Charleston Fabulous Studio Comes with Sewage Smell

I travel a lot for work and often use Airbnb to break up the monotony of hotel rooms. This particular listing turned into a personal nightmare. Too often I have noticed that Airbnb owners treat their guests like a paycheck instead of as a ‘friendly host’ that the Airbnb community was designed around. These individuals are ruining what started as a fun alternative to large hotel chains.

I arrived at the host’s studio (attached to a house) apartment around 4:00. She was still cleaning up and we chatted for a bit. The heavy use of cleaning products motivated me to go for a run. I returned, showered, and went to dinner with a client. Having to be up early for an installation for work, I returned to the studio around 9:00 PM. This is where my nightmare began.

When I opened the door to her studio I was hit by a wall of sewer/urine. It was pretty unreal. I held my breath, and grabbed my things and got out as fast as I could. So here I am standing outside at 9:00 PM in front of a sewer. I sent her a text letting her know that I had to leave because of this smell, I had an early morning and would deal with everything after work. Instead of apologizing, sending someone to check, or checking herself, she immediately denied that anything could have happened; she told me it “must have been something I did.”

She finally got to the studio later the next morning where she acknowledged the sewer smell, told me I could stay in the main house (that didn’t smell as bad). She said, “You’re a guy with one bag – here is a bottle of wine for the inconvenience, stop being mean and unreasonable.”

I’m sorry, what? I have a full day on a job site and now have to deal with this lady insulting me, and basically telling me to deal with it because I’m a guy? What century is this? Anyone in my situation would have done the same thing. It was late, I was tired, and had to be up early. She responded around 11:00 PM offering lodging in the adjacent home.

I honestly would have accepted lodging in the adjoining house (that had only a “faint smell of sewage”) but by the end of work the next day her messages had become angry, abusive, and mean. There was no way I was going to stay on any property associated with this lady. I attached a link to the back and forth messages. Read them for yourself.

I escalated the situation to Airbnb, who, in their defense, played the “keep the client happy” card. They offered a partial refund but I don’t care about the money. The place she rented me smelled like a sewage plant. She acknowledged that it did, blamed me, got upset at me for leaving, declined a refund, and told me to “deal with it”. Pretty unreal. She is also about to become a Superhost. I hope for everyone’s sake this does not happen.

Gold Coast Booking Leads to Being Double Charged

Please read this letter I sent to Airbnb less that three hours after I had made a booking:

Hi Airbnb,

I hope you are having a fabulous day. I am not and I am writing here to let you and others know why. In a few weeks one of my best friends is getting married on the Gold Coast (we never thought it would happen – he is not that pretty). I am the only member of his friends and family who is in the southern hemisphere so I am absolutely delighted to be going.

Today I decided to book my accommodation through Airbnb. You have such a good following and cheaper rates so I thought, why not? That is definitely the kind of service I need as I am on a budget and the rates seemed fabulous. I made my booking with a lovely woman who immediately contacted me. We could not wait for our trip.

Where is the issue, you may wonder? After booking this, my partner and I thought that doing a small run to the food shop would be a good idea. I checked my bank account just to see how much we could splurge after booking our trip. I was expecting to see between $400-600. It wasn’t a great surprise to me when there was a measly $28 in the account. Obviously this was a great shock. When I investigated this further it was clear that Airbnb had double charged me and also refunded me on their system.

This would be all well and good and if I were a millionaire I would find it slightly irritating; however, I am not a millionaire. I was a bit upset but because I am a reasonable person I figured I would contact you and just ask what was going on.

Firstly, I struggled to find contact details on your website – I just kept getting redirected in a loop to your FAQ pages (on a side note: this is extremely irritating). The next step was Facebook, where I found a telephone number. This was an 02 number so I assumed I was calling someone in NSW. The first two agents that I spoke to (in Southeast Asia Pacific – this is where they told me they were) hung up on me when I said I needed to find a solution to procuring the money that had been refunded. The third agent told me I did not know what I was talking about.

At this point I am willing to admit that I lost my temper a little and demanded to speak to someone more helpful. Again, somebody hung up on me. During this time my partner contacted the bank and told them about our little conundrum and they said there was a really very simple solution to resolve this: Airbnb had to email or fax the bank on an email address and/or fax number that they provided with some details.

After receiving this information, the good people at the bank said the money would be released within two hours. At this point, all of the details required on this fax or email were about myself. The only thing Airbnb had to provide was a headed fax or signed email. After some cereal, a bit of a cry, and being a little bit stressed, I called back.

This time I spoke to someone who was a little more helpful. She went and found a supervisor. This person got on the phone and relayed back the same ridiculous diatribe that the first couple of people did and only when I mentioned the word fraudulent and legal advice was anyone on the phone remotely helpful. When I pointed out that I was expecting to call NSW and actually ended up on the phone to Southeast Asia, saying “would I be getting charged a fortune for that on top of having no money in my bank account?” the supervisor hung up and called me back.

After 45 minutes of being on this call I was told the call was very irritating. I was also told that the managers and payment teams that had the capacity to deal with my unfortunate situation were in another country and there was nothing you could do. I am a human being and understand mistakes happen. However, in our modern age of technology and communication I am struggling to comprehend the fact that nobody in a global company can send an email or fax to resolve this situation. It would take less than five minutes.

I won’t keep going on but what I will say is this. You took a charge out of my bank account twice and actually tried to take it a third time. Because of this (and you not being able to send an email or fax) I have $28 in my bank account. Because I only have this much money in my account, either my partner or I are going to have to sacrifice going to work as we will not be able to both afford fuel and/or public transport to our employment. I apologize that we are not more well off and able to cope but even though both of us work 60+ hours a week we are still struggling to make ends meet. If either of us lose our employment I will be seeking legal advice.

I still have no email, fax or refund.

Airbnb’s Business Model Doesn’t Include Customer Service

It took one very bad weekend to learn that Airbnb is merely a platform and has nothing to do with customer service. I had a lapse in judgment and allowed young locals into my home because they agreed to abide by the rules and to forfeit their security deposit if they were noisy. After creating enough noise that I was alerted 3-4 times on my noise alert system, I asked Airbnb to cancel the reservation.

Airbnb wouldn’t do this because they don’t recognize any noise alert system as legitimate evidence and problems that exist only between the host and guest aren’t managed at all. If a neighbor calls the police, or complains, then it appears Airbnb may get involved since they have a dedicated page for neighbor complaints. The “case manager”, i.e., an untrained, uninformed, completely lacking in anything related to Airbnb policy, called my guest and made things far worse. She as much as told him that my noise alert system was bogus and I was probably being too picky.

Of course I got a text at 1:00 AM from a neighbor complaining of loud noise all night. My initial phone call to Airbnb support was at 6:00 AM and this “case manager” agreed to cancel the reservation and that the security deposit could be available if the guest broke house rules. By 2:00 PM, after numerous phone calls and texts, the “case manager” looked up the policy on noise only to find out there isn’t a policy on noise. Of course I could not use the security deposit for this problem.

My take away from this experience: governmental entities are at the top of the food chain for a company as massive as Airbnb. Without permission, Airbnb doesn’t exist. Collecting the tax money from guests is its highest priority. In regards to guests, Airbnb markets cater almost exclusively to millennials (yes, others use the site but marketing is geared to the 20-35 year olds). Airbnb could lose its supply of young guests very quickly if they made an issue about noise. The word would spread like wildfire on social media and leave the door open for another platform to pick up these customers.

Neighbors of Airbnb properties count, especially in huge centers like NYC, LA, and Chicago; too many complaints and the government entities may shut Airbnb down. Unless neighbors complain because of a very noisy vacation rental, the noise issue doesn’t exist for Airbnb.

In Airbnb’s business model, hosts are at the bottom of the food chain. We are easily replaceable 100% of the time. There will always be a steady supply of people willing to open their homes, rooms, or provide a sofa to make money. We simply don’t count for Airbnb other than as a place to keep their cash cows (guests) happy. I just learned this and honestly, if Airbnb would have been upfront with this, i.e. hosts don’t matter, I’d have done things differently. I would appreciate the platform, and the brutal honesty from Airbnb relative to hosts would save a lot of us time and money.

Bullied by Terrible Guest and Case Managers

A guest from Seattle booked a room for one person at my home. As soon as he arrived, he invited his “daughter” over pretty much all the time against my rules and wishes. They both took over my home. When he left, huge amounts of used wrappers of drugs (Viagra/Cialis) fell out of his personal trash and the sheets were soiled. The creepy guest was holed up in my house all day and running around half naked in a bathrobe. I was very upset about the sexual activity so opened a resolution case to at least address the soiled sheets and other issues regarding this guest’s terrible behaviour.

The first case manager gave me the run around. A week later I followed up and a new case manager responded and tried to close the case in minutes without looking at anything and using very poor English. When I asked to speak to a supervisor and to complain, he told me he was in charge and refused to engage further.

I am surprised that Airbnb employs such poorly trained case managers who cannot write. I am saddened that I spoke up about guest abuse and was mistreated by the guest and then by Airbnb bullies. The customer service people were nice and understanding but when it came to the case managers, they just don’t care.

Airbnb Removed My Review Mentioning Bed Bugs

I stayed at a listing in Brooklyn. The room in the informal “hotel”-style accommodation (i.e. a house with a digital lock and multiple rooms) had bed bugs. I was removed from the property, Airbnb (after I was forced to fight aggressively with their customer service representatives, who lied to me about reimbursement) paid for a hotel for three nights, and I left a very honest review articulating exactly what happened.

The review was posted two days ago, and it was removed today, presumably at the prompting of the host who did not want a review mentioning bed bugs on their listing page. Lest I be accused of bringing the bed bugs to the listing, let me say that I found the bugs – a lot of them – on the second night after the host said that her “cleaner” accidentally cleaned my room, instead of another room in the house. One of the bed bugs – a large adult – came crawling out of the “clean” duvet/sheets that night.

On the whole, the three-star review was more than fair in terms of positivity (I said the listing was clean, the bed was comfortable, the house was quiet, and that guests might want to stay there again after the bed bug problem is fixed), but I did detail the bed bug experience in the middle of the review. Well, lo and behold, a day after posting the review, I get a message from an Airbnb “case manager” stating:

“Good morning! My name is CASE MANAGER and I am a Case Manager with Airbnb. I hope this message finds you well and that you’re having a great day! I am contacting you today about your review for your reservation with HOST. It has come to our attention that your review for HOST is in violation of our content policy. For your reference, you can learn more about our review guidelines in our Help Center.

Reviews are the backbone of Airbnb’s community. In order to maintain this structure, we have guidelines in place that ensure that all reviews are fair, honest, and relevant to your trips. We also don’t allow reviews to mention any actions taken by Airbnb, including investigations or mediations in our Resolution Center. As such, it is our responsibility to remove your review from HOST’s profile. As of this correspondence, it has been taken down.”

Let me be crystal clear: my review did not mention the resolution or mediation at all, other than saying “Airbnb told me to leave for a hotel.” When I called to question the review’s removal, I was told it was because of my sentence about the hotel. This is absurd, because I didn’t say Airbnb paid for the hotel or describe the mediation process. Regardless, how an accommodation provider responds to a problem is an essential thing to mention in a review. I was also told it was removed because “mentioning bed bugs would hurt the host’s future listings.”

Isn’t this the whole point of leaving honest reviews? To allow guests to make up their own minds about staying somewhere based on past experience?

If hosts are going to be allowed to get around critical reviews with such ease, guests should have zero faith in Airbnb. Why do guests even waste their time writing honest reviews when hosts can so easily find an inexperienced “case manager” to take any slightly negative review down from their listing? This is positively absurd. What should I have done instead? Left vague language about vermin, cleanliness, and then had the review removed for not being based in facts because it would have been so ambiguous? Now, a future guest may suffer from bed bugs, or other incompetence, at this listing, simply because Airbnb can’t competently execute its model.

My Story Hosting on Airbnb in Ottawa

On September 17th, a guest arrived. The next day I received payout of $808.01. This guest was supposed to stay for 13 nights. On September 19th, Airbnb requested an alteration for one additional night but did not include the amount to be paid for this one night.  I accepted this alteration for one night and within two hours, I cancelled it, due to what I believe was a technical problem. I have a lot of correspondence with Airbnb and the guest from that date to support this statement.
Airbnb made an input error and showed that I must make a refund of $808 or more (uncertain) to the guest. When I learned of this, at the beginning of October, they told me that they would correct this error. This did not happen.
Airbnb has kept payouts from three of my guests, totaling $795.40 to cover this error.  I closed my account for one week. Managers assured me that I would receive the money owing me. I reopened my account for guests, and learned that they did not do what they said they would do. I am now closed down permanently as my calendar will confirm. Even PayPal shows that I owe $261 in addition to what they have kept – or at this time I wish to say, stolen.
I have dealt with customer service representatives daily now for 17 days, including a few managers. I call Airbnb or email daily, only to receive similar responses every time. I am good with details as you can see, and everyone with whom I spoke could see where the problem lay and the mistake, but no remedy was forthcoming. Written responses in no way reflected the content of our conversations.
One representative from a North American office, listened, understood, and told me on October 8th that I should receive what was owed to me within 24 hours, but his written response instructed me to “check with your bank”. Another manager told me that it was stuck in the system and would take a few days. Another manager told me that my case had been sent on to their payment department. A manager from the Manila office refuses to communicate with me in any way.
October 20th: I was informed that I requested a new manager.
October 23rd: I spoke with Airbnb’s Manila office. They mentioned that they would need to contact the guest.  That is not my problem, and Airbnb, like any company, is obliged by law to compensate victims from hardships of errors.
October 24th: Customer service told me that I have almost paid off my debt, and would get a partial pay out for the next guest. This was after I had reviewed the details, the error – as if I would be comforted.
October 24th Airbnb’s Nevada office informed me that I had a new case manager.
October 25th: The manager was not available.
I have repeatedly asked for a supervisor above the manager to be told that there was no such individual.
Many support workers replied with the statement “I hope you are happy with the resolution”.  They do profusely apologize. I cannot count the times that I have heard “I am very, very sorry”.
I have been hosting for two years, with over 90 reviews and 4.7+ star ratings. I am a senior, rely on this income, and do enjoy all the wonderful guests that I have hosted, but now my income is gone, and I have shut down as mentioned earlier.  This is a tragedy, and I will hope and pray that the principals of this site can direct me to someone that can intervene, and give me justice.

Hosts Don’t Get Off Easily When it Comes to Airbnb

Don’t bother hosting with Airbnb. I have done so for several years, but this year I have removed my property after it has become apparent that they do not look after their hosts if there is a problem. I had never had a problem before this year, but I think that the combination of advertising on TV and the flood of hosts has resulted in lower weekly payouts and, sometimes, the wrong type of customer. Following one family leaving early (definitely the wrong type), I have been trapped in several months of random communication with Airbnb with no outcome. Their customer service team is a joke. Their decisions (if you can find anyone that can actually make one) are made without your consultation, are random and, in our case, outside of the policies you signed and just hugely unfair. We are still awaiting a payout that they are withholding falsely. I get a different ‘story’ and ‘calculation’ each time I enter into a dialog and I’m just fed up with it. We have offered a charming little family home for very little money and the first time something goes wrong, they stitch us up. Don’t bother.

How Does Airbnb Handle Accusations of Racism?

I had traumatising and frustrating experiences with Airbnb. I had been a successful guest many times then a host started persecuting me. She had mental health issues. Dealing with Airbnb’s overseas call centre led to extreme frustration and going around in circles with promises to escalate my calls, but ending up circling back to the same useless agent refusing to address the bizarre and inappropriate behaviour and actions. The host started leaving parcels at my door and ringing me after I had left, and it was all super scary and odd. Airbnb showed zero interest.

My second issue was as a host I complained about extremely poor customer service with Airbnb. Rather than actually investigate my complaint, I received an email from Airbnb accusing me of racism. It took twenty emails for them to even begin to provide information on this accusation.

This was my very first potential hosting experience. A prospective guest only wrote to me in a Chinese script and in very incomprehensible and confusing English. Airbnb said they would translate, and did nothing. I was falsely accused of saying if someone comes to Australia they need to speak English. I was also accused of expressing frustration about an agent. None of the language was racist; I complained about the ignorance, aggression, and stupidity of the agent. If I’m complaining about the agent that is different from abusing an agent.

Thirdly, the comment that I said that someone needs to speak English in an English-speaking country is absolute rubbish. Airbnb repeatedly said “it’s an international platform”, I had no right to expect English correspondence or communication, and I was going to lose my Superhost privileges. It was then that I said that if someone is staying with a host in their private residence in Australia then they need to write to the host in English. I was receiving correspondence in a Chinese script and in incoherent English that made no sense. This was vital information such as when they would arrive, who was staying, etc. I said I should not be penalised as a host if I have not received any comprehensive communication.

What I said was not racist. I said I would host the guest when Airbnb finally agreed to provide translation, which they never did. I only finally refused the guest when they rang me and made loud strange noises and hung up – and it was a third party booking.

Airbnb offered to terminate their stay as they broke the rules then turned around and accused me of racism. My housemates are Taiwanese. One of them speaks minimal English but his partner speaks well enough so there are no issues communicating – so to accuse me of racism is completely bizarre. Airbnb has proven that nothing I said is racist.

This is on top of glitches fixing my DOB on the app. I still can’t do it, which has resulted in the miscalculation of my payout from a guest, issues uploading pictures, and issues getting a photographer. Airbnb insists that I haven’t verified my email despite having had an active guest account for years. My complaints against Airbnb remain uninvestigated.

I spoke to an Airbnb representative from the USA office. He refused to try to pronounce my name correctly. I asked him to try again as it’s six letters and two syllables; I shouldn’t have to repeat my name to people who insist on not even reading it. This led to a huge exhausting stand off whereby he repeatedly refused to give it a go. I said he was able to employ his reading skills in any name even a “foreign” one, which he twisted into me saying he couldn’t read.

I ended up speaking to his supervisor about the experience of being accused of racism. She was extremely cold hearted, aggressive, and just a very deeply unpleasant person. She spoke over me in a monotone the whole time. She told me that the email that was sent to me was a warning based on a customer report. She told me that the terms and conditions meant that any customer could make any allegation and Airbnb would back them up and send out warnings. I said to her that every correspondence and interaction I’ve had with the customer has been through the Airbnb messenger platform so they can have a look at that and advise whether I have actually been racist or not. She told me it doesn’t matter – if the customer feels that I have been racist, it doesn’t matter if the messages back that up or not.

She continued to speak over me repeatedly when I asked her why I did not receive this explanation from Airbnb earlier. She refused to answer and just cited fine print in terms and conditions. She was cold and aggressive, just spoke over me, and dominated the whole conversation. When I asked her why this was not investigated by looking at the messages she said it doesn’t matter what the messages say – if the customer says you’re being racist, we will send you out a warning. I said I never once spoke to the customer or even met her. Therefore the customer could only have been basing allegations based on what I wrote; why didn’t Airbnb investigate that?

She kept going around in circles, telling me that Airbnb can send out official warnings no matter what the investigation says and then she circled around and said that it had been investigated. That’s why I wasn’t kicked off the site. I asked why I didn’t receive an email saying that to me and retracting the warning. She refused to answer the question but would just aggressively change the subject and speak over me.

I asked her to put in a racist complaint against the customer then – she said she “didn’t have a problem doing that” but she didn’t say that she would. I don’t believe she would’ve done that. I then asked her to put in a racist complaint against her and the other representation to whom I had spoken, and she said that she would put something on my file. I said “no, I want you guys to be sent an official warning based on my feelings just as you sent me an official warning. I want the official warning to be on your file the way you have an official warning on my file.”

She just spoke over me and started throwing terms and conditions at me. She was very aggressive, very dominating, and domineering in the conversation. She spoke over me the whole time in a cold, almost sociopathic monotone. When I asked her to get a supervisor to call me she point-blank refused to guarantee that and said she would ask her to try to call me – but I don’t believe she will. There has been no response from the founders or the supposed customer service chief.

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.

Mom Gets Hurt, Customer Service Couldn’t Care Less

I have used Airbnb before and had a wonderful time. I’m not blaming them, but my host and how things were handled were the problem. To make a long story short, my mom, my little nephew, and I went to Palm Springs and arrived at the Airbnb house. The pool stunk like fish or worse. The host gave me reasons why it smelled, but I didn’t want reasons for the odor, I just wanted it fixed. Granted , she sent someone over the next day.

Then my mom got hurt because ground that was not level in the car port had been covered with a carpet and we didn’t know this. She sprained her foot badly. However, things didn’t get any worse until 2:00 AM on the same day of our arrival. I had to call 911 to come get her because I had my nephew with me. The paramedics took her because she was in so much pain. We got back at 7:00 AM with a brace and walker.

I reached out to the host to let her know she should take care of this issue before it happens to someone else, and we thought we were hanging out in the car port. The last time I checked, when it’s blazing hot outside, the car port is a great place to park and let your family out, especially a diabetic 70-year-old mother and a 5-year-old nephew… I can use a parachute on my vacation to land at a house I rent if I want to. The host then asked us why we didn’t use the front door. Guess what? I didn’t want to. I just paid money to rent her house and took care of it like it was my own, even leaving it spotless (even after she talked to me like I was an idiot): I can use whatever door I want and I chose her carport door, so my family wouldn’t melt.

Her pool stunk, my mom got hurt, and everyone was miserable the whole time because she decided to cover a hole in the ground. Did it make the carport look better? What if something had happened to my nephew? The host is lucky my mom has health insurance to cover all expenses for the hospital and doctors. She is still in pain and has a brace on. Today is August 28th and I went on vacation August 7th (and injured the same day). It’s really sad that this has still not been addressed properly. I have had a few emails with Airbnb, but nothing has been done to refund my miserable vacation. I have called Airbnb a few times and asked for the people named on previous emails; the only response I have gotten is “he is not in today but will call you back as soon as possible.”

They didn’t call. They just emailed me telling me that I should go to the resolution center and deal with the same host that spoke to me like I was a moron. I don’t want to deal with the host. I want the Airbnb professional handling these cases to call me and tell me what I want to hear, not email me and give me the same disrespect I got from their host. I’m still waiting for their undivided attention.