This past weekend, three lads from London were supposed to stay at my apartment, as I was out of town. After one day, however, I received an email from their agent at Trip Advisor, speaking on behalf of these men who stated they had left my apartment.
The reason? I had -unintentionally- misqualified my couch, classifying it as a “bed sofa” when the correct phrasing should – as I’ve come to learn now – have been a “sofa”. Airbnb agreed with their complaint, and imposed a penalty on me: the young lads would get all of their money back plus a restitution of their hotel expenses (except for the one night they did stay). This implied that I was left with nothing but a bad review and no revenue from renting out my apartment for the other two nights.
To make it very clear: I have one king-size bed, which is for two guests. My second bedding option for any third guest is my sofa, which is perfect for sleeping and measures the exact same as a normal person-sized mattress. It’s not a matter of me not being transparent or being dishonest by not offering three beds or sleeping options. I have three bedding options. I just ticked one box wrong in my ad (clicking “sofa bed” instead of “sofa”), without being aware of this immense aberration. As I’ve come to learn from Airbnb, a sofa bed is one that you pull out and a sofa is not (my couch is not a pullout).
This is according to Airbnb regulations which are nowhere to be found on the site. Even the manager I talked to acknowledged that that is something at Airbnb that ought to be changed. Still, Airbnb lets me ‘bleed’ anyways, instead of taking part of the responsibility (e.g. have me cover a part of the cost, instead of 100%). How should I have known this difference? English is not even my first language and I’m not a bedding expert.
The penalty is disproportional in my view, since I will not receive any money for the two nights they had booked, plus I am certain I will get a bad review. I have no doubt about that. I have never heard any Airbnb guest or other guest sleeping on my sofa complain about my couch. It’s truly a comfy couch, as is the rest of my house. I daresay that about my apartment because I spent months renovating my home and decorating it (one of my hobbies). My home truly is my sanctuary.
In fact, one reason I bought this couch recently is because it’s a perfect couch for sleepovers, which happen literally every week in my apartment. A good friend of mine sleeps on it every week, and believe me, he’s someone who is tall with a poor back and not afraid to tell me when my couch is not comfy. I know it’s not about my couch not being comfortable; it’s just petty people who have a working knowledge of Airbnb regulations (they’ll receive full restitution for the hotel they stayed at instead).
I just can’t believe anyone would go to these measures, all just because there is one wrong qualification in my ad. It’s not like they couldn’t sleep in my house (or had to sleep with their legs pulled up or whatever). The guest who had booked with me didn’t even consult me about my misqualification, but went straight for the official institutions – Airbnb and Trip Advisor – as if I were some scammer. I feel severely mistreated, both by these guests as well as by Airbnb and am seriously considering withdrawing from Airbnb altogether.