Fearing Bad Reviews, Airbnb Host Accuses Guests

A couple of my friends and I traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia during early monsoon season in June. I decided to go for my first Airbnb experience and to be safe, I chose a superhost thinking that will be the safest option. What was in store during this off-peak season at ‘My Home‘ (name of the superhost’s house) was a super warm experience, literally. As the temperature was high and with a little bit of rain, it was difficult to sleep at night as it was very hot (35 degrees Celsius) and humid with only a tiny fan available (if you can call it that) to circulate the air.

On top of this, there were lizards and insects coming out of the wooden roof from small crevices. As my partner is afraid of lizards, we changed rooms with my single friend living in the other room. It worked for five minutes before a lizard came out of the ceiling and my partner was paranoid it might fall on us. At the same time, a small bee started hitting the light on our mobile phone, in the dark; she thought it was the lizard and started screaming. After I calmed her down, we decided to go to a hotel the next day as the place was booked for two nights.

The next day, we left the place after coming back from sightseeing as the hosts were asleep and my friend staying in the other room was there to explain why we left. The French couple were fine the entire length of the trip and, expecting a bad review, ended up writing a nasty review that we left like thieves and gave a fake note to the driver they hired for us. We did not ask for a refund nor did we create a fuss. I ended up giving a nice short review that they guided us well, but as for the review they wrote accusing us of being thieves and cheats… it made us realise the lengths people go to discredit guests from whom they expect bad reviews. I wrote to her to explain and make amends to the wonderful driver who took us around and her replies can be seen here and here. I realised that people can be racist to people they think won’t fight back. How can such people masquerade as superhosts is a mystery.

Threatened by Host in Asheville

On a recent stay at what appeared to be a great space with overwhelmingly positive reviews, we had the bad luck of encountering a plumbing issue (the handle for the toilet straight up fell off), leaving us without a functioning toilet for almost a whole day (this was the only bathroom in the unit). The host never replied to our message regarding the maintenance issue, so we decided to cut our losses and leave (Hotel Indigo is very nice, by the way). While we were packing up, the host came over totally unannounced, pounded on the door, and threatened us for leaving early. We finished packing up, completely terrified, and got out as quickly as possible, trying not to escalate the situation. Once we made it to safety, I called Airbnb to report the incident.

The customer service rep, “Josh,” said that because there was no evidence of what happened, we were basically out of luck (side note: I did have my unanswered messages to the host about the problem and a witness to the harassment – the other guest – which judge Josh apparently didn’t think counted as evidence). I was eventually refunded for one night, but was told that because the host has a strict cancellation policy, and the incident occurred more than 24 hours after check-in, no additional money would be refunded. This seems like a less-than-sound refund policy to say the least. I mean, what if the place burned to the ground more than 24 hours after check-in? Does the host still get to keep the money if he wants? The most troubling part of this whole incident is Airbnb’s nonchalant attitude when it comes to women being threatened by their male hosts.

Moral of the story: an unstable, violent host can intimidate you into leaving (read: escaping) early and then keep your money because you “canceled” the reservation early.

Airbnb Nightmare: Abusive Host and Poor Response


My nightmare with Airbnb started with a horrible event but really escalated when I tried to complain about it. I booked an Airbnb to go to my friend’s wedding in Ukiah, California. The reviews seemed good; she was an older lady, so I thought she would have been harmless. The nightmare started shortly after I got there. After I arrived, I introduced myself to her, and she happened to be home with her friend. Then, after getting ready for my friend’s event, I went to go ask her directions to the winery where it was being held. While I was getting directions from her, she said that I looked very nice and told me to have fun. As I walked away, she grabbed my butt with a full hand and I was wearing a thin dress so it was very direct contact. I was in utter shock when it happened and didn’t know how to react.

First, this was an old lady, and second, all my things were still there and it was her home, so I didn’t know if my reaction was going to instigate something. I was in a hurry and tried to run out but it was raining when I got out and I came back to get an umbrella from her, still not knowing how to react when that happened. When I got to the event I was in such a shock, I told my friends there and then I told some friends online and people were telling me to get out of there as soon as possible. That’s when it sunk in what had happened. I tried to call Airbnb’s emergency line which my friends told me about but I was constantly put on hold and once I got through to someone and told them what happened they just said “can I put you on a long hold” and after ten minutes went by I had to hang up. I went back with a friend because I didn’t feel safe going back alone to pack up my belongings at night and checked into a hotel at midnight.

I finally got in touch with someone in the morning and told them about what happened; they said something to the effect that this doesn’t happen very often. They said they’d refer the matter to someone and get back to me. I didn’t hear from anyone and I had already contacted multiple people. I also went to file a police report before I left. The police were pretty horrible in Ukiah. The officer was really combative: he asked me if I did anything to bring this upon myself and actually went to the host’s house and asked her if she did it and then came back and told me she said she didn’t do it. He told me I was combative and referred me to his supervisor when I tried to make a report. I don’t think anything happened and the experience of filing the police report was one of the worst things I have gone through. I realize this is why so many sexual assaults go unreported.

A couple of days later they emailed me to put a review for my host on Airbnb. I was shocked. I wrote a tirade of what happened to me. Finally someone replied to me and I attached a screenshot of the reply to this review. Really repulsive. Thanks for allowing me to cancel when I didn’t stay there and doing nothing else in the air of customer service besides continuing to aggravate me after I was assaulted. The host’s profile is still on Airbnb, and my review is nowhere to be found. This is very disturbing because it looks like profiles on Airbnb are curated, leaving guests in complete danger. It’s EXTREMELY disconcerting that Airbnb does not take these allegations seriously and it is only concerned with making money: no matter the price, even putting people in danger. I hope this company eventually gets shut down (which it will). Here’s the host’s profile.

Most Disrespectful Airbnb Host: Nightmare in Venice Beach

I have been staying at Airbnbs since the company started and have never come close to having an experience like the one I had in Venice Beach, California. In fact, I have never been disrespected by someone like this in my entire life, no matter what the situation was. As I travel for work, I often stay at Airbnbs across the country and I always treat every home and host better than my own or how I would expect to be treated. This house was super cute and very well decorated. It was exactly what I wanted while in Venice Beach, California until I realized how disrespectful this host and the host’s girlfriend was. On the first morning of my stay, they yelled at me for talking to a client on my cell phone outside in the backyard, which was supposed to be completely open to guests. I was interrupted by the host telling me that he has to make a call and that if I am going to be talking on my phone I have to do so inside my studio. I went inside to finish my conversation and then left to go to a coffee shop and work where I wouldn’t get in trouble for being on the phone.

I WAS EVICTED AT 3:30AM FOR NOTHING. The very next night, I had my best friend drive up from San Diego for dinner. I introduced him to the host’s girlfriend because she was in the yard watering the flowers. She seemed super nice and we all talked about places to go eat, things to see while in town, etc. It was a very normal, casual conversation. She recommended a very nice place for dinner and it was great. She also asked if my friend was planning on staying and although it was not the plan, I said that it depends on how late dinner goes. She said ok and walked inside. Since we couldn’t get a reservation until 9:30pm we did not get home from dinner until midnight or so. We were extremely quiet when we got home and went straight to sleep (again I’m here for work).

After being asleep for 3.5 hours, at 3:30am, I was suddenly woken up by someone pounding on the door and yelling at me to get out of the apartment. I opened the door and it was the host’s girlfriend screaming at me and saying that I must pack my things and leave. I was told that she called Airbnb and reported me for breaking the rules of having a friend stay with me and if I don’t leave in 5 minutes, the cops will come (she never called Airbnb). I was completely caught off guard; it was the middle of the night, and when I simply asked her what was going on and if she could provide me with the number for Airbnb, she said no and that I had to leave immediately. Needless to say it’s 3:45am in the morning now and I am on the street with my luggage and no place to stay. She got to keep the money that I prepaid for the apartment and possibly rented out her place again for that night. I have never been so disrespected by anyone in my entire life. This was the most ridiculous experience that I have ever faced and don’t know anyone who has the conscience to treat someone like this.

After speaking with Airbnb, they were extremely apologetic; they credited my account for the one night and gave me $100 in Airbnb credit. When I asked how to leave a review on the site, I was not able to because the host immediately cancelled the reservation to prevent me from leaving a bad review. When the Airbnb host told me the house rules, there was nothing stating that one will be evicted for having a guest stay with you. The house rules stated that they “prefer” to have no outside guests but when I introduced my friend to the girlfriend earlier in the evening, she said nothing about not being able to stay. I was out $620 from the rental of the Airbnb and then had to find a hotel at 4:00am in a city that I am not familiar with and pay an extra $300 for the room.

Ants and Home Invasions: Emails from a Nasty Host


Email from Host:

Good morning Li Ming,

I was going to message you again – but think it’s best we speak via the Airbnb website so there’s a record of all communications. I appreciate your message – I hope the fresh figs and pears were interesting and delicious; it is nice to have something so natural. As for the ants (not related to the fridge), I saw your three photos but could not really see anything – maybe a dot or two – I do of course believe you, but please understand these are native creatures – tiny tiny black ants – actually attracted to water or sugar – or moving because of the coming rain. As you requested I have visited and poured a special low toxicity product, “Ant Rid”, at two locations – one by the bathroom door and also by the front door. I noticed, however, even more ants outside (that’s good) but moving around on the veranda ceiling so I also put some liquid outside the door. The ants will take this back to their nest and reduce the population.

However, these are regular Australian Black Ants – harmless and just part of the landscape. The fridge – I went to remove the offending items – contained I believe a packet of frozen vegetables, mayonnaise, jam and a jar of crushed garlic… actually three jars of mayonnaise. I took these offending items (oh, and two fresh eggs) left by the previous guests to share and not waste. I wiped all the shelves and took the one little piece of red onion skin from the vegetable crisper space. I have photographed the items – and will post this for all to see. I think personally your request is a bit reactionary – maybe it is a cultural gap. Many guests thank me for providing items like oil (open oil – not brand new that I had purchased), leaving a few eggs – messages come like “Hi Jon, can we use the eggs in Fridge?” – me “Yes of course” – and a jar of crushed garlic good until August 2016.

It looks like two spoons were used and the rest were enough for guests to cook something. I also provide hand soap – but not bars of soap. I provide a few toilet rolls but I am not “required to.” I offer the essentials so you can manage until you go shopping. This is not a hotel – it is twice as big with a yard and free parking at a lesser price. Maybe it is cultural – I didn’t really enjoy visiting Singapore very much – I thought it was bland and sort of boring – but at the same time I appreciated the work culture and making something of nothing – the political stability is good too.

So it is different than here. I enjoyed the difference and you should to. On another note – I noticed you left the heating on at 25 degrees while you were out, may I suggest this is environmentally a bad practice and also wasteful and neglectful. 22 degrees is enough and in fact the weather is so mild as to not require any heating or cooling – then again when it is 38 degrees here I still do not use our own air conditioning – I feel it is for weak people that hide from – yet damage – the environment. Anyway, I hope your few ants leave the hall way and the fridge is now empty of those annoying items. I am now going to cook an omelette using the two eggs. Oh, I know you like fresh items – the unit next door is also mine, and in front of the veranda is fresh parsley, basil, and chives. There is more than we ever can use so feel free to cut or pick some and enjoy your visit. Be careful of Tiger Snakes on the river trail.

– Jon


Reply from Me:

Dear Jon,

Thank you for your feedback. Here is ours. Your sign on the door says “Please feel free to contact owner if there are any concerns…” – We contacted you and got slammed for the trouble. Hmm. Not good. Your messages and email replies – Full of personal attacks – perhaps it’s a cultural thing like you mentioned. Not good. We tend to be professionals when it comes to business and expected the same from the other party. Our bad. You (the owner) entering the rented premises without first contacting us – unprofessional and a breach of security. Ants – a few, no problem but increasing in numbers, a slight worry, just thought you as the owner might want to know. Your liquid ant bait – not working as shown in the pics. We had to purchase Baygon. Wham, no more ants instantly. And interestingly enough, there was no rain except for a slight drizzle on the last of our 4-night stay. Hmmm… so I wonder why the ants decided to invade the house… And you are right, it is indeed not our culture to cohabit with a bunch of ants (or other insects) in our home when possible.

A few frozen vegetables? I’m sorry, but the freezer is the top compartment of the fridge, not the bottom which was hastily cleaned out on the second day of our stay. Expired cream and packet of cheese for our use? – Unacceptable. Why are we charged cleaning fees? It is so that the place is thoroughly cleaned out for the next occupants. Dirty fridge with nasty comments from owner – Unacceptable. Filthy dish washing sponge?  It muust also be a cultural thing like you mentioned. We did have a comfortable stay at your place despite your nasty attitude and small setbacks. We apologize for our high expectations of hospitality and cleanliness. Our past experiences with Airbnb must have spoilt us plenty. Please pardon us for our cultural differences and perhaps you will have better dealings with others in the future. And if you’ve messaged someone to say you’re coming down that night, please have the same courtesy to say you have changed your mind and not make the other person wait. Thank you.

Immature abuse

My sister and I booked Airbnb accommodation in Granada. The position of the accommodation was superb, down a short alley way and you were at the base of the Alhambra. Perfect for a couple of days which would include visiting the Alhambra, gazing at the Alhambra and photographing the Alhambra. The accommodation was basic at best. Claimed to sleep four – but where? The two windows which opened to the alley way were the only source of natural light but neither had a curtain, we hung sarongs to provide some privacy as the alternative, to close the shutters, meant that we felt like we were living underground. The gas stove and hot water did not work so we emailed the hosts. At 2pm, on day 2, they arrived to rectify. I am a coffee fanatic and carry my own coffee with me. Once the stove problem had been rectified I looked forward to a decent coffee. But their coffee maker did not work. Eek! The hot water continued to go off until the end of our stay and we continued to light the gas every time we needed a shower. Now, this is what happened, so this is what I reported in my review and this is when the abuse started. Airbnb encourages guests to be honest but where is the protection from the abuse that may follow?? I am very suspicious of reviews and “verified” photos. It is patently obvious that photos lie and reviewers are telling less than the truth. We rented the “magical” place in granada based on photos and reviews. The photos turned a sow’s ear into a silk purse and the reviews were generally glowing …. How come all those visitor experiences were so much better than ours? It’s an Airbnb mystery!