Crazy Host POUNDS on the Door for a Simple Message

Airbnb sent me a review reminder stating clearly that I had through September 9th to post it; I tried to do so and the website wouldn’t let me post a review. When I spoke to customer service on the phone the agent said that there is absolutely nothing they can do to help: the company’s program code is the code; this is just the way it is and there’s nothing anyone can do to change anything in it (and it was more than clear none of them care to, no matter what problems it results in). The email reminder I received gave the wrong information, since in reality, customers only have 14 days on the clock to submit reviews, starting from some nebulous time of day that was never made clear to me throughout the entire 24-minute conversation. In short, their website actually shut off the possibility to post my review sometime part way through the 9th. When I said that sending emails with dated statements like the one I got is plain misleading, the agent repeatedly weaseled out of agreeing and kept either referring to the company’s terms of service – which according to him mean we agreed to everything and anything the company does – or saying the meaningless phrase “I respect your opinion” and nothing else, in an annoyed tone that made it more than clear that he absolutely does not.

There isn’t even any option to file complaints at this company; they only “take suggestions.” You can probably guess how likely I think it is that they ever do anything about any of these suggestions. In short, sometime back in the dark ages they had programmers do the original code on their website, and ever since then everything is set in stone. They just don’t feel like paying anyone to do any additional work to fix anything, and never will.

Why do I want to post this review so much? I had a hellish experience that ruined nearly my entire vacation, and I wanted to warn other users from suffering the same fate. It was so bad that I needed a lengthy mental break after this so-called vacation and didn’t feel emotionally ready to compose my review and go over the whole traumatic experience again until the last day – what should have been the last day I could post it where it rightfully belongs, on that host’s listing.

Below is the original review I was going to post with a 1-star rating. However, I’d like to add something here I didn’t write in the original review because it seemed almost too crazy to be believable, given that this host (somehow) has a very high rating on Airbnb. About a day before I was scheduled to leave the place, the host came up and suddenly started pounding on the suite’s door, shaking the wall so strongly that I thought she must have been using a bat or a brick. As I was in the bathroom at the time, I was unable to come to the door for 4-5 minutes. She kept pounding on the door nonstop the entire time, so violently I was certain she was going to break it down; it seemed she really intended to do so. The noise and duration of it, even through my earplugs, was sheerly unbelievable. The experience for me was like unexpectedly finding myself in a scene from a movie when police are trying to break down a reinforced door. Just about the last thing you want or expect to experience on any vacation. I thought for certain there must, surely, be some terrible emergency going on to justify her doing something so unprofessional and frightening to a paying guest.

When I answered the door (as soon as I humanly could and wearing only a towel), I was first shocked that the woman turned out to not be holding some sort of blunt object with which she’d been performing that violent pounding, and secondly that her hands were not bleeding from it. I asked her if there was some kind of emergency. She said “no,” with an oddly matter-of-fact tone and facial expression of the kind you’d expect to get from a neighbor who’s politely asking to borrow a cup of sugar after having daintily and briefly knocked on your front door – as if what she just did was absolutely normal and she does it all the time. She claimed she was only “concerned” that I hadn’t answered her numerous calls, texts and emails. She didn’t apologize for the insane pounding or seem to realize that she’d just done anything odd.

It became clear during the following conversation that this entire scary episode was only because she wanted to know exactly when I was leaving; she wanted me to clear out as early as possible the next day so she could have time to bring in cleaners before the next guest showed up. She told me that the check out time was 11:00 and I should leave by then, even though her listing clearly states that it’s 12:00. Apparently it was my problem that she had back-to-back guests and scheduling difficulties. The weirdness and unprofessionalism was plain astonishing given the very large number of years she’d been renting out the place, and just how much money I’d paid for this rental in a private residence. She sent a terribly phony sounding apology a full two days after the incident (half blaming me for not answering her mountain of calls and messages on my vacation), clearly because she was wary of a very justifiable negative review or even a complaint to the website.

This incident was just the icing on top of an entire cake of unpleasant things that filled my stay at this place. The original review:

Well, it is a beautiful house, and it is actually within close walking distance of Middlebury town center, the university, etc. (unlike many other Airbnb offers in the area that claim to be close and turn out to be miles away.) & the 2-room suite looks nice. The bathroom also looks nice but certainly not close to hotel standards, as some of the plumbing is noticeably old: the toilet has to be flushed multiple times. Shampoo, conditioner & bodywash are provided, but the towels are the most harshly starched, wooden pieces of fabric I’ve ever touched anywhere – bringing your own is a must. More significantly, if you’re looking for a restful vacation, you’re highly unlikely to get it staying here: – The bedroom has no blackout curtains like in hotels and the windows face east: in summer that means you get to wake up around 5:30 am and be tired all day, every day. – The house is on a heavily used road and traffic starts up early: heavy, noisy trucks and the like drive by all day. – There are frequent emergency sirens heard as well – surprise: the place is near a police station. – There’s a very active business running in this house: employees and customers are in and out all day during the week, including on the 2nd floor right next to the guest suite; the acoustics and creaky wood floors of the house mean that you get to hear non-stop noise anytime you’re there morning to evening.

After I left I discovered a small mountain of emails, calls and texts – some sent before 6:00 AM; I’m glad I had my cell silenced – that the host sent me during the last two days of my stay, most of them desperately wanting to know when exactly I was leaving (apparently they’re not even aware of their own listed check-out time). I didn’t see these at the time as I don’t check my phone or email while I’m on vacation – being as it is, in fact, vacation. But you can judge for yourself how pleasant that kind of thing will be when you’re meant to be resting and relaxing on your rare time off. I would have thought that a note under the door would have sufficed for any urgent communication – like they do in hotels – and been more sensible and professional.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , , .

2 Comments

  1. I thought the whole point of these sites was to stay in placed let by locals who are not professional hoteliers. They are not trained in hospitality or customer service and don’t have experienced managers to guide them. She probably thought you had died in there… No wonder she was doing her best to contact you and was probably terrified of what she and the cleaners were facing, nor to mention dealing with the police. And was doing her best to cover up her panic and relief when you surfaced.

  2. While I agree with what you said about AirBNB, I think you are being unfair to the Host.

    ” It was so bad that I needed a lengthy mental break after this so-called vacation and didn’t feel emotionally ready to compose my review and go over the whole traumatic experience again until the last day”

    Seriously, over pounding on the door? If everything happened the way it did, then yes I agree that the Host was somewhat unprofessional, starting to contact your before 6am is a little crazy. I am curious to know if, like a hotel, the room had a phone? When I have stayed in hotels in the past, they typically call an hour or so before check out to ask when you are leaving and/or remind you of the checkout time. Perhaps after not being able to get in touch with you, she was worried that something had happened to you whilst in the room.

    As far as the noise goes, the host discloses in her description that it is above a salon/spa. This should have been a red flag that, at least during the day, there would be people in and out. When reading the description I noticed the host wrote that the room was in the rear so you should hear very little street noise. What qualifies as ‘little’ is subjective, simply reading that there is street noise should have been enough to deter someone who hates it as much as yourself.

    Additional, in the pictures you can see that it is a house that is not brand new. If I was really worried about the noise level I would experience on my vacation- if I knew silence was something that would make or break my vacation- I probably wouldn’t go there since older house make noise as they settle and as floors become older.

    Next time, really evaluate what it is you want from the place you will stay at on vacation, and take your butt to a 5-star brand hotel 🙂

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