Airbnb was no Help with Nasty Host

blankblankblankblank

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.”

Strict Cancellation Policy, Dangerous Neighborhoods

I was looking for a property that we could reserve for four nights to take a long awaited family vacation. We are two adults and two younger children, ages 2 and 8. I thought I had found the perfect place; from the pictures it seemed very nice. However, after I booked the reservation and the host confirmed it, she sent me an email and said that she “pre-approved” my request to book and then asked me to review the house rules and let her know if there was anything I was uncomfortable with. So I did. A couple house rules suggested that I should have something to worry about: close the shades at night and don’t bring a gun? That’s fine. I didn’t have a problem doing that… but why was this necessary? So I decided to further research the neighborhood now that I was able to view the address. I was shocked. There were several shootings just around the block within the last couple of weeks, as well as arrests for drugs, car theft, larceny, and so on. Just within a couple of blocks!

To me, this did not seem like a “relaxing” destination for our family of four. I had hoped to push the stroller around town and check out the sights. There was no way I was going to put my family in danger, so I cancelled the reservation within two hours of booking it. Wouldn’t you know… I only received half of my money back, even though the dates were 90 days out and I cancelled less than 12 hours after submitting the request! This host wasn’t losing any money. She has ample time to book those dates. The host uses a strict cancellation policy. I’m okay with this and I understand the reasoning behind it. However, 90 days out and cancelled within 12 hours? That’s just not fair. So the host writes to me and says she will give me a full refund if someone books the dates in the mean time. I told her that is fine with me.

What does she do? She makes those dates unavailable so they cannot be booked. She has a four night minimum and marks one of those days on her calendar as being unavailable, effectively making them all unavailable, and then she reduces the nightly costs by 50%. I have a suspicion that she knows this is a dangerous neighborhood and that this happens all the time. I don’t think I’m the first (nor will I be the last) person who has booked with her, cancelled when we found out where this place is and then lost half of our money. This host is getting paid for doing nothing. She does have several reviews, some mentioning the neighborhood on a negative light, though I wonder how many cancelled and cannot leave feedback. I’d love to see those numbers, because all I keep hearing from Airbnb is that “she has good feedback on the property.”

Yes, I read that feedback and none of the reviewers mention having children. It would be one thing if just my husband and I were staying there. I don’t mind the risk if we are solely responsible for ourselves, but I have two children to be responsible for and I will not put them in harm’s way for the sake of a family vacation. No thanks! Not to mention that dodging bullets and crackheads is not my idea of a “relaxing family vacation”!

At this point I’m beyond frustrated. I’ve reached out to Airbnb customer service several times over the past couple of weeks, spent hours on hold, spoken to several representatives who keep saying that my case is being “escalated.” I talked to someone in the “experience department,” who said he’d call me back after they speak to the host. The host doesn’t have my money. I know it’s in an escrow with Airbnb and they could return it to me at any time. I asked them what sort of liability they would have if someone were murdered at a property they advertise and she expressed concern, then said, “Some people may be comfortable walking around Compton while others would not be.”

I realize this. I totally get it. I grew up outside of Atlanta in an unsavory neighborhood as a child, but I did not have a choice at that time. However, as an adult, I have a choice to not bring my kids to a dangerous neighborhood on vacation. Does anyone choose to vacation in Compton? I doubt it! The next step is filing a claim with my credit card company because I just want to move on with my life! By the way, this is not the first property I’ve booked on Airbnb with a strict cancellation policy. In fact, we just got married at a property less than six months ago and it went flawlessly. However, this individual is hosting a shady rip off while Airbnb idly stands by.

Airbnb Nightmare: Transient Hippie Flophouse

This was my first experience with Airbnb and I will never recommend it to anyone. My lesson: Always use a legitimate hotel. I booked a long-term rental in a place that looked deceptively nice in the photo and description. I thought I would be staying with a woman and her children: a safe, family-oriented home, or so I thought. When I asked if the bathroom was shared, I was told it was but that Carissa, the “host” (a loosely used term because flophouse operator is more accurate), could work around my schedule. Unfortunately, Carissa didn’t tell me the bathroom would also be shared with any transient she could shove into any space she had. She tried to make it out to be some hippie idea of communal living, but her real colours showed when it came time for money. She is very much in this to try to squeeze as much out of unsuspecting renters as she can. I’m not exaggerating when I say she rents out every place she can: all the bedrooms, the basement, the shed in the backyard (for real), and a grungy algae-covered camping trailer in the driveway. And all these people use the same bathroom.

The biggest problem was that despite the numerous unknown characters lingering about, she left the doors unlocked to the house at all times and didn’t have a door that locked on the room I rented for me to secure my things while I was out. I stayed one night, only because I had nowhere else to go, then left. That started the second part of the horrible Airbnb experience. I tried to get a refund, but Carissa said it was “non-refundable.” I had booked for five weeks! She was going to keep all that money for one night. Finally, she said she’d look at how many times she rented the room during the time and give me a refund based on this at the end of the originally booked stay. I tracked that she rented that same room out for 13 days. But, when I contacted Carissa, there was no reply within the 72 hours she had to respond.

So I started the resolution process through Airbnb. After a number of emails, Airbnb told me I’d get a partial refund (so my one night stay in a hellhole would only cost me about $700 after the supposed refund). I was told the refund would reach me within five business days. It’s been seven business days and still nothing. When I tried to email Airbnb about it, the automated response told me the issue was “closed” so they wouldn’t be responding! I’ll reiterate: Stick with hotels. Don’t be fooled by seemingly normal rentals.

Waterfront Property doesn’t Mean 5km from the Beach

I booked a property in the Canadian wilderness. The cover photo was of this gorgeous beach and a large body of water, with the caption: “view from the gazebo.” Multiple other photos show this “private” beach, but once I booked the property I discovered the address is nowhere near any beach, just a tiny little pond. I asked the host about this just two hours after booking and told her I wanted to cancel my reservation and get a refund because it seemed like the property bordered a beach based upon her listing. She told me those photos must have been the tiny pond on the property and there is a river one can access 5 kilometers away. I didn’t book this place to stay 5 kilometers from a beach!

I immediately emailed her again, stating that based upon my Google Earth search, the pond is tiny and not what I was expecting based upon the photos. Three days later she replied the photos are actually of the river 5 kilometers away, and stated everything was made clear in her listing – so it’s my fault for not reading everything. I went online to look at her new Airbnb listing, and she changed everything! The photo that got me to make the booking is clearly labeled as a beach with river access 5 kilometers away and is no longer the cover photo. She now mentions multiple times in the description that the beach photo is of the river 5 kilometers away. So clearly these photos are of the river not the pond next to the residence! I asked for a refund since she clearly acknowledged her listing wasn’t clear – hence the extensive changes – and she refused. I lost 50% of the $1000 I paid for the week. DON’T book this property; the host is dishonest! I still haven’t heard anything from the Airbnb resolution center!

Airbnb is a Joke – Worst Experience Ever in DC

I’m still trying to get a refund after an apartment host lied about his listing (in Washington, D.C.) I showed up to this piece of garbage apartment after a coast-to-coast flight (arrived at 9pm). The apartment was filthy, gross, and dirty: garbage overflowing in the kitchen and bathroom, bed sheets dirty and thrown on the floor, dirty socks and tennis shoes on the floor next to the bed, a wet dirty towel hanging sideways off the bathroom towel rack, etc. It was actually frightening.

I was shocked and not sure what to do. So I reached out to the so-called “host”… and never heard back. It took him 30+ minutes to finally contact me and proceeded to call me a “liar”, and that his cleaning lady had just cleaned the place. I sent him photos, and said I was leaving. He said he would like to “work it out” and offered me a $50 refund. I told him it was unacceptable and I needed a place to sleep that night. So I left (returned the keys to the doorman of the building). The “host” then texted me and threatened to sue me (he said he was an attorney) if I posted a negative rating on the Airbnb website. Ha! That’s a good one.

An official complaint (with photos and documentation) was filed May 19th, 2016. AMEX did a conference call with myself and Airbnb as well… to no avail. Anyway, there it is straight up. If you like this kind of treatment, then go for it. If you are a professional and expect good customer service from intelligent human beings, then run. Airbnb does not offer this. They hand you ill-trained customer service reps who lie, coddle you with a lot of false language like “Oh, I am so sorry that happened to you!”, and then NEVER DO ANYTHING to resolve the situation.

Finding yourself Stuck in an Airbnb Drug Den

We are a young couple who has been using Airbnb for more than a year traveling in many countries. Unfortunately, our last stay in Casablanca wasn’t as pleasant as previous ones. There were 6 or 7 people living in the apartment. The first night everything was fine, but the second night they held some kind of party and were smoking weed and probably some other cheap drugs, and drinking a lot of alcohol. Did I mention the listing stated that apartment was “quiet” and suitable for “families traveling with children”? Maybe a family of meth heads.

We wanted to complain, but our host was never in the house; those people were all her “friends”, or permanent tenants we should say. It was really late so we decided to contact our host in the morning. When we woke up, we found this message from our host, informing us that we should pay “additional” fees to the other tenants, because they “took care of us”. We didn’t even understand what the hell was going on – what additional fees? – and thought the booking transaction had already been completed on the website. She was probably high too.

Anyway, we refused to pay the amount she was asking for. That’s when things got really weird. She asked us to hand in our passports along with a fee to make a “copy” for the police. We were just standing there thinking: “Well, time to GET THE HELL out of here.” It was clear that she just wanted to confiscate our documents so we wouldn’t leave… or for some other purpose. It didn’t really feel like she was asking; it felt like she was threatening us. Apparently, all guests “were asked to do the same for legal purposes.”  So you’re trying to tell me that you actually follow the law yet allow drug parties in your house? Anyway, we just went back to our room, immediately packed our things, and left. The only good thing was that Airbnb responded quickly to our complaint and gave us our money back, in a matter or hours. Anyway, be careful guys!

Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Airbnb Hell

We booked a stay with a couple in Edinburgh for the 2015 Fringe Festival. It was our first experience using Airbnb. Although the room looked nice in the photos and was fine in real life, it turned out the young couple renting the room were renting themselves – evidently from a very cruddy landlord – and had decamped to the lounge for the Fringe in their one-bedroom flat (up six flights of stone steps). We therefore had access to a cramped and windowless kitchen and a cramped and windowless bathroom only. The water pressure was ridiculously weak throughout the flat and the WC didn’t flush without pouring a bucket of water (which took ages to fill from the low pressure taps) into the cistern. The shower also leaked, as did the wash hand basin.

The couple were obviously getting drunk every night on their rent money from us and the woman barged into our room one night and nearly got into bed with us, evidently having forgotten they had rented their room out! They also needed to go through our room to get to their washing machine, which was in a tiny room behind the bedroom. The kitchen was very poorly equipped and we were given nothing with which to wash up and no space to put our breakfast things. The man was pleasant enough but his partner was sullen and avoided us. Luckily we were out most of the time at shows or our stay would have been unbearable. They had the cheek to press for a review when we left, but we felt the kindest thing to do was say nothing as we had nothing good to say about our stay. Never again!

Airbnb not Checking what Hosts are Offering

We have used Airbnb extensively in the past, traveling overseas. We are finding it increasingly true that what we read on Airbnb about the offerings at a certain place is not the reality when you arrive. You are caught short without the opportunity to find alternative accommodation. Our experience is: don’t trust what you read on Airbnb, do your own homework, and ask detailed questions before you commit.

For example: “On site parking” should mean on the property, not two kilometers away if you are lucky to find a spot! A supply of essentials means just that, not only a toilet roll! Airbnb is not taking any responsibility for what is advertised on their site; it is very much “let the buyer beware.”

Beware of Strict Cancellation Policies and Hosts that do not help you Cancel

I was a novice Airbnb user and did not understand that the onus was on me to cancel a reservation that I wanted to change. My traveling companion had to cancel her trip with me to Hawaii due to an unplanned chemo-treatment and my Airbnb host in Honolulu was not willing to change my reservation. I incorrectly presumed that she would cancel the reservation when she refused to alter it. Her communication skills were not great and I feel she mislead me about Airbnb’s policies on cancellation. Bottom-line – I paid for three nights in Honolulu that I did not get and Airbnb will not let me review the host in terms of her communication skills. She also promised a partial refund which was never sent. Needless to say, she is not very honest and future Airbnb users who fall for her very high rating may regret that they chose her. Airbnb deserves credit for refunding to me their commission; but the trust system does not work well if they do not allow me to leave a review on my experience with her. Filtering out low ratings makes everyone look “way above average.” Suggest Airbnb allow all cancelled guests who end up paying for the accommodation to review the host on the host’s communication skills.