Malibu Horror: Charged More for a Dinner Guest?

If anyone is considering staying in Malibu, please read about my experience with this host. I will include the email exchange I had with him so you can see what type of person he is.

All I was trying to do was have a relaxing two-night stay on the water. I told the host that we had four people in our immediate family plus my niece and her baby may join us for dinner. I texted and emailed; there was no response. Nearly a week went by. He said that if my niece stepped foot in his house that I would have to pay him an additional $800 plus a cleaning deposit, that she couldn’t come over for even a moment without me paying him. This would bring the total to $1600 for two nights.

He waited one day past the time that I could cancel for a full refund to tell me this. I have spent two solid days, countless hours, and twenty phone calls disputing this with the resolution department. They all say they are sorry and that this is unbelievable and awful, but they are letting the host do whatever he wants. Here is the communication between the host and me. If this helps one person not to have to deal with a host like this and the hell I have been through, then posting here is worth it.

Me: We are a family of four: two adults and two kids (9 and 10) wanting to enjoy the beach. My niece will stop by with her baby. We are quiet people just looking for relaxation. We would not be bringing any pets. We do not party, just want to hear and enjoy the water. We have one car, a van, and my niece has an Altima.

Me: I sent you a text many days ago but didn’t hear back so I’m going to try through here. I wanted to let you know my niece and the baby (two years old) will be spending one night. No one will be partying; there won’t be any loud noise. Will we need to meet you for the keys or will they be inside the unit? Is there any chance of getting into the unit before 4:00 PM? Maybe 2ish?

Host: You’ll need to update your guest count, please. I can check with my cleaning service but they will charge extra.

Me: The information about the property says that it can accommodate ten people. Why would there be an additional charge if I’m within the number of guests that the property can hold?

Host: It’s a flat rate, up to four and then an additional charge per guest after that – all explained on the listing page at the time you booked.

Me: Never mind. I didn’t see any of that in the listing page. This is my first time using Airbnb. It’s my birthday and wanted something special. I will just have them come for the day and put them in a hotel nearby if it’s a problem. They will rejoin us in the morning.

Me: Can you please let me know if I will need to arrange a time to meet you for the keys or if they will just be inside? Will 2:00 PM be okay for check in? If there is a problem with the reservation, please let me know now so we can arrange an alternative while there is some time to do so.

Host: Everyone who needs to come to the house needs to be on the reservation please. This is all stated very clearly multiple times throughout the listing. My cleaning service will charge extra for an early check in.

Me: I wrote “very clearly” that my niece and her baby were going to come over. If this wasn’t acceptable why did you accept the reservation as it was? I’m not able to pay another 700-800 for the reservation. If this isn’t going to work on your end just cancel it and we can get something else.

Host: I didn’t accept it – you Instant Booked it after agreeing to the house rules and terms of service

Me: It shows that it was accepted. If you’re not going to allow me to have a guest then cancel it. I’m not going to alter my plans if I can’t see my family on my birthday.

Host: I can’t cancel it – you Instant Booked it after agreeing to my house rules and terms of service. You have to cancel it if you don’t intend on staying and following the rules.

Me: So you’re saying I can’t have my family over for a meal unless I pay you another 700-800?

Host: Your reservation is for four – how many more people would you like to invite to my home? I will do my best to come up with a fair solution for both of us.

Me: My niece was going to stop by after work with her 19-month-old daughter.

Host: Two more? Any others besides the original four?

Me: It’s just those I have already mentioned. I don’t understand this. If I book a hotel and someone comes into the room I don’t get charged extra.

Host: I’m sorry I wasn’t clear – is it two more, or more than that? Will there ever be more than six people at any point, day or night?

Me: I contacted you Thursday, June 29th initially. You never responded. If anything that I had initially written had been an issue, Thursday or Friday would have been the time to say so. Now nearly a week later, problems are arising. I don’t feel comfortable staying at your property based on our interaction. I expressed that this is my very first booking. Instead of you gently guiding me through, you are making me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t feel like staying at your property will be the relaxing birthday experience that I want. I feel like I will be under scrutiny. You said in your profile that you are laid back. Pretty much the only things you have said to me are that I have to pay more and more money. You have said I need to pay for my niece to have a meal with us, then that I need to pay for an additional cleaning fee, beyond the original $100. If I want to come at 2:00 PM instead of the very late check in time of 4:00 PM I will need to pay extra for that as well. All I have heard from you is money, money, money. Where is the humanity or comfort of your guests? In addition, I have from Thursday said that my niece and her baby may come over. I have never heard of being charged for someone to spend some time with you in a place that you are already paying for. Please just cancel the reservation. We clearly are not seeing eye to eye on this.

Host: I can’t cancel the reservation for you. All of this is outlined on my posting – so I’m a bit surprised you are acting like this wasn’t disclosed at the time of your booking which you very clearly had to agree to in order to complete the booking. We came to an agreement for a stay for four people from 4:00 PM on the 11th to 10:00 AM on the 13th as outlined on your confirmation. If you’d like to change the terms of this I’m willing to work with you but please do not act as if I am being unreasonable. Feel free to check out my reviews – I have a ton of experience with this. If you do wish to cancel, my suggestion would be to do so ASAP so I have the opportunity to re-rent it. Otherwise it will become increasingly difficult

Me: So you’re saying I can cancel it for a full refund?

Me: I very clearly said who would be there. I very clearly saw that your place can accommodate ten people. I very clearly didn’t see that there was an additional charge. Why do I have to pay for a family member to step foot onto the property? It’s illogical and unreasonable.

Me: Why can’t you cancel the reservation?

Host: Your refund will be based on my ability to re-rent and the new reservation amount

Me: That doesn’t give me a figure. If it’s a $50 hit I’ll take that, even though this isn’t my fault as I clearly stated who would be in the property. You would rather I be forced to go to your property and not be able to have my family with me on my birthday unless I want to pay 800 plus a cleaning fee. Thereby I would have a bad experience, and write a review reflecting this experience. I have stayed at properties all over the world and have never experienced anything like this! This is a two-night reservation. I agreed to the initial amount, clearly stated who would be there, contacted you, waited nearly a week, never heard back from you, and now you want an additional 800 plus. I feel like I’m being extorted. I believe it is within your purview to cancel but you won’t because you’re only interested in money.

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2 Comments

  1. I’m sorry, but you are in the wrong here. You Instant Booked with an incorrect guest count. The listing clearly says that after four guests there is a charge of $100.00 for each additional guest. If you wanted to negotiate you should have sent an inquiry instead of booking without a discussion with the host. 4:00 P.M. is not a late check in time. If we grant all the late check outs and early check ins that guests request, when will we clean our listings? The host offered to reimburse you if he was able to get another booking which is more than fair. The host is correct that when you Instant Booked you agreed to the house rules (which include the check in and check out times) and to the strict cancellation policy.

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