From Host to Host, Payment to Payment, Until Finally Something Stable

I booked a historic firehouse Airbnb five miles from SOHO in Jersey City for August 6-13, 2017. My Discover card was charged $1509. While we were on our way on August 6th, I realized I hadn’t received access instructions. Since I was driving, I asked my son to message the host for access instructions. He messaged back that the property wouldn’t be ready until September 4th. My son messaged him that we had a confirmed reservation and my credit card had been charged. His only response was to call Airbnb. This was about 10:40 AM.

We did call Airbnb and worked with the customer service representative to try to find another place to stay. He sent an email around 11:20 AM with some other properties for us to consider and an offer of a $143 credit toward another property. My son was searching for places on my phone while I drove. I pulled off the PA turnpike into a McDonalds parking lot and we booked a townhouse in Brooklyn, based on the description and pictures in the listing. This was about 11:40 AM.

About an hour later the host of that property called while I was still driving on the PA turnpike. He told me that he noted that we were bringing two dogs and that they treat dogs like guests. I actually thought that sounded good. What he meant, but didn’t tell me, is that he was going to charge me $40 per dog per day for the dogs. It was the next day when I realized this and he had charged my Discover card $611.25. He never got my approval for this charge and I would never pay such an outrageous “pet fee”.

We arrived at the property about 5:45 PM. The property was not as described or pictured in the listing. The property was filthy, smelly, and uninhabitable. Walls were water damaged. Outlets had missing covers. The “couch” in the living area was a wooden bench covered with a throw pillow. The only TV was in one of the bedrooms. The bedrooms were on the upper level and the kitchen and living areas were on the lower level. They were separated by very steep stairs with no hand rail. The “back garden” was an enclosed, paved area with plants that had been cut down and left to decay. As a result it was smelly and bug infested.

There was no way I could stay there with my son and dogs. I immediately called Airbnb. I sent them numerous pictures documenting the condition of the property. I have attached the pictures at the end of this email. They refused to apply the money I had paid and the credit I had been offered to another property. They were awful to deal with. They were supposed to call me back that night and never did. I also called on Monday August 7th, left a message, and never heard back. By this point it was almost 8:00 PM.

In desperation, I found another place and reserved it. My Discover card was charged another $1,572.31. It turned out to be exactly as described and pictured. The host immediately cleaned it up and got it ready for us. We stayed there for the full week and found it to be everything we expected.

To summarize the amounts we were charged and amounts I believe we are due credit for:

– Charged by Airbnb to Discover card 6/19/17 for Airbnb historic firehouse in Jersey City 8/6/17 = $1,509.00
– Credit issued by Airbnb 8/6/17 = ($533.02)
– “Pet Fee” for townhouse in Brooklyn 8/7/17 = $611.25
– Two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn = $1,572.31

– Amount I should have been charged = $1,509.00
– Credit offered by Airbnb for reservation cancelled by host = ($143.00)

Total = $1,366.00
Credit Due = $1,793.54

Crooked Host Holds Deposit After Long Stay

We arrived in Utah on June 20th, 2017 as a result of a military move from Arizona. This was our nineth move in 18 years, so my family and I were used to it. Utah was exceptionally difficult to find accommodations while we were waiting for base housing to become available. Air conditioning at the temporary lodging facility on base was broken and hotels were booked in the surrounding 30-mile area from the base.

I decided to give Airbnb a try. I found a property listing in Ogden. I messaged the host and asked if he would be willing to negotiate a deal on the property since I needed a place to stay for a month. He agreed and stated that there would be a $500 dollar deposit for the property that would be returned once his property manager determined there was no damage when we moved out. We agreed to the terms and paid for the stay in full.

Our stay was great with the exception of the condition of the mattress in one of the bedrooms and the downstairs sink that was cracked. The landscape outside was a mess: dirt and open irrigation holes were everywhere. The lampposts outside were on the ground and wires were exposed. We were assured that the landscaping would be completed soon. In the month we stayed, hardly any progress was made with the numerous half-completed projects. We never complained and just figured it was a money issue. We left the property on July 20th and moved into our house on base.

This is when the problems began with the host. We inquired when we could expect the $500 deposit to be returned. I was then contacted by the property manager asking about a shampoo bottle ring on the master bathroom shower shelf. I said it may have been caused by my wife’s color stay shampoo and we were glad to come clean it and see the stain for ourselves. We were assured we would have the opportunity to clean the bathroom and see the stain. We inquired several times over the next few weeks without any response due to the fact the invoice stated that the deposit would be returned in three days.

When the host finally responded, he said we would have to wait to clean the unit due to another guest staying there. We waited several weeks to hear from either the host or property manager but they never responded. I contacted the property manager six weeks after we moved out and asked about the stain and when we could expect the deposit back. I never received a reply. The next day my wife received a text from the owner asking for my email stating that his lawyer would contact me for to settle for damages. We are honest people so we gave it to him.

I received an email on September 11th from a bus stop bench lawyer located out of Orem stating that his client was not going to return the deposit and was in fact wishing to seek an additional $1575 for replacement of the entire upper vinyl shower piece. On the estimate, there wasn’t a itemized list of parts or labor, only a dollar amount and the name of a repair company. The estimate didn’t even have a business address. The lawyer also stated there were additional damages such as a scratch on “high end” furniture and stains on towels. The lawyer stated that I have received pictures of the damages; however, I have not. I have text messages from the property manager saying there were attached photos but I never received them and I said so in a response back to her. The unit was also supposedly occupied immediately after we vacated the property, which also calls the damages into question.

Be aware of staying in Ogden with this host. I strongly caution anyone to stay elsewhere. You will be opening yourself up to a money grubbing host looking to make a profit at your expense based on false claims of damages.

Images on Airbnb Never Tell the Real Story

We are a family of four who loves traveling and exploring. We have been an avid fan of Airbnb for a few years and appreciated what it stands for: ‘community’, ‘trust’, etc. We understood that there are always unavoidable inadequacies with the advertised properties, and the photos do not represent reality. We never complained when some of these inadequacies arose, but left a fair review of the situation instead.

We were holidaying in the Spanish island of Majorca last August and stayed in three different Airbnb properties. The first one was beautiful but noisy. A cockroach appeared in one of the rooms. Other than that, the place was immaculate and lovely. It wasn’t a cleaning issue and the noise wasn’t the host’s fault. We left happy and our review reflected that.

The second property was another story. The bedrooms and kitchen were damp ridden, which was most visible in the main bedroom’s recessed wardrobe. The rest of the walls were repainted very patchy, trying to cover the visibility of the damp areas. At check in with a man who spoke no English (which is fine – that happens often), we thought the smell was the kind you experience in old houses. Anyway, the man simply pointed to an tiny old dehumidifier which was meant to resolve the problem of the smell in the air.

Once we realised it was more serious than that at first we felt helpless and cheated by the host. At peak season with two young kids, what were we supposed to do? We paid top price for the property. We had stayed in much better accommodations for that price, before and after our stay. Instead of ruining our only family holiday, we thought we would just bear with it until the next accommodation (which was a decision we were to regret later of course).

We stayed the full week, avoided the bedroom areas, and didn’t use the kitchen much. We documented the dampness, trying to visualise the situation which was not easy. As soon as we checked into the next property and settled in, we checked the Airbnb website to see how we could complain. The first option was to ask for a refund from the host, explaining why. We were told the host rejected our request completely on the grounds that we should’ve complained during our stay to give them a chance to resolve the issue. Okay… but how? Problems such as dampness could not be resolved in an instant. Furthermore, the host clearly lied about the condition of the property which surely must be against what Airbnb stands for: ‘trust’?

The next option was to ‘involve Airbnb’. We did, and returned from our holiday to no reply. After two weeks, we had to call them and we were then contacted through email, asking for more details, stating that we should reply within 48 hours, and that the decision they make would be final. We replied and presented the photos. They replied and rejected our claim. Apparently their policy requires the guests to contact the host or Airbnb with complaints during the stay. Because we didn’t, there was nothing they could do at that point. Okay, fair enough. We appreciated that the property also was no longer advertised on the Airbnb website, which was a relief.

However, is this the way to treat guests? Despite what the policy states, did we not alert Airbnb of this unsafe property and the host’s dishonesty? Were we not cheated? We were charged the full price, a cleaning fee, and an Airbnb service fee. Do we not deserve to have at the least cleaning fee or the service fee refunded, since we can prove the property was not hygenic and the advert on the Airbnb website was misleading? Surely that’s Airbnb’s fault? All we can say is we feel shocked how greedy the company is and the way they treat their customers. We all know that good customer service in respected companies goes beyond policy.

A Few Stained Carpets and a Hidden Guest with Your Stay?

It was a cold, miserable day in April 2017. My husband and I hadn’t been on a vacation where we stayed in one spot longer than two nights for years. We did do a stay at an Airbnb in the Okanagan, in British Columbia, Canada, last year, and it was amazing. We decided to try again, only for a longer time and on a lake. We perused Airbnb until we found the perfect spot. The pictures blew me away, it was exactly what we were looking for, and the reviews were all raving. What could possible go wrong, right? You know the old saying: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is?”

Well, it was. This was the most money per night we have ever spent on a room, at $189/night, and we were so looking forward to it. For months, we dreamed about how relaxing it was going to be. Then we got there. We walked in, and the carpets were deplorable. This was a pet friendly suite, which I was totally fine with, being both a cat and dog owner. We left our dog behind, as she did not meet the height restriction imposed by this stay, which was fine; it would be a more relaxing vacation without her. I had no idea – someone correct me if I’m wrong – but when a place is pet friendly, does that equate to “please bring your canine friend, and make sure it isn’t house trained, and kindly have it piss and defecate anywhere on the carpet it pleases, as many times as possible, so that everyone who comes after will know it was here”?

That’s what the carpets looked like here. It was absolutely disgusting. I took a video and uploaded it to youtube. It really was worse in person, but you can clearly see all the stains in the video. As if that wasn’t enough, the listing said it was for a two-bedroom basement walkout. Perfect, I thought: we’ll have two beds to sleep on, I can see if my sister and her husband can come down from Vancouver for a night or two (out of the five nights we paid for, at an additional cost of $15/night if she stayed), and if she didn’t come, maybe I can starfish on that second bed a night or two, really stretch out and sleep alone. We stepped in, looked around, and tried the second bedroom door off the bathroom (a cheater ensuite). It was blocked from the other side; we couldn’t get in. The door didn’t lock though – it was just something against the door.

We didn’t think twice about it; I didn’t invite my sister and her husband down that first night anyway, thinking maybe they were still cleaning it (wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt). I was wrong. We woke up the next day, sharing the bathroom, brushing our teeth, etc. and we heard coughing from the other side of the door. What? Are you kidding me? There was someone in there, and obviously slept in there, because the coughing continued for at least half an hour before I texted the host and asked to talk to him.

He came down and explained it was his kid in there, that we didn’t ‘need’ the second bedroom, so his child from out of town would be using the room. Really? Gross. The door doesn’t lock, nor did the door to the main house that the suite shared. So I could be taking a shower, and dude could just say ‘oops’, and walk in on me? Let me be clear: the ad was for a two-bedroom basement walkout. Not once did he contact me and tell me we would be sharing the suite, nor that the second bedroom would not be available to me, nor that he would be lowering my rental rate. Not once. He had months to let me know this.

I told him I wasn’t happy about this lack of privacy (what if we wanted to get freaky with it in that second bedroom? None of his business since we paid for it). What if we wanted to get freaky at all, anywhere in that suite? We had to worry about his kid listening and hearing everything? Gross. Just gross. Well guess what? He texted me later and his solution to this was to put a different kid down there; she was ‘quieter’. Great, thanks. That solved everything (dripping with sarcasm).

After two nights, he texted me to tell me there was no longer anyone staying in that room, but we still couldn’t get in. We never even saw what it looked like. I waited, and stewed, and decided to leave an honest review, as follows:

“Rod and Penny are the loveliest of people, and their dog Dusty is adorable. The location is great, beautiful views, lovely patio and hot tub. I am leaving an honest review, because I feel like it’s the only way Airbnb can work for everyone. I was disappointed with the state of the carpets (pet stained – had anyone else mentioned the dirty carpets in their review, we may have cancelled). Being a pet friendly rental should not equal filthy carpets. And I am not a neat freak by any stretch – I just like it clean. Was also not happy at not getting the two-bedroom suite as advertised, with no advanced notice that we were not getting the full suite that we paid $200/night for. After two nights, Rod did tell us no one was staying in that second bedroom anymore (I had told him I was upset about it), but we still did not have access to it; it was blocked shut. That being said, Rod was concerned about our happiness while there, but there was nothing he could do to improve the situation. The damage was already done.”

Airbnb did a good job of responding to my request for money back; I will give them that. They didn’t get me what I asked for, but I got one night’s rent back, plus an additional $50. However, here’s the kicker: my honest review does not show up on his listing. My question is this: how many other people commented about the filthy carpets? If I had seen one complaint about cleanliness, I would have cancelled. When he came down to speak about it, he said how shocked he was, how no one had ever complained about it before, and how he had the carpets cleaned every three weeks.

In our correspondence about a refund, he told me I could have checked out. Right. In the middle of tourist season, I could have checked out, only gotten half my money back, and found a place to stay? I don’t think so. This guy was arrogant to deal with when it came to the refund. He only puts the good reviews up, and he knows his place is filthy. He has the location and pictures on his side, and will continue to scam people. Shame on Airbnb for not making a site where all reviews get posted. I paid my money to stay there, so I should be able to review it for all potential guests to see. I will never use Airbnb again.

Airbnb Sides With Host in Nearly All Cases

My husband and I were looking forward to a hassle-free stay at a beautiful converted barn in Dorking. We were heading to England for a family wedding and wanted somewhere close to the venue so we could have a few drinks and a short inexpensive cab ride back to our lodgings. By renting a large enough place, we were able to have family join in to share the cost and have more time together. The listing for the barn on Airbnb showed a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere and fit the criteria for location and amount of people it could accommodate. My husband went through Airbnb and booked it for Friday, July 7 and Saturday, July 8, 2017.

Prior to our arrival my husband saw a review about the property that made us question whether we wanted to stay there. He emailed the host with his concerns about the lack of cleanliness and she assured him the clients were lying and they had tried to have more people stay than was allowed.

On Friday, we helped with some set up at the wedding venue and were looking forward to hot showers and relaxing at the barn before a night out . The coordinates we were given brought us to a beautiful Airbnb but unfortunately it was not the property we booked. We spent the next 1.5 hours on the phone, using our data by the side of the road trying to find the place. By the time we found it, we were frustrated. Then we pulled into the parking lot beside a garbage pile.

After a tour of the rustic barn, the first sitting area looked fine. Then we passed down a hallway with a cot in it beside a bathroom, the bedroom that was supposed to be an ensuite. We entered the main room which was spacious and could have been wonderful. There were dirty ripped chairs around the table and furniture that was more suited for a frat house. This was not the furniture from the photos on Airbnb. We were worried about sitting on it because it looked unsanitary. The kitchen was small and the carpet was filthy along with the refrigerator.

Upstairs in the loft was an open area considered to be one of the four bedrooms mentioned with three beds, some with linens and some without. There was a shelf with what looked like black mold and a table with crumbs from previous tenants. Some cobwebs were also present. Next we saw an actual bedroom and it was well presented except for the dirty floors. The final and fourth bedroom had two single beds. When we lifted the linens to check for bugs we found insect shell-like casings.

That was really the last straw. When my husband spoke with the host to point out our concerns she was very contradictory. We were honestly worried about bringing our suitcases in and getting bed bugs that would then be brought anywhere we stayed after that and then to our homes. We decided we were not staying at this property and we did not check in. Now we needed somewhere to stay for two nights.

She offered to bring in a cleaner and switch out furniture from her home (this is what she should have done before we arrived). Now we know she used that as her argument with Airbnb. She told them she tried to fix our concerns and we refused. First of all, a reputable host takes pride in her property and ensures it is clean and safe before new tenants arrive. Secondly, no cleaning company could have solved a mold and bed bug issue in a short visit. I guess we were supposed to sit in our car by the garbage heap while all this wonderful cleaning happened. If she felt her home furnishings were more suitable than they should have been in the barn to begin with. The doors didn’t lock and the property looked tired. It in no way resembled the quaint, rustic conversion depicted in her photos on the website.

We had already paid Airbnb approximately $880 (Canadian). We would have split that three ways, two couples and one single, so $176 each person. Then we paid approximately $600 for two nights for three rooms for a total of $1800. The nightmare ended up costing the five of us approximately $2680 total. We have lost way too much considering the host misrepresented herself. She is smug because Airbnb has sided with her so far. She has an unacceptable listing and is still taking in money without even having tenants; that’s a good gig.

Airbnb has been difficult to deal with. They sided with the host because she offered to “rectify” our concerns. She has posted a reply to our review that states we are lying and that my husband is a disagreeable and spoiled man. The Airbnb customer service representative feels she has rectified the situation and sent us an email with her decision. They have not put us through to a new case manager even though I called to reopen the case and was told I would hear from someone by the end of the day on July 21st. It is now July 25th and no one has contacted us. I think they hope we will go away. Sadly, Airbnb lacks true customer service when service is needed. They should be ashamed to allow someone like this host to represent their company. She is abusing their lack of control over listings and taking her word that she meets their criteria.

Ripped off in Brussels after Host’s False Claims

Recently I had an experience that will make me reconsider ever using Airbnb again. I have been coming to Brussels for work on regular basis, usually renting a room and meeting a real Airbnb host. I never had a problem, and always exchanged positive and genuine reviews. Recently I had to stay longer. Therefore I brought my little daughter with me and an au pair, and to play it safe decided to splurge on a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood. I paid 1000 EUR for 11 days in a one-bedroom apartment, and chose a nine-time verified host.

When we arrived there was no host – just a key in a safety lock. There was no bedroom either, just an alcove off the main living space that contained a kitchenette in one corner and a bathroom in the other corner of what once was a very grand parlor. The apartment had stale air, a lot of grime and dust, electricity provided by extension cords as the wall sockets did not work, a door handle falling off, a non-working stove, and no real bed frames but sort of collapsible beds in the middle of the room (the parlor had ornate, curvy walls – there was not a clean line long enough to put a bed against it).

The host warned us in advance very politely that the stove was not working; after one look at it, it was obvious that it had not worked since the 1980’s. It was a big hassle to have it repaired or replaced, so the host tried to shift the responsibility on us, via phone and email. We never really met him. I had the impression he was running the place, or rather several places (as he said in an email), on behalf of someone else. In the middle of the first week the legs on one of the collapsible beds started falling off – probably because they did not fit the frame and were fastened with the plastic tape. Foolishly I just propped the bed with my suitcase, not willing to enter into another marathon of email excuses which took, in case of the stove, three days. The host was relentless in his correspondence.

Working from 9:00 to 18:30, with two people depending on me for everything, I had no energy or time to look for another apartment. We left very early on the final day, not having seen our host. A couple days later, I received a request for 15 EUR for the new bed legs. I refused, and got myself into trouble. Next came the request for 80 EUR. I refused again, pointing out that the damage was already done and patched up with sellotape. The host then blamed it on a previous guest, claiming he had not noticed, but did not retract the claim.

To make a long story short, the Airbnb dispute resolution board sided with the host. Which makes me wonder – how do they verify the hosts ? Who deals with the disputed issues – is it some real guy or an algorithm? There were obvious loopholes in our host’s arguments. He proved to be not completely honest from the beginning, but also very polite and knew how to use the right words (“never in my life”, “hundreds of happy guests”, “in all of my apartments”, etc.) or rather how to work the system. What also made me angry was the fact that the damage compensation was charged to my credit card by Airbnb UK Limited couple of hours before the dispute decision arrived from the Airbnb Sydney unit. This seems to have gone very far from the notion of a simple platform linking authentic hosts and guests together.

Expected Female Airbnb Host in Geneva, Not Male

I recently booked a room on Airbnb with a so-called host in Geneva. I arrived late due to the late departure of my Easy Jet flight and sent an SMS to the host. After making my way to the address listed on the Airbnb website, a Swiss lady was entering the building and let me in. She said she had lived there for more than seventeen years and there was no one by the name of my host.

I called the number listed and a man answered; he said it was a different address and that he had notified me. I didn’t have access to email for only one day. The kind Swiss lady accompanied me to the new address. There we were met by a man wearing only a pair of shorts. I asked where the host was and he said she was not there. I asked when she would return, and he said perhaps it would be tomorrow.

As a solo woman traveller I told him that I was not going to stay in an apartment with an unknown man. He then said: “Well then, go away and shut the door!”

The lady with me said she would not have stayed there either. I then had to look for a hotel at close to midnight, at great cost. This was a total misrepresentation of the property.

I contacted Airbnb and received no answer. To add insult to injury, the host refused to give me a refund. I have to add that this was the first time I have had such a bad experience with Airbnb after two other experiences. I never would have expected scammers in Switzerland. It’s a good thing I’m half Swiss, have lived in Geneva, and speak enough French. Heaven knows what any other non-French speaking woman would have done. He was a horrid rude man. Be warned they are still listed.

Airbnb Nightmare with Lying Host in Virginia Beach

We rented a private room in an apartment in Virginia Beach for three nights for the weekend of July 4th. The apartment was listed as non-smoking, but in reality there was a strong, pungent cigarette odor that was pervasive; you could smell it in the sheets, the towels, and even stuck to my clothing. The apartment was also not very clean. There was a piece of toilet paper on the bedroom carpet. There was a ring of worn-in grime around the toilet bowl, dishes in the kitchen sink, and hair on the bathroom sink; our host did not even bother to clean the apartment before we arrived.

My boyfriend was allergic to cats and the host did not specify that a cat lived there. We filed a complaint with Airbnb. They reached out to the host, who claimed that he never smoked inside the apartment, that he cleaned it before he left, and that the grime around the toilet bowl was not actually dirt, but a stain leftover from a remodeling project. Basically the host just gave Airbnb outrageous lies.

We cut our stay short and stayed two nights instead of three. The host initially offered to refund us for two nights, but reneged and then offered to refund us for only one night. Airbnb offered to refund us one night to make up for the inconvenience. While the refund from Airbnb went through, we are still waiting for the refund from our host… who knows when that will ever arrive.

Airbnb is essentially only an advertising platform for people renting out their spaces. Their conflict resolution center has no power to compel hosts to issue refunds or resolve issues. There is no quality assurance and no inspections of properties. Airbnb’s policy states that if you contact them within 24 hours of check-in and report issues with a listing related to cleanliness and misrepresentation, they will refund you or find alternate accommodation. In this case, we followed the rules but they seemed to take the host’s side over ours and made every effort to give our host the benefit of the doubt, despite all the photographic evidence that we submitted.

The Dungeon of Horror at NYC Airbnb

This was my first and last time using Airbnb; it is a total scam. I picked a room from an ad on Airbnb in NYC. The price was very much comparable to that of a decent hotel (about 100 EUR per day) but I had heard the Airbnb experience was great. Since I was planning to stay seven days, it was about 700 EUR altogether.

I arrived at the place. It turned out a total dungeon owned by an old lady. The picture the ad showed was actually the kitchen/living room in which the lady had put her bed just beside the fridge and the cookers. The angle of the picture made it look like a cozy place to stay, but in reality it was below human standards. It also turned out the room I had rented was not the one in the picture (the actual living room) but some smelly dark hole in which I was not ready to stay for one moment.

I politely said to the woman that the place was not what I expected, and she said “no problem; we can cancel.”

I tried to cancel the booking through the app, but it turned out Airbnb would retain around 250 EUR. Then I called Airbnb to see how I could recover my 250 EUR. They said I should request a refund from the owner – that she only had to accept the request, and that would be it. I did what they asked, she claimed that she had returned them, and everything seemed okay. It should have appeared in my account after a couple of days.

I went to a hotel and after a couple of days, there was still no money back. I contacted the host; several times she confirmed she had accepted the request. A few days more… still no money. I called Airbnb, and they said the old lady hadn’t accepted the request after all, and that they could not do anything.

To sum up: an ad which was absolutely misleading, miserable conditions in which only a poor old woman can live in, an obvious scam where she claimed several times she had returned the money, and Airbnb washing its hands and taking its share of the scam despite of the whole conversation concerning the return of my money was clearly stated in their message system. Airbnb – a total scam. Save your money and your nerves. Stay away.