I have had two Airbnb experiences. Both were a nightmare, but the second was the worst. I cancelled an Airbnb eight weeks prior to my stay and the host still kept my deposit. It is the most unfair practice ever. Even hotels allow you to cancel up to 48 hours prior to your stay. Eight weeks. The host had plenty of time to re-rent the suite, so he basically stole $300 from me for the deposit. He was unresponsive and I think that Airbnb should be shut down.
I’m not really an Airbnb guest nor do I intend to ever be one in the future. I recently tried for literally two hours to book one of their properties. I was repeatedly asked to verify my phone number and email, which I did without a problem. They also asked for a photo. I’m thinking: “What? Who do they think they are?” But I sent one in. Then they wanted a copy of my last credit statement. This is after providing verification several times and spending hours doing so. This was the final straw. I have done business for years with both VRBO and Homeaway, without needing to provide pictures and credit card statements. To verify our credit card, all they needed to do is run it. Ultimately, we made other arrangements, through a competitor. The end result? Airbnb lost a potential customer who uses similar services 2-3 months a year and the associated rental fees, but most importantly, the host lost the chance to book their property. We will do business where the process is simple and our platinum credit card is honored. It was pretty poor customer service. I hope this isn’t a publicly traded company because with this business model, they probably don’t have much time left before bankruptcy.
I recently booked two nights through Airbnb for the Manhattan area in New York. I was very excited to find such a great deal for the area. It turns out it was too good to be true. Within minutes of me booking, my “host” contacted me via text to request an additional security deposit of $500. This amount was not included on the additional costs page and was not included in the total that I had already been charged. I cancelled because I didn’t feel comfortable. This all happened within maybe 20 minutes. Now I cannot get my “service fee” back and there is no direct customer service phone, or email. I am extremely disappointed and upset that I just lost money because I was scammed. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
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.
As a young girl new to traveling, Airbnb sounded better than ever, yet it turned out to be one of the most stressful experiences. I highly regret using the site on my month-long travels in Australia. From the very beginning, a host cancelled a week before I was set to leave the states, so I was forced to spend more money on a different Airbnb. My first host kept me waiting for over three hours outside her apartment because she left the wrong key. After finally getting in, I discovered black mold (smelt horrible), no hot water in the shower, her cat whose fur was everywhere, and her whole studio smelt like cat pee; it was just a very dirty environment in which to stay. After staying up all night on my vacation dealing with Airbnb and trying to cancel, I was forced to spend even more money trying to find another place to rent.
Then we arrived at our next Airbnb. Everything was going better. However, I was promised wifi (which was much needed) which wasn’t available and was also told we had access to the pantry food items – so I ate some of course – then after leaving, I got a message from the host saying we had to pay $50 to replace the food. This was never mentioned and when she said “stocked pantry…” she actually should have said “stocked pantry that will cost $50 for a few tiny packages of hard cookies.”
Airbnb has ended up costing me an extra $700 and still hasn’t refunded my money. The customer service is horrible. I get different answers every time I call, I’ve gotten hung up on multiple times, I’ve been forced to hold for what feels like hours, and no one can ever seem to help me. They easily take your money and can’t seem to help you when there are problems or you are extremely unhappy. My vacation has turned into many late night phone calls to Airbnb, stress, confusion, and a lot of money down the drain. I will never use or recommend Airbnb again. Spend the extra money on a nice hotel; it’s not worth the stress on your vacation.
This is a very simple story like most of those you read. My host cancelled at the very last minute (while I was at airport on my way to Bali). She told me she did not have the accommodations after all, and offered an alternative which was much less suitable. So I ask her to cancel, thinking (like all standard hotels) that if the provider cancels then naturally all fees will be refunded. Not so in this case. No matter what I did, Airbnb takes a cut from their guests. So a host can cancel under any circumstances and it costs the guest. This is not professional at all.
So, when it works, Airbnb is great. I have had some cool stays through the site, but this experience has just been gouging: taking money wherever you can, trying to navigate their website and so-called resolution process. It is circular and guarantees you either fall over from boredom or fatigue trying to recover small amounts (in my case $150), which is probably half the intent. I realize now: they are more about making money than “providing great experiences”. The brand presents wonderfully but there is a dark side. Hopefully more will realize this: every time they book they take a chance that a host will cancel at the last minute (tolerable) but Airbnb wont refund your guest fee (intolerable and dodgy). Imagine charging a guest anything when they didn’t initiate the change.
This has been a hard lesson but a good one. Bye bye Airbnb! Comfortable in cyberspace and outside international law!
I have had two separate “awaiting payment” issues two days in a row. Airbnb doesn’t give you any indication that a guest’s payment may not be valid until you accept the reservation. This automatically holds the reservation and prohibits the host from declining guests or opening up for other guests that might have their affairs in order. I called Airbnb and spoke to a representative about declining these guests; they would not change their policy, so my listing is off the market with no secured payment for 24 hours. Why would Airbnb hold a host’s opportunity to make money hostage? I was told that the odds of the payment issue being fixed are greater than the chances of it failing. Nevertheless, Airbnb takes all the host’s rights away in order to protect the company’s interests for 24 hours. The fact that a host hits accept and gets an immediate “uh oh… there seems to be a problem with the payment” is proof that the software Airbnb uses can immediately detect if there is an issue with a guest’s payment option. This simple line or two of software code should be implemented when guests click “book”, not when the host gets stuck with a blocked calendar. I told this to the Airbnb representative… he would not help me cancel the reservation awaiting payment and left me feeling like this policy is not going to change.
After years of being an Airbnb guest and months of being a host in NYC I’ve concluded something that I long suspected but couldn’t zero in on because I’d never hosted. Airbnb is 100% for people who are using it as a business. This story of them building a community is false. First, from the guest side: ever try to find a whole apartment or house that didn’t look like it was just some real estate guy trying to make tons of cash? I have. Ever finally arrive and never even meet the host? Just put the code in the key safe, right? Ever look through the kitchen and realize that no one has ever used this kitchen because if they did they’d realize that everything necessary to cook was either missing or broken? I have. Not once. Not twice. Every single time.
Now from hosting side. Hosts are treated like a commodity, like they are out to make as much money as possible and will do anything to get the next guest. I wonder why? Because good little hosts accept every single reservation regardless of whether the guest asks, “Can I arrive at 1 AM?” or asks you something like, “I’d love to stay at your place. Where is Brooklyn, anyways?” Or you receive a request at 2 AM for someone who wants the place for your maximum stay length four months in the future. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.
This is my home. I live here. I’m not a real estate professional. Generally the tools to connect with the right guests work. You can set the minimum and maximum length. Turnover times. Open and close calendar dates. Seems pretty friendly. If you’re still reading, I’m finally to my point. The kicker: If you aren’t making Airbnb lots of money by renting your home like it’s a freaking hotel they will make your life hell.
Here’s how: 1. They randomly shut down your account for “not accepting.” 2. They modify how your listing shows in results. This is a really big deal because they have all the power and there is no transparency. But the results of this are clear. When you’re making money all the reservation requests are from people with lots of great feedback. When you start getting more selective the people they send your way signed up the night before… with no feedback. No travel experience. No community – you are a hotel to them. And that’s how Airbnb lets you know what a good little host is supposed to be.