Department, and the Virginia Beach Housing Authority. I will be seeking the advice of my attorney. I have also discussed the situation with my bank’s fraud department and they are conducting their own investigation.

We booked a condo on May 13, 2021. We planned to take our 16-year-old daughter to Virginia Beach to see the beach, aquarium, and Norfolk Botanical Gardens. As we were leaving around 8:00 AM on May 28 I looked at the listing to see what the check-in procedure was and it said there was a lockbox. I messaged the host on the Airbnb app and she asked me to let her know when we were an hour away.

I messaged her again at noon to tell her we were an hour away. She said the house wasn’t ready and check in was at 3:00 PM. I told her no problem, I was just letting her know when we would be arriving in the area. Then she called my cell phone and said something about how she was waiting for a delivery but she would try to get the house ready for an early check in.

We arrived at the condo at 2:30 PM. We called the host and let her know. She sounded flustered and said that the toilets were broken at the condo and that she was waiting for a couch to be delivered. She told us she wanted us to stay at her other property, that it was brand new and we would be the first guests. She gave us the address. It was 15 minutes away.

When we arrived we were shocked and disturbed. The apartment was in an unsafe looking neighborhood in what looked like Section 8 housing. When we walked into the apartment it was hot, there were boxes of her personal belongings in the middle of the floor, the furniture was unplaced and still had tags on it. There was only one bed and only one bedroom was furnished. There was no TV.

She offered to blow up an air mattress for us. She said that she was waiting for a bed and mattress to be delivered. She called the delivery company and put them on speaker phone. They told her they didn’t know when they would arrive. She instructed us not to tell people that this was an Airbnb and to tell people that we were her friends. We told her that we were going to get a cold drink and called Airbnb and spoke to a young lady and told her what was going on. She said someone would email us.

We went back and told the host we were uncomfortable and asked her to cancel. She said she didn’t know how and suggested that we call and lie and say that we were cancelling due to COVID. At one point she handed me her phone and asked me to help her figure out how to cancel. When I cancelled the trip on her account it said that the trip had been referred to a support team. She then said that the toilets were fixed and that we could go back to the original condo if we wanted to. We didn’t believe her and didn’t feel safe interacting with her anymore.

We left and as it was a holiday weekend it took us two hours to find a hotel. I called Airbnb again that night and spoke to a young man who informed me that he may not be able to help me because we didn’t take pictures, but that he would try to help me. He said he would contact me with updates. I never heard from him again. I called and spoke to someone the next day and she said that she would investigate and update me. I have not heard from anyone.

I am a social worker in private practice and my husband is a mechanic. We cannot afford to lose $828. This has been an incredibly upsetting experience for us, particularly as the whole thing happened in front of our 16-year-old daughter. This trip was a treat for her as she has been cooped up in the house for a year doing online learning. I am appalled at the customer service I have received from Airbnb. I implore you to help us resolve this issue.

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Host Lied About Cleaning Filthy Airbnb During Pandemic

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I have used Airbnb for years but never again. My pictures will show that this new host had no concept of what was clean and had not cleaned let alone touched high contact areas. It appears a long-term renter had been there as we were unfortunately the first guests in what they say was a newly refurbished property. They had painted bedrooms but left the kitchen and washing machine cupboard untouched: door handles were sticky, light switches filthy, dirt built up deep and when you opened the fridge door you could see the dirt build up.

The kitchen stank so badly of cat spraying and wee, it also smelt like something dead like a mouse. I told them and sent pictures. They blamed a cleaner but wouldn’t tell me who that was so I could raise a complaint and they said they would clean the next day, a day into our trip. We stayed out all day in the hole so they could do a deep clean. We couldn’t find anywhere else to stay.

We got there late the first night with our son who has Crohn’s and is a higher risk. We couldn’t get anywhere else as everything was booked and we were complying with Airbnb and giving them and the host a right to respond. Airbnb said not to cancel — it had to be done by the host. Anyway, we got back and found that only superficial cleaning had been done: no hoovering the dirt in cupboards, no cleaning next to the washing machine or the machine.

I had such a bad night with my severe cat allergy and knew something was really bad in the kitchen so I tried to find the issue. The photos of the fridge, floors, washing machine, and cupboard are after they had the chance to clean. I was fuming and told the host I sent photos to Airbnb. The host said they would refund me but are now refusing and changing their story because I left an honest review. I am still waiting for Airbnb and I will be taking legal action. The host has now posted defamatory statements about me in their reply to my feedback.

I am at a loss how people can be like this and rip people off and lie so blatantly. I have photos, I have their emails admitting they didn’t clean, admitting it’s wrong, admitting they would refund me and now because I didn’t play the game and lie on my feedback they are refusing. Had I lied I think they would have still refused, and they would have said my feedback showed I’m happy. The biggest issue for me is Airbnb and this is not fit for an enhanced cleaning program. A host gets a badge and is shown to be COVID safe when they are not even doing basic cleaning. I would love to do a class action on Airbnb to look at this and the facts.

Airbnb Verification Process and Dysfunctional Customer Support

I am an established Airbnb guest. Over a month ago I reserved a beach house near Charleston. All seemed fine and they had no problem taking 100% of the funds from my credit card. A few days before checking in I got an email at 11:00 PM demanding that I provide a photo of my driver’s license or passport plus a selfie for “verification”. The email threatened that my reservation would be cancelled if I did not comply within 24 hours.

I don’t mind the verification process and understand the safety/accountability issues, but waiting until days before my reservation to spring this on me is absurd. Worse, the 24-hour window is egregious. I don’t check my email every day, much less every hour. I had family from three states joining me and now it was all in peril. I submitted the required info and photos on time only to get a vague “we are working on your verification” that lasted two days before I called Airbnb customer service to resolve this absurdity. The rep was pleasant but clueless and powerless to resolve since he “did not work in the verification department.”

I asked to speak with supervisor or someone in the “verification department” and was told that was impossible and that I must wait for an email from them telling me my verification was confirmed. All this a few days before check-in by my entire family and weeks after making my reservation and paying a large sum of money. Thankfully direct contact with host allowed me to go around the Airbnb insanity confirm the reservation. To this day I have not received any verification confirmation from Airbnb. I am shocked this company is so popular given its incompetence, indifference, arrogance and dysfunction.

Xenophobic Airbnb Host Harasses Guest After Stay

I am a college student whose lease started after the school was scheduled to close. This meant for the few days in between I was on the brink of being homeless. I had finally found a way to move in early but I still wasn’t given a consistent time and date. My Airbnb host knew this and offered to store my things from my dorm room. He changed his price, but I did not mind or rather had no choice to because there was no available storage left in town that I knew of.

From the beginning, I felt uncomfortable. He was telling me what to do, and I felt extremely rushed. Later on and even before he was very confusing on what he meant by storage. We eventually agreed on storing my stuff in his car and he would deliver to my place at a price. This was fair to me. Overall, our personalities did not match, but I was willing to ignore that because I needed a place to stay and that’s ultimately what I was there for.

We had made an agreement that he would drop my things off at my house at a certain time. I tried to express to him multiple times that my property manager was not very responsive and he kept pressuring me to reach out, call him, and check my phone. It felt like I was caught between two men who wanted different things and my literal living situation was on the line. He told me he would drop me off at a certain time and I agreed to that because it was mainly congruent with the time my property manager gave. He also told me I could remain in the house until it was time to leave. He changed this very last minute and I had to leave earlier.

While I was waiting for the call to move in, he asked me what I wanted my occupation to be. To keep it brief it had to do with immigration and helping immigrants and native citizens with integration; this is a very incomplete explanation of it. His political views definitely differed from mine and he verbatim was quoting what seemed like Trump tweets. I constantly told him I was not having the conversation he wanted to have and he continued to talk about it despite my statements and clear discomfort.

I may have accidentally left something in his possession and he was reluctant to help me because he said I was “cold” after he helped me. I paid him for all services outside of housing such as delivery and picking up my stuff. He also made me uncomfortable by asking which exact unit I lived in after he was done.

When I made my review it was 4/5 stars for my comfort and he responded with it dismissing my comfort with his “good reviews”. He’s blocked me and I have blocked him, but there’s no telling if he has my possessions or not because he isn’t compliant. At first it seemed like he was going to help me but after I said thank you for looking for my stuff and I may have just misplaced it he really went out of line with being like: “I’m shocked you asked for help after being so cold” and accused me of getting my feelings hurt like he wasn’t the one calling me “bent out of shape” and overstepping my own boundaries.

It was honestly the most uncomfortable experience ever. I am missing a small pouch and the fridge I let him handle has a piece missing from the back I believe. I am hoping the pouch is just lost within the bins that haven’t been fully unpacked. I’m not trying to accuse him of anything but for someone who handled me so wrongly he really handled the situation poorly. Talk about hurt feelings. I doubt you’ll enjoy staying here.

Account Deactivated Over a Dismissed Felony Charge

I recently started an account with Airbnb for a reservation for my family and myself. I paid for it, got the email confirmation, and was so happy. Thirty minutes later I got an email saying that I did not pass the background check. The problem was they had a DUI from over seven years ago on there three times. The real kicker is, a felony theft charge that was dismissed is what ultimately got my account deactivated.

This is completely unacceptable. This is discrimination and they are treating me as if I was found guilty. United States law states you are innocent until proven guilty. I was proven to be innocent; the charges were dropped yet Airbnb is treating me as if I was found guilty. I’ve called Airbnb and gotten no help. I called the third-party background check vendor and of course they are getting the process started. It will probably take 60 days before the situation with my DUI is corrected. However what ultimately will count me out with Airbnb is a dismissed case.

This is completely prejudiced of Airbnb. I have never been treated or excluded from anything in my life due to that dismissal case, and I do hold a professional license in the medical field. Yet Airbnb does not care to rent to me. This blows my mind. Part of me absolutely wants to contact a lawyer.

Host Left a Bad Review Because Kitchen… Smelled like Cooked Food

Let me start by saying I have OCD and am generally kinda fussy about other people’s space, so I clean pretty much everything before I leave wherever I’m a guest, whether it’s a hotel room or a friend’s house or an Airbnb. I’m a total rule follower (I admit it) and my goal for wherever I stay is to essentially cause as little bother as possible. So all of my Airbnb reviews have been stellar, with one exception.

I stayed at a cabin in a fairly rural area with my wife for a long weekend. The day we checked out, I got up and made breakfast, then cleaned up, packed, and left. The trip was completely uneventful, and I left a positive review. The host left me a lengthy negative review because she went into the cabin right after we checked out and found a problem: she smelled cooked food in the kitchen area.

It was a tiny, one-room place where the windows didn’t open, and even if they had, it was January. Also, there was no vent system on the stove. Everything was put back where it belonged, we followed all the rules, the dishes were clean and put away, the pots and pans and utensils were all clean and put away, I took the trash and recycling out, and even cleaned the stove, countertops, etc. But none of that bested the part where it still faintly smelled like scrambled eggs and bacon (it wasn’t even smelly or unusual food, or something that permeated even the entire cabin — just the kitchen area, by her own admission).

The review went on and on about how offensive it was that I had left the air dirty, I guess? I actually contacted Airbnb, just because this was my first negative review and I was fairly baffled. The customer service rep was audibly suppressing laughter and finally said (this is not a direct quote): “You didn’t do anything wrong, but also we can’t take the review down because there’s nothing false in it.”

I don’t disagree with this — nobody broke any rules, it’s just petty, and hopefully that CSR at least came away from it with a funny story. I’m probably never going to use Airbnb again for other reasons — just because nothing bad has happened to me doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore what happens to other people — but if I did, I hope future hosts look at my reviews and get a good giggle out of the only negative being “the air smelled kinda like food in the kitchen, an hour or so after somebody cooked.”

Anyway, I just wanted to share a story where no one’s life got ruined and nobody got scammed out of a ton of money. Turns out you can do everything technically correct and your host can still get salty because you didn’t clean the air.

A side note: my parents gave me a fairly androgynous name that a lot of English-speaking people assume is male, especially online, so it’s possible she didn’t realize she was renting to a lesbian couple until we showed up. But I don’t want to assume it was ‘homophobe looks for things to be mean about’; that’s just the only thing we could think of that might’ve made her weird towards us specifically, as she had been completely normal and friendly until she saw us in person.