I hosted an Airbnb guest who booked our home for five people. He then had his entire club team from the Virginia Commonwealth University stay in our home. They did damage to our home by making holes in walls, smashing windows, breaking furniture, etc. Airbnb will not consider receipts we provided for the damage because they are not on company letterhead. We live in a small town of 6,000 people and our dry cleaners have no computers for this. They will not explain the process of documenting damage so our cleaning crew can be trained by vocational rehabilitation. Our professional crew is from Autism Enterprise and they hire adults living with autism. For example, damage to the sheets was photographed on the bed and someone from the Trust and Safety Team wanted all four sheet sets photographed in one photo over ten days after the issue with the guest. The Trust and Safety Team asked for links for replacement items and then used links that were nothing like the item that was damaged. They asked for reports and invoices from carpenters and then denied everything on report after the guest admitted to damaging our home. I’m still waiting for a response but Airbnb seems to be unethical and unaccommodating of people with disabilities.
Two women in their late thirties made a booking for our unit. It was a last minute booking through Instant Book and their profiles showed that they were from a faraway city in my own country. The booking was for four people: two Airbnb account holders who had traveled together before and two other unnamed guests.
After two hours, I received a message from one of the guests stating that this booking was made for a friend. She gave us another contact number. The people who showed up a few hours later were two teenage looking young girls with two young male friends. It seemed like they were two young couples, but neither mentioned the Airbnb users who had made the booking. They were also very reluctant to talk about themselves and only interested in knowing how to work the TV, change the channels, and use the PS3 games. One of the couples went into the master bedroom to change their clothes while we taught the other dude how to use the IPTV.
They were staying for two nights. On the day they are supposed to check out, they ignored us the whole morning. When it was noon, they messaged us requesting to stay one more night. We told them that we would only accept changes made through Airbnb. They kept delaying us with all sort of excuses. We called the guest who made the booking and she said that she would check with her “friend”.
However, the next day, they had yet to pay through the system or accept the date changes. Nonetheless we went to the condominium at the agreed check out time. We waited outside the door for over an hour. We called, we knocked, and we screamed, but nothing worked. When we were about to call a locksmith to break open the door, they opened it and said that they were sleeping inside. They again refused to pay through the Airbnb system.
After an exhausting half an hour of haggling, we relented and allowed them to send the money to us via a bank transfer. However, after they paid and hastily left, we noticed the place was dirty and messy with wet clothes, food and plastic bags and whatnot everywhere; it was a dump. The scene was as if someone had brought all the neighbours’ dustbins inside and poured everything out everywhere.
When we were cleaning we noticed some damage here and there. After awhile it seemed like the damages were very extensive, so we stopped cleaning and immediately started taking pictures. In the end, what happened was that there were cigarette burns everywhere, and my unit was hardwood themed. Most of them were cigarettes that had been left and burned through; you could tell from the rectangular burn marks on edges. Then we also found numerous circular burn marks, which means that it was burnt intentionally all over the place. Note that cigarettes were left everywhere, dozens and dozens of them.
The burned furniture included: hardwood sofa table; cotton sofa; hardwood dining table; custom wooden kitchen top (where the stove is); custom wooden makeup table and the side wooden drawers; leather bedside table; hardwood living room TV stand; and the hardwood master bedroom TV stand. Everything wooden was damaged. Non-wooden items damaged as were some cooking pots, the sofa and a leather bedside table (which goes against the theme but was cheap and good looking).
I contacted Airbnb but their response did not give me any confidence. I went ahead and filed a police report. Luckily the people who made the booking were in my country. In the meantime the tenants did not respond to us after leaving the place, and the person who made the booking denied doing so or having any knowledge of it. This was despite the fact that I had talked to her and she mentioned that she would check with her friend the night before.
When deciding how to file a police report. I discovered something amiss. The wire transfer to our account had a name on it; it was made by the woman who was the Airbnb user’s friend (who is also a host and was supposed to come for this trip), but it was clearly her account that made this booking and even used it to message us on the first day. What’s even more complicated was the relationship between those who stayed over. They left a scarf within the pile of garbage before we noticed the extensive burns. When I went down to get hold of them, the two teenage looking girls left, and only the two young males were there. I tried to pass the scarf to them and their reaction was like “screw them; throw it away for all we care.”
We also found some weird white beady pills (for consumption) that didn’t seem like normal candy; they were made of powder but did not have any imprints on them. It seems hasty to assume these are drugs because there were dozens of them all over the place (aren’t drugs expensive for teenagers?) but it is apparent these were no Tic Tacs because they were powdery in nature. So, not only did I have irresponsible guests, but they were teenage prostitutes? And my unit had been converted into a drug den?
A few cooking pots were burnt (but not with food or any oily material). I made my report to the police based on the photos and evidence on hand. The police came to the same conclusion as me. These people were sent by the Airbnb users to purposefully wreck our place. As explained by the policeman, there were clear signs of deliberate sabotage elements, but we were missing the most important element, motive.
Why did they do this? We never had any prior engagement with these people. I told the police that I would wait for Airbnb to resolve this. However, the police are saying that an investigation is possible for such cases. In the end, I just want to be compensated for my losses. The fact that there maybe a very intricate story behind these wayward tenants, while interesting, is of little importance to me.
I hope that the tenants were somehow related to the Airbnb users, as those four young males were ugly. Why four, you ask? Nope, it isn’t a typo. The two young men we saw during check-in were different than those during check-out. I wondered why they made us wait standing outside the condominium unit for a whole hour. Was it a last minute customer? The plot thickens. How I wish i had taken a photo of their faces so I could post it online…
It was my first time using the Airbnb website to rent an apartment in Paris. I expected that I could get a better deal than hotel rooms; in the end, I had been forced to pay more than that for an IBIS or Holiday Inn.
Last month, I went to Paris with four of my friends. They were from Vietnam. They were very excited because it was their first time visiting Paris. All we needed was low cost accommodation for three nights. We decided to get an apartment for the five of us from the Airbnb website. After spending some time searching on the Airbnb website, we found a place in the north of Paris.
However, before three days we arrived, the host sent us a cancellation notice. We had to look for a different place on the Airbnb website; we did not like it very much but had no choice. Finally we found an apartment in the 18th District; it was in a good location, because it took no more than five minutes to walk from the underground station. The size of the apartment was large enough for the five of us, and it was not expensive – only £415.41.
I am living in London; it is very easy for me to get to Paris. I decided to arrive in Paris at lunchtime on Friday, September 8th. Before I left London, the host sent me an email to inform me his coworker would be there to give me the key. The host also told me if I did not keep everything in the apartment in the same condition as before I would have to pay 50 euro.
When I met his coworker, she asked me for 200 euro; she told me that she needed it for a deposit and this was stated in the contact. I thought that it was normal, so I gave it to her. I asked her if she would return it to me on Monday and she said she would. I did not think very much of it because we were over 50 years old, we had no children traveling with us, and we were not planning on making a mess or breaking anything in the apartment.
My friends could only stay in Paris for three days. I tried to take them around Paris as much as I could. Everyday we left the apartment before 9:00 AM and got back around 9:00 PM. Everybody was tired after a long day of walking and all we needed was sleep.
On Monday, September 11th, the host’s coworker came to collect the key. She went to the shower room to tell me it was wet. I did not clean it; I told her that I could not clean it because there were no amenities. The host did not write on the listing that guests had to clean the property before they left. After that, the coworker came straight to the thin worn out plastic folding door, which separated the first and second bedroom. She pulled it out – it was broken – and she said that we had to pay for it because we broke it.
This was impossible because we never touched it. We could not have broken it unless we intended to pull it out and push it back and continued to do it until it got broken. At this stage, I could see the coworker was trying to take away my 200 Euro deposit; she had it in her pocket, so what could I do? I knew I could not get the full amount back but I had to think to get something back. I told the coworker that we did not break the plastic folding door. It was not an expensive door, so how much did she want us to pay?
The coworker did not answer my question. She started to say she had four children to look after, she could not afford to pay the host, and she only worked for the host. She did not call the host to report what had happened. I could not tell her to talk to her host. So I told her to keep 100 euro and give me back 100 euro. She agreed to that. On the way back to London, I sent many messages to the host to report what the coworker did. The host responded with the following text: “Please tell me, how much did you pay?”
The next day I reported the problems to Airbnb. I hoped that they could determine the truth and get my 100 euros back. The Airbnb staff told me under their regulations no cash transaction were to be paid outside of the Airbnb website. After two weeks, I received an invoice from the host requesting me to pay an additional 810.05 euro; the host wanted me to pay for the broken door and the broken bed and said I did not clean the apartment.
The host had called a big decoration company to come to repair the plastic folding door and the wooden bed frame support, but when I looked at the invoice, I could tell it was a fake invoice; there was no company logo or letterhead, and it was designed on A4 paper by using Microsoft Word. There was no cost break down including the materials cost for each item.
After that, I sent an email to the decoration company to ask about this invoice. They said that they never produced it and they never came to this property to repair anything. I contacted Airbnb to prove it was a fabrication. I also told them that my friends were a doctor, a teacher, a finance officer, and a homecare manager. We had no reason to come to this apartment to break a worn out plastic door or jump up and down to break the bed. I sent Airbnb a link to show how much the plastic folding door would cost on Amazon: around 25 euro. I only wanted my 100 euro back.
After one week, the Airbnb returned with the following decision:
“After careful review of all documentation, we do believe that your host should be compensated for the damages caused during this stay. With that being said, we have concluded to charge you 468 EUR for the following:
– Cost to replace the damaged bed frame (labor fee included): 290 EUR
– Cost to replace the broken door (labor fee included): 378 EUR
As you have paid your host an off-site Security Deposit (200 EUR), we have deducted this amount from the final decision. As of today, we have charged and transferred to your host 250 EUR (237 GBP) of the Security Deposit originally authorized with this reservation.”
I did not know about this 250-euro security deposit; Airbnb took it straight away from my PayPal account after they sent this email. They did not allow me to read their email or to ask them why I had to pay compensation. I also wanted to see the invoice of these repairs. Airbnb was not allowed to tell me these costs without evidence.
– First the host sent me an invoice for 810.05 euro. Airbnb’s decision? 668 Euro
– The Host took my offsite security deposit: 200 Euro
– Airbnb deducted this to make 468 Euro
– The Airbnb security deposit: 250 euro
– Finally, I still owed them: 218 Euro, which I had to pay in 48 hours.
If I did not pay Airbnb, they would remove my account. Airbnb always said no cash transactions outside Airbnb. I asked them why they talked about offsite security deposit in their decision; this was a cash transaction, but the host returned 100 euro to me. If the host didn’t take 200 euro, why did you include a deduction of 200 euro in their decision? How could they take 250 euro from my credit card when we had not finished reaching a decision?
I provided a lot of information about the fake invoice from the host and Airbnb did not bother to talk about it. The host broke Airbnb regulations – cash transactions – so how could the host still be allowed to ask for compensation? I requested to talk to a manager. I also told them to please take me to the court because I would not pay 218 Euro. It was my first and last time I used Airbnb. I will find a way to contact the press or TV to tell them about my Airbnb story. I did not receive any more responses from Airbnb. The Airbnb manager never called me. I am a victim. The host got my 100 euro and Airbnb got my 250 euro. Both of them were a good team for stealing money from guests. Please see the 810.05-euro invoice from the host. Was it fake? Other photos are from the worn out plastic folding door and the wooden support bed frame.
A couple of months ago, my wife, my parents, and I booked an Airbnb in San Antonio. The pictures looked nice and the place was in a central location. When we got there, the place was disgusting, with mold and dust everywhere. The fridge hadn’t been cleaned in ages, and there were dirty sheets on the beds and dirty towels tucked away in the closets. In addition, the TV wasn’t working.
We contacted the host by phone (our mistake – we should have done it on the Airbnb app, but at the time it seemed more convenient by phone). The guy said he didn’t care and wasn’t going to do anything about it, so he would just give us a full refund. I contacted Airbnb for them to find us a new place and they said they wouldn’t (first time something like this happened to us, and it was definitely alarming to see how Airbnb didn’t give a crap about us not having a place to sleep).
Anyway, we managed to find another place, and left this problem behind us. A month later I get a message from Airbnb saying that our host (even though we didn’t stay there) was charging us $2300 because we broke the TV. At first I thought this was a joke, and replied directly saying that we didn’t break anything so I wasn’t paying anything. The host then involved the resolution center. A month later I get an email from the resolution center saying they “feel” that the fair thing to do is for me to pay $1000 (why it went down from $2300 to $1000, I have no idea). I replied saying that I didn’t do anything; I wasn’t paying anything, and that I didn’t give them authorization to charge my card. If they did that, I would consider it fraud, since I am explicitly not giving my consent. I can’t believe that a host can just say that something’s broken and charge it to the guest. Sufficed to say I won’t ever use Airbnb again.
I am disgusted and disappointed with Airbnb, and I couldn’t be more heartbroken to admit that because over the last year, after Superhosting over 55 guests, having almost perfect scores across the board (last check was 4.9 Stars), being an advocate for Airbnb to everyone I know, feeling so lucky to be able to make much needed income while still working and taking care of my family, Airbnb has made me feel like nothing the only time I’ve really needed them, for damage that was done while a guest was staying.
On August 29th, almost a month ago, during a guest’s stay in my Airbnb-hosted basement, the toilets got clogged. As always, when a guest needs something, we have done everything in our power to help, fix it and exceed expectations. Since the electricity had gone off down there to a portion of it, along with sewage water flooding from my storage room down there too, I immediately made arrangements for my guests to move (at my own expense) to another home, bought them pizza, and called out a plumber to see what was going on.
After the plumber finally arrived that evening, he finally found the problem: baby wipes had been apparently flushed down the basement toilet (he literally pulled them out of the broken pipe in the storage room). He attempted to get the ejector pump working again. Realizing it was completely broken – also advising us that the overuse of the electricity the pump was putting out while trying to process the baby wipes, had tripped the electricity – he said that because the pump had been installed with the home when it was built, he would have to call the manufacturer to get a quote and then include installation fees and he said we’d also have to pay for an electrician to come out to fix the wiring.
In the meantime I went to the basement to start taking pictures of everything before I started my normal “cleaning up” after guests. Since there wasn’t electricity, it was the first time I really had looked in the bathroom area (where the toilet had gotten clogged in the first place). There was an empty container of baby wipes still sitting on the counter next to the toilet. I immediately look pictures of that and it was only at that moment I had evidence this was something my guests (not intentionally of course) obviously did.
After getting the estimate from the plumber of over $1250 just to fix the broken pump (several days later) and knowing the costs of the amount of things I had thrown out due to sewage water in the basement, the future cost of an electrician, etc., I was so deflated because I knew it was something one of my Airbnb guests had caused and I knew I wouldn’t be able to host (which has been a large portion of my income over the last year) until I could get that fixed. As a struggling mom trying to take care of her family, I knew I couldn’t afford the costly repairs on my own, which started me really looking into the host guarantee that Airbnb had always talked so highly of (especially to me, as a Superhost). As long as we submitted all documentation and proof of the damage and followed the steps of the process, I thought everything would be fine.
I won’t bore you with all the details (and I have every single one of them written down) but sadly since my first call to Airbnb on September 2nd (where I not only got hung up the first time, but waited over 20 minutes the second time, only to get a representative that didn’t seem to know anything about what he was talking about), I did everything they asked. I sent in a claim. I sent several online messages (that took them days to respond to and offered no real help in any way. I submitted documentation, pictures, and estimates from the plumber. I finally successfully got a case submitted, and had to wait for the guest to decline it for Airbnb to get involved.
Once they started getting involved on September 17th it really got quiet. Even after multiple calls to Airbnb, calls I made to them (as no one ever reached out to me proactively, despite the promises of getting assigned a person or that someone was “working on it”) days continued to go by, days with me getting no income or even being able to begin repairs to the area. I couldn’t even get the security deposit back, even though that is something the guests agreed to from the beginning.
After every call, after hours on the phone, frustrating conversations that led nowhere and being told “that group can’t get inbound or make outbound calls”, “we have no way of contacting them”, “they’ll get to it”, the most disgusting response of all being a guy who told me “I’m sorry, there’s no supervisor or manager you can talk to because they won’t be able to do anything to help either”, I was at my wit’s end. I begged for a supervisor, a manager, or anyone that could escalate the situation, not just the claim either.
At that point, since I was unable to host or even start repairs since that last guest checked out on September 6th in my basement, I had lost over $1700 worth of income based on what my rentals had been running after a year of hosting. I was getting nowhere and begged for someone to just tell me what to do, since I was late on bills and had a basement that didn’t even work. My bank account balance didn’t allow me to repair it myself and I shouldn’t have had to pay for it anyway, since it was the guest’s fault.
Airbnb does not have our backs, as hosts or Superhosts, no matter the good and dedicated Superhosts we’ve been to them and all of our trusted guests. I’m stuck. I’ve ended my relationship with Airbnb – not because I wanted to, but because they are forcing me to. I was wasting so many frustrated hours on the phone getting nowhere, talking to people that ultimately couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything, and no one is losing more than me in that. I am left with no guests, no repairs, and more bills I can’t afford to pay (bills that I shouldn’t have to pay) and Airbnb doesn’t seem to care at all, despite the faith I had in them.
I just want to be able to fix my basement, be compensated for my losses and loss of income from the days in which my case had just been waiting to be “looked at”. I guess at the very least I just hope someone who really cares about what Airbnb truly stands for will see this, hear me, fix what they should fix and do something, do anything to regain my trust. I just can’t tell you how much sadness and anger this whole situation has added to my life over the past month, a month that was hard enough as it was. I worked so hard to host happy guests. It had brought me so much joy up until I saw Airbnb’s true colors, and those colors certainly aren’t as pretty as they first might appear.
Whether it’s legal in your area or not, Airbnb has done a horrible job cracking down on listings that shouldn’t be there. As a result, many residents in big cities have been complaining about guests moving in and out at all hours, throwing parties, and generally just disrupting life in the building or neighborhood. While it’s tempting to think neighbors can just calmly walk next door and say “please, stop it,” there are a number of issues to overcome, not the first of which may be a language barrier by international guests. Other more pressing ones may include the entitlement guests feel at having paid for a vacation home, then being told to shush. What are some of the actions you can take when you discover your neighbors are Airbnb guests?
1. Alert the Owner and Homeowner’s Association
Some homeowners and hosts are completely absent from properties they rent out, save a visit or two every month to ensure the building isn’t on fire. Though this can make them difficult to contact, it’s far from impossible; as a resident, you should have the contact information for the Homeowner’s Association for your home, and reporting an illegal sublet isn’t taken lightly.
Certain hosts may be blissfully unaware of the negative impact of their Airbnb business on the community; they just want to raise a little income. Alerting them that things are not all sunshine and lollipops in the area may get them to reconsider, or at least be more selective in guests.
2. Call the police
If things get bad enough – shouting at 2 AM, violence, theft, property damage – the homeowner is probably the last one you should call. Calling the police won’t necessarily result in the guests getting evicted that day or stop the Airbnb from being rented, but a report will establish a paperwork trail that can be used down the line.
3. Just for fun: the passive aggressive approach
If you’ve ever had an annoying roommate or neighbor and didn’t respond to their petty infractions because you wanted to be the bigger person, there’s no better time to live out your passive aggressive fantasy than with Airbnb guests. If all else has failed and you don’t have any hope of removing them from the property or preventing the host from renting again, you might as well enjoy yourself at their expense (assuming they deserve it).
There are few repercussions to such actions – the police won’t get involved because you should have already tried to get them to do the same to the guests – other than making the guests’ Airbnb experience a bad once, resulting in the host getting a bad review, and reducing the likelihood of future guests. As the real residents in the neighborhood, you’re morally justified in annoying the Airbnb Hell out of disruptive guests… just be careful of your safety and well-being.
I rented my villa in Marbella, Spain to a guest from Ireland. He informed me his family were arriving the following day. Subsequently I found out that six or more young guys turned up and in the week they were in my house, they destroyed it. Airbnb has been ‘looking into this’ for five weeks now. They blocked two toilets with whole rolls of toilet paper, ripped a door off the hinges, broke my washing machine, made cigarette burns on my brand new couches, vomited on the bed and walls and around the toilet, made marks all over the walls, and somehow got them wet. I had to employ three cleaning ladies for eight hours each, fix the toilets and door, and purchase new linen, towels, and glasses for what wasn’t broken or thrown out. I’m not sure how many people were sleeping on the bed but the supporting boards were also broken and this was a €3000 bed. The damage and costs equate to around €10,000. At check out, when we were supposed to meet, they vacated the premises and locked me out of the house without meeting me or giving me the keys back. I had to employ a locksmith on a Sunday to change my locks. It has caused me a lot of stress and my house is ruined.
We arrived in Utah on June 20th, 2017 as a result of a military move from Arizona. This was our nineth move in 18 years, so my family and I were used to it. Utah was exceptionally difficult to find accommodations while we were waiting for base housing to become available. Air conditioning at the temporary lodging facility on base was broken and hotels were booked in the surrounding 30-mile area from the base.
I decided to give Airbnb a try. I found a property listing in Ogden. I messaged the host and asked if he would be willing to negotiate a deal on the property since I needed a place to stay for a month. He agreed and stated that there would be a $500 dollar deposit for the property that would be returned once his property manager determined there was no damage when we moved out. We agreed to the terms and paid for the stay in full.
Our stay was great with the exception of the condition of the mattress in one of the bedrooms and the downstairs sink that was cracked. The landscape outside was a mess: dirt and open irrigation holes were everywhere. The lampposts outside were on the ground and wires were exposed. We were assured that the landscaping would be completed soon. In the month we stayed, hardly any progress was made with the numerous half-completed projects. We never complained and just figured it was a money issue. We left the property on July 20th and moved into our house on base.
This is when the problems began with the host. We inquired when we could expect the $500 deposit to be returned. I was then contacted by the property manager asking about a shampoo bottle ring on the master bathroom shower shelf. I said it may have been caused by my wife’s color stay shampoo and we were glad to come clean it and see the stain for ourselves. We were assured we would have the opportunity to clean the bathroom and see the stain. We inquired several times over the next few weeks without any response due to the fact the invoice stated that the deposit would be returned in three days.
When the host finally responded, he said we would have to wait to clean the unit due to another guest staying there. We waited several weeks to hear from either the host or property manager but they never responded. I contacted the property manager six weeks after we moved out and asked about the stain and when we could expect the deposit back. I never received a reply. The next day my wife received a text from the owner asking for my email stating that his lawyer would contact me for to settle for damages. We are honest people so we gave it to him.
I received an email on September 11th from a bus stop bench lawyer located out of Orem stating that his client was not going to return the deposit and was in fact wishing to seek an additional $1575 for replacement of the entire upper vinyl shower piece. On the estimate, there wasn’t a itemized list of parts or labor, only a dollar amount and the name of a repair company. The estimate didn’t even have a business address. The lawyer also stated there were additional damages such as a scratch on “high end” furniture and stains on towels. The lawyer stated that I have received pictures of the damages; however, I have not. I have text messages from the property manager saying there were attached photos but I never received them and I said so in a response back to her. The unit was also supposedly occupied immediately after we vacated the property, which also calls the damages into question.
Be aware of staying in Ogden with this host. I strongly caution anyone to stay elsewhere. You will be opening yourself up to a money grubbing host looking to make a profit at your expense based on false claims of damages.
Last month we rented a large family home for our family of four adults and two infants. The host left us a code to the door, and we welcomed ourselves into their beautiful home. The basement had a family room, which we enjoyed every day. The floor was laminate, and right away we noticed a small area (two boards) that looked to have had some minor water damage. We didn’t think much about it since it was like that upon our arrival.
One week later and 15 minutes after our 11:00 AM departure we received a note from the host stating that we had caused water damage to his basement. My husband’s response was that nothing had occurred in the home and that the small area was blistered when we arrived. The host made two attempts to have us pay for the damage; we explained in simple terms the floor was like that when we arrived and that we weren’t taking responsibility.
The following day the host informed us that he was filling an insurance claim with Airbnb. Two days later we received an email from the resolution center stating that the host wanted $6,000 to replace the entire 750 sq ft floor. Should we not respond in 72 hours our credit card would be charged. Our family didn’t do anything wrong, and this host (a Superhost) is trying to extort us for an entire remodel. We’re not sure what to do. We are crafting an email in response to the resolution center, but should we seek legal advice first? It’s not a few hundred dollars to replace a floor board; it’s an entire basement. We didn’t take pictures because we didn’t even know it was a problem. I do understand that hosts need to be protected, but I see nothing on the Airbnb website about guest protection. The hosts we rented from have been doing this as a business for years and have hundreds of excellent reviews. I do feel that our family is being taken advantage of.
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.