Guest Leaves, Takes Keys, Receives Refund

Please consider the following chain of events. I have now been waiting for Airbnb to help me retrieve my keys from a guest for almost a week and two weeks since the guest claimed he moved out (without returning my keys). I have lost numerous reservations and will most likely close my Airbnb account after this is resolved.

I accepted a reservation and arranged for the guest’s arrival and key pickup at my neighbor’s at the guest’s convenience. He checked in and the same day requested a new microwave oven, which I arranged and delivered the next morning.

Two days later he informed me he wanted to leave because of noise that he cannot prove to Airbnb and which was not confirmed by the neighbors. After I refused the change — being informed by Airbnb that I did not have to accept — the guest got hostile and accused me of “taking advantage of him.”

I was then informed by Airbnb that the guest can cancel at his own will, which I also informed him, even though I was not happy with this. I did not know cancellation was possible after checking in. The guest did not cancel, so I assume he stayed.

Prior to the original checkout date, I informed the guest he needed to leave the key where he picked it up: at my neighbor’s apartment next door. I also asked him to take out trash as I won’t be able to visit for a long time due to quarantine. When the checkout date passed and the key was not returned, I asked my neighbor to enter the apartment to look for the key.

He didn’t find the key, but a big mess, unflushed toilet, and trash left out, possibly for 10 days. I was now informed by Airbnb that the reservation is considered cancelled as by the original alteration request that I did not accept. And that I will now owe Airbnb the money for the remaining days.

A day after original checkout date, the guest finally answered and informed me I needed to travel to Stockholm (I am in Norway) to pick up my keys on the other side of town where he now apparently resides. He also requires a receipt of key return. I have no evidence of when he checked out, as the keys have not been returned. For all I know he could have used the apartment all this time, even after the original checkout date.

Instead of help from Airbnb when a guest has not returned my keys, I was informed I owe Airbnb money for the time the guest claimed he has not been in my apartment, even though they keys have still not been returned. The guest repeated he will not travel to return the keys and take out the trash “as I have caused him inconvenience,” thereby somehow “punishing” me for not accepting his alternation request which Airbnb told me I had the right to decline.

Airbnb Complicit with Hosts on Bait and Switch Fraud

These are the facts regarding two identical occurrences over a 10-month period where Airbnb was complicit with hosts in a fraudulent bait and switch business practice. The first instance cost me $2,000, and the second instance cost me an additional $600. If you are a lawyer reading this and are interested in a lawsuit against Airbnb, class action or otherwise, please contact me.

I’ve spent hours upon hours communicating with the overseas customer support center. On the first occurrence Airbnb admitted to their wrongdoing. On the second, no admission. I have pages upon pages of these communications and the lackluster efforts of Airbnb customer support.

First I made a booking and sent payment to Airbnb. A receipt of the transaction was provided to me. Then the host cancelled with no explanation given. Eventually a refund of payment was issued by Airbnb. Immediately after the cancellation, for the exact time period of the booking, the host raised rates, and was allowed by Airbnb to book new guests at the raised rates.

I was told by Airbnb customer support to find a new Airbnb to book, as there was “nothing they can do.” Airbnb and the host both financially profit more from the new bookings at the higher rates, after my cancellation. Per Airbnb’s policy regarding host cancellations per the company’s website, the following actions did not occur.

A. The host’s calendar will become blocked and they won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the cancelled reservation.

B. If the host cancels before the day of check-in, an automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile. These reviews cannot be removed.

C. “Superhost” status was maintained, although neither listing met the 1% cancellation rate threshold at the time.

D. In neither instance was an Instabook used, which gives the host wiggle room to avoid penalty under an “uncomfortable with reservation” loophole.

So to summarize, Airbnb and the host both benefitted financially at my expense due to the host’s post-cancellation rate increases for the same exact time period. To me, this is a clear cut bait and switch fraudulent business practice. It was communicated to me but Airbnb customer support found another Airbnb reservation, the host’s “Superhost” status was not revoked, and in my opinion this is a complete fraud of a designation. The automated message in the host’s reviews detailing the cancellation was never posted to warn future guests of the risk they are taking with a particular host. So the reviews you read are not inclusive of cancellations, and in my opinion, fraudulent.

Airbnb Host Tries Really Hard to Dissuade us

We received a text from our host asking if we would like to cancel our booking because there was a water leak in the room and it had become very damp. We said that we still wanted to come because we had made, and paid for, travel and entertainment arrangements that we could not cancel.

She phoned to ask again if we would cancel the booking because the room was very damp. We confirmed that we did not want to cancel and that we would be arriving the next day. She then said that we must not arrive until after 5:00 PM because she was having someone come to give her a quote for the repair work. We don’t understand why we couldn’t check in just because a workman would be coming to look at a leak. This meant that we had to spend the day in Edinburgh with our luggage; therefore, we had to pay £10 for luggage storage.

After paying £10 to store our luggage, we then arrived at the accommodation (described on Airbnb as a large double room and that check in was flexible from 2:00 PM). We found that it was, in fact, a tiny room approximately 12’x8′. The double bed took up most of the room and it was certainly not big enough for two people and their accompanying luggage. It felt more like a cupboard than a room in which we would spend the next eight days.

In addition, the kitchen was very small and had a microwave situated very high up, meaning that it was in a dangerous position for handling hot food. Airbnb obviously does not carry out checks on the accommodation they sell and I wonder if this host and Airbnb carry Indemnity Insurance? Interestingly, there was no evidence of the room being damp and the only evidence of a possible leak was a small patch of dampness on the ceiling. Why would a host tell lies about the accommodation being damp when it wasn’t?

During the night, my husband had an episode of diarrhea with great urgency. He is diabetic and this happens when his blood sugar goes too high. He did make a mess on the toilet but he cleaned the toilet afterwards. The soiling was nowhere other than on the actual toilet. The host obviously went in our room after we’d gone out as she sent a text message to say that we had left the bathroom in a terrible state and that she had had to clean up the mess after us.

If she had found evidence of soiling on the toilet, it must have only been small because the toilet had been cleaned before we left the room. My husband is partially sighted but neither of us had noticed that the toilet was soiled. He explained about his illness and also that he had taken a sleeping tablet. Later, the host asked if he was feeling better and said that we were welcome to stay and hoped that we would be comfortable.

The host went out in the evening and did not return until the following day, when she must have gone in our room again. She sent a text message to Airbnb, while we were out, to complain that we had left the room in a ‘bad condition’. She told us that we had to leave the premises by 4:00 PM the same day.

We are unsure what ‘bad condition’ means. The room was clean but untidy. Nothing else. It was untidy because it was so small that there was nowhere to put anything.

On each occasion that the host raised these complaints, she had entered our room while we were out. She had never asked our permission to do that and, as such, she had no right to do it. My husband has to check his blood sugar three times a day and his blood testing kit was in a case on a shelf in the room. It was not there when we packed our belongings to leave. He now has to spend the rest of this week without testing his blood sugar. This could be dangerous. Where has his blood testing kit gone?

Finally, it is my belief that this host had another motive for evicting us using a fictitious reason of a room in a ‘bad condition’. Why did she contact us twice before our check-in date to try to get us to cancel our booking? What she said about the room being damp was not true so what was her reason for not wanting us to be there? Had she also booked someone else? Perhaps someone who was willing to pay more?

Airbnb House of Prostitution in Dominican Republic

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When visiting the Dominican Republic in August and seeing my husband’s family, his aunt unexpectedly passed away. We had to return to Esperanza and try to find any place to stay at the last minute. We found an Airbnb at one of only two listings in Esperanza and inquired about staying. They would not give an address but agreed to meet us and show us where.

When my husband’s cousin realized where it was, he questioned them and they admitted it was a “rent by the hour” flophouse popular with locals to drive up with prostitutes and pay as they leave. When they opened a room up to show how “clean” it was, the walls were “decorated” with obscene photos and the only channel on TV was pornography.

My mother in law in her grief, and my seven-year-old son and young daughter surely would have been uncomfortable (to say the least) just to stand in that place, much less lay their heads down on a bed with more uses than a taxi. I contacted Airbnb because my experiences have been very good and I expected them to have a sense of how serious this could have been for an unsuspecting young woman or teacher for example. Honestly in a country that has a huge sex trafficking problem (in the shadows of course) this could have been a disaster.

Was Airbnb concerned? See the pictures and that listing is still on the site at the time of this submission.

Fake Host Rents out Apartment he doesn’t Own

My husband and I are the owners of an apartment. A slimy tenant rented our space on Airbnb without our knowledge. I didn’t notice as he had folks checking in at dawn or very late at night. Everyone may have a guest but I saw this child hanging out our second floor window. We do not rent to folks with kids so we had no window guards. I confronted the tenant. I gave him 30 days’ notice to vacate. Sufficed to say, it was a furnished apartment that he then proceeded to move everything out of. I’m trying to contact Airbnb regarding when he set up the account, what were the rates, and what accounts he had the funds go to. When I saw the listing online it said very clearly the rentals were only booked for property owners. What information did he give them to claim he was the owner? Rates that were posted on their site was $100 per night. Was that per room or per person? I did complain about the post; they took it down but he still had bookings for two weeks. They have choices. Airbnb should give me the information or the police, our attorneys, or the media will do something.

Airbnb Host Spying On Guests With Audiovisual Equipment?

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When I made our reservation with Airbnb, I took advantage of their “Pay Less Up Front” program. I paid for only half the reservation at booking, and about two weeks later, I paid the rest. Who would know this would come back to bite me in the end? Let me back up a bit.

My group and I planned to meet at the airport for our flights to Atlanta at 11:00 AM Friday morning. Our flight was from about 1:00-3:00 PM and we were scheduled to check into the house we rented at 5:00 PM that day. At exactly 11:13 PM on the Thursday night before the trip, I received a heart-stopping message from my host:

“Dear Kayla, I am hoping you will get this. Airbnb Customer Service is getting in touch with you, as well. I am having huge septic tank issues and there is sewage in the house. I am not allowed to safely have anyone stay at this home. I have tried to let you know much earlier but Airbnb’s website would not let me cancel or notify you. I had to call Airbnb to cancel and they are now trying to notify you. I am so sorry for the inconvenience to your trip! Thank you for your kind understanding!”

Let me just put this out there: I had been in constant contact with the host, letting her know our arrival and departure times, and just discussing other little things related to the booking. I was just baffled as to how it was that she was unable to contact me until 11:13 PM the night before I was scheduled to stay with her. I thought it best that I not respond to her, as I know my words would not have been kind or understanding.

Instead, I immediately contacted Airbnb who had not even called me yet. The representative had no clue what I was talking about. The reservation was active and there were no notes on the account stating that it should be cancelled. She had to hang up with me and call the host to verify. Meanwhile, she told me to look for other listings and reach out to the hosts of the ones I like to see if they could take me at the last minute. Another blank stare moment.

Once Airbnb spoke to the host, she called me back and asked me if there were any listings that I saw that I liked. I explained to her that since I was looking to book something on what was now the same date I was expecting to arrive, that the prices were much more expensive than what I had paid. The only listing I found with a host that was willing to take my party at such short notice was $400 more expensive than what I had paid. Airbnb only gave me a $200 coupon, leaving me to come up with $200 more than what I had paid, all for something that was not my fault.

What the representative said next is what really blew my mind. I was informed that because I paid for the booking in two installments, instead of them transferring the money I’d already paid onto the new reservation, they had to charge me for the new one and I had to wait for the refund for the cancelled one. After escalating to a supervisor, I was told that the funds would be released to my bank in 1-2 hours and all I had to do was call the bank so they could make it available to me.

While speaking with my bank I learned that was hogwash and poppycock, told to pacify me and get me off the phone. Meanwhile, my account was severely overdrawn and I still had a flight to catch in the morning. To make matters worse, I only got an automated confirmation of a refund about the first half of my payment, which finally posted to my account on Tuesday. I never received an automated confirmation about the second refund. When I inquired via chat about the second portion of the refund, I was told the funds were never received.

Like I said, when I booked the reservation, I paid half upfront. I received several confirmation and reminder emails that the second half would be charged on Thursday, December 18th. Airbnb charged my account for the second payment on Wednesday December 17th, and sent me a confirmation email dated for Thursday, December 18th, thanking me for my payment.

What the heck is going on at Airbnb? Why are they charging folks earlier than they should, and sending confirmations for a later date? The first representative I spoke to that Wednesday night, when I called in irate about being prematurely charged, processed a refund for that payment. I escalated to a supervisor because I did not want to be charged again on the correct date while waiting for a refund, since that would mean double the amount would be taken from my account. The supervisor then cancelled the refund, kept the money and compensated me for my overdraft fees.

Fast forward to 2:00 AM last Friday, the day of my trip, when I was going back and forth with Airbnb. After reading the message that the second payment was never received, I demanded the supervisor I had been speaking with call me back. She called me back and told me the last message was an error; they did receive the second payment and they did process the refund. She typed an email to me confirming the two refunds and their respective amounts. A week later, I have not received the second refund. If they were both processed at the same time, shouldn’t they be in my account by now?

The madness does not stop there. The new host that I booked with was freaking me out from the beginning. She asked me the purpose of my trip, and constantly drilled that she lives in a conservative neighborhood and that her home is not a “party house”. I understood that – no one wants to have problems with their neighbors. However, the first red flag came when she asked me how my guests and I know each other. I let her know we’re coworkers and classmates, but I could not understand what that had to do with anything.

The second red flag came when she called me before we checked in. She let me know that once I got to the house, I would hold my license up to the camera at the doorbell, she’d verify my identity and give me a code to put in the keypad and gain access to the house. No problem. The issue is that she said the latch on her door “sticks”. She said we’d have to hold the latch tightly and push really hard on the door to get in. Every time we went to go inside the house, it literally felt like we were breaking in. I’m so glad we had two strong guys with us, because if not, I doubt us ladies would have been able to get in.

The third issue arose when we returned to the house Saturday night at about 2:00 AM and attempted to turn on the downstairs heater. It was 27 degrees outside. We are South Floridians who are not used to the cold, so we were beyond shocked when we tried to turn the heater on and discovered that the thermostat was now asking for a PIN number. I felt bad about contacting the host at such an hour, but heat in such conditions is like a basic human right. It couldn’t wait.

I practically found myself in an argument with this woman. The most unsettling part about this text exchange was the realization that she was eavesdropping on me and my guests. Notice her comment to me about her power bill. I never mentioned anything to her about it, but one of my guests had just said the reason she blocked us from adjusting the temperature was because she did not want to have to pay a high power bill. It was so scary that she turned around and mentioned it. She claims she was just clarifying, but who clarifies something like that without a question being asked?

We learned that the system she used to identify me at the door and remotely adjust the thermostat is called NEST and it provides clear audio and visual surveillance. I’m still creeped out by this. To make matters worse, the house smelled dank and musty when we first got there. We had to spray everything down with Febreeze. The host only gave us one set of towels each for the weekend. Imagine being a person that is used to changing towels daily, and having to use the same towel all weekend.

She claimed she had a cleaning crew but the house was horribly dusty. There was broken glass on the floor in one of the bedrooms and dog hair everywhere. The pots, pans and dish sponges were filthy. We had to buy dish detergent and new sponges so we could properly clean the dishes and cook our breakfast. I did my very best to overlook this situation, but Airbnb nearly ruined my birthday that I had spent months planning.

I cannot believe that a company that is supposedly the standard in home rentals is so careless and irresponsible with its guests and with who they allow to host. I’ve since learned that Airbnb does not even do background checks on its hosts. What if the lady that hosted us is some kind of sick voyeur and records or watches the people that she rents her home to all the time? I will never, ever, deal with Airbnb again.

Attempted Airbnb Bait and Switch in Amsterdam

It was supposed to be a dream trip to Europe, then we found ourselves on a one way trip to Airbnb hell. We searched the map of Amsterdam and found a small but suitable room in a location that was close to all of the things we wanted to see and do. The property didn’t have any reviews but the host had dozens and all good. We figured it was a new location for her. We booked, paid, and thought we were done.

Two weeks later we crossed the river Styx. We got a request from the host to change the reservation to another suite, in the same building but smaller. We were told we paid the wrong price, that she had booked it to someone else on another site for the correct price and it wasn’t available for us anymore. We declined to switch and asked her to cancel it so that we would get a full refund. She refused.

Luckily we are eight months from departure so we have a little time to correct. The first thing I did was book a hotel room. Honestly the $300 we were going to save isn’t worth the hassle of dealing with Airbnb. In some locations around the world Airbnb is a great idea but in the busy capitals of first world nations there isn’t much advantage to balance the risk of having your vacation ruined.

The next step was to contact Airbnb. We found the phone number on this site, called, and laid out the scene to a representative who took details and told us we would get a full refund once a manager had taken a look at the file… I’ll believe that when I see it. Has anyone been through this? Did you get a full refund? Should I contact my credit card company and start proceedings there? To be continued…

Guests Meet Sketchy Host, Airbnb Refuses Refund

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As a single mom traveling with my two children for the first time, I decided to book an Airbnb so that I had a backup if something went wrong. This was a big mistake. A week before my arrival the host was unreachable (for the first time) and after three days was found. A few days before our visit we spoke on the phone and I asked if we could check in earlier, since we were scheduled to land at noon. He said that would be no problem.

The day before we left I contacted him to confirm and he said he would be home, and to call him from the airport. I did so but he didn’t answer. After a few unanswered calls, I decided to take a taxi to the address given on Airbnb, thinking I would just knock on the door and wake him up. We got to the address but there was no entrance to the building. The only entrance was from the side of the building, but it was a different address and his name wasn’t there.

I was alone in Barcelona with two kids and three big suitcases, and it was raining. We waited for him in a cafe nearby; after half an hour he responded on the phone. He came to the cafe and had a strong smell of alcohol on his mouth, so I felt completely insecure. I asked him what was wrong with the address and he said “Oh, the flat is somewhere else. didn’t I send you the address?”

Would you go with a man like that, as a woman traveling alone with two kids?  I contacted Airbnb immediately and they sweet talked me back and forth, suggesting I could solve any problems with the host, implying something about the cancellation policy. To this day I have not received a serious answer, and there is no number to reach customer service. I paid 3000 IS and have nobody to turn to. I contacted the Israeli press and they are now checking what can be done. What a huge disappointment. I will never recommend traveling with Airbnb.

Cold Showers, Rude Host, and Ultimately a Terrible Experience

My husband and I recently travelled to Portugal. We had been visiting different cities in Portugal and staying in multiple Airbnb homes. We came across a listing for an entire house to rent for one month in Alentejo, Portugal. I talked to the host who was listed as a woman and had over 100+ four-star reviews for multiple properties and rooms across Portugal. The place we were interested in was a new listing with no reviews. Looking back, this should have been an obvious red flag.

I spent two days talking to the host on the Airbnb messenger and confirming that the entire place had hot water, a washing machine and a router that had wifi. I informed the host numerous times that I work from home; therefore, I would be relying on wifi. They informed me on the Airbnb messenger that they had all these amenities. The host also stated that the city had a taxi rank and close amenities but no local transport. The host volunteered to pick us up from our current Airbnb listing for a small fee and take us to their home by car.

In the morning a man arrived and claimed that he was working on behalf of the host and would be handling all our needs. He admitted that he had been pretending to be the host I was talking to, and that he was close friends with the host and used her account to list his house. This was odd but at this point, I had already made payment for one month through Airbnb and I thought as long as the place was as advertised it would be fine.

It turned out that there was no wifi in the house; there was not even a router. It was a 3G mobile hotspot that would jump between one or two bars and sometimes not work at all. There was no hot water whatsoever. The man had no clue how to operate the washing machine after he claimed that the house was his. He brought out a manual for the washing machine in Portuguese which we translated and used to operate the washing machine. It was clear that he did not own the house.

As it was within the 24 hours of us checking in to the listing, I contacted Airbnb and informed them of what was going on. Luckily, Airbnb refunded me 20% of the listing and gave me back 50% of my first night. I was also given the option to get a full refund and 20% discount on a new listing if I wanted to leave that night. Unfortunately, the small village we were in did not have a taxi rank that was in use; there was no means of us leaving the village. As it was during the popular summer season, a lot of the listings available on Airbnb were either too far away or unavailable.

We spent one month with no hot water and limited internet. Airbnb insisted that the host should try to rectify the issue and tried to reach out to the woman that owned the host Airbnb account. Her boyfriend called me and said that he was away at sea and could not drive down to fix the internet issues or the lack of hot water. He proceeded to try to speak broken English with me and tell me that there was hot water and that he had driven from Porto to Alentejo four days before our booking to ensure that everything was fine. As his English was bad, I spoke Portuguese to him so he could clearly understand everything I was saying. However, he insisted on speaking English and would not listen at all to anything we were saying, insisting that everything was fine.

Eventually, it was futile talking to him so I hung up and informed Airbnb of what he had told us. When the man that pretended to be the original host returned on the day we checked out, he stated that there was hot water. He proceeded to change the gas tank quietly while we were in the bedroom tidying up and thought that I was not watching him. He then declared that there was hot water and that we were not using the boiler properly. I informed him that I saw him changing the gas tank. He had absolutely nothing to say. Why lie? Why not just admit that the gas tank had run out before our booking?

I asked him why he lied about having a router and wifi, and he said that it was a small village and worked well for him. That was not what I asked him on the Airbnb messenger or in person. During our stay, we had to boil water with pots to take “showers” because he and the original host could not be bothered to ensure that there was a filled gas tank.

I left a negative review on the listing and Airbnb deleted it; the listing is still up. I wonder if this is why the place has no reviews – because Airbnb is deleting them. The moral of this experience is if you want to try and get some sort of refund or assistance from Airbnb, communicate in detail with prospective and current hosts on the messaging app. Airbnb can see everything that is said. Avoid phone calls if possible that discuss important issues. Avoid emails too. Communicate via the app so that all cards are on the table; I cannot stress this enough.

We are now staying in our last listing with another host who lied about having wifi with an ethernet port. Airbnb has offered me a partial refund if the mobile hotspot continues to give us issues. Why? Because I communicated everything through the app.