Quiet Escape for Motorcyclist Writer is Anything But

I’m done with Airbnb. I’ve done two extended stay vacation trips, one to New Mexico and, now, one to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Three of the five places I’ve stayed were excellent. Two were disasters; both of the awful “hosts” were older, single women. Both places were somewhat honestly described and priced about normal for equivalent facilities (including hotels) in the area. Honestly, I could have found decent, downtown hotel rooms with about the same accommodations for the price I paid for the Airbnb rentals. Looking at Hotels.com, I discovered I could have done as well in Thunder Bay and been walking distance from Lake Superior, downtown, and had a window.

After extracting ourselves from our New Mexico Airbnb disaster, I did find a really nice one-bedroom apartment for about 2/3rds of the Airbnb monthly rental price. It had a far better location and came with an all-access pass to a hot springs spa. I am a motorcycle rider and I’ve travelled all over North America and a good bit of western Mexico on a variety of motorcycles for the last 50 years. I have taught motorcycle safety classes for the last 17 years. I’ve owned motorcycles for most of my 70 years and have parked motorcycles on about every kind of surface imaginable without ever having a problem.

When I arrived in Thunder Bay for a week’s stay, I met the owner in her driveway. She suggested I park my motorcycle in an area to the side of her driveway so she could get her car out in the morning for work. I moved it to where she suggested. I’d ridden about 450 miles from home to Thunder Bay that day and was beat. So, I parked the bike, unloaded my stuff, and settled into the room for the night. Thanks to the plastic covered mattress, I got about two hours of uncomfortable sleep before I gave up and moved to the couch.

The next day, I loafed in the apartment and backyard for most of the day and hiked about a mile to a grocery store and to check out the immediate area. When I got back, I put away the groceries, made a late lunch for myself, and a little later I went out to the motorcycle to make it more secure for the next evening. I discovered that the side-stand had sunk about an inch into her driveway. The bike was leaning precariously, so I moved it a little and put the bike up on the center stand. This isn’t a big or a heavy motorcycle: 450 pounds, wet and loaded. It was late, almost dark, and I planned to talk to the host about the driveway damage in the morning.

I went back to the apartment to do some work. About 10:00 PM, the following exchange showed up via email: “Your bike has damaged my new driveway. Can you please put the plywood under your bike stands. It cost me $7000.00 for new driveway and don’t have funds to repair it.” This was followed by: “The asphalt is new… still sensation [sic] to weight and sharp objects. I am upset that you would ignore not telling me it happened and when I knocked on door to address the issue you ignored my knock. I leaned a plywood sheet against your bike so you can either put the sheet under the kick stands or possibly park it on the street. I will call the contractor tomorrow to provide an estimate on repairing. Hopefully he can reheat and level again. But I know there will be an expense to it. Please refrain from doing bike repairs on the driveway. As I said the asphalt is new and still very soft.”

I replied: “I’m sorry I missed you at the door. I’m trying to do that writing thing I mentioned when I got here and had headphones on, so I didn’t hear you. I wouldn’t ignore you and I’m sorry you think that’s who I am. Maybe this week isn’t going to work for either of us. I didn’t want to bother you with the driveway until I saw you next. If you had told me the driveway was new I might have thought to suggest a better place for me to park. It’s not like making it into an emergency would change either of our evenings. I apologize for the trouble. I have a lot of experience parking motorcycles and I have never seen a new or old driveway fail like that at 75 F. I had no way to predict it would happen.”

I dressed and went out in a rain storm to move the bike to the ¼” plywood she had leaned against my motorcycle. The next day, she seemed apologetic and I thought the weirdness had passed. She asked me how I’d slept and I told her the plastic-covered mattress was uncomfortable and I’d spent most of the night on the couch. She allowed that I could remove the plastic, which made the next night tolerable.

The “suite” she advertised was a small basement apartment, with the bathroom in a shared hallway. There were two tiny windows, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom, but neither will open. Cooking smells stayed in the room for hours. The kitchen was well-equipped and functional. The backyard had a nice semi-private area, which could have been an excellent place to write during the day. However, there were nearby neighbors who eliminate any feeling of privacy. My first day out there, I answered the “whatcha doin’?” question four times, when someone looked over the fence after hearing me typing on my computer. I quit and read a book for the rest of the afternoon.

Three days later, at about 9:00 PM, I received the following email, via Airbnb’s server: “I had the paving company come by to give me estimate on heating and leveling the kick stand hole and it will cost $250.00. We need to discuss in person on payment options for repair. He will drop off a written quote tomorrow in mailbox.”

My reply to that was: “Julie, I’m in the apartment now, if you want to discuss this. However, I parked where you suggested. You did not warn me that the asphalt was either new or soft when I arrived. I had no way of knowing that your drive way would be different than any of the thousands of places I’ve parked a motorcycle over the last 50 years. Personally, I suspect your contractor used less aggregate than ideal for a strong surface. I’m no expert, but it’s pretty obvious that there isn’t much aggregate showing in the drive. The other side of not knowing the drive was not a stable place to park is that the failure of the surface integrity was about to allow my motorcycle to fall into your pavers, which would have caused a lot more damage to the motorcycle than $250. Monday’s high temperature was 24 C/75 F, hardly high enough to expect that sort of pavement failure under anything resembling normal conditions. The important aggregate qualities for your asphalt paving project are durability and angularity (fractured faces). To get the strongest pavement structure, larger aggregates are used for the base, with successively smaller dating sites reviews aggregates used for upper layers in the pavement. However, it’s also true that new asphalt driveways are supposed to be kept from everything from bicycle kickstands to high heeled shoes for as long as a year [I didn’t know that until I looked it up yesterday]. You’ll need to put a sign where anyone using that driveway can see it if you want to avoid future damage.”

Of course, she did not take me up on my offer to discuss her driveway problem in person. That evening, I’d decided my Airbnb experiences were a draw. Three out of five decent experiences is not good enough. If I were to use Airbnb again, I feel that I’d have to use what are obviously sexist filters for any hosts I’d consider renting from. It’s not worth the hassle or the moral issues. After discussing this experience with my wife over the phone, she decided that we’re just going to avoid the whole experience by cancelling our Airbnb account, which she did that evening. As for the Thunder Bay rental, I’d paid for Sunday to Sunday, seven days, but when we had a plumbing emergency at home Thursday night, I decided to pack it up either Friday morning and call it a wash. I’m a big believe in avoiding the Sunk Cost Fallacy and that writing getaway turned into a general gumption trap. In three days, I managed one good day of writing and two days of agonizing over BS with the host. I’d rather be home, wrestling with figuring out how to negotiate quiet periods with my wife or finding an office to rent than fooling with this stuff. Airbnb proved to be more of an unreliable hassle than a viable alternative to hotels and motels.

Airbnb Host Locked Women out of Granada Apartment

My daughter just made an emergency call to us from Granada, Spain. She and her friend have a room in an Airbnb apartment, and went out for the evening. They came back about 3:00 AM and the host (a woman) would not let them in. They have been outside for hours, and called the police, the American Embassy, and Airbnb, and no one would help them. These are two young girls (about 22) who have recently graduated from college. Their passports are in the apartment, so they cannot get a hotel room or anyplace else, until they get their passports. This woman is horrible. They know she is doing this on purpose – this is a horrible and scary situation. Their bags and all IDs are inside this woman’s apartment. Airbnb won’t do anything. They should not have such despicable people as hosts that would abuse their guests… Airbnb has put my daughter and her friend in an unsafe and scary situation.

There’s Rude, There’s Extremely Rude, Then There’s This Host

There’s rude, there’s extremely rude and then there’s being told to “f$#@ off” by your host. That’s what happened when I phoned my Airbnb host about the TV not working (aerial feed had been torn out; bare wire remained). “I don’t see it as a problem,” he assured me. He suggested I repair it myself.

“Okay, but how would you feel about it if this happened to you?” I asked. “Get another place. Find another room.” he said. “What?” I asked, shocked. “F$#@ OFF” he shouted. Then the phone went dead. I was on another man’s property. I was with my wife and my daughter. I was now uncertain as to whether or not we could stay. I felt very unwelcome. How can I write a good review after that?

Cozy Studio a Hot Mess for Nightmare Stay in Queens

Our Airbnb Hell story begins on May 28, 2017 when we decided to use the service to go to New York with our son who just graduated from high school. We requested that the room accommodate three adults. The listing for a “Cozy Studio by Forest Park Steps To Subway” came up in our search and we thought this would be perfect.

Our first contact with the host was to ask if this would be an appropriate place for three adults. She assured us it was and said she looked forward to having us stay in her studio. Prior to requesting this, we had read her reviews and were satisfied that this would work for us. Only one review was negative at that point; that was from someone complaining about the noisy upstairs neighbors, but she said the problem was “acoustic issues” that would be fixed.

We arrived on July 19th and immediately knew something was wrong. We were told to enter the unit from the back door. We walked inside and wondered if we were in the right place. There was a couch and a bed in the main part of the unit, along with a small refrigerator, and a microwave near the kitchen sink. We backtracked down the hallway to the back door and the first door was a toilet. There was a shower curtain with a shower behind it and then a small area with a shelf with towels. There was a queen bed, presumably for the three of us.

We immediately contacted the host and asked where the other bed was, hoping that the couch wasn’t to be used for that purpose. Our son was mortified by the lack of privacy. Clearly, the room with the toilet was hardly big enough to turn around in, let alone change one’s clothes. Her response seemed to be one of surprise that there were three of us. She assured us that a bed would be coming. This was around 6:30 and we were hungry from flying all day from Portland, Oregon.

We were a few blocks from a street in Queens that had restaurants, though no real suggestions on where to eat. We relied on Yelp since the host had merely stated there were “plenty of places” to eat nearby. We were eating dinner when she contacted us about the bed. She said her husband would be bringing it by and wondered if we were at the unit. I said we would be back within an hour. It was a little after 7:00. We left a few minutes later and went back to the unit and waited.

It was about 85 degrees and the place felt like a sauna. The windows would not open and there was only a large fan to circulate the already-humid air. Finally, around 10:00, her husband showed up. I told him the unit was not what we were expecting. We had told her that there were three of us and this place was clearly smaller and less private than we what we viewed in the photos. There were several photos showing the place with the same bed shot at different angles and with different bedding. The couch was in some of the photos and not in others. In retrospect, we should have noticed the pictures, which were the same, but we felt the perspective was skewed.

Her husband said, “Please do not say this was misrepresented.” These were his words – not ours. Obviously someone had used that phrase before because his defense of the unit was somewhat proactive. We went to bed shortly after he left and tried to fall asleep in an overly hot room with no ventilation.

About midnight, we heard the neighbors upstairs come home. I have no idea what their situation involved, but from the moment they entered their apartment, the noise level was elevated to shouting, crying, fighting, and stomping. It went on until 1:30 in the morning. There was noise that sounded like children screaming and crying and then running around above us.

At first we considered that the noise might end quickly and everyone would go to sleep, but it dragged on for 90 minutes. We were wide awake and wondering what options we had. We thought about vacating the unit, but at 1:30 in the morning, we had nowhere else to go. We were not at a place where we could call anyone to pick us up and go somewhere. When the noise finally died down, we went to sleep.

The next morning, we called Airbnb about our concerns. We explained our situation and our desire to move. Of course they called the host and told her what had happened. She said she did not “misrepresent the space” and if we had a problem with the neighbors, we should have called her to let her know. It was 1:30 in the morning. We had no idea if we were in danger of some sort – we were told not to contact them because they were the residents of the apartment above (which at one point was attached to our dwelling with a door and stairs to the basement).

I suppose we could have called the police to complain, but that seemed a bit extreme. In addition, we had committed to staying there at least until the next day. Our imaginations, at this point, were running a bit wild.

We called Airbnb the next day and told them what had happened. They said if we wanted to leave, we should cancel the reservation, which was followed up by a request from the host. She thought she could open it back up for someone since it was such a desirable place and it was Thursday before a summer weekend. She also offered us a refund for two nights of our reservation. Considering that we had spent over $900, we felt that this wasn’t really enough. We cancelled the reservation and moved into a hotel in Brooklyn. We felt we would deal with the fallout later.

Airbnb claimed they called me several times in New York, which is an outright lie because I had my phone with me the entire time and there were no phone calls from Airbnb. We received an email from Airbnb on our last full day in New York (July 25th) asking if our issue had been resolved and they would consider the case closed if so.

The next day, as we were waiting for our flight out, I wrote an email to them explaining how I felt the situation was not resolved. I felt that adding a toilet and shower to an unlivable space and advertising it as a cozy studio was not acceptable and that yes, the place was misrepresented. We were not happy with the situation and were not happy with Airbnb.

After we returned to our home in the Portland, Oregon area, and the case was not settled satisfactorily, and after hearing from yet another “case manager” at Airbnb, I requested our case be reopened. I got a response from another case manager, who offered us $200. I had requested $794 (which was the amount on the dispute area on the Airbnb website). I was told that the host had three days to give us a response, which not surprisingly, she refused. She also said she hoped we wouldn’t use Airbnb in the future.

At this point we had forfeited our right to give an honest review because it was past the 14 days allowed. During that entire 14-day period, we were still disputing the charges and hoping we could come to some reasonable resolution. By the way, the host’s offer of two night’s reimbursement also dried up. I made screenshots of all the correspondence because I was somewhat certain Airbnb would take them down.

This host, in my opinion, is a scam artist and crook. Her place was clearly misrepresented and all this could have been avoided had she just said, “I don’t think this place would work for you,” at the outset. The other issue I have with Airbnb is that our complaints have always come back to the host and her story is the one accepted by Airbnb. I feel like we, as paying customers, are discounted in favor of their “host” who really has the final say. I mean, after all, we wouldn’t want to give up the cash cow that helps drive Airbnb’s business?

Host Messes up Check-in, Acts Like it is my Fault

Here is my story. While it not be as bad as others on here, I definitely feel wronged. I paid for a night at a host’s apartment who had raving reviews and was Airbnb verified, so I assumed everything was kosher. The night before I left there was an issue with security and the previous guest leaving the keys with security instead of in the lock box that was secure so I would have to coordinate my check in time with the host directly. It wasn’t a big deal but when 3:00 PM rolled around, I called and left messages for the host until she finally answered a half hour later explaining she didn’t coordinate getting the keys to me yet and that she would be available at 5:00 PM (it was already completely ridiculous when the check in was at 3:00).

I offered to meet her at the location where the keys were, a few neighborhoods away from the listing. We traveled there and sat around for 45 minutes with no keys. The person who was supposed to meet us didn’t pick up his phone. At that point it was 5:00 PM and I was completely frustrated. I decided it was not worth the hassle and try to cancel. She also mentioned that once we got to the building we would have to duck security and make sure not to talk to the building staff, only causing me more concern. She then proceeded to tell me how it was my fault and even though she was the one who inconvenienced me, this was my problem. I left the location and her husband called me to tell me he had arrived. I explained the situation to him and he started being equally as rude and just plain ridiculous. They were in the wrong and I paid for it. Now I am trying to get a refund and of course she declined to reimburse me.

Host Lied About Practically Everything at Airbnb in Gloucester

This Airbnb host lied about what she is offering and although Airbnb has been notified and provided with documentation, they still run her listing which is unchanged on the crucial points I will mention. Although I got a full refund and half the cost of staying at a hotel for the first night from Airbnb, I found dealing with Airbnb support to be quite challenging. It took a great deal of time and aggravation. It unnecessarily became the focus of things for me during the first 24 hours of my vacation, when I was exhausted and uncertain where I would be able to spend the night far from home.

Please note that Airbnb will encourage you to write a review and to put lots of detail into it, but not inform you that they will only post a certain number of words of it, whether that means they cut you off mid-sentence, making you look like a lunatic or not. They will not inform you that you only have 48 hours to edit your review. If most people are like me, they will write the review and spend the first 48 hours checking the host’s listing to see it if has been posted yet. Then, when it is too late, they will check further and see that by that point Airbnb will not allow editing of the review. Airbnb are terrible in many ways and I would be hesitant to consider booking using their site again.

The best part of the whole experience was the people of Gloucester who were unfailingly kind and helpful when they saw I was in trouble. I initially planned to stay in the room on my own, looking forward to several days of relaxing on the beach and catching up with cousins in the area. Although I didn’t need a second bed when I first asked for permission to book, it had stuck in my head that the listing said there were two beds. I looked at the listing again and confirmed that there were when a cousin from a bit outside the area said she’d like she’d like to join me. I was a bit confused, though, since the photograph of the room clearly showed just one bed. Maybe it was a bed that could be split into two? My cousin told me she had an air mattress she could bring if necessary.

I messaged the host through Airbnb to ask what the story was. Suddenly the lightning fast responses I’d gotten previously when asking if I could book dramatically slowed down. I tried calling her at the number provided by the site. A text came in from her while the phone was ringing that said “I can’t talk now”. Okay… I’d called during business hours and she was busy. Later I received a text back from her saying “who is this?” If she had to know who was phoning her, wasn’t there a more polite way to ask? I texted her back identifying myself and apologized for bothering her. No response. I received a message from her through the Airbnb system that said I should “bring the air mattress just in case”. Just in case she wasn’t being honest about her listing, which clearly stated two beds?

In retrospect, I wish I had cancelled then and paid the cost of the hotel I eventually went to instead. I should have known further trouble awaited. I arrived half an hour early in front of the house, where there was street parking, not “private parking” as was listed in the amenities section of her listing. I texted the host to ask if I should come back, or if she could possibly check me in a little early, since it was very hot in the car, but received no response. After a little while, I phoned and left the same message on her voicemail.

A few minutes after the agreed upon time, she pulled up. She made no indication that she’d received either of my messages. She took me inside and we chatted a bit. I mentioned that one of the reasons I’d been interested in getting away is that the air conditioning at home had been on the blink. It wasn’t until she took me downstairs to the room that she revealed the room had no air conditioning, only a small fan. The “private” room also had no door between it and the rest of the house, being at the bottom of a flight of stairs from the living area. It had its own door to the outside on the opposite wall. Only a baby gate stood between the rest of the apartment and your “privacy”.

The biggest problem came while we were still upstairs in the kitchen and I asked her about a key. She told me that she “never locks” the apartment. She must have seen the utter shock on my face, because she then told me that if I expected her to lock the place all the time she would give me a key. There was quite a bit of hostility in her voice when she said this. Having just had a very long drive and being exhausted, I said nothing while I decided what to do about the situation. I certainly didn’t want to stay in an unlocked space, nor was I comfortable asking for the key, given the hostility expressed towards me just for mentioning it (I should note that this was in a small apartment where the host herself lives). Given that there was already bad blood and I was overpaying for an air conditioned room that didn’t exist, the best I could do was get out of there as soon as possible.

Airbnb support did assist, but they also failed to express a shred of empathy for me in the situation, demanding that I take photos as evidence and repeatedly asking if I had addressed the problems with the host. As pointed out on this site, not all problems are photographable, and not all problems can be rectified instantly. In those cases, it is ridiculous to repeatedly interrogate the guest as to whether they have “brought the problem to the host’s attention”. Why would I need to bring something to her attention that clearly is not as she stated and that she obviously knows about? After all, she lives in the space.

Please also note the importance of acting quickly when you first find a problem with Airbnb accommodation. The amount of support I received would certainly not have been there if I had waited until the next day, not fully adequate as it was. One of the ironies of the experience was that I was on the phone with Airbnb at the time I left the apartment to get my iPad from the car and shut the front door behind me… and found myself locked out. A door knob lock must have been engaged. Having the phone in my hand, I called the host and left a message on her voicemail saying I was locked out. She pulled up in her car soon afterwards, but gave no indication that I’d left her an emergency message.

After taking the necessary photos, I exited the apartment with my belongings. I was certain she knew that I was gone, but began sending messages to me through the Airbnb system. She seemed to be trying to make it look like I was still there. She sent one saying she just wanted to let me know the door upstairs was unlocked, and another saying she’d left a key for me on a table. Completely weird. Checking her listing currently shows she is still lying about the number of beds, the lack of air conditioning, and the “private parking”. She fails to mention the room has no door between it and the rest of the apartment. She does go into a long explanation about leaving one of the doors to the place unlocked all the time (I wonder how her landlord would feel about that if they knew?) and about the easy availability of street parking. Why lie and say there is private parking?

Airbnb has Standards for Hosts? What Standards…?

Let me start with the link to the luxurious, custom and tastefully decorated house we rented in Union City, California. Whatever you do, don’t believe anything you read concerning this house on Airbnb and don’t rent this house. If you do, you won’t be able to say I didn’t warn you.

We rented this house because it was big (for seven people), it seemed nice, it was well situated for us, and the comments of past renters were all good. The stay started with the host saying that the house was not ready for us when we got there, one hour and a half after the check in time. The host then told me that he was told by the last renter that she might have heard a mouse during the night. We later learned that this was a lie because when the comments of the previous renter was posted, after our arrival, the mouse traps were already there before she got there.

The next morning we went away early for the day. We had time to see that the place was not very clean. We ate out that night and got home around 10:00. To our disgust, we killed two roaches in the kitchen. That was when we first contacted Airbnb. To our surprise, Airbnb replied immediately. We said we were disgusted and we wanted out. They told us we had 24 hours upon our arrival to file a complaint so we could get out of there with a refund. We had been there 28 hours.

To make a story short, here is a list of all the issues we experienced with the house and Airbnb:

1. We saw a mouse, we killed two roaches and we found many other bugs in the house.

2. The stove was out of order, the BBQ grill was disgusting, and there was supposed to be a gaming room with pinball machines, foosball, and pingpong table.

3. The house was not very clean: curtains were stained, the BBQ grill was disgusting, the doors to the bathrooms were dirty, the windows were filthy we could barely see through, and on the side of the house we found a dozen empty old paint containers.

Attached you will find a few pictures to show some of the nice things we had to live with. You should also know that these three points contradict two of Airbnb’s standards and regulations. However, Airbnb doesn’t care about their own standards and regulations and their customers. Like I said earlier, Airbnb were very quick to respond and seemed very helpful. We had constant contacts everyday. I was on vacation and the last thing I wanted to do during my vacation was run after Airbnb customer service.

In fact, they were not helpful at all and they were all but productive. I had seven case managers involved in my case, all seemed very understanding of my situation but none of them answered my questions. When our trip was finally over, I asked for a refund. After a few exchanges I was told that I could get a partial refund by one of the case managers involved. He changed his mind because the host sent him a copy of the invoice of a pest control company that supposedly visited the house during our stay and it said there weren’t any traces of vermin in the house.

I didn’t believe a pest control company came to the house so I asked to see the invoice or the name of the pest company, but Airbnb told me the host didn’t want them to share that information with me. Talk about transparency. If you have nothing to hide, show me the invoice, right? Not with Airbnb. The host did not want them to share it with me. I didn’t believe that a pest control company came because the host told me that when it came it didn’t find traces of vermin.

That same night we found traces of mice in two different places in the house. Then the host told me that the bag in which we found different bugs under the fridge were long dead according to the ‘pest control company’. In fact, I had killed the bugs myself the night before their visit. Lastly, we found rolled up paper coming from the mouse traps on the counter after their ‘presence’. It is not very professional for a company to leave their trash on the counter after they left, isn’t it. One last thing: my reviews, that were very negative, were never posted on the site. Maybe that is why we see few negative comments concerning the houses we can rent on Airbnb. Transparency…

Avoid this Airbnb Nightmare in Bordeaux, France

We (a couple with a child) have nothing against simple. Some simple apartments are good, but this host’s apartment in Bordeaux was not. It was much older than shown in the pictures. In fact, every single thing in her apartment was old and of low quality. The pillows and blankets were so old that they had yellow stains and smelled moldy. It was summer, but the host and her boyfriend only gave us two heavy winter blankets (the only ones they had). Our things had to remain in the suitcases, because the whole apartment was crammed full with her belongings. In the tiny kitchenette, there was no free space to prepare a meal. The bed was uncomfortable and the sofa bed was a joke: very old with a very thin “mattress” (almost the same as sleeping directly on the floor). With the windows closed, one could hear every single word spoken on the streets. The apartment was not clean, they vacuumed only the floor (there were hairs on the bathroom door). Two light bulbs were broken. On the third day, it was very annoying: we had to open the door for her boyfriend because he wanted to have one of his books. On check-out day, instead of coming to collect the keys, he wanted us to bring them to him at his workplace. After I gave the place a negative review, he had the nerve to send me a very angry message. Going to Bordeaux? Avoid this terrible apartment.

Who’s Worse, Shonky Hosts or Shonky Airbnb?

I booked a villa in Greece on Airbnb, got confirmation, and soon received a request for my private email address from my host so he could send me directions. Two minutes later he emailed me to say my villa was not available but he had another selection of wonderful choices; however, I shouldn’t tell Airbnb about this. What he is doing is using their site to rent but avoiding the fee. I called Airbnb, who could not care less. They sent me an email so I could forward the dodgy offer to them from the host but guess what? The Airbnb email comes from a “No Reply” sender. Airbnb and their hosts are in this for the money and the renters are the mugs. The company simply will not help you.

Airbnb Studio in Beacon Hill Makes Guests Sick

My wife and I booked a stay at a Beacon Hill area studio in the city of Boston recently and we had a horrible experience. The experience was so bad that it will make us reconsider ever using Airbnb again as guests. Although we really like the idea of Airbnb and we have been strong supporters, we feel that we will likely be victimized by the poor way that Airbnb operates in dealing with guest complaints. We’ll likely lose a bit of money and be left out in the cold even though we have been champions for Airbnb and have contributed to their bottom line.

The listing we booked presented the rental as the “Perfect Little Stay in Beacon Hill”. The unit was everything but perfect; it was overpriced, tiny, not clean, and not safe for us at all health wise. We have been using Airbnb as hosts for some time now and we’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences with the guests who have stayed with us. The guests love our property and the services we provide and we love having them. These experiences led us to try out Airbnb as guests. This turned out to be a huge mistake.

We selected the Boston property because of its location. Beacon Hill is a nice area – we figured – and the few photos online for the property looked good, though there were no photos of the building, which should have been a red flag. We communicated with the manager of the property online before arriving (initially asking if they had availability for a second night and if there was a place we could drop off a bag before checking in) and those communications went smoothly. So far so good.

However, when we arrived, things started to go bad from the start. We were a bit surprised by the overall condition of the building: the front door had a missing lock, the entrance was extremely dirty and in need of repair, there were boxes all over the entrance that we had to climb over, trash bags and laundry bags were piled all over the place, and there were big stains all over the carpet. It had the overall appearance of a drug dealer’s apartment.

We found the key and went to the unit only to discover that the door was unlocked. We dropped off our bag, but as we tried to lock the door we discovered that there were problems with the lock. Fortunately as we were leaving, the cleaning person came by. We showed him the lock problems and he told us that he would take care of it. He struggled with the lock as well and finally was able to latch it. This made us wonder about the security of the building and the bag that we were going to store.

Our first impression of the property was that it looked like poorly managed student housing – cheap, dark, dingy, not decorated well, very bare bones – not something you’d typically expect to see in a nice area like Beacon Hill. However, we figured this is what we selected and we’d make the most of it. Unfortunately, things got a lot worse. I came back to the room in the later afternoon to rest up. The room had been cleaned, but I was really surprised by the condition of the room. It was very tiny, poorly decorated, dark, no frills, had lots of wear (the wood floor was badly scarred up, stains on the bathroom walls, the shower had mold, a window was painted over with latex paint, there was caulk peeling in the bathroom, the view outside the window was of things being dumped in the alley).

I was hoping that my wife wouldn’t be disappointed when she got there and really took a look around. Again, these aesthetic issues were only the tip of the iceberg. After resting in the room for a couple of hours and turning the A/C on, I started to get very ill. I started having trouble breathing, was very congested, developed a bad headache, and felt nauseous. When my wife got there I felt really bad so she took a look around. She noticed several gallons of chemical products and garbage bags of stuff strewn about the stairways directly outside our room. She also noticed some odd chemical smells. We also were concerned about the condition of the A/C as it had some moldy odors. The longer we stayed in the room, the worse we felt.

My wife suggested we go out for dinner to get out of the room and get some fresh air. We did and after about an hour I started to feel better. My wife suggested that we go look for a hotel to stay the rest of the night. Fortunately, we were able to get a booking at the Bostonian, not far away. We went back to the room and my wife made me stay out on the street as she went back in and packed up our things and took all of the bedding off of the bed as we were instructed to do by the printed house rules. We never really used the property, such as the shower or fridge, as we spent so little time there. We were basically in panic mode because of the condition of the building and the fact that the building and room were making us sick. The whole experience felt like a frightening Steven King short story.

Fortunately, we had a good stay at the Bostonian. We checked in around midnight, though this set us back as the last minute booking was very expensive. I feel that we made the right call as one’s health, safety, and well being should always come first. As bad as the limited experience with the property was (poor condition, toxic environment, false advertising, etc.) what was even more troubling was the reaction and later communication with the property manager who listed the property.

I sent her a message in the morning as soon as I got up to tell her about how the property made us ill. In one message she seemed concerned but then in another message she seemed to be blaming us for the situation. This is very wrong to do from a hospitality standpoint, something a professional would never do. I didn’t go into a lot of details about the poor condition of the property, but did tell her we couldn’t stay in the unit and had to move to a hotel because of the condition of the property as something in the room or building was making us ill.

I wanted to give the host an opportunity to address the problem as I would if I were a host and one of my guests with a problem contacted me. She responded by saying that she would look into the matter and she offered to provide us with a 50% refund. We never actually asked for a refund; we just sent her a note about the problem we had with staying in the room. I did respond to her to indicate that her refund offer would be acceptable since we didn’t spend the night there.

She then turned around and changed her mind later in the day (after the Airbnb 24-hour complaint policy would expire) about providing a refund, indicating that she felt we did stay here, which of course was not true. So basically after all of the abuse we suffered by staying here, she conned us. It became clear later that she was just working the Airbnb policy system about guest complaints to her advantage.

For anyone who gets in this situation, be very careful. Make sure you find some way to contact management at Airbnb management immediately instead of trying to work out things with an unprofessional host who can take advantage of you. For this experience from hell we paid over $260 for a one-night booking. This property had a serious environmental problem that effected our health. The host was not forthright and in our opinion was using Airbnb to operate as a slumlord.

My wife took a lot of pictures of the condition of the property and we have our hotel bill to show that we did not spend the night there. We are trying to make an official complaint to Airbnb management to see if they can step in and provide some remedy, but from my quick research this is probably not very likely or will take massive effort on my part. Problems like this hurt the Airbnb experience for all of us. I really believe that Airbnb management needs to screen hosts better. I was always very honest and professional in my communications with this host, who unfortunately did not operate with the same standards.

My best advice after having quite a bit of experience operating as an Airbnb host is that you have to be very careful when you rent a property as a guest. Airbnb seems mainly concerned about protecting hosts and not guests. They seem to make it really difficult for guests to contact Airbnb and make complaints. If an unprofessional host takes advantage of a guest there’s not much a guest can do to get satisfaction, especially if the host is not honest and professional. Evidentially this will come back to haunt Airbnb. Just look at what’s happened to Uber and the company’s CEO.

I have one last point to make, and this is a very important one. In the earlier days of Airbnb many of the rentals listed were made available by actual owners of properties who took some care and pride in what they offered. This is really changing in a big way. Many listings that show up now (especially in competitive larger cities) are by sales people and shady real estate people just trying to make a quick buck by renting inferior properties by the night. They do not offer any kind of hospitality; they just want to make a big profit and exploit the marketplace. My wife calls these new generation of operators “Airbnb Slumlords.”

If you see a host like this offering so many properties with limited photos and generic descriptions, be very careful. After looking closer into the situation we encountered in Boston, I realized that this is what happened to us. The person we dealt with was operating as an agent with a group of others, marking up inferior properties, and trying to take advantage of less experienced guests. So called “hosts” like this know how to work the online sources such as Airbnb to their advantage. As a guest, be really careful as this will likely become a much bigger problem with Airbnb. It could really hold back Airbnb’s growth if they don’t find a good way to deal with this problem. I will certainly spend countless hours contacting Airbnb and trying to inform the public about my experience and knowledge. Maybe something good will come of it. I’d love to hear from others about their stories related to this.