Everything Went so Wrong, No Help from Airbnb

Sorry if this is too vague, but I can check and verify all the details later if needed. I’m sure I don’t remember even half what happened. It was the summer of 2017, and I was on one of the Canary Isles – Teneriffe – with two boys, aged 18.

It was out of season, but surprisingly, most of the Airbnb hosts were also on holiday. There were not many options for staying, specially when we drove through the mountains. We found a normal looking house, and paid for two or three nights.

The host was suppose to be fluent in several languages, but when we arrived, he was so nervous that he couldn’t say more than ten words. The ceiling of one room was covered in kerosene, and the smell of chemicals was toxic. We opened the windows, and waited half an hour.

The bedroom heater was a humidifier, not a heater at all. Many places were so dirty that they were impossible to touch. There were no cups or plates in the kitchen (two mugs were shattered, and leaked tea on the table).

We could not sleep, because rats or rodents were living in the ceiling, drywall, and roof. There were ten more small things that weren’t so urgent, but were annoying/broken, etc).

We left early the next morning, after sleeping in our cold car outside. The host denied everything, and we didn’t even get a refund.

Airbnb handled the matter really badly. They asked for photos; we had photos of ten other things, but not the rats. The house was partly renovated, but attached to another half that was in ruins. Many areas were unsafe and not suitable for human habitation.

I’m 50 years old, and this was truly one of the worst experiences of my life, concerning places to sleep. The most concerning factor was Airbnb unable to offer any help , guidance, advice or anything.

Mistranslation Concerning a Shared Room

I offered a so-called “shared room” on the English Airbnb homepage and specified there that it was a “common area”. On the German homepage this was translated by Airbnb to a zimmer, which is actually a “room” in English. A customer misunderstood this; she thought that it was a room. This is understandable because the English homepage and the German homepage differ a lot.

The whole offer is differently (and wrongly) presented on the German homepage than it was originally written. On the English homepage it is possible to specify where the bed is located: in a bedroom or in a common area. This is in actual fact very important information and because it is not possible on the German homepage, Airbnb just changed my offer on the German homepage to a bed in a bedroom.

This was an indication for the customer that she would get a bedroom, which was not intended by me when I wrote my offer (only) on the English homepage, where it could be specified precisely. When the customer complained later, the German staff member of Airbnb decided that I had made a mistake. Airbnb cancelled the reservation early and charged me for the difference, which is against German Law.

Obviously the German staff member was also only looking at the German homepage with the translation error though I pointed out several times that Airbnb made the mistranslation. I am shocked that a company with such extensive experience should make such a fundamental error and blame me (and probably other hosts as well) for it.

Arrogant Airbnb Host in The Netherlands

I stayed for ten days in a spare room at a house in Heemstede, which is close to Haarlem in Noord Holland. I had nothing to complain about; the house and facilities were very nice and my host and her family were personable enough. I fully intended to return. I was too busy to post a review until about ten days after I left.

My review was entirely positive and I made no remarks about personalities or individual differences. I don’t consider it valid material for a review unless they’re very extreme. At that point I read the review the host had left. It was positive and even included the wish that I would return one day.

They used one word to describe me which I thought was much too personal and was wide open to interpretation by English speakers, a negative which could actually be seen by a total stranger as a layman’s remark about my mental health. The very brief review did read like a peculiar mixed message. It rather spoiled the experience for me.

I was concerned about this remark and I contacted the host thirteen days after my departure to express my concern about it. If the host had merely said that they understood my concern, that would have been the end of the matter. Instead I was accused of exaggerating. I was given the positive Dutch definition of the word (which I do happen to know) as proof.

There then followed recriminations about a lost bike key, which I had placed with the front door key, on a key ring, on a hook behind my bedroom door. The host could have phoned, sent an SMS, or emailed me in the intervening thirteen days if I had caused a problem. I had mentioned in my email to the host that it would have been rather more helpful if they had mentioned some practical things such as the fact that I had done the bed laundry before I left.

This was countered by a blunt statement that this was expected by the host, although they had said nothing to about this during my stay and there was nothing about this in the written house rules. The host said that I had ruined an expensive bed cover by washing it with all the other bed clothes. This was not true as I had cold-washed it separately because it appeared to be made of wool. I offered financial compensation and this was refused with significant bad grace.

The host also took the opportunity to make a pseudo-diagnosis of me by saying that I needed more ‘space and more attention’ than the other guests and also said that she had used the word she had used in the review to warn future hosts. I was then told it was time to end the conversation and she ended it by wishing me well before ending communication.

She had denied everything I said, made counter-accusations, and expressed herself in a very arrogant way, when all that was required was a brief and normal conversation. The experience for me was exactly like being spoken to, not to mention lied to, like an employee. It is an unfortunate Dutch stereotype, though only true of a small minority of people in The Netherlands, that if you are merely polite and personable with them, then they will presume you to be lacking in basic intelligence.

This particular host has, in the words of other Airbnb users, left feedback as a guest which is ‘borderline rude’ and ‘very arrogant.’ If you stay with this host then probably nothing bad will actually happen, but my experience was that things got quite unpleasant when I was no longer present, when I complained about something and when the exchange was not visible to other people.

The feedback you see on Airbnb does not always give an accurate representation of the stay and what the host says in private may be completely different. I think that this host might be very resentful of having to host strangers in her nice house and that the veneer of tolerance and courtesy is quite thin.

Airbnb urgently needs to address the level of assistance it gives hosts and guests. The last time I had to complain was when I was stranded by a host who did not meet me as arranged. That was in 2015 and the online support was very fast and good. They seem to have replaced that with operatives which are hard to distinguish from an artificial intelligence application. Nothing is resolved and they often shut down the ticket before you can make a reply. Airbnb used to respond by email if you wrote in by letter, but not anymore.

————- Editor note added 2/26/2020————-

This host has been offline from airbnb for some time, but has recently created a new listing:

Uninhabitable Accommodation Means Airbnb Refuses Refund

We booked a room through Airbnb and when we arrived we found the room to be completely uninhabitable. The most pressing issue was the temperature; the room was freezing, with no heating provided. It was 7 degrees Celsius outside, and the external walls were paper thin. There was condensation on the windows and walls. Furthermore, the toilet was broken; the cistern was permanently discharging, with the constant noise of running water and making it impossible to flush. There were other issues too, including excessive noise from above.

We notified the hosts, who agreed with our assessment that the room was uninhabitable, and we had no option other than to leave and seek alternative accommodation (at 10:00 PM). Airbnb does not have a contact number, leaving us with no one to call and having to fend for ourselves. Given that the host completely agreed with us, we thought that we’d at least be able to get a full refund for the room – how wrong we were.

Airbnb will not refund their service fees, their cleaning fees, or their processing fees, so in total are only prepared to refund about 75% of the price we paid, despite the room being completely uninhabitable, the host agreeing with us, and us not having spent a single night there. Airbnb does not have a contact number, so I have been left communicating via their online message system (taking a day for them to reply between messages) with someone who doesn’t have a good grasp of the English language and is making unreasonable requests (they want photo evidence that it was cold – how exactly do they expect me to do that, unless of course they expect their guests to carry a thermometer with them).

Given this, we immediately looked into cancelling our other Airbnb bookings for this trip. Given the experience we’ve just had we didn’t want to risk it. All the bookings were listed as free cancellation, and we are within the cancellation window. However, Airbnb’s policy is to never refund their service fee, even when a room is cancelled or there is a problem. They don’t care what you do, because they get paid anyway.

I have no worries about getting my money back – it was paid using Amex and their customer service is exceptional. They’ll provide the refund immediately and claim it back from Airbnb. I’m sure that our experience here is a one off, and the vast majority of stays go without issue. However, if something does go wrong, Airbnb will leave you on your own to deal with it, will make any attempt to get a resolution exceedingly difficult and will refuse to provide a full refund. You have been warned.

Airbnb Did Not Have What it Said in the Listing

This Airbnb did not do what it said on the website. First of all, the photo showed a lovely high property with a view; it turned out to be taken far above the property and in reality the view was a grubby looking high fence with a building behind it. The listing advertised: “There is one other professional living in including me. All are working full time and pretty chilled. There is Netflix and a big TV so you can entertain yourself. It’s a big three-bedroom house so you can enjoy your space there.”

Reality: while the host was at work, his non-English speaking parents turned up looking puzzled. They were home all day and night and had Indian TV on so I couldn’t use TV in English as they didn’t understand it. We were in the lounge the whole time.

The kitchen was minuscule (only one person could fit at a time) and his mum was frowning at me when I was trying to make space in her cupboard for my food. The stairs were so narrow I could hardly get my case up them (good thing I’m not extra large) and so I spent the whole first evening stuck in my room watching stuff on my iPad. I went to wash my coffee cup and was appalled by the state of the dishbrush with loads of ingrained dirt and muck on it. The bedroom had no towel and when I asked for one, the host’s father didn’t understand and had to ring the host. Everything was covered in dust and there was a beer bottle left in the bin.

I messaged the host to cancel the reservation he said he totally understood and I’d get a full refund. However, in the morning he was arguing that I should still pay for the night and also I’d have to pay a service fee to Airbnb. We went on the Airbnb website to cancel. He said he didn’t want to do it himself because it might affect his reputation. He tried to get me to use ‘guest extreme circumstances’ to cancel so he wouldn’t be shown in a poor light. I refused.

He said I had a kitchen and TV… so why was I complaining? I said I didn’t understand Indian TV so I couldn’t watch what they had on (all night) and I certainly wouldn’t barge in and grab the remote to do so when they didn’t understand English TV. He was not happy. I pointed out that he said on his listing there were two professionals out all day – nothing about a family inside all day. He didn’t see the problem.

I tried to contact Airbnb all morning. Of course their site has you going around in circles. They obviously make it as hard as possible to make a complaint. They tell you to click on their ‘contact centre’ for help which actually just puts you back in touch with the host. I’m not impressed and still trying to contact them.

Can a Shower Create a Huge Crack and Cause a Water Leak?

Before explaining my situation detail, I should first explain the terrible negligence at work in Airbnb customer service. My dispute was on the mediating system. Since I’m Korean and can’t speak English fluently, I just sent in my complain, explaining that I was innocent, and provided proof, as well as an explanation in Korean so the Korean Airbnb customer center could advise me. Suddenly Airbnb wasn’t reading my emails, didn’t exert any effort into reading the Korean complaints, and just sent me a formal message translated into Google (“I understand this is not the outcome you were hoping for”, something like this) and blocked my email.

Who can call Airbnb an international service? Couldn’t they connect me to someone who can speak both Korean and English so that they fully understand and listen to both parties more carefully and considerately? Why should I send and receive an English mail to prove I’m innocent though It’s not my mother language? There are two million Korean users per year through Airbnb. As a system goes, guests are always relatively helpless when something goes wrong. Hosts are locals; they already know everything. They have a huge advantage in disputes and I am being handicapped. Anyway, I think they are not able to read Korean and it seems there is nobody who speaks Korean who can help them. I sent an English complaint to them. It would be better than using Google Translate; I don’t know whether they read my email though.

I planned to stay in a Manchester, UK Airbnb from 1/31-2/4. My room was on the second floor and there was another guest next to my room. The bathroom was next to my room and there was a kitchen and the host’s private room on the first floor. The morning of February 1st, I took a shower. After a hour, the host came upstairs and shouted at me that water was leaking and dripping down through the 1st floor ceiling due to not using the shower curtain. While she was scolding me, she was very mad and used violent and racist words, e.g. “What a Chinese!”, “Do Chinese use bathrooms like this?”… she didn’t even know where I was from. I used the shower curtain and I told her that I used it on that day in clear English.

I checked out right after that problem occurred because I felt so bad and uncomfortable with her attitude and the whole situation. A few days after leaving, the host requested 300 pounds for damages. I disputed it.

I’m innocent and this request was unfair. If the house was originally in perfect condition and had no problems, the shower could not be leaking. Generally, it is likely that water is bound to be splattered on the bathroom floor while taking a shower. Even if there is a little more water than usual, water leaking through the ceiling is nonsense. How can just water splattered from the shower make a huge crack and cause the ceiling to leak? If that’s the case, then how can British people clean the bathroom and use the water properly in the bathroom?

I didn’t pour water on the floor. I just took a shower in the bath using a shower curtain. Also, there was a huge crack on the ceiling and the host blamed me and pressured me into thinking that I made that crack. Not only was water leaking but there was also a huge crack on the ceiling? Do you really think this is a normal situation?

As you can see on the pictures I attached, the crack is so wide that no one could think that it was made by the shower. I cannot help but only understand that the house originally had a crack and the problem was old. If I jumped on the floor, would they have accused me of destroying the house? This didn’t make sense at all. Taking a shower is an everyday act everybody in the world does.

If there was a possibility that the water could be leaking, or the house was weak or had a crack, the host had to notify me to be careful using the bathroom. As I’ve written, two million Koreans use Airbnb and even people from 191 different countries are using the service. In Asia there is a drain hole on the bathroom floor, so the water can go through it. If there was a risk that a leak could cause 300-pound repairs and make a host so angry, she should have notified me in advance, considering the cultural differences. I have not been provided any notice or anything from Airbnb or directly from her.

There is no definite causality. There was another guest in the house and only god knows when he used the bathroom and how used it. Therefore there is no sufficient cause that the leak was caused by my shower or anything else. These are main reasons that vindicate me and show why this case is so abnormal and unfair. I felt so bad and uncomfortable that she scolded, punished and pressed me but I couldn’t properly act because that was my first trip, my first time using Airbnb, and I’m not good at English.

I expected a clever solution from Airbnb customer service but they didn’t seem to take the guests’ side, just acted mechanically, like an answering robot. It’s such a shame. A huge crack due to shower water… let’s be honest. I attached a picture of the crack and hope you guys can give me any advice.

Abusive Host Convinces Guests to Leave Early

Do not stay here. We were delayed so we didn’t need access earlier than the 3:00 PM check in time. The host is an appalling communicator. On the day before the booking I sent two messages four hours apart requesting clarification of address and check in procedure. I told the host that we would not have wifi while in transit on the day of arrival. The host sent a reply overnight. He agreed to allow us to store our luggage if we arrived early.

Unfortunately, we were unavoidably delayed so we didn’t need access to the apartment earlier than the check in time. He claimed that this inconvenienced him, and it went downhill from there. In his message, written in perfect English, he sent an incorrect address – wrong house number, wrong floor, wrong apartment number and wrong access code. The building couldn’t be located using Airbnb maps’ link on the listing, so we had to guess the house number from the photo on the listing.

Our friend arrived in Madrid three hours before us. We had planned to meet at the apartment, but he couldn’t get in because of the wrong information, nor could he contact the host for clarification; I was the only guest who had access to the Airbnb messaging system. He had travelled from the US and had to wait outside the apartment with his luggage until we finally arrived. On arrival, my daughter and I tried to open the apartment using the instructions provided then had to find wifi in the local area to locate our friend and get the correct address from the host.

The host and his sister came to let us in. They both entered the apartment and demanded that I speak in Spanish (“you’re in Spain, speak Spanish”), even though he had listed that he speaks English, and all previous communication was in English. He had a heated discussion in Spanish with our NYC friend and the host then ordered us to leave (in English). I refused to leave as I’d paid for the accommodation. I told him that if he provides a full refund we would leave, but he refused to accept that.

He then came within 10 cm of me, pointing in my face and shouting abuse. I told him several times to back off. At that point we realised that this was getting very serious and that we needed to comply or alternatively to call police to intervene. He did not apologise for his poor communication, instead he claimed he had been an exemplary host by offering for us to store our luggage. We thanked him for that and he and his sister left. His sister spoke English, but she did not intervene on our behalf. Instead she allowed her brother to abuse us. I was very shaken and concerned for our safety. We vacated the premises very early the next day, to avoid any further abuse.

Had to call the police to get insane Airbnb host out of rental

blankblankblank

This is a very important story because the person involved has been sharing fake information around social media about my boyfriend and me. Basically my boyfriend and I are moving to Lisbon. He’s Brazilian and I’m French.

We booked an Airbnb for ten days so we could visit and find an apartment. Before we arrived we had communicated with the host in English, but when we arrived and she found out my boyfriend speaks Portuguese, she completely ignored me and did a 30-minute speech on transport (though my boyfriend told her several times we would find our way with Google).

The apartment was kind of alright. There were a few problems like the shower being cold and the wifi not working but I started getting bitten by something on the bed at night. The next night I got bitten again and my boyfriend messaged the host to tell her about it. We were getting ready, as we had loads of administrative meetings during the day. I got out of my shower, my boyfriend was taking his and as I was dressing up the bell of the apartment rang and someone banged on the window.

Surprised and undressed, I quickly put a towel around me and opened the door. It was the host who had already unlocked the entrance door and was waiting in front of ours. She had not sent a message, or called to tell us she was coming. I asked her nicely to wait two minutes so I could put some clothes on and tell my boyfriend to get out since she still refused to speak English to me.

When we opened the door she was in a fury, shouting because we had made her wait outside (I don’t think it was rude of me to ask her to wait two minutes to put clothes on). She ran to the kitchen to look at the boiler and said we had touched it and this was the reason why the showers were cold. We obviously had not touched her boiler and the showers were getting cold for the second person.

She also went into the bedroom and took pictures of my suitcase and blamed us for being the cause of the bedbugs. Obviously she was not going to take responsibility for any of the problems in her apartment. We had a busy day planned, so we asked her to leave because we did not feel confortable leaving our belongings (two Macbooks, a PS4, etc.) with her. She replied that she would not leave because she owned the place.

We told her we were renting the place and she was not allowed to do this. She said the laws in Portugal were not the same as those in Brazil or France and she was allowed to do whatever she wanted. We told her we would call the police and ask Airbnb to pay us back if she did not leave. She started looking at something in her purse and said things like “You have no idea who I am; don’t you think I know what Brazilians like you are coming to do here?”

She was being weird about not speaking English and this comment just confirmed how racist she was and implying we were some sort of illegal refugees. Once the police answered and were on their way she finally decided to leave the apartment and camp in front. After a long time and a lost afternoon, the police arrived and said they were not able to do anything since she was not inside. She tried to talk to them about water and bedbugs but the police left due to the lack of criminal offence from us.

We packed our stuff and left quickly since we were so stressed and afraid she would come back. She came unannounced and is now posting about my boyfriend and me on social media, saying we are scammers and we were only trying to get a free trip. She referred to me as a small blond who only speaks English. Another sign of her racism.

My only question: why make money off tourists if you don’t like them? She also kept making Airbnb call us, saying we had not dropped off the keys in the letter box. Airbnb told us to do so from her instructions. What I think is that this lady has issues, cannot deal with being wrong, will do anything to impose her version of events, and go to crazy lengths to make sure people will believe her.

TL;DR The host of my Airbnb came unannounced due to some problems we messaged her about. We had a busy day so we asked her to leave but she shouted that it was her place and she did not have to leave. After ten minutes of arguments we called the police so she left. Now she has been sharing fake information about my boyfriend and me on social media. She acted insane; she kept shouting, blaming us for the problems in the apartment, and refusing to leave the place we paid for. Now she’s posting about us being scammers in Lisbon.

How Does Airbnb Handle Accusations of Racism?

I had traumatising and frustrating experiences with Airbnb. I had been a successful guest many times then a host started persecuting me. She had mental health issues. Dealing with Airbnb’s overseas call centre led to extreme frustration and going around in circles with promises to escalate my calls, but ending up circling back to the same useless agent refusing to address the bizarre and inappropriate behaviour and actions. The host started leaving parcels at my door and ringing me after I had left, and it was all super scary and odd. Airbnb showed zero interest.

My second issue was as a host I complained about extremely poor customer service with Airbnb. Rather than actually investigate my complaint, I received an email from Airbnb accusing me of racism. It took twenty emails for them to even begin to provide information on this accusation.

This was my very first potential hosting experience. A prospective guest only wrote to me in a Chinese script and in very incomprehensible and confusing English. Airbnb said they would translate, and did nothing. I was falsely accused of saying if someone comes to Australia they need to speak English. I was also accused of expressing frustration about an agent. None of the language was racist; I complained about the ignorance, aggression, and stupidity of the agent. If I’m complaining about the agent that is different from abusing an agent.

Thirdly, the comment that I said that someone needs to speak English in an English-speaking country is absolute rubbish. Airbnb repeatedly said “it’s an international platform”, I had no right to expect English correspondence or communication, and I was going to lose my Superhost privileges. It was then that I said that if someone is staying with a host in their private residence in Australia then they need to write to the host in English. I was receiving correspondence in a Chinese script and in incoherent English that made no sense. This was vital information such as when they would arrive, who was staying, etc. I said I should not be penalised as a host if I have not received any comprehensive communication.

What I said was not racist. I said I would host the guest when Airbnb finally agreed to provide translation, which they never did. I only finally refused the guest when they rang me and made loud strange noises and hung up – and it was a third party booking.

Airbnb offered to terminate their stay as they broke the rules then turned around and accused me of racism. My housemates are Taiwanese. One of them speaks minimal English but his partner speaks well enough so there are no issues communicating – so to accuse me of racism is completely bizarre. Airbnb has proven that nothing I said is racist.

This is on top of glitches fixing my DOB on the app. I still can’t do it, which has resulted in the miscalculation of my payout from a guest, issues uploading pictures, and issues getting a photographer. Airbnb insists that I haven’t verified my email despite having had an active guest account for years. My complaints against Airbnb remain uninvestigated.

I spoke to an Airbnb representative from the USA office. He refused to try to pronounce my name correctly. I asked him to try again as it’s six letters and two syllables; I shouldn’t have to repeat my name to people who insist on not even reading it. This led to a huge exhausting stand off whereby he repeatedly refused to give it a go. I said he was able to employ his reading skills in any name even a “foreign” one, which he twisted into me saying he couldn’t read.

I ended up speaking to his supervisor about the experience of being accused of racism. She was extremely cold hearted, aggressive, and just a very deeply unpleasant person. She spoke over me in a monotone the whole time. She told me that the email that was sent to me was a warning based on a customer report. She told me that the terms and conditions meant that any customer could make any allegation and Airbnb would back them up and send out warnings. I said to her that every correspondence and interaction I’ve had with the customer has been through the Airbnb messenger platform so they can have a look at that and advise whether I have actually been racist or not. She told me it doesn’t matter – if the customer feels that I have been racist, it doesn’t matter if the messages back that up or not.

She continued to speak over me repeatedly when I asked her why I did not receive this explanation from Airbnb earlier. She refused to answer and just cited fine print in terms and conditions. She was cold and aggressive, just spoke over me, and dominated the whole conversation. When I asked her why this was not investigated by looking at the messages she said it doesn’t matter what the messages say – if the customer says you’re being racist, we will send you out a warning. I said I never once spoke to the customer or even met her. Therefore the customer could only have been basing allegations based on what I wrote; why didn’t Airbnb investigate that?

She kept going around in circles, telling me that Airbnb can send out official warnings no matter what the investigation says and then she circled around and said that it had been investigated. That’s why I wasn’t kicked off the site. I asked why I didn’t receive an email saying that to me and retracting the warning. She refused to answer the question but would just aggressively change the subject and speak over me.

I asked her to put in a racist complaint against the customer then – she said she “didn’t have a problem doing that” but she didn’t say that she would. I don’t believe she would’ve done that. I then asked her to put in a racist complaint against her and the other representation to whom I had spoken, and she said that she would put something on my file. I said “no, I want you guys to be sent an official warning based on my feelings just as you sent me an official warning. I want the official warning to be on your file the way you have an official warning on my file.”

She just spoke over me and started throwing terms and conditions at me. She was very aggressive, very dominating, and domineering in the conversation. She spoke over me the whole time in a cold, almost sociopathic monotone. When I asked her to get a supervisor to call me she point-blank refused to guarantee that and said she would ask her to try to call me – but I don’t believe she will. There has been no response from the founders or the supposed customer service chief.