What Amsterdam Taught me about Airbnb

Up until my visit to Amsterdam I had only good experiences with Airbnb. Some better, some worse, but all were above average, until I got to this horrific apartment. The pictures seemed okay, but nothing prepared me for this stoner’s place. The shower was filthy and I suspect that they used the same towel they gave me. Airbnb did give me back the money for one night after I sent them a video of the shower, but it wasn’t without a lot of fuss. I didn’t leave earlier because I landed at 22:00 and didn’t have anywhere else to go. On one night the hosts forgot to take their key to the house and woke me up in the middle of the night to let them in. To make a long story short, I’ve learned my lesson: use Airbnb only for whole apartments and never for a room.

Naturally, none of this information got to Airbnb since they have a policy of publishing a review only when you are reviewed by the host, and since I knew I’d get a bad review, I never reviewed this apartment.

Awful Experience San Francisco, Refuses to Refund

I had an awful experience using Airbnb in San Francisco. I paid $1545. The condition of the apartment was deplorable: food stains on the beds, cigarette butts on the floor, old and stale food open in the kitchen, excrement in the toilet, flies around the trash, chewed and ripped up rugs, broken furniture, broken shower (meaning it did not function) and it smelled like musty dog pee. It looked nothing like the clean and nice photos on the website.  We checked out well before 24 hours after explaining this to the host, who simply disagreed with my assessment, claiming she’d had someone clean the place. We were willing to pay for the one night we were there, and wanted the rest back.

We provided all communications with the host, and photographic evidence of everything we found there, to Airbnb customer service. They’ve refunded the one night and kept the rest. After five phone calls and a slew of emails, our case manager sent this: “I have looked through all the documentation on this reservation including message strings and resolution case comments. I have also spoken with you and the host by phone. based on the overall situation and verifiable events I concur that a one-night refund the host provided is reasonable. This is a dog-friendly listing and building, which is clearly stated in the listing description. It is unfortunate that you did not enjoy this experience. However, there are no apparent or significant violations by the host that have not already been compensated.”

Dog friendly was never our issue. I own a dog; she doesn’t pee in my house, so it doesn’t smell like dog pee. Dog friendly has nothing to do with food stains, flies, trash, excrement in the toilet (as far as I know dogs don’t use the toilet or wipe with toilet paper), a broken shower, broken furniture, and open, stale food. The violation is that this place is falsely advertised as clean with a working shower. Our case manager refused to speak with me to explain how he and his team came to this decision to steal over $1300 from us. Not to mention the money we had to spend on different accommodations. Apparently, he doesn’t have a supervisor, and no one at Airbnb has the power to escalate this any further. Apparently, Airbnb can’t be held accountable for anything.

We’ve contacted our credit card company to see what our options are. My advice? Screw Airbnb.

Airbnb was no Help with Nasty Host

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Our host greeted us at the door with an old dog with matted fur; there was no mention of him in the profile. She provided us with one key and said we could make our own copies. Some rooms didn’t have any light bulbs and the host said we could buy some. The bathroom and floors were brown with dirt and dog hair. The smell from the dog was so bad we could not stay in the apartment the first night. We weren’t able to use the intercom because it’s connected to the house phone that the host took with her. We had to go downstairs every time to let my husband in. The host didn’t have a wifi password for us upon arrival. There was no gym. The furniture was broken. The “free parking on premises” was street parking. I contacted the host twice about getting a partial refund and she had no reply to my request. I asked to have one night’s stay and the cleaning fee back. She wouldn’t reply. Airbnb closed my resolution request with no explanation after two months. I’m unable to include a link to her listing because the stink spot is “no longer available.”

Airbnb Nightmare in Santa Margherita, Italy

My daughter and I were traveling in Italy and we decided to spend our last ten days on the Italian Riviera. We found an apartment in Santa Margherita that seemed to suit our needs: walking distance to town, two bedrooms, nice views. Our host, Angela, was super sweet in her responses to me prior to booking, confirming that she has wifi (very important to both of us) and the town was within walking distance. She said her English was not great but she communicated very well prior to booking. After booking, I had to ask her for the address, twice, as it was not given to me through our Airbnb booking. She also told me to converse with her son via WhatsApp instead of with her through Airbnb messaging. I told her that I do not have WhatsApp and would continue to contact her through Airbnb.

Incidentally, my daughter was sick so I was anxious to get to the apartment and get her in bed. When we got to Santa Margherita after a long train ride (without wifi), I found a message from Angela saying that we needed to copy our passports before she would allow her cleaning person to let us in to the apartment. I asked her where we could have that done (at 4 pm). The only information she would give us was to ask around a certain piazza in town… which we did – two places – and were told that there were no shops that had copying services. So we asked Angela if she would please at least let us drop off our luggage before we continued to look for a copy place and to please give us an actual address of a copy place (nowhere on her Airbnb page did it say that we had to copy our passports). My daughter and I had to keep going to the harbor to get free wifi to contact her.

This was Angela’s reply:

“Sandy, I’m telling You the way to reach the House, not going around the city. Piazza caprera, via palestro, piazza mazzini, via belvedere. from Piazza caprera to Piazza mazzini there are shops for the copy. You had to ask , no sing out of door. I’m sorry for Your daughter but I give You phone of my son , he speaks well , Why you haven’ call him? Why You havent’ call taxi? with heavy luggages and daugther not in well? I in Liguria the streets are steep, no good for person not in well and heavy luggages. Yesterday i give You a lot of facilities, but you wat speak only with airbnb airbn site!!! I you want to help must help!!! In my ad I specified that it was necessary passport copy ’cause you did not before ? I suggested You different formulas but you refused, how may can help You if you don’t want?”

Anyway, my daughter and I went to the apartment, which was up an extremely steep hill (not advertised). Angela’s housekeeper met us, at which point I started to cry as my daughter was so sick. The sweet housekeeper asked me for five euros and went into town to copy our passports but asked us not to let Angela know that she had let us in. The apartment was disgusting. The “views” were of a parking lot and a construction site. There was white powder all over the tile floors; we assumed it was for ants, which were everywhere. The TV didn’t work (no biggie), the shower didn’t work (could only take baths), the beds were horribly uncomfortable, the apartment above was under being renovated so we heard nothing but saws, and we could only get one of the burners on the stove to work, which was enough to make my daughter tea (but there was no teapot).

Once the housekeeper returned, I went back into town to use the free wifi and asked Angela four times for her wifi address and password. No response. So, I contacted Airbnb. No response. The next morning, I got a message from Angela saying that we had to go into town and PURCHASE wifi! Airbnb finally wrote back saying that it looked like my problem was solved because Angela responded. I wrote back saying that we were in an Airbnb nightmare. Airbnb called me. Mick, in Ireland, took our case and told me that he was stopping payment to Angela. I told him, in that case, we needed to pack our belongings as her correspondence to me was so mean (I have many examples) that she would probably confiscate our belongings. So, my ill child did just that and went back into town. However, Mick never loaded the right page to my Airbnb conflict page so I was unable to upload pics of the dirt, the broken window, and the things that weren’t working. I was sobbing.

Finally, I called, again, and got Brittaney in Denver, who loaded the correct page. Once she had our pics, she helped us find another apartment in the next town, Rapallo, with our host, Luca, who was such a sweetheart. And we loved his apartment. He met us, didn’t speak English but had a friend on his phone who acted as our interpreter, brought us espresso pods, milk, bottled water, and croissants (none of which Angela provided). Luca, alone, restored our faith in Airbnb. However, Angela then tried to get 1500 euros from us, although our total fee for our stay at her place was a little over 900 euros. It took two weeks but Airbnb finally closed the dispute – my guess is because she never proved damages – which, of course, there were none. I know that this site said it doesn’t want too many curse words but — Angela, you’re an asshole and shouldn’t be a host! I purposely left out that I am an Airbnb super host: five stars, with 80 ratings. This type of host ruins things for the rest of us. Angela still has her listing and no one looking at her listing will ever know of my nightmare experience, unless they happen to look here. Thanks for letting me vent.

LA Urban Bungalow is Anything But Clean

Upon checking into an Airbnb in LA for almost a two-week period, I had to do massive cleaning as there were dried chicken bones left in the refrigerator along with old food and mold! The bedding and towels along with dishes all had to be cleaned and washed, and the trash was full to the top and had to be taken out. This stay was horrendous and all this cleaning took place after I was forced to wait four extra hours from the scheduled check-in time. The host (Phyllis) agreed to reimburse me for a half day’s rental cost. I was told the delay at check-in was due to maid service: apparently she was busy “cleaning” the Airbnb property. This of course was not the case. All dishes were either dirty and sitting in sink or littered with dust and dirty water marks, left to sit on wire shelving. I was forced to go to the store to purchase cleaning supplies, candles, air fresheners, incense, etc. This host never reimbursed me for the half day delay at check-in – which was agreed upon – and then had the audacity to write a slanted negative review, claiming he smelled “smoke” in his freshly de-sterilized “bungalow.” I’m off to get a tetanus shot after this horrible stay.

Airbnb Nightmare in Downtown Indianapolis

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My daughter had a volleyball tournament in downtown Indianapolis in June 2016. The hotel I wanted to stay at, Crowne Plaza, where the team was staying, unfortunately was fully booked at the parent rate and a neighbor mentioned I should check out Airbnb as an option. I was surprised to find an apartment at only $100 a night about 1.5 miles from the convention center. Another mom whose daughter was also in the tournament agreed to split the fee with me and one of us would bunk on the couch since tournament days are often long with minimal time spent in the room.

My first red flag happened the night before check in. The host, Eric, asked me to give him a call when I had a moment to go over check in. At this time he revealed he wanted to be up front (nice of him to be upfront with less than 24 hours to check in…) as he had a small issue that “wasn’t a big deal” but that he wasn’t supposed to be subletting his apartment so if anyone asked who I was, to say I was a family member. That immediately made me uncomfortable as I had booked FOUR NIGHTS at his apartment. If something went wrong, what might happen? The “upfront” comment really pissed me off. There was nothing upfront about it at all. I was told last minute and not given the option if I wanted to be at risk in this way.

I called several hotels immediately but no one had any rooms available. The day of check in I contacted Eric to find out how to retrieve the keys. He had previously told me he’d have the keys available for me to pick up when ready. I wrongly assumed that meant he would leave the keys with a doorman, an apartment manager… but alas, I made an error in using common sense. What Eric sent me to show me how to retrieve the keys was a picture of the front of the apartment building where a red circle was placed on the left side of the photo indicating where I could retrieve the keys… which were hidden under one lonely slate piece of rock that stood out like a sore thumb next to the door.

I was in a rush to get my daughter to the hotel to meet the team so I rushed in, dropped off my bag, and left. I noticed the lock was difficult to handle and saw there was no metal casing where the deadbolt should sit, just wood roughly carved out that left the door closing very loosely. My friend, the mom of my daughter’s teammate, Uber’d back with me to the apartment and I showed her where the keys were left for us. She was shocked. We scurried to the apartment hoping no one was going to stop us on the way and we noticed a cubby door near the front door of the apartment. This was not mentioned in the listing, so we opened it.

The door fell off in our hands but we noticed when looking inside it looked vaguely familiar. No wonder – it led to the closet inside the apartment, which had no lock on the door, and was easily sized for someone to climb through. We pushed a chair up to the closet door for security measures. Two women in a strange city alone with a door someone could crawl through and wind up in the apartment left us feeling vulnerable and worried. Again, I called around to more hotels, and nothing was available. I went to the Airbnb site and couldn’t find an emergency phone number.

We then proceeded to look around the apartment and noticed what a sty the place was. The bathroom was disgusting! I was so grossed out I wouldn’t even brush my teeth that night because I didn’t trust the water flowing through the faucet. The shower was beyond human use but oddly enough the photos in the listing did not depict the nastiness; they were staged in a way to not show it. I had asked the host for a set of sheets for the couch since there were two guests staying. There were no extra set of sheets to be found anywhere, just a lone blanket with holes in it folded up next to a chair and a brand new thin blanket thrown on the couch, but no sheets.

The bathroom had ONE washcloth and three towels. That’s it. There was one roll of toilet paper. The floors were nasty; the edges of the entire place were thick with black grime from years of dirt and lack of scrubbing. I sat on the couch while my friend had an anxiety attack and used her inhaler. When I got up, cat hair was all over my pants (the listing did say he had two cats but I asked him to remove them because of my friend’s allergies – he insisted he cleaned the house the morning of check in for three hours – a total lie) The house smelled, just like the apartment building. I don’t mind old but I do want CLEAN. This place was old, dirty, and disgusting. I wouldn’t judge anyone if that’s what they can afford or for how they want to live but when you open up your place for others to stay at and risk their security, health, and sanity because you want to make a buck (or in this case, $400 bucks), I have a problem.

Did I mention we slept on the couch because we were too scared to sleep in the bedroom with the wonky cubby hole/door thing going on? I kept smelling something seriously rank all night and when light finally hit in the morning, I looked on the side of the couch and there were two wine bottles (which were probably not empty, by the smell). I finally was able to Google Airbnb and find a hidden phone number. I spoke to someone named Buster and uploaded tons of photos of our situation. I felt I should have been refunded the ENTIRE amount we spent. They did cancel our reservation which gave us back two nights and they proceeded to also refund the third night and our service fee.

I will never use Airbnb again. It was so stressful. We got two hours sleep total the entire night leading to the day our daughters played. Luckily my husband is a Platinum Marriott member and they were able to give us a room for the night about 15 minutes away from the convention center at a great rate. I seriously felt like I was walking into the Astoria when we got there. Coincidentally, I got a text from Eric asking “Hi, how is the stay going?” about two hours after the reservation was cancelled. I proceeded to block his number and enjoy the rest of my stay at the Marriott. Never never never again! Too risky and too much work to get a resolution. Buster was nice but I like the option of going to a front desk and speaking with a person for an immediate resolution at a hotel. Too much was left up for Airbnb to agree to despite how wrong the listing was and the security issues we faced.

Airbnb: Lying and Disrespectful Host

I have been renting homes on Airbnb for the past three summers, so I have had my fair share of landlords who are normally very nice and engaging, some who even come by before or after to meet the tenants. Brin was rude and unaccommodating the entire weekend. We were charged a cleaning fee but when we arrived the place was covered in dust and dead bugs. The pots needed to be cleaned and the house was not stocked. For starters, there was half a roll of paper towels in the entire house and that was it. I could understand this had we been informed that we needed to stock supplies other than groceries but per his confirmation the cleaner would have cleaned up from the guest the night before and the place would be stocked with supplies; we only needed food.

After we wiped things down and tried to settle in, we headed out to the pool only to found that it was filthy and gross. After a number of times reaching out to Brin to ask when they would come clean the pool and make it usable, we received a message stating “The pool cleaner will not come until next week, but you can use the skimmer to clean it yourself…” Excuse me? No, we paid for a pool, a clean pool, and a clean and stocked house. At that point Brin stopped replying and refused to answer any calls to resolve these and other concerns/issues. So basically he lied: we were the first group to start the rental season and the landlord did not bother to clean or stock the house or pool.

Other things to note: the upstairs bathtub did not drain properly so you would be standing in water that covered your feet. He then lied when we reported him, saying we just wanted a discount, but he did not have proof because the discount was asked for in person… He never came to the house, nor did he make an effort to rectify the issues with his tenants who paid to rent his home. So basically he took the money and disappeared. Very disappointing and I would never recommend this location to anyone in the future. All we asked for was a clean pool and a lot less attitude and the other issues would have been less noticeable but instead we were handed the pompous, disrespectful, liar Brin.

Airbnb Kyoto: Not Everything in Japan is Pristine

Our first booking was cancelled by the owner, and it took some persistence to get the money refunded on our return. Our second booking in Kyoto, Japan turned out to be ghastly. The “owner” had a profile picture 0f his baby in his arms with a spiel about how friendly he was, how much he loved the neighbourhood, and how he would let people know all the good places to eat! We never saw him! The apartment was not clean, and the bedding was appalling. No spare linen, and it looked like the linen had not been washed – there were only two pillows with cases, and one of them was dirty. For the price, it was sub-standard accommodation, even for Kyoto, and the only people who may not have complained would have been five backpackers sharing the price. Never again. The shower, which was always damp, was a haven for footrot, and there was barely enough light. The only thing which worked was the wifi, which was good enough to check out some good hotel accommodations in the area and get the hell out of there. I selected this because it was close to the railway station – it would have been preferable to have slept at the station.

Horrendous Airbnb Stay at Hong Kong Brothel

What a nightmare! First of all, I’m the kind of person who rarely complaints and would just let things be in order to avoid unnecessary trouble, but my experience with Airbnb at this particular “inn” was so bad I had to share so others can take precautions or maybe think twice before booking. We arrived at the place early and the host told us beforehand that if we did come early and if there was an empty room we could either leave our luggage there or rest in an available room first. We arrived early and found the building where the room was located very dodgy, but at that point we didn’t suspect anything. Then we went up to Level 7 which is where the so called inn is, and we saw several lots with pink neon lights and immediately thought that this looked somehow familiar – like where people look for prostitutes in dramas; we couldn’t confirm this as we never thought it would be that bad.

So we called up the host, Grace, and told her that we have arrived, and she just gave us the pin to the main door (mind you we hadn’t seen her until now). We then entered the “inn” and this is where the adventure begins. She told us to look for the keys under the tissue box and some other items that I can’t remember in the common area. We have two key cards and she told us to enter Room 1. So we entered Room 1. It was a very narrow room but we already expected that. The air conditioning did not work and we called the host again. She gave us instructions on how to use the air conditioning but it did not really work. So she told us to go to another room and said that we could switch if we preferred the other room (still communicating over the phone at this point). So we went to Room 5; the space and toilet there looked better than those in the first room so we switched rooms. Then we decided to freshen up and then head out but – guess what – we could not get the toilet bowl to flush! So we called the host AGAIN, and she instructed us over the phone again. We still could not get the toilet to work. She sent the cleaner in to check and the cleaner said that we should not dispose of toilet paper in the toilet bowl, as it causes it to clog (I mean, what kind of toilet bowl can’t flush toilet paper?).

Fast forward to the second day. As we were waiting for the lift outside, we saw advertisements providing sex services stuck all around the “pink houses”. We felt a little bit weird and disgusted but didn’t put much thought into it. We went down and then I remembered I left something in the room. So we went back up to the room. This time, a man entered the lift with us and gave us the weirdest look which made us so uncomfortable. He exited the same floor as us but didn’t enter any of the units and instead used the stairs, which was so weird. Whenever we returned, we would see different men leaving or entering the same floor as us. That’s when we realized something was really wrong: we were literally living on the same floor where people were seeking SEX SERVICES! I’m not going to talk in circles saying “special massage services” because it was literally a building of prostitution!

We couldn’t take it and left after two nights to go to a proper hotel as it gave us so much anxiety entering and leaving the building. I didn’t even bother telling the host and didn’t even ask for any refund because, as I said, I don’t like trouble. She didn’t even call and ask what happened but I’m actually glad she didn’t because I was so mad I don’t think any good words would have come out of my mouth. I definitely do not recommend staying here if you are a female or with a bunch of female friends for obvious reasons. In fact, just stay in a proper hotel even if it costs a bit more; there’s no point saving some money and risking your own safety.