From Host to Host, Payment to Payment, Until Finally Something Stable

I booked a historic firehouse Airbnb five miles from SOHO in Jersey City for August 6-13, 2017. My Discover card was charged $1509. While we were on our way on August 6th, I realized I hadn’t received access instructions. Since I was driving, I asked my son to message the host for access instructions. He messaged back that the property wouldn’t be ready until September 4th. My son messaged him that we had a confirmed reservation and my credit card had been charged. His only response was to call Airbnb. This was about 10:40 AM.

We did call Airbnb and worked with the customer service representative to try to find another place to stay. He sent an email around 11:20 AM with some other properties for us to consider and an offer of a $143 credit toward another property. My son was searching for places on my phone while I drove. I pulled off the PA turnpike into a McDonalds parking lot and we booked a townhouse in Brooklyn, based on the description and pictures in the listing. This was about 11:40 AM.

About an hour later the host of that property called while I was still driving on the PA turnpike. He told me that he noted that we were bringing two dogs and that they treat dogs like guests. I actually thought that sounded good. What he meant, but didn’t tell me, is that he was going to charge me $40 per dog per day for the dogs. It was the next day when I realized this and he had charged my Discover card $611.25. He never got my approval for this charge and I would never pay such an outrageous “pet fee”.

We arrived at the property about 5:45 PM. The property was not as described or pictured in the listing. The property was filthy, smelly, and uninhabitable. Walls were water damaged. Outlets had missing covers. The “couch” in the living area was a wooden bench covered with a throw pillow. The only TV was in one of the bedrooms. The bedrooms were on the upper level and the kitchen and living areas were on the lower level. They were separated by very steep stairs with no hand rail. The “back garden” was an enclosed, paved area with plants that had been cut down and left to decay. As a result it was smelly and bug infested.

There was no way I could stay there with my son and dogs. I immediately called Airbnb. I sent them numerous pictures documenting the condition of the property. I have attached the pictures at the end of this email. They refused to apply the money I had paid and the credit I had been offered to another property. They were awful to deal with. They were supposed to call me back that night and never did. I also called on Monday August 7th, left a message, and never heard back. By this point it was almost 8:00 PM.

In desperation, I found another place and reserved it. My Discover card was charged another $1,572.31. It turned out to be exactly as described and pictured. The host immediately cleaned it up and got it ready for us. We stayed there for the full week and found it to be everything we expected.

To summarize the amounts we were charged and amounts I believe we are due credit for:

– Charged by Airbnb to Discover card 6/19/17 for Airbnb historic firehouse in Jersey City 8/6/17 = $1,509.00
– Credit issued by Airbnb 8/6/17 = ($533.02)
– “Pet Fee” for townhouse in Brooklyn 8/7/17 = $611.25
– Two-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn = $1,572.31

– Amount I should have been charged = $1,509.00
– Credit offered by Airbnb for reservation cancelled by host = ($143.00)

Total = $1,366.00
Credit Due = $1,793.54

Evicted by Owners Illegally Converting to Airbnb Hotel

In June 2017, my apartment building was sold to new owners. Within two weeks, the new owners converted one full apartment in the building into an Airbnb, which is illegal if the host is not present in NYC. Day and night, guests cycled in and out of the building. They were loud, rude, and unneighborly. By the first week of July, the owners served my family, who have lived in the building for seven years, with an eviction notice, as well as the other long-time tenants of the building. It is September and our former apartment is now listed on Airbnb. Rather than being a year-round apartment for a family, it allows visitors to treat a place where people live and work as a playground. Airbnb has allowed building owners to turn apartments into hotels, destroying neighborhoods, communities, and worsening housing availability and affordability in a city with a 2% vacancy rate.

Convenient and Very Disgusting Lovely Manhattan Airbnb

Last weekend I visited NYC and decided to stay in an Airbnb. Obviously the pictures looked very nice and all, so I went for it. I arrived late on a Friday, tired from the bus, and just wanted to get in the shower and sleep before the touristy and busy day I was going to have. I arrived at the house and I had to guess where and how to open a lockbox that was placed in a nail salon next to the building to get my keys, feeling like a total thief. However, that wasn’t the biggest issue. The neighborhood wasn’t safe, and the building couldn’t have been worse: very old, full of trash, smelly. I thought to myself “never mind”, but then saw my room. At first impression it seemed alright, but when I looked closely I started to notice that it was very dirty: I mean dust everywhere, a little trash on the sheets (which led me to believe that the bed sheets had not been changed, because if they had removed the sheets to change them, the trash would have fallen off). The only place to leave my things was on a little table that was filthy and the worst part was the bathroom.

I needed a shower after the long journey and I realized that the shower was really gross, and had hair in it; you could see the dirt, there were leftover things from previous guests, and as soon as I opened the shower I realized that the water didn’t drain. I had to remove a pile of strangers’ hair myself, and ended feeling dirtier from the shower than from the bus. The toilet had pee marks on it and pubic hair. Underneath it were many other marks and things; you could notice right away that it hadn’t been cleaned in weeks.

The air conditioner didn’t work properly so my first night in NYC was a nightmare. I put a towel on the bed and I covered the pillow with my sweater because I didn’t want my body touching the sheets or the cover (which had some unknown spots on it that could have easily been something sketchy). Really the worst part is that I got charged a 30 USD fee for a cleaning service. Obviously I asked for a refund from the host and he denied that the room was dirty. If he is the host he should know when the room is clean. I went through Airbnb to get a refund I still don’t have a resolution. Since the host decided to deny paying me back for the cleaning fee and not apologize about the state of the room, I decided to share my story publicly.

Cozy Studio a Hot Mess for Nightmare Stay in Queens

Our Airbnb Hell story begins on May 28, 2017 when we decided to use the service to go to New York with our son who just graduated from high school. We requested that the room accommodate three adults. The listing for a “Cozy Studio by Forest Park Steps To Subway” came up in our search and we thought this would be perfect.

Our first contact with the host was to ask if this would be an appropriate place for three adults. She assured us it was and said she looked forward to having us stay in her studio. Prior to requesting this, we had read her reviews and were satisfied that this would work for us. Only one review was negative at that point; that was from someone complaining about the noisy upstairs neighbors, but she said the problem was “acoustic issues” that would be fixed.

We arrived on July 19th and immediately knew something was wrong. We were told to enter the unit from the back door. We walked inside and wondered if we were in the right place. There was a couch and a bed in the main part of the unit, along with a small refrigerator, and a microwave near the kitchen sink. We backtracked down the hallway to the back door and the first door was a toilet. There was a shower curtain with a shower behind it and then a small area with a shelf with towels. There was a queen bed, presumably for the three of us.

We immediately contacted the host and asked where the other bed was, hoping that the couch wasn’t to be used for that purpose. Our son was mortified by the lack of privacy. Clearly, the room with the toilet was hardly big enough to turn around in, let alone change one’s clothes. Her response seemed to be one of surprise that there were three of us. She assured us that a bed would be coming. This was around 6:30 and we were hungry from flying all day from Portland, Oregon.

We were a few blocks from a street in Queens that had restaurants, though no real suggestions on where to eat. We relied on Yelp since the host had merely stated there were “plenty of places” to eat nearby. We were eating dinner when she contacted us about the bed. She said her husband would be bringing it by and wondered if we were at the unit. I said we would be back within an hour. It was a little after 7:00. We left a few minutes later and went back to the unit and waited.

It was about 85 degrees and the place felt like a sauna. The windows would not open and there was only a large fan to circulate the already-humid air. Finally, around 10:00, her husband showed up. I told him the unit was not what we were expecting. We had told her that there were three of us and this place was clearly smaller and less private than we what we viewed in the photos. There were several photos showing the place with the same bed shot at different angles and with different bedding. The couch was in some of the photos and not in others. In retrospect, we should have noticed the pictures, which were the same, but we felt the perspective was skewed.

Her husband said, “Please do not say this was misrepresented.” These were his words – not ours. Obviously someone had used that phrase before because his defense of the unit was somewhat proactive. We went to bed shortly after he left and tried to fall asleep in an overly hot room with no ventilation.

About midnight, we heard the neighbors upstairs come home. I have no idea what their situation involved, but from the moment they entered their apartment, the noise level was elevated to shouting, crying, fighting, and stomping. It went on until 1:30 in the morning. There was noise that sounded like children screaming and crying and then running around above us.

At first we considered that the noise might end quickly and everyone would go to sleep, but it dragged on for 90 minutes. We were wide awake and wondering what options we had. We thought about vacating the unit, but at 1:30 in the morning, we had nowhere else to go. We were not at a place where we could call anyone to pick us up and go somewhere. When the noise finally died down, we went to sleep.

The next morning, we called Airbnb about our concerns. We explained our situation and our desire to move. Of course they called the host and told her what had happened. She said she did not “misrepresent the space” and if we had a problem with the neighbors, we should have called her to let her know. It was 1:30 in the morning. We had no idea if we were in danger of some sort – we were told not to contact them because they were the residents of the apartment above (which at one point was attached to our dwelling with a door and stairs to the basement).

I suppose we could have called the police to complain, but that seemed a bit extreme. In addition, we had committed to staying there at least until the next day. Our imaginations, at this point, were running a bit wild.

We called Airbnb the next day and told them what had happened. They said if we wanted to leave, we should cancel the reservation, which was followed up by a request from the host. She thought she could open it back up for someone since it was such a desirable place and it was Thursday before a summer weekend. She also offered us a refund for two nights of our reservation. Considering that we had spent over $900, we felt that this wasn’t really enough. We cancelled the reservation and moved into a hotel in Brooklyn. We felt we would deal with the fallout later.

Airbnb claimed they called me several times in New York, which is an outright lie because I had my phone with me the entire time and there were no phone calls from Airbnb. We received an email from Airbnb on our last full day in New York (July 25th) asking if our issue had been resolved and they would consider the case closed if so.

The next day, as we were waiting for our flight out, I wrote an email to them explaining how I felt the situation was not resolved. I felt that adding a toilet and shower to an unlivable space and advertising it as a cozy studio was not acceptable and that yes, the place was misrepresented. We were not happy with the situation and were not happy with Airbnb.

After we returned to our home in the Portland, Oregon area, and the case was not settled satisfactorily, and after hearing from yet another “case manager” at Airbnb, I requested our case be reopened. I got a response from another case manager, who offered us $200. I had requested $794 (which was the amount on the dispute area on the Airbnb website). I was told that the host had three days to give us a response, which not surprisingly, she refused. She also said she hoped we wouldn’t use Airbnb in the future.

At this point we had forfeited our right to give an honest review because it was past the 14 days allowed. During that entire 14-day period, we were still disputing the charges and hoping we could come to some reasonable resolution. By the way, the host’s offer of two night’s reimbursement also dried up. I made screenshots of all the correspondence because I was somewhat certain Airbnb would take them down.

This host, in my opinion, is a scam artist and crook. Her place was clearly misrepresented and all this could have been avoided had she just said, “I don’t think this place would work for you,” at the outset. The other issue I have with Airbnb is that our complaints have always come back to the host and her story is the one accepted by Airbnb. I feel like we, as paying customers, are discounted in favor of their “host” who really has the final say. I mean, after all, we wouldn’t want to give up the cash cow that helps drive Airbnb’s business?

First Impressions and Last Attempts at Airbnb

Airbnb may be a good alternative to higher-priced traditional motels and hotels, but for me the first attempts to “sign-up and in” were an unresolved nightmare. The website is set up and caters to only mobile device users. Trying to do business with them from a Mac desktop? Good luck!

My reservation was originally cancelled by a New York City “host” who blamed it on the city “cracking down” on unlicensed short-term rentals. I’m still awaiting my deposit refund. I returned to the Airbnb site to search and rebook elsewhere. I found two nice rentals that fit my needs and budget. After multiple attempts to “upgrade” my “security” profile (they wanted more IDs uploaded than the TSA requires at airports) I was still unable to get through their cumbersome process. I reluctantly cancelled the reservation requests and located and booked a traditional motel, using Expedia. It took only five minutes. Good bye and good luck to Airbnb.

Abandoned: Non-Existent Airbnb in New York City

Upon arriving in New York, we caught a cab and gave the driver the address of the Airbnb we booked. He pulled up to a parking lot and said, “this is it”. We got out and went up and down the street trying to find the address. It was non-existent; there was no such address. It was rush hour, 85+ degrees and we had gotten up at 4:00 AM. Needless to say, we were frantic.

I called Airbnb and could not get through. After dialing continuously for over 30 minutes and being put on hold for over 15 minutes, I finally got someone on the line. She was very nice and promptly gave us a credit on this booking. Then we had to find a hotel, which, obviously, was a lot more expensive. This is the chance you take when you use Airbnb, so just beware. Will I book with them again? Probably, but I will really read the reviews. This particular apartment had a lot of reviews – believe it or not – so here again, beware. Airbnb is a crap shoot for everything to work out. We had booked in Barcelona and nothing went wrong.

Another Host Cancels – Airbnb Needs to Stop This

I have never completed a stay with Airbnb before and will definitely never try to use it again. However, I will certainly make sure that no one I know ever uses it. I was in the UK and planned a four-night break in NYC as a treat for my wife. I booked my flights months ago as well as an Airbnb apartment on the upper east side. I did read the host reviews and was slightly concerned as there was a complaint that the host tended to cancel at the last minute. I contacted the host, who assured me it was due to his unfamiliarity of how it worked and all was well… so I booked. I have just received a message saying my booked is cancelled and I have been refunded.

What good is that to me? Just try contacting Airbnb; there’s no email and a good wait to call the states from the UK. After looking into it, last minute cancellations seem to be common practice and Airbnb has the worst policy to prevent them: they only charge the host $100 if they cancel less than seven days before the booking. Soes the customer get the $100 for their inconvenience? No – it goes into Airbnb’s pocket. At the very least, the host should be charged a minimum of $100 for cancelling at any time and up to the total cost of the booking less than seven days and give it to the customer who has been stiffed over. I’m never using Airbnb again.

How Airbnb Tried to Leave me Homeless in Two States

I have used Airbnb on several occasions before and always gushed about how great they are to anyone who will listen. After this week I won’t be making that mistake again. I’m currently on holiday in the USA (from Australia). I had a place booked in Chelsea, NYC with a male host and another booked with a woman in Washington DC.

The NYC host hadn’t responded to any of my emails before I came to the US but as I’d never had trouble with Airbnb hosts before I just figured he was busy or had forgotten; the booking had been accepted and Airbnb took my money so I had no reason to be worried… or so I thought. The day I was flying to New York I called him. As soon as he heard me say Airbnb, he hung up on me. He then diverted all calls from his phone so I couldn’t reach him again.

I called Airbnb customer service and they told me they’d try and get in touch with him on my behalf. I then hopped on a flight from LA to NYC and figured it would all be sorted out when I touched down. My check-in confirmation email had come through so I tried calling the host again to let him know I was on my way… again, the call was diverted. I rang Airbnb back and proceeded to have the most painful “customer service” experience of my life.

I had to repeat the most basic information over and over, and it was only after half an hour of having to talk to the representative like an intellectually challenged five year old, only after I lost my patience and started yelling into the phone in the middle of JFK airport, only after all of this did I finally pry out of her that he’d cancelled the booking while I was en route from LA. They’d already processed a refund which I was told would take up to two weeks, so I had to shell out $1300 from my holiday money to get new accommodations. Anyway, I was cranky and poor three days into my holiday but I decided to move on with life.

A week later, the day before I was due to get a bus to DC, I messaged my next host. There was no answer from her and I got distracted doing touristy stuff so I forgot to follow up until the next day. I called her before I jumped on the bus and she was shocked that her listing was still online because she hadn’t used Airbnb in a year and didn’t even live in DC anymore. I called customer service again; they told me to make another booking and they’d transfer what I’d paid. I went nuts because that option hadn’t been given to me a week ago. I made the booking, paid a little extra to make up the difference and then went without wifi access for a few hours.

When I got to DC, I found out the replacement booking had also been cancelled. Cue a very angry call back to Airbnb where I finally got someone who wasn’t completely useless and she found some options for me to choose from. With all my holiday money sunk into these cancelled bookings I didn’t really have a choice; I’d originally wanted my own place but I had to settle for a room in someone’s apartment. It wasn’t ideal, but to give credit where credit is due, my host was super friendly and accommodating so that removed heaps of stress. Still, after the past week you couldn’t pay me to risk ever booking through Airbnb again.

The Dungeon of Horror at NYC Airbnb

This was my first and last time using Airbnb; it is a total scam. I picked a room from an ad on Airbnb in NYC. The price was very much comparable to that of a decent hotel (about 100 EUR per day) but I had heard the Airbnb experience was great. Since I was planning to stay seven days, it was about 700 EUR altogether.

I arrived at the place. It turned out a total dungeon owned by an old lady. The picture the ad showed was actually the kitchen/living room in which the lady had put her bed just beside the fridge and the cookers. The angle of the picture made it look like a cozy place to stay, but in reality it was below human standards. It also turned out the room I had rented was not the one in the picture (the actual living room) but some smelly dark hole in which I was not ready to stay for one moment.

I politely said to the woman that the place was not what I expected, and she said “no problem; we can cancel.”

I tried to cancel the booking through the app, but it turned out Airbnb would retain around 250 EUR. Then I called Airbnb to see how I could recover my 250 EUR. They said I should request a refund from the owner – that she only had to accept the request, and that would be it. I did what they asked, she claimed that she had returned them, and everything seemed okay. It should have appeared in my account after a couple of days.

I went to a hotel and after a couple of days, there was still no money back. I contacted the host; several times she confirmed she had accepted the request. A few days more… still no money. I called Airbnb, and they said the old lady hadn’t accepted the request after all, and that they could not do anything.

To sum up: an ad which was absolutely misleading, miserable conditions in which only a poor old woman can live in, an obvious scam where she claimed several times she had returned the money, and Airbnb washing its hands and taking its share of the scam despite of the whole conversation concerning the return of my money was clearly stated in their message system. Airbnb – a total scam. Save your money and your nerves. Stay away.

Beware of this New York Airbnb Scammer Host

I had a business trip coming up in the Chelsea area of New York City in June 2017 and found a decent looking apartment on Airbnb a couple of blocks from the venue when I was going to be spending most of my week in NY. I contacted the host Paul on his property listing and explained that I knew my arrival date would be Sunday, June 10th, but was unsure whether I would be checking out the following Friday the 16th, or Saturday the 17th. I offered to make the booking there and then as long as he understood that the departure date might be either Friday or Saturday depending on how my schedule shaped up.

He responded by saying that it wasn’t a problem if I wanted to just take my time and figure out my schedule; he would hold the apartment for me until the end of that month. Here is what that conversation looked like:

Me: Cool. Is the ‘hold’ solid and if so when do you need to hear back from me by? Cheers!

Response from Paul: I’ll hold the dates through June 1st and then check back in with you.

Seems pretty straightforward, right?

On May 30th, after I figured out my schedule, I sent this message to the host:

Hi Paul, I just wanted to confirm my upcoming travel plans with you. I am arriving in New York on Sunday, June 11th. My flight gets in at 3:08 PM. I will be leaving Friday, June 16th. What kind of arrangements would you like to make for me to get a key?

This is where it gets funny (not really…). The next response I received from the host on Friday, June 2nd was:

Hey Colin, I have another apartment in Soho that I am renting out which is available during the same days. I could give you the same price I booked this room out because I didn’t hear from you a bit. Thanks, Paul.

And then:

Well, I booked the apartment for another guest as they wanted the whole month.

There was no apology from the host for renting the apartment to someone else. On top of that, he had the gall to try and blame it on me, saying that he hadn’t heard from me, when he promised he would get back to me and hold the apartment until the end of the month. Even with that, I responded before the end of the month to confirm the booking. This host is a scammer. He went on to offer to rent me another apartment a considerable distance from where my work was taking me on this visit, and when I asked him for a discount for the inconvenience of having to travel a considerable distance, he offered me the same price advertised to the public for that listing.

Here are some of his other properties that I know of. Do not rent from this host under any circumstances. If you do, you are likely to get scammed as I did.