Hoped to Go Back to Paris, Ended Up Out $400

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Like most folks, we were feeling lockdown blue in the late fall of 2020. Our family has traveled to Paris a few times over the years, so we thought we’d give it shot for a late March trip in the hope that the world would be a bit more open. We went big this year and planned a two-week trip and found a small apartment in Montmartre. A couple of airplane tickets and a great room booked, we felt a little light at the end of the lockdown tunnel.

Fast forward to this week. We had decided to start checking out things and making new arrangements, as needed, a month out. When I researched France’s current travel restrictions, it seemed obvious that we couldn’t go. With a bit of a sigh and consolation that we’d stay stateside, we proceeded to cancel our airline tickets (full value in an e-credit through Delta with no problems) and attempted to cancel our room.

I expected and would have been fine with a reasonable cost related to cancelling the room. No luck. Airbnb stated it was up to the host to refund the $400+ we had paid. The host denied the request and Airbnb (even after reaching out on Twitter) deferred to the original support contact.

Did Airbnb offer or suggest any other solution? No.

Did they agree to refund their fee (25% of the deposit)? No.

While many travel companies are working hard to care for people who are willing to travel, Airbnb imposes a policy that protects them and their hosts with no consideration for the travel restrictions. Perhaps the host will decide to show us some consideration and agree to some of his share being returned. Airbnb seems to be happy keeping their money and losing another customer after 10 trips since 2014.

Airbnb Puts Lives at Risk when Everyone has the Keys

We arrived in Paris at 9:00 AM on November 22nd. We arrived at Urban Flats around noon and stored our luggage with them. They assured us they would be in a secure location. We returned at 4:00 PM and checked into our prepaid Airbnb rental. We had eight people in our group: five adults and three children under 7 years old. That night my son and daughter in law decide they would sleep on the sofa bed in the living room.

My son awoke to someone opening the front door. He spoke out and the person closed the door and left. My son got up, locked the door again and place furniture in front of the door. We thought maybe it was a mistake and went out sightseeing at 10:00 AM. We made sure the door was properly locked.

We returned at 6:00 PM. When I went to my room, I noticed my converter plugs and iPad were missing. We then realized everyone had all their electronics (three iPads, one computer, one smart watch) and chargers missing. Upon further search, we found that all the jewelry was missing. In fact, a carry-on bag was missing and I believe they used it to remove our property.

We went to the Urban Flats office and reported the break-in. The employee went to our apartment and found the spare apartment key in the lock box by the front door. He said that should not have there. He then proceeded to lie to us: first, he said he called the police, and next we had to walk to the police station. At first he said he notified his boss, then he said he could not call him. Lie after lie. In fact, he said we should not worry since travel insurance would cover it. He assumed we had insurance and could not understand why we were upset.

We did file a police report, but they said they could not help us. We called Airbnb and filed a report. The next day they acted as if we never reported anything. We personally notified the owners of the apartment. They were helpful and gave us a full refund so we could go to a hotel, which turned out to be more than we planned on spending. The first time we called, the Airbnb agent said they would give us $250/person for a hotel and then the next day we were told that was not possible.

As far as I am concerned, Airbnb put our lives at risk. This was an inside job since someone provided the robbers with the building code and key box code. I plan on posting on every social media website that Urban Flats is corrupt and dangerous. Airbnb has been no help. I plan on seeking legal counsel due to the fact that eight lives were put at risk.

Airbnb Cancels 3 Hours Before Check in for a 17-day Stay

Now that I am home from my trip, the time to post a bad review has expired. Zero stars for the performance of both the Airbnb host and Airbnb. I made reservations for my stay and flights to Paris five months in advance. The apartment was in a good neighborhood and was a good price.

After 15 hours of traveling, I arrived in Paris. Two and a half hours before I was supposed to check in, I got a call from Airbnb. My accommodations had been cancelled. I was staying for 17 days. It is almost impossible to get a hotel in Paris at twice the cost with zero advanced notice. Airbnb had five-some options at twice the price a mile or more away. Location is everything in Paris.

Beware, a last minute cancellation of a long stay is disastrous. If you dare, make multiple reservations and cancel on them within their cancellation rules. They did refund my money and offered a $200 discount with a three-day expiration for rebooking a more expensive place. My alternate accommodations cost $1800 more than expected.

Breaking into Paris Airbnb… for Laundry Soap?

What I’m about to describe is a horrible experience with Airbnb (both on the guest end and maybe even worse on the customer service end) that has since unfortunately led me to decide that I will never use Airbnb again. I wish this wasn’t the case because it is such a unique and affordable option for travel, but their company really showed me how little they care about their customers.

I was originally just planning to simply write a review about the safety issue directly on my guest’s profile and be done with it, however as I will explain after I tell about my experience as a guest at the Airbnb in question, they removed/censored my review (obviously this was done because my host was a Superhost that brings their company in money). I decided that I was not about to let the public not know about the safety concern that this host presents and Airbnb’s customer service and censorship/control over its guests. Without further ado, here is what the review was originally going to be.

Our trip to this host’s apartment started off well. He was in good communication with us, and the place looked clean and had tons of amenities like it promised. He was out of the country, so he had his friend staying in the apartment to check us in and show us around. His friend was super helpful. It was going great, until five days into our two-week stay.

The fifth night there I was taking a shower, and when I got out I heard a knock on the door (I was not fully dressed at the time as a result of having just taken a shower). My girlfriend and I also did not want to answer the door because we were in a foreign country and did not know anybody, so we stayed silent.

The man on the other side of the door started getting his keys out and tried opening the door. At this point we were terrified about this because we had not received any contact from our host since the day we checked in. I told the man trying to open the door that this was a private Airbnb and he was not allowed to enter. He responded saying that he was a friend of the host’s friend, and that he needed to get the laundry soap in our room (which we found very suspicious, since laundry soap is certainly not too expensive to just go down to the store to get some new soap).

We told him it was not okay, since we hadn’t heard anything about this from our host so who knows if he was who he says he is. At this point the man on the other side continued trying to force his way to open the door with his keys (all the while I was also still not fully dressed). Finally, after we yelled at him that he needed to leave, he did, saying on the way out that he would be coming back after he called his boss.

After this I messaged the host, and his response is (quoted): “Sorry for the inconvenience. Don’t worry I’m out of France. He was supposed to call you.”

I do not have the original review, and the part at the end that I didn’t include above was when I explained what Airbnb’s customer service did after I contacted them. When I submitted the review I got a message stating “The reviews are only to state your experience at the listing, and with the host. You can not disclose any information regarding the case with Airbnb.”

The review was removed. I asked if I could submit a review without the part where I said what Airbnb’s customer service did, but they said once a review has been removed, it can not be re-submitted (how convenient for them). Anyway, the last part I wanted to talk about was the customer service experience that followed the safety concern… on with the story.

After the incident occurred in the apartment my girlfriend was understandably shaken. She had never been in a foreign country before and just had some weird man she never even knew existed try to break into our apartment (all for some laundry soap?).

I immediately contacted Airbnb’s customer support. The customer service person whom I got a hold of asked me what happened; I told her, and asked what our options were. She said that she needed to get in contact with her supervisors and that she would call me back (which is another thing I hated… why not just put me on hold? I had no idea what was happening and was totally in the dark about how long it would take for her to call me back, all the while my girlfriend and I had no idea if that random dude was going to come back and try to break in again).

While we were waiting for her to call back, my girlfriend told me that she didn’t feel safe here. I asked her if she would be okay with another Airbnb but she understandably said that because it’s her first time in a foreign country she would prefer to stay in a hotel if possible.

Airbnb finally called me back and said she can refund us and try to help us find a new Airbnb. I told her that my girlfriend feeling safe is my top priority so we would need to be moved to a hotel. She told me she has to check with her supervisors again if that’s something that they can help us with and hung up. She called back and said that they never offer any help finding a hotel or giving any money to cover the costs. She then told me that we will be refunded within a few days and once she hangs up we will be trespassing and need to pack and leave immediately because we will be considered “trespassing”. She hung up and we started packing frantically.

With the scary incident we just had with the guy trying to break in, we had no desire to see our host or any more of his “friends” in person again, so it was extremely stressful trying to pack all of our things in around twenty minutes. After we finished packing, we did a quick search for a hotel nearby.

In our haste we made a huge mistake: we didn’t make sure they had air conditioning (Paris was experiencing a heat wave at the time). The place that we ended up finding was about a sixth the size of our Airbnb, had no AC, no kitchen (or any of the appliances we were expecting to have like a fridge), and no washer.

Since we had to book the day of, it ended up costing $600 more than the amount we were refunded. We planned our trip a year in advance, only to lose all of the amenities we planned to have and had to pay a large amount of extra money.

What I wanted to emphasize is the fact that what scares me most about all of this, and should scare the rest of the public too, is how my host was a Superhost with 183 reviews averaging five stars… this shouldn’t have happened. If we were staying at a non-Superhost’s place that only averaged like three-star reviews then okay, fair enough; we took the risk, and we got burnt. This was not that. This was supposed to showcase the best Airbnb has to offer, and instead we got a horrible situation.

It makes me wonder, how many reviews like mine have been removed/censored from Superhost profiles? How many people had even scarier/more dangerous experiences, but got their review removed, and just didn’t care/didn’t know how to get their message out to the public about their situation?

For those looking for an Airbnb in Paris, this is the listing in question. This is the other listing the host owns. This is the profile of the host.

Seeking Advice On Current Airbnb Situation

This post is an appeal for advice on my current Airbnb long-term booking in Évry, France. Yesterday (June 9, 2019) the host knocked on the door of the room I am renting in her home and asked me to help her evict another non-paying Airbnb Guest.

The young man who was staying in another bedroom of her home is Middle Eastern – and she whispered, with tears in her eyes, that she was afraid he might have a bomb. She said she feared for her (undisclosed in the Airbnb listing) two kids, and wanted me – a 71-year old female paying long-term guest – to “back her up” when she knocked on the young man’s door, recording cell phone in hand, and tell him to pay up or get out.

I have only been in this rental for 12 days. There are a multitude of big problems with this accommodation, ranging from absolute filth (the communal fridge contained putrifying foodstuffs; the toilet seat was broken and slid off the porcelain base; the bathroom itself is disgusting with built-up human waste and dirt). There are no handrails on the staircase to the four second-floor rental bedrooms.

Last – but certainly not least – is the host’s four-year-old son, who dominates the household. He has no schedule or discipline, does not go to nursery school, and is typically left in the care of his teenage sister (who is glued to her iPhone and generally ignores him). The child chatters, laughs, shrieks, cries, and screams from morning to late night (1:30 AM is typically when the host and her teenage daughter finally leave the living room for their bedrooms). The living room is open to the second-floor staircase, permitting everything the young child says or does to be clearly heard upstairs.

When I emerge from my room to go to the bathroom, downstairs to the fridge, or to leave, or return to, the residence, the boy approaches, follows, and bombards me with pleas and demands for attention. It is constant. I am wearing earplugs as I write, but even so, I can hear his occasional shrieks and screams when the host or her daughter (ineffectively) admonish him.

I make this appeal for advice here, in this forum, because I have researched my options and learned that cancelling the remainder of this three-month booking (for which I have already paid the first of three installments) means I will owe the host the full second month’s installment equivalent to 30-days (to wit, Airbnb’s long-term cancellation policy during a stay: “If the guest books a reservation and decides to cancel the reservation during their stay, the guest must use the online alteration tool in order to agree to a new checkout date. Regardless of the checkout date chosen, the guest is required to pay the host for the 30 days following the cancellation date…”)

My funds are limited. My savings has been eaten up by the Airbnb host of the previous booking I had before this. There was the promise of wifi; the wifi code did not work; the host sent a different Livebox passcode, which was bounced by Google within three days due to a “proxy server”. Thereafter, the host ignored my desperate Airbnb messages, calls, and texts for nine days, well after the Airbnb 24-hour full-refund cancellation period for an accommodation-not-as-advertised guarantee.

This resulted in my having to rent a mobile wifi hotspot device in Paris which cost $200 per month for the three-month booking. Other necessary expenditures to make that “service room” livable cost an additional $1,000.

My goal (such as it is… I’ve just about given up hope at this point) would be to secure an alternative long-term Airbnb accommodation (perhaps a good one, with some hard-earned wisdom on my side now). However, my monthly retirement income will be sucked up later this month, when my host gets another installment paid to her, the funds I could use to secure a replacement accommodation. I would be most sincerely grateful for any and all advise, and I thank you in advance.

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Valuables Stolen from “Safe” Paris Airbnb

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My mom and I just went trough the worst trip ever, less than a week from her birthday. The story goes: I left from Berlin (Germany) and she from São Paulo (Brazil) to meet in Paris to spend Mother’s Day together and also because it was my university trip.

The host’s apartments had two doors with passcodes, one right off the street and a second that accessed the stairs. On our third night, Monday, May 13th, we returned from our day out, typed the passcode in and to our surprise it didn’t work; for some reason they changed it. We tried to get in touch with the host countless time through my mother’s phone and… nothing.

After a while we decided to check into a hotel, and finally she answered saying that she sent the new passcode through the Airbnb platform. Since my cellphone had been stolen on our first day I wasn’t able to see that message, and she didn’t make much effort to confirm if we had received it.

Anyway, after having been locked outside the house, the next morning we got back to the house, had some breakfast and I left for university (the main purpose of the trip). After that, my friends and I went to get my mother for lunch, around 1:00 PM. We enjoyed our time together and the girls and I had to go back to our university duties, while my mom got back to the Airbnb, around 3:00 PM.

On the bus, my friend turned to me saying my mom was calling. I answered and she said “Come back now! Someone broke in the apartment, the lock is broken, they took my computer, your Macbook, please come!”

We spent the afternoon with the police. I called Airbnb for help and assistance; they didn’t even offer help to call or communicate with the police, same thing goes for the host. Airbnb didn’t assist at all. The next morning we went to the police station to do the report all by ourselves. The day of the robbery they also didn’t offer any help – nada.

It’s been a week now, and the Airbnb team hasn’t given us any response to our loss. We got in touch with them a bunch of times, and they still haven’t taken any responsibility on how to resolve this situation, not even the police report they asked for. Furthermore, talking with the neighbours we found out that the building has been broken in before, about a week before we got there.

How can they make this kind of place available for us to stay? Additionally, this is not what the company sells. They promote “great experiences, not only a home”, but how can you feel at home and have a great experience if you’re not safe? And if the company who sells that idea doesn’t even help you when you need it?

Problems at Paris Airbnb Make Guests Leave Early

Three years ago, I spent several weeks carefully reviewing Paris Airbnb apartments to rent for ten days. After some back and forth with a few hosts, I settled with one and booked it four months in advance. The host was a Superhost with more than 100 raving reviews. The cost was a little over $2,000 for a one-bedroom studio in the Marais.

I exchanged several conversations back and forth with the host inside the Airbnb platform to confirm things that were important to me, including a working kitchen with adequate cooking utensils. When we met the host outside the apartment, the first thing he told us was to not mention we were renting. If anyone asked we were to say we were relatives of… and he gave a name, which was not his.

Inside, we quickly realized there was no real kitchen to speak of, not even a knife to slice an apple. There was also no natural light; the windows were masked with film since they overlooked other apartments across a tiny, debris-strewn courtyard. There was one dirty-looking bed sheet, ancient pillows, and two small, worn towels in the tiny bathroom.

After two days there, we realized we couldn’t stay and made arrangements with someone we knew to rent another apartment. We complained to Airbnb but never got through to an actual person and never got our money back. To this day that host continues to receive raving reviews. That’s why I will never use Airbnb again. I don’t understand how a host like this could be a Superhost and receive rave reviews. The game is rigged as far as I’m concerned.

Waking up to Violent Fighting at Paris Airbnb

My experience with Airbnb isn’t long. I only used it once and it went relatively well. The host was good, abd the room too. That’s why when my friend suggested we rent an Airbnb for our stay in Paris to visit Disneyland, I didn’t object.

As all of you know, when you first look for a room, you make sure that all the comments are positive. When I found this room in Paris I was happy that everyone found that the host was very helpful and welcoming. That’s exactly what I thought when I first saw her; she even let us check in early in the afternoon so we could enjoy our time without having to worry about our luggage.

You are probably wondering by now: where did it all go wrong? Well it started with the host’s husband snoring. Since the insulation in the house is poor and there was no door to the room, it became strictly impossible for us to sleep. Then when I finally started drifting off, I woke up to the sound of the husband yelling and glass crashing.

Needless to say we were shocked and didn’t even know what to do. We stayed glued to the bed. Then the police came in and started questioning the couple. Apparently this wasn’t the first time that these kind of fights took place. For a minute there I actually thought that the guy would kill his wife and then us too.

To be honest, both the husband and the wife apologized afterwards and they were sorry for what happened and the inconvenience they caused. However, this doesn’t mean that the same situation couldn’t happen to someone else and might not end well. As I said the host was extremely dopey and she even offered to give us back our money, which we declined. That’s why I’m not gonna tag her.

I don’t think I will be using Airbnb after this incident. I would rather pay for a hotel where I will be able to sleep safely. I hope that no one will have the same nightmare as I did.

Avoid Bait-and-Switch Airbnb Hosts in Paris

The following is the story of the last 20 hours. On April 1st, I received an email that my Airbnb flat wasn’t accessible 10 minutes before arriving on site. Since I was travelling, I only noticed when I arrived.

I was offered a different flat in exchange which was 7 km from the original one (I had my reasons to choose the area and good luck travelling through Paris during rush hour). I took it and spent the night there.

The morning of April 2nd we had an appointment at the original flat at 9:30. I was there; nobody came. After 45 minutes in the rain, a delivery service delivered some badges and a key. I entered the building as described in the access instructions, but there was no door that matched the description or the key.

After another endless back-and-forth via mail there was no conclusion because I realized that the person who claimed to be the owner didn’t actually know the premises at all. I went to the gardienne of the residence and with her help we found that the studio was in a completely different location, obviously without a lift as described in the access instructions.

While going to the studio with the gardienne we stumbled upon the owner who claimed not to know anything about the rental, and that he delegated everything to an agency. This meant that the person I was talking to and who claimed to be the owner was not. He didn’t tell me his name, even after I asked. In any case, the “real” owner rejected any responsibility, which I found outrageous, considering he was the owner.

When entering the location, I found a tiny room without daylight, dirty cupboards as if just installed, and so small that opening the only sofa for sleeping meant not having space left to move anymore. I felt very uneasy because of this unprofessional treatment. I lost an entire day because of these people’s inability to get organized, a day that I had planned to meet people that were only available this day.

I came here for business and instead of taking care of my business I had to chase down access to a studio, because nobody at Airbnb even knew where it was. When I saw the dirt on the cupboard I had had enough and booked a hotel nearby.

Alas, I didn’t take photos and I’m bracing for a long email exchange with Airbnb. There was another commentator who mentioned it looked like a cash cow and they weren’t concerned with the guests. That’s exactly my impression with this host.

No Compassion or Trust After Death in the Family

Sadly, due to the father’s death of my niece with whom I was travelling to Paris and staying in an Airbnb apartment, we had to cancel the booking paid for in full in March 2018. The booking was from December 28th, 2018 to December 28th, 2019; therefore five months’ notice was given. Under the resolution information on Airbnb, my niece sent a death certificate and the host was contacted. A refund offer of $24 was given. This was changed to $200 after a few phone calls, but we originally paid $2150.

Now Airbnb is using the excuse the host has refused to give a full refund and then said – to my shock, as her father died in April – that the booking was for December… that’s far away. My interpretation was they were saying that was enough time to get over it. Regardless, the money is needed to cover costs since her father’s death. To be cross examined and passed from staff member to staff member with nobody showing compassion, duty of care, or any sort of kindness and honest business like manners… All I can see is pure greed and Airbnb allowing untrustworthy, unscrupulous, callous, money hungry hosts. I’m dismayed and never will I say a good word about Airbnb.