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.

Up in Flames – Airbnb from Hell over New Year’s

Last year’s New Years was the first and last time I ever used Airbnb. Every time someone says they use it, I pray to the almighty Airbnb gods that they make it out alive and in one piece.

Last year, I researched a place to stay in Chicago for New Years for a good couple hours. My budget was low, and I wanted somewhere close to the venue I was gonna be partying at that night. Airbnb was the cheapest and most convenient option I could find. I found a cute little place in Ukranian Village pretty close to the venue, and the host had pretty good reviews. The only bad reviews complained about how the place was kinda dirty and rundown. If that was the only thing people complained about, it had to be safe, right? Wrong.

I can handle a little dirt so I booked a night for ~$30. When I got there to check in, the host seemed like a decent guy. He made me food and showed me around. The place was beat up and he hadn’t shown some of the more rough areas of the place to me, but it was livable for a night.

What I should have done was run away screaming and never look back when I got to my room and found a broken window by the alleyway and stab marks on the walls. I wish I was exaggerating. I also wish I had had the frame of mind to take pictures. Some of the marks were small enough and at the right height that they could have been from nailing something into the wall and having the nail dragged down from the weight of a frame or something, but not all of them.

My stomach dropped but I wasn’t able to afford a hotel room that was any better than this. Since he seemed like a nice guy, I asked him about the stab marks on the walls. He told me he had had a crazy guest threaten him like that in a fit of rage. We left it at that and talked for a couple more hours before I left to get ready and go to my show. The show was amazing and I had a great time.

When I got back to the house, the host was still awake and let me back in. I offered him a cigarette and we went outside to go smoke in the backyard. We were talking and smoking out there for a while before we heard a sort of muted bang and his fire alarm going off inside. He said that his fire alarm went off randomly sometimes and told me not to worry about it. It kept going off for a while, and a look of concern started to spread over his face. He kept his cool at this point in time, though, and went in to go see what had transpired.

Not more than five seconds later, a look of panic spread over his face and he jumped back, saying, “We need to get out of here.” He grabbed a couple things off the table and frantically ran out of the backyard around to the front of the house. Not knowing what was going on, I ran after him.

He opened the front door and I saw nothing but bright orange flames filling the house. He had been charging his lithium battery motorbike in the living room of the house and it exploded. Let me say that again. He had been charging his lithium battery motorbike in the living room of the Airbnb and it had exploded. Google “Ukranian Village fire Chicago January 1” if you don’t believe me.

Out of sheer panic, he started to abandon me and the apartment completely, running off down the alleyway to leave me there to deal with the entire thing. I was the one who had to call 911. I was the one who had to talk to the fire department and police and landlord and everyone else who contacted me as if I had been the one who had put everyone’s lives at risk, but nope.

This spineless idiot had just destroyed all of my and his belongings and the entire first floor of the complex, causing the people on the top floors to have to be rescued by the fire department, and he took off like a bitch. He told me to lie to the fire department and anyone else I made contact with, AKA put myself at risk to save his pathetic ass from the consequences of his own actions. Happy New Years.

I ran after him because I’m a small female without protection and I was in fishnets, out on the streets of Chicago, at 3:00 in the morning. When I ran after him he told me he’d take me to the train station so I’d at least be somewhere safer than out on the streets. Below the bare minimum of what he should have done, but fine.

It was freezing. We got followed by an intoxicated homeless dude who wanted my number and wouldn’t take no for an answer. The Amtrak station wasn’t open until 5:00 AM (and it was 3:45). The entire thing was a nightmare. We spent those hours walking the streets looking for a place that was open where we would be warm and off the streets.

I felt extremely unsafe and had no idea how I would get any of my valuable belongings back, such as my student ID and keys to get back into the dorms. At my school, if you lose your keys you have to pay $300 to get all the locks replaced for whatever reason. At this point, though, all I cared about was making it back in one piece. I missed my first train and had to pay for another ticket.

When I got back I had to report the incident to my school and Airbnb. I talked to the landlord, the fire department again, and the police. I spared no details. When I filed the claim, Airbnb basically laughed in my face and said they could assume no responsibility whatsoever for what happened.

Hundreds of dollars’ worth of belongings? Not their responsibility.

Multiple threats to my and many others’ safety? Not their problem.

They said it was up to the host to give me a refund or reimbursement. He did that for me, thank god, or I would have made sure every cop in the city knew about this host’s reckless endangerment. I eventually was able to get my belongings back, by some miracle. They were burnt and covered in ash and soot, but some of them were still usable (including my keys).

I had given the host my number so he could get my stuff mailed to the proper place and he started hitting on me, saying we should hang out, I’m kinda hot, etc. Unbelievable. Get a hostel or hotel where they actually care about peoples’ safety and well being. You 100% get what you pay for. Don’t trust reviews and don’t trust Airbnb; trust your instincts.

Airbnb Reviews are to Serve the Business

When you look at a host’s review, you might not see the whole story. Our host wrote that people shouldn’t give her one-star reviews if they didn’t read her booking and know what to expect. Fair enough, right?

The host had hundreds of review, but if you scroll down, you can’t find any guests that did not recommend staying there. I wish I knew why someone would give this host a one-star review, and I figured out the hard way.

When I had to do an emergency change to the reservation, the host declined my request to change any dates. I ended up paying more than double the original price because it was a special weekend and $40 in Airbnb fees for two nights. Why do the booking and service fees cost so much for just two days?

The room was okay but the floor was like concrete: no rugs, tiles, or carpeting. There were spiders in the room and the bathroom, and the yard looked unkempt: dirt yard, wooden boards. You could see how the neighbor’s yard at least looked neat and had plants. It was a basic home and room that cost the same as staying in a hotel for one night.

When you have this happen, don’t bother calling Airbnb. After staying there, Airbnb predicted that my review might be too honest for them and actually blocked me from writing reviews. It’s a business, they said, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t appeal to them. They don’t even tell you that you can’t write reviews.

They force you to only have two choices: lose your money and don’t stay there, or have no choice but to stay there because after you’ve reserved on a strict reservation, there’s no cancelling. You end up losing your money anyway and paying 15% in fees.

Next time, book a hostel or a hotel where they don’t charge a high booking fee and let you change your reservation. Hostel and hotel reviews on Yelp aren’t monitored by the hostel and hotel themselves. You get more honest feedback that way. When reviews are monitored by the business and chosen by the business, you’ll know the reviews are to serve the business.

Safety of Guests is not a Concern for Airbnb

We stayed at an Airbnb-hosted accommodation near Slough in Beaconsfield previously and were planning to visit again. It’s a clean budgeted accommodation, with CCTV only installed inside the premises. We had an incident on the host’s driveway, which was distressing as we felt quite unsafe.

The host herself confessed a spate of burglaries in the neighbourhood. When we asked the host about a CCTV on her premises, she immediately said it was not on the outside as if she knew something has happened. Moreover, we were surprised that the host, as well as the Airbnb staff, were unempathetic and unhelpful. No consideration was given to guests’ safety.

We have cancelled all our future bookings at this place. We have used Airbnb in the past for may years. This is the first time we have had an unfortunate incident, and Airbnb customer support was very unhelpful.

We asked the Airbnb staff about the host not mentioning the CCTV in her listing, but the customer support insisted that the host did. When I asked Airbnb staff to show evidence of this, no response was received. Also, I requested to check when the host last updated her listing, and there was again no response from the Airbnb team. The Airbnb team also refused to refund the booking amount in full despite cancelling the booking two weeks in advance.

We have also used many American products and services in the past, and their services have been very customer-oriented. Special circumstances are always given an extra bit of attention. We have used Airbnb for many years and recommended it to others.

However, after this incident, we felt that the safety of the guest was not a priority for Airbnb. For that reason will try to avoid using Airbnb whenever possible and would not recommend it to others. We also plan to write about this incident and the way the untrained Airbnb managers have handled the situation on various blogs and websites and discourage people from using it.

Airbnb Hosts are Screwed. Just say no.

Welcome to Airbnb 2019. I have removed my listings. My how things have changed. I have been an Airbnb host since around 2010. I have always been a Superhost, for what that’s worth. It used to be so easy and so cool. Now it is truly a nightmare.

The focus has changed to be politically correct and all for the guest. The guest gets to see your photo but you can’t see theirs until they book. Really? How is that fair? Like a guest won’t discriminate based on my looks?

Any time you talk to customer service you are sent to India. Their accents can be so thick I have to ask them to repeat things and then I have to repeat things to them as well. Who is this working for? Why can’t they hire people in the states for these jobs? I had my account locked out for no reason and that has never happened. I will just make a list of what has happened this year.

I was locked out of my account. It took numerous calls to India and then no follow up. Magically it was unlocked.

My listing disappeared. It would show up in a Google search. When I logged into my dummy account (one I set up to see what guests actually see) it was not listed. It took two days and many phone calls to try to even explain this to the customer service. I kept telling them you need to look at this with an Airbnb account logged in, not my host account. Again hours on the phone. Exhausting.

I only take guests who have a complete profile. I state that in my listing in the first sentence. Yet Airbnb wants me to take anyone.

We no longer have the right to refuse a guest for any reason. If a guest takes too long to respond I politely tell them they need to respond soon or I won’t accept. Well Airbnb didn’t like that and it puts a mark against your account.

My feeling is Airbnb no longer want hosts who live in the homes. They want a turn-key operation just like a hotel. I am extremely upset by this. It’s like they want to run an underground hotel.

The host is not valued. We are being pushed out by investors and Airbnb loves that.

If you call and ask any questions they don’t want to hear about it. They blocked off a day for a guest who did not have their ID. They blocked that day out for 11 hours for the “potential” guest to provide Airbnb with an ID. I told them they better unblock the date as this was a new user and there was no guarantee I would even rent to him.

After this happened is when my listing disappeared. I do believe they take a retaliatory stance towards hosts.

Airbnb is actively weeding out owner occupied listings in favor of investor owned units. This is an underground hotel situation. They wont tell you to quit, they will just do what they did to me: make your life miserable so you quit.

Airbnb has turned very greedy. Any good they do comes off the back of the hosts.

Airbnb does not care about the safety of the host. If we don’t feel comfortable with a potential guest we should not be penalized for not accepting them.

Airbnb no longer has my support. I will do what I can to keep them from growing in my city. I will now oppose them. I see what their goal is. They want to get rid of owner-occupied properties and move into self-run homes turned into underground hotels.

I see the error of my ways with supporting Airbnb. All it does is cause more people to travel.

Guests are not as appreciative as they were when I first started. Most guests are still nice, but I can tell some wish we were not living in our home as they have gotten used to renting cheap space with no owners present.

I rented my space to share with other humans and had an experience. Airbnb used to be about that. Now they want to just be an underground hotel. Airbnb could care less how we hosts feel. Just say no to Airbnb.

My Bad Airbnb Review was Disappeared

I wrote a very clear, factual, but damning review of a room in Bolinas, California, and Airbnb did not post the review. When I called to see where that review went, they claimed they do not spike bad reviews, but that is pure BS. The room was almost $300 with add-on fees, and it consisted of a bed and a folding chair. That’s it: no table; no soap; no instructions on how to work the door lock; no parking (in spite of the fact the listing claimed there was parking for guests).

They’re an exploitative rental, and Airbnb is exploitative for protecting bad hosts. I could say more but just realize that Airbnb is not an honest mediator. Guests reviews, very factual but negative, are not shared with you, the consumer public. I’m done with them. You should try another platform and avoid places that they falsely list.

Cockroaches and Long Term Cancellations

I had an internship in a foreign country (not tropical, and not at all known for big problems in the slightest). I needed a place to stay for two months and couldn’t access any of the local sites from the states. So I turned to Airbnb.

Now, we all know Airbnb’s absolutely shitty long-term cancellation policy of losing a month up front (if not more). Well, on day two of my trip, I woke up to a cockroach in the bedroom, and this dude was absolutely massive. I also woke up pretty late, around 8:30 AM, so it was broad daylight outside.

I immediately Airbnb messaged my host and Airbnb support, specifically saying I found a cockroach. I then ended up killing it (this thing was so massive I couldn’t get its dead body off my shoes and ended up tossing them). My host’s response was to go buy something at the store and put it in the apartment… so spending my own time and money to fix the problem in his place.

I came back from work later that same day and there was another massive cockroach by the TV. At this point I was absolutely disgusted: two cockroaches in one day, both in broad daylight. I told my host I wanted to leave and since I had only been there for two nights I wanted a refund. I found another place and everything and wanted to leave. He refused a refund and told me to essentially wait a week and deal with it.

The day after, I woke up again to a third cockroach in broad daylight. This one was way slower so I took a video of him before I killed him. At this point I have messaged my host multiple times, messaged Airbnb, and tweeted at Airbnb. There has been response from Airbnb and no successful response from my host (he had mentioned when I checked in that he was leaving for Paris that coming Friday for two months so probably more worried about his trip than his guest).

At this point it had been a solid 60 hours and three cockroaches. I vacated the property. It was that bad I had to leave in the first week of my long-term reservation (there were also dead cockroaches literally everywhere in the hallway – it was nasty). I sent videos and pictures to Airbnb and still, no response.

Finally I cancelled the reservation so that I could considerately let my host re-list his place and Airbnb finally responded. They said that because I cancelled before hearing back from them I was not entitled to anything. There’s almost $900 down the drain. They told me cockroaches were a “minor” issue, even though almost every doctor and sanitation worker (and even landlord) would disagree, and I had patiently lived with them for three days coming out in broad daylight: clear signs of an infestation, especially in a city that is not at all known to have any issues with cockroaches.

False and Totally Misleading Mexican Listings

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Where to begin? Since I had 2, similar, experiences in Mexico recently, back to back, I’m combining them into one posting.

The first occurred in San Cristobal and the second in Mazunte. Here is the listing for the Mazunte Airbnb:

La Pajarera
Entire cabin, Sleeps 4
https://abnb.me/JVdPBJ75LT

We had booked a two bedroom casita with kitchen and bathroom. Upon arrival there was only one bedroom apparently in use. The second one was up some dangerous steps and obviously not in use- no bedding on the bed, no closet, dresser or bedside table and a pile of broken tiles in the corner. My first clue should have been the fact that even tho 2 were listed, there were no pictures of the second. In addition, there was no shower stall, just a shower head in the ceiling of a very tiny bathroom. And the kitchen was dark and dreary. The pictures of this place had obviously been enhanced, making it look so much better than it was. And the amenities list had been embellished- to put it nicely!

The housekeeper greeted us and promptly called the host when we complained about the lack of a second bedroom and lack of amenities listed- especially a washer. I am on a 2 month trip and specifically look for a washer whenever possible.

When the host arrived she seemed shocked and embarrassed when I showed her the list of amenities. When it came to the second bedroom, she reasoned that since I had indicted there were 2 of us, we only needed one bedroom. WRONG! She offered to ‘make up’ the second bedroom or give us a full refund. We opted for the refund, since there was a perfectly acceptable, immaculately clean hotel right next door, where for about the same price, not only did we have our own bed, we had our own room with private bathroom. This turned out to be a god send when we later both came down with food poisoning, at the same time! The host even went with us and negotiated an even better rate then we could have accomplish on our own with our pigeon Spanish. She was willing to do whatever it took to make us happy.

At first AirBB refused to refund the service fee, but I pushed, didn’t ask, demanded and used terms like enhanced, false and misleading and they finally refunded the fee, also. So this one ended positively.

On to episode #2. The pictures tell the tale of this deplorable shack. I had booked for 14 days, once again based on enhanced photos and an even bigger list of lies, claiming to be the amenities. I actually didn’t believe there were the amenities listed, but hoped for a few. TV, washer, ac? give me a break- there wasn’t even a mirror on the wall! There was what looked like mold covering the shower drain, the sink was badly chipped and cracked, the beams were crumbling, the screens torn, and the kitchen dark, dreary and dirty and the cabinets indescribably gross. Once again my first clue should have been that there were no pictures of the kitchen.

I immediately changed my booking for 4 nights, instead of the 14 I had planned to stay at the beach. I should have left immediately and insisted on a refund. Yet, in my defense, I had just spent 10 hours getting there via taxi and overnight bus, I was still ill, and needed time to figure out something else for the 10 remaining days. We’re talking about the beach in January!

The host did replace the sink, the maid kind of cleaned the kitchen, and promised a mirror, but never delivered. I had booked this because it had a kitchen, but couldn’t even bring myself to go down there, let alone cook! New sink, but no water the following day! The maid did come and figure out how to get it working again. And, to his credit, the host was quick to respond and arranged for transportation from the bus to the shack, and to Puerto Escondido when I left.

I didn’t decide to insist on a full refund until I was leaving, feeling angry, traumatized and victimized. It is totally unacceptable for AirBB to be booking such decrepit shacks, passing them off with enhanced photos and lies! They need to be held responsible, and so does the host.

The host has refused my request, since I did stay there, so I have turned it over for mediation. Word so far is that it has been determined I am owed a partial refund. This was before I sent the photos! I’m insisting on a full refund, including the service fees. We will see……..

And as an aside- this is not my first rodeo. I have made 45 trips to Mexico during the past 30 years, so have a pretty good idea what I can expect for my pesos, when it comes to lodging. The shack was $40 a night and was worth about $10.

On a positive note- of the 5 properties I have stayed in on this trip, 2 were totally unacceptable, 1 ok and 2 were fantastic. I’ll just book with them directly in the future.

Ant-infested College Dorm Poses As Luxury High-Rise

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My recent Airbnb was undoubtedly the worst stay of my life. I live in Los Angeles and decided to rent an apartment in Downtown LA to celebrate my birthday with my girlfriends, somewhere more luxurious than my own home. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

The night before my trip I messaged the host to ask about parking. He didn’t respond, so the morning of my stay I called him to ask where we might put our cars. He said, without apology, that my apartment was under construction and he would be ‘upgrading’ me to another building. Taken aback, I asked if it had the same facilities, as the main reason I was paying $347.71 for one night was that I wanted a hot tub and rooftop pool to enjoy. He claimed it did and I had no choice but to switch.

He didn’t send me the listing but did tell me I had two parking spaces. At least our cars would have a reasonable stay. I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t called, and when he was planning on telling me my reservation had changed. Perhaps when I arrived and noticed that 80% of the building wasn’t there. We arrived that afternoon and while waiting for our host to show up, admired our temporary home. Instead of an early 20th century expression of luxury this place resembled a late 2000’s college dorm welded together with gorilla glue.

The next issue was parking. He didn’t have two spaces for us. My sister’s car had to be parked blocks away at some random building with no access to it until we checked out. Obviously this would have been problematic if we’d wanted to sightsee. Luckily we prefer drinking over culture.

Finally we got into the apartment and it was, frankly, a barren concrete mess. The interior was seemingly decorated by an alien whose only resource was a Pinterest board and a $20 gift card to the dollar store. There were numerous framed inspirational quotes, placed on the ground and the TV table, as I’m sure if you nailed anything to the paper-thin walls you’d risk breaking through to next door’s kitchen. There were also cheap plastic bushes placed strategically over floor stains and a couch that screamed ‘I filter by price not the best match’.

At this point, we still believed we’d have time for a quick dip in the pool (what fools we were). We quickly found there were only three towels. As a skilled mathematician, I immediately found this alarming as there were six of us. But, an even more pressing issue was the lack of any toilet paper. I called the host and he advised me to go and buy some. So, instead of popping a bottle of birthday champagne, we traipsed down to the nearest store to stock up on his supplies.

On the way back from our TP mission we checked out the pool facilities. Instead of the rooftop pool I’d booked, it was a dingy floor-level puddle. Even more pressing, there was no hot tub… honestly, the one thing I’d wanted from this stay. We double-checked with some residents who’d clearly learned to expect disappointment from this ‘luxury home’. Confirmation? No hot tub.

Disappointed, we headed back up in the world’s slowest elevator, arrived in the apartment and closed the door… at which point the handle fell off. With handle in hand, I decided it was time to call the host. On the phone, the host tried to convince me that there in fact was a hot tub. He asked ‘had I checked next to the pool’. Surprisingly, I had. I then listed all the other problems with the apartment including the door handle I was currently holding.

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He grumpily offered me a laughably small refund that kept him in profit and me losing my birthday and to an extent my mind. He also said that I was lucky he hadn’t just cancelled my booking earlier that day when he’d realized his error. How lucky I was that he still wanted to take my money and put me in this cardboard cutout of an apartment. Irked by this woman who dared to have an opinion, he then threatened to cancel my booking right then.

With the desire of wanting to sleep somewhere that night I asked him not to. He said that Airbnb wouldn’t care about my complaints because he has 37 (I’m sure, equally impressive) locations on the website. Basically, this guy was a big deal. At 5:30, with the hopes of salvaging what was left of my birthday afternoon (it was too dark for the pool now) we went to fix some drinks. Let’s not forget where we were: the apartment from hell.

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We opened the freezer to get some ice and instead of cubes we found an old slab of ice covered in cigarette burns. Warm drinks it would be. We gathered with our tepid beverages in the living area making sure to sweep away some rogue broken glass and carefully avoid the couch’s dried food stains. The sun slowly set and then, darkness. Not just outside: the only light source in the communal area wasn’t working… because the outlet was broken.

Six women, enveloped in blackness clutching increasingly warm solo cups finally realized there was nothing left to do but laugh (because I’d already cried). We moved the light, (still partially wrapped in its IKEA packaging) to the kitchen and decided that dim lighting could be atmospheric. I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that once we left the building, our evening really improved. We had a fun night on the town and temporarily forgot about the day’s struggles.

The next morning, we woke to the bustling streets of Downtown Los Angeles and the busy work of a family of ants. That’s right, the ants had arrived. I assumed they’d been attracted by the one solo cup we hadn’t thrown in the trash can which, I’m sure by now you can guess, was broken. One of the girls then explained that she’d noticed them the day before. She’d held back the information because she’d feared it would have tipped me over the edge and out of the poorly constructed window.

In the bright light of day, we could see the place for all that it was: a dirt-covered storage unit for humans masquerading as a modern living space. All the towels were stained and dirty, the bathroom floor and doors were covered in who knows what and after inspecting the sheets we’d slept in, we discovered blood stains and more. I feel like I’m flogging a dead ant at this point, but one last time let me iterate this stay was less than ideal and truly ruined my birthday and my poor willing friends’ weekend.

I’m very unimpressed that Airbnb allows this management style and low quality of rental. This guy and his minions run 37 properties which is very apparent considering he didn’t even know what facilities they have. They’re unwelcoming, unprofessional, and clearly see this as a high-turnover operation with zero concern for the enjoyment of their customers. I hope my cautionary tale can be used to help others. Others that were thinking of maybe staying anywhere this money-sucking moron deems worth $300+ per night.