Airbnb Resolution Centre is a Lame Duck

I prefer to not even recollect the awful experience with a past guest, but I’ll try (above all mine is a criticism against Airbnb). Basically the guy started complaining from day one. He seemed to be bent on finding any hidden cracks and obscure issues – a truly nasty character who refused to provide the time he was arriving and then dared to complain he had to wait in his review (like it was someone else’s fault?). However, that was only the start. After three weeks I was left with two broken appliances (cooker and washing machine) and for the very first time I decided to use Airbnb’s Resolution Centre (after having about ten guests and very positive reviews).

The documentation they requested was nearly impossible to provide. The appliances had been there for nearly 20 years (but Airbnb wanted the receipts). Secondly, I wasn’t in the property and most of the documentation requested was out of reach; I was miles away from any “useful” documentation, but I posted the bill from the technician and the receipt for the new washing machine. The technician was paid the day my nasty guest left, as he didn’t notify me of the issue (the cleaners found out) and I had to fix the problem for a new guest arriving the next day. So I had to order a new washing machine just the day after receiving confirmation the old one was properly broken.

The other problem – the gas cooker – we discovered later on (remember: I wasn’t there and couldn’t verify these issues on the spot) that there was no cooking involved. The guy took some pictures of the burned knobs but no picture of any meal he made? A burned chicken? Or any dish ready to enter the oven? Nothing whatsoever. The cooker oven (electrical) was then turned on and left unattended for how many hours? Days? That’s a very good recipe to burn any cooker! It’s called inappropriate use or negligence, but the guy clearly omitted this fundamental detail (of course, I’m not there) and blamed me for being irresponsible for not providing an extinguisher and access to the gas canister and assembly.

Now, I’ve been a guest in certain properties advertised on Airbnb and I can assure you none had facilities which are common in hotels (would you paint an escape route in your house?). So basically the guy wanted the professional approach of an hotel at a fifth of the price. In my opinion we have a typical opportunist who deliberately stays in Airbnb properties (many like mine) where he knows there is no extinguisher to be found and he knows there is no escape route marked on the wall, then deliberately uses these issues as weapons whenever he files a complaint with Airbnb.

So the company is a lame duck; they can’t see this guy for what he is and boot him out of the system. Let’s face it: Airbnb can’t check all these properties and can’t compete with hotels in terms of a professional approach to guests (in general, certain hotels lack that too). This is the root of the problem. When first approached, Airbnb staff seem reasonable; they promise you a full investigation. The truth is that they don’t really want nor need to find out. I’ve received two calls from their headquarters in California during the period of the investigation. The phone rang only once and as I tried to answer, they hung up (so they can safely say, “look we tried to contact you but you didn’t answer the phone”?)

Their task is simple, to discourage complaints and break down any attempts at compensation: you start complaining and they put you under immense stress. It reminds me of the origins of eBay – does anyone remember the reviews? On paper you might have the advantage but Airbnb has the perfect solution: they encourage your opponent to escalate the matter (even without any evidence) and they too are allowed to ask for compensation for issues which were never ever mentioned during the whole stay. For example, my guest never complained about the Internet or noisy neighbours but all of a sudden these and other issues were presented and the guy is encouraged to request the full amount he paid back into his pocket? What kind of mind game is Airbnb playing here? This is the cheapest trick, the kind kids do in kindergarten. The guy shouldn’t be credible (not if there was no previous complaint), so how can Airbnb fall for it? They aren’t failing to investigate, they are just at the mercy of nasty guests like mine. Enough of Airbnb.

Horrible Airbnb Experience for Overpriced Stay

I have used many sites to book weeks, weekends and one-night stays all over the country for years, but never had a more overpriced, over represented or more frustratingly terrible, amateur experience than booking through Airbnb. First of all, Airbnb charges fees, no matter what. Once you fall victim to them, they will never be refunded for any reason whatsoever. Also, they do not vet their so-called “hosts” (any Joe-blow anywhere who wants to rent out his nasty rooms to people who haven’t heard about this scam), their hosts’ practices, the actual properties, amenities, and any claims that hosts are allowed to post their listings, whether real or not.

What I booked, at the price of a 5-star hotel, for a weekend, was described as a beautiful downtown apartment, entirely for my use. It actuality, it was actually a third story walk up in an old, nasty building. There were no amenities or comforts provided; not even a spoon or fork in the kitchen, no chairs of any kind to sit on in any part of the so-called apartment, one shelf of refrigerator space, an unusable, old Keurig that leaked all over the counter and couldn’t make a cup of coffee, a metal sign outside the window that creaked, banged and made racket all night in the wind, and a full size bed with what appeared to be twin sheets stretched over the rubber sheeted mattress that came off all night and made sleep impossible. This bed was in the middle of the one “furnished” room – that’s all, just the bed; it had no bedspread, blanket or cover of any other kind. The host graciously left one newly purchased, never washed, Walmart towel for the entire weekend for 2 people.

We had to wait two hours to get into the place when we arrived because the host’s representative said she locked her keys in her car and couldn’t bring us the key to the apartment. They did not answer my calls or texts about where to leave the keys until the day after I sent them and were both upset that I left because I got tired of waiting for instructions and needed to get home. All in all, an extremely horrible experience. From now on, I will stick with the professional sites that stand behind their customers, vet their renters and properties, don’t charge hidden, exorbitant fees, and give you real value for your money.

Some Airbnb Hosts are as Dishonest as they Come

Hi everyone, please see the attachments and the photograph of the host in it. This guy is Alejandro. He owns three rooms at the Ft. Lauderdale Hilton Beach Resort. He likes to play games with people and raise the rate on them while they are trying to book a reservation. He had his property listed at $349/night for a stay from December 25th, 2016 to Jan 1st, 2017. My wife and I were using the Instant Book feature to put all of our information in to reserve the room. While doing so, we used the phone app to message Alejandro to make sure the place had a pull out bed. He replied that it did… and then sent a follow up message that he had adjusted his rate. In the middle of us trying to book the reservation, he raised his rate from $349/night with a 3% discount for booking more than four days to a $439/night rate with no discount. I messaged him about it, but he ignored the message. I called Airbnb Customer Service, and they said they really couldn’t do anything about it. However, they agreed that Alejandro was running very shady business by treating customers that way. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Ft. Lauderdale, I would avoid any of Alejandro’s properties at the Hilton. He’s greedy and dishonest. Find another host to save yourself the headache.

Family Vacation to Paris Leads to Airbnb Scam

We are a family of five that took a long anticipated vacation to Europe in the summer of 2016. We stayed at Airbnbs in Barcelona, Germany and London, and planned to in Paris as well. That’s where things fell apart. This transaction involved an Airbnb host that was a no-show, and that we know scammed us. The transaction was placed in February and arranged to be “fulfilled” in June, a simple deposit and subsequent payment for an apartment rental. We followed all the Airbnb regulations and processes fully. We contacted Airbnb immediately when we discovered that there was going to be a problem with the transaction. Prior to departure, we were in contact with the Airbnb host regarding any special instructions for our Paris check in.

We arrived as a family of five on our prearranged date in Paris with reservations and prepayments made as agreed. This is what occurred: we texted back and forth and had a correspondence between us and the host. No specific check-in deadline was noted to us by the host. We gave the host information regarding our arrival time at Orly Airport to drop off our rental car and take the train. There was no timely response from the host and no message noting any problem. At no time did the host mention a meeting or conflict. The host did not give us clear instructions in the event of a delay… and we were delayed getting from Orly to the city by an hour or two, arriving in Paris by about 6:00 pm or so. We sent an email notifying the host we were on the bus. The host never provided instructions as to what to do when we arrived at the building. Upon arrival, the host was not present.

We could not locate his name on the apartment directory call box. The host then contacted us via text message that evening that he had a “meeting” (this was on a Monday evening) and he was having some difficulty with his schedule in order to meet us. He then directed us to “come to [him]” across Paris to pick up the keys to the apartment. The apartment was miles from the address and the new address provided by the host to pick up keys did not match his description. He directed us to go to “25 Rue del la Butte”, to pick up a spare set of keys, noting that he was “waiting for us” and that these keys would be on the “5th floor, door on the right”. The address was quite far from our host location in Paris. I took a cab with my son ($40.00 Euro Cab fare expense) while my wife and daughters waited with our suitcases at the original building address. Arriving at the “Rue de la Butte” address, (confirmed by the address sign on the side of the building) again the host’s name was not on the call box, and no one answered the buzzer. Most importantly, it was only a two story building. He had said he was on the fifth floor.

Because he was not responding, we also sent the host a Facebook message noting that we could not locate him at the “25 Rue De La Butte” address. Looking at the destination address, the host did not have his name anywhere on the entry letterboxes. He just scammed us, and scammed Airbnb. Upon returning from the alternate address we knew we had to find alternate lodging. We waited on the streets of Paris with three children until after 11:00 pm, repeatedly attempting to contact the host via email, text, and Facebook. We finally checked into a hotel for one night only, wondering if we’d hear anything further. We planned to move to the Airbnb the next evening, but the host did not contact us to offer this. We also thought that Airbnb would help us with a resolution, but this proved difficult.

We assumed at this point without any follow up from the host and the false address that we were the victim of an elaborate internet scam. This thinking prompted us to cancel our transaction with the host. We were in immediate communication with Airbnb via the website form and called on three different occasions to speak with three different case managers to try to resolve the issue. There is no phone number on the Airbnb website, just the dispute form which we completed that evening following our check in to the hotel. The important thing to know is: AIRBNB DOES NOT CARE AT ALL IF YOU GET RIPPED OFF. Their “resolution department” will pay a lot of lip service to you when finally cornered, but really, it is a ridiculous sham of a customer service department.

We kept email records of all of our communication with Airbnb trying to outline the events. It is important to note that this was one of four Airbnb stays that we scheduled for our recent trip. The other three stays were quite pleasant and the hosts were all responsive and amicable. In this regard, this was a simple and straightforward transaction dispute. We were out over $1500.00. We entered into an agreement to stay at a specified arrival date. We contracted for a product and did not receive it. Pretty straightforward, right?

Airbnb issued a tax credit of $18.00 and a ‘lodging credit’ of $125.00. Try putting a family of five up in two rooms by the Eiffel tower for $125. We reasonably asked that the remainder of the charge – $1572.00 – be credited to our credit card account. Airbnb was basically non-responsive. I got the impression that they do whatever is necessary to obfuscate and delay any resolution. You cannot call them from the website: there is no number and you get directed to a FAQ/community page. This was especially frustrating. Finally, we contacted our credit card company. After about 90 days or so, Airbnb did not respond to them either, so the amount was fully credited to us.

Here is the takeaway, folks:

1. Airbnb can work well and may do so for most folks, much of the time. The other folks we dealt with were honest and the locations were as advertised.

2. If you have a dispute as a guest, you are basically screwed. You will not get much attention and Airbnb will not delve into any detail or take money back from a host. Document everything as you go. Put all important communications in writing as email whenever possible.

3. When you use your credit card, remember that there may be a 90-day window to dispute a charge. In this regard, if you make reservations months in advance, you may struggle to get the money back. We did, but our bank (Verity in Seattle – kudos to them!) worked with us to do the right thing.

4. Take a few minutes to look around the destination at your location, so you will have a {lan B if your host is a scammer.

5. Most importantly, DO NOT CANCEL YOUR AIRBNB TRANSACTION. This basically shuts you out of reviewing the host and cuts off all contact between the two parties – just what the scammer/host wants.

The Last Straw: Tired of Being an Airbnb Host

I’ve been a host for three years now and have stayed in Airbnbs around the world several times. After several years, I have finally had it: I am ending my relationship with Airbnb and moving on to long term renters. I have two listings; one is private room in my condo, and the other is an entire home (one-bedroom condo) that I purchased for the sole purpose of renting it out. This post is to discourage others from becoming involved with Airbnb. It’s been a rough ride these fast few years… In the early days, there were sweet guests who brought gifts, followed the rules and genuinely wanted to get to know the person they were living with or living under. Over time though, guests seem to be more driven by finding cheap accommodations and the demands are ever increasing. They expect deep cleans of the condo but argue with me over the cleaning fees, ask to borrow my car, and complain about the pillows being too soft or hard. They will empty out my mini bar and leave no monetary contribution, walk around in their underwear, be mean to my cat, etc.

The listing says the condo is not metro accessible but they didn’t want to pay the high rate to stay on the metro line and don’t have a car to get to the grocery store. If the condo doesn’t have something in stock like some flour, they simply knock on a neighbor’s door (which is terribly rude – they don’t have a rapport with that person and sometimes don’t return the item they borrowed). Airbnb requires guests to list a phone number but many times I’ve found that number is not the actual guest’s number or the guest doesn’t have an international plan and his phone is useless. There were some guests that had me constantly running back and forth: they needed more baking sheets, then a crock pot, vinegar, and sunscreen, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a review.

The maximum occupancy is six guests but I charge an additional $5 after two guests; somehow, magically, no one ever has any party larger than two. I realize I could snoop around or try and check in and maybe I could see how many folks are staying there, but the minute I say “Hey, the listing requires an additional $5/person and you have six here so I will be adding $100 to your stay,” I am basically asking for a terrible review. I have seen the nicest people turn vicious and threaten to say I am prejudiced or discriminating. The accusation is already enough to ruin people nowadays. Airbnb touts this “trust community” but over 90% of my guests are first time renters and many of them rent infrequently.

Airbnb asks that I leave fresh flowers, breakfast foods, wine and beverages, games, and snacks. Less than 5% of guests have ever just left a few dollars. A Sam Adams beer might be $7 from a mini bar in a hotel, but you can’t leave $1 for the two you drank? Really? This is how you would treat a friend who was hosting you? Guests have broken things in front of me; I have taken diligent pictures, submitted my quote to Airbnb’s Resolution Center, where as always the guest refuses to pay, and even though I have a Security Deposit and have been a Super Host for three years I have to go through Airbnb’s insurance policy for a $12 plate. I have made a lot of money with Airbnb but I constantly check myself to make sure I am not being greedy and overcharging.

Sometimes, peoples’ personal stories do make me empathize. I’ve let pets stay on request, allowed early or late check outs when I can, picked up items from the grocery store, and given rides to the city center. Guests will ignore my calls for a day then expect me to pick up after two rings every time. As a host it just comes down to Airbnb as a company. I don’t believe they will take care of me if something bad happens. I’ve often wondered if convicted sex offenders can rent out rooms in homes (how would we know?). Airbnb puts all the tax strains on me and forces me to pay the occupancy tax (which I’m happy to do, but it would be nice if they took on the administrative burden).

Despite three years of loyalty I never get a thank you card or Airbnb travel credit, and in the hospitality industry usually employees are at least reminded how important they are. Last but not least, I feel really terrible for my neighbors. Over the years some have been kind while others have gone to the Condo Board and local county government. There was one gentleman who lived in the building who wrote his congressman, county officials, and attorneys. While he was a little over the top, I get it: he wanted actual neighbors and not a revolving door. Who would buy the condo next to the full time Airbnb? If I ever thought I was hosting individuals who were going to have a disruptive vacation I would never have accepted that reservation. It is so hard to screen guests because I only see a picture and a paragraph or two, and anyone can say they are in the area visiting family or friends. The review system is pretty hit or miss; sometimes it’s hard to leave a negative review because I have to question if I’m being too judgmental or expecting too much from the guests. Goodbye Airbnb. You just saw a little piece of your paycheck prance over to YourHomeSuite.

Disgusting Conditions. How Can Airbnb Stay in Business?

To date, I’ve had only four Airbnb experiences. One of them was excellent, the other was okay, one was bad enough with the smell of mold and everything filthy that I was forced to check into a Holiday Inn Express, and now the one at which I’m currently staying seems to be okay for four nights. I will not be using Airbnb again any time soon. You don’t get anything of value for paying up to $62/night. If you are going to spend more than that, go to a hotel. Do not believe the photos. Photos do not capture mold and smells. Photos do not capture what you will walk into when you arrive. Photos do not capture the area where you will reside. Never book anything longer than four nights. Also, be careful of reviews. Most of them may not be up to your standards. Again, what is great for someone may not be good for you. Airbnb’s business is dicey at best.

Airbnb needs to hire an independent company that can travel on their behalf and inspect these places in advance. There is not any other solution. Photos lie. Taking things at face value is a farce. It simply doesn’t work. Why not? Because everyone has her or his own idea of cleanliness and standards. What may be filthy to one person is okay to another, especially people who have poor personal hygiene. Airbnb is not a hotel. This is where people like me make huge blunders. Airbnb is an alternative to a hotel.

People, please remember this: Airbnb is not a hotel. You can’t complain, change rooms, get a refund, or get an upgrade. Think long and hard before you use Airbnb. The company has no standards. They tell you flat out, “That’s not what we do.” Therefore, whatever you get, you must take. Booking with Airbnb is like the lottery: if you are on a budget, you could lose your entire trip, and anything could be ruined, e.g. dirty shower, smelly toilet area, dirty sheets and pillow cases, dirty mattress, dingy curtains, old used towels, some with stains… terrible.

This happened to me. Airbnb doesn’t care. All they cares about is getting paid, sticking it to the traveler with outrageous fees and taxes. Some people charging as much as $165 for a cleaning fee. You walk into a new place and there is a dog on the bed, tracking dirt and dog hair on the pillows.