Another Story of an Airbnb Vacation Nightmare

This was a very recent experience – mid-October 2017 – for a long planned and awaited trip to New York City. I am still immersed with the mess which I will relate in the following. Enclosed is my review of the experience, which Airbnb recently informed me they would not post onto the listing. Before posting it on the listing, they reviewed it. They said I had one chance at writing a review and since it didn’t follow their strict guidelines, I would not be given the opportunity to edit it so it could be posted.

In my research I learned that 95% of their posted reviews are positive. The bad ones never make it. That meant that people would not learn the truth of what caused my case to be the nightmare that it was.

“I wish I did not have to give a terrible review, but my experience was so negative that I have to warn others about this situation. The host was avoidant and unresponsive in her communication and her unwillingness to address critical problems about her living space led me to have to forfeit my stay with her and greatly upset my long planned trip. She was initially prompt in responding to my interest and I booked the room for nine nights.

As it was a brand new listing when I booked it, there were no reviews. I was excited about staying there. Unfortunately when I arrived in late evening, the elevator was not working and she did not mention that she lived on the 7th floor on her profile or anywhere else. I am a senior citizen and although active for my age, the seven-floor climb – each floor consisted of two long flights, fourteen total – to the room with luggage was horrible. I texted and phoned the host before ascending, but received no response.

Along the way I met three sets of residents who all said that this unreliable elevator was a long time, ongoing problem; indicating that she likely had prior knowledge of this malfunction. I stayed the night because it was so late. I called Airbnb immediately after reaching the apartment and they were sympathetic to my not being able to stay there. The next morning I called and texted the host asking her to speak with me so we could figure things out. She texted that she would call me when she was out of the subway. She never did.

The next three days were consumed with dealing with Airbnb customer service – 15 emails and 16 phone calls totaling 3 hours and 36 minutes. The host unexpectedly canceled my reservation, stating she did not feel comfortable with me staying there. Under Airbnb rules, she was able to keep my money for the nine nights even though I only stayed there one night.”

I was very upset with the final determination to refund a token amount of my money. Airbnb never accounted for the lack of full disclosure in the listing as well as the host’s total unresponsiveness in the situation. Certainly if I knew the listing was on the 7th floor in a 97-year-old building, I would not have booked it. Three weeks later, with full knowledge of my experience at the site, there have been no revisions on the listing to state it is a 7th floor rental with an unreliable elevator.

Airbnb, in denying the posting of my review, has contributed to/aided and abetted the dishonesty of this listing. The host continues to offer the listing omitting vital information that definitely would compromise her ability to rent it out, and Airbnb stands silently by taking their cut of the bookings.

I have done research on this site and many other resources to realize the ugly truth about Airbnb. You think their customer service is being helpful when all they are doing is wasting your time and wearing you down with the expectation that all will be resolved justly. It is disheartening that a $30 billion company consistently and definitively demonstrates a lack of regard and interest for the well being of its guests.

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.

Airbnb Deletes Honest but Negative Reviews

I found out that Airbnb will side with its so called Superhosts over the guests in a dispute. There are fewer places to stay and millions of potential customers. Airbnb needs hosts more than they need the six disgusted guests, apparently. They lost all six highly paid customers on the first night. At approximately 2:00 AM on our first night after dinner and just a couple drinks (the host claims we were very drunk and very noisy – couldn’t be further from the truth), we returned to the beautiful but very dirty condo in Mexico City. One bed had multiple different hairs in it (never had been washed after last occupants?) My female friend refused to sleep in it and chose the sofa. The male had no option, so he slept on top of sheets. Our other couple fell asleep in second room only to find that the pillow “design” he thought it was the night before turned out to be someone else’s blood.

Both couples fled to nearest hotel. Fortunately my husband’s and my room was fine. I was too scared to look closer. I contacted the host, only to be told that it was impossible that this had happened; we must have done it. I’m sure we dirtied a perfectly nice apartment after we had already paid just to then go pay a lot more at a hotel. She must’ve accused me at least 15 times of lying. I stayed because we had invested so much already. I complained many times to the deaf ears of the Superhost and figured I would take it up with Airbnb upon our return. I had pictures and testimonies.

To no avail, Airbnb simply said it was her word against mine and they could not decide in my favor. Once my review was up and for all to see (she must have stopped getting calls on it) they informed me they were taking it down because I dared mention to said Superhost that I did not wish to leave a bad review (they considered that a threat). All I asked was for said Superhost to please help satisfy my request. My request was a refund of $150.00 against the $600+ I paid. I had been honest and told her of a third couple joining us. Now I see I should’ve never admitted that and I would never been charged for the third couple. After all was said and done, they paid me just $75.00 and took down my very honest review.

Negative Review of Crazy Host Deleted by Airbnb

This was truly the most negative Airbnb experience we ever had. I say this as someone who has hosted 300+ people and stayed in about ten Airbnb’s over the past six years. We stayed here for 2.5 months but we should have left earlier; we failed to notice early warning signs of bad hosting and I wish we read his other negative reviews better. We were hoping things would improve, but they only became worse.

To give you an idea: three weeks without a toilet (needed to flush using a bucket), broken air conditioner, every day there was new cat pee on the balcony, which prevented us from opening the door (we got tired after cleaning each day), lightbulbs spontaneously burning and incorrectly installed lights (made by the host) that caused electrical problems and electric shocks from the washing machine (a fire hazard), many rusty nails sticking out of the hardwood floor that ruined all of our socks (and hurt our feet), description says “A/C” but there’s only air conditioning in the bedrooms, a check-out fee (an early check-in fee is understandable, but a check-out fee during the daytime?), and lying about heating in the apartment – we had to wear winter jackets when autumn had just started.

The wifi didn’t work on my phone and the host said: “It’s working on my phone; nobody has ever had wifi issues in my apartments.” We read in at least five reviews that his other places had wifi issues too. The windows leaked when it rained, and there was a nightclub that was open until 7:00 AM and was very loud (I specifically asked the host about this; he just lied about it). The worst thing, however, was both hosts. In early messages they were friendly, but this changed as soon as they received payment – their tone soon became sarcastic and at times even offensive.

The very first day the 25+ year old air conditioner broke down, it was 90+ degrees out. The host refused to repair it. In the end they even wanted us to pay for repairing the flush of the 35-year-old toilet by saying we broke it. According to reviews of other guests and according to the plumber the toilet has been having problems months before we arrived. They knew about this but still tried to charge us.

We tried to solve some of the problems with the host and Nina at first. They were never helpful (at best) and at times even rude (at worst). Looking at how badly they dealt with the air conditioner, the nightclub, and the toilet and wifi issues we noticed we couldn’t expect much from them, so we stopped asking. Later the host said, “Why you didn’t ask me?” Well, we did notify them several times, but they just chose to ignore us.

The review above was deleted by Airbnb, because we mentioned other reviews. Why don’t they then remove that one sentence? Does this happen often? I wonder how many negative reviews Airbnb deletes on a yearly basis based on this. After the review was live for a very short time, the host even sent me this: “How can you be so repulsive? The lowest kind of human behavior… when did I not answer your problems? We constantly attended to your requests! You need to go to a hotel, not an apartment.”

This only confirms how crazy he was. While they never ever attended to the issues, this message comes on top of everything that happened. I need to say again that I was very understanding and even kind during our conversations, being a former host myself, but this host was completely uncooperative. We read some negative reviews about this host but wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt; as a former host I know how unreasonable guests can be. I now wish we didn’t. The least Airbnb can do is publish our review and warn future guests.

Airbnb Review was Blocked after Bad Experience

On my first morning, I refused room service because I was sleeping and the host contacted me later on the same day to give me a hard time. I decided to leave the room early, but I could have done that regardless as the cancellation policy was flexible. I left the room by following the official Airbnb process and wrote a negative review. My review was hidden because it “violated the terms of service by including social commentary” – even though that’s nowhere on the policy – and I didn’t receive any notification, nor did I have the chance to edit it. It simply got blocked, secretively. However, the same review was visible to the host, who retaliated with a negative review even though I was an exemplary guest. The host’s review – untrue, biased and vindictive – was posted on my profile immediately. After some back and forth with customer service debating the issue this is what I received: “As of now, your review has been removed from Cristina’s profile. This will be regarded as our final decision in this case.”

This seem to be a rigged system designed to protect hosts and curb negative reviews to create an illusory five-star marketplace where hosts and guests can only scratch each other’s back. I’m not the only one to think that. This system may seem pragmatic and effective at first but it’s not sustainable. By turning your back on the guests and censoring their reviews, eventually they will stop using this site, one by one, even though they have only five-star hosts. A straight and honest review system built Uber and the lack of it will shut Airbnb down.

Long-Term Airbnb, Keeping their Standards Low

I moved out on January 5th from a three-month lease with Airbnb’s permission by letting them know that I wanted to move out. They said if the host decided to refund me for the days I didn’t stay I could get my money back. After I spoke to the host, she agreed and I moved out. Once I moved out, the host conveyed to Airbnb that it was a miscommunication and refused to pay me back for the days I didn’t stay there. During the course of this battle I never mentioned how bad my stay was so they even removed my review from the host’s page after threatening me for not having documentation. The house where I lived had a rat infestation and there were more people in the house than what was mentioned – all men who smoked. I was exposed a large amount of secondhand smoke as a result. I mentioned this in my review and stated why I hated the stay instead of mentioning about the lack of a refund. To this, the case manager who constantly harassed me finally took down my review even when I asked her to confirm the unsanitary rat infestation with the host. All this was when I only made a rough draft of review that wasn’t even posted. This makes me wonder to which how many people Airbnb is doing this. How many reviews are they censoring, tweaking, falsifying, and into how many unsanitary conditions are they letting the naive customers walk? There needs to be some sort of New York state regulation against this kind of behavior and unacceptable business model.

In Three Words? Unethical, Illegal, Unprofessional

We’ve used Airbnb for years, both as hosts and as travellers across four continents. While we have loved many wonderful hosts and delighted in hosting guests, we have stopped using Airbnb in favour of booking.com due to Airbnb’s unethical management. You need to be aware that by using Airbnb you’re supporting a company that:

1. Has an arbitrary review process. We wrote a review of a nightmare host who had positive feedback. Our review didn’t appear, so we had to manually check for it. We had to contact Airbnb to ask why. They said that they ‘should’ have emailed us, and when it turned out they failed to, they investigated why our review wasn’t published. It turned out the host had objected; Airbnb had published her review about us, but not ours due to a technicality (we pasted a text message our host had sent us). We were happy to revise our review by simply removing the pasted phrase. Airbnb wouldn’t allow this. I don’t know of any serious site that conducts such a one-sided arbitrary (and faulty) review process. This was most likely the reason this nightmare host’s feedback didn’t feature anything negative – she uses Airbnb’s arbitrary feedback process to block reviews. So, you can’t trust reviews on Airbnb.

2. Sees nothing wrong with renting out properties that have been stolen. Yes, you read that right: stolen. Check out the campaign on SumOfUs and other sites. Airbnb will rent you property that by international UN law has been stolen in Palestine. Many have written or handed in petitions (over 150k signatories to date) and used other methods to get Airbnb to cease their unethical and illegal practice, all to no avail.

Host Slanders us on Airbnb Reviews

One stop over in Mirimar Beach in a two-bedroom loft condo – an excellent place until bed time! We got into the bed and it sagged beyond belief. We lifted the sheets back to see what problem was and took off the mattress protector to find one of the biggest stains we have ever seen on a bed; even the sides of the bed were heavily stained. The sleeper sofa was broken so each of us had to sleep on a sofa; as a result, we hardly got any sleep. Because we had to check out and get on the road it was not possible to contact Airbnb, but we did message the host about how we left the place… he expected us to have his towels cleaned and dried before the 10:00 AM check out time and would charge us $25 for each towel damaged! He didn’t reply, so we left the towels in the dryer so they would at least be dry.

When we got to our next destination, I wrote my review and was very honest about how great the condo had been presented but there was an issue with the bed and screen door; there were no nasty details on the public review. I then sent the host a message saying maybe he needed to get that mattress replaced ASAP. Nothing happened, so we decided to get in touch with Airbnb about wanting some compensation for a couple of bad nights. The other bed was amazing so this wasn’t being greedy. They said they’d look into it.

We woke up the next day to see this mug of a host slander us in the review – red flag to a bull – and got straight onto Airbnb with a live chat and demanded full payment back AND to get his comment removed he sent photos of the stains to prove they were NOT fresh stains! Because it was past the 24-hour mark, we only got a partial refund as we should have contacted someone – a bit difficult at 1:00 AM – and then gone out of range to talk for a day. But they did their best. Although his comment is still on my profile I have since replied to it. Stay the hell away from this nasty piece of trash he is in it for the money and to get more from us through his comments! This guy lives in Arizona and this place is on the coast down in Florida. Please stay away from this host or you are going to get ripped off!

Mispresentation at teh Airbnb.com

In September 2013 I booked a nicely looking place in Moscow.
When I arrived there I started receiving my bad experience with Airbnb host.
The floors were dirty,the linen have never been ironed, host was not friendly at all.
I left my negative review of my stay there on the website, then in 7 days I checked in to watch my review and found, that it was removed by the Airbnb.