Cold House from Airbnb, Used Electric Oven to Stay Warm

This is my personal Airbnb Hell story. I was born in Canada but had not been there in almost 50 years as I had moved to the United States when I was very young with the rest of my family. However, I had no choice but to return for personal reasons. I arrived at the Airbnb listed as “Comfy Room” at a house located in Surrey on August 21st, 2016. At first, everything went well. In fact, I lived there for several months before things starting falling apart.

I began to notice the following issues. Every time that Lyn Taylor (real name Evelyn Mercado) would clean my room she would turn off the nightlight that I had plugged in so that I would not be stumbling around in the dark when I woke up during the night to use the restroom. The nightlight only uses 0.7 Watts. She later complained to me that I was leaving that light on – how cheap can you get? The weekly housekeeping started turning into every eight days, then nine days, then ten or more days. Eventually it got to the point where I had to get myself a clean towel as I could not depend on either Paul or Lyn to take care of that.

They have Instant Book so people would be checking in at all hours of the day and night, including 2:00 AM in one case. Many times they were not even there when people would come to check in and I would have to answer the door and explain to them that I was only a guest. Many guests were told that the key to their room was in the lock box outside the front door, but when they opened the lock box there was no key inside. They were staying in the basement suite underneath the house but it began to feel at times like they were absentee landlords.

I stayed there only because I had no close family in that area. At that time I had not driven in over four years and did not have a drivers license. The weather was turning cold, so I did not want to take the chance of going through all of that hassle to find another place that might be just as bad, or even worse.

One time I was having trouble sleeping. It was almost 2:00 AM; I heard noises outside my room and noticed that some lights were on. I opened my door and discovered that Lyn was cleaning downstairs, in the middle of the night. Another issue I noticed is that several times when I was taking a shower the warm water disappeared and all that came out was cold water. One time the water was so cold when I got out of the shower I actually felt warmer. They rented out all five rooms in their house and were staying downstairs in the basement. When the house was full there could be nine people or more using the hot water to take a shower, wash clothes, etc.

I also noticed that as it got colder outside that I would feel cold in the house even when I was wearing a flannel shirt over another shirt. I mentioned this many times to both Paul and Lyn and they would always say “the thermostat is set at 22 Celsius” even though I complained numerous times. I know that 22 Celsius is the same as 71.6 Fahrenheit so I knew that was not the real temperature; 71.6 Fahrenheit is a very comfortable temperature. I told Lyn that I was feeling cold one time and she told me that “I am sweating inside here while I am working.” Of course this ignored the fact that she was dressed in very cold weather clothing and was vigorously cleaning around the house. Many other guests also complained to me personally about feeling cold. Eventually it got to the point where my hands felt like ice even when I was fully dressed. One evening another guest who had also complained to me about feeling cold took their meal out of the oven and then told me that they would leave the oven door open for a while to heat the room up. I noticed that soon after he did that the room started feeling warmer. This other guest and I began to use the oven to keep us warm. Otherwise, we would have felt like putting on our jackets inside the house. That is how cold it felt. We did that for about a week.

The other guest left on a Saturday morning as he was retiring and moving to a property that he had purchased. I continued to use the oven every now and then to warm things up and on Sunday, the day after the other guest left, Paul and Lyn confronted me about using the oven to stay warm. I told them that I had only been using it for a week and had only used it because I was so cold. Lyn became very angry and told me that “ever since you have moved in our electric bill has gone up.” She told me that “I want you out of here tomorrow.”

I truly believe that she would have thrown me out then and there even though it was cold with snow on the ground outside except for the fact that her husband Paul said, “Nothing is going to happen tonight.” Lyn threatened to report me to Airbnb and give me a bad review if I did not accept their cancelling my reservation. I left the next day as they requested. Lyn sent me an email in which she accused me of taking hot showers even though it was “minus 5 outside.” What does she think I am going to do, take a cold shower when it is so cold outside? She also accused me of leaving the oven on when I went to bed which is not true. I owned up to what I did and told them why I did it. I would never have done that if they had not ignored my numerous complaints, as well as the complaints of other guests about feeling cold.

I had paid for the entire month of March yet I moved out on March 6th. I received a message from Lyn in a day or so in which she said that she and Paul were in line to become Superhosts and they would appreciate it if I could give them a good review as she felt I was a good person. Against my better judgment I gave them a good review and Lyn had stated that she would review the February and March billing for the electric and get back to me about a refund. I never heard anything back so I contacted Lyn in April about my refund. She stated that she was still having jet lag (even though she had returned home about two weeks before) and that she would get back to me by the end of April.

When May arrived I then contacted Airbnb to see what I could do as I was told by my bank that I had to contact them to see if I could resolve the issue as they were the actual merchant. Airbnb checked with Lyn and their last message stated: “Thanks for your patience. I wanted to give you an update on your refund request for your reservation. At this time, Lyn hasn’t agreed to issue you a refund for the adjustment to this reservation.” I have now filed a formal dispute with my debit card issuer as I am owed for the 25 days in March that I paid for and did not receive. The only refund I received was $18.00 Canadian dollars and a $75.00 credit from Airbnb. I am owed about $840.00 Canadian dollars. It is obvious to me now that Lyn never had any intention of refunding my money and just tricked me into giving them a good review to help them become Superhosts. I feel used, to put it lightly. Basically I got ripped off big time. I will never use Airbnb again. I could care less about the $75.00 credit they gave me.

Dirty and Unsafe Airbnb for Vacation in California

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This was my first trip to California. I have wanted to visit since I was a child, so for over 40 years. Now with the whole family – my wife and three teen daughters – it was about to come true. I was initially going to use VRBO which I have used with great success in the past but found what I thought was a great deal on Airbnb. Since I heard all the buzz about Airbnb, I thought I would give it a shot. What could the risk be with Airbnb behind me? Ha ha…

The fact that the apartment was in Downtown LA was some concern to me but not having been to California and in the excitement of the moment, I neglected to research just how much traffic there really is in the area; I will accept responsibility for that. Prior to booking I did repeatedly ask the host about the safety of the apartment and the surrounding area and was met with the response: “It will fit you perfectly.” Upon arrival, the initial impression of the complex was acceptable with a nice looking pool, architecture and grounds. However, once we began the ascent into the facility I began to have that sickening feeling when something just isn’t right. Musty odors and the smell of drugs were present as we walked the halls to the apartment. Once we entered I immediately tried to remain calm,though I was not pleased with the condition of the beige carpet, paint peeling off the walls, and a refrigerator containing old food.

Needless to say, below is what I wrote to our host and a representative after I decided to leave the following day. Yes, we stayed the first night as we were all exhausted after the seven-hour flight and fighting traffic to the apartment.

Hello Mike,

After some careful deliberation, we have decided not to stay in your rental due to the reasons listed below. As a result I would appreciate a refund for the balance of the days we will not be staying as even a cleaning will not make up for the fact that my daughters are uncomfortable with the environment and I don’t wish to subject them to the marijuana odors that waft through the halls or patio doors. I would appreciate your cooperation and will leave the keys with the concierge.

– Dirty, not cleaned well or recently

– Carpets are dark with dirt blotches and contained some sticky substances. I was afraid to remove my shoes.

– Old food in refrigerator and cupboards

– Smells of pot were frequent and loud neighbors stomping and slamming doors

– Unsafe surroundings not as described. My daughters were harassed outside the apartment even by pool area

– Sirens going several times throughout the night

– Dining seats are all stained, not appealing to enjoy a meal

– Food spillage down the kitchen cabinets and stove top dirty, making it unappealing to cook.

Following the above message to the host, I received a message from Nick at Airbnb who indicated that I had not followed Airbnb policy (when in fact I did, other than waiting around for the host to provide a resolution… with only five days available and the severity of the situation, this was not possible) and that I could open a refund request in the resolution center, which I had already done.

My response to Nick:

My first email was to Mike the Airbnb host, and I then opened a case with Airbnb within the 24-hour period as per the guidelines. Mike has rejected my refund request, following which I selected the option to involve Airbnb. As to finding a remedy, this situation was not able to be remedied in a timely manner as we are only in California for five days and it would be unreasonable to believe the apartment carpets and seating could be shampooed and other areas brought up to a clean standard in a reasonable time frame. Please review the pictures, as I am not sure anyone could clean what should have been done before even stepping foot in the facility. I was not about to put my family through this type of situation any longer than was necessary especially for Mike to come by to talk. The only resolution suitable would be a refund as these are distrustful and manipulative tactics simply to rent out his location. In addition, the safety factor is completely beyond the host’s means to correct, along with the elements of drug use; they are out of his control. My primary concern at this point is to ensure my family has a safe clean location to spend the rest of the short vacation in the time we have left. Had the host represented the location as not suitable for families this issue could have been avoided. I even questioned the safety of the location and was met with: “It will fit you perfectly.” I have used VRBO and hotels without issue in the past so this was a very stressful situation and caused me to seriously not trust Airbnb fpr future bookings, especially if there will be no support or protection for guests. Perhaps the host should have been more thoroughly vetted, as I would be shocked if any family would find this location acceptable. I have initiated the process to involve Airbnb and get a full refund.

Nick’s Response:

Hello Adam,

Thank you for your patience while I reviewed your case. I appreciate the time you’ve taken to share your concerns and perspective on this experience. Based on the information provided, I have decided that any refund will have to come directly from Mike based on our refund policy which you can read upon within the previous email. Thank you again for your understanding and for your valued time and contribution.

Best wishes,

Nick

So even after providing pictures as to the poor cleanliness of the apartment and the fact that my daughters were harassed – two conditions specified by Airbnb as reasonable – our request for a refund was still rejected. This issue is current as of April 26th, 2017 and I am still trying to fight it. Although with no response to my emails and no contact information for Airbnb as they don’t clearly list any means of reaching a representative or manager, it is tough. I do appreciate the contact information for Airbnb found on this site.

President of Alliance for HOPE International Speaks Out

Airbnb let a host take $900 from us after advertising a really dumpy, sub-par unit in Washington DC. “Tommy”, the owner, posted his row house but took only pictures from a distance and did not show a picture of the bathroom or the kitchen. His unit was listed as #11324355. This is always a good way to identify a dishonest Airbnb host but my staff members missed it. We booked the unit and did not realize how poorly maintained it was until we arrived at the unit on a Friday. We immediately contacted Tommy to say we could not stay there; he was profane and raged against my staff members. We booked another unit within the hour and had a great host. However, when we appealed to Airbnb, they sided with Tommy and let him keep our money even though the unit had dirty, stained carpets, tattered furniture, holds in the walls, faded paint with water stains, and peeling paint on the front door. The kitchen was old, drab, and poorly maintained with 1970’s formica and linoleum. Airbnb thought we were first-time users even though I have personally spent tens of thousands of dollars with them over the years. They sided with the host and would not refund our money. They ripped us off and sided with a very dishonest host.

Psycho Airbnb Host Threatens Guest, Demands Cash

Unfortunately, my experience at Liz’s place has to be added to the list of Airbnb horror stories. First of all, her profile photo was fake, and not a picture of her. That should have been my first warning sign when I checked in. I arrived at her apartment to find it in a state of disrepair. The doorknob to my bedroom was missing; she said a previous Airbnb guest had broken it (scary sign number two). The linens and bed were soiled, and had not been washed from a previous guest’s use. The bedroom was covered with dust. When I tried to shower my first evening in the apartment, the loose glass shower door fell to the floor, nearly shattering and injuring me. Because of the broken shower, I was unable to bathe or shower for the duration of my stay. During the course of my stay, Liz began asking me for cash for various things in her apartment she said were broken (that were already broken when I arrived). One night, she arrived at the apartment drunk at about 2:00 AM, waking me and behaving in a threatening and scary manner. I promptly checked into a hotel the next morning. On top of this, every review I have attempted to write about this experience has been deleted entirely and censored by Airbnb, so that other guests cannot be warned.

Lying, Rude Airbnb Host in East London

Back in February 2017 I booked Dora’s Airbnb in East London close to an area where I would be meeting friends for a farewell meal and drinks, as I now live in South Korea. A friend and I had decided to stay at an Airbnb to avoid a long and draining journey home. However my friend, who has never used Airbnb, was a bit reluctant. I assured her that I had had several good experiences and it would be fine. After finding Dora’s room online and reading numerous good reviews, I booked one night with her.

She was very nice and explained that she would be able to rent the room. However, ‘a friend’ would be staying in her room so she would be on the sofa that evening. I said this should be fine and when the weekend came, I dropped my stuff at her apartment and proceeded with my farewell evening. Once my friend and I returned to the apartment we got ready for bed incredibly quietly and went to get a glass of water from the kitchen for the night. However, after politely knocking on the door before entering, we heard Dora approach the living room/kitchen door and shout ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING I TOLD YOU I WAS ASLEEP!’

I said I had needed a glass of water as none had been provided in the room (which was advertised). I calmly and quietly got my glass and returned to my room. At this point I felt really uncomfortable having been shouted at like a naughty child for asking for water. My friend also felt uncomfortable and decided we should calmly speak to her before deciding whether to leave early. When we spoke to her, we explained this was an irrational way to act and asked for an apology as we no longer felt welcome. She insisted she did not need to apologise and said if we wanted we leave we should (at 1:00 in the morning).

Deciding to not be treated like this, we left and contacted Airbnb immediately who gave me a full apology and refund. They said they would speak to the host and she would not be able to leave a review as we did not stay the night. A few weeks later, having moved countries, I noticed a horrible review had been posted on my wall from the host, completely twisting the story around to make her look like the victim. I immediately got in contact with Airbnb as she had also said they had given her a full refund for the issue and asked for an explanation of how she had been able to leave a review against me and been able to contact me. They offered very little in the way of an explanation and merely took the review down. We subsequently found out that the ‘friend’ staying in her room that weekend was another guest; she had lied and double booked her home (the guest left a review on the website the day after).

I’m disgusted that hosts feel they have the right to bully people, treat them so badly after taking their money, and are allowed to get away with it. If you are looking for a place to stay in London for a night out I strongly recommend a hotel.

Cockroaches, Ants, and Construction Disruption in Airlie Beach

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There were cockroaches, ants in the bed, and no privacy. We were even kicked out of our room for construction work. We booked a four-night stay at a place in Airlie Beach that was advertised as a ‘penthouse apartment’. The listing can be viewed here. This is possibly one of the most misrepresented listings I have stayed at through Airbnb. Advertising this as a penthouse is like advertising Adolf Hitler as a peacekeeper. It was dirtier than a Rawalpindi market, and the host, Leah, was as helpful as fly screens on a submarine. Jokes aside, here is the story.

The ‘King Bedroom’ was separated (used loosely) from a storage room by a tall cabinet and a piece of material draped over it, with a car’s sun visor leaning against it. This offered little-to-no privacy from the adjoining storage hall. The glass doors to the room had gaps between the walls, letting sound and light easily pass through. The sliding door to the balcony was old and unsturdy. It had a gap where, even if shut properly all the way, wind could come through and made sleeping at night impossible.

There were cockroaches. We saw several crawling around during our stay: two in the room (see pictures), and one in the laundry/bathroom area. There were also ants in the bed and on the walls. As we walked into the room at check-in, the building manager picked up a pinchful of ants from the floor. In the middle of the second afternoon of our stay, the building manager asked us to leave the room so that a wooden board (making up part of the wall of the room) could be patched up and fixed. We were trying to take a nap because of the lack of sleep we had on the first night.

By the second night, we’d had enough. It was approximately 8:00 PM when we looked for an alternative place for accommodation. As it was a Friday night, there was nothing available close by or within our price range ($100-$150/ night). We reluctantly spent the second night there and agreed to cancel the stay the next day, forfeiting the second half of the stay that was booked and paid for. Upon cancellation, I reached out to the host to try and request a refund for the total amount paid. We had not stayed for the last two nights, and the first two were atrocious. I did not think it unreasonable. I sent through photos of the uncleanliness and explained the poor experience we had. She sent back an animated response, wrought with spelling errors and incomprehensible sentence structure. I could barely understand the bulk of it.

I managed to deduce that she had denied the request, so I pushed on to Airbnb’s Resolution Centre. After several email exchanges, the case manager concluded that as per the terms and conditions, 24 hours was the window for cancellation and receipt of a refund. He offered a credit of 49 AUD as compensation towards my next stay. I responded by saying I would not be using Airbnb again to redeem this credit, so it is useless. I explained 24 hours to request a cancellation was an unreasonable part of the terms and conditions, as the bulk of the issues were encountered after this window. I referred to the ‘extenuating circumstances’ clause, highlighting the exception to their policy of ‘severe property damage or unforeseen maintenance issues’. He ignored this. He thanked me for my time in corresponding and my understanding in the matter.

Needless to say, I couldn’t understand a single shred of logic observed by this case manager. I initiated a chargeback through my bank for the $400 charge to my credit card. The outcome is pending. I have resubmitted a formal dispute with Airbnb. The result is pending. I have also investigated using the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) regulatory body to lodge a dispute. This will only take place if my bank is unsuccessful in recovering the charge. I’d like to note that this is not about the money, so much as the principle. Even if my bank is successful, I would like to warn users and non-users of Airbnb’s unreasonable customer service policies and poor support, as well as this host’s lack of consideration and diplomacy with respect to her guests. Stay here at your own peril.

Airbnb Not as Advertised for Elderly Parents

We arranged for my elderly parents to stay in what was advertised as a full house/apartment in Greenville, SC. When my parents arrived, we met them at the Airbnb they had reserved and discovered it to be a room with a king size bed, one chair, and no dining room table. There wasn’t even a full kitchen (a sink, coffee pot, microwave, and fridge). This is not an apartment or a full house. Neither a person nor a couple could live there for two weeks. They could sleep and shower there, but that is all there is room for.

When we told the host we would have to move, my parents and I said we would like a refund for the booking on the first night. She told us we must just not like it and that she had had only good reviews so far. If we had a complaint, we needed to take it to Airbnb. We took it to Airbnb. Their customer service people have been trained to be empathetic and understanding, so one thinks their case will be heard and that they will help. However, after several hours total on the phone and online chat, my parents only received a 50% refund. The 50% refund was because “they had not received a response from their email.” Not only had they received a response, they had received more than one response.

All told, we have contacted Airbnb six times. The last time they sent us back to the owner, who has not yet responded. The third line in the cancellation policy says if you leave early you will be refunded the remaining balance. This did not happen. Airbnb also said, on the fifth call, that we had not provided photo evidence of our complaint. This is true. However, we were never asked to provide photo evidence. We cannot even give a bad review as they make sure there is no place to do it.

We cannot request money for the trip because the trip has already passed. We cannot make a report to the BBB because my father or mother have to do it. My father had a major stroke a month ago and is unable to do it, and my mother, who is his power of attorney, wrote a letter to the BBB asking them to allow me to complain on her behalf because of her poor health.

Dirty Airbnb Leaves Guest Without Refund

The first time I cancelled, Airbnb kept the reservation fee. I paid $226 for a week’s stay. I spoke to the owner and he was very forthcoming and helpful. He is operating his property from a foreign country and has a caretaker. I walked in to a big surprise. The bath room had not been cleaned and the toilet was filthy, to put it mildly. The beds were not made and they were using the same sheets without washing them. Dirty and clean clothes were all over the place and the dusty floors had not even been cleaned. I called the owner; he was very understanding and agreed to pay me the whole sum once I cancelled, but Airbnb only refund me $83 out of the $226 or so I paid. I didn’t even spent ten minutes in that place. You cannot contact them over the phone. They have no idea how they ruined someone’s good time and money. My host is willing to give me my money back but not Airbnb… how about that?

Drunk Disorderly Host Necessitates Early Departure

It’s 2:15 AM and I’ve just passed the 20-minute mark on hold with Airbnb customer service for the second time in the last hour. The first time, after 40 minutes on hold, my call was disconnected. I suspected my host (for a scheduled five-week stay) was drunk when I called to say I’d be arriving late. My suspicion was confirmed upon arrival, when I encountered the staggering, slurring host, who bounced off the hall walls as I was shown to my room. The room was very nice and as describe, except for the curtain that separated my room from his. As I paced around weighing my options, loud slurred endearments to his dog boomed from behind the curtain. Decision made: I had to leave. I grabbed my unpacked things, and knocked on his closed bedroom door. As my host opened up, he fell backwards, and accepted my decision to depart from a slumped position on the floor halfway between the hall and his bedroom. On my way out, I noticed the front door had been left wide open, and all the lights were on. Being an Airbnb novice, I had thoroughly researched this host and location. Every posted review was sterling, the host bio was appealing and congenial, and the photos showed a lovely home with a situation ideal for my purposes. It’s now 2:38 AM, and Airbnb customer service just disconnected me… again. I doubt the website will be at all useful, as several attempts to find a help topic appropriate to my situation came up empty. Clearly, the site is designed to frustrate any effort to seek immediate resolution and satisfaction. This was my first and could be my last experience with Airbnb.

Costa Rica Airbnb Yard Shared with Pitbulls

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The listing shows some nice bungalow with a hammock overlooking the beach. What the pictures don’t show are two vicious pitbulls ten feet to the right of your patio that are poorly tied up, with no fence between you and them. We returned the final evening to find the dogs had gotten free. Luckily, a neighbor had warned us as we approached that they might have broken free. Fortunately, I also had a rake in my hand as my friend struggled to open the front door. The dogs attacked and I fended them off with a rake. This wasn’t just barking, but a full-on attack. They ran up on my legs so fast I couldn’t believe it. If we had come home after drinking or unaware this would have been a complete nightmare. We were so shaken up we left and booked a hotel. I’m 47 and a big guy. A smaller person or a family with a child could have been seriously injured or killed. I guess next time I book a place I’ll inquire if there any dogs around, assuming I use Airbnb again at all. I tried to reach out to customer service that night to find another place – was on hold for 1.5 hours – and never reached them. Airbnb should implement a “safety survey” for hosts that need to be asked things like “Do you have dogs? Or are there any potential dogs in your vicinity that guests may be exposed to?”