Hurricane Irma Evacuees Find No Escape With Airbnb

My wife, our two children, and I decided to evacuate our southwest Florida home in Lee County based on our governor’s mandatory evacuation. Our son had a good experience using Airbnb and had a pleasant stay at one of their listings. My wife and I decided to give them a try at the last minute instead of being housed in a hotel room with all of our important possessions (i.e. family photos, documents, jewelry, etc).

Based on Hurricane Irma’s path, we decided Louisiana would be the safest destination out of the storm’s way. We found one of a few places that were left available and based on the description of the listing, it sounded pleasant for the needs of our family and two vehicles.

Upon arrival we observed this home was in a bad neighborhood. We had to park on the city street (whereas the listing stated “parking on premises”). My wife an I proceeded to the locked gates (first sign of a bad neighborhood). With our two kids each in one vehicle parked on two different streets, we met with a much older gentlemen who was not the host; he stated he was 87 and had a brain tumor. This man had a foul smell to him and proceeded to show us the apartment.

Once we were inside we observed the same foul smell throughout the apartment. There were water stains on the ceiling and it was dirty inside. The old man proceeded to tell us that the health department had been trying to shut him down since Hurricane Katrina had flooded the building and the city had not been through his part of town to give them the proper permits to renovate the apartments. With our youngest son having had asthma, we knew we couldn’t stay there.

After the older gentleman showed us the place he went on to add that the place was used as a prison during Katrina and was a drug house prior to him owning the building. After having traveled 14 hours to get here, my wife and I got back in our cars and got out of there and out of that area of the city as fast as we could. Unfortunately we could not find another room that night since millions had evacuated florida; we ended up sleeping at a rest area on I-10. To be honest, that was a lot better than even thinking about staying at the Airbnb in New Orleans.

Beware and avoid places like this on Airbnb: false representation to be family friendly, parking on premises, all the way down to the host (who we never met). We don’t believe the reviews of this place prior to our reservation are credible. We have been in contact with Airbnb and they said a case manager will be in touch with us. We will also be contacting our Attorney General here in florida who stated that they will go after people who have taken advantage of its citizens during its state of emergency. The owner of the Airbnb was well aware of our family’s situation and was not honest with his accommodation in the listing. In fact my wife and I believe that the host does not exist. We just want a refund for services not rendered, nothing else. Let’s see if Airbnb stands up for its guests and refunds our money.

Airbnb Doesn’t Care About Burglary in Richmond, Virginia

A couple of days ago during Hurricane Irma my boyfriend, his mom, and I rented a two bedroom apartment in the center of Richmond, Virginia to escape the storm. The listing looked extremely decent and the host had over 100 positive reviews. The flat was located on the first floor of a two-story building in the historic center of Richmond.

After arriving at the place around 10-11 PM we went to sleep and left the apartment early the next day to explore the city. We arrived back to the flat for the first time at 11:00 PM and that’s when we noticed we had been burgled. The host had two entrance doors at his apartment: one was a code door and the other door was a back door that could be opened only from the inside.

My boyfriend’s mom and I entered the house using the front door, while my boyfriend went to park the car and was waiting for us to open the back door for him. Upon reaching the back door, I discovered that it was unlocked. I asked my boyfriend if he left the door opened but he assured me that when we were leaving he checked that everything had been locked.

We started searching the rooms and noticed that my backpack with all my valuables was missing, that my boyfriend’s mom’s stuff was upside down and all of my boyfriend’s bags had been opened. Then we saw that the window of one of the rooms in the apartment was open, meaning that the burglars had entered the flat through the window and left using the back door.

We immediately called the police and wrote a report about it. It was interesting that the host had three TVs in the apartment as well as other electronics, but none of his things were missing, only my own valuables. Upon reaching out to the host, he of course said that he was not responsible for the robbery, even when he was negligent and did not provide any security for his apartment. Living on the ground floor, the host did not have any protection on his windows and not a single camera.

When speaking to me, the host said that the neighborhood where we were staying was very safe and nothing had ever happened to guests before. However, after the incident, he decided to put cameras about his house. I wish he would have done this before renting us his place. Airbnb has not taken any responsibility for what has happened to us and has completely ignored our requests. They did not even refund us the night that we had to spend in a hotel after the robbery because we were scared to stay at that apartment one more night. To sum it up, this stay with Airbnb cost us over a $3,000 in valuables and no one wanted to find a resolution to this incident.

Charged over £1,000 for a 16-Minute Booking

We were the victims of a double booking at our first property. It actually wasn’t Airbnb’s fault, but the subsequent events had everything to do with an Airbnb host. This was not an individual, in fact, but a faceless and greedy property management company. After the double booking fiasco, seven of our group were stranded in the remote Tuscan countryside in rural Italy with, realistically, a couple of hours to sort it out and find somewhere to sleep. I was the eighth member of the group, travelling by train to meet the group. It was up to me to find an alternative at very short notice through Airbnb as I’d made the original booking and the money immediately reimbursed by Airbnb for the double booking mess up was allocated to my account. Network coverage on the train was very patchy.

Looking at alternative accommodation for suitability and availability on a mobile device was extremely difficult. It was hot. The train was packed. Going from Milan to Florence, you pass through an enormously long tunnel. Meanwhile, I was trying to converse with the group who were also wrestling with poor phone signals and trying to assess alternatives and report back to me.

Long story short: the circumstances were extremely difficult. Partway through this process I made another booking. It was a mistake caused by confusion and fat fingers. I take full responsibility for making an error but in the circumstances you can perhaps understand how it happened. I realised what I’d done and cancelled the booking within 16 minutes. Once we’d finally sorted out alternative accommodation, I contacted the host and asked for a refund. I figured he’d been put to no trouble; he could not have lost a booking in 16 minutes and could not have incurred any cleaning fees. He refused.

Of the £1953 we paid for the 16 minute booking, the host chose to refund only £842, citing his Strict Cancellation Policy. The 16 minutes cost us £1,111. This is the villa – beware if you’re booking it. The host was within his rights according to his and Airbnb’s policy. Is this fair? Reasonable? In the spirit of the Airbnb community? Someone you would like to trust with your holiday? Those are questions you might like to consider before making a booking with Airbnb.

Fraudulent Listing in Moscow Leaves Guest at Hotel

At the end of July 2017, I rented a room for two nights with Airbnb in Moscow, Russia. I sent text messages to the host of the apartment a couple of times asking him about his apartment number. Not getting any answers led me to believe there was an international communications problem.

When I got there, I called him many times but still got no answer. I went to the address which was centrally located and like many other apartment buildings in Moscow, it had security personal at the entrance. I asked the security guy about this listing and he answered me that the building had eight apartments. He had never seen the host in the picture I provided nor did he know any resident who rented an apartment in that building. He also contacted his partner who worked the same shift but he got a negative answer as well. That was about 3:30 in the afternoon.

I tried to contact Airbnb but I was unsuccessful. They had no help nor support from the website. I tried until around midnight by browsing with my luggage from one restaurant to another with no luck. I spent that night in a nearby hotel, paying around $100. The next day, after many hours of trying to rent a different apartment, I gave up and changed my return ticket to the earliest date, which happened to be on August 21st. That date was almost ten days earlier than my originally planned return date of September 2nd.

After changing my ticket, I rented a different place with Airbnb after many hours where I could spend the time enjoying my vacation. The place that I rented was not centrally located. Finally I contacted Airbnb, and told them that the listing was fraudulent. Because of that fraudulent listing, my entire trip was derailed and I was very much depressed.

When I returned to the states, I contacted Airbnb and spoke with a person at customer service who sent me an email earlier, presenting herself as a help/support department manager and promising to compensate me $300. According to her, this was the maximum amount that Airbnb could pay. I asked her whether this conversation was being recorded and she responded that it was. After speaking with her back and forth, she promised to compensate me with $400 plus my refund of $81 for a rental. I received an email today from a representative at Airbnb, stating that their company will not compensate me the amount that had been promised. I don’t like companies that don’t understand how to calculate their costs and benefits. In my case, if I don’t rent with Airbnb for three or four times, they lose me as a costumer and the amount that they had to compensate me.

From Host to Host, Payment to Payment, Until Finally Something Stable

I booked a historic firehouse Airbnb five miles from SOHO in Jersey City for August 6-13, 2017. My Discover card was charged $1509. While we were on our way on August 6th, I realized I hadn’t received access instructions. Since I was driving, I asked my son to message the host for access instructions. He messaged back that the property wouldn’t be ready until September 4th. My son messaged him that we had a confirmed reservation and my credit card had been charged. His only response was to call Airbnb. This was about 10:40 AM.

We did call Airbnb and worked with the customer service representative to try to find another place to stay. He sent an email around 11:20 AM with some other properties for us to consider and an offer of a $143 credit toward another property. My son was searching for places on my phone while I drove. I pulled off the PA turnpike into a McDonalds parking lot and we booked a townhouse in Brooklyn, based on the description and pictures in the listing. This was about 11:40 AM.

About an hour later the host of that property called while I was still driving on the PA turnpike. He told me that he noted that we were bringing two dogs and that they treat dogs like guests. I actually thought that sounded good. What he meant, but didn’t tell me, is that he was going to charge me $40 per dog per day for the dogs. It was the next day when I realized this and he had charged my Discover card $611.25. He never got my approval for this charge and I would never pay such an outrageous “pet fee”.

We arrived at the property about 5:45 PM. The property was not as described or pictured in the listing. The property was filthy, smelly, and uninhabitable. Walls were water damaged. Outlets had missing covers. The “couch” in the living area was a wooden bench covered with a throw pillow. The only TV was in one of the bedrooms. The bedrooms were on the upper level and the kitchen and living areas were on the lower level. They were separated by very steep stairs with no hand rail. The “back garden” was an enclosed, paved area with plants that had been cut down and left to decay. As a result it was smelly and bug infested.

There was no way I could stay there with my son and dogs. I immediately called Airbnb. I sent them numerous pictures documenting the condition of the property. I have attached the pictures at the end of this email. They refused to apply the money I had paid and the credit I had been offered to another property. They were awful to deal with. They were supposed to call me back that night and never did. I also called on Monday August 7th, left a message, and never heard back. By this point it was almost 8:00 PM.

In desperation, I found another place and reserved it. My Discover card was charged another $1,572.31. It turned out to be exactly as described and pictured. The host immediately cleaned it up and got it ready for us. We stayed there for the full week and found it to be everything we expected.

To summarize the amounts we were charged and amounts I believe we are due credit for:

– Charged by Airbnb to Discover card 6/19/17 for Airbnb historic firehouse in Jersey City 8/6/17 = $1,509.00
– Credit issued by Airbnb 8/6/17 = ($533.02)
– “Pet Fee” for townhouse in Brooklyn 8/7/17 = $611.25
– Two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn = $1,572.31

– Amount I should have been charged = $1,509.00
– Credit offered by Airbnb for reservation cancelled by host = ($143.00)

Total = $1,366.00
Credit Due = $1,793.54

Host in Tallahassee Needs to Grow Up and Accept Hurricane

We booked a townhouse in Tallahassee, Florida necessary for evacuation from Hurricane Irma. The host was to contact us one day prior to provide the lock box code for the key. He never fulfilled that promise. Rather than drive five hours hoping he would come through, we canceled the reservation at 6:30 AM and emailed the host. Note that the hurricane had shifted west and Tallahassee was now in the path of the storm. Being in an evacuation zone, we scrambled to find a safe place and inquired about a refund. The host responded a day later at 5:45 PM stating his no refund policy. After some back and forth after the fact, he had the audacity to blame the hurricane for the reason he hadn’t responded. The reason we canceled (besides never getting the lock box code) was the same reason he said he couldn’t communicate and he still denies us a refund? I’m not sure how many properties this host has on various sites but stay far far away from him. Perhaps he can grow into a real man but for now he is an immature child who can’t take responsibility for his own failings.

Fleas in the Bed, Airbnb Host in the Wind

We needed a place to stay for three nights before moving on to St. Ives and found a cottage listed on Airbnb. On arrival we were fairly happy with the cottage, which was decorated and kept nicely, if a little dirty, but nothing too bad. Our baby daughter was using her walker, and we noticed that her feet were dirty after a few minutes on the floor; again, we decided that we could live with this for a few days. The host had informed us that the previous guests had broken the curtain rail in the second bedroom, but that he didn’t think it would bother us. It did, as my teenage son was in that room, and he had to pile pillows into the window frame to block out the light in the morning. Again, we were only there for a few days so we could put up with it before our holiday moved to St. Ives.

Trying to run a bath for our daughter, I noticed that one of the bath taps wouldn’t work, so I filled it using the shower. Again not ideal, but we could work around it. The hosts kindly left some coffee, but the only coffee pot we could find was full of mould. We stuck to tea; it was no problem as I like tea. Now for the tipping point. We got into bed and allowed our daughter to lay with us for a little while, when my wife saw a flea jump onto her then off again. I sat up and we pulled the covers back and saw a flea (possibly the same one) jump onto and off of the white sheets. By this time it was too late to do anything so we had no choice but to sleep in the bed. In the morning we saw two more fleas and my wife had been bitten.

I contacted the host and very politely told him that he had fleas and that we couldn’t stay. He said he would refund me asap, and thanked me for being so understanding. I told him that if course we wouldn’t leave any negative feedback, as these things happen. We spent the day trying to find alternative accommodation, eventually finding an apartment in Plymouth, Devon. This was a very stressful day, not knowing whether we would be able to find a place to stay and having a six-month old to look after. A few weeks later I still hadn’t heard from the host, so I looked on the website and saw that you could request money. I did this, requesting £250 of the roughly £300 we paid.

A couple of nights later I received an email telling me that the host had refused to refund us, and in addition he felt that we hadn’t left the house in a respectable state. We had only stayed one night, and as far as I can remember the only things we left were items of food packaging by or in the bin, and the pillows piled up in the window. My son initially tidied this but I told him to put it back so that the host knew that it was an issue. I have asked the host to explain what he meant but haven’t heard back. I have asked Airbnb to get involved but haven’t heard back. Most annoyingly, the host left it long enough so that I couldn’t leave feedback.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen After a Stay?

Our group of 18 rented out a cottage this weekend. Our stay was great. Our host was great. We had no complaints about the property. After checking out, I wrote a great review and our host left us a great review as well. We left the place immaculately clean (especially since there were 18 of us). Later that evening, I got a message from our host (through text) that their neighbour was very unhappy and that there had been a lot of noise, excessive partying and loud music playing. During our stay, we did not have a complaint by the neighbours even once and we were very respectful about turning down the noise after 10:00 PM. I only remember us getting loud while playing card games since we get competitive, but that was way before 10:00 in the evening. Anyway, I told our host that wasn’t the case with regards to the neighbours’ complaint and that we were very respectful and apologized for troubling their neighbour. They seemed very understanding and thanked me for clarifying what really happened. I was wondering if there will be any repercussions on our end since we’ve already submitted reviews? What’s the worst that can happen if they don’t believe us?

Bedbug Nightmare Endures Long After Airbnb Stay

I checked into an Airbnb sponsored accommodation in the Daytona Beach area. The next morning after I showered, I noticed several sizable red spots on each of my front shoulders. I took my hand mirror and noticed that more of the same were on my back upper arms, and a trail of red discs led up my neck into my hairline.

My plan for the day was to meet with my friend for an early lunch and to do a bit of shopping. When I picked her up, I showed her my arms and also the picture I had taken of my back while still in the cottage. She said she hoped they were only flea bites but I should check for bedbugs. She explained how that should be done. I cut our shopping trip short, because it seemed as if more bites were appearing. I went back to the cottage and asked the host’s mother, the person who showed me around and got me settled into the cottage the night before, if she could tell me what she thought the bite marks were. She said she had lived in Florida for only two years and didn’t have a clue.

I went to Urgent Care, and the doctor, without examining my body, said they were bug bites, not specifying which bugs. I returned to the cottage and wanted to satisfy my mind to stay another night, but decided to check the mattress and box springs as my friend had suggested. At the outer corner of the head of the bed, I pulled the piping/cording around the box springs and a full-grown bedbug and a cluster of eggs and nymphs fell onto the top of my shoe. I went back around to the front and summoned the host’s mother to show her she had an infestation. Since I had disturbed them earlier, she didn’t see any. I didn’t stay around for her to check other areas of the bed. I was almost running to get out of there. She said she would refund my money, her portion. I needed to contact Airbnb about their share.

I contacted Airbnb and the first Customer Care agent said he needed proof, so I spent the next four hours trying to send the picture back to the email address he had used. It kept bouncing back. I finally found a place to send the picture after going to Airbnb’s Help Center. He did refund the total $175 I had paid for a three-night stay.

Before I returned home, I went to the dollar store, bought bedbug spray, and let off bombs in my car. I did not bring my soft side bags with my clothes and medicines in immediately, but I did wear the shoes in that I had on when I examined the box springs at Heidi’s. Since I had never experienced anything like this, I thought after the bombing, my belongings could be brought back into my house. I immediately started washing my clothes, but it was soon very evident I had some hitch hikers.

I then went to the hardware store, bought the most powerful kit they had, and started using it. I also turned the furnace on and a small electric heater, hoping to eradicate them with heat. After doing this from August 9-13 with still bites each morning, I called a professional company. I wanted them to come the next day, but it took extensive preparation, and since I had to do it all myself, I did not have them come until a few days later. By the time they arrived, I had thrown out nearly all my clothes, bedding, beds, and any soft items that could easily provide a nesting place for the bugs or their eggs. The professional returned three times to do both the car and the house.

Each morning I still woke up with pinpricks somewhere on my body. After the first time, I returned from the car with bites on both sides of my back just below my arms. My sister sent me over $200 of a spray, which I used over all the surfaces. I washed all my linens every day, sometimes twice a day in the laundry solution. There were still pinpricks. I have followed all the suggestions I could find. I went and bought a steamer and shop vac and steamed each inch of my bedroom floor up to the baseboards. I finally bought ten pounds of diatomaceous powder and spread it throughout the house. It looks like it’s a bombed-out shelter in a war zone.

To keep this from impacting my health further by inhaling fumes and dust, I asked my sister to come get me. She called me when she was about 30 minutes away from my house. At that time I took a shower, stood in the middle of the living room and waited for her to come to the door to hand me a change of clothes. She gave me the clothes, and I handed her a plastic bag with my medicine in it. I told her to wait for me in the car. I quickly put on the clothes and left with another bag containing the rest of the spray which I used on myself before and after I got into her car.

I anticipate being many miles away from my home for at least four months because I read that a bedbug cannot live longer without a blood meal. Since I was their host, I hope they will starve. As for Airbnb, they are full of hot air. They want the public to think they are concerned and responsive to a guest’s problem, but they’re not. They had the gall to send me pictures of someone’s lovely vacation to comment on. I did. I told them about my not so lovely one. The thread had over a hundred responses. Several were from Airbnb personnel who monitor the information. Each one continued to publicly post that they wanted me to contact a Case Manager. Each time I did, it was the same smoke-blowing.

Their final compensation offer was to wash the clothes I had in their Airbnb. At that point I said, “What clothes?” Airbnb wants to wash my clothes. I have thrown away most of my possessions. I can’t use my car or stay in my home, interact with my friends, participate in my social activities, or have a normal life and they offer that as a solution. Folks beware. Yes, this could have happened at a hotel, but at least there are inspectors and regulatory agents for them. With Airbnb, you’re on your own.