Our experiences with Airbnb have been excellent overall. However, the time and effort to get help with problems is a real concern. I believe guests used to get a post-visit email from Airbnb allowing the sharing of problems privately. This no longer appears to be the case. Here is a note I wrote which I could find no way to deliver. Moreover, I waited 25 minutes on the phone waiting to speak with someone.
Dear Airbnb Staff,
A question I have is how to contact you if a problem arises and neither a computer nor cell phone is at hand? We had need of this on our last trip to Pasadena, California. We arrived at 12:00 PM (3:00 AM New York time), in the heavy rain. Fortunately, our taxi driver was able to spot the entrance to the building and call box in the damp and poorly lit area. Our directions had told us to type in the owner’s name and call them to be buzzed in. The directions at the top of the call box sent a fleeting and almost unreadable message regarding entry. It said to type in a number and name. There were no symbols nor letters on the buttons in the call box, making it impossible to do this. I tried many times. Eventually I pushed something on the box and by translating the letters from our TracFone buttons was able to type in the names. The box said access denied.
To continue the saga, by accident I found a way to scroll for names and did manage to call the owner who said she would buzz us in. We lugged all our bags and suitcases through the gate only to find we were trapped between the outer and inner gate! No one had told us to go and open the second gate quickly. This could have meant we had to go in and out again, but my husband rang the door bell of a very helpful neighbor who came to let us in and show us where the elevator was. On getting to the correct floor in the dark – the lights apparently go off at a certain hour – it took another long time and required us to turn a large bench over in order to access the lock box. When we eventually got into the apartment all the clothes in one suitcase were soaked through.
In the apartment, there were no directions regarding the wifi or television use. My husband was able to get the wifi information from a call to the owner, as well as an explanation as to why the bathroom sink was sprinkled with mud… or worse. The owner informed us that sometimes the plumbing backed up. The apartment had no dining room, nor did it have a table or shelf high enough to use for writing or placing a computer. We did not plan to do cooking except for breakfast. Neither the electric oven nor the oven broiler worked. It was not made clear how to lock the doors on departure. Apparently you have to lift up the handle while turning the key, another item that should be in a manual.
I had intended to write this in a private communication to Airbnb. In the past there has been an option to write to Airbnb with suggestions for improvement that you do not want to communicate directly to the owner. No such email came from you. I have mentioned several problems above but want to reiterate: there was no instruction manual, let alone welcome manual in the house. There were no clear directions about getting into the house. There was no mention of the possibility of plumbing problems. There was neither a working electric oven nor a stove broiler oven. It was not clear how to lock the doors correctly on departure. This is the only time in many years of enjoying Airbnb homes that we have experienced any difficulty. Overall our stay was alright, with a comfortable bed and quiet space. However, I cannot say strongly enough that these problems should be addressed before the apartment is rented again. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
After your stay you would have received an email to rate the host. This is your opportunity to warn future guests about the host and apartment. Airbnb works because of these reviews.