The Tale of an Awful Hostess who Held me Hostage


TL;DR: Airbnb hostess agrees to let me change a three-month reservation to one month, then goes back on her word and verbally/financially holds me hostage until Airbnb got involved. Also unreasonably bitchy about stuff. Gather round, and let me tell you a fairytale-like story that quickly became hellish…

Once, in a neighbourhood called Butte aux Cailles in Paris, there was an apartment listed on a place called Airbnb. A young student from the faraway land of North America decided to book this apartment for three months while she was working in France. Even though the student didn’t have much money, she thought that the neighbourhood and the experience would make it worth it (big mistake, she later learned, as she paid about 1000 euros per month for a room, which is way overpriced for what 99% of rooms in Paris are worth).

Anyways, in this apartment lived a woman who the student had figured would be a nice and agreeable person. The tales from others on Airbnb had claimed that she was, however – this young student would later learn – really, for lack of a better term, a “nasty and unreasonable bitch”.

So, what are the problems, you ask? Well, dear reader, let me list them out (and at this point I will just break immersion since writing in the third person is tiresome, and straight up tell you what happened).

Week 1 [~May 3rd]: Host complains about “turning on the water taps too hard and running the shower too hard.”

“Well, if I’m paying 1000 euros just for a room, you really shouldn’t complain too much about me turning on the tap because it’s a little sensitive,” I think, but I shrug and say “alright.”

Week 1 [~May 4th]: The host’s friend was staying over on the couch. She’s nice, although there isn’t much space in the apartment so a curtain is drawn up between the living room and the entrance to my room.

Week 1 [~ May 7th]: I told the host that I was planning on moving out to the dorms after the end of May. She was understanding and sympathetic at the time, and offered to help me find a room with her friend. Unfortunately, it’s too far from where I work, so I declined. However, she said that she would call Airbnb to waive the normal 30-day fee for modifying the reservation.

Week 2 [~May 14th]: I came home at around 11:30 PM and went to my room. The next minute, the host sent a text message complaining about the noise I made when opening the door (she had told me on the first day that the door is tricky, and obviously turning the lock would make unavoidable noise). I had not known beforehand that her friend had been staying over the last two nights, and I told her that: “I would appreciate it if you tell me that you have guests staying the night. It would be unreasonable to expect that I should be completely quiet if I don’t know that someone is already asleep when I come home (via text).”

I believed it to be a reasonable request to ask from her, as I was happy to accommodate if I had known that her friend was staying. On most nights, the street below where her house is often very loud due to the many pubs, with the noise going into late hours of the night (2-3:00 AM).

Week 2 [May 14th night]: The host flips out. She said that “it is quite normal to make less noise in the apartment, because I also live in this apartment, as does my friend and my daughter [which is false, only the host lives there].”

Then she complained to me about the unwashed dishes (I left a cup in there once) and the hygenic pads in the trash (where do pads go, in your bed?), and kept telling me to “respect the rules of the contract.” All I asked her was just to give me a headsup if her friend was staying over.

Week 3 [May 15th]: I told the host that I would be moving June 1st (as discussed with her over a week ago). She flipped out a second time, and told me that I could not leave until after the end of June. In her words: “she has a contract for her daughter’s (university) room until the end of June.”

While this was the case when I originally booked, we had agreed in Week 1 that I would check out at the end of May. I was feeling incredibly uncomfortable being held verbally and financially hostage like this. I was super stressed to return to the apartment, or even leave my room.

Week 3 [May 16th]: I saw her in the morning and she asked me to explain “What was the problem? I don’t understand what was the problem.” This culminates in a terse argument between us. I sent a plea for help to Airbnb support.

Week 3 [May 17th]: Airbnb was surprisingly super helpful. They called me telling me to cancel the agreement, and refunded me for the nights not spent, while also nullifying the 30-day penalty. A colleague let me stay in his house shared with six others until the end of May, which turned out to be a 350 square meter apartment in Paris. By Parisian standards, this was pretty much a castle.

Anyways, to wrap up my long-winded story, avoid this host at all costs. She made me so nervous and agitated being around her because I felt like I had to constantly tiptoe around her or get bitched at. And that was just the icing on the cake compared to her outright lying to me, and not letting me leave in May instead of July – even after we agreed multiple times that I could check out early.

At least I know that long term rentals on Airbnb are awful. Unfortunately I forgot to leave a review on her listing and profile because of a bunch of other stuff was going on at the time, and then I missed the 14-day time limit. This story did actually happen though; take a look at these pictures.

Quick Cancellation, Dirty Room, but Good Customer Service

I was an avid Airbnb guest. The hosts I met were awesome: clean places that appeared as they were listed. However, my last dealing with Airbnb made it my last with them period. The first Airbnb I booked cancelled because they were out of town and did not respond to my request until four hours after the check in time. The host apologised and actually refunded the full costs of the rental with no problem. He admitted it was his fault because he himself was traveling and had failed to respond – remember this, because it comes back to bite me.

I started searching for another place. This is where I should have taken my money and paid for a hotel. I lucked out and found a place, but it was in an area I never stayed before. Given that I was new to this area, I should have researched the area before booking. The host contacted me after I clicked “book it now”. He called and stated that he just got confirmation that I booked his place. I asked him if it was a problem, to which he said it was not. Since it was getting close to 8:00 PM I just wanted to get into a place to unpack and relax… I was in for a real treat.

I received the addressed and entered it into my GPS. I told him it would be about 15 minutes before I arrived and he said that would be fine. After what should have taken 15 minutes took about 45 minutes I arrived. The area I pulled into was super sketchy. When I found the place, I tried to park but couldn’t find a place at all. The host failed to mention only street parking was available and you have to park in the direction of traffic flow or you will be towed. After making a round or two around the neighbourhood (and I use that word lightly) I parked my car. As soon as I parked my car, the neighbor next door started to whistle at me and make uncomfortable remarks to me. However, at this point I was so tired and ticked off I could have taken out a 600-lb man without thinking twice.

I was greeted by the host who proceeded to let me in and show me the place. I was totally confused. The posting stated I rented a house to myself. What I got was a room to myself, sharing a bathroom with two other people. I don’t have a problem with that ordinarily, but for the price I was paying, I was expecting the place to be in a better area and more of what the listing had mentioned.

Anyway, the host was using the area that was to be mine. He was in the process of making a model for which the glue fumes were so bad we had the windows open to air the place out for four hours. Did I mention it was winter at this time and 40 degrees outside? While he was picking up his project I went into the bathroom only to be grossed out. The bathroom had not been cleaned. Mind you, the host and his girlfriend use this bathroom too and neither cleaned it. I sucked it up because I needed a place to stay and it was now close to 10:00 PM. I just wanted to shower and wait for my boyfriend to get me for dinner. I got some cleaner and cleaned the bathroom like it had never been cleaned. Apparently it really had never been cleaned because the host remarked “I never knew the floor was that colour white!”

I finished cleaning and he finished picking up his project. I took some clothes out of my bag and sent a text to my boyfriend telling him where to pick me up for dinner. I showered, put my clothes on, and went into my room where a wall of icy wind met me because the windows were open. I closed the windows, turned on the space heater that the host left me, and waited for my boyfriend to get me. When he came he was super worried and asked why I booked a place in this area; that’s when I told him what happened. While we were having dinner, my boyfriend tried to get me a hotel but everything was super expensive (before anyone questions it, this is before we moved in together and he was renting a room with three other people – I couldn’t stay with him).

After dinner my boyfriend dropped me off and asked that I deadbolt the door. I did and went to sleep… or tried to at least. The bathroom was right next to my room and the walls are not that thick, nor is the door since it has a glass inset; I could hear almost everything happening on the other side of the house. The bed I slept on was a Murphy bed about as old as the house (from the 1800s) – every time you moved, it would make a noise. Eventually I decided to sleep on the couch.

The next day I looked at my account to make sure I had some spending money, and guess what? That refund I was suppose to get? Well, I didn’t get it. In fact, I was charged three times for the same amount. I called Airbnb and stayed on the line for 45 minutes. I spoke to a guy that actually helped me and did exactly what he said he would do. When I questioned him as to why I was charged so many times? His answer was: “we have never had this happen before.” He apologised again and issued a refund, which unfortunately would not go through until Monday because it was Saturday. Amazingly enough, I got the refund that was promised on Monday. As for the weekend stay with the misleading post, well I cleaned that place up and left it cleaner than when I arrived. After that ordeal, I won’t be using Airbnb again.