Five-Hour Journey Results in No Place to Stay

I booked a condo in Tagaytay, Philippines with residences renting on a monthly basis. Here they had a policy of people over age 65 not allowed out due to COVID, but not many stay home. Maybe the condo staff who do check ins let me stay due to my age?

I contacted the host to explain and she said “No problem, we will sort it out.” It was a bit of an odd reply, so I inquired further. They told me the rules changed on Jan. 1. I booked my dates on Airbnb from the 28th for a month — a great price for 40% off monthly, and 20% off for the first booking before April.

The host replied that she could book me for the 26th and 27th to clean the condo. They explained I would not be paying for those two days. I said it was okay, so she booked me on Airbnb for the two days. I thought it was a bit odd, but okay. I had the host’s mobile number so I called. She was out of range or her phone was turned off.

I sent a text explaining I was coming to Tagaytay to find a place to live permanently, using her joint for a month to look around, moving out of where I live now. New people are moving in when I leave and my furniture is going to my wife’s sisters, so this condo in Tagaytay has to be a sure thing. I got a text back saying “hello” and that was all. I tried calling: no answer, not even ringing.

I returned to Airbnb, explaining I had had no contact via mobile. I was a bit worried now. Her reply was “My husband is out of range, but will call tonight.” I got a message later via Airbnb saying I could call him anytime. I called twice. The second time I got an answer. Speaking English, the guy didn’t understand me, so I put my wife on the phone, telling her we wanted information on the tower number, condo number, and caretaker’s number.

I contacted Airbnb saying I had concerns, explaining the extra days for cleaning, and how there were no replies to texts or calls. I was doing a lot of thinking about moving out of there. I looked when the host would be paid by airbnb and it said the 27th; I don’t arrive until the 28th. I contacted Airbnb. As far as they were concerned, I was booked from the 26th. Eventually the payment was frozen.

On the 27th at 10:30 PM I got a message through Airbnb from the hosts. I rang their mobile — the one they never answered — and they said no money has come from Airbnb. I lost the plot, explained why no money would be paid until the 29th, and gave them 30 minutes to supply all the information I needed to Airbnb. The wife came on the phone saying they had only just bought the condo and didn’t really understand how this works. She said she was going to Tagaytay in the morning with her husband and the phone would be on.

I tried to call them five or six times on route, a five-hour journey, and it never rang. I arrived at 2:00 PM and no one was there. I waited two hours and called… nothing. Condo security said they had a condo there. I contacted Airbnb on the messenger site several times telling them the situation. I paid a night for a condo.

The next day I phoned Airbnb and explained everything. They were helpful. All the information was on his screen: messages from me saying I thought this was going to go bad, and it did. I got my money back, but I can’t understand it. These scammers knew they were not going to get paid since I was moving out of my place, but they still let me travel five hours. Beware if it sounds too good a price to be true. At least I got a refund. I hope Airbnb punishes these scammers somehow.

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