Airbnb is Spewing Hot Air Regarding Their Policies

Hotels are expensive, so I thought I would check out the bed and breakfast plan for accommodations. Having just returned from Canada and having paid more than I thought I would for a regular hotel – it advertised in and I booked in US dollar; I paid in Canadian – I got pulled over by customs for bringing back fruit (which was declared) and got the full inspection. I was in no mood for any more surprises.

I found a nice listing on Airbnb near Toronto and it mentioned a parking permit was required by the city. I asked the host what the procedure was: did she or her husband provide this, or did I have to obtain the permit? I also asked if there were 13% taxes on top of the listed price. She replied that she only responds to serious inquiries and I should get back to her when I “get my travel plans right.” Then she would explain the parking procedure.

How does she know if I’m serious or not? I found that to be very rude. I responded that I asked her politely and the site explicitly requests the guest to “explain a little about themselves.” I thought the story about the hotel was appropriate. She replied again: “No disrespect or rudeness intended. I am not comfortable with your story, your wording, your inquiry, and no picture.” A photo is not required by the website and she didn’t mention that the first time.

I replied with a full explanation of why I was inquiring. I found it very odd that she had a problem answering questions and that I found her insincere that she “meant no disrespect” when she disparaged everything in my brief inquiry. I contacted Airbnb. Everyone but the last person to whom I spoke was very courteous, and I will admit they said at the beginning it didn’t seem to violate their policy of nondiscrimination. However, I would say if you read their “about us” policy clearly, they go on and on about respect and inclusion. I see no reason they couldn’t have contacted the host and simply asked why it was such a problem to answer a question or two.

Oddly, they then sent an automated response “we hope you problem is resolved.” If it wasn’t, I had 24 hours to respond. I replied and didn’t hear anything for several days. I called back and the representative I spoke to refused to transfer me to a supervisor and told me it sounded like I had a “personality conflict” with the host. They advised me to “find other accommodations.” I already said that in my reply to the host that I would seek other lodging.

For a site that blathers on and on about respect and inclusion, at the very least they should have chastised the host for being so rude. Airbnb should have contacted me and let me know my complaint was dismissed, especially since they required a response within 24 hours.. If Airbnb can’t require hosts be courteous, I would never trust them to resolve a complicated issue.

Airbnb Unable to Handle Clients When a Host Double Books

The following is a letter that was sent to Airbnb:

Thank you for sending this email last Saturday. As per your request, we are am responding with receipts for our unnecessary lodging accommodations in Vancouver BC. Please find the following:

– Receipt from Poco Inn and Suites for the night of Sept 2nd, 2017

– Receipt from Expedia.com for the Budget Inn Patricia Hotel for the night of Sept 3rd, 2017

– Receipt for food is attached, though we are a little confused by this as you did not ask for food receipts over the phone.

Based on our phone conversation, it was our understanding that the $50 towards food was extended as a courtesy. We do not see the need to verify that we ate while on vacation. Nevertheless, a receipt from Sept 3rd is attached. We are aware that the amount on the food receipt exceeds the $50 you had extended to us. We do not expect a full reimbursement on this receipt. We expect Airbnb to uphold its obligations laid out in your email: $500 reimbursement for lodging and $50 toward food. We expect this to occur in an expedited manner. We expect an immediate reply to this email as well as same-day confirmation when the funds will be processed. We expect that the funds transfer will be completed by EOD Friday, September 8th, 2017.

Regarding our receipts, please note the following:

As you were equally aware during our phone conversation, finding lodging in Vancouver on such late notice was difficult. Our budget did not allow for high-priced rooms and I’m sure you will agree that hotel room prices tend to be higher when booking the same day, let alone in the early evening. Poco Inn and Suites was one of the only hotels in that area that had a room for under $300. Please be aware that this hotel was 30 miles away from our originally planned location. Also, once we completed our phone call with you (which lasted nearly 1.5 hours), it took us another hour on the phone to find a this room. The additional travel time to this hotel was also unwelcome. From a financial point of view, it is lucky we were able to use a credit card, but also unfortunate. I would hope that others who have experienced a similar dilemma were able to find cash on hand to cover Airbnb’s inability to find other lodgings.

The Budget Inn Patricia Hotel was cheap and available, but a quick look on Tripadvisor.com will inform you that the hotel is less than safe. Again, the travel time had been added to find this hotel but is disappointing to be confronted with safety concerns. We await your prompt reply to the above.

We are greatly disappointed in Airbnb and its apparent lack of preparedness to take care of situations such as this. In our case, a host reneged on her obligation and we were unnecessarily thrust in to a situation that cost us more money out of pocket as well as cost us a great deal of wasted time – time that was intended for vacation, not for talking to customer service and looking for last-minute lodging on a very busy weekend. This loss of funds and time were completely unnecessary had Airbnb a stronger vetting process to avoid hosts who are uncommunicative and irresponsible. Airbnb’s options, as you described them over the phone, are weak strategies to protect users of your service.

Option 1: We, the clients could find new lodging using the Airbnb app. But as you were quickly able to understand by your own searches, this was simply next to impossible. On that day there were no Airbnb listings available within our budget.

Option 2: “Instant Book”. This seems like a good solution on the surface, but as we understood from your description of this option, we were expected to accept a new booking sight unseen. This is unreasonable. We asked for more details on the location, room size etc. and in the time it took you to look up this basic information, the room was booked. We are surprised that your customer service team is not better equipped to find listings more quickly and with greater detail.

Once Airbnb’s first two options were quickly exhausted, you offered to reimburse us for our hotel costs. However, you were clear that Airbnb has no way of booking a hotel for its displaced clients. This left us to find last-minute lodging, thereby defeating the entire purpose of using Airbnb in the first place. It also seems clear that Airbnb is incapable of vetting their hosts. As you’ll recall, when we arrived at our host’s location, we followed her instructions very carefully. Her instructions were sent out automatically and, ironically, mentioned she required clients to be in contact with her prior to arrival as she “had been burned in the past”. We can verify that we attempted to contact her several times.

However, we never heard back from her on Sept 2nd, nor have we received any communication since. As you will also recall, on Sept 2nd you made two unsuccessful attempts to contact her. When we arrived at the host’s location we followed the host’s instructions and went to the rented room. As per her instructions, the door was open. However, upon entering we found the room was unready and still contained the luggage and personal affects of another client. There was another resident at the house. He informed us that the other guests were out of the city but had no intention of leaving as they were under the impression that they were allowed to stay.

We would prefer to leave a review on this host’s profile – but this situation does not feel safe. To write a review, a user must allow a host to write a review of the user. However, we are hesitant to write a review (and thereby warn other Airbnb clients) that this host was negligent. Why should a client who was stood up by a host be required to allow the host to submit any review at all? I hope that customers can expect Airbnb to address these problems. Indeed, you mentioned over the phone that we were not the first to experience difficulties on that day and in that location.

This was our second experience with irresponsible hosts. Our first was a host who cancelled our reservation 12 hours before check-in, also for the same weekend and in Vancouver BC. We booked another location on Sept 2nd and received confirmation as well. If Airbnb is unable to process same-day reservations, or if Airbnb is unable to provided hosts the proper support they need, then Airbnb needs to step up.

The bottom line is this: Airbnb allowed a host to double book a room; Airbnb allowed a host to remain out of contact with a client; Airbnb allowed a client to become displaced because the client trusted the integrity of the services that Airbnb offers. By not vetting your hosts and by leaving clients for fend for themselves when stood up or double booked, it is clear that Airbnb is more interested in making a profit in the easiest and cheapest way possible than looking after its clients and therefore Airbnb’s own reputation.

Your services cannot be trusted and this is too bad. Your business concept is a good one. Perhaps you should do more to make it function well. It is clear from a quick Google search that Airbnb has many problems protecting clients from unethical behavior by hosts: Airbnb Hell came up quite quickly. I’m sure a more thorough search would reveal much more. We will be posting our experience to social media in hopes of adding our voices to a growing chorus of dissatisfaction with Airbnb’s sloppy business practices. In the mean time, we truly hope that Airbnb can become a better business, or that some other entity can step in where you left off.

Quiet Escape for Motorcyclist Writer is Anything But

I’m done with Airbnb. I’ve done two extended stay vacation trips, one to New Mexico and, now, one to Thunder Bay, Ontario. Three of the five places I’ve stayed were excellent. Two were disasters; both of the awful “hosts” were older, single women. Both places were somewhat honestly described and priced about normal for equivalent facilities (including hotels) in the area. Honestly, I could have found decent, downtown hotel rooms with about the same accommodations for the price I paid for the Airbnb rentals. Looking at Hotels.com, I discovered I could have done as well in Thunder Bay and been walking distance from Lake Superior, downtown, and had a window.

After extracting ourselves from our New Mexico Airbnb disaster, I did find a really nice one-bedroom apartment for about 2/3rds of the Airbnb monthly rental price. It had a far better location and came with an all-access pass to a hot springs spa. I am a motorcycle rider and I’ve travelled all over North America and a good bit of western Mexico on a variety of motorcycles for the last 50 years. I have taught motorcycle safety classes for the last 17 years. I’ve owned motorcycles for most of my 70 years and have parked motorcycles on about every kind of surface imaginable without ever having a problem.

When I arrived in Thunder Bay for a week’s stay, I met the owner in her driveway. She suggested I park my motorcycle in an area to the side of her driveway so she could get her car out in the morning for work. I moved it to where she suggested. I’d ridden about 450 miles from home to Thunder Bay that day and was beat. So, I parked the bike, unloaded my stuff, and settled into the room for the night. Thanks to the plastic covered mattress, I got about two hours of uncomfortable sleep before I gave up and moved to the couch.

The next day, I loafed in the apartment and backyard for most of the day and hiked about a mile to a grocery store and to check out the immediate area. When I got back, I put away the groceries, made a late lunch for myself, and a little later I went out to the motorcycle to make it more secure for the next evening. I discovered that the side-stand had sunk about an inch into her driveway. The bike was leaning precariously, so I moved it a little and put the bike up on the center stand. This isn’t a big or a heavy motorcycle: 450 pounds, wet and loaded. It was late, almost dark, and I planned to talk to the host about the driveway damage in the morning.

I went back to the apartment to do some work. About 10:00 PM, the following exchange showed up via email: “Your bike has damaged my new driveway. Can you please put the plywood under your bike stands. It cost me $7000.00 for new driveway and don’t have funds to repair it.” This was followed by: “The asphalt is new… still sensation [sic] to weight and sharp objects. I am upset that you would ignore not telling me it happened and when I knocked on door to address the issue you ignored my knock. I leaned a plywood sheet against your bike so you can either put the sheet under the kick stands or possibly park it on the street. I will call the contractor tomorrow to provide an estimate on repairing. Hopefully he can reheat and level again. But I know there will be an expense to it. Please refrain from doing bike repairs on the driveway. As I said the asphalt is new and still very soft.”

I replied: “I’m sorry I missed you at the door. I’m trying to do that writing thing I mentioned when I got here and had headphones on, so I didn’t hear you. I wouldn’t ignore you and I’m sorry you think that’s who I am. Maybe this week isn’t going to work for either of us. I didn’t want to bother you with the driveway until I saw you next. If you had told me the driveway was new I might have thought to suggest a better place for me to park. It’s not like making it into an emergency would change either of our evenings. I apologize for the trouble. I have a lot of experience parking motorcycles and I have never seen a new or old driveway fail like that at 75 F. I had no way to predict it would happen.”

I dressed and went out in a rain storm to move the bike to the ¼” plywood she had leaned against my motorcycle. The next day, she seemed apologetic and I thought the weirdness had passed. She asked me how I’d slept and I told her the plastic-covered mattress was uncomfortable and I’d spent most of the night on the couch. She allowed that I could remove the plastic, which made the next night tolerable.

The “suite” she advertised was a small basement apartment, with the bathroom in a shared hallway. There were two tiny windows, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom, but neither will open. Cooking smells stayed in the room for hours. The kitchen was well-equipped and functional. The backyard had a nice semi-private area, which could have been an excellent place to write during the day. However, there were nearby neighbors who eliminate any feeling of privacy. My first day out there, I answered the “whatcha doin’?” question four times, when someone looked over the fence after hearing me typing on my computer. I quit and read a book for the rest of the afternoon.

Three days later, at about 9:00 PM, I received the following email, via Airbnb’s server: “I had the paving company come by to give me estimate on heating and leveling the kick stand hole and it will cost $250.00. We need to discuss in person on payment options for repair. He will drop off a written quote tomorrow in mailbox.”

My reply to that was: “Julie, I’m in the apartment now, if you want to discuss this. However, I parked where you suggested. You did not warn me that the asphalt was either new or soft when I arrived. I had no way of knowing that your drive way would be different than any of the thousands of places I’ve parked a motorcycle over the last 50 years. Personally, I suspect your contractor used less aggregate than ideal for a strong surface. I’m no expert, but it’s pretty obvious that there isn’t much aggregate showing in the drive. The other side of not knowing the drive was not a stable place to park is that the failure of the surface integrity was about to allow my motorcycle to fall into your pavers, which would have caused a lot more damage to the motorcycle than $250. Monday’s high temperature was 24 C/75 F, hardly high enough to expect that sort of pavement failure under anything resembling normal conditions. The important aggregate qualities for your asphalt paving project are durability and angularity (fractured faces). To get the strongest pavement structure, larger aggregates are used for the base, with successively smaller dating sites reviews aggregates used for upper layers in the pavement. However, it’s also true that new asphalt driveways are supposed to be kept from everything from bicycle kickstands to high heeled shoes for as long as a year [I didn’t know that until I looked it up yesterday]. You’ll need to put a sign where anyone using that driveway can see it if you want to avoid future damage.”

Of course, she did not take me up on my offer to discuss her driveway problem in person. That evening, I’d decided my Airbnb experiences were a draw. Three out of five decent experiences is not good enough. If I were to use Airbnb again, I feel that I’d have to use what are obviously sexist filters for any hosts I’d consider renting from. It’s not worth the hassle or the moral issues. After discussing this experience with my wife over the phone, she decided that we’re just going to avoid the whole experience by cancelling our Airbnb account, which she did that evening. As for the Thunder Bay rental, I’d paid for Sunday to Sunday, seven days, but when we had a plumbing emergency at home Thursday night, I decided to pack it up either Friday morning and call it a wash. I’m a big believe in avoiding the Sunk Cost Fallacy and that writing getaway turned into a general gumption trap. In three days, I managed one good day of writing and two days of agonizing over BS with the host. I’d rather be home, wrestling with figuring out how to negotiate quiet periods with my wife or finding an office to rent than fooling with this stuff. Airbnb proved to be more of an unreliable hassle than a viable alternative to hotels and motels.

Terrible Host Leaves us Stranded in Montreal

We arrived at the designated apartment building in Montreal on a Friday evening around 6:45. The person at the front desk knew nothing about Airbnb and called the building manager. He searched and advised us that there were no keys left for us. I texted, then called the host at the number she provided – only to hear an answering machine message in French. I proceeded to call various numbers for Airbnb including the one listed under “In case of Emergency” to no avail. I called Corporate Stays to learn that this reservation was not made through them so they couldn’t help. After much frustration and exhaustion I proceed to look for available hotel rooms, which I finally had success with at 10:50. We booked a hotel room for three nights for twice the price we already paid for Airbnb. I texted Airbnb asking for a refund since I couldn’t use the apartment and their response was that the host’s cancellation policy was “strict”; my refund would be zero. After this experience I will never use Airbnb again. Their customer service sucks so they must attract a lot of scammers. All the numbers provided had automated messages that never led to a human being. The building manager at the apartment house stated that the host is “very sloppy” and he would never do business with her. I will give her a negative review, and also get American Express involved in the dispute if I get no satisfaction on a full refund. I also expect to be reimbursed for my hotel stay. A woman from Australia was stuck in the same situation as we were and she’s an employee of Airbnb. She tried to help us but to no avail. However, she assured us that refunds and a free hotel stay would be ours.

Avoid Airbnb If Their Properties Are Like This

We booked a condo in downtown Toronto through Airbnb. On arrival the condo was filthy; even though we were tired from traveling, I decided to clean it anyway. Not only was it filthy, the extra bedding was rolled up, stunk, and had been thrown in the cupboard. The blinds were broken and missing, the bed had cigarette burns on it, and to top it off the window was broken and would not close. We were on top of a bar, so we could not sleep. There was no toilet roll, no washing liquid, and no shower gel as was stated in the listing. There was also a door that could be accessed through the office downstairs to our condo.

We contacted the host by email from my son’s phone who lives in the area. The host had no interest at all and said he would send in a cleaner. He did not want to know about the other problems. The pillows also looked like a dog had urinated all over them; they were so bad. We vacated the property after a week since then getting in contact with Airbnb has been a nightmare. I sent all the photos in of the problems several times and telephoned nearly every day. The case got accidentally closed a few times and now they are saying I can’t have a week’s refund as I did not contact them within 24 hours. Our phones did not work in Canada. The host was contacted, so after all the calls, why did they not tell me that after the first phone call?

I will never use Airbnb again and will tell everyone I know not to use them. The host must be laughing being allowed to take people’s money like that.

Avoid this Airbnb Rental like the Plague in Port Coquitlam

The room was a shoebox with six people in the house who all shared the laundry right outside the door to the room. Three people lived upstairs, which was another separate property, something not mentioned in the posting. The other door in the room was to the shared washroom with the toilet which was inches from the door. I didn’t expect these noise factors. I didn’t complain about these things, but other guests should be aware of the noise.

Expect to be questioned about your whereabouts regularly, whether you’ve eaten, when you’re working, on your days off, if you have health problems, and whether you are at home. I gave this woman my cell number when I arrived and she’s been happy to text me asking these types of questions, or knock on my door and ask me questions as though that’s perfectly acceptable.

The booking was through Airbnb. When I arrived, the host wanted a cash payment for the damage deposit and rent going forward, something she never mentioned when she texted or messaged me on Airbnb or talked with me by phone before I arrived. I wasn’t prepared for this after travelling all day being up at 4:30 AM. I offered a cheque but she didn’t want one, saying she was afraid of it bouncing. That’s essentially saying: sorry, I don’t trust you. What a warm welcome that was.

Not having cash on me, I gave her a cheque for the damage deposit, which she didn’t seem thrilled about. This was my first mistake as a first time renter through Airbnb: to capitulate, listen to anything she said, and not follow Airbnb’s policy about payment through the platform after the first month. I was tired after traveling all day so just handed over the cheque, but thereafter she demanded cash for rent. If I offered a cheque, she refused and simply demanded cash only, like she thought she was perfectly entitled to demand that.

She was in her own world and didn’t communicate well. She’s Iranian and likes to talk about her country and herself generally. She has a lot of political opinions and comes off as if her point of view is right and she’s going to educate you. I have to take full responsibility for this rental going off the tracks because I wasn’t prepared to deal with someone who right off the bat wasn’t going to follow Airbnb’s policy, who was demanding and thinking just about what suited her. Right at the start she complained about Airbnb delaying paying her the rent I paid them for the booking, texting me complaining why her rent wasn’t paid through Airbnb. I told her to contact Airbnb. She first thing she complained about payment issues, whether it was through Airbnb or trying to accommodate her by offering a cheque.

After arriving we discussed the rental and I agreed to stay two more months. I wouldn’t have anticipated a problem but she consistently violated my privacy. I walked into the kitchen and she would ask me if I’ve eaten, if it’s my day off, or if I’m working. There’s a note on the fridge telling people to keep the toilet seat down. Essentially, you can be prepared to be treated like a child. This was not a rental situation appropriate for adults in any way. She didn’t follow basic BC Tenancy Laws and no written agreement was made to dissolve the Airbnb policy guidelines for renting. She assumes that policy is dissolved when I set foot in her house and it’s now her way or the highway, although nothing was discussed about different terms of rental.

On Canada Day I worked all day. It’s about a three-hour trip to and back from work. I was sick and texted the host to say I would leave a cheque for the rent on the dining room table later that day. She texted me back demanding cash, instead of saying thank you and wishing me a happy Canada Day. She also said I could pay her by Interac, which I wound up doing. I texted her and told her the payment was made and after 25 minutes she texted back that she hadn’t received the payment and that she hoped I had sent it: no thank you for sending the payment, or well wishes on the holiday.

Expect complete rudeness, suspicion, and zero appreciation for any effort you make to communicate respectfully. Implying that I hadn’t sent the payment was the last straw, because she was basically implying I was dishonest and hadn’t sent it. Keep in mind I’d worked all day. It was Canada Day and I was recovering from a nasty cold. I confronted her about her dishonesty and rudeness in implying that I was essentially lying about paying her through Interac. She didn’t apologise, nor apologised on any occasion. She was generally argumentative, and didn’t seem to even understand why I would be upset at this point. No consideration – just demands.

On July 5th, she left me a note on my door, which I have attached here. I hadn’t seen her since July 1st. She felt confronting her about her dishonesty was harassment. Expect pretty extreme craziness and no understanding on her part as to why I would be upset. I frankly think she just doesn’t give a hoot, so be prepared for full harassment.

If the issues continue this month I will have no choice but to take her to arbitration through the BC Tenancy Board and ask for the full three months’ rent back. I may consider doing that anyway, based on this letter she left.

This is my last month renting here and I’m working full time while trying to find a place to rent. The situation is just completely bonkers. She’ll just harass you no matter what. No peace, no privacy, and expecting cash payment instead of paying through Airbnb. Like I said, it’s my own fault for not paying for the damage deposit and other months’ rent through Airbnb, but I capitulated to her demands because I’m a considerate person and she was complaining. I thought it might be difficult for her to wait for the rent payment delay through Airbnb. Apparently sometimes the delay can be over a week. At least that’s what she told me; she could be lying. That’s really the only reason I decided to pay her directly because she was complaining about Airbnb’s payment system and I’m a softy. Big mistake.

Renting here has been very stressful, so avoid this nightmare of a rental. Check out the harassing letter she posted on my door which I found this morning. I guess she’s translates being confronted about her dishonesty and rudeness to me and complete lack of consideration as harassment. I’ve taken pictures of everything in the house as evidence that I’ve kept everything clean and no damage was done to her property. At least the note is evidence in my favor if I have to decide to go to arbitration.

The one other woman renter on the property with whom I share a bathroom had no issues with with me; she’s actually very nice. We hugged before she went on holidays and I wished her well. Yet somehow I’m a harassing, abusive threat. The host just makes things up and comes off as really paranoid and erratic. She won’t admit any wrongdoing and generally doesn’t communicate when it matters the most. Avoid it like the plague.

In the letter, she felt I was abusive and aggressive for confronting her even though she felt it was okay to imply I’m dishonest, that my cheques will bounce, and that I was lying about paying her through Interac. She felt it was okay to completely blindside me and not follow Airbnb policy. I was upset when I confronted her, but never used profanity or otherwise. I have the right to be upset. She never tried to work it out with me or apologize. She just left this note. She thinks I’m endangering someone or some imaginary property, but I’m not sure who that is or what property she’s talking about. She’s really, really paranoid. She can’t handle it if someone has the courage to tell her the truth or if someone is direct, or if you get upset for being treated so terribly. In response to the letter I have communicated only through the Airbnb platform. If I was angry for no reason that would be different but she’s pushed me too far.

After showing consideration about paying rent through Interac, she implied I was dishonest and hadn’t actually paid. That’s enough. Yes, I’m angry but I expressed that to her on July 1st in the span of about one minute and haven’t seen her since. I also messaged her through the Airbnb platform afterward to be clearer about why I was so upset. I wouldn’t be around for most of July except to sleep and I was putting it behind me because I have more positive things to focus on. Yet I’m a threat somehow.

I also asked her via the Airbnb message platform to stop texting me but she kept texting anyway. The Airbnb platform is a secure platform to communicate but she can’t even follow a simple request so that communication is recorded on the Airbnb platform. I’ve also blocked her number so she doesn’t harrass me by texting anymore. She’s classic passive aggressive to the extreme.

Onwards and upwards. I’m going to look for a place to rent today and actually after writing this post, have decided to file a dispute with the BC Residential Tenancy Board. Her disrespect and the lack of privacy and implying that I’m dishonest, and then leaving this letter is all too much, it all constitutes harassment. Thanks for providing this website to share my story.

Airbnb Bait and Switch with Marketing Tactics

We reserved a house in Vancouver using a credit card and the host cancelled. The credit card was not refunded but was applied to a credit on Airbnb without our consent. When we reserved another house, it was marketed and advertised as $262/night with Instant Booking (when you mouse over the Instant Booking icon you see that you can reserve the property without waiting to hear from the host). I always thoroughly research the houses to make sure they will be comfortable and as advertised. There was one bad review but the others were fine for this particular house.

In the charges area of the house listing they specified that if you have more than 13 guests there would be a $21 per person additional charge. I was delighted by the price and entered my dates manually without use of the calendar and was instantly booked via Paypal.

Here’s where things went very wrong. I had in my mind the $262/night cost promised and marketed. Vulnerable to bait and switch, I quickly booked it while traveling on the road (in a bit of panic about not having housing for a festival my band was performing at in Vancouver) and did not note that the price had been tripled. When I noticed the charge had been applied. The cancellation fee for that house was 50% refund with at least seven days’ notice.

I called Airbnb customer service to try to find out what happened with the price and they explained that there was seasonal pricing for that house. I explained there was no mention of seasonal pricing on the listing. In fact, it was listed clearly as $262/night with only $21/person extra over 13 guests, which did not apply to me. They said I had approved the charge, which was true, but under a false impression from the listing.

Airbnb customer service said that there was a new feature that showed actual nightly rates when you moused over the dates. This feature was not mentioned anywhere on the listing or clearly anywhere during my research of the house. Since I did not mouse over the dates, I was completely unaware.

Buyer beware, right? This is clearly bait and switch. The hosts and Airbnb were completely intransigent about acknowledging the false advertising and did indeed keep 50% of my funds when I cancelled. No apology, no acknowledgement of the fraudulent marketing, just 50% of the considerable sum I’d spent.

Please advise any ways that anyone has found for which I can seek recourse. I’d be happy to join a class action lawsuit. I am reporting them to the City of Vancouver, the equivalent of the Attorney General of BC, the CA Attorney General, the Better Business Bureau and any other place that can put pressure on them to refund people they have ripped off and to change their marketing to be clear and accurate.

Oh Brother! Extortion and Intimidation in Toronto

Traveling is stressful enough as it is, especially when you are coming from a week of business travel in Europe, to a quick vacation stop in Toronto, before returning home. However, when you throw extortion by your Airnnb host into the mix, it elevates the stress to a whole new level.

Let’s set the scene: I (female) was meeting up with my male friend in Toronto for an event. We wanted to stay in the city and found this listing that appeared to be decent enough. The inside of the house looked charming, with a view of the CN Tower. It was titled the “420 Cottage” and was described as 420 friendly. This was not something we were interested in, but it was located in a great area and for a decent price. We decided to book the property.

Upon arrival on a Friday night, the property looked rundown, with the small front “lawn” a jungle of clearly neglected waist-high weeds. The listing didn’t include a picture of the front of the property, only the inside and view looking towards the city… for good reason I suppose. We got into the property without any issues, and Friday night went smoothly enough, if you could ignore the overly potent stench of marijuana emanating throughout the walls of the unit and the faucet handle that wasn’t even attached.

Upon exploring the unit, we noted that there was a locked door leading to a downstairs unit, which we did not have access to. We also noted some information about parking guidelines and local things to do posted on the fridge and left on the table. Saturday morning I woke up at around 7:15 AM and noted that it sounded as though somebody was entering the property. It sounded as though they spent a couple minutes in the kitchen area, near where the door to the downstairs unit was located, and then left, locking the door behind them. Assuming it was the host, we did not think much of it.

We left for our event at around 8:00 AM, locking the door behind us. At this point, it should be noted that there are two locks on the door: a bolted lock and a lock on the doorknob. I did my due diligence as a renter and locked both locks, from the outside of the house. We returned to the property at around 4:30 PM and were unable to gain access. The bolted lock would unlock, but the lock on the doorknob did not. We texted the host, who stated that we didn’t follow the rules, which clearly stated that the knob lock should not be locked as it cannot be opened with the key provided. However, given that the lock cannot be unlocked with the key provided, one would assume it cannot be locked with said key, which means we should not have been able to lock the door.

In addition, there were no house rules posted inside the home; if there were, they were not clearly visible, and the only rules noted on the Airbnb listing were: “No parties or events. Not safe or suitable for children (0-12 years). No parties are permitted in the house, but there is plenty to do nearby.” There were also no notes posted near the door or the lock, indicating to renters that the lock would permanently lock you out of the property. The host noted that she was out of town and unable to help, which was not previously disclosed to us, but that she would have her brother come let us into the property at 8:00 PM.

At this point, it was an inconvenience to not have access to the property, but we didn’t have another option. At around 8:15 PM we returned to the property and were able to get inside by only unlocking the bolt lock. We showered and headed out to dinner. This time when locking the door, we locked only the bolt lock and were very careful not to adjust the lock on the nob, as instructed. When we returned from dinner, just before 11:00 PM, we found that the nob lock was once again locked. Knowing that this was not our doing, we once again texted the host indicating that we had been locked out, explaining that per her instructions we did not touch the nob lock. Her response was: “That’s awful that the door locked again. A locksmith is $150. My brother says he will come for $100. I am in Windsor and cannot help you.”

With all of our belongings inside the house, including passports, laptops, and luggage, it was very clear at this point that we were being extorted. Knowing that the brother had access to the property and the host was out of town, we speculated that it may have been him who entered the property in the morning and that he had deliberately locked us out of the property later in the day. After stating that this request was unreasonable, I tried calling Airbnb to get advice on how to handle the situation and was placed on hold. Simultaneously, my friend was on the phone with the host (the booking was in his name) trying to figure out what to do. He was told by the host that “if the knob lock is off by even a millimeter, the door will be locked,” which is not how locks work and indicates that she was aware this lock was problematic and failed to correct the problem or disclose the information to her guests.

My friend indicated that we didn’t have that much cash on our persons, to which she stated that she more or less has to bribe her brother to help. Out of desperation, my friend agreed to pay $80, all the while I was still on hold with Airbnb. We were told that the brother will arrive in 25 minutes. For my safety, I take my friend’s belongings, besides the $80 and his cell phone, and wait in our car down the road. About 15 minutes later the brother showed up while I was waiting in the car, about 45 minutes after being placed on hold with Airbnb.

I finally got in touch with somebody who refused to help me, since I was not the individual who made the reservation. Despite being able to confirm the name and dates, and stating that I was not looking to file a claim as my friend will do that later, I was just looking for guidance on how to handle a situation in which I feel unsafe and taken advantage of, I was turned away. Immediately after hanging up with Airbnb, I got a text message from my friend stating that I should come retrieve my belongings, as he did not feel safe enough to continue our stay. He told me that when the brother arrived to unlock the door, prior to giving access he stated: “I am an opportunist – I will take the money now.”

I entered the property and grabbed my belongings, loaded up the car, and we left to spend the night in a hotel. At this point, my friend called Airbnb and began filing a complaint. Similarly to myself, he was placed on hold for about 45 minutes before getting in touch with a person. He explained what happened and was told to hold again while he was being transferred to a manager. Over 20 minutes later, he got on the phone with a manager, who offered virtually no assistance. She stated that we can be refunded for one night, since we exited the property, but that nothing else will be done since “there is no documentation and it is he said/she said.”

Despite indicating that we have text messages documenting the case of extortion, that the host was aware of the issues with this lock and failed to correct or disclose them, and that we felt extremely unsafe in the situation, we were told nothing would be done. By the time we were finished with the calls, having accomplished very little, it was nearly 2:30 AM.

The next day, we were refunded $171 of the $409 we paid for the rental, which is hardly enough compensation for what we went through. I have since filed a police report and we are continuing to pursue the issues with Airbnb, who remain utterly useless. Never would I have expected to be extorted by an Airbnb host; never again will I be using their company, and I will encourage everyone I speak with to not use them. There was obvious negligence on the part of the host to disclose important information regarding the use of the property, including both information about her being out of town during our stay and the known issues with the locks. Given that she was out of town, an additional local contact should have been provided, or some form of emergency contact information. Maintenance of the property to provide a suitable unit for renters was clearly neglected.

The host and her brother locked our belongings in the property and used it to get additional money from us. Then, the negligence of Airbnb to provide any form of assistance when a guest who is using their services (although not the owner of the reservation) is placed in an unsafe situation, is horribly irresponsible. If I had been traveling alone, as a female who was not local to the country, who does not carry cash on them when traveling, I would have been in an even worse situation with limited options and been left even more vulnerable. When traveling, I try to screen my hosts and ensure they are somebody I would feel comfortable interacting with. Had I been aware that I would have to deal with the host’s brother, I would have changed my choice of accommodations.

Lastly, Airbnb’s inability to rectify the situation with my friend, the reservation holder, is appalling. The fact that Airbnb is claiming that we do not have any ground to stand on with these claims and stating that our concerns are irrelevant, is a testament to their unprofessional business practices and lack of concern for their customers. The fact that I was extorted and felt so unsafe that I needed to file a police report in the hopes that it would prevent other people from going through a similar situation speaks volumes to the severity of the situation. Airbnb’s failure to identify this severity and keep their customers safe is an indication that they are an unprofessional company and should not be doing business.

Ottawa Airbnb Nightmare: Kate the Con Artist

I’m currently fighting with Airbnb and this con-artist host to resolve this issue. I will post updates if possible. Here is the rundown of everything I sent to Airbnb, with a request for a full refund:

I’d like a full refund for this incorrectly advertised, poorly hosted, nightmare of an Airbnb rental. I’ll start off by explaining what was wrong with the property itself before I go into the more disturbing issue with the host. First of all, the advertisement was listed as: “massive downtown seven bedroom.” The description said it was a large home that was very spacious, with large bedrooms.

The first thing we noticed as we we drove twenty minutes past downtown was the location. A rundown, beat-up house in the middle of a bad neighborhood in the south end of Ottawa. We were disappointed before going in, but tried to make light of the situation. We walked in to a crammed kitchen, a tiny excuse for a living area, with what was supposed to be the rest of it converted into the first “bedroom”. The rest of the house was just as small and crammed.

The first thing we went to do, as a small group of six, was to sit down in the kitchen and start eating some of the food we brought with us. We went to go sit down and the table tipped over and almost broke. We lifted the corner of it and I messaged the host to tell her about the issue. She kindly told me where the tools were in her house in case I wanted to fix it. I told her I’d leave the table in the corner and wouldn’t use it instead; she had no problem with that.

The place was clean for the most part except for bugs. Only eight of us stayed the night, and only four bedrooms were used out of the six small ones available. The next day, we cleaned up what we could, except all the dishes, because we knew that was taken care of with the cleaning charge. We even swept everywhere before we left. I personally checked every bedroom and washroom to make sure the place was properly presentable and a five-star rating was completely within reach for myself as a guest. I locked the front and side doors and put the key in the lockbox happy with the overall trip even though the Airbnb was disappointing.

Then came everything afterwards. Kate messaged me asking me what I thought of the property and to give her a personal review. I gave her a review in a polite and respectful way and even praised her as a host, just to be nice. I don’t think she liked my review so that was the last I heard from her for the day.

I realized I forgot my wallet in one of the rooms and messaged Kate the same day to ask her if she could please meet me or do whatever protocol we have to go through to retrieve my lost wallet. It took her over 24 hours to reply, after I reached out to Airbnb support for the issue. This leads me all back to right now. The host just sent me a disgusting message and is outright lying in all her claims. It’s very shameful someone in a position such as herself, who manages multiple properties, would be this slimy and corrupt in an attempt to pull more money out of her overpriced rental property than she already has. I’d like Airbnb to call me personally to deal with this. The only claim that she was accurate about was us moving that 8×10 paper-thin sorry excuse for a ‘carpet’ she had on the living room floor. No one touched the TV, the windows or the screens. We never left the residence so no one was ever locked out. The host is trying to steal money and delete the mediocre review I gave her.

There’s more I have to add. The six pictures of evidence the host provided were lazy enough to help prove all of it was a lie. She showed one broken screen in the backyard of the house that we didn’t go near or had any reason to go to. She opened the garbage bag that we left outside of all the things we cleaned, and for some reason took a picture to prove something in her favor…? There were a few flakes of ash in a bathtub that they placed to take a picture of, and then there’s a picture of what looks like a perfectly good TV – no picture of the “pulled out” cord. No picture of any broken fan. Then a picture of the living room that also looks very neat and tidy. There was also one more picture of a window, one with nothing wrong with it. Apparently we broke two windows?

The house was “smoking allowed” so the years of stench from other people smoking was strong when we came in. I still feel like I’m dreaming because I can’t believe that people have to resort to this slimy low level just to make extra money. Anyways, I’ll fight this in court if I have to.

 

Airbnb Experience from Hell in Toronto

I have stayed at many Airbnb properties in the past and have always had a great experience. The hosts have left me positive feedback as well. This is the first time I was ever in a situation where our stay was literally one disaster after another. Normally it doesn’t take me as long to write a review, but this one took me a couple hours as there were many incidents I wanted to touch on which created the terrible experience. Of course with Airbnb’s word limit I wasn’t even able to fully express my anger but now I can here on Airbnb Hell.

It all started a day before our trip which was a two-day drive for my sister and me; my boyfriend was to be driving separately and meeting us there since he lives a day’s drive away. I thought to touch base with the host as she did not have a house manual or any information on the listing telling me about the condo or how to check in. She didn’t reply to us for over 24 hours through Airbnb. I was growing weary that she may try to cancel, as one of the earlier automatic reviews mentioned she cancelled the reservation prior to the stay. I was also anxious, as once I entered Canada my phone plan and data plan would no longer work so I couldn’t text or check the Airbnb website unless I had wifi; while driving, I wouldn’t have that.

After waiting a day for her reply and not getting one, I was very anxious and weary. I contacted Airbnb to see if they could get involved. They replied that they were also unable to get in touch and have alerted her to contact me the next day by 9:00 AM EST (which she did not do), then they recommended I can cancel the stay. I really did not want to do this as we had already began our trip by this point. I did quickly looked at other places for us to stay in Toronto, but for three people almost everything was booked or a ridiculous 2-3 times our budget. Eventually I texted her, even though Airbnb recommends all communication happen on the platform and I also didn’t have an international cell plan. I was able to get a reply but no apology or acknowledgement about my messages on Airbnb from a few days ago that she ignored. In the texts, she gave me very vague instructions on the room number and told me parking was available.

At this time I never thought to ask any further questions but there were so many things I would later find that she didn’t explain prior to our arrival. The apartment uses fobs for entry and she has an assigned parking spot in a very complicated underground garage. On our trip my boyfriend, sister and I were traveling in two cars. We couldn’t figure out how to get the fobs to work or find her parking spot. I had to run in to get the fob from the doorman, and then once I got it and got back to my car (which was parked far away at a pay meter) I had to run back inside to the doorman because we couldn’t find the garage to the complex after driving around aimlessly. Once I was finally able to get in the garage, we assumed that the number written on the envelope was the parking spot number – it wasn’t. We spent an hour and 15 minutes searching for her spot and then another hour searching for a visitor spot as there are a very limited about for the entire place. It took two hours to get though all of that and was a huge waste of time when we only had one day to spend in Toronto.

The host did not make anything clear to us. How it works is there are a total of four big high-rise condos which all share this small parking garage. A fob is needed to get in, and the parking is assigned. Once you do go underground you lose cell service and it is easy to get stuck there with many dead ends in the narrow garage. Backing out is a huge pain. There were no instructions and everything was left unclear to us. After an hour of searching underground we actually made our way back up to text and ask the host how any of it worked. My boyfriend messaged her since he had bought a phone plan specifically before coming just based on the fact that he didn’t trust the host and wanted to be able to get in touch with Airbnb if we did get screwed out of the booking. While he was getting information from her, I went to the front desk to ask for help. The host told him her parking spot number and told him not to mention Airbnb, meaning she isn’t even supposed to be running an Airbnb to begin with. The doorman by this point can clearly tell I am not a friend of hers, which is what I had said I was since she said not to mention Airbnb, and he flat out asks if I am from Airbnb. By that point I can’t lie about it since she had given me no instructions or directions and I’ve been coming to him for help numerous times now. I mean I don’t even know her parking spot. He even commented “Wow, what a terrible host. She didn’t even tell you where the garage was or her parking spot or anything about this condo complex? That is really bad that she gave you no directions. What type of a host doesn’t give proper information?”

We asked the host if we could check in a little early at 3:00 PM (check in was at 4:00), since we were traveling from so far and just wanted to drop off bags. We told her we would then leave again so she could clean if she hadn’t already done so. She said that was fine. We walked in and saw it definitely wasn’t clean, but figured she would be doing it before check in. We all left immediately for the day for sightseeing since we had a lot planned. We didn’t make any comments to her, although my boyfriend did mention it. I didn’t message her only because I thought she had to come back to clean; the place was a disaster.

When we arrived back at the condo around midnight, we saw it was in the exact same disastrous state as before. When we first arrived the bed was completely unmade. It was so evident the sheets had been recently used and unwashed and they smelled (of urine) so we had to wash the pillowcases, sheets, and everything. Keep in mind when we finally got back to the apartment it was almost midnight on our one day vacation; cleaning was really a waste of time and not even something we should have even had to do. We were really upset about that. This is such a bad thing to do as a host: provide dirty sheets that your guest has to clean?

The rest of the place was nothing like it had been described. The photos didn’t match the bedroom or views from the condo at all. I even took a few photos of the messy bed and the dirt tracked all over the floor of the entire place. The place was very gross. There was no soap or anything to wash our hands after using the bathroom. The bathroom was bare and had nothing to use. Luckily, we were warned to bring our own towels but she should have mentioned that she also didn’t have any soap or anything. There was also no third “couch” she lists as part of the sleeping arrangements on the listing. Our third person, my sister, had nowhere to sleep. It said the space fit three people but definitely only fit two as the “couch” was clearly a very tiny loveseat. No one could sleep on that comfortably, especially an adult. She is really small and still couldn’t fit. All three of us slept on the small bed made for two so she didn’t get screwed over, which obviously wasn’t ideal.

I left the condo in way better condition than we found it as I actually made the bed with fresh sheets and cleaned the floor in the main room. When I arrived, as I mentioned, the sheets were used, the bed was completely unmade, and there was dirt tracked all over the main room floors. The laundry room was also a disaster as was the bathroom but I tried to avoid those spots as much as I could. The host didn’t ever contact me back on Airbnb until six days after my initial messages prior to my trip asking for information when she finally gave it to me. By then my trip was already over and I had to remind her I already stayed there last weekend. I tried to be as polite as possible even though I was pretty pissed about the whole stay. I told her the city was nice when she asked me how my stay was, and mentioned I would be writing her review later. It’s hard to say how much of the mess was from the last guest or her.

Since after coming back from the trip and after already writing my review and reading some of the recent reviews now I see that sometimes she will have two people stay in one weekend without cleaning in between. Honestly that’s extremely disgusting. She would not even wash the sheets for new guests. If this is what she’s doing she should inform the second person about this just so they have a warning about the situation. She should also tell the previous person that they should do their best to tidy up as much as possible as someone will be coming in right after them. Perhaps then our situation would’ve been better. It’s the only logical explanation I can think of for her to leave her place such a mess for guests.

We seriously considered canceling when we arrived back at the place at midnight and getting a hotel but it was so late in the night that we didn’t. The whole incident is also made me think twice about ever using Airbnb again as the other reviews weren’t terrible but makes me think they are fake. I don’t trust any reviews except the last ones which were also bad. However, these had not been posted at the time I had booked with her. No one should have to go through that experience. As some of the other reviews said, she should not be running an Airbnb because she was a terrible host. In addition, her complex clearly doesn’t allow it if her guests have to keep the Airbnb factor hidden. Even better than all of this is that I have received a reply from her for my review and I think our exchange just adds to the debacle.

Host: Unfortunately I paid someone to co-host/clean as I was in New York. Clearly they did not, so I apologize for the bed situation. In regards to parking, you’re the only person who had a hard time figuring it out. Given you did stay in my unit I’m open to returning $50 but I cannot pay you more than that. Laundry is off limits as well so it shouldn’t matter what it looked like to you. Hope you were able to enjoy your stay outside of this given the area is amazing and the amenities were great. I do have a pamphlet in the unit with all amenities listed and wifi. Thank you.

Me: I see in your message that you mention you “paid someone to co-host”, but it seems like from reading the other reviews I was not the only one who had this issue. In regards to parking, you also did not tell me prior what your parking spot was nor is it shown in the listing, yet I had told you I would be parking my car beforehand. That would have saved us hours from driving around trying to figure out a spot since we thought the room number/number on the envelope was the parking spot. It wasn’t until I asked for doorman that we finally got that information. You also say your space is for three people when you only have sleeping arrangements for two. How do you justify that? You also mention laundry is off limits, yet in the listing it clearly mentions that the guest has access to the washer/dryer. Also, if it’s off limits, how do you expect a guest to clean the sheets, since we weren’t given clean sheets when we arrived? As far as the costs, you mentioned giving me back $50, but then you only offered $36. Either way, I am going to involve Airbnb because of all the things I mentioned in my original message. Between the lack of information, the uncleanliness and us having to wash our own sheets, the false advertisement (saying the sleeps three when it clearly sleeps two) not to mention the photos of the apartment, bedroom, views, and bathroom aren’t even accurate and are not for this condo. For all those reasons I think a full refund is justified. Had we known all of those would happen we never would have booked this place, and if it wasn’t so late in the night we would have gone elsewhere.

Host: I’m sure I told you parking was 3017 or it was on the envelope but if not, have fun with Airbnb. I think you’re better off with a hotel next time. 3rd person would be the couch. All photos are accurate.

Me: I’m involving them because I believe my claim is justified for all of the reasons I gave you. Also you did not give me $50. The email I received from Airbnb said you only offered $36. The last time I checked, both of the last two reviews were also terrible. You also did not note on the envelope about parking. As I mentioned I didn’t have a phone plan in Canada so texting was not an option while I was there. My boyfriend who was in a separate car (and not with me) was the one who texted you- as we mentioned in the messages. The photos of the space (which I see you have taken down now) were not of the condo. The bedroom, bathroom, balcony and views were all from stock photos. Two other people even mentioned this in their reviews as well. As far as getting a hotel, we stayed at other Airbnbs along our trip and had great experiences at each and every one of them. What you have is a love seat – not a couch – which isn’t large enough for anyone to sleep on so I wouldn’t advertise it as a space suitable for three. Hopefully you can use the feedback I gave you constructively and not take it personally. Let’s let Airbnb decide how to resolve this. Have a good day.