Airbnb vs VRBO: Host on Both Platforms Offers Thoughts

As a host with properties on both platforms, my policy is simple: I offer a lower rate with non-refundable options. I suggest that the guest obtain travel insurance if they are concerned about unforeseen events. If a guest does not get insurance and can’t travel, it’s like someone buying a car and not having insurance. When an accident happens, and I don’t have coverage, I want someone else to pay. This is what insurance is for to offer coverage and benefits in unforeseen situations.

I am a host on both platforms and agreed to the initial terms. Airbnb unilaterally changed the terms on me as a host, and offered full refunds against my policy and suggestion to obtain travel insurance coverage.

VRBO gives us the discretion to make the decision for refunds and suggests we do, but it’s at our suggestion and the reason why I stay with VRBO. I have worked with guests to provide win-win solution and am happy. I will change all my listings to VRBO while avoiding Airbnb at all costs as they screwed us by going back on our agreement on strict refund policy with the guest to obtain travel insurance.

What’s next? A regular flu, or there’s a accident that the guest gets into to fully refund them because of an unforeseen tragedy? Or should they encourage travel insurance vs unilaterally changing terms on a host?

If hosts don’t list on Airbnb because they screwed them, then guests wont be able to rent a good place… or not the better places at least. I won’t list my upgraded properties at low prices on Airbnb ever again.

Airbnb Founders Should be Ashamed of Themselves

Firstly I’d like to say Airbnb has falsely pushed up rental prices all over the world. This first came to light when I joined Airbnb as a host. I know the average rent in Hua Hin, Thailand. As soon as I joined as a host I was told I could get much more in rentals for my condo.

They’ve tried to push up rentals all over the world. People in Thailand are generally poor. A good monthly wage is seen as $400.

I took over management of my friend’s Airbnb account. I received a booking for 1500 Baht (about 40 USD) but I could not get a cleaner so I emailed the customer and asked if he minded if I canceled because of this issue. He understood and we agreed to cancel. I pressed cancel. I received a fine from Airbnb for 3121.08 Baht because I canceled. This is theft and breaking international contract law.

Unilateral Change of my Cancellation Policy by Airbnb

Airbnb has overridden host cancellation policies in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This allows guests to cancel at any time without any penalty and without any justification. I have just had a cancellation for £2500 with just three days’ notice and there is nothing I can do about it. I was not consulted and the guest did not have to provide any proof or justification about the virus. Guests have travel insurance for genuine cases but hosts have no fallback provision. Airbnb does not care about their hosts. They bite the hand that feeds them.

Airbnb Does not Support Hosts During Outbreak

I seem like a regular host on Airbnb — one person who rents one apartment — but in fact I am a full-blown company. I am also a Superhost.

As a company we take pride in this because we are a full-fledged business with over twenty vacation rental properties. Airbnb is not our boss; they are a third-party company that we use to gain more customers we have on our own website. We also use other platforms and can say with certainty that Airbnb is by far the worst platform to use. They only care about themselves, not the hosts and not the guests.

Coronavirus has been handled completely wrong. According to the U.S. transportation guidelines — which is what airlines typically use — you have 24 hours to cancel and get a full refund and travel must be booked seven days prior to your arrival. This is why airlines do not give out refunds unless the problem is something on their part such as cancelling the flight, safety hazards, and so forth.

With the coronavirus situation they know better and this is why they have not refunded passengers. Most of them are issuing flight vouchers and waiving rescheduling fees. For refunds this is not the case. This is the proper way to handle these circumstances.

Airbnb started off confused, which is not good. First they threw the blame ball to the host and said they were not refunding service fees. It was up to the hosts. If we had strict cancellation policies then they flat-out changed them all — no consistency, and no regard for the hosts and the amount of money that we are losing. No regard for the fact that we still have to pay bills and rent.

Hosts that are businesses such as ourselves are suffering. We get no support from Airbnb. It has been a nightmare to be on this platform during this crisis. Our cancellation policy is not being honored.

All Airbnb needed to do was either honor the cancellation policy  — which in many cases gave the guest a 50% refund, which is better than nothing — or simply offer a credit for a year to allow the guests to come back and reschedule their travel. Many guests were cancelling simply because their conferences got cancelled. That is not because they were coming from an impacted area or because they were sick themselves. It was not because flights stopped.

Our main guests were coming from the U.S., literally in the state of California coming down from NorCal to SoCal and only wanted to cancel because Disneyland had closed. This is completely unfair to the hosts. I understand if it was Italy but if the country hasn’t been closed then there is no need to panic; it is the guests’ own fears that are causing them to not want to travel.

At the end of it all, as much as we would like be angry at all the guests that have cancelled we are truly angry at the monster that is Airbnb. In the end, this awful corporation can take the financial hit but not smaller businesses like ours.

Next month everything might be back to normal and people will start booking again but what about us, the smaller companies that have several vacation rental properties with rent to pay but no money? Will we still be here because of all the lost revenue?

We are in severe jeopardy over nonsense. It is unfortunate that this occurred. As far as being a host here on Airbnb, I hope to not continue.

There will always be bad apples to give hosts a bad name but there are many of us who are ethical, really do this hosting with pride, and love hosting guests and offering great hospitality. For Airbnb to not want to protect the great hosts that keep them bringing them all this revenue that keeps their lights on is just disgusting and unfair.

Threatening Behavior, Locked out by Host

My partner and I stayed at an Airbnb in Palm Springs on Monday, February 17th. The room was booked for that night and the following night.

Upon arrival, the front gate was open, as the majority of the facility was under construction, something that was not disclosed when we booked the place. The door code provided to us in an email and also reiterated in text message for the door to our room did not work.

We toiled with the door for a while and after becoming frustrated, a maintenance person came over, tried the code we were provided, and could not gain access. He then used a different code to let us in. He apologized profusely, introduced himself, and said he would reset the lock and send an email with the new code. He also said we could reach out to him if we needed anything.

Once inside we tried to take a nap, but the loud construction in the unit above and the surrounding units was too disturbing. There seemed to be renovations happening in most of the rooms, as doors to most of the units were open and construction workers were coming and going throughout the property… not exactly the relaxing environment we were paying a premium for.

I made a mental note that I would not be lounging by the pool in my bathing suit the next day as I’d been planning. After waiting several hours for the code that never came, we called the number provided in the welcome email, and texting the number that had been given to us “if we needed anything at all.”

After calling several times and waiting on hold, we were given a new code which worked on the door to our room when we tested it. We left for dinner, a reservation for which we were late due to the delay in getting the code.

Upon returning, we could not gain access to the property’s main gate with the code provided to us in the original email. We both tried many times to input the code we were given for the gate but it did not work.

We again called the number and were told by the same woman who had reset our door code earlier that she could see us in the security camera and to input a code she gave us, which was the same code we’d received in email. She watched us as we tried that code over and over again. When it did not work, she put us on hold for over 15 minutes.

We were standing outside without coats, freezing in the pitch black for this entire experience. This was around 8:30 PM and sunset was at 5:30 PM that night. It was our first trip to Palm Springs and had no idea how safe this neighborhood was at night. We were on hold for so long my partner tried calling the customer service number from her phone, which went unanswered.

Eventually, another guest arrived and put a code in which opened the gate and we followed them into the property. The new code, provided to us before we left for dinner, worked on our room door and we went inside.

We were still on the phone with the customer service woman, who was rudely asking us to repeat back to her the code we had been using that didn’t work — which was the exact code she had been telling us on the phone. I’m unsure as to why she wanted us to repeat it back to her. She clearly was accusing us of putting the wrong four-digit code into a lock. This was not user error.

She also told us to go to the room of the other guests we followed in, knock on their door, and ask them what code they had put into the gate. That sounded like a great way to get the police called or get shot in the middle of the night. Not to mention anxiety-producing for them to have two strangers knock on their door in the middle of the night to work out logistical nonsense that the property managers couldn’t figure out.

Well within our rights and on the basis of sanity, we did not go knock on their door. As we were having this conversation with her, we got a knock on the door. It was the same maintenance worker who let us into our room earlier upon our arrival earlier in the day when the code wouldn’t work.

When I answered the door he was profusely apologizing both for us being locked out when we arrived and for us being locked out when we came back from dinner. As we were listening to him, another man who did not identify himself and was dressed in track pants and t-shirt came out of nowhere in a very aggressive way and started demanding that I, a female, leave our room and go with him to the front gate of the property to show him the code we had tried to use that wasn’t working.

I explained that I intended to check out of the facility as soon as possible and I would not be needing to leave and come back to the site, therefore I was no longer in need of a working code for the front gate. He screamed at me that I was being uncooperative and I would not be getting a refund for not staying there the next night unless I went outside with him and showed him the code I was trying to put into the gate.

I explained again that I intended to leave the property first thing in the morning and would not be returning so I was not in need of a working code for the front gate. At one point, the maintenance worker put his hand on this man’s shoulder to hold him back and calm him down because he was acting so aggressive and uncontrollable.

At this point, I realized I didn’t know who the man was and asked him – “who is this guy?” – to which the man shouted “I’m the manager of this place!”

Prior to this, and although he had been standing at my door yelling for over five minutes, he did not introduce himself, offer any identification, nor did he appear dressed in any manner that a professional employee would. He literally ran up on us in the dark and started angrily demanding we follow him out in to the dark to put the code into the outer gate.

We refused. We did not know who this person was, it was dark, we are female, his behavior was volatile, and we were on vacation and not obligated to spend our time solving logistical nonsense because the locks don’t work.

The situation escalated, with the man yelling at us for being “uncooperative” and telling us we would not be helped or refunded any amount of money unless we went with him to try the code. He was so angry and out of control that the other man had his hand on him to calm him down and, presumably, prevent him from crossing any lines and assaulting me or my partner.

At that point I felt unsafe and threatened, was done wasting my time and vacation listening to his nonsense, and closed the door. I tried to call Airbnb several times and each time was sent an auto-generated message that I had to click which I was told would advance me to customer service. Each time I tried this I was hung up on and had to call back.

Finally, after multiple attempts to reach someone I called the neighborhood complaint line and finally connected to a real person. I explained the situation to the woman who answered, and she said she needed to transfer me to customer service. I was then transferred to a man whom I told all the same information and explained that I felt unsafe at the property and wanted assistance finding a new place to stay for the night and the following night.

He told me he was going to call the property manager and call me back within 30 minutes. I reiterated that I would hear from him in 30 minutes and he confirmed I would. I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear I did not receive a call back from the man that night or the following morning. We ended up sleeping with my girlfriend’s pepper spray out and woke up with every noise we heard.

I called Airbnb again the next morning at 8:00 AM, as we were leaving for good — a day earlier than we planned. We booked another place to stay because we were so upset and felt threatened to continue to there.

My call that morning was my eighth call to Airbnb regarding this matter. I was transferred to customer service who told me she would reach out to the property manager and call me back within an hour, but in the meantime she would message me on the Airbnb app so I had her contact information.

She called me back about twenty minutes later to ask if I knew the man’s name who was threatening me and I confirmed I did not because he did not introduce himself. She told me I would hear back from her within an hour and, unsurprisingly, I did not.

I followed up on the Airbnb message at 5:30 that night, ten hours after I had spoken to her and received no response. I then followed up again the next day and didn’t receive a response for multiple hours. I finally connected with a man telling me he was a manger with Airbnb who told me to send him my receipt for the night I had to book at a different location and he would start processing a refund for the time there and the cost to stay at the new location. He then didn’t respond for two days.

When I followed up, he said he had been out of town and was still waiting to hear back from the property on my refund. I do not understand why Airbnb needed to consult them about my refund. There is no disputing I was locked out of my room and locked out of the facility twice. There is no disputing that I was screamed at and physically threatened by a man who worked for them who purported to be the manager.

What more does Airbnb need to give me a refund? Is this a customer service experience they are comfortable with?

I got so tired of the onus of following up being on me that I called my bank and explained the issue to them. They were horrified and refunded my money and told me they would deal with Airbnb.

Every time I relay this story to someone I am aghast as are they with not only how the property treated me but how Airbnb was difficult to reach, slow to respond and seemed unconcerned that this situation had occurred.

Can you imagine if this was your vacation? How would you feel being treated like this and having to spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get your money back?

I would like Airbnb to explain to me, since their reaction and follow up indicate they think this situation was acceptable: what you would have done if this happened to you? What would you suggest your family or friends do if it happened to them? There are plenty of other hospitality options these days and because of that, customer service has never been more important.

Here is my ultimate question: is the experience I had on my vacation while staying in an Airbnb acceptable? Is the customer service experience I outlined above acceptable?

If this is acceptable per the tenants of Airbnb’s corporate customer service and experience policies, then Airbnb will no longer be getting any of my business, and I will be sure to let my network of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues know their stance. If this is not acceptable, please explain to me what I should have done differently.

Sex Offender becomes Airbnb Host – reads child guests “bed time stories”. Airbnb does nothing.

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I am a landlord in Hamilton New Zealand who had a tenant that asked to run an AirBnB.  The property was 60 Mansel Avenue in Hillcrest, one of those I own.

My tenant, Albert (Al) Haggar, is an absolute liar and fraudster, as well as a  sex offender!

It is pretty clear he had read the information on the AirBnB website entitled “How should I talk to my landlord about hosting on Airbnb?” so I innocently gave verbal permission. He ran it for two years January 2018 until December 2019 with over 300 guests giving good reviews.

In August 2019 when I discovered you were not permitted to run a AirBnB if you were a registered Sex Offender and that he was a Sex Offender involving sex with children and violence against them – I told him to stop giving a 14-day notice which he promptly ignored.

I attempted to contact AirBnB to no avail. Worse – after speaking to the local Member of Parliament neither he or I could get in contact with Airbnb to stop this man. NO ONE in New Zealand including the Police, the Ministry of Internal Affairs or our Security Services could contact AirBnB to say this man was a sex offender.

It makes me shudder to think that one of the recommendations from a guest mentions him reading a bed-time story to her daughter

AirbBnB runs a criminally negligent business model that threatens any countries tourist industry by not stopping criminal sex offenders from running an AirBnB and he could still be out there as a “superhost’ the status he has from Airbnb.

Insensitive Attitude by Host and Airbnb to Corona

I have made bookings for my trip to Singapore through Airbnb. Considering the orange alert declared by the Singapore government and current health advisory situation, I requested Airbnb cancel my booking.

They have left me to the mercy of host. Obviously, the host is not interested in giving me a full refund as it is a loss to him. Instead, the host is suggesting me to roam around in Singapore with a mask on. That is their idea of a holiday – have more stress. The host is saying he won’t get a replacement guest if I cancel as if I am responsible or the situation is in my control.

Guest from Hell Bringing Unknown Guests in

I have had some fabulous trips with Airbnb as a guest, and I’ve been a host for around three years. With all of the guests that I have had, there have been some pretty good guests that I have had the pleasure of hosting in my units. I tend to answer inquiries very quickly and answer any and all questions and try to help out the person that is looking to book. Generally this all goes well.

Then there was the ‘guest from hell’. This guest booked for four nights stating they were coming into town on a work training program and since my place was very close (walking distance of less than one minute to their workplace), this would be a great fit. He booked for four nights, with one guest and gave me an approximate time of arrival.

I responded with my usual friendly ‘welcome’ email that details: my phone number; how to get into the building; where to park (if necessary); transportation phone numbers from the airport should he require a taxi; stating that I will be there on his arrival to check him in, give him a set of keys, show him around and answer any questions he may have; go over the rules of no smoking/no parties/no additional guests; state that if there are any issues to please contact me and I will do my best to resolve them. This was a ‘standard’ email communication that I send to every booking, following the same procedures for every booking assures that I am covering just about every aspect of the booking itself.

The guest arrived at a reasonable hour. We went over the ‘rules’ again (just for clarification) and everything seemed fine. I let the guest know that someone does come in and out of the unit on a daily basis to clean, replenish towels, and change linens as necessary. Should he wish to not have this service, it wasn’t a problem; it could wait until the end of the stay if he should wish.

The first two nights are great: there were no problems. The guest came in and out of the unit and availed himself of the kitchen and cleaned up. The bathroom was cleaned after use so everything looked good.

The third night was when the problems began. I personally went to the unit to replenish the towels and remove any trash and make sure that the unit was clean for the guest. Before I entered, I texted the guest that I would be coming to do this, and I also knocked on the door before I entered the unit. There was no answer of either text or the door itself when I knocked, so I entered the unit to take care of the replenishment and take care of any trash removal.

Lo and behold, I entered the bedroom (of which the door was wide open to the hallway) to find a strange person asleep/passed out on the bed (not in the bed – on the bed). I immediately called the guest that was registered and asked, “What is going on? Who is the person that is in the unit?”

The guest stated that his ‘friend’ was drunk, and had nowhere to stay. He let him stay at my place and was taking a hotel room for the night. I informed the guest that under no circumstances were unregistered guests allowed in the units and that this ‘friend’ had to leave.

As I walked further into the bedroom where this strange person was passed out, there was an incredible stench coming from the room. As I cornered around the bed, there it was, where this ‘friend’ had vomited all over the floor and rugs. I left the room to attend to the bathroom, in which it appeared as though this ‘friend’ had been there also, as there was vomit on the toilet, in the shower/bathtub, on the floor and in the sink. It was completely disgusting.

I called the guest again, and said, “You need to come and take this person out of here.” The guest refused. I called the police, and told them the situation, saying “I have an unregistered person in my unit that has apparently been dropped off by my registered guest and I need this person removed from my premises.” The police complied and came to my unit.

Airbnb does not have coverage for unregistered guests and this is what I had relayed to this guest from hell. The police waited with me as we waited for this guest to return, eventually showing up at 1:35 AM and proceeded to lie to the police. He said that I had ‘okayed’ the guest being there and that he had offered me an additional $100 to let his friend stay there.

He did offer the additional $100 for the friend, but I just wanted him out of there. I did not take any money from this guest. The police and I packed up all of the belongings of the registered guest, and they escorted him off the premises after retrieving the keys to my unit from him.

I called Airbnb to state what happened, as this guest wanted all of his money refunded. Airbnb did not refund his money to him as his communications through Airbnb showed that he breached the contract by bringing in another guest.

The review I got from this jerk was absolutely scathing. He complained that he couldn’t bring in a ‘friend’, that my place was not up to standard, that it was nothing like it was advertised, that I had ripped him off, had charged him all sorts of other fees on top of the rental, and that I had thrown him out ‘for no apparent reason’.

I’ve had some wonderful guests, and since my places were photographed by Airbnb sanctioned photographers, they knew that I was telling the truth. I have never taken anyone else on that does not host or doesn’t have reviews from other hosts, as I never want to face that issue ever again.

Airbnb didn’t want to pay for the damages (I have a very high deposit just for cases like this) and after sending Airbnb the pictures of my place with all the damage to it, and the cleanup cost receipts from a deep-cleaning company, they eventually paid.

I lost other bookings because I had to cancel them due to this ‘guest from hell’. I’ve never had a bad experience at any of the places I have stayed though, but I did notice that this ‘guest from hell’ that I had. Three other hosts put up bad reviews about him after he left my place. Choose wisely and carefully who you let into your units, as you never know.