Incredibly Rude Host, Perhaps Because I’m a Senior?

I needed a room in Seattle for one night, while I picked up my 30-year-old daughter who lives there but doesn’t have an extra bed. I found a room near her, but the Airbnb post asked for a $1500 security deposit on a $90 basic room. I had the following exchange with the host:

Me: I’m interested in staying for one night while I visit my daughter, who lives in Seward Park. I read that you want a $1500 security deposit. I’ve never been asked such a thing before. I’m a 65+ year old woman, visiting a 30-year old daughter, and not about to trash your home! Promise. Do you really need that much up front?

Host: You may be interested in learning that the minimum wage in Seattle is now $15/hour

(She then declined me, saying the room was booked, but it remains posted as free.)

Me: I think that’s great that you have a $15 minimum wage. But did you decline me because I questioned the security deposit?

Host: Yes, in part. I’m not looking to get into any arguments with fussy guests. I’m sure plenty of hosts would be delighted to host you, I’m just not one of them.

Me: I wasn’t arguing. I was asking. Respectfully.

Host: You’re asking why I have a high security deposit? Why do you think? Anyway, I am not going to book you. I suggest writing or calling Airbnb or doing research on Airbnb Hell for further questions on the topic.

Me: Wow! This just feels rude, and no, there aren’t a lot of choices for one night near my daughter, who is in southeast Seattle. Her fiance unexpectedly returned from a trip abroad, or I wouldn’t be looking at the last minute. And I assumed you wanted $1500 because most of your guests are young, stay for longer, and are potentially unreliable. But I have excellent reviews, and think of myself as quite low risk. So this all feels rather harsh as a response to a reasonable query. But you are definitely wrong about there being a multitude of choices near her. And you’re losing a very easy guest.

I found her response to be unbelievably rude, and I wonder if this is actually age discrimination, because I did tell her I’m over 65. I can find no other host who asks for $1500 security on a one-night stay in a $90 room. I am really annoyed at her treatment of me. She runs these two properties.

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12 Comments

  1. I decided to close my Airbnb homeshare as the more I experienced the Airbnb process, the more risky I realized it was. My home is my one great asset – if it’s trashed I am screwed. In addition, new city licensing fees and insurance costs no longer make it worth the cost to host strangers who may possibly have phony profiles or illegal or criminal backgrounds. (And for this reason, I would never STAY in an Airbnb, either — not to say that good ones don’t exist, but you don’t know anything about the host and reviews are rarely very honest — on either side). I opened my home in July 2015 in the guileless and sincere way so many new hosts do, and closed it in 2017 with new mistrust for Airbnb policies and people in general. As a homeowner renting out rooms in my private home it was too nerve-wracking wondering whether a new guest would try to steal something and I didn’t want to plant cameras in my home (as many hosts do). I didn’t like the way Airbnb enforced “Instant Book” and how you could no longer exercise the freedom to use common sense to decline unsavory guests. It was a great learning experience and I’m glad I did it, met some wonderful people and some weird ones, but I would never do it again. It’s the kind of business that suits people who can rent out entire apartments, and attracts hosts who have nothing to lose because they don’t own their own property anyway.

  2. Airbnb DOESN’T CHARGE the security deposit UNLESS you trash the place and the host goes through the tedious process of claiming it. Jesus Christ do you people even bother typing a word into the help center????

  3. I also sent this guest a link to an Airbnb listing that was miles closer to where her daughter was, half the cost, and available with Instant Book.after trying briefly to explain how risky using Airbnb is.

  4. Airbnb says itself in tiny print on one of their help pages that GUESTS SHOULD CARRY TRAVELER’S or RENTER’S insurance or w/e its called.

  5. I disagree, Steve. A person can do THOUSANDS of dollars worth of damage so while it may seem excessive, Carol is entitled to protect herself from having her home trashed. I probably wouldn’t have paid it either, but I would have understood her point of view and not started picking reasons to call her a bigot.

    Anyone who doesn’t like exorbitant-sounding deposits would do well to consider a MOTEL.

  6. Steve exemplifies the kind of uneducated airbnb user I would dread hosting. Steve I recommend actually LEARNING how security deposits work on Airbnb before you book anywhere, or try starting your own Airbnb without one.

  7. Wow Carol sounds like a jerk and shouldn’t be playing hotel. $1500 for a 1 night stay in a $90 room is wildly ridiculous and unethical.

  8. I have stayed with this host countless times and can vouch for her kindness, hospitality and professionalism. She makes great coffee and is an extremely witty conversationalist. No one knows Seattle so well, either. One thing about Carol is that she does not suffer fools. Perhaps that is the problem?

  9. I am the host for this property and just want to say I didn’t decline you because you were over 65, and btw, I did not tell you it was booked as an excuse to decline you. I declined because you think a place with a fully refundable security deposit of $1500 is too expensive to stay in. The fact is, Seattle is tremendously expensive to live in, and finding people to fix repair or replace damage is well over $15/hour (a gardener charges $45/hour, and for a plumber to just LOOK at the place is $100), and if you do not understand the economics of living in Seattle you will probably also be aghast that you were requesting to book a basement rec room with no lockable door, just a privacy curtain, because you obviously did not read the full listing description or house rules, and I was just too tired to go over every little nitty gritty thing to teach you how Airbnb works. I hope you read stories from both sides on this site and realize I probably saved you from spending money on a place you would have been unhappy staying in, and I hope you begin to learn the importance of reading a listing more carefully before demanding discounts.

  10. As the host is charging a security deposit of $1,500.00 regardless of the guest; I don’t understand how you view this as age discrimination. It appears that you believe that your age should exempt you from the security deposit and the host disagrees. Actually, I believe that you are the one showing bias based on age with your assertion that young guests are more destructive than older guests. I have hosted over 400 guests and I haven’t found this to be true.

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