We recently had a two-week stay on Airbnb. There was a subsequent corporate hell odyssey that was one awful rip off after another, first by the host and then by Airbnb itself. I don’t even know where to begin. First of all – and this is nowhere near the worst thing – the place was filthy upon arrival. There was pubic hair all over the bathroom and a semen stain on the sheets, and a layer of dirt so thick on the floors that simply touching a paper towel to the floor turned it into black finger spots. We contacted the host and he agreed to send over a cleaning crew the next day and replace the sheets. That was the last time the host did anything remotely right.
Then the power went off. We thought there was a blackout in the neighborhood or some breaker problem, but after seven hours, some spent talking to the electric company, they told us that the power had been shut off because the host didn’t pay his electric bill. We called the host and he grumbled something and said he would pay the bill. An hour later the power was still off and we sent the host a message via Airbnb. At some point the lights came on so I guess he paid his bill. Who knows?
From the very start we noticed the key was jamming in the deadbolt lock. On the fourth night it just stopped working and we were locked out of the apartment. We called the host, who claimed to be out of town, and sent over an after hours locksmith. The locksmith broke us in to the apartment and then replaced the lock, noting that it had broken due to fatigue over time. The bill was over $800. The locksmith then claimed that he couldn’t accept payment from the host over the phone. We called the host and he told us that we should pay the locksmith and he would pay us back the full amount. He promised, so we trusted him.
You can probably guess what happened after that. If you guessed that the host dropped off the face of the Earth, you are correct. We tried Airbnb messages, texts, and phone calls, over days, all of which went unanswered. Finally we initiated an Airbnb “Resolution Request.” The host is given 48 hours to respond, which he did not, after which it gets escalated to Airbnb management. Airbnb also did nothing for a long time. Our trip ended and we flew home, again with no word whatsoever from the host or Airbnb.
One day I got a message out of the blue that the host had written his review of me. He was alive after all. What did this host who tricked us into replacing his lock for $800, promised to pay us back, and then disappeared, have to say? Well, in the private message that the host can send to a guest with the review but which doesn’t get posted or seen by Airbnb, the host gloated that I “got played” (presumably by him) during the whole thing. What a lovely individual, am I right? I was hopping mad but I thought that Airbnb would deliver justice with the Resolution Request. Again, my mistake. After many more days of nothing happening someone from Airbnb called me and said that the host was claiming that he only wanted the locksmith to break us in to the apartment and not replace the lock. Therefore, I should pay for the lock.
I pointed out that that is a ridiculous claim. If the host intended to leave us with just a broken lock and no functioning deadbolt that would have been a violation of Airbnb’s safety guidelines, and also if the host is claiming that I bought a lock that he didn’t want he can send me the lock rather than keep using it. The Airbnb representative said those were good points. I also pointed out that the host promised to repay us the whole amount then disappeared for weeks and that was extremely shady. If he had wanted to talk about the situation he could have responded to one of my many messages or calls.
In spite of those good points, Airbnb followed the money, which of course comes from hosts with multiple properties and not guests. Airbnb first ruled that the host only had to pay me for the cost to break in to the apartment, not the cost to replace the lock. Then, on top of that ridiculous ruling, they added the bill incorrectly (probably intentionally) and decided that the locksmith’s $120 “service call” charge was the cost to break us in to the apartment, when that was actually $365 on top of the service call charge. Airbnb decided that we should get basically nothing and aided the host in scamming us out of almost $700.
As for the electricity being off for most of a day due to the host not paying his bill, Airbnb decided to credit us merely a third of a day’s stay for that. If we follow that logic, the electricity could be off for eight hours of each day during your stay, rendering the accommodations unusable, and you would only be entitled to be refunded a third of the amount. I called them to point out that even with the pittance they were crediting us, they added the numbers incorrectly on the bill. The representative agreed that they did so, and said that she would “bring it up with her team.” Again, as you can probably guess, I never heard from them again.
I was surprised at how thoroughly and brazenly they cheated us, and how long it took them to do so. They don’t even have the courage to let you know they are going to screw you up front – they take weeks and weeks to do it. I guess I would say to avoid this host – the name he uses on Airbnb is Tony della Morte (don’t know if that’s his real name or a particularly appropriate alias) and he has several listings around Menlo Park, CA. The rot and corruption here extended way beyond the host to Airbnb itself, so really the lesson from this is do not trust hosts or Airbnb. I would say to avoid Airbnb, period. This has been the worst rip off and worst experience I have ever had with a merchant in my life.