Airbnb Kyoto: Not Everything in Japan is Pristine

Our first booking was cancelled by the owner, and it took some persistence to get the money refunded on our return. Our second booking in Kyoto, Japan turned out to be ghastly. The “owner” had a profile picture 0f his baby in his arms with a spiel about how friendly he was, how much he loved the neighbourhood, and how he would let people know all the good places to eat! We never saw him! The apartment was not clean, and the bedding was appalling. No spare linen, and it looked like the linen had not been washed – there were only two pillows with cases, and one of them was dirty. For the price, it was sub-standard accommodation, even for Kyoto, and the only people who may not have complained would have been five backpackers sharing the price. Never again. The shower, which was always damp, was a haven for footrot, and there was barely enough light. The only thing which worked was the wifi, which was good enough to check out some good hotel accommodations in the area and get the hell out of there. I selected this because it was close to the railway station – it would have been preferable to have slept at the station.

Stranded by Airbnb after a Rock Festival

My daughter took her first trip out of the country and booked Airbnb for a rock festival… the host never showed up, never emailed her, and didn’t even have the decency to answer her phone! She, of course, phones home in a panic, after hours of phone calls to Airbnb, calling hotels in the area (of course nothing was available – it was a rock festival weekend!) thinking she and her friend will be on the street, crying and upset! Worst experience ever! Three hours later and still, nothing happened! Airbnb said they will refund her money but when someone needs a place to stay what help is that! My advice: STAY AWAY!

Airbnb Doesn’t Care about its Customers


So, we recently moved to Portugal and needed somewhere to live for three months before our permanent home was ready. We found (what we thought) was a lovely listing on Airbnb. The host was great – the pics looked great – there was a river view, and it was a pretty decent price at around €800/month. When we arrived, we thought, “hmmm… this place does not look as good as the photos.” There was a foul smell coming from the kitchen – but we thought: “ok, we’ll look for another Airbnb in a week or so.”

The host was actually really nice – however, he hasn’t been to his apartment in ages and lives in the north of Portugal. He had the sink looked at and the smell was taken care of. Then the rain came. That’s when we had pots on the floor catching leaks. Next, we noticed a lot of black mould coming through. We brought it to his attention – he apologised and said someone would look into it. At this point we couldn’t find another Airbnb available until July 1st. So we said, “alright, we’d stay for now” – mainly because we’d come down with a cold and case of food poisoning within the first two weeks and couldn’t bear the thought of moving all our stuff in our condition.

So we’re looking and looking for another Airbnb – suddenly – I’m locked out of my account – no notification or anything. I’ve seen other people post with a contact us lock. Nope – I can log in but the website disappears and only the header and footer show. Wtf. No contact info either for Airbnb – they make it a challenge to figure out how to get a hold of them. The best excuse I got for that? “Well, we only want that number used for emergencies!” HAHAHAHAHA. Yeah, when an emergency happens the last thing a person wants is to have to stress and become a Google ninja to find their contact information. Makes total sense.

Anyway, with nowhere to go, we negotiated to stay after our booking date ended until we could find something else and sort the place out at a reduced rate. FINALLY, we find an Airbnb phone number and call – the girl says she’ll send the issue to the correct department… crickets for two weeks. I respond to the email they sent me (that says “reply here”) to no response. Now I’m pissed. We’re almost two months in a toxic mouldy place with no way to book another location on Airbnb. Also, I was told if I set up another account it would be against their terms of use. Plus, I want the good feedback I have on my account from previous rentals so people would trust renting to me.

We finally had to set up a Facebook account – thinking we could message them on there. Nope. So we publicly posted with photos of the conditions we have to live in and I can’t access the booking system to get us out of it. They respond with the typical “We’re sorry here’s an emergency number.” That girl? She couldn’t care less. She said, “sorry- because you’re past your booking date when you first got in touch.” Umm, yeah- because you made it impossible to find your contact information!

Anyway, she tells us she sees we’re in the emergency queue but they have a lot and are backlogged (weeks apparently) so we are screwed. We’re both getting sicker by the minute and we can’t find anywhere else to go on holiday because it’s also high season and places have been booked up. Airbnb should be ashamed of themselves letting sites like this be rented to people. I’m not going to lie – our host has been as nice as possible and apologetic – he didn’t realise it was in the condition it was in (or so he claims) but Airbnb staff have been dicks. I don’t appreciate their lack of transparency when it comes to being able to reach them. I’ve included some pics of our lovely place and its mould. The whole place is damp and wet. I’d include the link to our sublet but I still can’t access it.

Airbnb not Checking what Hosts are Offering

We have used Airbnb extensively in the past, traveling overseas. We are finding it increasingly true that what we read on Airbnb about the offerings at a certain place is not the reality when you arrive. You are caught short without the opportunity to find alternative accommodation. Our experience is: don’t trust what you read on Airbnb, do your own homework, and ask detailed questions before you commit.

For example: “On site parking” should mean on the property, not two kilometers away if you are lucky to find a spot! A supply of essentials means just that, not only a toilet roll! Airbnb is not taking any responsibility for what is advertised on their site; it is very much “let the buyer beware.”

Speak to Real People with Airbnb Customer Service?

There is zero information available about contacting Airbnb to get help from a live person. This has been apparent to me on the pages of Airbnb as I attempted to learn precisely how to list my home. I even attempted to create a listing but the process halted after the system could not “verify” two different phone numbers. The Help Center is worthless to a person with a problem that does not fit the pre-configured scenarios the geniuses at Airbnb can think up. Most tellingly, no “Contact” button/menu item is available so it is apparent Airbnb is nothing but an extension of the Borg. Only this limited interaction “feedback” with zero interactivity is offered.

Well guess what? The sheer arrogance and/or elitism of Airbnb personnel simply screams from the site. No, you can not think of all issues and place them in an endless series of dropdowns, and no, like hell am I going to play Simon Says guessing games to pass through the hoops Airbnb has provided. The industry is flooded with venture capital to build systems to smash smug assholes who operate Airbnb and my money and more importantly, time, will be spent elsewhere. So, why am I bothering writing this here? Just using it as a temporary pad to jot down my review of Airbnb before finding a spot to publish it.

Airbnb Reservation Canceled Last Minute!

Here’s our story: On January 15, 2016, I booked a condo on Singer Island (owner “Sherry”) in West Palm Beach, FL for my family’s spring break vacation. We were vacationing with a group of friends who were also staying on the island. My husband, daughter (12 years old) and I were set to check in on Saturday, March 19 staying through March 26. My daughter and I went a few days early to visit with family in the Orlando area.

On Wed, Mar 16, I received a text from the owner asking when we would be checking in on Saturday. I responded that we would be there about noon. The following afternoon (Thursday), I received a text from Airbnb that my reservation was cancelled. I then called and texted the owner and asked what was going on. She texted me back confirming she cancelled the reservation because she “had been sick with pneumonia” for a long time. Begs the question, then why did she wait to cancel 2 days before we were to check in, right? So here we are, already in Florida and trying to find a place to stay during the busiest time of the year. I can’t begin to describe my level of stress. While there are worse things, this was our nightmare for the next 10 hours while I called every hotel and vrbo ad trying to find a place for us to stay.

First I called Airbnb and they said they would find us a place. The representative I spoke with was extremely nice. So she sends me 9 listings. Great, right? Not so much. All of the listings she sent were booked for the time we were there. Now why would they send us listings that are not available? Unbelievable. I called back to let them know none of the listings were available so they refunded my money, gave me a $200 credit (that’s helpful when there’s no place to stay) and said “sorry we couldn’t find one for you, good luck.”

Finally after calling every resort and realtor in the area, I finally found a room at the Palm Beach Marriott on Singer Island – literally the last room available – in which I ended up paying an additional $2,000. And because the room was equipped with a “coffee kitchen,” we spent another small fortune eating out for lunch and dinner everyday and paying $30/day for parking.

This was our first time using Airbnb and, needless to say, is our last. When I posted my story on Facebook – the stories were endless about similar situations. More people should know about the risks of using Airbnb. Hope you’ll be writing another article soon.