Extortionate Airbnb Property with Habitual Liar Host

As a non-driver, I knew a spontaneous California trip would be a challenge but less so if I was close to Downtown LA or Hollywood. This conniving weasel advertised his trailer-park esque room (in his dusty, unkempt garage) as ‘close’ to everything. I explained that I was not driving and he was ever so attentive before I arrived. His directions to get the keys were a riddle: getting into the backgate required unlatching a hook that I could not reach, nor did he greet or see me into the property.

I found hair all over the sheets and towels (which I cleaned/removed). There was a 1950’s TV and the water pressure was pitiful. I also realized how far I was from LAX (though everything near LA seems far even before traffic). I messaged him asking for an iron/new towels and to notify him that my friend would visit but not stay over (via Airbnb and Whatsapp). He ignored those messages but the next night when my friend was over I receive an email from Airbnb requesting extra payment for added services as ‘he overheard that I had company and assumed they were staying’.

I assumed this had to be paid immediately or I’d get asked to leave. I paid it. I then told him he could have just verified this with me as I was next door. I left the next day (another guest was also extorted by him), told Airbnb what happened, and then after receiving no response from him, received threats about involving the LAPD as I had apparently stolen the keys. He later retracted this when he found them. His claims were so pitiful it was hilarious. I took pictures and video footage before leaving. He even commented at the beginning: ‘Don’t worry about the security deposit; it’s only for troublemakers and you don’t look like one of those people’.

He was a passive aggressive, sneaky prick and had oversold his dusty disgusting cave as a bachelor art studio. Airbnb only refunded the night I did not stay, not the extended charges. There was no kitchen access and the walls were so thin you could hear whatever grunting was common place in his barnyard… I mean household. My Uber app was playing up, so the stress to leave the property and locate a new one asap via Booking.com was terrible. I could not make calls without wifi as I had a phone from overseas. Never again, Airbnb.

Bullied by Terrible Guest and Case Managers

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

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

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

Not the Beautiful View’s Fault for our Airbnb Experience

A week into our 30-day prepaid Airbnb stay, the host began to exhibit some odd behavior. Two nights before that, he began to argue with his girlfriend (they met three weeks ago), slamming doors throughout the house. He said that she was detoxing and could not drink alcohol. We said we understood.

The next day he came in and told us we were using too much water. We understood that there were water restrictions; in nine day, two showers had been taken. The last night he came in and accused us of giving his girlfriend alchohol. We explained we had been gone all day and we had not given her anything. She expressed to us that she wanted to leave and needed to get out of the house; she looked very scared.

The host came back out and told us to get out of his house now; this was at 11:00 PM. He had never said that drinking was a problem. We even asked what they like to drink. He dumped out a bottle of vodka we had and then threatened to dump out other alcoholic beverages. We packed up our things in the morning and let him know we wanted a refund for the days left. He informed us he contacted Airbnb and we would have to get a refund from them. After speaking with Airbnb we were told that he had not contacted them.

The host then said that there were damages. Actually, there were none. He was in the process of fixing up the house for it to be sold. He was draging wood up the stairs and even painted a balcony during our stay. He told us not to use it so we obliged. We were already looking for a new place because of the hostile environment and didn’t feel safe. There was constant arguing and slamming of doors throughout our last night.

We had an extra guest come and asked the host beforehand; he said it would not be a problem if we just gave him $30 cash per night for the additional guest. I gave him $100 cash and he said he would give me $10 back as they only stayed three days. My daughter was coming into town and once again I asked if an additional guest could stay and we would pay for it; he said it was no problem. Today the host is stating we never gave him money and that it was going to be $40 a night for my daughter. Later on he stated that it would not be $40 and that he never said that. Read his latest text to me. See the tray of cannabis he served us daily from bottles hidden in our room. Do not rent from him.

Malibu Horror: Charged More for a Dinner Guest?

If anyone is considering staying in Malibu, please read about my experience with this host. I will include the email exchange I had with him so you can see what type of person he is.

All I was trying to do was have a relaxing two-night stay on the water. I told the host that we had four people in our immediate family plus my niece and her baby may join us for dinner. I texted and emailed; there was no response. Nearly a week went by. He said that if my niece stepped foot in his house that I would have to pay him an additional $800 plus a cleaning deposit, that she couldn’t come over for even a moment without me paying him. This would bring the total to $1600 for two nights.

He waited one day past the time that I could cancel for a full refund to tell me this. I have spent two solid days, countless hours, and twenty phone calls disputing this with the resolution department. They all say they are sorry and that this is unbelievable and awful, but they are letting the host do whatever he wants. Here is the communication between the host and me. If this helps one person not to have to deal with a host like this and the hell I have been through, then posting here is worth it.

Me: We are a family of four: two adults and two kids (9 and 10) wanting to enjoy the beach. My niece will stop by with her baby. We are quiet people just looking for relaxation. We would not be bringing any pets. We do not party, just want to hear and enjoy the water. We have one car, a van, and my niece has an Altima.

Me: I sent you a text many days ago but didn’t hear back so I’m going to try through here. I wanted to let you know my niece and the baby (two years old) will be spending one night. No one will be partying; there won’t be any loud noise. Will we need to meet you for the keys or will they be inside the unit? Is there any chance of getting into the unit before 4:00 PM? Maybe 2ish?

Host: You’ll need to update your guest count, please. I can check with my cleaning service but they will charge extra.

Me: The information about the property says that it can accommodate ten people. Why would there be an additional charge if I’m within the number of guests that the property can hold?

Host: It’s a flat rate, up to four and then an additional charge per guest after that – all explained on the listing page at the time you booked.

Me: Never mind. I didn’t see any of that in the listing page. This is my first time using Airbnb. It’s my birthday and wanted something special. I will just have them come for the day and put them in a hotel nearby if it’s a problem. They will rejoin us in the morning.

Me: Can you please let me know if I will need to arrange a time to meet you for the keys or if they will just be inside? Will 2:00 PM be okay for check in? If there is a problem with the reservation, please let me know now so we can arrange an alternative while there is some time to do so.

Host: Everyone who needs to come to the house needs to be on the reservation please. This is all stated very clearly multiple times throughout the listing. My cleaning service will charge extra for an early check in.

Me: I wrote “very clearly” that my niece and her baby were going to come over. If this wasn’t acceptable why did you accept the reservation as it was? I’m not able to pay another 700-800 for the reservation. If this isn’t going to work on your end just cancel it and we can get something else.

Host: I didn’t accept it – you Instant Booked it after agreeing to the house rules and terms of service

Me: It shows that it was accepted. If you’re not going to allow me to have a guest then cancel it. I’m not going to alter my plans if I can’t see my family on my birthday.

Host: I can’t cancel it – you Instant Booked it after agreeing to my house rules and terms of service. You have to cancel it if you don’t intend on staying and following the rules.

Me: So you’re saying I can’t have my family over for a meal unless I pay you another 700-800?

Host: Your reservation is for four – how many more people would you like to invite to my home? I will do my best to come up with a fair solution for both of us.

Me: My niece was going to stop by after work with her 19-month-old daughter.

Host: Two more? Any others besides the original four?

Me: It’s just those I have already mentioned. I don’t understand this. If I book a hotel and someone comes into the room I don’t get charged extra.

Host: I’m sorry I wasn’t clear – is it two more, or more than that? Will there ever be more than six people at any point, day or night?

Me: I contacted you Thursday, June 29th initially. You never responded. If anything that I had initially written had been an issue, Thursday or Friday would have been the time to say so. Now nearly a week later, problems are arising. I don’t feel comfortable staying at your property based on our interaction. I expressed that this is my very first booking. Instead of you gently guiding me through, you are making me feel very uncomfortable. I don’t feel like staying at your property will be the relaxing birthday experience that I want. I feel like I will be under scrutiny. You said in your profile that you are laid back. Pretty much the only things you have said to me are that I have to pay more and more money. You have said I need to pay for my niece to have a meal with us, then that I need to pay for an additional cleaning fee, beyond the original $100. If I want to come at 2:00 PM instead of the very late check in time of 4:00 PM I will need to pay extra for that as well. All I have heard from you is money, money, money. Where is the humanity or comfort of your guests? In addition, I have from Thursday said that my niece and her baby may come over. I have never heard of being charged for someone to spend some time with you in a place that you are already paying for. Please just cancel the reservation. We clearly are not seeing eye to eye on this.

Host: I can’t cancel the reservation for you. All of this is outlined on my posting – so I’m a bit surprised you are acting like this wasn’t disclosed at the time of your booking which you very clearly had to agree to in order to complete the booking. We came to an agreement for a stay for four people from 4:00 PM on the 11th to 10:00 AM on the 13th as outlined on your confirmation. If you’d like to change the terms of this I’m willing to work with you but please do not act as if I am being unreasonable. Feel free to check out my reviews – I have a ton of experience with this. If you do wish to cancel, my suggestion would be to do so ASAP so I have the opportunity to re-rent it. Otherwise it will become increasingly difficult

Me: So you’re saying I can cancel it for a full refund?

Me: I very clearly said who would be there. I very clearly saw that your place can accommodate ten people. I very clearly didn’t see that there was an additional charge. Why do I have to pay for a family member to step foot onto the property? It’s illogical and unreasonable.

Me: Why can’t you cancel the reservation?

Host: Your refund will be based on my ability to re-rent and the new reservation amount

Me: That doesn’t give me a figure. If it’s a $50 hit I’ll take that, even though this isn’t my fault as I clearly stated who would be in the property. You would rather I be forced to go to your property and not be able to have my family with me on my birthday unless I want to pay 800 plus a cleaning fee. Thereby I would have a bad experience, and write a review reflecting this experience. I have stayed at properties all over the world and have never experienced anything like this! This is a two-night reservation. I agreed to the initial amount, clearly stated who would be there, contacted you, waited nearly a week, never heard back from you, and now you want an additional 800 plus. I feel like I’m being extorted. I believe it is within your purview to cancel but you won’t because you’re only interested in money.

Family Scammed by a Host in Seattle

My daughter and fiancé moved to the Seattle area. Upon arrival they discovered their apartment wasn’t ready due to mold issues. They had to retile the place and wouldn’t be able to allow guests to move in for another week. My family was stuck. They also had a sweet older cat with them. They had to book a hotel for the first night. I, being the helpful mom to my 22-year-old kid and her fiancee and kitty, wanted to look into an Airbnb rental so they could be comfortable.

I found this listing. If you scroll down on pricing it says: “Extra people: $48/night after the first guest.” It could be my mistake that I did not see this. I was going back and forth with her from Friday evening into Saturday late morning about the listing. Moving forward, I went to book and the price went from $80 per/night to $128 per/night. I attached the screen shots of our messages and my confusion on the part of the second guest. If you read this, you can see she is even confused and looks like she is saying that I was probably trying to book for three guests (myself, daughter and her fiancé) and she said I need to book for a total of two people.

I made the mistake of thinking when I put one guest I thought myself plus one guest. It was a dumb mistake on my part since I have booked with Airbnb before. However, in all the comparable listings in that area – I clicked through about twenty – the prices were always for two people; I didn’t think twice and booked it. The other thing, the host clearly saw me saying “them” when referring to guests and listing their names. I even told her their story in the beginning: how it was my daughter, her fiancé, and their cat (I did not include this screenshot, but I can if needed).

Here’s where it gets interesting. My kid had her number and proceeded to text the host that they were on their way. She texted my kid and said “your mom only paid for one person.” My kid asked how much it would be for two people and she stated it would be an additional $180. I told my kid that it was too much, thinking there are other places for that price that were private.

Did I mention that this host’s place was not private? She said it was like “one big master bedroom, but the kitchen and bathroom is shared.” She has it listed as an entire home/apartment but the room and living room was separated from the kitchen by a blackout curtain; her and her husband’s room is private in the back. $128 per night in that area? Why didn’t I just book a whole cottage for $100 per night?

You can see in my messaging that I was considering having them just stay the one night and not the rest of the week. However, I ended up canceling the whole thing and they stayed in a hotel. I also wanted to attach the text messaging thread. You can’t get each other’s number until you book for safety purposes. She and I were texting back and forth with this misunderstanding and I apologized profusely. I asked then if I would get refunded. She assured me I would. I told her okay, I would cancel and thanked her for the refund. I knew she had a strict cancellation policy but I figured she has been super nice and understood the situation was my mistake.

The next day I contacted the Airbnb resolution center on the site. All I wanted was to make sure she refunded me. They told me to request money from the host, so I did. There was space to put the reason and I typed “misunderstanding at check in, host agreed to refund full amount.”

What does she respond with? “Not truthful guest.” She then declined to refund me. If she would have said “no, sorry I can’t give you a refund” then I at least I could have paid the extra $180 and not be out $400. She basically has no one staying in her place for five days and Airbnb and the host got $450 (fees included) out of me. Even Expedia doesn’t do that. Once I accidentally booked the wrong dates and was out of the cancellation policy. They still refunded me and told me: “It’s ok. Sometimes stuff happens.”

I ended up calling my bank to have them dispute the charges. I had to tell them the whole story and send them the screenshots of the messages. When a case manager from Airbnb called me, he seemed nice at first, taking in my story. I even sent them the screenshots of the text messages where she stated more than once she would refund me. He said they are the final say in this matter. I received a call back from the case manager the next day. He stated the host said I lied and tried to “pull one over” on her, that I tried to book for one guest and was really bringing two. Like she didn’t know and capitalized on my mistake. Then she said I called her and harassed her. I did no such thing. If I were able to upload all the screenshots of the text messages then you could see I was nothing but apologetic and kind.

Now this host was so rude. He was talking over me, yelling at me, and bullying me. I was made out to be the villain. This host just joined this month and had no reviews. That in itself should have been a red flag. The Airbnb case manager made me feel foolish and said that this host has a strict cancellation policy; when I booked, he stated that it was a legal and binding contract and he cannot force the host to refund the money. He said she wasn’t going to refund the money at all and I am basically screwed.

First off he talked over me, then when I did the same he yelled at me. When I raised my voice he said over and over this was a legal and binding contract and in the end he essentially said: “Well, you have booked with us before. You should know how to book. This is your fault and you will not be refunded.”

He didn’t even offer a partial refund or a voucher. Nothing. I hung up and cried because I was just bullied on the phone over nothing, just an Airbnb listing. Why does this case agent even care? He should have tried to be a better mediator in this situation and look at my history of being a guest: I have never complained or done anything shady.

I’ve blasted Airbnb on Twitter. You may have seen them if you follow @airbnbhell because I copied them on Twitter too. The case manager emailed me and said “it was a pleasure talking to you this morning… blah blah blah” I responded with a lengthy email, told him he bullied me and yelled at me, and I was in tears afterwards. I mean I hate be the victim but this host acted like one and got $400+ out of it. Why can’t I tell the truth and tell them how I felt? I felt like a used pair of underwear.

When I emailed them back I also copied Belinda Johnson, who is Airbnb’s Chief Legal Council, and Donna Boyer, who is Airbnb’s Director of Product. Working in tech in the Bay Area (where Airbnb is headquartered) you can find out who these people are. Just about an hour ago I received an apology from Anthony with a $200 voucher. Really? Seriously? If I do not plan to use Airbnb anymore, what good is it going to do me? Just send me my money! At least send a voucher that is equal if not more than what I went out of pocket. I ended up rebooking another listing for my daughter through Airbnb and luckily that went fine. It would have been nice if this voucher was there before that since I just plan to use VBRO or VaCasa or something else in the future. Thanks for listening to me ramble.

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!