Some Absolute Nonsense at Thailand Airbnb

My group had been looking for a beach house in Thailand for a three-day stay for days and finally found a reasonable option for all sixteen members of our group (do you know how difficult that was, logistically?). We booked our stay and they took our money. We thought we were good to go.

The owner emailed us the next day and lied, saying that we had misled her about the year we wanted to stay. She kept saying we wanted to book for 2018. Under no circumstances did we say that. Our reservation was cancelled and now all the other options are over $1000 more than the original price. We can’t be spending that kind of extra money. When we called Airbnb, all they kept saying was sorry. They said they would help us rebook but then reneged on that real quick. That does not help with the money problem.

They also reassured us that the host had to pay a cancellation fee but it’s Airbnb that gets all that money. If we were able to use that money to get a comparable rate then I would be happy to keep using Airbnb, but they get the profit and we have to spend extra money because they did not have it together. Absolute nonsense.

A Little Piece of Heaven is Airbnb Hell

Our daughter has been attending college in Maryville, Tennessee. She contacted us with the logistics for graduation. After speaking to several family members it was decided that we would look for a cabin to rent instead of all of us finding hotels. My son, who has been an Airbnb host for several years, suggested that we use Airbnb again (we had used it once before with excellent results). The search was on to find the perfect spot for 14 of us to meet and stay for the May graduation. After several emails back and forth amongst the group we had narrowed it down to two places. The reviews were great for both, and the price was about $100 difference per couple between the two. We made sure that the cabin would accommodate the group, and that it would be handicapped accessible, which was confirmed by the host.

After asking a few more questions of the host for “A Little Piece of Heaven” in Sevierville, Tennessee it was decided that we would take that one. On January 2nd, 2017, we paid $1498 for the booking.  It was rented for May 18th through the 23rd. All of us were excited and I exchanged a couple of emails with the host, “Jouandot Enterprises”, telling him that we were excited.

Fast forward to the week of the trip. We were driving leaving Naples, Florida on May 17th heading to the cabin to meet up with family coming from Michigan and Pennsylvania. The host emailed me with the code for access to the cabin and wished us a safe trip. It would be a 15-hour drive and we would stay in Pigeon Forge for the night. We could not check into the cabin until 3:00 PM the following day.

After meeting up with our daughter in Pigeon Forge after her last final, we looked around and enjoyed some of the sights and then decided we would go to the grocery store and then head to the cabin.

We drove in still excited, and upon walking onto the deck noticed that there was an overturned trash can, and what looked like a planter with no plant that had been tipped over. There was dirt all over the deck. We then walked further onto the deck and there was a mop leaning against the wall and a picnic table that when leaned against literally swayed with you. There was a hot tub whose top looked to be either too small or badly damaged as there was a thick layer of dirt and waves in it. Coming onto the deck from the other side, there were molded slats around the hot tub. We saw the two rocking chairs that we had talked about sitting in to look at the view (which was by the way, still stunning). It looked like some type of varmint had been eating the wood above them, and there were wood chips all over. There were spindles on the railing that had been kicked out and had not been repaired. The gate to the deck downstairs was barely hanging on. Looking over the rail, someone had tossed a bag of garbage into the woods below and trash was scattered about.

We saw a gas grill and thought: “Well, at least there is a grill to make the burgers.” Upon further inspection, the three burners were completely rusted through and the grill was filthy.

I used the code and opened the door to look directly at the arm of a dining room chair hanging off the chair to the right, and to the left a spring sticking out of the back of the couch, which was supposed to be one of the beds.

Underneath the dinner table, there was a yellow stain. Urine? Vomit? The rug was disgusting and you could tell that it not only had been there for a while, but it had not been cleaned in a long while.

By this time, I was more than a little upset and my husband said maybe we could just clean up a little and make the best of it. We looked around in the bedrooms and there was not a blind there that hadn’t been broken or was about to fall apart.  We were going to open it up some as it was overcast outside, and dark inside the cabin.

The surfaces looked to have been wiped down, but there was no pot in the coffee maker. I opened the cabinet to find the pot, with a hole in the bottom of it. There were thin quilts on the beds and questionable sheets, with no mattress pads at all. The only spare linen we found was stuffed in a magazine rack in the living room, and blankets had been thrown – not folded – in the top of the closets in both bedrooms. So the question in my mind is: how clean were they?

There were ticks in the bathroom tub and dead roach carcasses in the windowsills and on the dresser in the upstairs bedroom. There was a broken lamp stuffed in the closet that we found when looking for any spare linen.

Trying to make this cabin work was just not going to happen. I stepped outside and tried to regain my composure; I was just sick. I placed a call to the hosts and left a message. By then I was in tears as I had no idea what we were going to do… there was more family en route and nowhere to stay.

There was no way to make this cabin work; it was awful. After about fifteen minutes one of the hosts phoned me, and I explained that I was so disappointed that the cabin was filthy and in such bad disrepair. He said that he was so surprised to hear this as the people who checked out the day before said nothing. I told him that I can’t speak for other people, and I asked if he had another cabin nearby that we could try. He said that they did not. I was mid-sentence telling him that we could not stay when the call was dropped. I couldn’t get him back on the line. He texted me a few minutes later that he would call his cleaning service. I responded that we would be leaving the cabin and going to find rooms in town. I also told him that this was not just a cleaning issue; this place was in disrepair.

The host proceeded to offer us a 20% discount on the cabin if we wanted to stay. I thanked him and told him that even at no charge, we would not be staying.

As I was texting him, my sister-in-law arrived with her family – they have the handicapped son. She took one look and told me we would get a room in town.

One thing the host did say while I had him on the phone was “it is a ‘rustic’ cabin.” My response was: “I have stayed in many ‘rustic’ cabins. I’m from Idaho originally. Rustic doesn’t mean filthy and falling apart.”

I think this would be a lovely place to visit, but hosts need to have pride in their properties. Keep them clean and in good repair. This was one cabin where the reviews and the pictures did not match what we found.

For the record, we work every day.  I cleaned houses and offices for many years and I am now an office manager. My husband is a painting contractor. We work very hard for our money and to be able to afford to take trips, so to find this was totally unacceptable. It was not a great way to start what was to be a celebration trip.

We went into Pigeon Forge and I tried contacting a couple of other Airbnb hosts to find available places that were available to rent for our group. We saw a Cabins USA office, and our daughter’s coach suggested we give them a try. She called them and they had one place available. It was a little bigger than we needed and more expensive; however, it was available, so we took it.

Once we had settled into the new cabin, I phoned my son and asked him what I needed to do. He instructed me to go online and cancel the reservation and then email the host and to do it through Airbnb. I got online at Airbnb and tried using the Help feature in the app to cancel. It kept giving me an error message and just continued to ask me to check in. I then typed out an email to send and tried to send it tree times, receiving an error every time.

Frustrated, I emailed the hosts from the listing on Airbnb. I explained that we had left the cabin, and would not be staying. I asked what I needed to do to request a refund.

The next morning, (19th) I emailed the host again to confirm that we had left and asked what I needed to do to request a refund.

Within the hour, they texted me back and said that they would issue a refund through Airbnb. I responded thank you and went about the day. I thought the matter had been resolved.

We had several activities going on at the college which were about a 45-minute drive. We were there for a graduation, so we proceeded to visit with family and attended some of the festivities.

Later in the day I was shopping and I received a call from Airbnb. I explained that I was in the store and asked if they could call me back? I shared that I thought the matter was resolved as the host said that he would be issuing us a refund. However, I would be happy to speak to them, just a little later. I did ask if I could call them? I just asked that they email the contact information.

That night I checked my emails, and there was an email from Airbnb. I typed a response stating that I felt the matter was resolved. The email was sent at 10:47 PM, May 19th. This email was sent in response to the complaint that I had sent on the 18th – the one I thought had not gone through. I found this out from Airbnb Customer Service.

On the 20th we were scheduled to move our daughter out of her dorm and into an apartment in Knoxville. It wasn’t until later that night I saw different emails on the 20th.  It had taken the better part of the day to move, and I really didn’t think anyone else would be contacting me. Graduation was on the 21st and we had a dinner out so we did not get in until late. I was not looking for any emails or calls from anyone. We were just trying to enjoy this time with our daughter and family.

On May 24th after we arrived home in Florida,  I reviewed the emails from different Airbnb people from May 20th. I emailed a response. There were also several “rate your stay” emails, which I kept deleting as I didn’t want to kick a dead horse. Then about the fifth time, I left a one-star review. It was short and sweet: the cabin wasn’t what we expected, we did not stay, the matter was resolved. The cabin could be much better with a little TLC. No lies, no trashing the people. Short and sweet.

In the meantime, I keep looking at my credit card and waiting for the refund. Then towards the end of May, I sent an email to the host asking if there was something more that I need to do: contact Airbnb, or what?

The next day I receive an email from them stating, “there will be no refund.” Airbnb had left it up to them since I didn’t respond. I responded with an email that stated that I had copies of the responses sent to Airbnb and to him. I explained that I didn’t think I needed to do any more than I did as he told me he was going to issue a refund. I thought the matter had been resolved. However, I also told him I understood that he did that likely so I would tell Airbnb that and not pursue the case any further.

I was so angry. Was he serious? This “host” was just going to take the $1500 and dismiss us? Well, not without a fight.

He also stated that I left him one star… so in my response, I told him that I wasn’t even going to leave that. I explained that I didn’t lie and I didn’t blast him or his cabin, I just said we didn’t stay. This guy is a real piece of work. He works Airbnb to his benefit, and the fact that he did it the way that he did, indicates he has done it before. He also shared that his reputation speaks for itself, and he wished me well.

Again, I got on the phone to Airbnb. I reached them on the same 415 number listed on this site. I spoke to a representative who sounded genuinely concerned at the predicament. She said would email me and I needed to respond. I told her I was at work, so it would be later that night or in the morning (this was Friday, June 9th). There were other photos on my husband’s phone that I needed to send as well.

She told me that I had time, just get them together and send them. On my lunch hour, the same day,  I printed the texts and emails and emailed them to response@airbnb.com. This was a reply to the email that she sent to me as promised. That email went through fine. When I got home I put all of the photos together. I then tried to email them to the same email address and immediately received an error email that Airbnb did not receive the email with a link.  The link took me to the listing for the cabin and hosts along with the help page.

I then called a 415 number and it was a recording that said my response person would get the message that I had phoned and be in touch. Nothing.

This brings me to June 14th at 6:00 PM. I was just walking in the door from work and my phone rang; it was Airbnb. There is a woman who confirms who I am and proceeds to tell me that they are closing my file as I have not responded to their requests… what have I been doing, then? I proceeded to explain that yes, I have responded, several times what is she talking about, and we would not be closing the file, not by a long shot.

Is there anyone there that even reads these responses? We talked for a few minutes more, and she said she understood that there was likely some confusion on my part about the need to respond since you felt the matter was resolved. Not until recently did she find out that it wasn’t. She told me that she would speak to her supervisor and get back to me by phone or by email.

Today, June 14th. Email from BobbiLee:

Hello Kim,

Thanks so much for your patience throughout this process. We appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your concerns with our team. However, we have issued our final decision for this case and we will disengage from further discussion on this topic.

We’re truly passionate about providing our community of hosts and guests with the best possible traveling experience. I’m really sorry that this hasn’t been the case here. Just know that we’re always working to improve our products and policies, and even when we aren’t able to accommodate requests, we absolutely value our users’ feedback. As a customer of Airbnb, your voice is both powerful and essential and I’ll be sure to pass your thoughts on to the right team.

Thank you for your cooperation during the mediation process and for your valued time and contribution.

Best wishes,

BobbiLee

www.airbnb.com/help

My Response June 15th:

BobbiLee,

Airbnb will “disengage” from further conversations even though this matter is far from resolved. I have not spoken to the same person twice and Airbnb feels that they have done a thorough job investigating this case? I’ve sent copies of texts and emails. I was unable to send photos, as the email address that I used to send you copies of conversations had with the hosts always produced an error. I called your corporate office number and it said that someone would be in touch, I sent emails asking what to do… and nothing. Now this?

I did send the photos to the owner. He knows what the property looked like and still couldn’t find anything wrong? He never even commented on it. Maybe he knew he wouldn’t have to provide anything to you, because Airbnb really didn’t care one way or the other? You ruled in his favor, as that’s what he told me, and left it up to him to decide on a refund? So, instead of making your host follow through on what he wrote to me, you threw me, the customer under the bus and let him decide. How convenient for you.

I find that more than a little disturbing and it is apparent to me that I will need to seek other advice. I can’t afford to just throw away $1500 for filthy accommodations.

Shame on you as the company, and shame on the hosts for thinking that this is acceptable.

We were told that we would receive a refund on the 19th at 11:47 AM from our hosts. I thought the matter fully resolved and wrote as much in an email to your staff. A refund is what I was promised and a refund is what I fully intend to pursue.

I will seek legal advice in the matter of this rental. I work hard for what I have and we paid your company up front for a cabin advertised as something it was not. These are unacceptable business practices and I’m more than a little insulted that you think that what Airbnb did was a “resolution” to this situation. You and your “host” turned what was to be a celebration of our daughter’s graduation into a nightmare!

Rest assured I will let others know what happened here. It is like being robbed.

You and your host stole money for a service that was promised and not provided, then lied.

Then neither of you notified me of anything that had changed… a little cowardly don’t you think?

Bad form Airbnb, very bad form. Question is, do you really care? I think not.

 

Pennie Kimberlyn Hall

Very Disappointed Consumer

 

As a follow-up, my husband then phoned and got a young lady on the phone to again explain what had happened. He asked to speak to a manager as it is apparent that the people who answer the phones can’t get anything done. She asked to whom we had spoken and the name of the person we last spoke to. I gave them the name of the representative and then told her there was an email signed by BobbiLee. She told us that she was trying to get through to her, but couldn’t get an answer. She said that BobbiLee was in the office. She said that she would message her to call us back ASAP. It never happened, and we have not heard from anyone since. This was the call that I was told they had received the pictures that I sent, and the cancellation email that I sent, even though I received an error message on my end? So, if they had all of the information and the pictures, how can they say that I didn’t respond to their requests for information?

I found this website. Maybe there is something that I can find out here… thanks for letting me vent. However, I am so truly disturbed by this experience that I will never use Airbnb again. The good experiences that I have had have been overshadowed by this one. I’m disgusted that others may have to go through this as well. I am going to keep working on this, I assure you. I would appreciate any feedback.