Some travel bans are temporarily lifted, so I thought it would be the right time to take a chance and travel abroad. Normally I am a bit wary about using Airbnb, but since the date I was looking for was precisely during Easter, prices were pretty high as well as limited availability. So, I thought why not give this a shot? Although at the time, there really weren’t many options for these days.
I saw one that looked reasonable and I took it. What I immediately noticed that this person was already fully booked for three months and he had recently registered. I didn’t get a direct message right away, which was already a bad sign: usually hosts send a welcoming message or a thanks. As the days passed I noticed that the host rarely said anything. He was evasive, concise and slow.
Then after a week I started to worry, if this guy was fully booked then why does he only have a few reviews? The given address was also difficult to find in Google Maps and he refused to provide step by step directions. The numbers were oddly numbered and a jumbled mess. You would assume 58 comes after 57, but not in this area. Then I arrived at the exact time at the exact door, but the neighbourhood seemed very out of place and the antithesis of something that resembles U.K. architecture, reminding me more of a commie block in the former Soviet Union. It was full of Slavic immigrants and the place looked so poor that the price I paid was probably way more than the weekly rent, I am not exaggerating.
I checked the address, but it didn’t have a name tag, a buzzer and it looked more like a shed than an apartment. When no one answered the door, not only did I realize I’ve been had, but I didn’t want to stay here even if it was a real listing. I know Edinburgh quite well, only you have to keep in mind it was Easter Sunday and most hotels had no availability. Hotels that had any availability were not in the position to quote any rates they wanted. Even one that I am a regular guest with told me they were full, on which they offered me to go around to one a few streets back that had only one left for $180, saying “you want it or not?”
This is a common trick they will always play, because you are desperate and will make quick decisions. So what was left to do than to stay in the Edinburgh streets, with all your luggage, all the shops shut and without any tap water? Sit and wait as the hours pass slowly…. Happy Easter.
Fortunately it was a very great trip in Scotland with splendid stays at several great hotels — only this particular Airbnb booking was a hiccup. When I finally returned home, I found it strange that the host never emailed me. He never tried to call me either, nor were there any new messages in the chat box. No “where were you”s, or “were you alright”s.
When I asked for a refund he immediately responded and blamed me for everything. He apparently left work early and spent fuel to drive home to answer the door. Which to me, gives it all away because at first he refused to say anything, but now that I am far away at home he can after all respond within ten minutes and very detailed? Typical.
This also may seem like I went to the wrong address, but I can assure you that I’ve asked around several times where it was, and people said “Oh, that is over there.” There can be only one, and it was the address he claimed it was. It doesn’t matter if I get my money back from Airbnb or by credit card chargeback; what is important to me is that you can get scammed at any time. It will not be safe even if you look before you leap. Hosts can always claim that you didn’t show up and provide a fake address, that way they can always get away with it and Airbnb will probably side with them.
Who is going to compensate me for the lonely night in the streets without a toilet and water? Needless to say I won’t do this ever again. Have you ever heard of a hotel canceling your reservation for no reason? Have you ever heard of any hotel not opening the doors or not existing at all when you arrive?