Account Deleted After Guest Used Dodgy Credit Card

I began my journey with Airbnb in November of 2017. I manage an apartment building for my mom – who is the owner – in Accra, Ghana. Everything was going well; I had hosted over 30 guests, became a six-time Superhost with five-star reviews, and all was good in my world. 
  
In April 2018, I received an instant booking with an email confirmation from a new guest for a same-day arrival. I called the number attached to the booking to see when the guest would be arriving. The guest said within an hour. This hour stretched to a five-hour wait.
 
Call it intuition or something, but I went back into my Airbnb account and found that the reservation had disappeared from my inbox. I still had the email confirmation. I immediately called the guest to say I didn’t have a booking for them and that they shouldn’t come. They didn’t complain and just simply hung up. I then messaged Airbnb support to let them know what happened and was told that they had flagged the guest’s account for fraudulent activity. I thought the matter was closed. 
 
About a month later (mind you, it was a quiet month with no bookings) a former guest who had my number contacted me asking if I was still on the platform because she couldn’t find my listings on Airbnb. I started checking and couldn’t find my listings either even though in my hosting dashboard, all looked well.
 
I contacted Airbnb support and my client did as well. The first few contacts were useless with the agents telling me that there was nothing wrong with my account. One week later, nothing was solved and I began to call the helpline. After three separate calls, I found an agent who actually wanted to help. She investigated for about four more days and finally found out that the Airbnb department that deals with fraud and works pretty autonomously sent me an email back in April asking me to confirm my account or my account would be put on hold.
 
I frantically went looking for the email and found it sitting in my spam folder. A follow-up email was never sent. Long story short, after responding to the email, it took a week plus a few more calls to get an email response saying that my account had been activated again and that I should be mindful of the Airbnb Terms and Conditions. 
 
Two weeks after being reactivated, I received a new booking for a same-day arrival. The person who booked said he would be coming from another city the following morning but his cousin and a friend would be arriving that evening. The booking was paid for and there was government ID submitted.
 
The cousin and friend arrived and proceeded to stay for the entire eight-night reservation. The guest who booked never arrived and never returned my phone calls. At the end of the eight-night stay, the cousin said he wanted to extend the stay but this time using his own Airbnb account. I told him to go ahead and make the reservation when they were ready. By this point they had moved out of the apartment.
 
Two nights later, I received a booking request from him on Airbnb. I confirmed it and the reservation was confirmed. I received an email confirming it from Airbnb. I went about my errands and saw an email that came through stating that the reservation was cancelled. Then I received another from that special Airbnb department stating my account had been deactivated for not following the terms and conditions.
 
I called their agent immediately and was told that they were not obliged to tell me why my account was deleted. I sent an email telling them how I came to know the guest and then received another email saying that my account was permanently deactivated and they didn’t have to explain why. 
 
Thanks for reading that. My takeaways from this were:
 
– I was terribly disappointed that a so-called professional company would treat its hosts so poorly.
– There was a new scam being run by guys in West Africa and instead of Airbnb protecting the hosts, they decided to protect themselves and not explain their position.
– If you are a host and receive a same-day booking from someone, please go back in the system and make sure the reservation exists or you will end up the same way I did. 
– Think twice before reporting any dodgy behavior because you may be held liable for it.
 
Now, I shall look for other portals to list my properties on but the financial damage has been felt.

Airbnb Hosting Fail: Lying on Company Time

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I have been trying to cancel a stay for a guest that added to his original date and somehow decided not to pay for the last day, as in he changed his payment method or something. I am still listening to Airbnb’s Muzak. One person hung up on me. Another had such a deep accent I had no idea what he was saying and when I asked him to speak more clearly he blew up. He interrupted me three times as I tried to give the reservation number and proceeded to say I was first person who couldn’t understand him and was unable to move past this. He talked over me. Then he hung up when I told him: “Stop being tangential. Listen to the code so I can cancel.”

Now I am talking to a case manager, on hold so far for 18 minutes just to cancel. Over one hour to cancel someone who had a cancelled card and no replacement. This is one of four issues I think could have been solved quickly if their website wasn’t missing so many options. It won’t let you make changes without calling them, AKA wasting twenty minutes to two hours per call.

They have also “closed” multiple tickets with no follow up. One guest stole my remote controls. They closed that account because she was a junkie, and I couldn’t see it when she checked in, or smoked with the door open. However, I could tell by her and her guy’s appearance and mannerisms that he was on heroin and she was on meth. I cancelled their reservation and Airbnb keeps me on the phone as they “try to contact guests”, who of course, ignored the calls because they are junkies.

They stole remotes, peed in the basement and ruined bedding. Airbnb didn’t do a thing to reimburse me. The junkies gave me a one-star review and since I was new at hosting, soon after I had no say in it; Airbnb closed my account, so I never got paid back.

I started a listing with a new account and the glowing incidents have happened. One guest entered my next door neighbor’s house. We have clearly marked addresses. I asked for a credit for making my neighbors rightfully scared and angry. They “escalated” the case to a person who apparently can’t even write back to say “Sorry, can’t help.” Nothing other than hours of me explaining how mad I was, many times, with no followup.

Next, a family came and ruined some things like a shoe rack and got stains on the bedding. I asked the guest for reimbursement. They didn’t pay and Airbnb is supposed to take this out of their security deposit since I have clear pictures and even them admitting that they broke the shoe rack.

Still, ten days later, nothing but me repeating myself like a parrot to thickly accented robots who all say “Just one moment, bear with me. May I put you on a brief hold?” and other scripted garbage for “I am doing the least I can for you and have no problem ignoring exactly what you’re clearly stating but will instead regurgitate ‘Airbnb policy’ that has nothing to do with anything other than they assign this to a case manager who, again, either deletes their emails/cases or lacks in even flooring up with me, ever.”

Next, they won’t remove bad feedback. I had a guy give me two stars on location because he literally couldn’t follow his GPS and get out of his car when it said you have arrived at the address. Instead he called me “lost” and after six minutes of telling him where to go, he still went to the wrong house (see above) and stayed there until my neighbors opened their door, saw him in their living room, and told him to get the f*** out.

This dumba*** who can’t follow GPS to get to a very easy to find inner city house goes into someone else’s house, and gets to ding me on location, which hurts my ratings. Will they take these rational explanations into account? Lol – hell no. They just say as long as his review doesn’t have boobies.com or mention the Airbnb investigation that’s open or give my address he can say anything he wants and the feedback stays.

Then they say a guest is only to say a location isn’t a five-star one if I lie about where I am. Yet they won’t remove a terrible review from a guy who clearly has severe intoxication or mental health issues. They let a guest say absolute lies – libel is the legal term for written lies – and kept the feedback. I had one first say my walls weren’t finished, when I have sheetrocked walls. Granted they can use new paint, but saying it was an unfinished room with no real walls? Airbnb just lets it slide because the guests didn’t spam their website with feedback.

I really want to sue this company for wasting my time, money and lying about host guarantees. One of the biggest complaints came from a guest who said he was canceled on in Miami twice in a weekend and had to get a $1000 hotel at the last minute instead of the few hundred for his room his host cancelled “because he decided to stay there himself”. After hours of back and forth, Airbnb comped him $150.

They take no ownership in the hassles. They need to be empathetic and therefore I am confident they will be quickly replaced by a more reasonable company with decent policies and good customer service. I hope another company can bury the bad excuses of Airbnb because I have never had so much frustration with a company that says they will do something and then does nothing. I’m trying to cancel all my reservations without penalty and so far haven’t had anyone respond to my request. If you want to sue this immoral company, I am in line for a class action lawsuit.

My Experience with Airbnb? Deplorable

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I have been dealing with this Airbnb situation over the past two weeks. I have spoken with about ten call staff and five different supervisors/managers, each of whom has said that they would call me back, but there has been no follow through.

I have been on hold for 30 minutes at a time waiting to be transferred to a supervisor. I have had my calls disconnected (dropped) four times after waiting at length for a supervisor to come on the phone and, when calls were dropped, I received no callback. This situation has been frustrating to say the least.

My reservation was from May 4 to May 13 in West Hollywood. I sent Airbnb a number of pictures that I took of the rental.

Please note, there was mold and mildew all over the bathrooms and kitchen (I am an infectious disease epidemiologist by training and it was definitely a health hazard; the Los Angeles Department of Public Health and Housing Safety should be notified). The walls and paint were cracked and chipping throughout the house. The floors were dirty. There was rotten food in the kitchen sink and on the countertops. There was mold growing all over the AC unit.

Throughout the home was a thick coat of dust across most surfaces. The place was filthy. Even more alarming, there were electrical wires hanging out from the baseboards – a huge violation with the Los Angeles building and safety authority.

We walked into this rental, and spent ten minutes looking around and taking pictures. I immediately called Airbnb and spoke with a representative and was transferred to a supervisor. The gentleman asked me to email him pictures of the house, so I sent the pictures to him. He told me and my friend that was with me (on speaker phone), verbatim: “These pictures are enough to justify a full refund since the place is definitely a health risk and is absolutely not in the condition of what was advertised.”

As you can see from the pictures, there was mold, mildew and rotting food. All very concerning for me, since I had recently had major surgery the week before. After the Airbnb supervisor told me that he would ensure that I receive a full refund for every dollar spent (my friends heard him tell me this on speaker phone), we locked the house, put the key back in the lockbox, and checked into the Andaz Hotel (also in West Hollywood), which cost me double the price of this Airbnb rental.

Unfortunately I had no other options, as all the listings that I would have considered staying at from Airbnb were no longer available and booked by other guests. As such, I have had to pay over $4,000 in hotel fees for this time period. I also had to pay $100 in cab expenses getting to the Airbnb rental and then to the Andaz Hotel. This has caused me considerable loss, both in terms of actual cash, but also in terms of time spent dealing with the situation (an estimated five hours of time lost).

Why Airbnb Needs Some Serious Renovations

I began traveling over 30 years ago and I consider myself a seasoned traveler. My wife and I have been using Airbnb since 2012.  During a five-week trip to Europe in June 2018, five out of the six places we stayed were Airbnb apartments, which we carefully chose.  While our past Airbnb experiences have been mostly positive, we learned during this trip that the travel platform has some very serious issues.

Let’s start with what Airbnb calls hosts.  The conventional definition of a host is: “A person who receives or entertains other people as guests.” Airbnb has taken that definition and completely convoluted its meaning.

The potential guest may assume that their “host” is the person listed on Airbnb as the host but that could be a completely wrong assumption.  The “host” on Airbnb is often just a ghost.

According to Airbnb, the host is simply the person who has sent their identifying documents to Airbnb as the human responsible for a particular listing.  The Airbnb host is also meant to be the person who has posted their photo next to their name. One assumes that this photo is an accurate visual representation of the host.

Let’s just call the person paying for the Airbnb rental the “guest”.

Let’s call the person who writes back and forth to the guest the “communicator”.

Let’s call the person who meets the guest, takes them to the rental, and shows them the ropes the “greeter”.

Now let’s see how this all plays out in the real world.

When a guest is interested in making a booking, they often first send a message to the host asking if they are able to make the booking. The guest assumes that the person or they are corresponding with is the named host.

That would also be a wrong assumption. Often the person writing to the guest is a completely different person who has an unknown relationship to the named host or to the rental.

Once a listing is booked, there are various back and forth messages with the “host” about what time the guest will arrive and exactly where they will meet to check into the rental.  The guest assumes that they are going to be met by the person who has been writing to them to be shown the apartment and to ask any questions. Wrong again.

Often when the guest arrives at the meeting place, the greeter is a completely different person that the named host or the communicator.

All of this would be fine if the guest actually was informed in advance who exactly was the host, who exactly was the communicator and who exactly was going to be their greeter. Sadly the guest is often left in the dark.

Why does this happen?  The easy answer is that the Airbnb host allows it to happen. This Airbnb host is free to assign a “communicator” to deal with the guests and this communicator is free to sign their messages in the host’s name even if they are a different person. The host is also free to assign the task of greeter to another third party without letting the guest know in advance. In reality the host is free to have no role whatsoever in the management of the listing or interacting with the guest. The host does however always have one important role: the host is the one collecting the rent.

Let me give you an example: our recent trip to Europe in June 2018.  Some names and cities have been changed to shield the guilty but everything is as it happened.

We booked an apartment in Rome, Italy for seven nights.  Let’s call the host “Sophia”. There was a photo of Sophia on the listing next to a young girl. The photo was very low resolution but you could make out a kind smile. The photo did make me sympathetic to the host.

Before we arrived at the apartment, there were quite a few back and forth messages from the host signed by Sophia. However, we later found out none of these messages had actually written by Sophia.  We were told to arrive at an office no later than 6:00 PM.

When we arrived at the office, Sophia was nowhere to be found. The person in charge of the office passed us onto another person who spoke just enough English to show us the apartment which was a short distance away. When I asked about our host Sophia I was told that she worked at a shop elsewhere in the city and if I wanted to meet her I could find her in the shop.

I later found out that our “host” Sophia had absolutely nothing to do with the guests. Sophia was not actually the “communicator” although all of our messages had been signed by her and she certainly was not our “greeter”. During our seven-night stay, Sophia never reached out, texted or made a cameo appearance. Pretty photo, and the host was named but she was not involved in any manner in the listing – a ghost.

Another version of the ghost host phenomenon happened at an Airbnb on Lake Como. The named host of this apartment was a holiday rental company so at least we knew up front that the person we were corresponding with was an employee of the rental company. The communicator named Chris was very helpful and gave us lots of help in figuring out how best get to the tiny village from the city of Como.

On the day of our arrival we were in contact numerous times. In fact 45 minutes before we arrived at their office Chris wrote that he was looking forward to seeing us soon. We arrived at the office exactly on time but Chris was nowhere to be found. A young German girl was our greeter at the office. We asked what happened to Chris. She said he was too busy to meet us even though less than an hour before he was looking forward to meeting us.

The young German girl did her check in procedure and then something happened that had never happened before. The girl handed us the keys, pointed down the road, said to look for a green house and just to let ourselves inside. Never before in our long history with Airbnb had we not been brought in person to the rental and been allowed to ask questions about the unit.

Of course we found the apartment but we felt that our greeter experience had reached an all-time low. Chris, the communicator, continued to answer any questions we had by email but never showed his face. Chris was a ghost communicator.

Now lets talk about Superhosts. Airbnb defines a Superhost as follows:

“Superhosts are highly rated and reliable, going above and beyond to create an exceptional stay for every guest.”

Unless you have dug deep into the terms and conditions of the Airbnb website, you would have thought that someone who had earned the badge of “Superhost” would in fact be a super host.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It turns out that a host can become a Superhost simply by maintaining a minimum star rating and a minimum number of successful rentals per year. The Superhost designation is completely computer generated; there are no humans involved.  There is no requirement that a Superhost submit a clear photo taken within a reasonably recent time frame. The photo may or not be a real photo of Superhost at all.

There is no requirement that a Superhost write a reasonable description of the rental and submit reasonably accurate photos. There is no requirement that a Superhost is a warm or welcoming person. There is no requirement that a Superhost provide detailed instructions on how best to arrive at the rental from various starting points such as airport, train, taxi or on foot. There is no requirement that a Superhost provide information to the guest about the appliances or features of the apartment. There is no requirement that the Superhost provide additional recommendations about nearby sights, restaurants or local transport.

The Superhost might be the owner of the unit, might be the agent of the owner, might be the communicator, or might be the greeter. The Superhost might be all of the above, some of the above or none of the above. There is no requirement that the Superhost disclose who they are or their role. Like the basic host, the Superhost is the person who has submitted their identifying documents and may or may not be the person who is pictured in the photo.  There is no way to know if they are active in management the rental or if they are simply a ghost host.

Let’s consider another real life example

We had woken up at 5:00 AM in Lisbon, Portugal and had traveled over nine hours to get to Rome. We arrived at the office about 5:00 PM utterly exhausted. The simple politeness of a host to a guest should have dictated some words of welcome or interest such as “welcome to Rome,” or “how was your trip?” or “did you have any problem finding our office?”

Instead, our reception was more like arriving at immigration at the airport: no smiles, no welcome and no kindness. We were asked for our passports, and then told we had to pay 21 euros in cash for a tourist tax. This additional tax was not disclosed in the listing so we felt put off from the get go.

As I previous recounted, the person with whom we had been communicating through Airbnb was named Sophia and she was rated as a Superhost.

Each and each and every message we had written before we arrived through Airbnb messaging had been signed by “Sophia.”  When I asked where she was, the communicator, Luigi, told us that Sophia was his wife and worked at another shop.

An assistant of Luigi took us to the apartment as she spoke a small amount of English.  She was not able to answer any questions about the apartment such as how to use the washing machine or where to dispose of the garbage and there were no written instructions or any kind or suggestions about anything in the apartment or the town.

Other Superhosts have extensive written manuals written in English to orient you to the city and explain how appliances work. This apartment had nothing. The one and only written word in the apartment was how to turn on the power at the switchboard downstairs if all of the electricity went dead.

When our greeter showed us the apartment, I checked to see if the internet worked as I have a web based business and this was a key feature of any place we rented. The internet was completed dead. During the following hours various people came and went trying to figure out what was wrong. After several hours they were able to get the wifi to work but it was a hassle to deal with after an exhausting day of travel.

We were staying for seven nights and noticed there was only half a roll of toilet paper.  We sent a Whatsapp message to Luigi about this and commented that the listing said that toilet paper was included. Luigi initially told us to buy our own but when told this was not acceptable he reluctantly brought us a few extra rolls.

As we settled in to our new home we discovered one of the front door keys did not work, there was no way to boil water except in a pot, there were no wine glasses and the fry pan was not usable.  My wife makes tea several times a day, I cook eggs for breakfast and both my wife and I think it’s more romantic to drink Prosecco from a wine glass.

The next morning I spent over an hour in the office with Luigi. We had to write back and forth using Google translate on his computer to communicate. Luigi finally agreed to provide a working key, an electric kettle, wine glasses and a new fry pan but said in no uncertain terms that we were “difficult” and he clearly was angry with our requests.

Luigi provided the items we asked for but his unfriendly attitude and sheer lack of any warmth or kindness put a real damper on our stay. We had never experienced a Superhost who was so unwelcoming. What we requested was listed in the apartment’s description or what we have experienced in most all of the other Airbnbs in which we have stayed. In our many interactions during that week, the named Superhost Sophia never showed her smiling face.

Now let’s consider negative reviews.  If you have a bad experience with a host you may want to let future guests know about it and leave an honest review about your experience. I did exactly that for our experience with the ghost host Sophia and her communicator husband Luigi. I actually wrote a very long review and was hopeful that it would be published.

However, when it was finally published, I found out that the maximum word count for an Airbnb review is 500 words. This does appear if you dig in the terms and conditions of the website but on the page where you write the review Airbnb neglects to add the simple subtext that reviews are a maximum of 500 words. By the time you find this out it is too late as reviews cannot be edited after 48 hours. Thanks Airbnb, for letting me know this upfront when I needed to know.

If you have a bad experience with a host then your host might leave you a negative review as well. That is as it should be. If you are being honest and transparent then both parties should be able to express how they feel and what they experienced. However, a couple of weeks after my negative review of Sophia was published and Sophia’s negative review of me was published, I received this email from Airbnb:

“You received an unfavorable review after one of your stays. We know that sometimes things happen, but we want both the guests and hosts that make up our global community feel respected, welcome, and safe anytime they’re using Airbnb. Guests who receive multiple negative reviews may not be able to book a future stay on Airbnb.”

There are many reasons that a host might leave a bad review for a guest, e.g. the guest left the rental messy, disturbed the neighbors or behaved badly. However, there are other reasons that a host can leave a bad review for a guest, like the guest was “difficult” and asked for such unreasonable things as toilet paper, keys that opened the door, working internet and basic kitchen implements.

The fact that any negative review from a host means that the guest may “not be able to book a future stay on Airbnb” simply means that Airbnb values positive reviews and punishes negative reviews no matter what the backstory might be. Airbnb makes their position quite clear: if you have a bad experience and your host leaves you a negative review you may be kicked off our platform.

We had a problem with another rental in Milan. It was the last four nights of our trip and we rented a relatively luxurious apartment. Our Superhosts were owners, communicators and greeters all in one and were indeed great at hospitality; they were what Superhosts were supposed to be.

Unfortunately, the AC did not work at all and it was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) in Milan every day during our stay. The hosts did everything they could to fix the AC but nothing worked. The strange thing was that the host persisted in blaming us for the fact that the AC was dead because I admitted that I had checked the filter. The fact that a burglar had stood on the outdoor unit trying to break into the apartment before we arrived and that the host had shown this to us on our arrival walk through did not seem to matter.

When we got home I had a long conversation with customer service about what was an appropriate amount to ask for a refund. The amount I suggested was confirmed as reasonable by Airbnb customer service and only then did I put through the request. Later I got an email from the Airbnb Resolutions Center saying that they had spoken to the host and rejected my request.

There was no email address or phone number to reply to this resolutions specialist. There was no way to contact them through Airbnb messaging or the website. The Resolution specialist was another ghost.

Airbnb recommends that all communication between a guest and host be done through the website or app so that everything that happens can be viewed later. That is as it should be. Furthermore, when you have any issue with Airbnb customer service you can call or view that conversation through the messaging. However, when it comes to refunds, all of a sudden the conversation is one way. The takeaway is clear: all communication should be through Airbnb unless it involves Airbnb Resolutions.

I am well aware that Airbnb is a platform on the web and that it is difficult to police thousands of listings around the world. However I am also aware that Airbnb has made zillions of dollars creating a platform for ordinary people to enter the hospitality market. The problem of course is that some of these ordinary people do not have a clue about the hospitality part.

Airbnb has recognized this itself and started a new division called Airbnb Plus. The Airbnb Plus rentals have actually had a real live person verify the details about both the rental and the host. Human to human interaction. How novel. This new Airbnb Plus idea is great but unfortunately only covers a limited number of big cities.

So what can Airbnb do to make its platform more transparent for its many guests? Here is my checklist.

1. Get rid of the meaningless term “host” and replace it with these more meaningful terms

a. New term: Owner / Agent

If the owner is “Joe” and he is involved in the rental say so up front.

If the owner has designated an agent or rental company to act in their behalf then name them up front.

b. New term: Communicator. The person who is communicating with you about the rental. Let the guest know the real name of the Communicator and let the guest know what their relationship is to the Owner / Agent or if they are the Owner / Agent

c. New term: Greeter. The person who greets you at the rental when you arrive, takes you to the rental, shows you around and answers any questions the guest may have. Let the guest know who their greeter will be before they arrive and let the guest know what the relationship is between the Greeter and the Owner / Agent and the Communicator.

2. Photos 

Currently the photo listed next to the “host” may or may not actually be the host, may or may not have been taken in the last ten years and may or may not be clear. I suggest that Airbnb update their photo policy and require all photos be a reasonably high resolution and request that the photo submitted to be no more than two years old.

Each Owner / Agent should submit a photo or logo.

Each Communicator should submit a clear photo.

Each Greeter should have a photo.

3.  Stop using the term “Superhost” 

Let’s be honest Airbnb.  It is absurd to claim that all Superhosts are “highly rated and reliable, going above and beyond to create an exceptional stay for every guest.” You can’t every verify what role if any the Superhost plays. You certainly can’t verify that a Superhost creates an exceptional stay. There is absolutely no way to know that unless an objective third party person has vetted the host. Stop pretending that a computer algorithm can measure the quality of an interpersonal experience.

Just let the reviews speak for themselves and continue to get more Airbnb Plus rentals verified by real humans as that is the only honest way to verify what is or is not going on at a rental.

4. Make reviews fair

a. Below the box where the guest writes their reviews let them know up front that they may write a maximum of 500 words.

b. Don’t tell guests that they will be kicked off the platform if the host leaves them a negative review.  If you want a fair dialog then both sides of the transaction should be free to express their opinion without being bullied by the platform to leave positive reviews or else get kicked out.

5. Be transparent With disputes

If you expect guests and rental operators to use your platform exclusively to communicate about a rental then have the same standard for your own resolutions department. All communication with an Airbnb Resolution specialist should be trackable on the Airbnb platform and resolution specialists should be contacted directly by both the guest and the rental operator.

I believe the home sharing economy that Airbnb helped to create is a good thing. I have personally been an Airbnb customer for many years and in the past most of my experiences were positive. Airbnb is still relatively new and like many new enterprises it needs to become more transparent and honest with its users.

We as internet consumers have come to expect that other internet giants like Facebook and Google become more transparent and honest about the data they collect and how it is used. It is time that Airbnb joins the fold and starts being more honest with the millions of people around the world that entrust them as an enabler of travel.

So Airbnb I have now left you a very long negative review. Here is my question for you: is anyone listening?

PS: I am well aware of the upcoming Airbnb IPO.  As with Uber and Lyft, I imagine the Airbnb IPO may become an Initial Public Bust.

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Bates Motel Marseille, Airbnb Condones Bad Behaviour

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Without prejudice, written entirely from my perspective, and all opinions being my own. Two females (wise individuals) booked a villa in Marseille. It looks amazing online, in reality not so much.

We arrived exactly on time. All the doors were open so we entered. A man was standing in the kitchen with his back to us. We said “hello”, and he did not turn around; he simply grunted. We were left to presume he was a guest.

We wandered about on the ground floor. The first thing I saw was the laundry strewn over the balcony with stones on top. When we entered the living room, there was a huge pile of sheets on the sofa. The dining room… once inside you are greeted by several huge paint-splattered speakers, which, of course, were not in the photos.

When we went back towards the kitchen the man scuttled hurriedly upstairs. We stepped into the quite cluttered kitchen where the man had left the remnants of his bread and humus. A somewhat messy smaller room to the side housing floor to ceiling booze, some of which was leaking onto the floor and washing machine with odd pieces of laundry dotting the floor.

Not a great reception at all. What could we do?

I suggested we venture upstairs to find our room and/or the man we just saw. We were one flight up when the man reappeared and blocked our path. He said nothing. I asked: “Are you the host?”

To which he replied, “Are you so and so?”

“Yes,” I said.

He stated, “And you just come upstairs by yourself?” very aggressively.

“You just walked right past us,” I stated.

“I thought you were friends of my other guests who are English. Why didn’t you call me? I gave you my number.”

He never gave us his number (Why would we call him? He was right there). He was not forthcoming with any information prior to our arrival. I had asked how we would enter the villa and who would be there at what times. His reply? “Don’t worry, all the taxis know it.” I put that down to the language barrier.

We did not know how to get in until we got there at 6:00 PM. I should explain that this was a villa quite high up, not at ground level and not so obvious. We found the gate and his name and pressed the buzzer twice, so I really don’t understand how he did not know who we were. We presumed he had buzzed us in but we learnt later the gate was always open.

He showed us to our room, presentable enough at first glance. He left to fetch towels and keys. He offered to show us the kitchen. I replied I had already seen it. The atmosphere inside the villa was eerie and there was no sign of any other guests despite his earlier excuse for ignoring us. My friend went downstairs with him to be shown the washing machine. I checked out the bathroom.

The closet/wardrobe had been freshly painted so that couldn’t be used due to the smell. Behind the toilet were exposed wires where someone had done a very poor DIY light above the bathroom mirror job. The taps on the sink and in the shower were not clean. The shower had a pebble bottom and several of these were missing, showing age and wear.

This led me to look under the bed and sure enough, it was full of dust and tissues. The bed seemed okay. I pulled back the duvet to reveal a crumpled bottom sheet. I did the smell test; they smelt neither clean nor dirty. My friend returned and informed me the host had left, leaving the glass of wine he was drinking balancing on the garden wall.

On further inspection of the towels he had handed us we realized they were in fact wet. We now also noticed the painting above the bed (not shown in the photos) of a female wearing a white basque which was revealing her pubic hair. Also above the bed at head level was a metal lever sticking out of the wall, for gas, water? Definitely a hazard.

We hadn’t eaten all day so left to get a pizza nearby unsure of what we were going to do. This is when we noticed the opaque glass panel in the bedroom door which had two more see through circle sections and a further two scratched out spots which viewed the bed – our bed. Immediately to our left we saw a cupboard with a pair of scissors for a handle.

As if all that wasn’t enough there was no lock on the inside of the room. My friend told me that on her previous visit downstairs she had noticed a room with an open door which couldn’t be a guest room; she described an absolute sty with clothes and objects all over the floor. This door was closed now.

In the entrance way we noticed a vase which had been smashed to bits and glued back together. All the plants from the photos were now covering the kitchen table, dead. The host had left a cupboard open and plates balancing on the sink. The fridge was completely full – no room for us.

On arrival we had noticed an animal hutch in front of the main door – again, not photographed not mentioned. On our way out we noticed the two fluffy baby bunny rabbits. This did not reassure us. We also saw a plastic container containing dirty drinking glasses, many glasses just a step up from the front door; it had been there a while by the looks of it.

We got our pizza and returned. We ate outside as we did not feel comfortable inside. Turned out we were not comfortable outside either; we were completely on edge. We went to put the unfinished pizza in the bin which is when we saw the man’s jumper and empty cleaning fluid bottle in the bin and I mean that was all that was in the bin.

We immediately entered what is known as fight or flight mode. We didn’t know where he was. He could have returned when we were at the pizza place. I volunteered to go back upstairs and gather our belongings. My friend stood guard at the front door. We locked the kitchen door he had left open, returned the keys to the room, shut the self locking front door behind us, and made our way down the creepy stone steps to our escape.

With no phone (my friend had issues with providers abroad), and no access to internet we were forced to return to the city (a 30-minute bus ride) and find a hotel. Luckily my friend had funds on her card to do this. With help from several members of the public and their phones we finally found our way to an Ibis, our salvation.

We were quite shaken up by the time we got to the hotel after 9:00 PM. The staff were amazing; they gave us a discount because of our ordeal, talked to us, and listened to us. The restaurant served us apple pie with ice cream, just what we needed after our ordeal.

We contacted Airbnb as soon as it was possible and for me that was before I had even returned home. We actually wrote a four-page report, and sent photos that I even in my nervous state had the foresight to take. We sent the hotel receipt. Two weeks of the email game reliving that night over and over again to be told “No, the host won t refund and you didn’t follow procedure.”

I mean, it’s not real, right? You’re emailing some minimum wage person whose first language is not English who is trained to say no. There are no supervisors or managers. My friend emailed the CEO’s top dogs; I don’t believe they exist. For all we know it could literally be a 15-year-old in his bedroom. This is not a real company at all; it’s a sham. Appalling not just for us but this so called host is allowed to carry on. What about when two females not of our age and maturity book a property? It is not safe.

You can’t get anywhere with Airbnb directly; it’s just not designed that way. They have to be publicly outed and shamed and I would call for them to be shut down or boycotted so they just dissolve.

This was my first and only experience with this cowboy outfit. Thank goodness we had only used it for two nights of our six-night break. We stayed with Ibis Hotels for the other nights and they were fantastic in every way. My friend has already contacted TV stations in the UK. Airbnb has to be brought to justice.

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Awful Airbnb Experience, Terrible Customer Service

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I recently had a nightmare experience dealing with a unresponsive host and entirely unhelpful Airbnb customer service. I booked a four-night stay at an apparent Airbnb in Cincinnati (here is the link to the listing – be aware this host has a number of listings) which advertised free parking on site

When we arrived, my friend had to go up to the unit to check in to get the fob for the garage so we could park; I was circling the block when he said the code to get in the unit was wrong. I tried to call the host and her phone went to voicemail after one ring. I messaged her on the app and didn’t get a quick response, so I called the emergency number which was a third-party answering service that could not figure out why we couldn’t get in.

The lady at the answering service finally said to try a shot in the dark with using a different code and it worked. This was worrisome because obviously the codes are constantly reused so the unit could potentially be accessed by any past guests. My friend then said there was no key fob for the garage so I finally found a street spot and parked and went up to help look for it.

This is when I realized the lack of garage fob was the least of our worries. The place was absolutely trashed. I would guess there was a bachelor party or something before us and it had not been cleaned at all. The floor was sticky, there was liquid running down the walls, there were multiple holes in the wall, none of the lamps had light bulbs, there were wooden chairs stacked against the wall but no table to go with them, there were crusty nasty stains on the carpet, hair all over the “clean” towels, no sheets on the bed and nasty white stains on the couch.

Since I still hadn’t heard back from the host, I called Airbnb and said we could not stay there. This is where the hours-long saga of us trying to find a place to sleep began. Meanwhile, this was at 9:00 PM and I didn’t find a bed – finally at a hotel – which I paid for out of pocket – until after 2:00 AM. I sat on hold with Airbnb for a while when they told me they needed to give the host a chance to respond before moving forward.

Two hours later, Airbnb finally called me back just to say they couldn’t get in touch with the host and there was nothing they could do yet, but they assured me they would fix this for me. The host finally reached out hours later to let me know she had another unit we could stay in. We went to look at it and it also was not clean, was unlocked, had a huge glass door that was open – again scarily insecure – smelled like weed, and had dirty towels on the floor (including one balled up against the door to keep the smoke smell out of the hallway).

Since it was around 11:00 PM we were desperate and said if it was cleaned we could stay there. The host said she would try to get a cleaner out there to get it ready. An hour later I still had not heard back from the host so I reached out and all she said was she had not heard back from the cleaner. Then all she said was she could not accommodate us.

This was about 12:30 at night now and we were just stranded: nowhere to sleep and no help from the host or Airbnb. I started looking for hotels. Meanwhile I had been talking to Airbnb through the app which was not helpful. The first person I talked to ended her shift and didn’t bother to pass this case on to anyone. I had to call back, sit on hold for over an hour again, and start the whole process over.

Needless to say I was frustrated at this point. After hours on the phone with Airbnb, no help from them or the host, we went to three hotels before I could find a room and finally had a place to sleep at 2:30 AM – already having paid almost $1000 for a room I couldn’t sleep in. I then had to shell out another almost $300 for a room. Airbnb promised me they would reimburse me $200 for the room and give me a $150 credit towards another booking, neither of which I have seen – shocking.

I have also been continually reaching out on the app messenger with no reply for days now. I am appalled at the fact that the host was at fault for having a place unfit for humans to stay and yet I am the one that has paid for it through hours of my vacation and money out of my pocket. I have never dealt with a company that cared about their customers less than Airbnb.

The host has never reached out to explain or help or apologize and couldn’t have cared less. Not to mention I had told her I was pregnant before we left and she couldn’t have cared less about being stranded with no options besides sitting at a bar – the only place open – until I found a place to sleep. I included pictures of the apartment as well as screenshots from the Airbnb messenger showing the payments I was promised that have not been received.

Shared House Meant Nowhere to Poop

My boyfriend and I booked an Airbnb in a neighbouring town for one night so that we could attend a wedding and have somewhere nearby to crash. The lady we communicated with seemed nice and the room we booked seemed clean and modern.

We arrived at a big house in a sleepy neighbourhood and knocked on the door. Nobody answered for quite a while and finally a young man came to the door and initially didn’t know why we were standing there. This was clearly not the lady we had originally talked to. When we explained we were guests for one night he let us in, showed us the room upstairs we would be staying in, and gave us the keys. I think he was another long-term guest at the house who was told how to greet us, but there was a bit of a language barrier.

After a bit of awkwardness, we settled in and got ourselves ready for the wedding. Other than not really having any storage or surfaces to put things down on, as the room was basically just a bed, nothing was out of the ordinary. We also had access to a bathroom through the suite that we shared with another bedroom.

After a lovely wedding, we arrived back at the suite tired and a little tipsy so we immediately went to bed. In the middle of the night I woke up needing to use the bathroom. I headed towards the door and found that it was locked. I realized that the other guest must have locked me out while using the bathroom that night and forgotten to unlock the door on our side.

Since it was the middle of the night and I needed to go bad I had no idea what to do. We had not explored the rest of the house at all before we left for the wedding. Desperate, I went downstairs towards the kitchen area to see if I could find a bathroom nearby. Fortunately, I did find one but what I came across was a nightmare. I couldn’t believe how bad my luck was stumbling upon a bathroom like this one, and I have no idea who was using such a neglected bathroom like this.

First of all, the toilet was plugged up. Luckily there was a plunger present and after a few tries I managed to unclog it. When I went to do my business I realized I couldn’t find toilet paper anywhere, so I was left in a lurch. In fact there was nothing at all in terms of toiletries in the whole bathroom, so I had nothing to wash my hands with either.

After this disgusting experience I crawled back up to the bedroom to wait out the rest of the night. As you can imagine, I recounted my horror story to my boyfriend and we got out of there pretty quickly in the morning. We didn’t really have a choice as the bathroom upstairs was still locked.

After this experience I am not sure whether I will use Airbnb ever again. We didn’t realize we would be staying in a house with multiple units that was so neglected by the host and the tenants that lived there. Even if the place looks nice you never know what you’re going to get until you see for yourself. This kind of experience just wouldn’t happen at a hotel. We picked this place because it was very affordable but ultimately you get what you pay for.

Airbnb Took my Money and Gave no Refund

My friends and I needed a last minute apartment that we could spend the night in as we were going out of town. I found a very good apartment that was near the city centre and was available for the night we needed. I booked the apartment and the money got taken from my bank. Then the host messaged me saying that the apartment was now unavailable. This now left us with nowhere to stay and down £125. The host said to contact Airbnb for a refund. However, I am finding that their customer service is awful and the number I am ringing doesn’t recognise my booking. When I message them, they’re very unhelpful. It’s becoming very frustrating as I just want my money back.