Once you click “book” on Airbnb, your money is gone. Misrepresentation and filth are not enough to get your money back. I booked what was represented as a beautiful waterfront home where I could work for a week. I booked just a couple days in advance.
Upon arrival, it was a rundown cabin, part of a rundown crowded campground. On top of that, the place was filthy with sticky residue on the appliances, light switches and mystery drippings on the walls. The bathroom was disgusting with a moldy shower curtain and orange slick grime that’s hard to see in the pictures. The grounds were a mess with cars, debris and junk.
I texted the owner via the app immediately (because all communications had been through the app). I said the place was not at all what was represented and that I was leaving immediately. She did not respond. I immediately contacted Airbnb via the app as well and they did not respond either.
The next day Airbnb got back to me to say they had to ask the host for the refund. I never heard from the host. Surprise: the host declined. I suggested a 50% refund to settle, which was generous in my opinion. Airbnb said I needed to go back and take pictures (a two-hour drive). I made the trip back to the property and took pictures of a clearly moldy shower curtain, sticky surfaces and junky grounds. The host noticed that I was returning to take pictures, so the property was actually an improvement compared to the views on my original arrival.
Airbnb said the host refused the refund because I didn’t speak to her in person. When did that become a requirement? Then they told me they could not refund the money because I didn’t take the pictures that first day and never explained why they sent me back there. I gave up and posted a negative review on Yelp and cancelled my Airbnb account. I lost over $1,000 to avoid staying in filth. I will never use Airbnb again and frankly think this sort of thing needs to be better regulated.
Months later, a person I suspect to be a friend of the owner tried to comment on my Yelp review but that was rejected. The post was just a bunch of name calling. Now more than nine months later, the owner apparently did some research to find out my profession (attorney) and posted a response to my Yelp review trying to deflect from the photos of the grossness and reality of the junky grounds. I never mentioned my profession.
Another guest recently posted more photos on Yelp of the disgusting level of filth complete with another moldy shower, exploded food left by others in the microwave and more. Airbnb has yet to hold this property owner accountable despite pictures. Even the more positive Yelp reviews from guests expecting a campground experience note the need for better maintenance.
The stalking behavior by the owner in digging around to find out about my profession so many months later is disturbing on a whole different level. And there is yet another Yelp review describing how the host cussed out their group when they complained about the mess.
What does it take for Airbnb to hold a host accountable? I read an article about a Boy Scout troop that booked a place in Florida. When they contacted Airbnb to report that two different listings were using the same information, Airbnb protected the hosts. The Boy Scout troop showed up to literally no place to stay and it made the news. Apparently you need a news story to hold hosts accountable if they are making money for Airbnb.
Don’t trust Airbnb for reviews. When I tried to post my review on Airbnb, it mysteriously went into the cosmos. When the world settles down a little bit, I think we need to look to our legislators and consumer protection laws to make some changes. In the meantime, I suggest using VRBO and VACASA. They cost a little more but they also have higher standards in my experience. Take lots of pictures upon arrival in case you need documentation for any reason and let karma take care of the rest.