In a Country Experiencing Political Unrest Near My Airbnb

I’m in an African country that is having current political unrest because of upcoming elections — sort of like the U.S. After a day or two at the location, I started hearing shooting and what sounded like bombs going off, as well as tear gas right outside of the Airbnb I’m staying in. It sounded like a war zone outside the door and I was told by security not to try to go to the main road because the police were arresting people.

I contacted Airbnb support (while there were loud explosions going on in the background that the agent heard for herself) and they assured me they would try to help me find other accommodations (full disclosure: I do not want to spend any money to book another accommodation as I still have more than three weeks left on this one).

What I requested is that Airbnb make an exception under their Extenuating Circumstances Policy as part of the “political unrest, riots” clause. I don’t think it’s unreasonable. Airbnb is a multi-million dollar company and I have just recently booked two other places in another city. Apparently, their concern for guests is superficial, at best.

I also believe that if I had been a Caucasian woman fearing for my safety in an African country, Airbnb would have acted with much more of a sense of urgency. I think because I am not, they figured I would be fine and didn’t seem to be that concerned. There is no other explanation I can come to since I’ve provided video of smoke and police converging on the area outside my Airbnb location and also a U.S. embassy security warning sent to my email the day after the first protests started. And yet, I still haven’t heard anything from Airbnb and my supposed case manager.

Classic Bait and Switch in Districts of Algiers

First time Airbnb user back in August 2019. l booked three bedrooms apartment in chic location of Algiers called Hydra. We were four people: myself, my husband and my two kids.

We were surprised as the first thing we did was to call the number listed with the apartment when we booked it; the phone number was not working. We went to find the address provided to us; the address doesn’t exist. We parked and tried to ask people there.

We were told that this address doesn’t exist and they had heard that there is a guy who meets people here as renting them the apartment but it turns out that he takes them somewhere else. Effectively that’s what happened to us, after a stressful afternoon trying to find the location and that phone number of the host was not working.

My husband checked his email and suddenly he found a message from the host providing a different number to call him. The host gave us a public location to meet us. We went there and met him. We were surprised right away that the host changed the apartment in Hydra, claiming that there was a water issue so he would take us to a different apartment that was nearby.

We were forced to accept this and follow him because our money was gone. We followed the host to the west side of Algiers which has new divisions far from downtown. We parked and went with him to see the apartment. We were surprised that the apartment was a very small one bedroom while I paid for three bedrooms. We told him to change it, that this was too small for us and we paid for a larger apartment.

The host then told us to stay that night in this apartment and he would try to find us another apartment next day. Just a note: while he was there I checked the dishwasher and found dirty dishes inside that had been there for days; just when I opened the door of the washer there was a fishy smell.

Anyway, in the morning we called him to check if he had something else. He told us to meet him in this apartment located in a popular neighborhood close to the airport (Bab Ezzouar). We went and met him there. The house was large and again supposed to be clean as he charged us $71 just for cleaning, $10 extra than what they charge in Algeria for cleaning.

Again checking the house I found the toilets had been used and never been cleaned. The apartment looked dusty. It had been closed for a long time and the fridge was messy with spills from other people who had used it before us. In addition, as we were forced to take this apartment I had to clean it myself and all the linen that was poorly taken care of.

That night we also found out that the wifi didn’t work. We called the host. He said he would come and check it. He came very late at night after we begged him and he said that it was not working but he would buy us a temporary modem. Guess what? We never heard from the host again and even we were tired of calling him every time.

The host called the evening of our check out to confirm that we were leaving. The day of check out we had until 12:00 PM to vacate the apartment. Suddenly around 8:00 AM I woke up to the door bell and found the housekeeper who came to “clean”. We told her that it was too early and that we have until noon. She was rude and started talking under her breath.

It’s not our fault that the host didn’t tell her or communicate with her. We called the host and informed him. He said to leave the apartment key with the housekeeper. I didn’t trust her; it looked like she was not a housekeeper in first place.

This was our bad experience with Airbnb. After I came back to the US, I called Airbnb to make a complaint. They said there was nothing they could do. We also wrote a long review but they never published it. They just included one sentence from a whole paragraph. I’m very disappointed and will never use Airbnb again. Guests are not protected and those listings are not verified. You never know what you will find.

Airbnb Quick to Charge, Slow to Refund

I currently live in Australia and made a booking for a property in Somerset West, South Africa From September 28 to October 12, 2018. I paid 50% of the total booking fee, but a month before the check-in date I was informed by the host (who appears to be living in Sydney) that he had to cancel the booking as he was in a dispute with his Body Corporate about using this property for Airbnb accommodation.

I immediately took this up with Airbnb and in the meantime I hastily looked for alternative accommodations for our family reunion, rebooked, and paid the fees as required (again through Airbnb). A few days later Airbnb advised me that they had difficulties in cancelling the reservation – something which I truly do not understand. I was assured, however, that they are looking into my case and that the matter will soon be resolved.

Since then I have had four different caseworkers, made numerous phone calls during which I was promised quick action, received generic emails expressing their sympathies and apologies for the inconvenience caused to me, was given a false promise that my refund was processed, received notification that my case was closed, was ignored for weeks on end, and have yet to see my refund…

I am at my wits’ end in dealing with Airbnb. This huge company is so unapproachable and seems to not care one bit about small fish like me. It has cost me way too much time and energy trying to receive fair and just treatment and on top of that it has caused me a great deal of stress. It feels to me that the whole issue is drawn out deliberately to try and force me to just abandon my hopes of receiving my refund. Any ideas how to proceed further will be most welcome.

Airbnb is the Law, Enforces their own Policy Arbitrarily

I booked a house in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Airbnb last week. Shortly after booking, the host wanted to increase the price by nearly 50% and sent a request to alter the agreement. I refused and the host cancelled the booking unilaterally. As soon as the reservation had been confirmed, I informed my family about the extra space available so I had to take this back. It was embarrassing, a lot of time was lost, and I had to look for another place. Despite Airbnb policy to post an ‘automatic’ review that the host had cancelled and block the dates I had booked on the host’s calendar, nothing happened. I received a ‘full’ refund a few days later but I still had foreign transaction fees of 15 USD nobody will cover. My conclusion is that Airbnb policy is completely arbitrary and the whole process is set up to maximize the profit of Airbnb. They talk about the ‘Airbnb community’ , which is utter nonsense. It’s a (poorly regulated) business, and that’s all.

Bait and Switch, Waiting Two Months for a Refund

I used Airbnb for the first time last month when visiting a friend in Kampala. I chose a nice private place not far from their house. Airbnb took the money from my account immediately after the host approved. After contacting the host, he told me the house I wanted wasn’t available and there was a similar one not too far from there. When I got there I hated the place; it was horrible and not even remotely close to the original one. I asked him for a refund, which he sent via Airbnb and I even received an email for them stating that I would receive the money within 5-7 working days. It has been two months. They aren’t responding to any of my emails which I have persistently sent. I won’t give up until I get my refund.

Airbnb Steals Guest’s Payment After a Quote

We were looking for somewhere to stay in Hout Bay, South Africa and as a member of Airbnb we went onto their website and saw Villa Barry advertised. The picture clearly shows the villa with a swimming pool on the property. We pressed the “get a quote” button (which clearly states underneath “you will not be charged yet”). The agent emailed back to say the price would be £367. This seemed reasonable but we thought we would clarify that the swimming pool was included in the price. The agent mailed back and said there would be an additional charge for using the pool of approximately £5 per day. We thought this outrageous to be charged extra for the use of a pool which is clearly on the property so we did not take the matter any further as we had not confirmed the booking. Since then we received a rude email stating that we will only receive a refund of £167 instead of the full amount of £367. We contacted an Airbnb customer service agent to say that we never confirmed the booking; we only asked for information on the swimming pool so there was no reason for her to take any money at all. We expect a full refund. Since then, she has not had the good manners to even acknowledge our email and as yet, we have received no communication from her whatsoever. We have now put this case in the hands of our credit card fraud department. We have used Airbnb before but never been treated so badly by a so-called agent. As we have been treated so shamefully we would never recommend Airbnb.

Cancellation Nightmare with Airbnb: Left in the Cold

I would like to bring to your notice the inconvenience I faced by booking my accommodation using Airbnb. I had booked (on August 19th, 2016) an accommodation in Cape Town for three nights, December 29th until January 31st using Airbnb for a group of four adults and one child. Airbnb confirmed my booking and I could see on the app that I was supposed to check in on December 29th. When I reached the accommodation on that day the owners were not even aware that we had a booking with them. The house was horrible and the owners themselves informed us that they did not pass the verification criteria set by Airbnb and they have never confirmed Airbnb for any booking. We were in a fix as it was already 6:00 PM local time. We talked to Raven from Airbnb and she assured us that she would be able to book an alternate place for us. We tried to book alternate places through Airbnb but none of the owners were able to host us at such a short notice. It was 9:00 PM by then. Then we started to make a booking through other websites but as it was holiday season everywhere we tried was full. Finally we got a booking in the Capital Hotel for a night. As the Capital Hotel was booked for the other two days, we had to go for accommodation hunting again the next day instead of enjoying the holiday as planned. I can assure you that we tried to find the cheapest options and everywhere was full. So, finally we had to book into Protea Hotel for the other two nights.

The accommodation was way over our budget but we still had to book it as the only other option was to sleep in the car. To add insult to the injury, we had to spend extra on food as well as we had booked accommodation with a kitchen and the hotels did not provide us with any self catering option. The $50 for food and the refund which Raven offered us doesn’t even cover for the inconvenience caused to us by the miscommunication on Airbnb’s part. We had to spend a day and a half looking for alternative accommodations instead of enjoying our holidays, which spoiled our stay in Cape Town. On top of that, nobody even contacted us from Airbnb to even find out if we had managed to find something else. I expect Airbnb to reimburse ZAR 11491 for my accommodation and food bills as it was a mistake on their side that spoiled our holiday, and forced us to spend so much extra than our budget. If a place can not even pass verification, how could they have it on their accommodation list? If the owners did not confirm the booking, how can Airbnb confirm the booking?

Airbnb Nightmare Before and After Christmas

I didn’t want to repeat my entire nightmare, but I do not wish this drama upon anyone. This was the nightmare before and after Christmas. We feel very upset about all the effort we have made to try and accommodate this family. So here is the letter I have written to them instead of an entire story.

I hope you are having a wonderful day. From the beginning you have made it very difficult for us, firstly by arriving earlier than the time you said you would. When we tried to reach you to confirm what time you would be arriving, we were unable to get a hold of you and then you arrived two hours earlier. You left your bags outside for my friend and I to carry inside even after we told you it would rain. We have driven four hours both ways in traffic to come and remove a field mouse from the house over Christmas and our only holidays. As we have stated before, we do live in the Kogelberg Biosphere, a very sensitive and fragile environment. We do have animals passing through our property, including three-striped field mice, baboons, leopards, mongooses, and many species of birds. This has always been something our guests have loved about our home. For you to have put poison down disturbs this natural habitat (and risks killing our endangered owls). When traveling to Africa, things like this happen. These animals’ behavior are beyond our control. This is why people choose to live in my home – to be closer to nature. We do not have vermin in our home as you have suggested. We have a little field mouse that frequents the house.

This is our second time hosting with Airbnb and we were not prepared for these circumstances: namely, your son’s musophobia. You have insulted our home, and accused us of having vermin. You have ruined our Christmas with your complaining and making us drive back. Each time we have driven back to the house, you told us repeatedly that you are happy in our home and all we need to do is remove the mouse (which we still haven’t seen). You have caused us to damage our own property in search of an invisible “mouse nest”. We have cracked a hole in to my cupboard to show you that there is nothing there. We have offered as much help and assistance as possible and each time you have told us everything is fine.

We are very upset that two days before you have to leave, you now suggest that we must refund you or give you a discount. When we asked whether you were satisfied you answered “yes”. Had you brought this to our attention earlier we may have been able to come to another arrangement. However, we are very close to the end. You have stayed over peak season in our home, we have gave up our Christmas to come, help you, make sure everything is okay, and spend a lot of our time and money in doing so. We are not talking about a dirty rat, vermin, or a plague. We are talking about a little field mouse that has never before caused any problems or made himself visible when we or other guests have stayed in our home. We are happy for you to contact Airbnb as we will be doing the same. We do not wish for anyone else to endure what we have over their holidays or festive season. Unfortunately, we cannot poison the animals that live in the garden as we are at the foot of a nature reserve and with this come animals that may come into the house by accident. I have suggested that if you are so unhappy, we can collect the key. You have chosen to stay on.

Dangerous Area And No Jacuzzi Means No Romance

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The rude host started by sending me an SMS at 5:00 AM with a string of texts about whom we should contact to get into the property. He offered an “apology” about the time by saying he was a surgeon on call 24/7… so, of course, that makes it okay to wake me up early on holiday. Then I had to use my UK phone to call this guy and arrange everything. I am originally from South Africa and decided to treat my partner to a romantic night with a jacuzzi overlooking Hout Bay. What we got was a block of flats by the bad part of the harbour with electric fencing, two armed guards and a jacuzzi that could be reached by a narrow fire escape. But wait, there’s more. The guy didn’t switch on the jacuzzi, so we were told to wait five hours, until 10:00 PM. In the meantime, I would have been too terrified to leave the premises at night for fear of being hijacked or robbed. It is miles away from the town of Hout Bay and just look up because if you look down or around you realise you have a cannery and are in a very poor area. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you become a target for crime. I had a rather rude awakening to Airbnb policies and wondered why the host continued to be so arrogant – if you don’t stay there you can’t leave a review. Because of his cancellation policy, I couldn’t get a refund. So the fact that it was unsafe and misrepresented cannot be published. Good luck to any unsuspecting tourist because sooner or later there will be a crime reported.