On July 11th, 2017, I received an award from Airbnb for being a Superhost for four quarters, something I have consistently achieved over two years and seventy guests. I have since received appalling ‘service’ from Airbnb. There are two types of Airbnb hosts: the rich landlords who own multiple properties and offer nothing but a bed and a coffee machine and make a fortune. Then there are people like me for whom this is an important living in a depressed economy. I pay tax on Airbnb earnings. I go out of my way to offer five-star service, gourmet breakfasts, quality linens, and thoughtful, discreet care.
I have just had someone flounce out swearing abuse – while I was doing online teaching – after a week here. She booked for a month. In that time she clogged the plumbing so a plumber had to be called; I didn’t charge her. She broke the kettle, claimed it was my elderly cat who can barely get onto a sofa, never mind leap onto a kitchen shelf. The kettle was fused to its base and could not be turned on, heaven knows how the guest did that. She broke an antique bookend; I asked her to superglue it. This was something precious to me that I’ve had for two decades and from my gran. She claimed she needed an alarm and I must buy her one – this from a Luxembourg citizen who had lived in Boston for six years and recently flunked out of college. I looked at IKEA, couldn’t find one and suggested she try CVS or Target.
She managed to break the cupboard door – not sure how – and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. The damages exceeded $600 and when I tried and load claims onto Airbnb it refused to accept pictures. I’ve sent in two queries about this no response. The Airbnb person tasked with this case has treated me with disrespect and contempt. He promised to take this matter higher early last week. Nothing.
The guest said the room was not cool enough for her. In three years I have received no similar complaints; the house has air conditioning, is surrounded by trees, and there is a spare fan in the room. I bought another high-end fan – for $67 – and she managed to break that one too. I have no idea how. She was only paying $100 a night (in exclusive Wellesley) and got breakfast each day: a poached egg, two chorizo, avocado with supergreens, rye toast, wild honey, raspberry yoghurt (organic), herb tea, and orange juice.
She went through five toilet rolls, two boxes of tissues, and two boxes of candies in addition to finishing two new containers of body wash in a week. I did two loads of laundry for her on Saturday – washed, dried, folded, and put it in her room – and there was not a word of thanks. On Sunday she demanded I do another two loads: a bra and two panties for one load (whites), then for colors a towel (her own – I gave her three fresh towels on Saturday and fresh bed linen). I said such a small load was environmentally unfriendly. She freaked and was verbally abusive, shouting and bullying me.
I was in such a state afterwards I locked myself in my room and sat on the phone for forty minutes trying to get help from Airbnb. There was no answer, so I emailed them and went to their host forums. No help. Airbnb phoned me last week on the guest’s behalf and only when I mentioned my email did the representative say: “Oh yes, it is here. I haven’t read it.”
I told him everything I listed above. He called me back and said I must refund the guest, despite a strict cancelation policy saying I don’t give refunds and even though I was not in the wrong. He says the guest was complaining that she was too warm in her room (she’s also over 6 feet, overweight and on multiple medications – by her own account – for anxiety, so that might be a contributor. I’m 5’2″). I noted how I tried to help her, including two long sessions of unpaid counseling (I’m a trained trauma counselor). I recommended she go to an acupuncturist to assist with her nerves; she went twice.
I told Airbnb after incessant bullying from him I was prepared to give the guest half of her payment back. The representative from Airbnb started yelling at me; I twice had to ask him not to yell at me… this to a Superhost who has just received a rare award from them and who has 70 glowing reviews.
When I was teaching over the internet on the guest’s last evening – which she knew – she came in the room, music blaring, shouted at me, and began banging doors. Really bad conduct. I later audiotaped her ongoing abuse. I was so frightened of her that I stayed in the living room, curtains open, lights on, hand near the phone in case I had to call the cops.
I apologize for this story being so long but if you have the time, read it all the way through. Someone also tried to book with me then refused – the second person in a row because there are so many verifications now loaded onto my profile that a guest has to supply a passport (which most Americans don’t have), a drivers license, and two other forms of ID. This person declined to book – and frankly I would not give my passport details either.
I wrote querying this last week. That too has been ignored. Many hosts are like me: ordinary folk, trying to make ends meet. We are the bedrock of Airbnb. We do right by everyone, our mostly wonderful guests, and we pay tax. We buy superior foods and linen for our guests that we deny ourselves and yet there is still no support from Airbnb and sometimes frightening situations.