Inaccurate Airbnb Listing Leads to Leaving Early

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My disabled husband and I booked this accommodation being told it was an entire home; it was not – it was a tiny room at the rear of building. It was supposed to be less than a two-minute walk to the beach but it’s nowhere near the beach.

As this was completely unsuitable for my husband we had to leave immediately and get a taxi to take us around Barbados to find suitable accommodations. We had to book two separate hotels as it was the Christmas season and paid almost £2000 for our stay here.

Airbnb still lists this property as less than a two-minute walk to the beach and as an entire home. We are struggling to get a full refund even though I have all the evidence needed to prove it is an inaccurate listing. The host also did not turn up for us at the airport nor send someone for us nor inform us he wasn’t coming for us. When we got there the host started shouting at us when challenged regarding the distance to the beach.

Chemical Smell at San Diego Airbnb Nightmare

Anyone up for a horror story, a real one that happened to me last week, which is, as of yet, unresolved? If so, read on for my cautionary tale.

It was the last day of a three-day intensive transformational workshop through Sistership Circle and I was both exhilarated and exhausted. After many “Jewish goodbyes” with my dear sisters, I was excited to join a dear friend for a four-day stay in an Airbnb bungalow in San Diego.

As a person who lives with the insidious autoimmune disorder known as MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) or EI (Environmental Illness), I had carefully done my homework to be sure the place would be environmentally safe. The response I got from the host was assuring. He wrote that they use all natural products and would wash the linens in vinegar just to be sure.

“Wow,” I thought, “that is so accommodating. Surely it will be fine…”

Wrong. The chemical stink was emanating from the place before we even opened the door. I had hoped it was coming from the laundry exhaust of a nearby neighbor. I never thought I would hope for that before.

Once we stepped inside, we were blasted with strong synthetic chemicals. You can imagine the horrors when my friend and I found three Airwicks. We opened all the windows, but it was too late – the place was saturated with toxins. Even the bedding reeked of strong chemicals.

We had been deceived and had to leave within minutes of arriving. Our hearts sank as we sat on the patio trying to calm down our bodies’ reactions to the chemical assault: burning eyes, asthma, nausea, irritated throat, mood irritability and major brain fog, AKA neurological impairment that affects cognition.

We weren’t thinking clearly and needed to come up with a back-up plan. It was such a drag. The host found us outside and came out, speaking all smooth as he calmly blamed us and his housekeeper. He was a living snake-in-the-grass and of course offered not one iota of compassion or a single suggestion as to where we might could find a place to stay during spring break at 11:00 PM.

Both the host and I reported the situation to Airbnb. Since this host had a five-day notice required for canceling (which I had foolishly overlooked), he charged my credit card the 100% full amount for a four-day stay with all fees included, to the tune of $633.05. Meanwhile, Airbnb’s resolution was to apply an arbitrary $111.00 to that fee which was not acceptable.

You can imagine the flurry of calls to Airbnb and my credit card company that I made to dispute the charges and the hassle of finding a mediocre-at-best hotel late at night and so on. Unfortunately, the only place we could find was toxic too, but we managed as it was bearable, albeit barely.

It seems Murphy’s Law was in effect for us, but we did the best we could with what we had, spending most of the time out in nature on the coast or in Balboa Park. Airbnb’s case manager said she was leaving town for two weeks after she applied the $111 to the full charges for a place that we not only could not stay in but made us feel quite ill. Again, this was unacceptable.

I felt I had no choice other than to call my lawyer and open a case. First thing tomorrow morning, we will discuss the case again and get moving toward an acceptable resolution.

Some “professional”. Never again. I am owed my refund in full and am determined to reach that solution, even if I have to get the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA) involved. Airbnb is culpable here too and they need to be reasonable and have the backs of their guests when it’s called for, not just the hosts who bring them so much money.

Bogus Host Posts Private Home as Ancient Castle Airbnb

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I was looking for my next stay while touring Scotland and Northern England as a freelance writer and blogger with a dog. I had stayed in a lovely cottage in rural Ayrshire for three weeks. It was time to move on and find the next interesting place to stay. Imagine my surprise and delight to find an Airbnb listed as an “Ancient Castle” in Scotby, Cumbria and ideal for people with mobility problems. I am near 60 and have creaky knees. It also said there was a gym and pool available.

I was not sure how it worked out, but the normal price was £139 per night, seemingly for group bookings. However, it came down to individuals and the way it worked out with the weekly booking discount seemed really cheap. Still a little suspicious, but hopeful, I booked two weeks between April 29th and May 11th. I would have stayed in Scotland but the opportunity was too good to miss if true. I bought a train ticket down to Cumbria and waited until the check-in time, between 2:00-4:00 PM, before hiring a taxi costing over £10.

Taxi droppped me off at a pub. I did Google it and thought maybe it was a property behind the pub or in the ground. They knew nothing about it and pointed out the address was further down the road. I walked a half mile and could not see anything which looked like a castle. It was a rural surburban street with beautiful but ordinary large semi-detached family homes. I looked at the numbers on the gates and at #39 and counting up reckoned that #47 was another semi a few houses along.

As I came up to #47, I felt embarrased; it was clearly a family home and not a castle. I wondered how I should do this: should I go up, knock on the door, and ask if they were an ancient castle? Would that make them think I was a mad woman? Just as I approached two teenage girls came up, knocked on the door, spoke to their mum and explained that they were just dropping off their things after school but going out to see friends. The girls shot past me and the mum still stood at the door. I shouted at her “Er, excuse me… could you help me? I am looking for #47, which according to this information on Airbnb is an ancient castle.”

The mum came up and looked. That was her address, and that was even her post code, but she did not have an ancient castle, just a family home. She did not do any hosting or hiring out spare rooms to Airbnb, She was concerned who was using her address, as anybody could turn up at her home and demand entry. What if just her children were at home, and let someone in, not knowing?

I got another taxi back into Carlisle and contacted Airbnb from a pub with wifi. As usual, they didn’t get back to me for the rest of the night. It was getting on and by 10:30 PM with accommodation being snapped up for the Easter weekend I found and booked cheap accommodation in a truckstop on the edge of town in the middle of an industrial estate. That was all I could do.

I did eventually get through to Airbnb, and it was a pathetic response. They did take the fake host and the posting down, but again seemed blasé and offered me £2.73 on top of the refund as compensation. It was a very small change for the extra expense. I would not have gone through the hassle and stress if their host had not advertised an innocent family’s home as an “Ancient Castle” and had strangers turning up at their front door demanding and expecting being put up for the night.

Airbnb did not really provide a satisfactory response to this with only £2.73 to help towards other accommodations. A host tried to evict me onto the streets during Beast from the East and did not care I had no transport. Over 13 people were killed at this time, including a seven year old girl. When will Airbnb take responsibility for the welfare and well-being of their guests?

Lacrosse Team of Twenty Trashes Airbnb Home

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.

Service Dog Rejected from Airbnb Reservation

My host was lovely at first. She simply reached out to me to confirm that I was traveling alone, a non-smoker and had no pets. I confirmed that I did not smoke, but let her know that I did have a well-trained, quiet and calm service dog. Then things started to go south.

First, she indicated that she would have to confirm with the “owner” whether my service dog would be admitted. I’m a lawyer, and when I calmly pointed out that it was technically a violation of federal law and clearly a violation of Airbnb policy not to admit Huck (my dog), she started to argue. She told me that no private owner could be required to admit pets. I responded that Huck was not, in fact, a “pet.”

Next, she told me I’d likely be charged a cleaning fee – another blatant violation of Airbnb policy. Then, she switched channels on me and claimed that “some owners” have severe allergies. I said of course I would understand if the owner had a bad allergy, but I was confused since the listing was for a building entirely separate from the main house, with granite floors. I encouraged her to review Airbnb’s newly-minted non-discrimination policies, although her responses repeatedly demonstrated complete ignorance of her responsibilities as a host.

Finally, I posted the full text of the policies in a message – to up her odds of bothering to read them – at which point she interrogated me about my disability. She was rude, inconsiderate and ignorant. Ultimately, she allowed my request to expire, even though our conversation took place over the course of four hours. I reported her to Airbnb and the Virginia Fair Housing Office, although I’m not hopeful that any mitigating action will be taken.

Poor Huck and I were just looking for a quiet spot for a couple weeks – on a horse farm in Virginia, no less. No such luck. If you have respect for the rights of the disabled, stay away from this host.

Aren’t Service Dogs Welcome at Airbnb Properties?

I tried to book an Airbnb in Norman, OK for three nights in mid-September with someone who has a no pets policy. However, I have a service dog. A real, bonafide, has to be with me, medical alert, highly trained with impeccable manners, service animal as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. As a courtesy, I told the host that I would be traveling with my service dog, so she would not be surprised. I later received a reply that she had accepted a long term rental last week. The property still shows that it is available for the dates that I requested in mid-September. If I am truly not welcome there, I am not going to force the issue, but if she is in violation of Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 she should be made aware of her legal liability in situations such as mine, as should all Airbnb hosts. If there is a good reason that a property stays listed as available, even though it is not, I would like to know it. If you are not familiar with the ADA of 1990 I encourage you to research it (although I would be very surprised if this issue has not arisen before now). In it, it is stated specifically that I cannot be treated differently than any other customer, by any business anywhere, because I have a service animal with me. I cannot be given a table in the back because of her. I cannot be charged a pet deposit at a lodging. I cannot be refused any service, or entry to any place that I would be allowed to go without her because she is with me.