Dangerous Road and Smelled Like a Dungeon

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We fell for the “fabulous location” lie. The photos and description of this Airbnb disguised the fact that house was on a dangerous road with no verge. The photos didn’t show the steep, nail-biting walk on the yellow lines clinging to the brick wall trying to stay alive while cars whizzed past a hair’s breadth away. Much further from the parking lot than advertised.

It seemed impossible to get luggage to the door, let alone children. The photos didn’t show the dingy grimy unloved interior with just a hard wooden chair to sit on. No or patchy floor covering. The photos didn’t show the flypaper in the kitchen complete with fly corpses. Photos can’t convey the dank damp smell that hit you as you walked in. The photos don’t show the depressing feel of the place, nor the barbecue grid like mattresses.

I couldn’t believe anyone would so shamelessly advertise this house as ‘beautiful’. Because photos can’t convey smell or danger (would have died trying to photograph the house with a road in front of it), Airbnb ruled in the lying host’s favour. We lost our holiday and our money. Never again.

Airbnb Strict Cancellation is not as Strict as it Seems

Airbnb gives you the opportunity of choosing a cancellation policy. I have chosen a strict cancellation policy which, per their terms, means a ‘full refund’. A woman booked my house many months ago at a heavily discounted price for this week. I received a message from Airbnb today stating that they cancelled her reservation today as she didn’t complete the payment. When I called (the email had zero explanations and was automatically generated) they stated that they would pay me only $800 (payment due was $2450) as she didn’t pay in full. Essentially, even if you have a strict policy and no privity of contract with the ultimate guests, Airbnb asks the hosts to carry the burden of their credit risk. Of course, customer service is anonymous and miserable and they refused to connect me to their legal team to explain to them why their cancellation policy is currently wrong and misleading.

Host Used Misleading Photos and Kept the Money

I met someone in January 2019 in Costa Esmeralda, Panama. He responded to a sign on my rental property. He said he was an Airbnb host and could easily rent the one that I had unoccupied. He wanted 5% commission. I was fine with that.

He booked a party of four into a one-bedroom casita for three nights. The guest was surprised to see that the rental was not the same as the photos posted. The host paid me my rental fee the following week, and said he had a new booking who had booked the one bedroom for a period of one month.

This host charged her 1400 instead of the 850 I had told him to charge. The guest was unhappy about the isolation of the rental as the host had not told her there was no transport from my property. I told her I would drive her to the supermarket whenever she needed to go.

She left but returned in three days and stayed only about two weeks, as she left on March 12th, instead of the 19th. The photos in the ad showed my personal house and pool, not that of the rental, so the guest thought she was getting my beautiful Buddha garden with the pool.

Until this time I had not looked at the ad as I was preparing for a yearly art sale. I now searched for the ad and found the photos were indeed misrepresenting. At this time the host emailed me and told me he and his wife were sailing in the Caribbean and would “keep in contact”.

That is the last I heard from them as they obviously left the country without paying me a cent, and they collected 1400 USD from the guest. These two are obviously criminals and I want my money from Airbnb that these crooks stole.

They have other listings where they are listed as hosts. I am hoping that Airbnb has the brains to remove their listings; they are in El Valle. I have emails from both guests to support my comments, and I have screenshots of the bookings.

Airbnb Refunds are not Honoured as Advertised

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I cancelled a long-term reservation and fully expected to pay a penalty. What I did not expect was that the penalty would be 100%. The host’s listing stated that if a reservation is cancelled more than seven days prior to the start, then a 50% refund would be given. See photo of screenshot.

After contacting the host a couple of times, who did not respond, I sought a resolution by involving Airbnb. They correctly stated that Airbnb’s policy is a one-month penalty on long-term bookings but that hosts can decide on different terms not strictly supported by Airbnb. If that is the case then it is misleading, deceiving travelers into thinking that they will get a refund when in fact they will not.

The host has since changed his listing to match Airbnb’s conditions. The host has also found a loophole in Airbnb’s platform. Somehow the host was able to delete all previous reviews of their listing. Again, this is deceiving travelers. All this was pointed out to Airbnb in the photos attached. They closed the case and are now refusing to respond to my emails. I have now lost a substantial amount of money which I believe was through misleading information. I will never use or recommend Airbnb again. I feel sorry for all the legitimate hosts using Airbnb’s platform.

Airbnb Cozy Modern Studio Over a Dumpster

We were super excited to stay at this property because all of the photos on the Airbnb ad showed a lovely walk and beachfront condo. Little did we know that none of the exterior photos were of the unit being advertised. All of the exterior photos showed views of a beachfront unit with a patio and grill, when in fact this unit was in a separate building, facing the other direction, over a wall and an alley. There was no view, and no patio.

The only furniture near the patio (which was between the beach view units) was walled off with a sign that said: “owner only, no trespassing.” There was no view and no outdoor space, and it was the opposite of beachfront property; it was dumpster alley front. The inside was tiny, with no fans or air conditioning, only a tiny bed you had to climb a ladder to reach that faced an alley. There was not even a window that opens, just a tiny crank window in the bathroom that opened about two inches. We couldn’t sleep because there was a window (that does not open for air flow) right next to the bed with no shade. Cars drove down the alley all night with lights shining in our faces. It was also extremely loud due to all the drunk people fighting and running up and down the alley all night. It turned out, the bed was actually over the alley dumpster. Good luck sleeping with drunk people throwing bottles in it all night.

There was also a sunken shower that extended into the middle of the walkway – super dangerous and not at all family friendly. The Airbnb booking included TV. There was a TV, but it was mounted about nine feet off the ground, had no working remote, and was not actually hooked up even for local channels. For $250 a night, most people would think things like TV and air conditioning are standard. This is clearly a professional investment property. No one lives here – or could – full time. It is a tiny closet-sized box in an alleyway.

Airbnb did not care that the place was not as advertised. Simply not advertising them doesn’t relieve the host of his responsibility to be accurate. Accuracy includes divulging information, not withholding it. There should be a map showing that this is a back wall-facing unit with no views, no air conditioning, no TV, and no patio. I paid $978 and the place was so bad that we packed up and left at 7:00 AM, and moved to a hotel. I immediately messaged the host and agreed to pay 25% of the total price, so $734. He messaged me back and said he would refund me in accordance with the moderate cancellation policy. I thought that meant we had an agreement (which is more than fair, considering that we only stayed one night).

I didn’t hear from him again until I had arrived back in my hometown and he messaged me saying I would be refunded only $195. This really made me mad and I am sure it was tactical. He then told Airbnb that because I didn’t click “cancel” on my reservation, he couldn’t rent out the place for the remaining three days. He never told me that I had to do anything other than notify him. I am sure that this guy is out for the maximum return on his investment and doesn’t care about the comfort of guests. He also clearly was comfortable crossing the line into false advertising because he knew Airbnb wouldn’t do anything about it. They didn’t. They even acknowledged that some of the photos could be misleading, but have done nothing about it.