Creeped Out: Bedroom in the Kitchen, Host Makes a Pass

blank

This host is no longer active. I rented a room in lower Manhattan, which turned out to be a bed in the kitchen. I would soon be met by a giant water bug (2+ inches long) crawling on the white bedspread. I know in NYC bugs are rampant, but those suckers are huge and I was freaked out nonetheless.

The weirdness was the host who was present. After chatting with me, he decided to try and make a pass at me. By this time it was late in the evening, I was tired from my overseas trip, and was not expecting my 27-year-old host, (I’m a good 20 years older mind you) to tell me my legs were sexy and carrying on about what we might do. I was like WTF? Seriously?

I handled things, and he refunded me, knowing Airbnb could get involved. And after the freaky bug that followed, I was creeped out. I ended up sleeping in the host’s bedroom (with the door locked) while he slept in the living room.

Prickly Airbnb Hosts Give One-Star Ratings

I got bashed by a host in Brooklyn because of one four-star rating in one category (everything else was a five), but I guess I cannot be truly honest nor give constructive criticism. Other guests I noticed who didn’t rave about the host also got a very heated response that implied the guest was somehow at fault or unfair. The host reply doesn’t show the original criticism so it is out of context. I also had a potential host turn on me quite suddenly when I asked for clarification on which unsafe areas to avoid in Harlem since I was advised by a neutral 3rd party NYC acquaintance that there were dodgy areas in that particular neighborhood.

As a woman traveling alone, I thought it was a legitimate and fair question but after a bit of a wait, the host asked me to cancel, which would’ve incurred a fee. I phoned Airbnb to discuss the matter. The customer service gal read all the emails and couldn’t understand the host’s sudden negative reaction either… maybe the area was dodgy. So far, only one out of three hosts have been honestly kind. The other two were just faking it apparently.

I’m now back to using hotels. Some aren’t that much more expensive and you get to deal with professional staff instead of a thin-skinned, petulant host. I have come across articles on how unsafe some venues/hosts can be since there’s not much vetting of hosts. A registered sex offender could be a host.

No Review is Safe from Removal on Airbnb

blank

I have to share two host stories. One relates to systemic fake reviews. I recently had the most horrible guests at my house. They were incredibly messy, rude and blackmailed me to have free pool heating during their entire stay free of charge with the threat of a bad review (pool heating is about $200 per day).

Once I reviewed them, I simply stated that they were very messy and overall very difficult to deal with as I had heard that Airbnb tends to delete bad reviews based on “policy violation” and therefore didn’t want to get too factual to avoid any frivolous claim retracting my honest review (note that this was my first ever “bad” review and frankly it wasn’t even that bad).

Airbnb said that, based on a summary investigation (note: I even sent pictures of various damaged objects as well as messages from my neighbors stating how impolite and ‘obnoxious’ those guests were – I wasn’t even asking for any dollar compensation), they determined it was “fair” to delete those reviews. They stated as follows:

“We adhere to the community’s goal of friendship and trust which in total built Airbnb.”

Note that these guests were exactly the opposite. As a result, anyone can dispute any review and get it removed saying it’s not ‘friendly’ and it’s really hard to trust anyone’s reviews.

The second story happened in my New York apartment. A crazy guest claimed (after using my apartment two weeks) that my neighbors threatened to get her arrested as Airbnb is “illegal” in New York. While she had no factual evidence whatsoever and she spent her time in my apartment, she was given a full refund after the stay (at my expense since Airbnb took out the full $4,000 from my next guest’s stay without letting me know).

What this means is that, contrary to popular belief, Airbnb takes the strong stand that they are illegal in NYC and will refund anyone who makes up any similar story without evidence. So, if you are dishonest, go for it.

Hell’s Kitchen, Airbnb Nightmare Apartment in NYC

I just got back from four days in NYC. I rented an Airbnb from two guys who had an apartment in Hell’s Kitchen (okay, should have given me a clue). Upon arrival everything seemed okay; there were no dirty dishes in the sink, and the toilet looked clean enough. THe tub was stained, but acceptable (not taking any bubble baths in it anyway, so sufficient for showering).

However, upon closer inspection, I came to discover that the whole place was filthy. Dirty dishes were left in dishwasher (no dishwasher fluid to clean them with either). The couch was stained, and there were stained, dirty duvets and sheets. Sheets were crumpled and did not appear to even be clean. Baseball-size balls of hair and dust were around the entire apartment, especially on the baseboards and beds. There was a repulsive oven (it set off smoke alarm when we tried to use it) complete with an old hard, burned French fry, and a dirty refrigerator.

The list went on and on. We stayed in a tent in the Sahara Desert once that was cleaner than this place. I immediately texted the owner (he didn’t respond to us, so called another guy in charge) that a cleaning crew needed to be called. Of course, we were assured that one would be there first thing in the morning. We used the towels – that did seem clean – to cover the pillows and ourselves so we could sleep. Suffice it to say that the “cleaning crew is coming” lie was told to us for three days.

The final night the guy texted us at 9:38 PM wanting to send a cleaning crew. In retrospect we should have said yes, as my guess is he was bluffing then too, but trying to cover his #$%. By that time we had bought new sheets after hiking over two miles to BBB and back. Finding this was no easy task in NYC. Quite pricey too, as there’s no Walmart in NYC.

When I got my invitation to post my review, I was loaded. Like I said in my review, I’ve seen animal cages that were cleaner than this apartment. Every night when we returned to the apartment because we’d left for the day – so this magical cleaning crew could appear while we were gone sightseeing for the day, as we had been told over and over by the host – only brought more disappointment, frustration and a string of phone calls to the host and Airbnb. We came to believe that the elusive “cleaning crew” must have lived in the land of the unicorns and lost their metro passes because they never came.

I just got a review from the host. I use that term loosely, as it implies that these guys did something to treat us as guests. He slammed us (me) with a vicious lie saying that we put our used linens and towels in the bathtub (no exit instructions so we called Airbnb and told them what we were going to do; they okayed it. What do you do with dirty linens and towels anyway? This is what we do at a hotel) and urinated on them. What kind of sicko mind can even come up with a defense that gross? Of course you can’t photograph this and he knew that we were staying with a child – pretty low buddy, blame the kid. Little does he know that this child is not a “child,” but a mini-adult who definitely does not wet the bed if that was his implication.

Anyway, I was pretty much pleased with Airbnb for giving us a full refund and eventually resolving our complaint, but it did take five different reps and a lot of phone calls. I also had a lot of pictures (that I really don’t want to post in case I need them for further action) and evidence to present. Even though I probably won’t use Airbnb again, I can say that I’m overall satisfied with Airbnb. It still makes me mad that these guys are out there, ruining other people’s vacations.

Even after this review, they can just list under other names and open new accounts? And the reviews? These guys were Superhosts with 21 positive reviews. It’s not like I didn’t do my due diligence. Buyer beware. All I can say is the next time I’m in New Orleans I’m buying two voodoo dolls.

Checkout Hour Drama, Trying to Pull Something?

I booked a couple with no reviews. I have booked folks with no reviews before and usually everything goes very well. After they showed up at 12:30 AM to check in (I do not have 24-hour check in), the woman mentioned to her partner that the place looked too nice, almost like it would have been a problem running something by me because the place wasn’t a dump. I stood there and observed carefully their interaction as they arrived.

The gentleman then left at 1:00 AM and returned at 10:00 AM the next day to slam the door as hard as a human being can slam a door. I gulped. I sat there saying to myself, “you wanted to be a host, here you go…”

They then hibernated in the room after that; they hardly went to the bathroom or out for food. Another thing that was odd since people dont come to New York City to hibernate for two days. They went to their alleged wedding and showed up at 5:00 AM. Checkout is at 11:00 AM.

At one hour before checkout, the guy said: “Hi there. Can I talk to you? Is it okay if we stay here untill our flight leaves? We would have to sleep in the airport and don’t really know when the flight leaves. We still haven’t seen the city at all and would love to go to the Statue of Liberty.”

Mind you it was one hour before checkout. I said, “Well, you can stay until 3:00 PM.” Then the little voice in my head said, “You do know if you let them stay past their checkout time without a paid reservation you will probably need the police to get them out of your house?”

I knocked on their door again and said, “I just spoke to Airbnb and they told me I would have legal problems if I allow you to be here past the checkout time since another guest is coming in.” I knew there was no guest coming that evening, but I wanted to be polite and very firm.

Then he said, “But you are the host. I thought I would come talk to you instead of going through the site.”

“You didn’t come to me to make a reservation. You used Airbnb to contact me and book for you. We don’t have anything else to talk about; everything has to go through Airbnb.”

The woman inside the room farted. They placed a call to someone and said, “My wife is nervous about this.” My walls are paper thin and I can hear air as it moves. I was now in the kitchen and they were leaving. He dropped his suitcase, nervous as can be. I shook their hands and said, “I totally apologize for not being able to help you stay past checkout, but it’s hard to do that between reservations.”

They left, and the door closed behind them. I wonder if telling the next hosts these scam artists are worth dealing with. I have no idea what type of a review they might leave me, but in all honestly, I trully dont care. He never looked me in the face as he asked me if they could stay past checkout.

Frustration at Airbnb After NYC Host Lied

blank

I experienced stress and frustration with the place I chose to stay at through Airbnb in NYC. The host happened to be a fraudulent and shameless person. Below are my comments to Airbnb. To my surprise the comments are not published, with the explanation that the message has private information. I asked to remove whatever was considered private but nevertheless, my comments have not been published. Airbnb, rather than protecting and helping the perspective clients, protects the fraudulent hosts. Airbnb refunded me 130 USD and closed the case without publishing the comments that explain the reasons for my frustration.

I do not recommend this place in any condition. It is dirty, and has never been cleaned for at least a month or more. The host was also inhospitable. I snapped a picture of the apartment’s condition for the proof of my complaint. The only advantage of the apartment is its location, but this doesn’t cover the stressf and frustration that you get staying in this place even for short time.

I paid for a master bedroom but instead I was placed in a much smaller messy bedroom, because somebody else had lived there already. The host informed me about the change of the room just minutes before my planned departure to NY. Due to my visa, I arrived three days later than planned. To my surprise, I found an apartment that looked like more like a warehouse of boxes, items, and stuff scattered all over the places. The guests are forced to maneuver between those to be able to move in the apartment.

Due to the conditions above I was not able to use the kitchen. The oven was dirty and piled up with items around it, and using a gas stove may have even caused a fire. The apartment has not been cleaned for a long time, nor was it cleaned while I was there or before my arrival. Everything was covered in a thick layer of dust.

The host didn’t sound friendly at all. Prior to my arrival I called him to confirm my arrival time. Instead of a greeting, his reply was: “Follow the instructions given by email,” which I didn’t have with me at that moment.” The host’s name and the address advertised are not the same in reality. The host is trying to hide himself (it’s not clear why and from whom). My guess is that the host manipulates guests, only to get money from them with zero investments like cleaning the place.

I suggested settlement of 50%, due to the fact that instead of the master bedroom I was placed in a much smaller room, I arrived three days later, and the terrible condition of the apartment. The reply was rude and negative. In addition, I left my shoes and asked the host to sent them back. However, the host, in spite of what had happened, requested 100 USD to send them back. Of course I refused. Attached is a picture of the apartment.

I had the worst experience of my life booking with Airbnb

I’ve got the worst experience of my life booking with Airbnb. My host cancelled my stay the day I landed in New York. After 2.5 hours spent chatting with the customer care without finding a solution, I was told by my representative that she would have finish her journey shortly and another person would take care of my situation soon. I was contacted two days later after opening a complaint against them.

It isn’t over yet. Since I had no place to go I decided to book a hotel (only 3% were available that day), then asked Airbnb for a full refund of the difference I had to pay between the hotel and my room ($600). After about ten days of emails back and forth they agreed to a payment of $300. Be aware your host can cancel your reservation; you won’t have a full refund and potentially no place to go.

Active Guest Reservation and No Payment from Airbnb

I have been a pretty happy host on Airbnb the last three years up until now. I had a three-month trip to Europe planned and found a last minute three-month reservation request. The dates were perfect. I met the lady in person with her teenage son and her dog. I was pretty happy to hand off my keys to a family that was really appreciative at the time and left for Europe in peace. She confirmed the reservation and moved in.

Three weeks later she called me in tears saying she had her identity stolen, needed to move out in 48 hours, and requested her money back. By the way, it was $2,700/month for my NYC pad in a prime location. I really needed this money to pay my rent while I was not staying in NYC. I told her I have a strict policy in place so she took it to the support team. They also basically said she needs to pay. This angered the guest, so she started cussing at me, knocking on my neighbors doors saying she needs to find the landlord. She kept saying she doesn’t want to be involved in illegal activities and wants to talk to my landlord. It was so much unnecessary drama. Most importantly I was so scared for my personal stuff.

Finally the guest checked out early after creating a lot of stress and just problems, playing games with me on where she will leave the keys, and just being rude and disrespectful. I told Airbnb I was so uncomfortable with this guest and this situation. They said not to worry and I will get a partial payment if she was to cancel. The crazy lady moved out (thank god), but she never cancelled the reservation. It kept going as an active reservation.

When next month rent’s was due I should have gotten either the partial amount or the full amount since her reservation is still active but all that Airbnb did was email me saying they cannot collect payment and if the guest doesn’t pay; they are not responsible. I really didn’t expect this to happen but I’m happy the crazy lady is out of the apartment and my stuff is safe. Any advice on how I can collect one month of rent that is still active on my Airbnb account?

Guest Trashed Flat and Told Doorman about Illegal Airbnb

I was constantly sold by Airbnb and third-party management companies that the “bad stories” from Airbnb are rare and that I had nothing to worry about. I have a water facing Manhattan condo in a doorman building. Manhattan and New York have banned any Airbnb listings. However, I noticed a Superhost from my very building who was making a ton of money and getting away with Airbnb. I figured I would give it a try. I contacted a third-party NYC management company, MetroButler, which handles everything for 25%  of the cost: cleaning, guest communication, and guest screening (not sure how much of a “screening” there was).

I had only reached my sixth guest when I walked into my apartment after a guest left and observed the mess. There was human feces on the bathroom mat, sugar spilled on the coffee table, dishwasher liquid in the dishwasher, and stolen items. This guest deliberately did all of this. He even forwarded MetroButler’s check-in instructions email to my doorman, to which my building fined me $1,000. This guest had the audacity to trash, steal, and go the extra Satanic mile and complain to my front desk. I complained to MetroButler and was able to get some sort of money for my stolen goods, but nothing else. I cancelled my bookings and paid the fine. Never will I allow my place to be abused by childish entitled guests, especially on Airbnb. If I do choose to sublet, it’ll be to someone I know and trust. Do not use MetroButler and do not allow guests like this.

Airbnb Removed My Review Mentioning Bed Bugs

I stayed at a listing in Brooklyn. The room in the informal “hotel”-style accommodation (i.e. a house with a digital lock and multiple rooms) had bed bugs. I was removed from the property, Airbnb (after I was forced to fight aggressively with their customer service representatives, who lied to me about reimbursement) paid for a hotel for three nights, and I left a very honest review articulating exactly what happened.

The review was posted two days ago, and it was removed today, presumably at the prompting of the host who did not want a review mentioning bed bugs on their listing page. Lest I be accused of bringing the bed bugs to the listing, let me say that I found the bugs – a lot of them – on the second night after the host said that her “cleaner” accidentally cleaned my room, instead of another room in the house. One of the bed bugs – a large adult – came crawling out of the “clean” duvet/sheets that night.

On the whole, the three-star review was more than fair in terms of positivity (I said the listing was clean, the bed was comfortable, the house was quiet, and that guests might want to stay there again after the bed bug problem is fixed), but I did detail the bed bug experience in the middle of the review. Well, lo and behold, a day after posting the review, I get a message from an Airbnb “case manager” stating:

“Good morning! My name is CASE MANAGER and I am a Case Manager with Airbnb. I hope this message finds you well and that you’re having a great day! I am contacting you today about your review for your reservation with HOST. It has come to our attention that your review for HOST is in violation of our content policy. For your reference, you can learn more about our review guidelines in our Help Center.

Reviews are the backbone of Airbnb’s community. In order to maintain this structure, we have guidelines in place that ensure that all reviews are fair, honest, and relevant to your trips. We also don’t allow reviews to mention any actions taken by Airbnb, including investigations or mediations in our Resolution Center. As such, it is our responsibility to remove your review from HOST’s profile. As of this correspondence, it has been taken down.”

Let me be crystal clear: my review did not mention the resolution or mediation at all, other than saying “Airbnb told me to leave for a hotel.” When I called to question the review’s removal, I was told it was because of my sentence about the hotel. This is absurd, because I didn’t say Airbnb paid for the hotel or describe the mediation process. Regardless, how an accommodation provider responds to a problem is an essential thing to mention in a review. I was also told it was removed because “mentioning bed bugs would hurt the host’s future listings.”

Isn’t this the whole point of leaving honest reviews? To allow guests to make up their own minds about staying somewhere based on past experience?

If hosts are going to be allowed to get around critical reviews with such ease, guests should have zero faith in Airbnb. Why do guests even waste their time writing honest reviews when hosts can so easily find an inexperienced “case manager” to take any slightly negative review down from their listing? This is positively absurd. What should I have done instead? Left vague language about vermin, cleanliness, and then had the review removed for not being based in facts because it would have been so ambiguous? Now, a future guest may suffer from bed bugs, or other incompetence, at this listing, simply because Airbnb can’t competently execute its model.