Airbnb Nightmare: Transient Hippie Flophouse

This was my first experience with Airbnb and I will never recommend it to anyone. My lesson: Always use a legitimate hotel. I booked a long-term rental in a place that looked deceptively nice in the photo and description. I thought I would be staying with a woman and her children: a safe, family-oriented home, or so I thought. When I asked if the bathroom was shared, I was told it was but that Carissa, the “host” (a loosely used term because flophouse operator is more accurate), could work around my schedule. Unfortunately, Carissa didn’t tell me the bathroom would also be shared with any transient she could shove into any space she had. She tried to make it out to be some hippie idea of communal living, but her real colours showed when it came time for money. She is very much in this to try to squeeze as much out of unsuspecting renters as she can. I’m not exaggerating when I say she rents out every place she can: all the bedrooms, the basement, the shed in the backyard (for real), and a grungy algae-covered camping trailer in the driveway. And all these people use the same bathroom.

The biggest problem was that despite the numerous unknown characters lingering about, she left the doors unlocked to the house at all times and didn’t have a door that locked on the room I rented for me to secure my things while I was out. I stayed one night, only because I had nowhere else to go, then left. That started the second part of the horrible Airbnb experience. I tried to get a refund, but Carissa said it was “non-refundable.” I had booked for five weeks! She was going to keep all that money for one night. Finally, she said she’d look at how many times she rented the room during the time and give me a refund based on this at the end of the originally booked stay. I tracked that she rented that same room out for 13 days. But, when I contacted Carissa, there was no reply within the 72 hours she had to respond.

So I started the resolution process through Airbnb. After a number of emails, Airbnb told me I’d get a partial refund (so my one night stay in a hellhole would only cost me about $700 after the supposed refund). I was told the refund would reach me within five business days. It’s been seven business days and still nothing. When I tried to email Airbnb about it, the automated response told me the issue was “closed” so they wouldn’t be responding! I’ll reiterate: Stick with hotels. Don’t be fooled by seemingly normal rentals.

Airbnb Does NOT Respect Strict Cancellation Policy

My family decided to vacate the house they live in throughout the year during the summer to rent it out and help pay the bills. The property is located in southern Europe in a region that’s highly sought after during the high season. After accepting reservations booked by guests months in advance we had to turn many away, including requests from other guest on alternative booking sites. We had many added expenses getting the place ready, including cleaning as well as check in and check out fees.

Two consecutive guests decided to cancel their booking at the last minute for medical reasons. (for two separate reservations); the second guest cancelled his booking days AFTER he was supposed to check in. In spite of us having a “strict” cancellation policy, Airbnb agreed to reimburse them for the full cost of their booking leaving us with an empty house at the last minute in the midst of the high season. To justify their decisions, Airbnb only sent us the link to their extenuating circumstances policy, which lists a very wide variety of circumstances left broad and vague on purposes. In this instance, given that both guests had emailed saying their cancellation was due to medical issues, we asked Airbnb which objective criteria had been applied and the list of documents provided by guests to justify the fact they had to cancel at the last minute. In spite of our repeated queries, Airbnb refused to provide any objective criteria used to determine the circumstances of the cancellations. Of course they make these arbitrary decisions without losing any money themselves. Hosts end up losing money without having any say in the decision. These cancellations should be handled with a strict process similar to those applied by travel insurance policies. Hosts are NOT protected by Airbnb and this certainly doesn’t feel like a community.

Airbnb Refunds are Sketchy at Best

I’m a first time user of Airbnb. There were problems. Airbnb takes your money before completing any transaction and then declines to provide service. The credit card deduction is NOT the last stage of the process. This is a bad business practice. Airbnb takes your money immediately (within 30 minutes) but any refund takes five days. This is also a bad business practice. At this point in time, I have been promised two refunds but have not received anything (within the five-day refund wait time) so I can’t verify that Airbnb actually does give refunds. There is no indication of the problems causing a booking to fail. There is just a late email saying that it has ‘failed to verify’ and ‘accommodation is cancelled’ and that my money will be refunded in five days.

Customer service is patchy as email requests for solutions are ignored or given belated responses. Presently,there has been no response to my emails for more than ten hours. Using Airbnb is too much effort for a holiday pastime. I will stay away from Airbnb in the future. My first experience was on July 22, 2016. I booked a night under Airbnb. I gave my credit card details and the money was deducted from my credit card; then Airbnb requested details from my ID… and then the booking was rejected, with a promise to refund the money in five days. The problem took 24 hours to sort out and find alternative accommodations. The accommodation was fine and I was very happy with the host. Due to the problems encountered, Airbnb customer service promised a refund but this has not yet occurred (because of a five-day delay?)

My second experience was on July 24, 2016. I booked two nights under Airbnb. I gave my credit card details and the money was deducted from my credit card; then Airbnb requested details from my ID… and then the booking was rejected, with a promise to refund the money in five days. The problem has still not been sorted out after 23 hours, and there has been no response to my emails for 11 hours.

Airbnb Warning About Getting Refunds

Yet another cancellation story but also a warning to do things in the right order. I booked a three-bedroom apartment in Soho, New York City run by a lady called ‘Clodagh’. A month after the booking was accepted I received a message from her saying she had to cancel the booking. But Airbnb still showed the listing as valid. Only after I sent her a message telling her to handle the cancellation properly from her end did I receive an email from Airbnb. It offered me a refund or to use the money I’d paid, plus a 10% credit, on another property. I’d already booked another apartment, with great difficulty as it was getting close to the dates, so I chose the refund. I believe she sent me the cancellation message expecting that I would then request a refund and the cancellation would then have been instigated by me and I’d have probably lost my money under the VERY STRICT cancellation policy imposed on guests ONLY. If you receive a cancellation message directly from a host, wait until you receive a message from Airbnb before you do anything. I’m not going to use Airbnb again until they offer some kind of security for booking or sufficient compensation to cover hotels for the cancelled period.

AIRBNB IS NOT A RELIABLE WAY OF TRAVELING AND CERTAINLY NOT FOR BUSINESS TRAVEL!

Airbnb’s Refund Policy is Absurd

I made a booking using the quick book option a day before I was set to arrive in Nassau, Bahamas (a listing with a lightening bolt). My host emailed me a few hours later telling me the property was not available. I told her to cancel the booking on the Airbnb site so I could receive a refund. That was ten days ago and the host has given me nothing but excuses as to why she can not cancel. High fees, Out of town, money already sent to her PayPal account, etc. Clearly the host is a liar and a fraud but I have contacted Airbnb’s customer service via email and they told me to go to the resolution center, fill out a form, wait three days, escalate it, and then someone will make a decision regarding my refund. I’m certain I will get it but Airbnb tells me they will not refund the fees. How can this be? I did not cancel; the host did. Also, how can this be avoided in the future? If hosts do not actually cancel reservations from their end it leaves guests having to scratch, claw, and fight to get their money back. If hosts take the money and use it, Airbnb is the one who would have to pay me back out of their own pocket. Seems like this type of thing can happen frequently… Anyone have any info?

Waterfront Property doesn’t Mean 5km from the Beach

I booked a property in the Canadian wilderness. The cover photo was of this gorgeous beach and a large body of water, with the caption: “view from the gazebo.” Multiple other photos show this “private” beach, but once I booked the property I discovered the address is nowhere near any beach, just a tiny little pond. I asked the host about this just two hours after booking and told her I wanted to cancel my reservation and get a refund because it seemed like the property bordered a beach based upon her listing. She told me those photos must have been the tiny pond on the property and there is a river one can access 5 kilometers away. I didn’t book this place to stay 5 kilometers from a beach!

I immediately emailed her again, stating that based upon my Google Earth search, the pond is tiny and not what I was expecting based upon the photos. Three days later she replied the photos are actually of the river 5 kilometers away, and stated everything was made clear in her listing – so it’s my fault for not reading everything. I went online to look at her new Airbnb listing, and she changed everything! The photo that got me to make the booking is clearly labeled as a beach with river access 5 kilometers away and is no longer the cover photo. She now mentions multiple times in the description that the beach photo is of the river 5 kilometers away. So clearly these photos are of the river not the pond next to the residence! I asked for a refund since she clearly acknowledged her listing wasn’t clear – hence the extensive changes – and she refused. I lost 50% of the $1000 I paid for the week. DON’T book this property; the host is dishonest! I still haven’t heard anything from the Airbnb resolution center!

Guest Threatens Bad Review to Get Free Airbnb Stay

My guest spent his first time in Airbnb at my place and I paid someone to clean and give him the keys. He claimed that he didn’t like the place and had to pay $500 for a hotel. He clearly expected a hotel and he didn’t cancel the reservation on the biggest holiday weekend of the summer, which was also the busiest. All I know is that he didn’t cancel, kept the keys the entire weekend, and now claims that he will post a bad review if I don’t give him a refund even though he made it impossible for anyone else to book the property. On top of that, my wine glasses were broken! It is a classic lose-lose situation for the host. Beware: do not rent to first time Airbnb guests and stay away from creeps like this guy who try everything they can to scam you!

Threatened by Host in Asheville

On a recent stay at what appeared to be a great space with overwhelmingly positive reviews, we had the bad luck of encountering a plumbing issue (the handle for the toilet straight up fell off), leaving us without a functioning toilet for almost a whole day (this was the only bathroom in the unit). The host never replied to our message regarding the maintenance issue, so we decided to cut our losses and leave (Hotel Indigo is very nice, by the way). While we were packing up, the host came over totally unannounced, pounded on the door, and threatened us for leaving early. We finished packing up, completely terrified, and got out as quickly as possible, trying not to escalate the situation. Once we made it to safety, I called Airbnb to report the incident.

The customer service rep, “Josh,” said that because there was no evidence of what happened, we were basically out of luck (side note: I did have my unanswered messages to the host about the problem and a witness to the harassment – the other guest – which judge Josh apparently didn’t think counted as evidence). I was eventually refunded for one night, but was told that because the host has a strict cancellation policy, and the incident occurred more than 24 hours after check-in, no additional money would be refunded. This seems like a less-than-sound refund policy to say the least. I mean, what if the place burned to the ground more than 24 hours after check-in? Does the host still get to keep the money if he wants? The most troubling part of this whole incident is Airbnb’s nonchalant attitude when it comes to women being threatened by their male hosts.

Moral of the story: an unstable, violent host can intimidate you into leaving (read: escaping) early and then keep your money because you “canceled” the reservation early.