One of the Worst Things that can Happen when Traveling

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?

Unable to Find Airbnb, Nowhere to go in Scotland

On the seventh day of our vacation around Scotland, we spent the day sightseeing around the northeast. At about 4:00, knowing we had about an hour of daylight left, we headed for our Airbnb which was twenty minutes away. Unable to find the location, we called and messaged the owner. While waiting for a response, we continued to circle around the coastline looking for the property. The number was not there and the directions were crap, of course. Finally, after twenty minutes we pulled over and messaged again. This time we waited for another 20 minutes. No response.

It was getting dark and we were truly in the middle of nowhere. We had to make the command decision to drive and find other accommodations. The only place to go was west towards a snowstorm or south towards Edinborough. We eventually found a spot twenty minutes away. Our new host actually knew the lady that was not responding to our Airbnb messages. He informed us that during the winter she left the country for three months. That’s why she wasn’t messaging.

Long story short, our host took the money even though she knew she would not be there. Airbnb was a pain in the butt. We called them several times that evening. Their solution was to continue to try and contact the lady. After three hours, they recommended another stay which was 75 minutes away. Because we refused that stay (it was 8:00 PM and we had already found another accommodation) Airbnb said they couldn’t refund us.

We continued to message the Airbnb host for several months, hoping she would pitch in and help facilitate a refund. We never heard back from her. Because Airbnb cancelled the accommodation, we were not allowed to review this host.

Sick of Greedy Airbnb Hosts

I’m trying to get a partial refund from our host as we unfortunately had to cancel our trip due to COVID-19. Her cancellation policy is strict but a tiny bit of compassion and flexibility would be so welcome these days. Times are tough for everyone — I get this — but the host (who is a real estate agent by the way) is ignoring our emails which I find extremely frustrating.

Airbnb has tried to help but with no success. I have never reported a listing or complained about anybody online but I find the greedy attitude of this Airbnb host baffling and frankly I am sick of these sort of people. We are shutting down our account and will be looking at more ethical travel options. If you are travelling to Inverness, Scotland spend your travel money wisely and stay away from this host.

Bogus Host Posts Private Home as Ancient Castle Airbnb

blankblank

I was looking for my next stay while touring Scotland and Northern England as a freelance writer and blogger with a dog. I had stayed in a lovely cottage in rural Ayrshire for three weeks. It was time to move on and find the next interesting place to stay. Imagine my surprise and delight to find an Airbnb listed as an “Ancient Castle” in Scotby, Cumbria and ideal for people with mobility problems. I am near 60 and have creaky knees. It also said there was a gym and pool available.

I was not sure how it worked out, but the normal price was £139 per night, seemingly for group bookings. However, it came down to individuals and the way it worked out with the weekly booking discount seemed really cheap. Still a little suspicious, but hopeful, I booked two weeks between April 29th and May 11th. I would have stayed in Scotland but the opportunity was too good to miss if true. I bought a train ticket down to Cumbria and waited until the check-in time, between 2:00-4:00 PM, before hiring a taxi costing over £10.

Taxi droppped me off at a pub. I did Google it and thought maybe it was a property behind the pub or in the ground. They knew nothing about it and pointed out the address was further down the road. I walked a half mile and could not see anything which looked like a castle. It was a rural surburban street with beautiful but ordinary large semi-detached family homes. I looked at the numbers on the gates and at #39 and counting up reckoned that #47 was another semi a few houses along.

As I came up to #47, I felt embarrased; it was clearly a family home and not a castle. I wondered how I should do this: should I go up, knock on the door, and ask if they were an ancient castle? Would that make them think I was a mad woman? Just as I approached two teenage girls came up, knocked on the door, spoke to their mum and explained that they were just dropping off their things after school but going out to see friends. The girls shot past me and the mum still stood at the door. I shouted at her “Er, excuse me… could you help me? I am looking for #47, which according to this information on Airbnb is an ancient castle.”

The mum came up and looked. That was her address, and that was even her post code, but she did not have an ancient castle, just a family home. She did not do any hosting or hiring out spare rooms to Airbnb, She was concerned who was using her address, as anybody could turn up at her home and demand entry. What if just her children were at home, and let someone in, not knowing?

I got another taxi back into Carlisle and contacted Airbnb from a pub with wifi. As usual, they didn’t get back to me for the rest of the night. It was getting on and by 10:30 PM with accommodation being snapped up for the Easter weekend I found and booked cheap accommodation in a truckstop on the edge of town in the middle of an industrial estate. That was all I could do.

I did eventually get through to Airbnb, and it was a pathetic response. They did take the fake host and the posting down, but again seemed blasé and offered me £2.73 on top of the refund as compensation. It was a very small change for the extra expense. I would not have gone through the hassle and stress if their host had not advertised an innocent family’s home as an “Ancient Castle” and had strangers turning up at their front door demanding and expecting being put up for the night.

Airbnb did not really provide a satisfactory response to this with only £2.73 to help towards other accommodations. A host tried to evict me onto the streets during Beast from the East and did not care I had no transport. Over 13 people were killed at this time, including a seven year old girl. When will Airbnb take responsibility for the welfare and well-being of their guests?