Terrible Host Leaves us Stranded in Montreal

We arrived at the designated apartment building in Montreal on a Friday evening around 6:45. The person at the front desk knew nothing about Airbnb and called the building manager. He searched and advised us that there were no keys left for us. I texted, then called the host at the number she provided – only to hear an answering machine message in French. I proceeded to call various numbers for Airbnb including the one listed under “In case of Emergency” to no avail. I called Corporate Stays to learn that this reservation was not made through them so they couldn’t help. After much frustration and exhaustion I proceed to look for available hotel rooms, which I finally had success with at 10:50. We booked a hotel room for three nights for twice the price we already paid for Airbnb. I texted Airbnb asking for a refund since I couldn’t use the apartment and their response was that the host’s cancellation policy was “strict”; my refund would be zero. After this experience I will never use Airbnb again. Their customer service sucks so they must attract a lot of scammers. All the numbers provided had automated messages that never led to a human being. The building manager at the apartment house stated that the host is “very sloppy” and he would never do business with her. I will give her a negative review, and also get American Express involved in the dispute if I get no satisfaction on a full refund. I also expect to be reimbursed for my hotel stay. A woman from Australia was stuck in the same situation as we were and she’s an employee of Airbnb. She tried to help us but to no avail. However, she assured us that refunds and a free hotel stay would be ours.

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.

Double Booked, Impossible to Contact Airbnb Support

I have used Airbnb 20 times to stay in Charlotte on business with no issues. Two weeks ago I landed in the morning and had a packed day of meetings ending with a dinner meeting with clients. I was wiped out and ready to relax. I noticed I did not have an email from the host. I had stayed at this Airbnb before and they used an electronic keypad app for your phone. I called the host and he said I needed to call another guy to check me in. I called the other guy, who said: “Who are you? The home is already rented. Someone is staying there now. You can try the Comfort Inn… maybe.”

I called the other host back and he said: “Let me call the guy and see what is up.” Keep in mind it was 9:30 PM and I was sitting in my rental car in front of the property. All I wanted was to check in. Thirty minutes went by and there was no call back. I called again and was told that the “other guy messed up, he’s not quite sure what was going on,”

He never said anything like “I’m sorry, let me help fix this”… nothing. I scrambled to find a hotel room (the downtown area sells out often) and I paid $700 for three nights after I had paid Airbnb $425 for those same three nights. It has been two weeks and I have been chasing the guy to get my refund. Today he said Airbnb thought it was fair for him to give me back half. Are you kidding? You need to give it all back and cover the additional $275 I have now paid for the hotel. It is too bad. The idea is great but Airbnb has almost no customer service; it is like the wild west.

Host Didn’t Show, And No Help From Airbnb

For a one-day meeting in Boston I scheduled an Airbnb stay with an early morning flight out. The agreement was for me to arrive “around 5:00 PM” which is what I did; at 5:02 PM I showed up in front of the locked door of the apartment building. The profile didn’t say which apartment, and the host hadn’t told me me. I called, and there was no response. I texted… nothing. I waited, and no one showed. Fifteen minutes later I texted again. Thirty minutes later again… nothing. By 5:45 PM I had had enough and called a cab to find myself a hotel in Boston, which, on a Friday evening, is a tricky and expensive thing to do. I ended up in the Park Plaza with a shoebox of a room for $330, and I immediately contacted Airbnb through their website to report this issue. Yes, I clicked the “This is about the current trip”. A day later and there’s still no word from Airbnb and no acknowledgment of my email, let alone attendance to this issue. I will continue to nag. I want my money back and I want the added expenses refunded that this has caused me.

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.

Marietta Nightmare: Everything is an Uphill Battle with Airbnb

Last week, my business partner and I had a last minute business trip come up. We needed to go to Marietta, Georgia. Most hotels were full or their rates were sensational, so I decided to give Airbnb a shot for the first time. Normally I take my time, do my due diligence, and made sure everything is in order, but I only had two hours to find a place to stay, book it, get last minute briefings finalized, and pack. I admit, I should have done more research on the place.

The place reminded me of Victorian townhouses you see sprinkled across England. The rate was $120, which seemed fair for a full townhouse. I noted check in was anytime after 4:00 PM. All seemed well, so I clicked “accept.” Next thing I know I get a message. The host wrote to me in broken southern English and immediately I was concerned. He says he works until 6:30 and has to get the place ready, so he can’t let us in until 8:30 PM. I was annoyed and it was obviously contradictory with what he had stated on his profile. However, I went along with it.

Two minutes later, my phone dinged again. It was another message from the host: this time he was trying to change the reservation. Instead of offering a full house, he was trying to have us agree to just use the master bedroom, so that he can rent other areas of the townhouse to other people. Then I was pissed. I declined the request and sent him a rather forceful message demanding that he honor the original reservation. He apologized and explained that he thought he had set the price a night at $129/139; he said was going to lose money now, but he would honor the price set anyway.

At this point, I wanted out of the reservation. I could feel that this was now going south and sensing that when we arrived, he was probably going to try and hit us up for more money. I just knew this was only the beginning, so I logged onto Airbnb to try and cancel my reservation. It had literally only been about 15-20 minutes since I booked the place and I figured I’d have no problems cancelling. That’s when I found out I was only getting 50% of my money back. I tried calling their number and after several attempts, realized that I would never be put through to a real person.

I was freaking out, but decided to keep an open mind. We arrived in Marietta and first things first: we wanted to see where we were staying. It was only 4:30 or 5:00 PM, so we figured we’ll do a drive by, go eat, and then meet the host afterwards. Hopefully, all would be well.

As soon as we turned the corner into his cul-de-sac, my heart dropped. It was a ghetto: broken down cars everywhere. Nasty, filthy… and then I saw the place. He had taken a close up shot of the front of his house, so that you wouldn’t see what it was actually surrounded by: human decay.

I was out. I was so out I couldn’t even see straight I was so mad. Mostly mad at myself, for not having done my research. I logged into Airbnb again and decided I would take the loss of $100 and change. Nope, it had changed again; now, I would lose the entire payment. We went to the Hilton and checked in there. We waited it out and I decided I would go back around 8:30 PM and let the guy know I wasn’t interested in the place. Then I would speak to Airbnb and explain that “based on their terms and conditions”, I was eligible for a full refund. It clearly states in their terms, if you feel your safety is in jeopardy, you are entitled to full compensation.

I definitely had a case. The guy never showed up at 8:30, so now I’m golden. Or so I thought… I went back to my nice, clean, safe hotel and started a conversation over the Airbnb messaging service. I explain what happened in gross detail and requested a full refund. Some guy who barely spoke English told me he needed photos as proof. I never thought to take pictures; I hadn’t even been inside the place, so I Google mapped it and send him screen shots of the dilapidated neighborhood. Long story short, the Airbnb desk jockey told me he was not refunding my money. I could have gotten nasty. Told him he was nothing more than a slave to a silicon valley, or a corporate monster… but I left it at that and phoned my credit card company. I’ll get money money back, but my vengeance isn’t over. This post is just the tip of the iceberg. I’ll rant and rave until the day Airbnb finally goes bankrupt, because they will. There’s just no way a company with that kind of customer service is going to make it.

Mad in Madrid after Incompetent Customer Service

I am stuck and out of luck and money. I arrived from Italy after a glorious three-city stay and went to my Airbnb, where my host was nowhere to be found. I contacted Airbnb who suggested I stay in a hotel. They assured me someone would call me within an hour or two. Mind you: I didn’t check into my hotel until midnight. I woke up the next morning and called because no one from Airbnb had called. They said they would reimburse me for the hotel stay and help me find another one. I was on the phone for approximately 1.5 hours and then told them they were getting me out of the hotel. I was told to go get something to eat and they would cover it up to $50. Then I was told to extend my hotel room for another night, which they would pay for as well. I was also advised they would pay for my rental car, taxi, and phone calls to them. As of today, seven days later, I am in an Airbnb but only one night of the refund has been processed (not received). I have spoken to several customer service representatives and even been hung up on because they said they could not reach my representative and I would have to wait. There was no supervisor, they don’t have an organizational chart, and apparently the person I needed to speak to was in another part of the country. I am now up to almost $1000 in expenses out of pocket and stuck in my Airbnb because my spending money is tied up.

Left Wandering the Berlin Streets at Night

Our host was very friendly before our arrival. But when we (my girlfriend and I) arrived at the apartment, we didn’t find the key where he told us it would be. I told him our arrival time two times: it would be in the middle of the night, around 11:30 PM. We were lucky to find a pub, because it was so late. The guy from that pub opened for us, even though he was closing, and helped us. We called the host and told him that the key was not there. He told us that the cleaning service forgot to put the key there and told us to find a cheap hotel and that he would pay for our room. I agreed and the guy from the pub found us a hotel in the area. Around midnight we left the pub and reached the hotel, but it was fully booked. We went to a second one, and so on. We checked five hotels and every hotel was fully booked. Around 1:00 AM I called once again and told him that, but he told us that the only solution is to keep looking for a hotel room. Around 2:00 AM, after visiting another three hotels, I got really angry. We were walking around in the middle of the night, it was raining, and we were in a city where we don’t know anyone. We were literally  out on the streets. I called him again and told him that if he did not bring the key, I would go to the police. After ten minutes, he told that he found the key and asked us to take a taxi and return to his apartment. We were very exhausted and disappointed in this situation and of course it had an influence on our staying in Berlin. It was a very “nice welcome” to Berlin from our host. I paid for three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In the end, after that situation, we checked in Saturday morning (around 3:00 AM) and the host refunded me $51 for Friday night. He also told me that he would refund the money for the taxi, but five days have already passed and nothing has happened. I think I will file a claim with Airbnb. I think in this situation, we should receive a refund on moral grounds.

Late Arrival, Host Abandoned me in Belfast

I was suppose to stay with a host in Belfast tonight. We agreed to check in at 8:00 PM earlier in the day. After encountering an accident in the highway I messaged to say that I would be there around 20:30. I arrived at 20:30 only to have him message me, saying: “You missed check-in. Your problem. You know the rules.” He then stopped responding to all forms of communication. Firstly, that is a shocking response. Airbnb hosts surely can’t be allowed to be completely rigid on precise check-in times, especially when you’re traveling from far away. And if they do need to go somewhere surely there has to be a way to come to a solution. I even offered to come and collect the keys from wherever he was and no reply. Secondly, having no way to contact anyone or to charge my phone, I was left stranded in the cold. Airbnb was also no help and the call center was unresponsive. I love Airbnb but now I can see that it’s a horrible service when they have not vetted the host properly – because central customer support is shocking. I didn’t even get a full refund; they kept the funds for future use. I’m inclined to never use the service again.

Thirdly, the “community” that Airbnb is supposedly trying to build surely doesn’t have room for this kind of host but it’s in moments like this that I see that they don’t do anything to vet hosts. Lastly, even after posting all of this, I’ve tried to find a way to contact Airbnb and complain; there is basically no way to contact them. It’s shocking. What are they taking the +10% service fee for? Surely there should be an email complaint service that all customer based organizations have – even terrible ones. The reservation was canceled and so trying to get help about it is no longer an option. Pathetic, especially from a company built upon an image of customer service. The minute you and the host can’t resolve an issue it all goes pear shaped. Airbnb, I hope being left stranded doesn’t happen often. You have no idea the emotional distress caused by being stranded alone, with luggage and in a foreign place especially when it’s dark, rainy and cold. I at least could afford a hotel – most people can not.

What’s the Worst that can Happen with Airbnb?

How about traveling clear across the country only to find you can’t get into your rental and the host is nowhere to be found? In October, we booked two weeks at this lovely place near San Diego, CA. They looked legit: the owner is a lawyer, and their farm had recently been featured on the news. In fact, their listing mentioned staying at the property would fund an animal rescue. Who doesn’t love that? Not to mention they had glowing reviews as recent as a week before we left. So we felt comfortable with this choice. Imagine our surprise and dismay when we travelled 3000 miles to arrive at the home with no one to greet us and no way to get in. Mind you we had been up since 3:00 AM, and had now surpassed the 16-hour mark of being awake, schlepping our luggage around, having plane and airport funk on us, and wanting desperately to lie down and rest.

Multiple frantic calls and texts to the owner were not answered or returned, leaving us upset and in a panic about finding a new place that could take us for two weeks. I had communicated with the host, John, before arriving and he was well aware of our arrival time. There was a code lock on the door for which he could have easily sent us the code ahead of time, or even that morning, and he failed to do that. After an hour of calls to Airbnb (which was irritating in its own special way) and multiple area hotels, we booked a room at a Quality Inn; it was not what we were hoping for at all but it was clean and at least we could get in.

The host finally called us back and actually said, “Hey, how’s it going!”, as if he had no idea what was transpiring. As I felt my blood begin to boil I handed the phone to my boyfriend who told him that it was not ok that he left us hanging and we were refunded our money and are now moving on, in a much kinder way than I would have been able to.

So, a word of warning: you can’t solely depend on the reviews on Airbnb, because reviews like this one can’t be posted. They ended up canceling my reservation so now it’s as if I had no connection to it and am unable to leave a review. How many reviews are there for places that couldn’t be posted? Needless to say we are done with Airbnb. We’ve had two out of three bad experiences. It’s too bad, because some of these places are lovely and have more to offer than a hotel room.