Guests Robbed in Salò Airbnb, Host Possessions Untouched

We rented a beautiful place in Salò, Italy on October 1st, 2017. We were greeted by the host on the first day and she was very friendly. She gave us the keys and the code to the safe. We asked if we could change the code for the safe, and she said no. We also inquired about the alarm system and she replied she didn’t know how it worked but it’s a very safe area.

One night while out to dinner our unit was robbed. One safe was picked open, the other pulled out completely. Only after did we realise the safes were not fastened to the wall, just fastened underneath with some short wood screws. Our losses would have been considerably less if the safes had been secured and the code was not common.

A police report was made that night. The police came in and there were no signs of forced entry. We left the apartment the next day, a day earlier than our planned departure. We felt unsafe and violated. Our trip continued for another two weeks. When we returned to the states we asked the host for a refund or a partial refund since we left early and our losses were substantial. The answer was no.

When I arrived back in the states I tried to write a review. Airbnb gives you 14 days to post a review. It had been 21 days. I called Airbnb and explained the situation. I have used Airbnb in the past and the beauty is the transparency of the reviews. I felt it was my obligation to let others know that this host did nothing to provide the security and safety you would normally expect while renting. I wrote three emails to Airbnb and a few phone calls asking to not only let us review this apartment, but also help us with a refund. As of this writing, there has been no response from Airbnb except that they would look into it. None of the host’s items or property was disturbed or stolen except for the one safe. The safe was recovered by the police the next day… of course empty. My suggestion is to look for other accommodations.

Airbnb Host Tries to Assault Underage Drunk Guests

About a year and a half ago now I stayed with Airbnb for the first time in Nashville. As soon as we arrived, my host poured shot upon shot of alcohol down my then underage friend’s throat. He offered to show us a good place to eat. That went well.

Later that night he invited himself out on the town with us. Up until this time he was cool so we didn’t really question it. We went out and he started getting grabby with my friend, who made it loud and clear she was not interested. He then abandoned us in the middle of Nashville, knowing both of our phones were dead. Finally I was able to hail a taxi with a phone charger so I could get the address and return to the house.

We made it back to his place and went inside. Since my friend was drunk, I had a few drinks myself. It was 2:00 AM, so we decided to hunker down for the night and leave that place first thing in the morning. We put his dog in the bedroom with us (which he previously had given us permission to do) and went to sleep. An hour passed and I heard him come home. I got up and let him know we made it back and we were leaving in the morning. At this point he apologized for his behavior and seemed fine. I went back into the room and locked the door. I know for sure because I showed my friend it was locked, as she was still unsure of him.

About an hour later I was asleep but awoke suddenly. I could sense someone was in the room. I sat up and saw his shadow crawling across the floor. I yelled “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Along with a few other choice words. He told me he was looking for his dog (who was white and very clearly laying on the edge of my bed, very visible even in the dark). I told him to get out, along with a few other choice words. I then locked the door again and propped a chair up against it.

As I was trying to process what just happened I picked up my phone to see the time and noticed it wasn’t charging. Thinking maybe he unplugged it while crawling around, I saw it was still plugged into the wall. I then went to turn on the lamp; it didn’t work, and neither did the other two. It hit me this man literally turned the power off to our room to prevent us from turning on the light while he was in there.

Now I was in survival mode. I packed all of our belongings and got my friend out of bed in about five minutes. We made a plan, jetted out of the house and out to my car, and sped off.

We called the Airbnb emergency number and initially they were great. They paid for us to get a hotel for the night and refunded our money from the host. They also told us he was blocked from the website and gave me a $300 credit to use within the year. I tried three times to use the credit; it always said there was an error and to contact customer service. They always said they would figure it out and get back to me but never did.

After my $300 expired I swore to never use Airbnb again. Finally a friend convinced me to try one more time, so I made an attempt to book and found I still couldn’t, as if my account was locked or something. Again, I contacted customer service and again, I was told they would figure it out and get back to me. They never did. This company is garbage. They will cover their rear while an emergency is taking place but besides that the customer service is terrible. Do not stay with Airbnb.

The review I left on their page a week or so ago is attached. Conveniently I got an email today saying “after a routine review of my account I have violated the terms of service so I can no longer be a supported guest”… funny how they can ignore me for over a year until I go public with what happened.

Airbnb Takes No Responsibility for its Hosts

This is my Airbnb horror story from my stay in New Orleans with my sister. I will preface by saying that both my sister and I have traveled the world, been to many different countries, and stayed in hostels many times, but never had an experience like this.

We booked a room in a house in New Orleans. The house stated that it was on Frenchman Street. For those of you who are not familiar with this area, it’s a popular destination in New Orleans, lined with bars and restaurants where all the locals go to listen to live jazz music. Unfortunately, Airbnb does not disclose the exact address of the house until the day before your stay; they give you a radius to give you a general idea of where it’s located.

Well, when we arrived at the house it was on the very far end of Frenchman Street, not at all walking distance to that area as described (nor would it have been safe to walk, day or night, male or female, ever). It was in a very bad, crime ridden area with bars on many of the windows and doors, and wood paneling covering windows that had been blown out. The house was not at all how it was described in the ad.

We stepped outside for a moment to contemplate if it was safe to walk just around the corner to Walgreens, and within a few minutes someone made an attempt to rob us. I will spare the long details of this but luckily we escaped the situation unharmed.

When we ran back into the house we discovered that someone left the door to the back patio unlocked. This was a shared space, meaning other guests were staying in other rooms just down the hall. Luckily no one had entered the home from off the street but we feared that if the guests accidentally left it unlocked again, someone could enter the home in the middle of the night and rob us… or worse. There were no locks on our bedroom door, leaving our belongings at risk while we were out exploring the city.

I realize that New Orleans suffered awful devastation from Hurricane Katrina and is still recovering. It’s really sad, but Airbnb should be more forthcoming about the state of these houses/rooms. This place was completely misrepresented. It said there was a “porch overlooking the yard as well as the street… and two sets of French Doors that open up onto Frenchmen Street, letting in plenty of light and allowing for prime people watching.” The French Doors in the kitchen were bolted shut, and the only view from the porch was a very tall fence that separated the back of the house from the street. We couldn’t view the street as stated.

In addition, the house was unsanitary. The pillows were stained brown (very brown, spotted, disgusting – see pictures attached), the towels that were folded and placed on the bathroom counter were damp and smelled like mold, and the toilet wasn’t completely bolted down to the ground. We did contact our host and were as nice about it as we could have been about our complaints (although in hindsight we shouldn’t have been).

Overall, the conversation was amicable but he was very defensive and didn’t seem to care very much. He said that what happens in his neighborhood outside of his home is out of his control – which I agree with, I blame Airbnb for that portion. When it came to the pillows he didn’t seem to care; I don’t know how you can look at those things and think it’s okay to let people sleep on them. Unfortunately, Airbnb has a refund policy that protects them from just about anything.

We contacted their customer support line immediately and worked with a case manager in an attempt to get a refund, but they refused. They said that they cannot refund anything due to neighborhood factors, only things pertaining to the house itself. We sent the pictures of the house and everything inside that was dirty (including those nasty pillows) but they still refused. We were also shocked that there were no prior reviews about any of these things, which led us to believe that perhaps the negative reviews are being deleted.

After the incident I decided to do some more research on the company and found that other people have experienced the following situations (also without refunds): door locks being broken when you arrive, getting kicked out of the house by disgruntled ex-spouses, cancelling people’s stays hours before their reservation, hosts openly using drugs in common spaces, getting kicked out by HOA reps because the host doesn’t have rights to rent, not refunding people who were supposed to stay in Napa Valley during the devastating fires.

I don’t care what their policy states; they should operate by what’s right and what’s wrong. This company has no moral compass whatsoever. It sounds like just about anyone can qualify to rent their space through Airbnb and misrepresent it in their ad. I would highly advise against using this service.

Burgled within 60 Minutes of Checking into Airbnb

My wife, our young daughter, and I checked in to this apartment in Lisbon, Portugal mid-afternoon. When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was the dangerous staircase; it was nearly impossible to lift a large suitcase all the way to the third floor and I struggled to do so. Despite this property being listed as ‘child friendly’, the staircase was an extreme hazard and at this point I was already concerned about our three-year-old.

When we finally reached the staircase summit and the apartment, a young lady was waiting inside who spoke limited English but showed us the apartment and seemed helpful. The apartment seemed nice and in a great location. It also seemed like a low security risk for the following reasons: a very steep, straight staircase; two other apartments (one on each floor); no escape points for potential thieves; and tourists/cars around outside. Keep in mind it was also about 2:45-3:00 PM at this point (broad daylight). However, we learned that safety and security was a big problem.

Here’s what happened. Shortly after check-in, we went for a brief walk to look at the surrounding streets and picked up some food. Upon our return (approximately 45-60 minutes later), we opened the building door, walked upstairs and discovered the apartment door had been kicked open (visible footprints over the door) with a broken lock. All our possessions including passports were stolen (including my three-year-old daughter’s).

We immediately phoned the host who contacted the local police and Airbnb. To their credit, each party responded well: we received a refund from Airbnb and they offered to put us up for a night in a nearby hotel. We later discovered two critical pieces of information for which we should have been informed but were not:

  • The building was in fact, empty, with no neighbours. This means that had the break-in occurred while my wife and child were alone, no one would have heard or seen anything (I was on a business trip). A simple burglary could have in fact been much more serious.
  • The property had been recently burgled before our experience, which we discovered from another reviewer on Airbnb.

The break-in was perfectly timed and this property is definitely being targeted by professional thieves and criminals. From the moment of our arrival, we were being watched (either by chance or someone knew of our arrival time) and the intruders had very easy access to the building; the front door was flimsy and provided little safety. This kind of burglary would easily have required some coordination and good timing: at least 2-3 people (one outside to keep watch) and the others to lift/struggle down the staircase quickly to avoid being caught. Remember, the street outside was busy and there were cars and tourists coming past.

There were also a few peculiarities. The thieves were extremely forceful with the apartment door (it was smashed/kicked open and broken with pieces of wood were everywhere), yet they were able to access the building door extremely easily (it was perfectly closed when we returned). It also struck me as a little odd that they also stole a key. Surely, their interests would be primarily in the valuables and getting out (not returning especially as the locks would be changed). I can only theorise at this point but regardless, it scares me to think what could have happened during the night or at other times. Intruders could easily walk up the stairs (with no neighbours around) and simply try their luck. We appreciate the host’s attempt to support us but this is a serious security and safety risk and I am concerned for future guests.

Hosts are a bit too Overbearing at Spanish Airbnb

I booked with Airbnb only once, and will never do it again. It was in Tenerife, Los Cristianos, and my host was a complete psychopath. Having just escaped from another psychopath, which was the reason I left the country and traveled abroad, I was pretty overwhelmed. First of all, she lied about everything, was untrustworthy and pushy, and added hidden costs for everything. I kind of knew she was off from the first time she replied to my message when I was still in the booking process; I should have listened to my intuition.

After the first few days of my stay it became worse: she started harassing me in the apartment and sending random people to “check on me”, with the typical “I am worried about you” gaslighting. I was thinking “I am an adult on vacation and you’re not my mom. You aren’t worried – you’re a psychopath.”

I started feeling so unsafe I left after one and a half weeks. I paid for a month, so I called Airbnb. Customer service was of the same mentality, especially because I made the mistake of letting the host know I was about to contact them, and being a good psychopath, she called them first with some made up BS about me as if she were the victim. I never got any refund, and I had to find new accommodations by myself in a panic. I’ll stick with hotels from now on; those provide better quality service anyway, and they’re also safer and more trustworthy. When I’m in a hotel room alone I don’t feel like I’m exposed to a sick person with no help if things go south.

Beware of Airbnb Housing with Bad Hosts

I recently stayed in two different rooms with a lady in Turlock, California. While she was very nice and accommodating, there were serious issues that I felt other prospective tenants needed to be aware of. Airbnb deleted my review. This lady lives in her garage with her three 100-lb dogs. There was no bathroom out there and the dryer was not vented to the outside, which was a serious fire hazard and can cause carbon monoxide and respiratory dangers. The dogs were very clean but she never washed their bedding so there was an aroma of ‘dirty dog’ which permeated the house. They barked and howled loudly at times.

She eavesdropped on my phone conversations, at one time standing in my doorway with her arms crossed until I hung up. She seemed to have some serious mental health issues. There were family photos in the bedroom, two of which were quite large and inappropriate for a room being rented out to the public. She did not let me use the washer/dryer and I could not have cooked unless I had brought my own pots/pans, spices, and cooking utensils, as she does not cook.

Although this is a ‘B&B’ there are no breakfast items ever available, whether it be cold cereal, muffins, or even toast. If you have a problem, do not expect Airbnb to resolve it. They have lousy customer service and are only concerned with their hosts, not the guests. I had to fight to not be required to pay the cost of the entire reservation, and she got to keep almost three weeks I had paid with no refund. I paid for housing in two locations for that time, and I cannot afford that. I will never ever use this service again; they are disreputable and the hosts are not screened.

Four Things You Can Do if Your Airbnb Host is a CREEP

1. Get the Airbnb hell out of there!
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a car and the host picked you up. If you feel your well being is in danger, no amount of money you’re saving by using Airbnb is worth it.

2. Use physical force 

In some cases, females Airbnb guests who booked with female hosts are dismayed and often threatened to find this was an outright lie, and their hosts are men with whom they haven’t spoken. Though some of these may seem perfectly innocent from the host’s side (e.g. “He’s my brother! What’s the problem?”), there have been cases in which both female and male hosts have become physically abusive.

When this is the case, it can make someone of either gender panic about the repercussions of pushing someone aside to escape, even when they feel their freedom and safety is in jeopardy. If you’re unfamiliar with local laws and don’t speak the language, it might be best to just disappear rather than reporting what happened to the police – this suggestion isn’t made lightly, but with the knowledge there are corrupt officers in many countries, even developed ones, and Airbnb users’ word may not be accepted if they can’t explain themselves in the local language or understand local laws may favor men over women.

3. Call for backup
If you’re in a position where you can’t easily leave, or feel like leaving would be dangerous because your host is physically intimidating or otherwise, try to stall… even if this means locking yourself in your room or a bathroom to put some distance between yourself and the host. If you have access to the wifi network, or a local cell phone number, call a friend or someone reliable to come over and escort you out; they’ll act as a witness if it comes to that. Call the police if necessary.

This isn’t always an option if you’re truly on your own in a foreign country and can’t speak the language with the police, but if there’s anyone you trust in the area, now is the time to call in a marker.

4. Report everything to Airbnb afterwards
This certainly doesn’t help you in the heat of the moment, but – let’s be honest – neither will Airbnb customer service. Assuming you can actually get through to a live person within minutes, cancel your reservation, and arrange for another, you’re still going to have to deal with a possibly belligerent host who is wondering why you cancelled. As we’ve seen here on Airbnb Hell, sometimes there are no happy endings when it comes to creepy hosts. Because the stay wasn’t completed, reviews may not be allowed. Because
you were rightfully more concerned with getting out of a bad situation, you didn’t record evidence Airbnb could use for a refund or to ban the host. If you decide to just leave and not involve Airbnb, you’ll still be charged for a stay and have to look for a hotel… but it’s better than the alternative.

Crime and Punishment under Airbnb’s Business Model

This morning I received a threatening robo-email from Airbnb titled “Remember: Cancellations impact your account.” I was charged $16 for speaking to a human at Airbnb, and had a threatening message telling me that “I’m off track” on my Airbnb Dashboard. The email listed the various penalties and punishments imposed upon hosts when they cancel a potential guest. Yesterday morning I cancelled my first guest because I felt that he was beyond creepy. Although I am super explicit about potential guests emailing me prior to booking to inquire about availability, this guest nevertheless used the Instant Book option at 3:00 AM (which I’ve since disconnected) to book a four-night stay, then modified to a three-night stay, two weeks in the future.

When I woke up in the morning, I checked him out and saw that he had only one previous Airbnb stay, which provided me with zero feedback about this person. Then I read his email, which began with “Hello, my lover” and it proceeded to go downhill from there. Needless to say, I was creeped out, so I cancelled the guest. Immediately, those dates were blocked by Airbnb and I was notified that I had been sanctioned.

Since yesterday, I’ve spoken to several customer service reps at Airbnb in an effort to get a resolution. That said, I cannot help feeling that there is a bigger issue at play here and it has to do about whether or not we, the hosts, and Airbnb are equal partners. If we are indeed partners, why then are we treated as adversaries? If we are partners, why does Airbnb threaten and intimidate us when we cancel a potential guest that makes us feel unsafe?

Hosts assume all the risk associated with having strangers in their home. I don’t have a problem with that. I have consented to having guests stay in my house. However, I have not consented to having someone in my house that makes me feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Airbnb demands that I make a quick decision, a judgement call, about whether on not to approve a guest. If I don’t act quickly, I get penalized. How can I do that when I have little to no information on this person? I’m not looking to waste anyone’s time.

As a seasoned traveller, I know that time is of the essence when guests are looking to book their accommodations.. Nevertheless, I also feel that I must be given the freedom to trust my instincts, which have rarely steered me wrong, especially when the site provides little or no data on a potential guest. All I’m saying is that safety must come first. Airbnb must take our safety concerns seriously, and not just pay lip service to the notion of host safety. If Airbnb were truly concerned about hosts’ comfort and safety, they would not punish hosts and make us jump through a million hoops when we dare to cancel a guest who makes us feel uncomfortable.

What would happen If a host gets seriously hurt or killed because Airbnb pressured him/her not to cancel a sketchy guest? I’m certain that Airbnb as a company would face a scandal and huge public backlash. The scandal would be “grist for the mill” for the many municipalities who vociferously object to home sharing. They could shut home sharing down because they would claim that it threatens public safety.

It would also most certainly become a PR nightmare similar to the one faced by Delta Airlines, when they somehow decided that it was a good idea to drag a 60-year-old doctor off an airplane that they themselves had overbooked. Delta had gotten away with treating passengers terribly for years, but that unfortunate incident focused a spotlight on the company’s greed, bad policies, and complete disregard for their guests. In short, it became a disaster of huge proportions. Everything was fine, until one day it wasn’t. If a host gets hurt because of Airbnb’s negligence, the Delta Airlines scandal will pale in comparison.

There are very few reasons that a responsible host would cancel a potential guest and forfeit making money. Most of us would do it only if we had real concerns regarding the guest. Airbnb is capable of tracking our bookings, our responses to guests, and the feedback we receive. The company is able to read guest reviews and determine how a host treats their guests. I am posting this because I am hoping that Airbnb will not be short-sighted, that they will think through their policies, and make host safety a priority and a core company value.

There are no “one size fits all” solutions. Perhaps cancellations ought to be judged on a case-by-case basis. Perhaps there should be a drop-down menu option, that allows hosts to cancel someone they deem unsuitable (even after they’ve booked automatically). Especially if the cancellation done within a reasonable time frame, which would allow the guest can find other accommodations. Please, let’s find a way that works for everyone.

Moldy, Faulty Wiring, Broken Windows, Next to a Prison….

Dangerous safety and health issues, among many other problems, prompted us to leave our Airbnb in Buena Vista, Colorado after one terrible night. We have stayed in comparably priced facilities in Colorado and have never encountered anything even remotely this bad. Good luck getting any money back. We aren’t the only ones to have problems with this property either.

1. The house smelled moldy, especially in the downstairs bedrooms. In the kitchen trash were the lids from two “Damp Rid Odor Genie” units which confirmed that the place had moisture and odor problems. We both had runny noses for the remainder of our trip.

2. The smoke alarm was in pieces on a shelf. In a house with iffy wiring (#3) that was of particular concern.

3. When I plugged in my phone charger in I found another plug in the socket, connected to an extension cord-type wire that ran outside through a hole drilled in the window frame. In the kitchen there was another jerry-rigged extension cord for a light fixture, with a broken in-line switch. Upstairs there was a light over the bathroom sink similarly jerry-rigged. It did not work at all.

4. During the night I got up to close the window, which was open when we got there. It would not work. The next day I saw that the closing mechanism was not connected to the window itself. When we left the next day we closed it and another window by going outside and pushing them shut.

5. In one bedroom there was a large hole in the floor that had various odds and ends stashed in it.

6. That bedroom contained a laundry machine which still had wet items inside from the previous occupants.

7. The kiva fireplace was blocked by a large TV set.

8. The wifi worked properly only in the kitchen.

9. Both bathrooms had problems. The tub downstairs was very slick, the cold water control hard to shut off, and the toilet seat was terribly discolored. The upstairs shower had the hot and cold controls reversed. When we hung a towel on the hook by the shower the hook came out of the wall.

10. The front door lock and deadbolt were hard to operate, somewhat of a concern given the men’s state prison a short walk from the house.

11. The sorely needed “warning tape” on the many interior steps was worn off in places.

We have photos to document the above. Per this KKTV report the owner does not like negative reviews, which is the only leverage customers have. In short, stay away.