The Pros and Cons of Using Airbnb in Other Countries

Airbnb may have started in San Francisco to fill the needs of visiting business travelers as guests and vacationing homeowners as hosts, but obviously it’s become something much, much more… and not all good. Plenty of guests swear by the platform for all their vacations, domestic and international, but if something should go wrong, where would that leave them? Here are some of the factors to consider when you book an Airbnb in another country.

Pros:
– Even if you’re renting an entire house or apartment, an Airbnb is a window into another culture abroad: how homes are decorated, what foods people eat, how they cook, where they live.
– You can have that “at home” feeling instead of the sterile cookie-cutter environment of a hotel room or a crowded hostel.
– Airbnb properties can be cheaper than hotels, and don’t always conform to peak season prices.

Cons:
– Checking in and meeting the host is difficult if you don’t plan ahead by getting a local SIM card or arranging a place to meet.
– Your host may not speak your language. Though this isn’t always a problem if the Airbnb is pristine and in working order, if something goes wrong, you’re going to have a hard time explaining it.
– Should there be a major problem with the property or the host, it’s a little daunting to just walk out the door into a foreign country without a backup plan.
– It’s harder to report a scam or fake listing for some of the reasons above. Airbnb scams in NYC have been so successful with international guests because they’re unfamiliar with the area, may not be able to stay in touch with Airbnb – calling online instead of by phone – and can’t always arrange replacement accommodation on short notice.
– Though there are plenty of Airbnb properties near tourist attractions and accessible by public transportation, these are people’s homes; they’re scattered across the countryside, suburbia, and the city and don’t always make it easy for travelers to get in and out.

Host in Tallahassee Needs to Grow Up and Accept Hurricane

We booked a townhouse in Tallahassee, Florida necessary for evacuation from Hurricane Irma. The host was to contact us one day prior to provide the lock box code for the key. He never fulfilled that promise. Rather than drive five hours hoping he would come through, we canceled the reservation at 6:30 AM and emailed the host. Note that the hurricane had shifted west and Tallahassee was now in the path of the storm. Being in an evacuation zone, we scrambled to find a safe place and inquired about a refund. The host responded a day later at 5:45 PM stating his no refund policy. After some back and forth after the fact, he had the audacity to blame the hurricane for the reason he hadn’t responded. The reason we canceled (besides never getting the lock box code) was the same reason he said he couldn’t communicate and he still denies us a refund? I’m not sure how many properties this host has on various sites but stay far far away from him. Perhaps he can grow into a real man but for now he is an immature child who can’t take responsibility for his own failings.

Driveway from Airbnb Hell in Montacino Italy

We booked a house in Tuscany through Airbnb last week. Unfortunately, we couldn’t even check in because the driveway road (a treacherous footpath) was so dangerous we were afraid we would destroy our rental car or get into an accident. This left us stranded at 1:00 AM, forcing us to find a random hotel 30 minutes away after driving for nearly three hours. We called Airbnb Customer Service immediately to file the report and even spent part of the next day capturing pictures of the road on foot. Despite all of this, Airbnb refuses to refund us, won’t reopen our claim, and wouldn’t even let me speak to a supervisor. I was a loyal Airbnb customer for four years but I will never use them again. Never.

Lost Over $7,000 Due to Airbnb Check In Policies

My experience with Airbnb has been unfavorable to say the least. For starters, I had helped some work associates book a property as they had to be in Los Angeles to work on a construction project. Since these are close personal associates, I offered to book through my account since the guys had never used Airbnb before. These men are also aware that I am a licensed realtor, so they trusted that I was more than capable to set us up with something that was safe and secure. Since I hadn’t been there at the time the guys showed up, and the owner decided to drop in, the situation turned ugly. Frank Grande, who is by far the biggest scammer I’ve come across, kicked everyone out, and reported the incident to Airbnb. Considering that I was going to be joining the men during the duration of their trip, it should have been noted and considered when it came to Airbnb’s terms and conditions, which clearly indicate that you must be present at the booking. However since I wasn’t there at the very same moment, I was penalized and lost over $7,000 due to Airbnb’s “judgement” on the situation.

The entire situation was ridiculous. I lost thousands to the owner who kept all of the money, and Airbnb who pocketed their share. Considering this, how can Airbnb be considered a neutral party to pass judgement on the situation? Isn’t it fair to say that since they stand to profit off my loss it would have been an easy decision for them in spite of my reasoning? Wouldn’t it be fair so say that a licensed realtor would never want to compromise their license over a booking for strangers? Considering the fact that I explained the entire situation to them and received no remorse and no compromise, I’d say their scales are highly tipped toward everyone’s pockets being filled versus moral ethics and compromise considered by a neutral party that doesn’t profit.

I have recently come to discover that someone had recently placed a listing on my account, allowing people to request and book through my account. I received no verification, emails, or any kind of authorization for the creation of this listing, the acceptance of bookings, and any notice until after the fact. How is this even possible? When I called Airbnb, I had to wait 25 minutes to speak to someone who merely apologized and told me they would have someone contact me. Here was their response: Change your password (in a nutshell) and then close the report. What kind of service is this? I will forever discourage people from using the site and being very careful about any bookings they place and payment sent considering this was easily done and Airbnb has done nothing about it… what a pitiful company.

Airbnb Guest Snuck Boyfriend into Room Overnight

I hosted someone from Airbnb on February 10th. He asked me if his boyfriend could check in earlier; usually I allow guests to check in at 3:00 PM but I was flexible so I let him do it at 1:30. An hour later a friend of his boyfriend came over with his things; he told us he was looking for a hotel. When I arrived that night I thought they were sleeping, and in the morning I knocked on the door at the check out time (12:00 PM). No one answered so I opened the door and found a condom in the bed, drugs, and the belongings of the friend that was supposedly looking for a hotel. They weren’t there. His things are still here, they have the key of my house, they don’t answer the phone, and I’m feeling insecure because I don’t know these people and when they are going to come and give me the key. I need Airbnb to respond as soon as possible to this abuse. I need an answer and a solution right now. I don’t want anyone breaking into my house. I can’t even rent the room with the mess that these people left in my house.

Host Refuses Early Check In, No Refund

We reserved and paid 502 USD for three nights’ lodging and the cleaning fee in September 2016 for lodging from September 16th to December 19th, 2016. Prior to December we requested to store our luggage the morning of the 16th because we were arriving on the Holland American cruise ship that morning. We had reserved a slot for two people for the 12:05 PM Sydney Bridge Climb which lasted until 3:30 PM. The host said we could not check in prior to that afternoon, so we stored our two suitcases at the dock’s storage rental. We had also booked a performance at the Sydney Opera House for 7:00 PM on the evening of the 16th. So at 3:40 PM we retrieved our luggage and got a taxi to the lodging we booked in Surry Hills.

Arriving at approximately 4:15 PM, we found an iron gate covering the door of the Airbnb lodging. No one answered our knocking on the window beside the locked gate. It was also raining and there was no overhang above the front locked gate. Our cellphones weren’t working so I remained with the two suitcases while my husband walked two blocks and found a restaurant. The owner was kind and made some calls for us. She was not able to get an answer at the number the host had listed on their posting. We found out two or three days ago they had sent a message to our email they had to go out for a couple of hours between 4:30 and 6:30 PM. They were not available when we arrived and they didn’t intend to be home until 6:30 PM. Since we needed a room to shower and dress for our 7:00 PM performance we had to get a cab and find a hotel. Since the host had been paid for three nights, I determined they had cancelled our lodging paid three months prior because they did not uphold the mid-afternoon check in request. Now we find out Airbnb is handling our request for a refund of the cleaning fee and two nights’ lodging. Instead they presented us with an Airbnb voucher for $200 to be used at one of their locations prior to January 2018. I have no use for this Airbnb voucher since we will never use their company again. When paid in advance, hotels will have someone available to check us in upon arrival even if we arrive at 11:00 PM on the day of the reservation.

Host only Obligated to Meet at Exact Check-in Time?

My elderly mother was due to arrive in Strasbourg this evening at 6:30 PM. The host told me he could not meet her until 8:30 PM. I rang Airbnb customer service to ask for general advice on how to deal with the situation – while I was walking – and they refused to give me any information until I was verified. Because of a glitch – an old and expired visa card was listed as the default – they would not verify me and hence refused to give me any advice. I then stopped in the street, set up a personal hotspot to use my computer, and verified the card. This was on my way to work where I would be in meetings all day. Now verified, Airbnb told me that as the host had listed his check in time as 2:00 PM, he was under no obligation to meet my mother at all after that time. Firstly, that’s a risk I think all customers should know about. Secondly, this meant my elderly mother, who does not speak French, would have to stand in the cold, with her heavy bags until the host felt like meeting her, if indeed he did at all. I then had no choice but to cancel and make alternative arrangements. In followup emails, the same patronising bureaucrat told me I didn’t have to cancel; Airbnb could have called the host to help you. He could have told me this before forcing me to stop in the street and verify myself. I have had to book a hotel at huge cost as well as pay for the Airbnb. I am stunned at how appalling they are at customer service.

Late Arrival, Host Abandoned me in Belfast

I was suppose to stay with a host in Belfast tonight. We agreed to check in at 8:00 PM earlier in the day. After encountering an accident in the highway I messaged to say that I would be there around 20:30. I arrived at 20:30 only to have him message me, saying: “You missed check-in. Your problem. You know the rules.” He then stopped responding to all forms of communication. Firstly, that is a shocking response. Airbnb hosts surely can’t be allowed to be completely rigid on precise check-in times, especially when you’re traveling from far away. And if they do need to go somewhere surely there has to be a way to come to a solution. I even offered to come and collect the keys from wherever he was and no reply. Secondly, having no way to contact anyone or to charge my phone, I was left stranded in the cold. Airbnb was also no help and the call center was unresponsive. I love Airbnb but now I can see that it’s a horrible service when they have not vetted the host properly – because central customer support is shocking. I didn’t even get a full refund; they kept the funds for future use. I’m inclined to never use the service again.

Thirdly, the “community” that Airbnb is supposedly trying to build surely doesn’t have room for this kind of host but it’s in moments like this that I see that they don’t do anything to vet hosts. Lastly, even after posting all of this, I’ve tried to find a way to contact Airbnb and complain; there is basically no way to contact them. It’s shocking. What are they taking the +10% service fee for? Surely there should be an email complaint service that all customer based organizations have – even terrible ones. The reservation was canceled and so trying to get help about it is no longer an option. Pathetic, especially from a company built upon an image of customer service. The minute you and the host can’t resolve an issue it all goes pear shaped. Airbnb, I hope being left stranded doesn’t happen often. You have no idea the emotional distress caused by being stranded alone, with luggage and in a foreign place especially when it’s dark, rainy and cold. I at least could afford a hotel – most people can not.

Dealing with Airbnb for a Lost Key is Ridiculous

We went to Yoshinori’s place (our host) in Osaka, Japan. Yoshinori has a strange check-in, check-out system. He let us take his key out of the mailbox when we arrived, so we have to put the key back at our departure time. We definitely put the key back when we left. After we went back to our country, we received a message that Yoshinori wanted us to pay $200 because the key was lost. I asked Airbnb for assistance, mentioning that we definitely put the key back in and they should check any surveiliance cameras in the vicinity; $200 seems unreasonable to replace a single key. I received a reply from Airbnb saying that the $200 is reasonable, and I should pay. Ummm…. what about me putting the key back where it was supposed to be? What about Yoshinori’s loose security? They are just making us pay. I HATE Airbnb, and I HATE Yoshinori. What should I do now? I will not pay the money, and is it even possible to sue? I want to get some kind of legal help. How can this be possible?