Extortionate Airbnb Property with Habitual Liar Host

As a non-driver, I knew a spontaneous California trip would be a challenge but less so if I was close to Downtown LA or Hollywood. This conniving weasel advertised his trailer-park esque room (in his dusty, unkempt garage) as ‘close’ to everything. I explained that I was not driving and he was ever so attentive before I arrived. His directions to get the keys were a riddle: getting into the backgate required unlatching a hook that I could not reach, nor did he greet or see me into the property.

I found hair all over the sheets and towels (which I cleaned/removed). There was a 1950’s TV and the water pressure was pitiful. I also realized how far I was from LAX (though everything near LA seems far even before traffic). I messaged him asking for an iron/new towels and to notify him that my friend would visit but not stay over (via Airbnb and Whatsapp). He ignored those messages but the next night when my friend was over I receive an email from Airbnb requesting extra payment for added services as ‘he overheard that I had company and assumed they were staying’.

I assumed this had to be paid immediately or I’d get asked to leave. I paid it. I then told him he could have just verified this with me as I was next door. I left the next day (another guest was also extorted by him), told Airbnb what happened, and then after receiving no response from him, received threats about involving the LAPD as I had apparently stolen the keys. He later retracted this when he found them. His claims were so pitiful it was hilarious. I took pictures and video footage before leaving. He even commented at the beginning: ‘Don’t worry about the security deposit; it’s only for troublemakers and you don’t look like one of those people’.

He was a passive aggressive, sneaky prick and had oversold his dusty disgusting cave as a bachelor art studio. Airbnb only refunded the night I did not stay, not the extended charges. There was no kitchen access and the walls were so thin you could hear whatever grunting was common place in his barnyard… I mean household. My Uber app was playing up, so the stress to leave the property and locate a new one asap via Booking.com was terrible. I could not make calls without wifi as I had a phone from overseas. Never again, Airbnb.

Host Ignores Electric Bill, Makes us Pay for Lock

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.

Airbnb is Fine until you Have a Real Problem

We checked into our rental in San Diego just after 9:00 PM. On our way there, we observed tents lining the sidewalks with homeless people everywhere, so we weren’t off to a good start. Upon our arrival, we discovered that one window in the front of the house (on the ground level facing the street) did not lock at all, and another window had a lock, but would not properly fasten. We tried contacting the host (at approximately 9:30 PM) but got no response. We didn’t feel safe staying there. This would have been the case no matter what neighborhood it was in, but it was especially concerning considering there were literally hundreds of homeless people only a few blocks away. We left and I cancelled the reservation that night.

The next day we finally got a response from the host, asking if we would reconsider. He offered no apologies for the broken windows, and didn’t offer to fix the window either. We did not go back and never stayed one night there. I reported the incident to Airbnb as well. We have since requested a refund, which has been denied by both the host and Airbnb. I was told by Airbnb that it was my responsibility to research the neighborhood prior to booking, and so they refused to give me a full refund, only offering $66 back. I reiterated that our main concern wasn’t the neighborhood, but the fact that the house wasn’t secure. The host mischaracterized many facts related to the incident, telling Airbnb that we called her after 11:00 PM, which was false; she offered to fix the windows, which was also false. Airbnb sided with the host and made a decision contrary to their own guest policy, which states that the host must provide a safe environment. Our issue was about safety, but Airbnb doesn’t care. I will never use Airbnb again. They will not protect you.

Airbnb Left my Family in the Middle of the Street

We did an Instant Book on Airbnb. The email confirmation arrived saying all was set, pack your bags, in addition to nice things about using their service, with code confirmation. We drove all the way from Sacramento to Anaheim with my 4-year-old and mom – 70 years old – so after the long travel time in the car we were exhausted and hungry. Upon arrival, the receptionist in the place we rented said they did not receive any information about our rental. We called the host and he said he did not accept the reservation… apparently unaware of what an Instant Book means.

The place we rented was five minutes from Disneyland, equivalent to a 4-star hotel. I waited more than a hour for a case manager to show up and then she talked to me, offered me $150 as compensation for the ‘inconvenience’ and told me to find a place myself. After I argued with her, she asked for more time to make calls. It was 10:30 PM. We were here in the same place, in the middle of the street, with nowhere to go. We were loyal customers for years and they took no responsibility whatsoever that we ended up paying more than twice the price renting another hotel ourselves so as to not ruin our entire vacation. We also ended up losing one entire day of vacation and had to change hotels three times within four nights to be able to fix their problem. Our daughter has special needs; all the food we took from home ended up ruined and she got constipated pretty badly because her food was not available.

We are very disappointed with the entire situation. We understand that mistakes can happen but not taking any responsibility for their own mistakes is really disappointing. They sent emails saying somebody would look into our case and call us back but nobody has contacted us since.

Airbnb Cancelled due to Higher Bidder?

This was my first time with Airbnb and a bummer of an experience. Several months ago, I reserved a “cabin” in Monterey, California with “Kirk” for eight nights for a retreat I was attending in late July/early August. I received a cancellation notice, with no reason (or compensation) given. However, given the desirability of Monterey, especially in summer, I’d wager the host was offered substantially more than I had paid and cancelled without penalty, as hosts are able to do with Airbnb. (I wonder if he’s done this before – firm reservation vs higher bidder? Hmm…) Now, the inconvenience is on me and I’ll have to cancel my retreat reservations with a penalty as I can’t find anything nearly as nice for twice the price.

Airbnb: Once bitten, NEVER AGAIN. Won’t do it. Beware. Major risk. Apparently, accommodations can be pulled and offered to the highest bidder.