I needed a break. I had work on a business plan that needed to be done but I was distracted and my apartment (and the city) were loud; I wanted silence. A friend recommended a cabin in the woods and the idea took hold. With somewhat limited time – an earlier planned vacation fell through and I was scrambling – the need for a location with wifi, and budget constraints, I decided to join Airbnb after recommendations from friends. The host I found was in one of my favorite spots in British Columbia and in my budget for a four-night stay. I could cook, visit local trails, watch deer on the large property, and walk a pleasant 40 minutes to the nearest town center. I thought it was perfect, and the host agreed it was a great spot for writing especially after I specified I wanted peace and quiet. I thought it was only going to be a retired couple in the adjacent home so I wasn’t worried about loud parties.
When I got there and the host showed me the place, he casually mentioned I might hear the odd noise from the person renting the suite next to mine. I brushed it off, thinking it couldn’t be that bad. The home was older, made of wood, and the walls were very thin. The neighbors woke me up in the morning and kept me up at night (they went to bed later). It sounded like they were constantly renovating or building something. Then the neighboring property had a loud party that went on quite late. I had to leave each day just to get the peace and quiet I went there for. It was disappointing and I didn’t get any work done. Before I left, I made sure my dishes were done and put away. I used the carpet sweeper on the rugs, cleaned the bathroom and made the bed. Things you do when you stay at someone else’s place.
When I got home that evening I opened up my email to find a ranting message from the host saying I had left a bloody mess on the duvet, tried to clean it, and then made the bed to “hide the now wet and bloody mess.” She wanted money for the damages. I was stunned. First off, it was a very hot week (mid-August) and temperatures were in the low 20s C even at night. I pushed the duvet off to the side along with the wool blanket covering it and used only the top sheet, none of which had any stains. I made the bed as a courtesy, and didn’t notice any stains. I was not menstruating and had no wounds that would have bled. If that stain on top of the duvet was blood, it most definitely was not mine.
I explained this to the host along with my surprise at the tone of her accusatory message and asked for more detail about the stain. She provided pictures of an orangey stain she was adamant was blood. After hearing my side of things, she agreed one of her cats could have brought something in and left it at that with the hope I would write a nice review. I was so stunned I didn’t know what to say. Not wanting to leave a bad review, I said nothing hoping this was a one time misunderstanding. Airbnb closed the claim and labeled it resolved. I should note they have a 48-hour window once a reservation ends to file a claim. I was relieved.
Three weeks later (too late for either party to leave a review) I received another message stating she wanted money because she couldn’t remove the stain. I declined responsibility, citing the earlier resolved claim. Two days later Airbnb reviewed all the facts and documentation and sided with the host, charging my credit card the security deposit. Since Airbnb’s head office outside of the US is in Ireland, I would have to attempt to reach someone at 2:00 AM, which is when I was receiving messages from them. They are not in the business of hospitality; they are there to “handle the money so you don’t have to.” Successful hosts and guests have been lucky. Please use due diligence and do your research as there is no recourse for you should something go wrong. Better yet, don’t use Airbnb.