Bad First Time Experience in Vancouver

My husband and I planned a vacation to Vancouver in August 2016. We had never gone the Airbnb route, but knew friends who had good experiences. We decided to book a studio apartment in the heart of Yaletown. This was in May 2016. Reviews for this place were excellent. The pre-booking responsiveness from the host was very good. As soon as she had our booking, everything went downhill. After the booking, I tried contacting the host, as I had a couple of questions about the unit. No response, even though I tried contacting the host via Airbnb messaging, email, and telephone (left messages).

A month later, I really began to question if we did the right thing. You really shouldn’t have to worry about this stuff when you’re planning a vacation. I tried calling the host again, but this time did a *67 so that my telephone number would be blocked. Sure enough, the host answered. She was in Costa Rica for a vacation, and said she answered because a “weird number showed up.” I told her I had been concerned because I hadn’t heard from her in a month and that I was relieved to talk to her. She apologized and said everything was fine and not to worry; we could meet up at the Starbucks at the bottom of her building at a specified time. Everything seemed good.

In August 2016, a week before our stay, I tried contacting the host to see if we could meet a bit earlier (flight issue). Again, there was no response, even with follow-up Airbnb messaging, email, and phone message. I contacted Airbnb the night before we were scheduled to arrive. They said they would help us find alternate accommodation if there was a problem. We arrived at the meeting spot, not knowing if the host was even going to show up. Fortunately, she did, and apologized, saying that she had been very busy. At this point, I was just relieved to see her and just wanted to get to the unit. She gave us the keys, did not come up to show us anything, and said she had Apple TV only, not cable (as specified in her ad). This was not a big deal, as we were on vacation and probably only going to watch TV in the morning or late at night. We told her we didn’t have any experience with Apple TV, and she said, “Just play with it. It’s really easy.”

Thankfully, the unit was okay, but it could have used more cleaning in some areas. There was salt all over one part of the kitchen counter, the top of the fridge was very dirty (only noticed because we were placing something there), the microwave oven was very dirty on the inside, and there were leftover items in the fridge from previous guests (not perishables, but used bottles, etc). The place also hadn’t been dusted in a long time. Thankfully, the bathroom was clean and the sheets had been changed. Even though I didn’t think I should have to do this, I did a quick clean of the place, as we were going to be there for a week. Not a huge deal, as the place was small, but guests should show up to a clean place: that should be a given. My husband spent about an hour and a half figuring out how the Apple TV worked. Of course these things are easy when you know what to do. All was good.

After about three days, the Internet and Apple TV died. We figured it was temporary, but after half a day, I contacted the Internet provider, and they told me the host didn’t pay her bill. Really? I was surprised they even disclosed that information to me. We had to play the contact-the-host game again, which I knew was not going to be fun, based on our past experience with her. No response, but no surprise. The next day, we contacted Airbnb to let them know about the host’s lack of responsiveness and the Internet issue. They also couldn’t get in touch with the host, and offered to find us new accommodations (including hotels). It was very late in the evening, and they couldn’t find a reasonably priced hotel in the area where we were staying.

We wanted to stay in the Yaletown neighbourhood, as we were vacationing with relatives, who had booked a hotel a couple of blocks from our unit. We were also concerned for the next guest, who was slated to arrive right after us. Airbnb told us that if they didn’t hear from the host within a specified time, they would find alternate arrangements for the next guest. This was communicated to the host, and all of a sudden she got back to us the next day. I suspect the only reason this happened is because she was afraid of losing the next week’s business. She apologized again, said it was a billing glitch, and that it would be resolved quickly. Thankfully, it was resolved within 24 hours. By that point, we had spent so much time and energy dealing with this that we decided to just stay put. We really didn’t want to use up more vacation time dealing with all this by moving to another place. Airbnb ended up crediting us $250 for our trouble.

In my post-stay review, I didn’t go into details, but said that the host’s post-booking responsiveness was terrible, and that, for that reason alone, I would not book that unit again. The host is then allowed to comment on your review. In a nutshell, she said she was troubled by my review, that the key passing went fine, and that I must’ve been a little worried about the check-in process and lack of concierge to check us in. Really? She didn’t get it at all. We were never worried about the check-in process. It was the lack of responsiveness that caused us issues. I don’t understand all the great guest reviews. Maybe we were just unlucky, or maybe people who had issues don’t post reviews, as it’s always more difficult to post a negative review after you’ve met the host, especially if the person is nice. If someone wants to be in the Airbnb rental business, getting back to guests on a timely basis is really important in my book. Not sure if we would go the Airbnb route again. Maybe we’d try it again if we were going somewhere nearby for a couple of days, but only with a backup plan.

No Keys to Enter, No Host to Call

I contracted a flat in London. I was not that thrilled that I had to get the keys at a nearby pub but I dealt with it. When I showed up at the pub – along with a friend who was not at all comfortable with renting from Airbnb in the first place – I was told: Guess what? The keys aren’t here! They usually are here all the time, but they are not here now! I then texted AND called the host. No response. We had plans arranged a few hours later, but that was a non-factor at this point. I went to the apartment building where the flat was located and began ringing each doorbell for each flat. One young man answered, and he was so kind – he managed to track down the host and the host’s girlfriend was able to get us into the flat. So just our first day was basically ruined, but what bothered me more was that there was never any contact from the host – no “sorry about that” or anything. Not surprisingly, I didn’t get a “request for review” for that visit so I didn’t give the host a bad review (since I wasn’t asked!). It’s all water under the bridge now – it happened in October 2015 – but I just had (if you can believe it) an even worse experience, so I now decided I should report this other terrible experience. My advice: ALWAYS bring a number where you can contact Airbnb with a problem. I had the host’s number only – and was later reprimanded for not contacting Airbnb itself (even though they make it as difficult as possible to find an actual phone number to reach them!)

Stranded by Airbnb after a Rock Festival

My daughter took her first trip out of the country and booked Airbnb for a rock festival… the host never showed up, never emailed her, and didn’t even have the decency to answer her phone! She, of course, phones home in a panic, after hours of phone calls to Airbnb, calling hotels in the area (of course nothing was available – it was a rock festival weekend!) thinking she and her friend will be on the street, crying and upset! Worst experience ever! Three hours later and still, nothing happened! Airbnb said they will refund her money but when someone needs a place to stay what help is that! My advice: STAY AWAY!

Coachella Disaster: Airbnb Cancelled after Check-In


I had a terrible experience with this host.  I’m the type of guy that prepares for everything. After this experience I realize I cannot place any amount of responsibility for the success of my vacation in the hands of strangers with no track record. I will be using reputable hotel chains for the rest of my life. At least they have process and procedure in place and aren’t flaky Airbnb NOOB hosts that can’t get their stuff together! I actually had a hotel booked ready to go… but no…

“Why don’t we try an Airbnb?” they said. “It would be roomier,” they said.

“YES! Great idea!” NOT! We planned to check in to our accommodations that Thursday and got the Airbnb booked and confirmed with the host on Tuesday. Somewhat short notice but as a guest I had expected that this room would have been ready to be used if those dates were listed as available. Everything started off smoothly: after the confirmation and payment I reached out to the host via text and they replied stating they would call me that evening. No call came that evening. The next day was Wednesday, one day prior to check in. I again reached out to the host via text and Airbnb but never got a response. A host going dark within 24 hours of check in is not good. The check in day arrives and I’m getting nervous. I already cancelled my hotel plans so that I wouldn’t get charged so now I have NOTHING to fall back on.

The first thing I do that morning at 8:00 AM is contact Airbnb stating I haven’t heard from this host. They say they will contact them and get back to me asap. They call me back around 9:00 AM saying they spoke with the host and the host was having issues getting a cleaning crew to prepare the condo. I said I didn’t plan to check in until 10:00 PM anyways so that should give them time. The Airbnb rep told me to contact the host directly to complete the booking. I said, “OK, I’ll call them after I get off work.”

So I texted and messaged the host throughout the day stating I would call around 5:00 PM. At 5:00 PM I called (straight to voicemail) and texted the host asking to make arrangements. I finally get a text back at 6:00 PM saying they couldn’t have the condo cleaned in time for my arrival which would have been 7 HOURS AFTER CHECK IN, at 10:00 PM! Are you kidding me? Please get your life together! You have a responsibility when you placed that listing! So two hours after I was supposed to check in I’m screwed and back to square one, trying to find accommodation for the vacation! I was supposed to have left already! Unreal! I couldn’t imagine myself in this situation in a million years.

To top it all off, Airbnb didn’t have this flagged as urgent in their system so I never got a call back from them even though the host notified Airbnb at 12:00 PM that they would have to cancel. Thanks for letting me know Airbnb! And thank you, host, for not letting me know that very important and pertinent information. FLAKE! I didn’t even get a cancellation notice in my inbox until 6:00 PM, three hours after check in! One Airbnb agent was able to restore quite a bit of faith by getting me a FULL refund and getting one night at a nearby hotel. Although I appreciate the gesture, it still required us to check out the next day and check in to another hotel for the remainder of our vacation causing us to lose half a day at the Coachella Music Festival due to the hotel’s 3:00 PM check-in rule. And with the prices having skyrocketed I actually ended up paying MORE for my trip. Not to mention that when I checked into the “Free Night Hotel” booked by Airbnb I had to put down a credit card for incidentals…. Guess whose credit card got charged at checkout for the “free night”? You guessed it! MY AMEX. Not the credit card put down by Airbnb when THEY booked the complimentary night for me. So now I have to fight Hilton’s accounting department on that one. What a joyous experience this has been! As I mentioned at the beginning: experience, process, and procedure will now win out in favor of any cost savings or added benefits that can be brought by using Airbnb.