No Truth in Advertising: Beachfront vs. Waterfront

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We planned a special family vacation to Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos is all about the water – being on or beside it. So, at a huge premium, we booked a rental. Under amenities, the owner selected waterfront (not beachfront). Clearly, the owner knows that the premium for properties on Providenciales is for direct water access.

We never questioned the term “waterfront”. Why would we? It was the headline and was chosen as an amenity.

The property was not waterfront. Yes, you can see the water but the property does not offer direct water access. It does not abut the water. You can get to the water either by walking down a hill covered in low brush (with no path) and crossing a two-lane road or by walking down the driveway, along two roads and across the two-lane road but not without leaving the property.

We contacted Airbnb customer service after reaching out to the owner and receiving no reply. We felt asking for a return of the premium we paid was fair.

Airbnb Customer Service denied our claim. They wrote: “Having reviewed the documentation and the information provided by all parties involved, we are not able to determine a valid claim because they do consider their property waterfront but it’s not right on the water which is why they didn’t select beachfront as an amenity.”

According to the Merrimack-Webster Dictionary, the definition of waterfront is: “land, land with buildings, or a section of a town fronting or abutting on a body of water.” Please note that nowhere in this definition is there any mention of waterfront being beachfront. Clearly, whoever created the amenities for Airbnb knows this definition.

Airbnb offers waterfront and beachfront as separate amenity choices. Unfortunately, they did not share this understanding with their customer service resolution team. I will add that while the Superhost claims that truth in their listing is one of their values, there are other “errors”. For example, the property is not in a gated community.

As a guest who has used Airbnb properties since 2012, I will never book with them again and I will tell as many people as I can about my experience. Airbnb asks hosts to sign documents certifying that their listing is true yet, they do not enforce the agreement. In addition, while they provide long lists of amenities to allow guests to tailor their choices, they do not train their customer service resolution agents in the meanings of the terms. To make it even more enraging, the host is still a Superhost and has perpetrated this “beachfront” versus “waterfront” scam in their response to reviews of the property.

Fraudulent Listing has Government Questioning me

I have been notified by my county asking why I haven’t paid fees and taxes for renting my home. I have been living in my home for two years and have never rented it. I informed the county and they suggested getting Airbnb to take the listing down. They provided the link to the active listing.

This is not my listing. I have had two parties drive by my house and ask me if they could see my house. Then one party asked me if I’m the host. I have contacted Airbnb at least thirty times to have them take down the listing and they simply will not do it. I have spent at least forty hours on the phone with them. They have never called back. I have contacted filed complaints with the Attorney General of Colorado.

This listing has pictures of the inside and outside of my house. The location, on the ad, is easy to find by potential renters because the area has only a few homes within it. I feel like I’m being harassed. My next step is to get in touch with the County Attorney and law enforcement. I’m very exhausted.

Conspiracy Theory: People Manipulating Airbnb

Somebody manipulated Airbnb. I had two reservations all set up, one in which the host gave me a fake address; the people coming out of the flat didn’t know the guy, and his name wasn’t on the buzzer. After calling for 15 minutes, I left since somebody had painted something offensive near the entrance indicating something was wrong. The guy then called me screaming at me, demanding to know where I was after he refused to answer. I was then stalked at the train station.

The Airbnb crew offered to help with a hostel. It was peak season that summer so I could only stay there two days. I immediately found four hosts willing to let me rent for a month, when suddenly Airbnb told me their system had been frozen; nobody could reserve a place, and they would communicate with me the next day.

I contacted a friend of mine who rents from them. She tried to rent a room and she was able to rent immediately. I called them again, and they sounded like they were lying. The next day they told me something else; it seemed like somebody was stopping them from letting me rent from them. I had to book an expensive emergency flight back to England instead of staying there as planned.

What happened there afterwards wrecked the rest of my future. It had nothing to do with Airbnb, but if that host hadn’t messed with me none of this would have happened. After I moved to stay at another reservation I made prior to that, the host than contacted me apologizing, saying that they really wanted to rent to me but somebody had canceled the reservations.

After I politely contacted Airbnb about all of this mess, they suddenly just deleted five years of my rentals and positive references as if to erase previous hosts’ contact information. For some reason they didn’t want their references on my account, despite being positive.

Thereafter they refused to communicate for a whole two years. I was stuck struggling to rent in England. They allowed me to reopen another account but without being able to use my positive references from prior renters they refused to explain why.

When I was desperately seeking a property to get out of air pollution hell and harassers causing me serious health problems, I started to see weird rental properties in my searches: a room covered in tin foil; a living room with a drawing of a woman crucified; a tent for £80 per night with odd things on it. I thought somebody had asked them to mess with me, leaving me stuck without a home.

The animosity and discrimination has since stopped me from renting from Airbnb, which is frustrating since they are one of the most secure online rentals or the most convenient in my situation. I went to the Facebook offices in London about everything that happened to me which they and Twitter participated in. They told me to sue Airbnb. It’s been five years stuck without a home. My biggest concern is getting lung cancer and dying.

Airbnb a Totally Unreliable Service for Long-Term Stays

I booked my accommodation for a long-term stay of four months via Airbnb because I am a working professional in Berlin and my permanent flat was not yet ready. I was very clear about my plans and respected German policy (meaning the need to register at a flat if you stay for more than two months).

The host initially agreed to everything but then all of a sudden had a dispute with his landlord about my stay (my guess: he was dishonest to him about it) and decided to abruptly cancel my reservation three weeks before the end of the agreed period.

Airbnb literally did nothing about it except refunding the nights not spent in the apartment. No compensation about the mess or the double moving costs. I am never going to use Airbnb in the future and I advice you to be very careful when booking with them.

Airbnb left me with a dead body, $50,000 in damages

There was a story that was aired on the local news the morning of July 28th, 2019. This story included vague details of a pool party that went wrong and the death of a Clay High School student by gunshot. Including only one side note was that it was an Airbnb listing.

There were many details that the story failed to capture. I am the homeowner of that Airbnb listing. I had listed the home on Airbnb just over a year ago as an entire house rental, private property with horses and country escape at around a $500/night booking fee.

Of the seven or eight bookings I had, it was a great experience, until it wasn’t. I had a one guest for a one-night booking the week prior to July 27th. This person had a verified Airbnb account that included one five-star review. They didn’t offer a lot of details about their stay but like every time before, the house was prepped, the key was left, and I was gone before they arrived.

I was notified by a neighbor around 1:30 AM that something seemed wrong with the amount of cars at my property and traffic in and out. I immediately called the police to assist in removing anyone from the property, as they were all trespassing and likely causing unspeakable damage to the home.

The shooting happened shortly after that, before the police even made it there, leaving one 18-year-old man dead in my driveway. This one guest rental was a 200-300 person party of underage people and dangerous criminals. There were Hennessy bottles thrown at my horses who were on the property during this time, luckily not causing any significant harm to them.

Upon further discovery, the actual verified guest has an extensive criminal background. There was blood throughout the entire home, over $20,000 in building damages and another $30,000 in personal property that was either stolen or ruined. Although the local police recommended bleach and water, I hired a hazmat crew to come and disinfect the home and clean the immense amount of bio waste that was covering my walls, floors and furniture.

People continued to return to the home in the days following so for the safety of my family I hired private security to protect the home and property. These people are and have been at war with each other. My home just happened to be the location that the battle was fought at.

I live with the reality every day that every single person who had access to my home can clearly tell it’s only a young woman and a five-year-old boy who live here. Of all the things damaged and all the pain this has caused, there is no greater fear than the idea that these monsters could come back and harm myself and my son.

My story isn’t about publicly shaming those who did this. My goal, however, is to shed light to the darker side of hosting for Airbnb and the complete lack of restitution that they have offered per their Host Guarantee and the lack of actual vetting they do to verify a guest. Almost three months, over 50 emails and communications, and they have decided to wash their hands of this due to the fact my personal homeowners insurance stepped up and covered just under $20,000 of the damages.

The process of their Host Guarantee is basically a death march to the point hosts rely on personal finances and their own homeowner’s insurance to begin the process of putting their lives back together. Although my insurance was amazing in the process, there is still $30,000 of personal property that was accounted for in detail as a loss.

The Host Guarantee specifically states (per their contractual agreement) that they will pay the difference of insurance claims. The most recent communication is that they took a if/then method stating that if my personal insurance has stepped up, then Airbnb is free and clear of any liability.

I hope to share my experience so those who are simply doing this to share the experience of their home, improve their homes for their families, or even just make some side cash on their primary residence know that if something does go wrong, Airbnb will not stand behind you.

Worst Experience with Airbnb in Arlington

We booked an Airbnb to share with friends in Arlington, VA. It looked great and the host was responsive when we asked questions before booking. When we arrived at the complex and called the host, his number was disconnected. He did not respond on the Airbnb App and no one at the complex knew anything about an Airbnb listing. In fact, the management told me that owners were not allowed to list on Airbnb.

I called Airbnb (thank you Airbnbhell for the number) and got someone. He tried to contact the host with no luck either. After an hour of this, he said he would refund my money and help me find a place for us to stay. It took nearly three hours to find a place and I had to pay an additional $995 on top of what we had budget to get this place. When I pushed Airbnb to pay the extra they said all they could do was give me 10% of my original payment of $104.50. This was a terrible experience for me and my guests.

Confirmed Airbnb Reservations Mean Nothing

My wife and I had a reservation for Cologne, Germany from August 31st to September 3rd. We booked an Airbnb three months before. The apartment was confirmed and we send an email to the host. When we arrived in Cologne we reached the host at 6:00 PM. She said that she wasn’t in Cologne, and that she was in Berlin. She said she was going to contact the host, because, according to her, there had been a mistake and it was Airbnb’s fault.

After two hours she called us and said there was no apartment. That it was a mistake from Airbnb and that we should contact them. We did so and contacted Airbnb Germany. Airbnb said that the host was a mess and they proceeded to cancel the reservation. I asked them what to do, because we were alone at a city we didn’t know. We asked for Airbnb to find us a place, because it was not possible to leave us just like that in a foreign city. They said they were going to do so and they were going to contact us.

They never got back to us and we had to stay at a hotel. We asked Airbnb to help us pay the hotel. They said they could pay 50% of what we were supposed to pay on our reservation. That was 30 Euro. The hotel was 189 Euro. That was the cheapest hotel we could find that night, because there was a world event at the city. Airbnb said that was all they could do.

They never took responsibility for never contacting us and not helping us find a place to stay that night. Airbnb said they are only brokers, so they can’t do anything if a situation like this happens, because they are not liable for bad hosts. So if you don’t get a confirmed reservations you won’t be able to do anything.

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.

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Home Trashed by Airbnb Guest and no Customer Support

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An Airbnb guest trashed my home and Airbnb has been of no help whatsoever. A guest and his friends smoked in my home after specifically being asked not to. They emptied my locked storage areas and left indoor furniture and electrical items outside in the garden. They left cigarette butts all over the house and used the kitchenware as ashtrays. They ruined my coffee table and brand new kitchen worktops. My extendable dining table no longer closes fully or properly.

All this damage along with photographic evidence was provided by myself to Airbnb on the same day they checked out. I requested from the guest a sum of money to cover the damage but had no response. Airbnb did not intervene even though they supposedly do this after the 72 hours. They did not respond to my emails with any relevant information.

I was redirected to another member from the customer support team twice and on both occasions just told that they were sorry and will be in touch soon. I have been chasing Airbnb all week for updates or at least a timeline of procedure and what to expect. I have had no information or help at all.

Finally I called Airbnb to speak to a person who “couldn’t help” because it was not his department. I asked him to transfer me but he couldn’t do this either. When I asked him to give me the number of the department I was told that he couldn’t help with this either.

It has been a full week and I have had my home trashed and my own holiday ruined and Airbnb have done absolutely nothing to provide peace of mind or any help during the week. Their website suggests that these issues are dealt with swiftly and within a week. I find this very difficult to believe. I am stunned that such a well-established business like Airbnb can tolerate such incompetence within their customer support team.