Sometimes, All That Matters at Airbnb is Wifi

Let’s start a hashtag #airdoesntcare (I just did on Twitter). Beware Airbnb. My host lied on his listing about several things but the Internet was the biggest problem for us. We are a party of four business associates in Costa Rica on business and have already been here a month. We moved to this place on December 13th and immediately realized the host and his property caretaker had lied about the Internet connectivity (among other things). The caretaker also lied about speaking English. We told him the night we arrived that we would leave. We stayed two days while looking for a new place. Our booking was for 32 days. Airbnb refunded me less than $250 and refused to escalate our case, regardless of the extensive and very specific email trail of problems and obvious lies documented.

Here is one of the first emails:

Your listing says you have Internet and wifi. Internet means you are supposed to have a working router. There was no router at all, and you would have known that. But we came prepared for the internet challenges in CR. We all have Kolbi chips in our phones but could only get service if we stood in your yard. Even that didn’t work all the time; the service went in and out. We also bought a Claro “hotspot” box to use in Costa Rica a month ago. That usually works when the Kolbi doesn’t but it did not work at your place. We had no service at all. We were depending on your Internet availability which you listed on your Airbnb profile. Also, when we first met Jacinto your caretaker, he said he didn’t speak English. My son speaks a little Spanish so he tried to communicate. Jacinto pretended not to understand but conveyed to us through mostly hand gestures that there was no Internet available. He pointed all around the neighborhood, indicating there was just bad service in the area. In fact, there was no router at all in the house.

Then today Jacinto called me and spoke perfect English (what a miracle – the guy must be a genius!) and said that we could use the neighbor’s wifi, providing the login name and password. This is not acceptable for business people. Even that option didn’t work; the neighbor probably changed the password. Why did you lie to us? We had to make plans last night to find a new place. Sorry, but we cannot stay there. We are working here. I had to move to a hotel last night because I had meetings all day today via Skype. I can’t sit in the middle of your yard getting some sporadic wifi signal. I am still in the hotel tonight. But it is very expensive here – during the very high season – and I have to move tomorrow because they are booked up. This problem has cost me and my group a lot of time and money. I rented your house based on what you said in the listing and we don’t like being told one thing and then – after we move in – being told something else. You also said in the listing that the neighborhood was quiet. The boys were there and told me it was very loud last night – some sort of major appliance tear-down situation with a truck arriving at 6:00 AM dumping dozens of refrigerators and washing machines in the yard next door for them to dismantle. Are you kidding me? If I would have been told this, I would have cancelled the reservation.

The bottom line is you shouldn’t trust hosts or Airbnb to make things right. Rent with them and you take your chances.

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