Still Waiting for Refund After Host Lied About Everything

I recently booked a stay for my son at an Airbnb property, and as stated in their refund policy, I am entitled to a refund based on quality standards. The listing was misleading. It did not state that the water was not potable. It did not include that the room lacked the ability to be secured. There were no door locks, and no door between the shared living space and the room. It was dirty and infested with insects, which swarmed when the lights were turned on. The windows were minimally covered, and the coverings that were present were filthy. One window frame was dangerously splintered. The posting also listed internet access, which worked poorly, and only in one location. Half the electrical outlets were not working, necessitating the use of extension cords to power half the room. Many of the lights did not work. There was food in the refrigerator dated from several years ago. The access to the listing was almost impassible. I have pictures and videos to substantiate my claims. I contacted the host, and because my son managed to endure two nights before he lost his resolve, I agreed to pay the host $200, well above the nightly rate, and she accepted. Airbnb refunded me a portion of my deposit, but is attempting to charge me $440 for this nightmare. I have attempted to contact Airbnb, only to be placed on hold for 20 minutes, after which I was hung up on. I have contacted my credit card company and filed a dispute. I will pursue legal action if necessary, but would prefer to resolve this issue civilly. So far, there has been no further response from the host or Airbnb over the charge.

Tampa Nightmare: Airbnb Doesn’t Care About Guest Safety

I really wanted to have a good experience with Airbnb. Really. The concept is simple enough: rent out a room in a “host’s” home and save considerably over the cost of a hotel room. Unfortunately, my first (and last) reservation with Airbnb has risen to the top of the list of the worst customer service experiences this quinquagenarian has ever seen. I accepted a new position with a software company in Tampa with the hopes of relocating my wife (and our dog, Lucy) sometime in the first quarter of 2017. Unfortunately, President Trump issued an Executive Order that implements a hiring freeze for all non-medical employees of the Veteran’s Administration, my wife’s employer. Since her move was postponed, my employer has graciously allowed me to return to North Carolina every 2-3 weeks. Because this situation is no fault of my employer, I am responsible for my housing while in Tampa.

It’s only natural that I would look for the least expensive roof to put over my head. My philosophy is that for the majority of the time I’m under the roof, my eyes will be closed, so my decorative expectations are low. I started by searching for a no-tell motel near the office. It turns out most motels in downtown Tampa double as retail crack and prostitution outlets. Who knew? The chain hotels, including the long-term suites, are just outrageously expensive. I resigned to the idea that the least expensive route was probably going to involve a shared property or roommate.

Enter Airbnb. I searched the site and discovered that not all of the listings are for roommates. Some listings were for entire homes and apartments. Others are homes that are set up like European hostels with digital bedroom door locks and shared common areas. I was optimistic as I inquired about several properties. One of the first hosts to get back to me were “Chris and Loni” who listed a “Luxury Private Room” in the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa. Chris and Loni don’t live in this Ybor City house, but it appears as though they recently purchased it and have set it up as a hostel. I have driven through Ybor many times and it appeared that parts of it were being redeveloped. Other parts seemed to have not come around yet. Naturally, one of my concerns was the safety of the neighborhood. Before I made the reservation I asked about safety. They responded: “I can assure you this is a safe and friendly neighborhood.” I accepted their assurance and made the reservation.

After a nine-hour drive last Sunday, I started to approach Chris and Loni’s “luxury private room.” The first thing I noticed was the dilapidated houses, overgrown yards and then… there they were. Plain as day. Practitioners of the world’s oldest profession, approaching slow moving cars within 100 yards of Chris and Loni’s hostel. I continued down the street and past the little blue house, until the street dead ended at train tracks. To Chris and Loni’s credit, their house appeared to be the nicest one on the street. People were relaxing on their porches and in folding chairs and milk crates on their lawns. Many of them sipping on beverages wrapped in brown paper bags. I decided that it was probably best for this unarmed, white male driving a Prius, not to get out of the car. I found a McDonald’s, called the Airbnb customer service number, and expressed my safety concerns. The agent on the other end of the line offered to contact Chris and Loni and request a refund. About twenty minutes later, I received a text from the hosts that read: “This is a last-minute cancellation and we will not offer a discount. You’re welcome to cancel and address this with Airbnb.”

This text was followed by responses defending the safety of the neighborhood. I have been addressing this issue with Airbnb for four days now. Here’s a synopsis of my Airbnb customer service experience:

Sunday, February 19, Afternoon – after those texts from the hosts rejected my request for a refund, I called Airbnb customer service. After being on hold for 25 minutes, I finally spoke to “Miriam” and presented my case. She offered to contact the hosts and attempt to negotiate a resolution. Later on the same day, I received a phone call from Miriam indicating that she had not been able to reach the hosts.

Sunday, February 19, Evening – I booked and checked into another (more expensive and safer) place I found on Craigslist, called Airbnb, and asked to speak to a supervisor. I spoke to “Billy” who offered to open a resolution case. He suggested that I cancel the reservation, so that the dates would be made available to rent to someone else, thereby giving Airbnb more leverage to negotiate with the hosts. I promptly canceled the reservation. I am also told that my case manager, Miriam, will be off until Wednesday, but Billy was going to assign it to someone else.

Monday, February 20, Morning – I do as Billy suggested and covered all bases by going online and opening a resolution case with Airbnb. I submit crime statistics for the neighbor that show the area is 52% more unsafe than any other Tampa neighborhood. No communication from Airbnb.

Tuesday, February 21 – I contact Airbnb to determine the status of my request. I’m told that they have not yet received a response from the hosts. I tweet my frustrations to Airbnb and its CEO. I get a response indicating a case manager will be in touch shortly.

Wednesday, February 22, Morning – Miriam calls to tell me that the hosts have not responded to both email and telephone calls.

Wednesday, February 22, Evening – No more communication by 6:00 PM. I tweet: “Day 4 of no resolution and no refund from Airbnb or slumlord “host” Brian Chesky probably spends my $300 on bottle of wine at dinner tonight.” Shortly thereafter I receive a call from Miriam indicating that the owners had responded to resolution case with additional BS about their neighborhood being safe and refusing to offer any refund or compromise. She tells me that “safety” is not among the hosting standards of Airbnb and it is my word against the owners about crime. I suggest they review the crime statistics I sent. She tells me that I will not be getting a refund or even a partial refund. I go on a rant and asked to speak to a supervisor who can make a decision. Miriam tells me that supervisors don’t talk to customers and that they are only there to guide her.

My gasket is blown. It’s not enough money to sue over. My credit card company says it may or may not allow me to challenge the charge. The paperwork is extensive, has to be notarized, and may take 30 days to get an answer. This morning I sit here, for the first time in my life, contemplating contacting one of several Tampa-area consumer reporters who I’m sure would love to take on Airbnb. Does anybody have Keith Morrison’s cell phone number?

Uninvited Airbnb Guest Vindictive and Petty

I’m an Airbnb superhost. I’ve generally loved my hosting experience and only ever had a few minor issues but nothing to ever make me feel how I am feeling right now. I am sitting here in tears, shaking in fear that my guest and his “mom” are going to come back. I’m home alone, my husband out of town, but I still decided to approve a request. I had a guest, “Daniel”, reserve two nights for one guest (himself). After a previous bad experience with a couple having disgustingly loud sex, I restricted my listing to single guests only. He was good with communication but never mentioned he’d be bringing anyone. His check-in time was 6:00 PM. He arrived at 1:00 AM with an older woman who immediately exclaimed: “I’m his mom, not a cougar.” She had no luggage so I assumed she was going to see the room, say goodbye, and that would be that. About 15 minutes went by, when I walked by the room and noticed the light was out. I sent Daniel a message asking when his mom might be leaving so I could lock up the house, but got no reply. I knocked on the door. I could hear them whispering but they refused to answer even after several loud knocks. I finally pounded on the door and called out: “Excuse me!”

“What?!” finally came the reply. I asked Daniel when his mom would be leaving, and she chimed in saying she was going to stay. I informed them the booking was for one person and she’d have to leave. She said “what, do you want more money?” I replied I needed her to leave for legal reasons. I could hear her become very angry and begin packing things. Over a period of about ten minutes I could hear them packing and talking about various ways to get revenge. I overheard something about stealing the sheets, stealing a candle, and at one point I overheard the mom exclaim “nice one! that’ll show her!” I think Daniel may have done something gross or stolen something. There are two empty spaces on my shelf but for the life of me I can’t remember what was there; I’ll probably never be able to claim the theft within the 24-hour Airbnb reporting window. They came out of the room and the mom immediately began berating me. I was terrified, sitting on the couch paralyzed with fear. Thankfully, they both left and I immediately called Airbnb. However, Airbnb didn’t really offer any resolution. They didn’t cancel the reservation. They told me it was over and to calm down, and that the guests probably didn’t do or steal anything so not to worry. I’m scared this guy could show up tomorrow for his second night because Airbnb didn’t even offer to cancel the reservation. If you’re a woman home alone, don’t be an Airbnb host!

Thanksgiving Hell from NYC Airbnb Landlady

blank

My nightmare began when my fiancé and I decided to rent a place for a short stay in New York City to do some Thanksgiving shopping before returning home. I was obviously misled by the price ($55) and the attractive title: “Historic Harlem walk up.” First of all, the room is not located in the artsy, bohemian, historical, Columbia University area of Harlem, but on 7th St and 5th Ave, which we have come to learn is basically one of the blocks of “Dominicans Don’t Play,” a Latino mafia, as we were told when the police came after we reported a brawl at the entry hallway at 2:00 AM. When the officers left, they recommended we tried to find a hotel somewhere else: “You’re here at your own risk.”

The building is located between liquor stores packed with Haitians gambling with dice at the entrance. The morning we left we had to literally give two dollars to a homeless sleeping in front of the door, or else… Why did we end up there? Well, as people can see in the listing, the picture and description give the impression the room has enough light and space for two. I should have read the reviews first. The space you’re renting is not a room; it’s a locked closet with no ventilation, smells like weed and sometimes gas at night, and it comes with its own door to a bedroom where pretty much anyone else can enter and invade your space. That space, of course, is not even where the landlady lives, which by New York law is illegal to rent.

Let me warn you about the landlady. She goes by several aliases in Airbnb. She’s one of a kind. As soon as you see her, you can tell she’s up to something. She made totally inappropriate comments to my wife, and was moody all the time. Forget about the Airbnb commercials where the local host is warmly welcomed. Her face suggested she hadn’t slept in a week and gave a creepy air to the place. I was so happy when we left. This host definitely has a language barrier and does not speak proper English or Spanish (I speak both), however she replied to my review that I was the one to blame, despite the fact I am fluent in both languages.

Things to remember: Avoid Airbnb, and if in New York, avoid this listing. I have flagged her profile, but of course Airbnb does not care as long as people keep flowing in. I also warn families and couples not to rent to her because something fishy is going on in that building.

Airbnb’s Policy with Children Leaves Much to be Desired

Upon arriving to a home which was promised to be cleaned and ready for use, we found many items that could have potentially hospitalized or kids or worse. Prescription drugs (EpiPen in paper box) were left on an open shelf on a nightstand and picked up by my three year old. Used razors in the shower were also easily accessible by a toddler, along with melted bars of soap to add to the grotesqueness. Open containers of alcohol were in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. Used tissues were stuffed into a seemingly new box, discovered by my 13 year old who needed a tissue and discovered a box full of dirty used tissue trash. Expired food (some from October) was in the fridge we were supposed to be able to use. The oven was greasy with stains that looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years. Snow and fog prevented us from leaving the same night since we arrived late and discovered these issues late. Upon requesting resolution from Airbnb, they said the host had a strict cancellation policy and everyone has different opinions of what is considered safe/dangerous and clean. So they were suggesting we pay for something that we didn’t use and could have killed my kids. Airbnb needs to know their contracts should include verbiage that covers basic child safety requirements when hosts offer homes to families with children. Their staff should be instructed how to read and understand their own cancelation policy, which states if a home is unclean and unsafe that is concerned a legitimate reason for initiating a refund. How that is pushed as a matter of opinion or open for interpretation I don’t understand.

Dangerous Area And No Jacuzzi Means No Romance

blankblankblank

The rude host started by sending me an SMS at 5:00 AM with a string of texts about whom we should contact to get into the property. He offered an “apology” about the time by saying he was a surgeon on call 24/7… so, of course, that makes it okay to wake me up early on holiday. Then I had to use my UK phone to call this guy and arrange everything. I am originally from South Africa and decided to treat my partner to a romantic night with a jacuzzi overlooking Hout Bay. What we got was a block of flats by the bad part of the harbour with electric fencing, two armed guards and a jacuzzi that could be reached by a narrow fire escape. But wait, there’s more. The guy didn’t switch on the jacuzzi, so we were told to wait five hours, until 10:00 PM. In the meantime, I would have been too terrified to leave the premises at night for fear of being hijacked or robbed. It is miles away from the town of Hout Bay and just look up because if you look down or around you realise you have a cannery and are in a very poor area. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you become a target for crime. I had a rather rude awakening to Airbnb policies and wondered why the host continued to be so arrogant – if you don’t stay there you can’t leave a review. Because of his cancellation policy, I couldn’t get a refund. So the fact that it was unsafe and misrepresented cannot be published. Good luck to any unsuspecting tourist because sooner or later there will be a crime reported.

Crazy Host POUNDS on the Door for a Simple Message

Airbnb sent me a review reminder stating clearly that I had through September 9th to post it; I tried to do so and the website wouldn’t let me post a review. When I spoke to customer service on the phone the agent said that there is absolutely nothing they can do to help: the company’s program code is the code; this is just the way it is and there’s nothing anyone can do to change anything in it (and it was more than clear none of them care to, no matter what problems it results in). The email reminder I received gave the wrong information, since in reality, customers only have 14 days on the clock to submit reviews, starting from some nebulous time of day that was never made clear to me throughout the entire 24-minute conversation. In short, their website actually shut off the possibility to post my review sometime part way through the 9th. When I said that sending emails with dated statements like the one I got is plain misleading, the agent repeatedly weaseled out of agreeing and kept either referring to the company’s terms of service – which according to him mean we agreed to everything and anything the company does – or saying the meaningless phrase “I respect your opinion” and nothing else, in an annoyed tone that made it more than clear that he absolutely does not.

There isn’t even any option to file complaints at this company; they only “take suggestions.” You can probably guess how likely I think it is that they ever do anything about any of these suggestions. In short, sometime back in the dark ages they had programmers do the original code on their website, and ever since then everything is set in stone. They just don’t feel like paying anyone to do any additional work to fix anything, and never will.

Why do I want to post this review so much? I had a hellish experience that ruined nearly my entire vacation, and I wanted to warn other users from suffering the same fate. It was so bad that I needed a lengthy mental break after this so-called vacation and didn’t feel emotionally ready to compose my review and go over the whole traumatic experience again until the last day – what should have been the last day I could post it where it rightfully belongs, on that host’s listing.

Below is the original review I was going to post with a 1-star rating. However, I’d like to add something here I didn’t write in the original review because it seemed almost too crazy to be believable, given that this host (somehow) has a very high rating on Airbnb. About a day before I was scheduled to leave the place, the host came up and suddenly started pounding on the suite’s door, shaking the wall so strongly that I thought she must have been using a bat or a brick. As I was in the bathroom at the time, I was unable to come to the door for 4-5 minutes. She kept pounding on the door nonstop the entire time, so violently I was certain she was going to break it down; it seemed she really intended to do so. The noise and duration of it, even through my earplugs, was sheerly unbelievable. The experience for me was like unexpectedly finding myself in a scene from a movie when police are trying to break down a reinforced door. Just about the last thing you want or expect to experience on any vacation. I thought for certain there must, surely, be some terrible emergency going on to justify her doing something so unprofessional and frightening to a paying guest.

When I answered the door (as soon as I humanly could and wearing only a towel), I was first shocked that the woman turned out to not be holding some sort of blunt object with which she’d been performing that violent pounding, and secondly that her hands were not bleeding from it. I asked her if there was some kind of emergency. She said “no,” with an oddly matter-of-fact tone and facial expression of the kind you’d expect to get from a neighbor who’s politely asking to borrow a cup of sugar after having daintily and briefly knocked on your front door – as if what she just did was absolutely normal and she does it all the time. She claimed she was only “concerned” that I hadn’t answered her numerous calls, texts and emails. She didn’t apologize for the insane pounding or seem to realize that she’d just done anything odd.

It became clear during the following conversation that this entire scary episode was only because she wanted to know exactly when I was leaving; she wanted me to clear out as early as possible the next day so she could have time to bring in cleaners before the next guest showed up. She told me that the check out time was 11:00 and I should leave by then, even though her listing clearly states that it’s 12:00. Apparently it was my problem that she had back-to-back guests and scheduling difficulties. The weirdness and unprofessionalism was plain astonishing given the very large number of years she’d been renting out the place, and just how much money I’d paid for this rental in a private residence. She sent a terribly phony sounding apology a full two days after the incident (half blaming me for not answering her mountain of calls and messages on my vacation), clearly because she was wary of a very justifiable negative review or even a complaint to the website.

This incident was just the icing on top of an entire cake of unpleasant things that filled my stay at this place. The original review:

Well, it is a beautiful house, and it is actually within close walking distance of Middlebury town center, the university, etc. (unlike many other Airbnb offers in the area that claim to be close and turn out to be miles away.) & the 2-room suite looks nice. The bathroom also looks nice but certainly not close to hotel standards, as some of the plumbing is noticeably old: the toilet has to be flushed multiple times. Shampoo, conditioner & bodywash are provided, but the towels are the most harshly starched, wooden pieces of fabric I’ve ever touched anywhere – bringing your own is a must. More significantly, if you’re looking for a restful vacation, you’re highly unlikely to get it staying here: – The bedroom has no blackout curtains like in hotels and the windows face east: in summer that means you get to wake up around 5:30 am and be tired all day, every day. – The house is on a heavily used road and traffic starts up early: heavy, noisy trucks and the like drive by all day. – There are frequent emergency sirens heard as well – surprise: the place is near a police station. – There’s a very active business running in this house: employees and customers are in and out all day during the week, including on the 2nd floor right next to the guest suite; the acoustics and creaky wood floors of the house mean that you get to hear non-stop noise anytime you’re there morning to evening.

After I left I discovered a small mountain of emails, calls and texts – some sent before 6:00 AM; I’m glad I had my cell silenced – that the host sent me during the last two days of my stay, most of them desperately wanting to know when exactly I was leaving (apparently they’re not even aware of their own listed check-out time). I didn’t see these at the time as I don’t check my phone or email while I’m on vacation – being as it is, in fact, vacation. But you can judge for yourself how pleasant that kind of thing will be when you’re meant to be resting and relaxing on your rare time off. I would have thought that a note under the door would have sufficed for any urgent communication – like they do in hotels – and been more sensible and professional.

Airbnb Nightmare Ends in Police Arriving

blankblankblank

I made the mistake of renting from someone who had never rented before. I should have known it was going to be crazy from the start with the slew of emails. From the moment we arrived we got emails threatening they were going to cancel the booking. I had violated the rules because I had booked for my son and husband despite the fact that the host was notified two weeks in advance that the booking for my son and his roommate. Upon arrival, he demanded the video cameras inside the listing be turned on or he would cancel the booking. He continued to call and email me to the point of harassment. He showed up at the listing four times in one day. After two days of continual harassment my son finally turned the cameras off at which point he showed up and told them to get out of his house. This is when I called the police. We had no idea how this unstable person would act, especially after he said he had loaded weapons in the house.

Hosts Get no Protection from Airbnb

I am currently with my very first guest from Airbnb. I have been renting my two units successfully for four years but on a monthly basis, from 35 days to 8 months at the time. I had established procedures on checking on my tenants and being very careful to whom I rent. I even learned how conmen work and could recognize them immediately. This first guest of mine was very disrespectful from the very beginning. Due to a mistake on Airbnb’s part they did not charge her the entire amount she owed, and now I cannot collect the balance. I called customer service twice and the second time, the girl said they had no record of my first call. I don’t want to go through the whole story, but after careful review of the posted terms and conditions, hosts need to understand that Airbnb does not protect their interests. Their platform is that they are only an advertising agency and the contract is between guests and hosts. They are not obligated to take care of claims on damages, payment issues, or similar problems. This is not hotel management. You are on your own. Of course, I am very experienced in knowing what my rights and obligations are under the law in my state, and I have no problems filing claims with the court. However, as a host, I don’t vet the tenants and I don’t have their billing information. So, it is almost impossible to file a claim in court against problematic tenants. Airbnb policies are not acceptable. You need to understand that they will not provide any help and they are not obligated to provide protection to hosts. Simply find another place to advertise.