Deceptive Airbnb Listing and Shady Host Practices

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I stayed at an Airbnb hosted by a Superhost. She had all five-star ratings (I later found out why) and was very responsive by text. The location was excellent: in Arlington, VA very close to Washington DC.

The apartment was large, as advertised, but that was the only true thing. The ad listed “central AC.” There was a large ceiling unit in the living room. It had two settings: off or frigid. The furniture was Walmart quality and on its last legs. The “fully stocked” kitchen was a joke. I had to buy several things in order to make anything more complicated than toast. The bathroom was tiny and there was no fan.

The real issue was that on our last night there we talked to another tenant who told us that there was mold in the building’s pipes and that you have to sign a waiver to rent there. We felt this should have been disclosed. Apparently the water is not safe to drink. When I posted an honest review, giving 3.5 generous stars with a pro/con list that was very kind, the host lost it and convinced Airbnb to take it down. Apparently, if the host removes their review the guest’s is removed as well and there is no recourse.

In addition, we realized we had left my husbands medication behind and asked to pay shipping for it to be returned. We were told she would only return it for an additional $150. I will never use Airbnb again, since you cannot trust any review posted.

Airbnb Superhost Extorted Me for a Good Review.

I encountered a very calculating and dishonest host. She will go to great lengths to make sure your negative review never sees the light of day.

I left my stay early due to the pool being frigid and unheated. I mistakenly assumed since the pool was the front featured amenity, it would be heated. I fully accept that mistake. In my previous experiences with pools, hosts have specified if the pool wasn’t heated and would offer to do so with an extra charge. When I asked the host about the pool, however, she launched into a rant about how it was too expensive to heat her pool, offered no solution, and if I wanted to swim I should go to the civic center or the Marriott.

Once she learned that my husband and I checked into a nearby hotel and left early, she acted contrite and said she would like to offer a “small refund.” I told her that would be appreciated. Next, she told me that her reviews were “very important to her,” and that she would send the refund after we both completed our respective reviews. Believing she was in good faith trying to rectify the situation, I gladly accepted.

As it turned out, her plan was to trick me into giving a positive review and once they were completed, she abandoned the refund. Reviews are permanent and cannot be revised. Therefore, I had to contact Airbnb to have my review removed and report the issue. If you take a minute to scroll through and find the few people who gave her a bad review, you’ll see that she responds in a rage, seemingly losing her ability to proofread and use correct grammar.

My only intention with this response was to make people aware of the kind of person they’ll be dealing with, because I’m sure she has done the same thing to others in the past and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again in the future. I have repeatedly tried to rectify this with Airbnb and get my real review shown and they won’t listen. They also state that there isn’t enough evidence, when it is all clearly in the Airbnb messaging system if they cared enough to read it.

Airbnb Guest Review Lies that Damage Hosts’ Reputation

Recently we had a very strong summer of bookings at our coastal house. All of our reviews were very positive — even those who had minor issues provided positive feedback — until the last booking. The guest stated our property was not worth the price and that we charged $100 a night higher than what she paid. She also suggested we didn’t provide wifi which we are very transparent about in our listing, given it is a remote coastal property.

In trying to address this with Airbnb, where we believe a guest has breached their review guidelines, they simply dismissed our concerns of a review that presented misleading and incorrect information that damages our ability to book the house. I can only assume that a guest can make up whatever lies they want with no accountability from their position. I have requested my concern be escalated beyond the community helpers or whoever actually works for Airbnb and sent higher where it will be considered beyond the sugarcoated script quoting inaction that accompanies Airbnb’s generally response. If anyone here has had any success in having a review taken down which was just blatant lies, please let me know how.

Airbnb Review Rejected After Negative Experience

I found out the hard way that Airbnb does not post negative reviews. I had a horrible experience in Almaden California where my coworker and I had an Airbnb for two weeks.

The place had roaches. There were noisy construction workers that got up at 4:00 AM and tromped on wooden floors waking us every morning. There were disgusting cigarette butts, construction materials and litter outside the unit – all these items were not reflected in the photos.

The host was also hostile. Not only did she not respond to problems but she refused to do anything about them or even communicate. It was a horrible experience and when I posted the information it never appeared on Airbnb. This is fraud and highly unfair to potential guests.

Write Honest Reviews for your Airbnb Stays

I’ve stayed in four Airbnb properties over three years. One was very good, two were okay, and one was awful. The awful one underlined why everyone needs to be so careful with Airbnb.

One part of the awful stay included when the host embarked on a two-hour daily tickle game with his young son right on the other side of my room door. There were no curtains in my room, with the neighbor’s lights shining directly into my face all night long. There was one bathroom for eight people, a washing machine regularly operating right outside my window, a barking dog upstairs, family feuds on the other side of all walls round the clock, and hosts that stayed in with the TV blaring from 7:00 AM. I came away with insomnia and was so happy to return back home.

I simply would not pay above a certain amount for a place that I’ve never seen (and in an area I’ve never visited before), for which I cannot cancel once I’ve booked, and for which I need to make a large leap of faith having tried to read between all the lines of previous guest reviews. Airbnb relies heavily on trust, and as we all know, not everyone – both guests and hosts – can be trusted. You would be really foolish to part with more than a thousand dollars for an Airbnb stay.

I’m not defending Airbnb, but people have to be realistic about what they get, and if a place doesn’t have, for example, an electric kettle but an old-style stove kettle, I don’t think this really warrants a complaint. However, when what they get is dangerous and/or harmful to their health, then there is real cause for complaint.

As a female, I’m careful not to book with male-only hosts and to research the street crime around the apartment area, but some people seem to forget that your host/guest could be just about anyone. You should never let your guard down.

I definitely do think Airbnb should do a lot more to ensure greater safety of both their hosts and guests, and they certainly need a more thorough and better host profile and review system. There also needs to be more regulation around short-term rental markets to protect guests, hosts, and the surrounding community. The all-round system could be so much better than it currently is, and it’s a pity Airbnb seems to do everything to avoid leading the way on this.

The fact that Airbnb also seems to remove some negative reviews is also disturbing and effectively false advertising. I was so careful to scrutinize all the reviews for the bad place that I stayed at. Not one review mentioned that there were children in the house or that the place was beyond noisy 24/7 or that the neighbors’ lights were so bright at night, making it impossible to sleep. I simply cannot believe that no one else other than me had a problem unless other guests simply did not want to point out the negatives for fear of damaging the host’s income stream or receiving a poor review from the host.

I urge all guests who have stayed at an Airbnb to write a review and to be honest about anything that wasn’t good. If I had seen just one review saying there were young children in the same house, I would not have booked that property.

Sick of Airbnb Deleting Negative Reviews

Airbnb is so afraid of losing revenue that it is, as others have noted, deleting negative reviews. I stayed in an Airbnb in Atlanta that operated more as a rooming house and had a refrigerator full of old food that smelled so bad I would run in the kitchen to microwave coffee and then run back out.

In my review, I talked about the neighborhood (fine), the room (also fine), the other guests (fine), and the gross smell emanating from the kitchen (not fine). Then I learned that Airbnb took down the review because it didn’t meet their “Content Guidelines”.

Does it get any more absurd than that? The reason I had this awful experience is because Airbnb is censoring reviews that might have alerted me to the situation. They don’t care if you walk into filth. They just want to keep their numbers up. I’m really getting sick of dealing with this company.

Beware Hosting on Airbnb: One Negative Review

To potential Airbnb hosts: beware of Airbnb. I’ve had it. The rating system is a complete joke. I’ve had a number of great reviews from people that love my two units, but I just had someone give me a one-star review because the dishwasher wasn’t working (took one minute to unclog) and a light bulb in the hall was out.

Clearly the man was in distress as he was visiting Philly to get his wife medical treatment, and he said he had never stayed at an Airbnb before. When he was clearly unhappy, I offered him a full refund, including cleaning fees. He took the refund and blasted my apartment, lying through his teeth about the apartment, and the neighborhood, stuff that is just total nonsense, and easily disproved.

This cost me almost $400 for the stay, but then my listing was put on hold for five days because it dropped below 4.2 stars. In his review, this guy said the “neighborhood is dirty”, which honestly, I’m not even sure what that means. The property is exactly one mile from UPenn on a main drag, in University City in West Philly. If he wanted an apartment in Center City, he would have paid double what I charge for mine.

Anyway, I contacted Airbnb to see if they would consider removing the review, knowing that the robots that work for them would stick to the script. Honestly, somebody should tell the management that the people who answer the phone are not helpful at all, ever. I really think they are automatons. They follow a formula/script whenever you call in, taking calls from a call center somewhere outside of the US, and they never stray from the set procedures for their precious review system.

If someone doesn’t post something universally offensive, no matter how preposterous, they will not change a guest review. Airbnb pretty much always sides with the guest. It’s a very lopsided review system. Again, this guy had never stayed at an Airbnb before. He may never again. I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into this property and have given Airbnb so much, and they don’t care about me.

Well, I’ve had it. I’m going to try out the competition, and I hear good things about them. I could bring so many more properties online with this company, but will I? Airbnb now offers me $700 now to refer hosts, but they don’t seem to value me as a host.

Tricks and Traps When Using Airbnb Platform

Strict cancellation terms: if you book two months before, but cancel one month before, you will be reimbursed only 50%, even in low season. This is the choice from a “host” who, since my cancellation, has earned three nights without having hosted anyone and maybe accepting other guests.

I kindly requested a partial reimbursement from the host, attaching medical certificates of treatment, but he did not deign to answer. If he had done so I would have immediately asked Airbnb to intervene, because there are only 14 days to make a complaint. The host certainly knew, was silent, and waited.

Airbnb tries to convince you to buy their service of “free cancellation within 48 hours” but this is effective from the time of payment, not 48 hours before staying (which would obviously be disadvantageous for hosts). It can be misinterpreted.

If you look hard you will find the number of guests who have used the house, and much more in evidence like the number of positive reviews. Subtract the positives from the total number of guests and you will have a more realistic idea of ​​the appreciation of the place. It is not transparent because negative comments are censored.

I had booked two weeks in two different houses, then canceled the second due to the need to use a vacation for medical treatment. With the remaining house, however, it did not go well: we arrived on a rainy day and there was a strong smell of dampness. The radiators were never turned on and there were no instructions, so time was lost to avoid getting cold at night.

Everything was clean except for the shower (of which there were no detailed photos in the listing) and some details in the kitchen. The indecent thing is that two days after the check-in the host told me that due to the risk of clogging the drain, I had to throw used toilet paper in the basket.

I left, he repaid me, but in any case he kept 40€ of “cleaning fees” over the two nights. In general it is better not to risk ruining your holiday. Choose a hotel directly or take a vacation in a tent or campground if you want to save money.

Ghost Airbnb Hosts and Gaming the System

I first used Airbnb in 2014 and have used it 15-20 times since with good results most times. As a journalist, I even wrote a favorable article on the subject. However, in last three years I have noticed five troubling trends.

One: ghost hosts. The person or couple pictured is allowing use of their photo and bio by a third party. On a trip to Florida, a young woman was ghosting for her elderly grandparents who spoke broken English and did not know how to host. In Tennessee, a woman switched her listings to hide bad reviews. Also in Tennessee, a young couple with young children fronted for several properties in an apartment building and resented being contacted by phone for instructions to get into the place.

Two: Fake reviews. In Montana, a host buried a bad review that carefully and credibly listed problems under several one sentence reviews that looked fake. Tip-off in Tennessee: overuse of the word “amazing” in reviews of the host. The Airbnb rating scale is badly designed. “Met expectations”, for example, could be very good, but is only three stars.

Three: Increasingly impersonal. The founding principle was person to person. Now that is rare. Four: Customer service is awful. Impersonal, manufactured, and ignores constructive thoughtful critics. Five: Pricing is deceptive. Cleaning fees of $50 to $75 or more added to a list price of, say, $48, which can change as suddenly as airline ticket fares.

Cancelled our booking within 24 hours of check in

We booked an Airbnb months ago in NYC, very close to where my husband was to be a groomsman in a wedding. With less than 24 hours to check-in, we received a cancellation notice without any explanation from the host. After a frantic, stressful search, we found another property on HomeAway (a competitor). When we called Airbnb, they basically shrugged their shoulders, gave us a refund, offered us a $60 credit if we booked within the next month… and deleted all of our communication with the host.

What is that about? We wanted to write a negative review of the host to keep people away from them, but Airbnb would not allow us to. It makes me wonder if this is common practice by Airbnb in order to limit the number of negative reviews to keep people using the site. We won’t use them again.