Mismatched Expectations Between Hosts and Guests

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“In my experience communication with the host tends to be limited”

What do other hosts think about this? Would you allow someone into your house who doesn’t communicate? Even Airbnb encourages hosts to prepare a set of questions for guests, asking about their arrival time, reason for visiting, number of guests, luggage, house rules, etc. I literally copied and pasted the questions from Airbnb, but the guest used it against me, leaving one star for communication.

I moved to the freshly renovated luxury apartment a month before the guest’s arrival and asked him to take care of it like his own home. I mentioned I had a guest who painted her hair black in my brand new white bathroom – leaving black stains – and told the guest I’m not into drama which means if he doesn’t feel comfortable with my cleanliness he’s free to book other accommodations. I spend too much money on this apartment and couldn’t afford further damages in my first month. I’d rather him cancel and be open about it. I was sure I was  polite and professional with my communication; therefore I didn’t understand the guest’s aggression towards me and it really upset me.

“Upon arrival in the city, I reached out to the host to arrange a meet (something I’ve never had to do with any other host)”

Let me specify ‘the meet’ in the apartment. The correct word would be: meet and greet. What do you think, hosts? Is it bad thing to meet your guest in person? Even Airbnb commercials shows the meeting of the host and guest. Again, I didn’t understand what was my mistake.

“She provided me with a different address to the apartment”

My building has two entrances: the north and south side. You are allowed to put only one address on the listing. Therefore I always ask guests which side they’re coming from to give them a better address. I even send the map to the Airbnb team showing it was the same place. This was ignored.

“I think she could tell by my facial expression, I knew something was not accurate.”

Well, what a politically correct way to cover the fact he looked at me with disgust, assuming I’m Russian upon first meeting face to face. I felt horrible and very uncomfortable, but couldn’t name the feeling. I was thinking the guest thought I was from a third-world country and he was concern about the cleanliness. I reassured him everything was clean and showed multiple cleaning products and detergents. I encouraged him to feel free to use them during his stay whenever he wants.

He attacked me again, saying I asked him to clean. The apartment was sparkling clean; I put a lot of effort and heart in my new home. I’d never expect someone would want to clean it. Therefore I admit I left only one (thick) roll of paper towels alongside several different types of clothes, but I didn’t expect a guest would want to clean the entire apartment. I felt like he wanted to clean after me… clean out my presence. If he had asked about paper towels I’d simply have bought them, but he didn’t.

Finally, he complained about the “sparsely” furnished apartment. Before I moved in, I checked approximately 30 luxury apartments with a real estate agent. I took pictures of furnished model apartments, and I was collecting catalogs with recent home decor trends. My style would have been named ‘urban minimalistic’ by an agent, but not the guest, who used it as another occasion to attack me – suggesting I’m poor minded, maybe even retarded (as he mentioned in further conversation due to my origins) and couldn’t afford furniture. Obviously he didn’t expect I would know any trends; he prejudged me and my place. It was a disgusting experience, but that was just the beginning.

No Review is Safe from Removal on Airbnb

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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.

Airbnb Guest Reviews are Unfair to Hosts

I joined Airbnb in August of 2016 as a host. I live in a house where I rent out one guest room. All other rooms are shared, including the one bathroom. It is a small house just over 1000 square feet. Just so you know, I joined out of desperation, since I was unemployed and worried I would not be able to pay my bills. I have currently unlisted my space as I am gainfully employed and in part due to the following.

Airbnb Customer Service: I find it very disconcerting that I must go to an entirely different website (outside the Airbnb site) to find a phone number, email and physical address to contact you. When I attempt to use the Airbnb internal contact form, I get directed to the FAQ. This is extremely poor customer service and very frustrating.

Their policies of not allowing a host to view a guest review until 14 days pass or until I post a review of the guest are objectionable. For the guest I had, I would not have reviewed her so neutrally had I known how derogatory hers would be of me. I find it is their policy that I cannot change my review nor can I change a response to her review or add to it.

This guest arrived three hours before the check-in time. I wouldn’t have been concerned except for the events that would follow. She should have been charged an extra day. Since she was a multi-month guest, she was only charged the first month up front. Her second and third payments were late, which Airbnb was aware of and should automatically put up a review that she had a lack of funds to pay when the money was due twice.

It is extremely important to hosts that they get paid on-time. She never communicated to me that she would be able to pay albeit late, yet remained in the house and waited for me to ask. She did eventually pay, but payments two and three were late. However, had she not paid, they claim no liability and I would have been forced to litigate to get her out of my house.

In general, this guest was a very poor communicator. She was very upset that the commute to the hospital where she would be working would be over thirty minutes’ drive. However, before booking, she had never asked how long it took to drive there. I would’ve known and I would’ve told her.

I overheard her – when she thought I was not able to hear her – tell someone over the phone that I only provided small sample shampoos. I do not list that as an amenity on my listing. The sample shampoos are just a courtesy in case someone forgets and until they can get to a store.

She also complained that I was getting up before she left for work when I clearly told her the time I had to get up for my job (substitute teaching in the beginning) the day she arrived. When queried about when she’d be working, she was vague and I had to deduce from observations later. She also complained there was no ceiling fan in the room she occupied while many of the other rooms had ceiling fan. However, I had bought a new fan for her to use as the ones I had were dirty and I was unable to get apart to clean.

She never communicated any of these issues directly to me. Every morning she worked, and she cooked bacon. As I have stated, I have a small house. I also have asthma. The smell I had to get up to was overwhelming, many times causing a coughing attack. I had to spend 15-20 minutes every morning (before I needed to prepare and leave for work, mind you) spraying a neutralizing air spray, wiping up grease and cleaning out the drain in the kitchen (she would remove the strainer and leave bits of egg and other food in the drain, potentially clogging my drain).

As she was getting ready for one and a half hours, she would pass my bedroom door over and over as she had refused to use any of the storage in the kitchen or bathroom that I had provided. She was rather heavy footed and made a lot of noise. She had on several occasions left a big glob of hair in the tub. Once she must have been dying her hair and left two black marks on my fabric shower curtain. These did not wash out.

In her review, she claims she did not know I had a dog. My house rules clearly state that I do have a dog in two places. In addition, one reviewer mentioned my friendly dogs (one has since passed). In her review, this guest complained that my dog begged every time she ate. She never once communicated this to me. I kept my dog in my bedroom when she was eating breakfast and getting ready for work because I noticed one morning that she was bothered by the dog. I certainly would have curbed my dog more had she communicated to me that she was bothered.

She dinged me badly with one star for “misrepresenting my listing” because she claims she did not know I had dog until she arrived. She clearly could not have read the house rules before she booked. Airbnb needs to ensure that guesst read the house rules before they book. Additionally, in her review, she complained I only had one TV. Had she reviewed the photos, she would have seen that there was no TV in the guest bedroom and no others in the house except the living room.

She added that if she didn’t want to watch what I was watching, she would have to find something else to do. This is an extremely skewed view; I likely only used the TV 6-7% of the time she was there. When I was done watching I would hand her the remote and ask if she wanted to watch anything else. I also remember occasions I watched on my laptop and once on my phone so she could have the TV. She, however, had the TV on nearly every waking minute she was there. If she didn’t have to work that day, she would wake up and turn on the TV.

It would be on all day until she went to bed with few exceptions. She would come from work and immediately turn on the TV. I also observed she would have on a movie that she had just watched a couple weeks before. She also would have her tablet on her lap during the time she watched, leading me to question: how much did she really need the TV?

In her review, she claimed my house was infested with spiders. I can only conclude that she is an arachnophobe and seeing one or two spiders sends her into a panic. I witnessed her cutting up citrus to place around the room to repel spiders. She claims to have read this on the internet. Again, she did not communicate her concerns or whether it was okay to do what she was doing (it was not) and took it upon herself to address the situation. After she left, there were some dried up citrus pieces some of which were stuck on the rug, leaving a sticky mess for me to clean.

Almost a month after she has left, and I am still finding pieces of dried up citrus. The definition of infestation is enough of an insect, animal, etc., to cause damage or disease. There is no way that my house has been damaged by a few spiders and it is not unhealthy either. Her review makes my home sound like it is from the Munster’s or Adams Family TV shows or a scene from a Harry Potter movie, all far from the truth.

This is another area she dinged me badly, by giving me one star for cleanliness. My house is far from a one star for cleanliness as one can see from other reviews. When speaking to a friend about her review, she said, “I’ve never seen a spider in your house and I’ve been here a lot.” My friend also remarked that she was passive aggressive. There was another minor annoyance with her: she left drawers open an inch, and did not push her chair in.

Airbnb making amends: I would ask that her review be taken down. I clearly think that they should remove the one star for “misrepresenting my listing” when I have always been upfront about having a dog. Barring that, I would like to edit or add an addendum to my review from this guest or I would like to be allowed to add an addendum to the response to her review.

Airbnb should indicate that she is probably okay to inhabit a place on her own, but she is not a good housemate, even temporarily. She should never be allowed into a place with an animal. Most importantly, a potential host should be warned it may be difficult to collect payment from her.

Suggestion: when a host is residing on the property, Airbnb should have an escape clause: if the guests and hosts are a mismatch for whatever reasons, allow either party to cancel and part company without any retribution.

This is the Problem Airbnb Hosts have with Guests

I’m putting this in guest stories so that guests actually read it. I have been a guest many places, and I’ve been a host for almost two years. I have been reading a lot of the guest “horror stories” and with very few exceptions, I think it all boils down to one thing that is not being understood. Airbnbs and short term rentals are not hotels. Say it with me now. It seems like most of the problems stem from guests expecting their stays to be just like a hotel stay without understanding why the two are so different.

Hotels have staff and employees. They have maintenance crews. A lightbulb goes out and they have a closet full of spare ones. Sheets and towels get stained… no problem, that is built into the nightly rate and we just replace them. All rooms are relatively the same, and if anything in those rooms ends up being a problem, is inefficient to clean or to use, they are replaced in every room. The cleaning strategy has a chance to be developed to where not a speck of dirt is seen, every time. Your basement at home is probably actually “cleaner” (I used to clean hotel rooms – who here likes their glasses washed out with windex because that’s how it’s done).

Anyway, I digress. Your Airbnb host is probably making a tiny profit if any at all, has a life and obligations outside of running the place you’re staying, wants guests to be happy with their stay and wants good reviews, has to deal with enormous amounts of BS to serve you, and probably is already killing themselves trying to make the place as nice as they can for you within reason.

An Airbnb stay should be like staying at a friend or relative’s house. Would you notice one speck of dirt in the corner or a stain on a mattress under the mattress pad and declare her house to be “unfit?” Would you go to your grandma’s and storm off in the middle of the night because there were a couple of ants in the kitchen or a cobweb in the corner? We simply can’t keep normal, functional homes the same way a hotel can keep their properties. You need to be a little bit flexible and a lot less OCD. I think the majority of people who complain are just people who are not comfortable staying in another person’s home. Which is fine – just don’t use Airbnb.

If I think back to all the places I’ve stayed, I can probably pick out something majorly wrong with each ones of them: crumbling tubs in New Orleans and questionable bedding, leaky faucets, an overly friendly raccoon on a private property in Miami, cockroaches in our gorgeous eco-villa in Tulum, hairs in drains, water that was too hot or too cold, hard beds… it goes on and on. Did any of this stuff actually bother us or make us have a bad time? Hell no! You notice it, accept it, then move on. You are on vacation, and you chose an Airbnb. Suck it up. Focus on the good stuff.

If you want to be super picky and miserable please stay at a hotel, hopefully one with a 24-hour concierge you can ask all your high-maintenance questions about how to use a remote for the ceiling fan at 2:00 AM (true story – I was like “um, press the buttons?”). Otherwise you are ruining this whole thing for everyone. Seriously, please stop it.

Your reviews aren’t helpful; they’re not innocent little tips for future guests. They actually make our scores go down and make Airbnb threaten to remove our listings over very minor things. They start promoting our listings less often, and therefore we end up losing business and therefore losing money and actually decreasing our chances of being able to afford to be up to your hotel standards. Please just tell us directly if there is a problem or if you have a suggestion. Thank you.

Boycotting Airbnb Until They Stop Advertising Falsely

I recently experienced a truly unpleasant encounter with Airbnb that has left me and my partner totally guttered and disappointed at the way Airbnb management has handled our complaint. They have given me no other alternative than to take to social media on all platforms to make others aware of a system that puts profits before honesty and integrity.

We booked a stay on Airbnb for two nights and informed the host two days prior that there were two of us staying and the approximate time of arrival. On arrival, the host was unable to meet us but had another person check us in. The room was not as listed and so I insisted that I speak with the host; he said that I could find another place if I wasn’t happy with the room booked but he wouldn’t refund our money.

I took photos (attached) and forwarded them to Airbnb. At the time they gave us a 50% refund which was satisfactory as we were not in a position to argue the difference, let alone try to find another place at the last minute. Airbnb also informed me that the host was in breach of Airbnb policies and would address the matter directly with him.

During our stay, the linen we believe to have been from an “Op Shop” had a musky smell and the Doona for a child’s single bed with teddy bears on it for a listed king-size bed was in fact for a queen-size bed. The listing stated there was a bathroom (not listed as shared nor did Airbnb state that within the house that all the other rooms were rented out as well) and at our time of stay we had to share the bathroom with six people; the house can accommodate up to nine people at any one time with only one bathroom.

The other issue with the listing was that most of the door handles had one screw holding in the handle which could result in the handle falling off into either the bedroom or bathroom, leaving a person locked inside as the host doesn’t live at the house. On my return some three weeks later I checked to see if the listing was still listed as we saw it; to my surprise, it was.

I messaged Airbnb about the situation and instead of addressing my concerns, they removed my comments that I left on the host’s page that provided an honest description of our stay. Second to that, the host at the same time left a message about us, trying to swing the situation around. I decided to ring Airbnb, which went to an offshore call center. I explained my experience with the stay and how I was extremely disappointed with the fact the host was still listing the property exactly the same as when we booked and stayed. I told Airbnb that it appears profit has been put forward over integrity and requested a full refund for my stay, including having the host’s untrue comments erased.

I mentioned all of the above to an Airbnb senior case manager who informed me via message that the case was closed and no further actions will occur. As a loyal customer for the past several years with multiple listings worldwide, I have now decided to boycott Airbnb until they can address my concerns in a professional manner, including making the changes that I believe are truly overdue with falsely advertising listings so that the customer is aware of all the facts prior to committing to a booking. Airbnb gave me no alternative than to take my concerns to social media on all levels. This was conveyed to Airbnb prior to this post with little to no concern as profit appears to be the governing factor at play rather than addressing genuine complaints.

As Both a Host and Guest, I’m Through with Airbnb

I own an inn and thought it would be a good idea to get more exposure through Airbnb. I had to cancel a reservation made by one guy who booked then complained that he could not add a fifth person, because I said only four were allowed. I referred him elsewhere and he was happy with that. However, Airbnb gave me a warning with a negative star, with no reason or explanation how to correct it.

Recently I had a new guest cancel her reservation because she booked the wrong city. I wanted to refund her the full amount but was unable to do so and I could not find any help with customer service to assist with a refund. I finally got her address and am sending her a check. Airbnb’s rules for hosts and warnings are unforgiving and the lack of support is hellish. I wasted hours trying to figure out how to issue a refund. I decided to get out while I still can; I don’t need them.

I had another horrible experience booking a place for my family. It was done well in advance and then the host contacted me over the phone to say it was double booked two weeks before our arrival to Costa Rica. He tried to get us into another property and when I told him I was not comfortable with that – as I didn’t see any pictures and wanted a refund – he berated me and hung up on me. He cancelled my reservation so I was unable to post a complaint. Luckily the other place we booked was able to accommodate us for the days I had intended to stay at this other location. From a host and guest perspective, the lack of customer support and oversight are not worth my business.

Airbnb Paid for Pest Control but not a Refund

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We stayed in a Toronto loft recently where Airbnb took the side of the host. The host was contacting us outside of Airbnb which is against policy. That wasn’t a problem until we had issues with the place. There were mice and roaches. Pest control had to come out and kill the mice – which we weren’t happy with as were animal lovers – but we shouldn’t have paid over $2000 to stay in a mice-infested room anyway.

I couldn’t believe when I complained to Airbnb they had the audacity to say she was a good host, take her side, and even paid for the pest control. They promised me compensation for my bad stay but closed the case as soon as I checked out and didn’t send me any money. They even made it impossible for me to leave a review for this host, meaning loads of guests who are none the wiser will be checking into this hell as Airbnb stops anyone leaving them a bad review.

It is absolutely crazy how much they sided with them, as if they have some sort of secret deal with the company. They even suggested I move out the apartment before they gave me any money back. Bear in mind I was in a foreign country with no other money or home to go to. The guy who lived downstairs even had the code to our room and would let himself into our “private loft” when we were sleeping or out of the house. Airbnb later just ignored any message I sent regarding this case and closed it without anything else said.

Airbnb Customer Service Dismisses Concerns and Hangs Up

I recently cancelled on a guest whose reviews were atrocious, and after being told I’d be penalized $100 dollars anyway, despite making clear that the guest made me uncomfortable, I called Airbnb’s (hard to find) customer service number. I was connected with a woman who told me she would make a one-time allowance (that’s not how Airbnb cancellations work), and then proceeded to argue that the guest’s reviews aren’t that bad. I went through each review, explaining that they were among the worst reviews of a guest I’d ever seen, at which point the agent cut me off to proselytize on the injustice of Airbnb guest reviews.

Reviews are “an attack” on a person’s character, she argued, and as such are unfair. She then argued that reviews are not legitimate information for a host to take into account when assessing a coming guest. When I asked her to stop interrupting me so that I could finish my thought – for interruption was the way through which she made those remarks – and then heard the sound of her phone hanging up. On the bright side, I called back to file a complaint and was connected to a very nice, very knowledgeable guy who helped me with my original issue, and is now helping me to figure out the name of first agent.

Inaccessible, Leaky House in Bali Makes for a Bad Stay

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We booked a house in Bali this February 2018 for 25 days. Overall the reviews were good – 4 1/2 stars – so we trusted in them. However, as we arrived we saw that the whole house was a rundown disaster. The most it was capable of was for private use, but not in any condition to rent out as a holiday home at all.

We are pretty sure the house was built on a cliff without any permission. During rainy season the part of the cliff where the house was built on was eaten away by big rock and mudslides due to the fact that the water was running down to the sea nearly every day… that was scary. The only access to the house was over steps, but not normal steps; you had to climb around ten minutes down the cliff, over broken, irregular, slippery, tumble-down steps.

When it was dark, of course there was no light on the property. To give it a little bit more of a kick, there were cables everywhere and water pipes running over the steps; we had to clamber over them. The whole stair system wasn’t maintained at all; we all slipped away, because it was so mossy and slippery like ice. My son and I were injured on our arms and legs and we’re not too stupid to walk up steps. As we were travelling with our child, it was impossible to walk up them everyday during those 25 days. In the Airbnb listing the host didn’t even mention one word about the steps or difficult access to the house and she knew that we were travelling with our child.

The house and the whole area were so rotten and covered with trash and mud that there were rats climbing into the main room and over the roof of the bedrooms. In one bedroom, there was a lot of water damage; there was always water running down the wall over the ceiling when it was raining… and we stayed during rainy season. It was extremely humid, stinky and moldy. There was no way to use this room.

We already had the electricity break down on the first night, but we couldn’t find the fuse box. The next day the housemaid came, because we informed her an electrician had to come. He just “fixed” it superficially, but at least we knew about the fuse box. We were shocked to see an open box with just three simple fuses for the whole house, open wired cables, no FI switch, everything outside behind the house just a few centimetres away from the thatched roof. In front of the box was construction waste and big glass shards, so it was hard to get there and not get injured. The whole situation was unacceptable and really dangerous.

Not even this was not enough. The host placed two night table lamps next to the bed in the main room. One lamp had parts of a broken cable with open wires; she just fixed it with paper tape. The other lamp she extended not with a proper extension cord, just by cutting the plug from two cables and connecting them very amateurishly. This was one reason for the regular electricity blackouts until the whole makeshift wiring started to burn down under our bed. I could make the list longer and longer.

Just to be clear – the host wasn’t Indonesian. We met extra friendly and reliable Indonesian people whilst travelling over seven weeks in Bali. All the other accommodations we had stayed in were above average, the same price level with a super fair price-performance ratio. The host from the horror house came from Europe. She was travelling the world and wrote that she studied economics; she should have known better. For sure everything she did was on purpose and her whole behaviour was negligent.

We were really in shock about the whole situation and we tried hard to find new accommodations near us for a long term stay. We moved out on day 3 of 25. We tried to find a solution first with the host, then “together” with Airbnb; that’s what made the situation even more absurd. We wrote a safety warning addressed to Airbnb about this location, but they seemed fine with everything.

Airbnb’s “mediation center” decided that everything was perfect in the house and there was no refund at all for us – we paid over €2000. No apology or regret from the host, just lies and rudeness. We filmed and photographed the whole circumstance, so we could prove it all. We gave all the information to Airbnb, as we were told. We talked on the phone to our “case manager”, someone who seemed mostly trained to deny, and not provide customer service or problem solving.

The host lied to Airbnb by saying that the photos and videos weren’t from her house, but if you compare them, it’s easy for anyone to see that they are. The case manager just didn’t care. Obviously it worked better for her denying policy to just not see the issues? Just be careful with Airbnb claims – you have just 24 hours to file a report with Airbnb. After that you are out, no matter what is up. This time is set not to make it customer friendly – it is set up to exclude an enormous number of claims.

Our realistic, but not good review just came up on the page, when we pressed Airbnb. It even came up late. Normally it has to be posted within 14 days and we wrote it on the first day of the automatic invitation to review. Did you know that every guest has to write a review first and then the host has to review it before his review will be published? When he does nothing and he is clever enough, he can censor the review or even prevent it from being posted.

Of course the host gave a bad review for us on Airbnb with lots of lies and incivilities, even though we left her house with respect, no damages, no mess, and no dust or trash behind us. After all of that, we still got a bad review. This review system in our opinion is not a realistic or democratic process. We don’t trust it at all anymore, and we don’t trust Airbnb.

They just want to get bigger and bigger. It is not about hosting anymore, it is just about making money and winning market shares. They don’t care about a single customer, they take it all from us, and if they skip one they take from the next. They don’t care about the neighbourhoods or the cities they are destroying, they don’t care about the originally nice idea of hosting, and they don’t care about culture. They are just pretending. They are abusing everything to get more. They are a hypercapitalist ulcer that pretends to bring the people together, but they really don’t care… we are not conspiracy theorists.

The house is still online. Airbnb is doing nothing, so be careful with booking with them, something I would never do again, even when there are lots of nice hosts. I’m sure I will find real hospitality somewhere else. We booked Airbnb five times. We had two really bad experiences: the first we tried to take with humor and did not complain, but the second one was enough. We put Airbnb on the case, and that’s what made the whole situation even more obvious that this would be our last time.