Airbnb Nightmare: Marooned in Montreal

My family had come to Canada from various other international destinations for a highly anticipated and active family vacation. However, while we were in transit to our Airbnb lodging in Montreal from Toronto, we received a somewhat cryptic text message from our hosts stating that they were cancelling our Montreal reservation (for that day) due to some “unavoidable issues” with our lodging. My husband had to lookup our original reservation as there was no contact information for our Montreal hosts to ask for clarification. After we were “eventually” able to make contact with our hosts they continued to be exceptionally vague as to what happened that caused our reservation to be cancelled. When we asked what happens now that our reservation was null and void – thus, making my ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL FAMILY NOW HOMELESS – our hosts simply advised that we would have to “consult” the Airbnb contracts to determine if we were entitled to a refund if we “chose not to find and use another Airbnb lodging.”

We attempted to ask additional questions and for assistance in locating alternative housing, but our hosts stopped responding to our requests and Airbnb has no direct lines of communication to their corporate headquarters or any legitimate form of customer service or quality control services. We were forced to find what we honestly believe happened to be the last two very over-priced hotel rooms in Montreal that ALL of our extended and immediate family had to share as it also happened to be Canada Day. The situation certainly brought our family together, but in a most uncomfortable and precarious fashion. So, if you are thinking of utilizing Airbnb as lodging for your travels, make sure you have investigated all other options FIRST. I would advise that you especially avoid Host Kick in Montreal on Airbnb as they can cancel on you at the last minute.

Airbnb Nightmare: Transient Hippie Flophouse

This was my first experience with Airbnb and I will never recommend it to anyone. My lesson: Always use a legitimate hotel. I booked a long-term rental in a place that looked deceptively nice in the photo and description. I thought I would be staying with a woman and her children: a safe, family-oriented home, or so I thought. When I asked if the bathroom was shared, I was told it was but that Carissa, the “host” (a loosely used term because flophouse operator is more accurate), could work around my schedule. Unfortunately, Carissa didn’t tell me the bathroom would also be shared with any transient she could shove into any space she had. She tried to make it out to be some hippie idea of communal living, but her real colours showed when it came time for money. She is very much in this to try to squeeze as much out of unsuspecting renters as she can. I’m not exaggerating when I say she rents out every place she can: all the bedrooms, the basement, the shed in the backyard (for real), and a grungy algae-covered camping trailer in the driveway. And all these people use the same bathroom.

The biggest problem was that despite the numerous unknown characters lingering about, she left the doors unlocked to the house at all times and didn’t have a door that locked on the room I rented for me to secure my things while I was out. I stayed one night, only because I had nowhere else to go, then left. That started the second part of the horrible Airbnb experience. I tried to get a refund, but Carissa said it was “non-refundable.” I had booked for five weeks! She was going to keep all that money for one night. Finally, she said she’d look at how many times she rented the room during the time and give me a refund based on this at the end of the originally booked stay. I tracked that she rented that same room out for 13 days. But, when I contacted Carissa, there was no reply within the 72 hours she had to respond.

So I started the resolution process through Airbnb. After a number of emails, Airbnb told me I’d get a partial refund (so my one night stay in a hellhole would only cost me about $700 after the supposed refund). I was told the refund would reach me within five business days. It’s been seven business days and still nothing. When I tried to email Airbnb about it, the automated response told me the issue was “closed” so they wouldn’t be responding! I’ll reiterate: Stick with hotels. Don’t be fooled by seemingly normal rentals.

Waterfront Property doesn’t Mean 5km from the Beach

I booked a property in the Canadian wilderness. The cover photo was of this gorgeous beach and a large body of water, with the caption: “view from the gazebo.” Multiple other photos show this “private” beach, but once I booked the property I discovered the address is nowhere near any beach, just a tiny little pond. I asked the host about this just two hours after booking and told her I wanted to cancel my reservation and get a refund because it seemed like the property bordered a beach based upon her listing. She told me those photos must have been the tiny pond on the property and there is a river one can access 5 kilometers away. I didn’t book this place to stay 5 kilometers from a beach!

I immediately emailed her again, stating that based upon my Google Earth search, the pond is tiny and not what I was expecting based upon the photos. Three days later she replied the photos are actually of the river 5 kilometers away, and stated everything was made clear in her listing – so it’s my fault for not reading everything. I went online to look at her new Airbnb listing, and she changed everything! The photo that got me to make the booking is clearly labeled as a beach with river access 5 kilometers away and is no longer the cover photo. She now mentions multiple times in the description that the beach photo is of the river 5 kilometers away. So clearly these photos are of the river not the pond next to the residence! I asked for a refund since she clearly acknowledged her listing wasn’t clear – hence the extensive changes – and she refused. I lost 50% of the $1000 I paid for the week. DON’T book this property; the host is dishonest! I still haven’t heard anything from the Airbnb resolution center!

USD AMEX conversion SCAM

Several weeks ago I booked a trip for my family, we didn’t want to travel to the US like we normally do because of high conversion rates so we booked a “local vacation” on airbnb.  Our account price is set to CAD and language to ENGLISH, we have a Canadian billing address and a CANADIAN issued American Express which we used to book.  We booked a Canadian host. we just got our card bill and got a 200+$ conversion charge to USD (from $640 to $867!!) When we look at our AirBnb receipt and even in our transaction records it says it was 640 and our account profile is definitely set to CAD and the hosts currency is definitely set to CAD.  I chatted with customer service and they said it was because we use an American Express card and it HAS to be charged is USD.  This is ridiculous and I phoned American Express Canada and they said that makes no sense whatsoever as my card is a Canadian issued card and they have moved forward with disputing the charge and are going to investigate. I just can’t believe how ridiculous this is. I was a big fan of airbnb’s business and model and now I’m treated like an idiot because I foolishly assumed that if I booked a Canadian room on the Canadian site with my Canadian Billing address and my Canadian AMEX card with my profile setting set to CAD dollars and language set to English that I would be charged in Canadian dollars! C’mon air bnb!