Airbnb Needs to Offer More for Bad Hosts

Our flight was delayed two hours so we eventually rocked up near our Airbnb apartment in Amsterdam at 23:30, cold, wet, and tired. We were in apartment #79. We found #77 without a problem but that’s where the numbers stopped: in place of #79, there was a restaurant. Unsurprisingly they wouldn’t accommodate us but suggested #79 was in the opposite corner of the square (it wasn’t).

No worries. We called the host (who had been s%$t with his communication anyway). There was no answer via phone, Airbnb, Messenger, fax, carrier pigeon, or two cans with a bit of string tied between them. With the assistance of some very helpful locals we decided the property was one of two things: non-existent or well hidden.

S$%t happens but the real issue was Airbnb’s response. We obviously rang, waited the obligatory 15 minutes, and got the helpful “we’ll ring you back.” Waited. 00:45 (in a strange town, twenty minutes outside the centre). Waited. 01:05. Called again. “Case manager has gone home.” 01:30 called again: “Please help”; “A case manager will call you shortly.”

We gave up and dragged our luggage for another half hour to the nearest hotel we could find that would let us in. Hotels are not cheap at 2:00 in the morning.

We we were lucky. It was a nice town with nice people, and we were old enough to be unfazed. Imagine being young, scared and lost in a less convivial place. Airbnb needs to offer better security if their hosts let you down. A call back in the morning and a refund just isn’t good enough.

Darling Harbour Penthouse Airbnb Nightmare

We had two families (six people) staying in a penthouse suite in Darling Harbour, Sydney to celebrate the wife’s 52nd birthday properly. We were travelling six hours to get to the property. After checking in, we decided to go out for dinner, and headed back to apartment at 11:00 PM.

We found that the lift was broken and non operational, so we called the host (no answer). We tried to use the fire stairs to get to the 6th floor with no luck as it was locked from the other side. We tried a couple of locksmiths, but because it was a fire door they couldn’t touch it. We called all the emergency numbers and the host again (no answer).

We then called called Airbnb and explained the situation. We also explained that in the property was heart medication and medical equipment that we needed access to. Airbnb then advised us they would contact the host. At 11:34 PM Airbnb advised us they could not contact the host and they would keep trying. We again explained we needed access to meds/equipment and advised us to find a coffee shop while we waited, saying someone would contact us soon.

At 1:25 AM, there was still no reply from Airbnb or the host so we had to find alternative accommodation with only the clothes on our back and no access to our meds/medical equipment. After finding some emergency accommodation for the night, the next morning I received a call from host apologising after reading my messages and stating that he was asleep. This was a complete joke; we had vital medication/equipment that we could not access, we had absolutely no help from the host, and we had no help from Airbnb.

We are out out pocket with additional expenses from finding emergency accommodation, and its been two weeks since anyone has got back to us from Airbnb after promising we would get a call. All this can be verified as we have transcripts of our conversation, even a message from host telling us how much of a disaster it was for him.

The Airbnb Amityville Horror in Holbrook

The place was in a reasonably quiet neighborhood in Holbrook, NY (Long Island). The price seemed reasonable (before I found out why it was so low). After instant booking, the host sent a novel’s worth of questions that were already answered in my booking. I reiterated all the answers verbatim from my booking. I got the sense that either the host gets a lot of people who jerk him around, and/or he doesn’t understand how to use Airbnb to set the expectations for a clear-cut host/guest stay.

In any event, I ended up requesting the day of my check-in to show up earlier than the agreed upon check-in time as per Airbnb. I received no response, so I slowly headed over, given I was provided full check-in instructions.

I got to the residence, and entered the room easily. However, I noticed the room had a strong, overwhelming smell of vinegar (either the paint, cleaner, or both). Also, the air conditioner unit in the wall was caked with dirt inside it.

I was exhausted from walking across town from the prior Airbnb (it was a really nice day and I needed the exercise), so I decided to take a shower. I walked in the bathroom, and the first thing I noticed was the bathroom window was the size of a person, both horizontally and vertically, with no curtain, blinds, or other visual blockage.

The neighbors, and folks from the street can literally see you naked and watch you do your business in the restroom. I was provided a humongous, bathrobe sized towel as a part of the guest amenities, so I used this as a curtain, and left it hung up until I could discuss it with the host.

I then proceeded to take a shower. While the host did provide soap via a public restroom style soap dispenser (most normal hosts just put a bottle of nicely scented body wash in the shower instead of trying to treat guests like YMCA members), no matter how hard you pushed the soap dispenser, very little to nothing came out. It appeared to be either empty, broken, or both. Thankfully I came prepared for unprepared hosts (you need to with Airbnb), so I simply used my own soap.

I finished up and got to my door, but promptly forgot the correct four digit key code. I had been diagnosed with heat exhaustion by a doctor earlier in the day, with suggestion I had a minor heat stroke (too much fun in the sun). So, my short term memory took a hit. I also had not brought my cell phone, so I was really up ‘S’ creek without a paddle. I walked outside, to a side door of the host quarters. I knocked but nobody responded. I figured the host would mosey around eventually, so I posted up on the stoop and waited.

After about ten minutes or so, a guy who looked nothing like the host’s picture showed up. I introduced myself and shook his hand, asking him if he was the host. He said yes. Not to be mean spirited, but the guy in front of me either smoked meth, drank way too hard, or has a condition, as he looked nothing like the guy in the picture. The guy in the picture had black hair. The guy in front of me had white scraggly hair, was missing teeth, had glasses, and looked wild eyed.

Regardless, I proceed to explain verbatim how I had heat exhaustion, apologized for bothering him, and just needed to get back in my room. He walked upstairs and punched in the key code. I then thanked him for his help. As I was doing so, he rudely interrupted me, and abruptly shouted at me that I could not leave my towel on the metal banister.

I immediately thought, “Is this guy for real? I just explained in very clear terms how I accidentally locked myself out given my heat exhaustion, and he is acting like I just committed murder on his property.”

He then immediately proceeded to chastise me about his bathroom carpet being wet, and how I need to replace it. Again, I looked at this guy and thought, “How many shots of vodka did you down, and/or bong hits did you rip before you came up with that one?”

I just shook my head in disgust, walked into my room, and closed the door. I got the immediate sense that this guy either has an undiagnosed (or diagnosed) mental illness, he has a learning disability, or cut to the meth/alcohol suspicion above. Regardless, I knew this guy was going to be trouble if I didn’t settle it immediately.

I called Airbnb and advised if the host doesn’t change his tune pronto, along with deal with all the outstanding problems, I’m leaving tonight, with the expectation of a full refund. Airbnb said that his son is actually the one who runs the thing, not the host. I called the son, who seemed reasonable, noted his father has a ‘strange’ way about him (no ‘S’ Sherlock) and explained all of the above to him.

The son said he would talk with his father to set him straight, and all the issues will be addressed exactly as I advised: the temporary curtain will remain until a permanent one is installed; the host is going to ‘back off’, never enter my room for any reason, and not communicate directly with me going forward; the soap situation will be straightened out; towels will be placed in the common area, replaced daily at the guest’s discretion; the host will stop conscripting guests into ‘free help’ (ordering guests to replace bath mats, tie up trash bags and throw it out daily regardless of if trash is actually put in them, etc.).

Given how sincere the son seemed, and how he was profusely apologetic of his father’s behavior, I figured he would set the matter straight, and I agreed to stay on these conditions. I then started to take a nap, and not a few minutes into it, the host loudly stomped up the stairs, waking me up in the process, and dropped a giant plastic bin from waist high onto the floor, making a loud crashing sound.

I opened the door, and saw that the temporary curtain had been removed. I immediately called Airbnb, advised how the son said one thing, and the host is doing exactly the opposite of what was discussed. Given how Airbnb has no immediate influence or control over the host (and obviously neither does the son), I advised Airbnb I was leaving immediately to book a hotel outside of Airbnb (I tried booking an Airbnb but everything was either booked, or not ‘Instant Book’ so had to move on). I also advise the host of the same via the Airbnb platform and text message as I was leaving the premises.

Once settled in at the hotel, I attempted to request a refund from the host directly. Here are the points made to the host verbatim, and the host’s one-star, reality-denying, insult-the-guest’s-intelligence responses:

Me: No concerns were addressed with my discussion with the son in any way.

Host: This is not accurate. My son spoke to you for 10-15 minutes and all concerns were addressed.

Me: I walked in and the room smelled like vinegar.

Host: We use all natural cleaning products, that may be what you smelled.

Me: The air conditioner was filthy and caked with dirt.

Host: You did not discuss this at any time during your reservation, nor did you mention this on the call with my son. I would have been happy to come take a look. Please send photo documentation of this so I can see where the problem lies as I’ve cleaned that before.

Me: The shower had no soap.

Host: The shower soap is clear, so it makes the dispenser look empty. I did take a [SIC].

Me: The host is overbearing, maniac, and doesn’t understand basic human interaction.

Host: We’ve had a lot of great reviews and guest stays. We’re just trying to be good hosts here. After speaking to my son and him having thought all of your issues were resolved, you left without a word.

Me: The temporary window curtain I placed was removed by the host so neighbors could see guests naked (ridiculous).

Host: Again, we’ve had a lot of guests, none of whom before you have complained about the window. Besides the fact that I’m sure the neighbors have no interest in seeing you naked, I’ve already ordered some window fogger to make future guests more comfortable.

Me: The host refused to put towels in the common area.

Host: In our house rules we ask that guests do not leave belongings in the common area. It is a hazard and can cause an accident. You were asked to leave your towel in your room.

Me: I left shortly after my arrival due to the above.

Host: You did not leave shortly after your arrival. You were here until late evening, and even showered/bathed in the house. For a one-night reservation you did check-in, use the bed, use the room, etc.

The bottom line is the host treats people how a librarian on a power trip would treat guests: rudely, with contempt, heavy handed, and ‘doubling down on wrong’ at every turn. Airbnb gave me a full refund, and I would never do business with, let alone with Airbnb, with this guy, or his son. If you enjoy being mistreated as a guest, then please by all means, book away. Good luck to you. You will need it.

Left Homeless in Philadelphia after no Contact

My credit card was charged for a five-day rental in Philadelphia. The host emailed me through Airbnb that the entry code to the property would be sent to me 24 hours before I arrived. I was sent a file through Airbnb’s system, since all communication must go through the service. The file was sent, but couldn’t be opened. The host couldn’t be contacted by Airbnb’s case manager. I was told to go get coffee while Airbnb tried to contact the host. No contact was made. I was homeless, 3000 miles from where I live. Airbnb admitted to the error, but merely wiped the charges from my credit card; there was no effort to compensate me for a very expensive last-minute hotel. They referred me to their legal team, and all communication stopped.

Host’s Refusal to Help Leaves us Homeless in Barcelona

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My husband and I went through a horrible experience via an Airbnb listing near Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Without any description in their listing, the host notified us in person that they actually lived 60 kilometers (37.3 miles) away from the listing upon our arrival and warned us it will be difficult for them to come on-site to resolve issues.

If we had been aware of this, I would have chosen a different option from the very beginning. Unfortunately, we accidentally locked ourselves outside without a key on the last day of our stay as we were still jet lagged and rushed to a tour site we booked in advance. To note, the door automatically locks when it’s closed so we had no chance to re-enter the property once the door was closed.

We contacted the host immediately once we found out about the situation at 4:46 PM. The host responded at the moment saying they weren’t sure if they would be able to come and help because it was too far of a drive for them to come on-site. We were asked to wait for them to find a solution so we went to a coffee shop near the listing to wait for an update.

However, we didn’t receive any responses for nearly four hours even we sent them messages requesting updates on the issue. Meanwhile, we offered them financial compensation for their time lost if they could help. After a long wait with no updates, we were not sure if the host would actually come and help. Since we had a reservation at a restaurant in the Gothic Quarter, we had to leave for dinner.

At 8:50 PM, the host finally got back to us and asked us where we were and he didn’t convey to us when he would be at the apartment. We just placed the order in the restaurant and couldn’t leave at the moment so we asked if he could meet us near the restaurant or let us know when he would be at the apartment to meet. We received no response from the host again.

We later on received a message from Airbnb support notifying us if we didn’t meet the host in 15 minutes, we would lose access to the listing for the night. It was impossible for us to make it back within the timeframe (we needed at least 30-40 minutes since we need to walk 10 minutes from the restaurant to find a taxi and it took about another 20-30 minutes to get back to the listing) so we asked the host if he could wait slightly longer.

Again, we received no message from the host but another message from Airbnb support stating the host had waited longer than 30 minutes and had to leave. We tried to explain the situation to Airbnb support personnel multiple times but she kept saying the host had warned us and tried their best to help so it was our responsibility not being able to get in. She stopped responding to us afterwards.

We didn’t receive any information directly from the host in the meantime besides a confirmation on the scheduled check out time at 8:00 the next morning. We ended up wandering in the street for two hours at midnight trying to find a hotel to stay for the night. Without passports and since most hotels were fully booked by then, we were almost left to be homeless for the night.

We are extremely frustrated at both the host and Airbnb support personnel. Airbnb’s terms and conditions state that “Before and during the Experience, Hosts should be available, or make a third-party available, in order to try, in good faith, to resolve any Guest issues.” Being unavailable for five hours and leaving the guest unaware of the situation cannot be considered as “good faith”.

As an accommodation service, what Airbnb does is to throw people onto the streets of a foreign country without passports in the middle of the night. Sorry to say but this is totally against the ideas they have been promoting over the years.

Airbnb Host Left us Outside in Cold Weather

My Airbnb host was responsive at first but suddenly became weird and unresponsive. I noticed the host rented an apartment on other sites. After making the reservation, I noticed the host became unresponsive. I was told the check-in time must be later because she must clean. I didn’t expect the cleaning would take 4-6 hours. I would never have booked if had known.

Previous guests gave positive feedback to this host by saying she was honest and always on time, which was not true for me. Then I found another page in which some guests had complained the host was late. She was a foreigner living in one city and renting in another.

We were waiting many hours and agreed to arrive in the evening. I thought it would be okay. I was wondering why the host didn’t have any time to respond; I thought she was cleaning and had no time. In the evening, I noticed the location was not 150 meters from the station – it was 1 km walking distance to the apartment. It was a cold evening and the host turned off her phone. I received a message saying I “can’t call this number right now” even though we agreed on the arrival time.

It’s so easy to lie because most holiday apartments don’t have a reception desk. It made me think the host only wanted to get money and has no responsibility. I tried to knock on the door but it was locked and no one was there. I also had the wrong code. I couldn’t wait outside the whole night so I had to spend the night in a hotel.

Around midnight, the host started to respond, asking where I was and if I was coming. I thought it was rude and crazy. The host agreed the check-in time would be in the afternoon, then changed it to the evening. Then she thought it would be okay to ask us to arrive at night.

The host tried to make stupid excuses like she was shopping for breakfast food for us in the evening (we didn’t ask for any breakfast and it would not take three hours to buy breakfast items). The keys would be just enough but we didn’t get keys. I’ve met angry and weird hosts before but this one was incredible; it felt she wanted to leave us outside. I froze and this is one of my worst travel experiences. I’m pretty sure I don’t want anything from Airbnb because I can’t trust them. I could end up being left outside and frozen without a key again.

What did customer service do? I’ve been waiting days to see if I will get a response but mostly they believe the host. The host says she has called multiple times (even though she did not) and gave an incorrect code. It’s difficult to prove the host closed her phone. I don’t have a conversation record of this because I had no chance to speak to the host.

I wonder how on earth could anyone think that guests can wait outside all afternoon and night and how any service could accept this behaviour. I booked just one night and the host expected me to spend hours outside without a key or expected me to wait until the night or morning without a response.

Emphasis on the “air” as in “you won’t have anywhere to stay”

Circle of Airbnb Hell Level 1: I originally booked an Airbnb apartment in Tokyo in the summer of 2018 for a long-awaited and carefully saved for trip to Japan, which was a graduation present for my son. Two weeks before the trip, Airbnb advised due to changes in Japanese law, I likely wouldn’t be able to occupy the Airbnb. I would have to rent a hotel at the last minute in Tokyo (along with all of the other people who just lost their Airbnb bookings and rushed to book hotels). I ended up paying over 2K for a hotel, over 1.2K more than the Airbnb I booked, fully blowing my budget. Airbnb attempted to compensate for this by giving me a coupon for $900.

Circle of Airbnb Hell Level 2: I used $328 of the coupon on a weekend Airbnb booking in DC. I ended up fully locked out of the unit, never got in, and Airbnb refused to refund the full cost because I didn’t cancel… which makes no sense – I was locked out. They even charged me for the unit cleaning, that I never got into. I spent $186 to stand in the rain outside a locked unit, listening to the host’s answering machine. After this I no longer wanted to do any business with Airbnb, but I had $712 credit left to use, I thought.

Circle of Airbnb Hell Level 3: I attempted to use the $712 on a vacation and guess what? It was a ‘single use coupon’. In the end, it was all a complete waste: out the 1.2K for the extra cost for the Tokyo hotel, out $328 for the unit I was locked out of and finally just out. I will never, ever, book Airbnb ever again. I will discourage everyone I know from doing so. The customer service is a nightmare. The hosts are a nightmare.

Nightmare Host Has No Time to Deliver Keys

I booked an Airbnb flat but suddenly the host didn’t have time to answer me and give me the details. The waiting time turned out to be a nightmare in cold weather. After I made the reservation, the host acted strangely and didn’t give anything more than her address. All other information was missing. I tried to ask couple of times how to arrive, what was around there, etc., but got no answer.

Then the host told me she was abroad and guests had to search for the keys in the cellar. I was thinking the host was in the same city, especially because she brought keys before to other guests as I saw her positive reviews. She didn’t have “time” to bring keys to me at all.

Then we agreed about an arrival time in the evening but the host suddenly changed her mind and sent me only one message, telling me she would be busy for 2-3 hours and couldn’t give me instructions to find the keys. It is incredible behaviour which I haven’t experienced before. The host knew I was already in the corridor waiting but suddenly she just became busy. The host didn’t ask her friend to bring the keys; it felt like the host only wanted money.

I tried to contact customer service but had to wait many days before getting any help. Then I got help and the host already lied to customer service by saying that she had given me all the instructions and she couldn’t be available for guests 24/7.

I never asked host to be available 24/7, only for the time I told her about my arrival that had been agreed upon. It seemed like she didn’t want to rent out her property. I think the real truth could be the host is living at her flat, kept the key with her, and there was no respect for guests. There were not any keys left in the cellar; I searched for them.

I felt terrible, especially because I walked 1 km to the apartment on a cold evening and ended without a key to the corridor and stuck outside. The host tried to ask customer service to remove her feedback so she could still do the same thing to others.

I know when people are really busy they will tell others “I’m busy” but not just suddenly change their mind and say they’re busy when guests told them their arrival time. I had to pay for an expensive hotel that same night because the host didn’t want to bring her keys.

Validation Required by Airbnb – National ID Card not Accepted

All of a sudden, in the middle of the busy tourist season, Airbnb decided to force me to validate myself, again, by asking me several personal questions, again, and submitting a form of ID. I tried to comply, by submitting high quality, high resolution color scans of my national ID card, the only form of ID I have. I do not have a passport, and I do not have a driver’s license.

However, the automated system on Airbnb does not seem to accept my government-issued, national ID card. Their automated system keeps rejecting both my scans or the Airbnb app scans of the ID they asked me to provide. Today I went to my local police station and obtained a newer version of my ID that includes all information printed in both Greek and English, as well as a brand new photo of myself. I tried again submitting my new ID this time, but the automated Airbnb system keeps rejecting that one as well.

Airbnb has suspended my payments because I have not validated myself using their automated system, and all the representatives I’ve talked to keep telling me there is nothing they can do. I have more guests coming in the next few days to stay at my properties and know I won’t receive any funds owned to me by Airbnb for these reservations. I am at my wit’s end, and don’t know what to do.