In January 2017, I moved to Montreal, Quebec for work. I was a single woman moving from the west coast of the U.S. and was fearful and looking for a secure place to live for my first month while I looked for a more permanent place. I saw a listing that seemed nice and paid ahead of time for it. I was very poor at the time and so it was a difficult gamble to make but I did it because I trusted that such a big company like Airbnb would protect my best interests. Boy was I wrong.
The day I was to move into my Airbnb rental I brought along a new friend to help me carry my luggage and make sure I felt safe. I am so glad she came with me — I would’ve been in a horrible situation if it wasn’t for her. When we showed up to the building there was a different person waiting for our arrival than the one listed as the owner on Airbnb’s site. It was a young male who gave off very creepy vibes. He walked us up a small/crammed stairwell to my “apartment” and stood in the doorway while we looked around.
Right away I noticed there wasn’t a bed but a futon couch, which wasn’t mentioned in the listing. I also hadn’t gotten a new cell phone number and was relying on wifi. Well, this apartment shared a router with the entire building and so the wifi was non existent. As my friend and I were making these observations out loud, we heard the aforementioned creepy guy muttering to himself about how wrong we were about the apartment.
Feeling uncomfortable and unsafe, I called Airbnb on my friend’s phone and they advised me to leave the Airbnb and go somewhere safe. We took a taxi back to my friend’s place and Airbnb called me back on my phone this time via the wifi from her apartment. They asked if we had taken video or photos of the apartment and we said “No, your Airbnb customer service rep told us to leave immediately.” This new rep insisted I had to go back and take photos.
Of course the Airbnb host wouldn’t permit us back into the building and refused to refund me. Airbnb insisted that because we had no photo evidence that my only option was to ask the Airbnb host for a refund which of course wasn’t given. I cried and panicked. I was in a new city with no money for an apartment or hotel and only my new friend’s couch to sleep on.
Thankfully my new friend’s brother in law is a lawyer and he advised me to call my credit card company instead and make a fraud claim with them. They could undermine Airbnb and get me my money so I could find an apartment. My bank was immediately helpful and believed me. They refunded me the money while they investigated and a few weeks later I was told they did find what Airbnb did was fraudulent. Take that Airbnb.
I’ve never used the site again to book anything. If you do, be sure to take photos and videos especially if there’s a creepy property manager. I’m including the listing to the Airbnb rental.