Prickly Airbnb Hosts Give One-Star Ratings

I got bashed by a host in Brooklyn because of one four-star rating in one category (everything else was a five), but I guess I cannot be truly honest nor give constructive criticism. Other guests I noticed who didn’t rave about the host also got a very heated response that implied the guest was somehow at fault or unfair. The host reply doesn’t show the original criticism so it is out of context. I also had a potential host turn on me quite suddenly when I asked for clarification on which unsafe areas to avoid in Harlem since I was advised by a neutral 3rd party NYC acquaintance that there were dodgy areas in that particular neighborhood.

As a woman traveling alone, I thought it was a legitimate and fair question but after a bit of a wait, the host asked me to cancel, which would’ve incurred a fee. I phoned Airbnb to discuss the matter. The customer service gal read all the emails and couldn’t understand the host’s sudden negative reaction either… maybe the area was dodgy. So far, only one out of three hosts have been honestly kind. The other two were just faking it apparently.

I’m now back to using hotels. Some aren’t that much more expensive and you get to deal with professional staff instead of a thin-skinned, petulant host. I have come across articles on how unsafe some venues/hosts can be since there’s not much vetting of hosts. A registered sex offender could be a host.

Is a Kitchen a Kitchen without a Sink or Stove?

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This is most of the message to our “host” after fleeing an Airbnb… I tried to be polite. Airbnb support was no support at all. They left me hanging and kept referring to their TOS (which is very lengthly; kind of unreal, really) instead of just walking me through it. They sided with the host.

“You advertised your “entire apt” as having a kitchen. A kitchen would include a kitchen sink (and some kind of stove, but I will concentrate on the sink as that was my main concern). Saying that you have a kitchen would be like saying you have a bathroom and then when the guests show up, it has no toilet.

I know that you mentioned in your listing that there was a fridge and microwave; you even picture the toaster and a kettle but you fail to mention that you do not have a kitchen sink. With all the explaining you do on your post, why would you fail to point that out? It is very deceptive.

A kitchen means that you have a sink to wash food, hands and dishes. It seems that you expect guests to use the bathroom sink, which is gross and unsanitary, but not even feasible as it is a small sink and very slow moving drain. Using the same analogy as above, it would be like describing the bathroom as a “nice bathroom with walk in shower and hold bar, pretty red rugs and a small sink to brush your teeth” and then when the guests show up they find out there is no toilet.

It is a given that a kitchen has a sink. It goes without saying. It is listed as an amenity on the front page and comes up in the search as such. It also comes up as an “entire apt”. It goes without saying that it would have a door to it, such as the door into your quarters. A shared entrance does not explain the situation. Again, with all the words and long explanations, this is something that would need to be clearly stated.

Having a lockable door to an “entire apt” goes without saying. Just like the one you have to your quarters. Guests would be out in the open just coming out of the bathroom (which is too small to get dressed in). This is not private or secure. It took me trying to make a can of soup for it to really sink in.

We realized how unsafe we felt and that it was not a livable situation. I texted you a polite message as it was in the middle of the night, to which you did not respond. We called an Uber and left immediately. I did not hear from you until much later.

Other facts: The walkway is not well-lit as advertised (it was so dark I could not see the items we dropped). Flushing the toilet directions should also be in your explanation as you expect your guests to use very little toilet paper and keep flushing and flushing. There is obviously a problem with the plumbing as evidenced by this and the slow moving drain.

You asked us to be discreet (very strange). The boiler would not turn on; there was no heat. There was a stain on the heated mattress pad that you didn’t know how to wash (meaning the bedding was unclean). The ceilings were low with no noise protection at all.

You mention in your ad that we would hear footsteps as you got ready for work, but that is an understatement as we could hear your TV. It sounds like elephants are tromping on above your head. The ten steps into the “lower level” are very steep and narrow, which definitely should be noted in your ad since you go to the trouble of saying you have the bar in the shower. For someone with a minor injury, how would you expect them to go down those steep stairs? This is a bit deceiving. The single bed was just a cot with no room to get in and out comfortably.

Please refund the full amount less one night and the cleaning fee. The condition of your “entire apt” caused us to cancel our trip and return home as we had counted on these lodgings. This will be the last attempt to settle this with you amicably. I will take further action if necessary.”

Obviously, she is not refunding our money (about $2000 for a month’s rental). Even though I pointed all of this out to Airbnb support, they have sided with the host, ignoring this falls under travel issues per their TOS.

Here is the link to the advertised “entire apt”.  ‘The photos I took were not good (I admit it) but you can see beyond the table the supposed kitchen area in which there is no sink or stove. She admitted she had to take the kitchen out due to complaints from neighbors. How can you take a picture of something that is not there anyway? The cot was right up beside the bed, with no way to get in or out of it other than crawling from the bottom. I thought the cots she mentioned in the description must be extra as it listed a double and single bed in her ad.

No Review is Safe from Removal on Airbnb

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I have to share two host stories. One relates to systemic fake reviews. I recently had the most horrible guests at my house. They were incredibly messy, rude and blackmailed me to have free pool heating during their entire stay free of charge with the threat of a bad review (pool heating is about $200 per day).

Once I reviewed them, I simply stated that they were very messy and overall very difficult to deal with as I had heard that Airbnb tends to delete bad reviews based on “policy violation” and therefore didn’t want to get too factual to avoid any frivolous claim retracting my honest review (note that this was my first ever “bad” review and frankly it wasn’t even that bad).

Airbnb said that, based on a summary investigation (note: I even sent pictures of various damaged objects as well as messages from my neighbors stating how impolite and ‘obnoxious’ those guests were – I wasn’t even asking for any dollar compensation), they determined it was “fair” to delete those reviews. They stated as follows:

“We adhere to the community’s goal of friendship and trust which in total built Airbnb.”

Note that these guests were exactly the opposite. As a result, anyone can dispute any review and get it removed saying it’s not ‘friendly’ and it’s really hard to trust anyone’s reviews.

The second story happened in my New York apartment. A crazy guest claimed (after using my apartment two weeks) that my neighbors threatened to get her arrested as Airbnb is “illegal” in New York. While she had no factual evidence whatsoever and she spent her time in my apartment, she was given a full refund after the stay (at my expense since Airbnb took out the full $4,000 from my next guest’s stay without letting me know).

What this means is that, contrary to popular belief, Airbnb takes the strong stand that they are illegal in NYC and will refund anyone who makes up any similar story without evidence. So, if you are dishonest, go for it.

Airbnb Locks Changed by a Judge, Belongings Seized

Innkeeper Finds Faults with the Review Process

We own a beautiful inn in Britsih Columbia, Canada that is rated five stars across all the board and is also a winner of awards. We placed our inn on Airbnb to attract millennials to our island and show them nature and the wonders of a protected environment. We have been on Airbnb for three years.

We had an emergency and had to cancel one reservation which the guest took very well and very kindly. This was our first cancellation on Airbnb. The next thing we know, we saw that the guest’s review had been posted on the page like a ‘wall of shame’. Shame on Airbnb. This is disgusting.

We will be removing our inn from Airbnb as we are appalled. We also use Expedia and Booking.com – professional, supportive organizations. I do understand this process for hosts that constantly cancel but not Superhosts with one cancellation in three years and excellent reviews. Airbnb should remember that they don’t catch flies with vinegar. They have too much money and swollen heads.

Abusive Host Providing Hell Hole in Philippines

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Out of my three years of being an Airbnb customer, this is the first ‘bad’ review I’ve ever written for anyone. Prices should match the quality of service and quality of premises. $93 is way too much for a night for the experience we had. I’ve stayed in dozens and dozens of Airbnbs including those on friends’ accounts. Enjoy my eleven bullet points of cons.

– Check in was not as flexible as we liked. I’m used to hosts working around us when we are unsure about the check in time or arriving late. Instead we had to work around the host as she couldn’t get out of work at a certain time so we had to wait later for her. Even with check out, she asked us to unplug all appliances (I’ve never had hosts ask me this). Airbnb hosts have been accommodating to our check-in situation. If we are arriving late or not on time we are usually given the option to self check in, not wait for the host to leave work. She even had the nerve to ask me to cancel if I was unhappy with the check in time.

– The lifts didn’t work on our way out. We had to walk with heavy suitcases down three flights of stairs. Such an inconvenience. This really got me angry and the lifts didn’t have any indication on whether they were in service or not.

– The bunk beds were not prepared for us. We had to put mattress protectors and pillow cases on ourselves. One of the mattresses still had plastic packaging covering it, meaning we had to take it off ourselves. There was no way we were gonna sleep on plastic so noisy and uncomfortable.

– The curtain rod fell on one of our visitors when opening the curtain for the porch door. What kind of death trap is this place? My mother fixed up the curtains herself. This place was just awful.

– The bathroom had really bad mouldy grout. I’m surprised no one has written a bad review.

– No coffee, no milk, no sugar. We saw a little sachet of coffee that looked like it was being concealed right on the unreachable cupboard like they didn’t want us to use it. We had to go out of the premises to get coffee and milk.

– The second bedroom had no sun shades so I was woken up by the sun. I just couldn’t get a good sleep in – just ridiculous – when I was up by 6:00 AM.

– The cupboard doors were falling apart, which could end up being a hazard.

– The Internet was very slow. My own 3G data was faster. Visitors couldn’t use the wifi due to it being slow.

– The balcony door latch didn’t close, so good luck to anyone who climbs in from the balcony and steals your stuff.

– We wouldn’t have had to complain much about these issues. However, for $93 a night for a run-down condo in the Philippines, this is way too expensive. With that much you’d expect an immaculate place.

I’m so happy Airbnb has acknowledged her violation and poor customer service when a customer is unhappy. I was issued a partial refund. I have to admit, I was quite aggressive towards her from my frustration. But hosts should never attack or argue in a personal unprofessional manner. I said the lift was broken and the wifi was not working and she replied with: “It’s not my problem.”

She did apologise but in a sarcastic passive manner. I have photos and chat logs all to prove that I was honest in my review even though the host found it my fault because I was aggressive; that is all I did. I left her place more spotless than she left it for us.

Ripped Off at Smelly Los Angeles Airbnb

We rented an apartment in Los Angeles and from all the pictures it looked like a nice place. We arrived in a shady neighborhood and walked to the apartment. We were greeted by a barking dog and a musty odor as soon as we opened the door. We opened all the windows and waited for about three hours. After three hours, the smell had not changed. We contacted the owner and they basically said “Too bad – O was there earlier and didn’t smell anything.”

I asked if we could negotiate something as I knew they had it reserved and they said no. We then rented a hotel for the the week instead and contacted Airbnb. They called the owner and he sent them some pictures and everyone said it looked nice. I said I had a sensitive nose and allergies; my sinuses began to swell closed and I had difficulty breathing because of the moldy odor. They said because there was nothing visible they could not help me.

I said I could not photograph the odors and they asked if I went to the hospital. I said I had not, as it was an allergic reaction and I knew how to treat it; there was no need for a hospital trip or expense. They then said there was nothing they could do. So I immediately filled out my review in detail and they never posted it. I started to read reviews on the site and noticed there were very few negative reviews. I wrote and called, asking why they did not post my review and I never received an answer. This was my first and last experience with Airbnb.

As Both a Host and Guest, I’m Through with Airbnb

I own an inn and thought it would be a good idea to get more exposure through Airbnb. I had to cancel a reservation made by one guy who booked then complained that he could not add a fifth person, because I said only four were allowed. I referred him elsewhere and he was happy with that. However, Airbnb gave me a warning with a negative star, with no reason or explanation how to correct it.

Recently I had a new guest cancel her reservation because she booked the wrong city. I wanted to refund her the full amount but was unable to do so and I could not find any help with customer service to assist with a refund. I finally got her address and am sending her a check. Airbnb’s rules for hosts and warnings are unforgiving and the lack of support is hellish. I wasted hours trying to figure out how to issue a refund. I decided to get out while I still can; I don’t need them.

I had another horrible experience booking a place for my family. It was done well in advance and then the host contacted me over the phone to say it was double booked two weeks before our arrival to Costa Rica. He tried to get us into another property and when I told him I was not comfortable with that – as I didn’t see any pictures and wanted a refund – he berated me and hung up on me. He cancelled my reservation so I was unable to post a complaint. Luckily the other place we booked was able to accommodate us for the days I had intended to stay at this other location. From a host and guest perspective, the lack of customer support and oversight are not worth my business.

Airbnb Believes Lying Guests With No Proof

I am a Superhost and have 12 properties on Airbnb. I had a couple arrive one hour late and so they had to wait for me for 15 minutes because I was fixing a plumbing leak. I greeted them and offered to help them carry their bags but they were nasty. I usually go in and walk them through the entire place. I sat down and opened up my instruction book and they made it clear they wanted me out of there. The husband was rude and negative about anything I tried to say.

I left and sent them an email apologizing, asked if the place was okay, and to let me know if they needed anything. I was in a condo on the same property two minutes away. I never heard from them. If they saw me and I said hello, they said nothing. Now I have asked if anything is wrong and they didn’t care to tell me.

The couch has an old sofa bed and I don’t advertise it as a sofa bed. I say the unit comes with a queen bed. Well, as I suspected, they reviewed me on Airbnb saying that the dishes were dirty, the floors were dirty, the sofa bed was uncomfortable (they were husband and wife), and there was pee by the toilet. When I walked in with them none of this was there that I was aware of. The same day I asked if there were any issues and they didn’t respond.

How does Airbnb allow reviews like this when I clearly communicated with them the very first day but they refused to talk to me? There needs to be a policy where Airbnb tells the guests that they must first communicate with the host immediately with any issues. Allowing them to post lies should actually be considered slander. Airbnb is ruining our reputation and eventually this will be a big problem. They also had the nerve to send out these automated messages telling me that my place has been rated a 3.5 which could be a problem for me.