$3000/week “Green Home” Rental Came with Head Lice

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In mid-February 2020, a friend and I flew in from opposite coasts to rent a $3000/week Airbnb house in Scottsdale. The house was recently renovated and seemed clean; however, 7-10 days later, we each discovered we had contracted head lice.

We each live alone and for several months prior to this trip, we had been only in our own houses. Neither of us has ever had head lice before; we are 60+ years of age with no history of lodging complaints (baseless or otherwise) against companies or Airbnb.

I contacted the property management company and Airbnb, and was told: the house was clean; we could not prove we’d contracted lice from this rental; and we needed to file a complaint within 24 hours of the stay. Obviously, this is hard to do with a pest infestation for which it takes 7-10 days to show symptoms.

Other than responding to my email, Airbnb has put zero effort into investigating this complaint. Why is the burden of proof on us when two people who live on opposite sides of the country contract head lice within two weeks of staying together at the same property?

Seriously, other people are at risk of head lice infestations and Airbnb has an obligation to do more.

Coronavirus Causes Hours of Customer Service Wait Time

My host will not cancel and told me to go through Airbnb. Their chat is a bot and not a human, so that got me nowhere. I am on hold, but they said “we are experiencing higher than usual call volumes, expect to wait hours” and then started on hold.

Hours? I have never heard that before. I can’t believe they don’t have a away to easily cancel online with this coronavirus stuff. We have a family member with a respiratory illness whose doctor has said not to travel. We need to cancel and can according to their policy, but I need to be able to do it.

I will never book through Airbnb again. I have never had such a problem and it is so stressful.

Cured Photos, Airbnb Says Everything is Within Policy

We had to escape from an Airbnb apartment. It was not as described, with photos only showing the best parts of it.

Most importantly, it was unsafe. The neighboring building was a dump and abandoned apparently; the picture of the entrance did not show this. I have proof of how it looks in reality and can send it. It is unsafe.

We couldn’t get into the apartment because the path to it was completely covered with ice. There were literally no steps; it had not been cleaned for weeks. We have taken pictures of this. I fell and almost ended up on the road with cars. The icy path opened directly to the busy road and there were no pathways.

The bed was yellowed and very old. We could not even think of sleeping on it. The toilet was clean but smelled of urine — filthy and not hygienic. The other small bedroom had the window shut from the outside. This Airbnb was nothing like the sunshine in the pictures.

Airbnb Doesn’t Delete Confidential User Data

I wanted to unsubscribe from Airbnb emails but they have no unsubscribe function as required under Australian law (Spam Act 2003). To unsubscribe, Airbnb’s terms state only to “send us an email” to terminate the agreement. An email was sent as requested with the subject and body “cancel my account” for two accounts (i.e. Germany and Australia).

For the first account, Airbnb advised me with three reply emails sent from a third party (zendesk.com) that the requested account was cancelled. I conducted a test five days later to confirm the cancellation had failed. Access was granted to the cancelled account on login with the last password. Confidential account and profile information including my date of birth and phone number were still accessible, able to be updated, and obviously still held by Airbnb.

Airbnb refused to cancel my second account unless a “government ID” was provided, in spite of the request being sent from the same email address used to login. Airbnb was advised that the email reply was indistinguishable from a “phishing” scam. Airbnb was asked to state what legal authority Airbnb relied on to demand a government ID from me to cancel my account.

Airbnb simply continued to demand proof of identity to cancel the account without stating the legal authority for their demand other than suggesting it was merely an Airbnb policy. After replying to all further Airbnb responses with automatic resending of the original “cancel my account” request, Airbnb finally advised that the account had been cancelled but the data would not be deleted due to my failure to provide ID.

Airbnb has demonstrated their: failure to provide an unsubscribe facility as required by the Australian Spam Act 2003; failure to terminate (AKA “cancel my account”) the agreement while claiming to have done so; failure to give physical effect to the termination of the agreement granting Airbnb the right to hold confidential personal information necessary for service delivery by not deleting that information on termination.

The above evidence shows blatant breaches of Airbnb’s own policy, the Australian Spam Act 2003, and the German GDPR, which proves Airbnb’s intention not to protect consumer information.

No Refund for State of Emergency in LA

On Tuesday evening I decided to spend two days in LA and booked with Airbnb. Wednesday morning, LA County declared a state of emergency. I’m not afraid of the virus, but deliberately going to an area where the state of emergency was declared because of the virus doesn’t make any sense either. I decided to cancel.

Unfortunately, the state of emergency because of the deadly coronavirus is no reason for cancellation and therefore the host doesn’t want to refund my money. I called the customer service on Wednesday early afternoon and they promised a call back from a supervisor.

Now it is Thursday at 11:00 PM (PST) and I called again. This time it was someone who promised a call back from a supervisor. No callback so far. I also filed a claim after I cancelled but I haven’t received any response here either.

Another Airbnb Last Minute Host Cancellation

This was first, and will be my last, Airbnb booking. I planned a three-week trip to El Dorado, to visit family and friends. In November I put the trip together and chose Airbnb to rent an apartment for the extended stay rather than a hotel. The booking was just around the house where I grew up and was well reviewed.

Fifteen days before traveling, three months after I made the reservation, I received a notice of cancellation, with no explanation. The Superhost responded when I contacted her:

I am so sorry for the canceling. I have someone in the apartment till the end of March. You booked in November and I thought I had all of March blocked off. I just saw the reservation on the March calendar.

I asked how this happened.

I do apologize. I have never in three years had to cancel a reservation. In December I had a guest reserve the room from Jan. 3 to Mar. 28. When I was blocking those days off on the web site, I just enter on the top page to block all days from Jan. 3 to Mar. 28. Airbnb has change up the website. I did not see that you had your reservation in the middle of the other guest stay.

I wrote:

I made a reservation in November and you take a conflicting reservation in December. Then rather than advising the December reservation you made a mistake and have to honor a previous reservation from March 7th to March 28th made prior to their reservation, you chose to cancel mine? I don’t think that is honest or right.

I did not hear from her again. A complaint to Airbnb got a response saying they were sorry. Great. I made an unacceptable and more expensive hotel reservation and paid the flight change fee to shorten my trip.

While she claims this was an honest calendar mistake, I received confirmation and paid the 50% deposit. I would guess this is the kind of cancellation discussed on Airbnb Hell. Though I made the reservation first, for three weeks in March, she had the opportunity to take a much more lucrative three-month reservation.

Even if it was an honest mistake (very doubtful), I would expect her to explain the mistake to the three-month reservation, tell them they have to vacate for my reservation, which predates theirs. I travel several weeks a year within and outside the United States. I have used other rental services without issue.

I will never consider Airbnb again. I have deactivated my account. How can this be permitted? As with the other horror stories, all the investment and planning for the trip and my family is ripped apart.

The other part that angers me is that an automatic review, not from me, was placed for the listing with the notification of the cancellation. As the reservation was canceled, the website does not allow me to review my experience with the host and the property. Nice for Airbnb. Never again.

Finished Dealing with Amateurs at Airbnb

Although I have never had a horror story with Airbnb as some people have, in the six or so years that I have been using it, this is what I have found:

90% of the time, there is some significant issue. Either it is in trying to find the place, or in trying to gain entry. Or the place is dilapidated or has many maintenance issues. I have found the reviews to be unreliable as well. In contrast, when I book a hotel, there are only significant issues around 10% of the time, plus the reviews are much more reliable.

In using Airbnb, I am relying on amateurs. The problem is that when a person travels, they are more vulnerable and insecure because they likely have no network of friends in the area. Traveling is generally stressful enough without unpleasant surprises. I find that in using Airbnb, I really save little money and its just not worth the hassle. In the future, I will be using hotels and other alternatives.

Airbnb Exploitative Policies During an Epidemic

This was my first and last time using Airbnb. I live in Nagoya, Japan and wanted my parents to visit me this summer, from April 17th to May 17th. I booked an apartment for four people in Nagoya for more than $3000. I booked early in January thinking that the summer time would be the peak season of travel here in Japan owing to the Golden Week holidays.

Then last week the coronavirus struck the whole world and within days the situation in Japan also got worse. As a result of discussions with my family we decided to cancel the trip and the reservation two months prior to the actual check-in date.

Airbnb lists “epidemic disease or illness that suddenly affects a region or an entire group of people” as an extenuating circumstance and we are eligible for refund. Hence, we cancelled the reservation and surprisingly I only got $70 as a refund when I paid more than $3000 to book this place.

We decided to file a refund claim under extenuating cancellation policy. I called Airbnb customer care and was initially disconnected two times when I told my story and asked for a refund (I know the names of the representatives who disconnected me as well).

Finally the third time I got in touch with an Airbnb representative who was hellbent on proof of the coronavirus spread in Japan even though the whole world is aware of the situation in Asia. Hence we submitted links to the various government websites, travel advisories, and my parents’ travel itinerary to prove that they were traveling form India.

Still Airbnb asked for more proof, saying there was no ban in Japan. The epidemic is spreading and it’s in the news. This is apparent to the whole world but Airbnb will not consider it unless someone really dies or gets infected. They want to exploit people out of their hard-earned money even at the time of an epidemic.

Even after paying more than $3000 I got a joke of $70 back, which is completely unacceptable and unfair, whether there is an epidemic or not. This depicts a perfect picture of exploitation by Airbnb and their poor host cancellation policies which are screwing with people’s mental health and robbing them of their money.

The host says that he doesn’t know how the refund came down to $70, while Airbnb says they cannot override the host cancellation policy. Who knows which side is telling the truth.

I initially thought that they would settle this on humanitarian grounds considering the coronavirus situation in the world right now but they want more proof. What more proof do they want, when the epidemic has already spread to all parts of the world? There is no regard or respect for human life.

I work hard for my money and the fact that I am being exploited for money in the wake of an epidemic and constantly asked for proof of it as though I am making up the situation is causing me so much stress and sleepless nights. I reluctantly used Airbnb for the first time knowing that as a first time user and reading other guest experiences, I might run into some trouble and, as expected, had the worst experience.

I will not be using Airbnb again. When they do not have any morals or values even in the time of a crisis or an epidemic, no one can expect them to resolve your issues when the times are less tense.