Images on Airbnb Never Tell the Real Story

We are a family of four who loves traveling and exploring. We have been an avid fan of Airbnb for a few years and appreciated what it stands for: ‘community’, ‘trust’, etc. We understood that there are always unavoidable inadequacies with the advertised properties, and the photos do not represent reality. We never complained when some of these inadequacies arose, but left a fair review of the situation instead.

We were holidaying in the Spanish island of Majorca last August and stayed in three different Airbnb properties. The first one was beautiful but noisy. A cockroach appeared in one of the rooms. Other than that, the place was immaculate and lovely. It wasn’t a cleaning issue and the noise wasn’t the host’s fault. We left happy and our review reflected that.

The second property was another story. The bedrooms and kitchen were damp ridden, which was most visible in the main bedroom’s recessed wardrobe. The rest of the walls were repainted very patchy, trying to cover the visibility of the damp areas. At check in with a man who spoke no English (which is fine – that happens often), we thought the smell was the kind you experience in old houses. Anyway, the man simply pointed to an tiny old dehumidifier which was meant to resolve the problem of the smell in the air.

Once we realised it was more serious than that at first we felt helpless and cheated by the host. At peak season with two young kids, what were we supposed to do? We paid top price for the property. We had stayed in much better accommodations for that price, before and after our stay. Instead of ruining our only family holiday, we thought we would just bear with it until the next accommodation (which was a decision we were to regret later of course).

We stayed the full week, avoided the bedroom areas, and didn’t use the kitchen much. We documented the dampness, trying to visualise the situation which was not easy. As soon as we checked into the next property and settled in, we checked the Airbnb website to see how we could complain. The first option was to ask for a refund from the host, explaining why. We were told the host rejected our request completely on the grounds that we should’ve complained during our stay to give them a chance to resolve the issue. Okay… but how? Problems such as dampness could not be resolved in an instant. Furthermore, the host clearly lied about the condition of the property which surely must be against what Airbnb stands for: ‘trust’?

The next option was to ‘involve Airbnb’. We did, and returned from our holiday to no reply. After two weeks, we had to call them and we were then contacted through email, asking for more details, stating that we should reply within 48 hours, and that the decision they make would be final. We replied and presented the photos. They replied and rejected our claim. Apparently their policy requires the guests to contact the host or Airbnb with complaints during the stay. Because we didn’t, there was nothing they could do at that point. Okay, fair enough. We appreciated that the property also was no longer advertised on the Airbnb website, which was a relief.

However, is this the way to treat guests? Despite what the policy states, did we not alert Airbnb of this unsafe property and the host’s dishonesty? Were we not cheated? We were charged the full price, a cleaning fee, and an Airbnb service fee. Do we not deserve to have at the least cleaning fee or the service fee refunded, since we can prove the property was not hygenic and the advert on the Airbnb website was misleading? Surely that’s Airbnb’s fault? All we can say is we feel shocked how greedy the company is and the way they treat their customers. We all know that good customer service in respected companies goes beyond policy.

Cancellation Policy Defrauds Guests of 50% Payment

I put a question to a host about her apartment directly on the beach in Tavernes de la Valldigna, Valencia, Spain including booking dates. She came back with the answer stating the dates were a little difficult and provided dates that would be better. My dates were still showing as available on her calendar. I was just replying to say those were our only dates when I received two more emails offering a discount if I booked by a certain time that day. The website was showing my dates for the booking and nothing about the dates not being available or “difficult”. I naturally thought she had solved her problem and paid for the dates which were only three weeks away. I then received an email from her saying I had not replied to her email and she was shocked at receiving my booking payment as she had offered alternate dates. When I checked the cancellation policy it said if cancelled more than seven days before booking I would receive 50% of my payment; that’s a good way to fraudulently get money for no work and hassling tenants. If I did not use the refunded money for another booking I would charged a 20% administrative charge for Airbnb to refund it. That is 50% of the total then another 20% of the remaining half… 60% of my money with no booking. Is this fraud, or what?

Slander is Acceptable to Airbnb Regardless of the Facts

My wife and I stayed at this Airbnb in Barcelona with a host who has had rave reviews. My review was also quite positive as we had no complaints. Upon posting my review, I saw what our host, Gloria, had written. Her comments were slanderous fabrications with no basis in fact. What happened is that we left the room early in the day. While we were gone Gloria, without our permission, let a “worker” in the room to do some “repairs.” After the worker had left she smelled smoke. That evening, upon our return, we were confronted by Gloria and accused of smoking in the room. Neither my wife nor I smoke and we were not about to take up smoking at seventy years old. We assured Gloria that we had not smoked and the accusation was false. It was pointed out to her that the fact that there was no smell of smoke before we left for the day or in the evening should be a clue as to who smoked in the room, i.e. the worker. I thought that was the end of it.

When I read her review I was livid as she persisted with the slander and a whole lot of other accusations. Filing a complaint with Airbnb, I was advised by a representative that there was nothing to be done, because a review is a review. My response to Gloria’s review was taken down. The reason was that I shared what Gloria had told us, in great detail, upon arrival in her place. She claimed to be one of twenty-five people in the world with a rare kind of brain tumor. Believing her, I had given her the benefit of a doubt and in my response indicated that Gloria’s rant may be mitigated by the fact that she has brain tumors. Apparently Airbnb decided that a comment on the host’s health condition violated their policy, even though the host herself had gone through excruciating detail telling us her medical history. Confidentiality did not seem to be a concern with her. My protest, a matter of honor, has been ignored. The host’s falsehoods stand while my response has been taken down. Needless to say we will not be staying at Airbnb properties again. My trust in them has been badly shaken as it is clear that some hosts are, in my opinion, less than stable.

Mad in Madrid after Incompetent Customer Service

I am stuck and out of luck and money. I arrived from Italy after a glorious three-city stay and went to my Airbnb, where my host was nowhere to be found. I contacted Airbnb who suggested I stay in a hotel. They assured me someone would call me within an hour or two. Mind you: I didn’t check into my hotel until midnight. I woke up the next morning and called because no one from Airbnb had called. They said they would reimburse me for the hotel stay and help me find another one. I was on the phone for approximately 1.5 hours and then told them they were getting me out of the hotel. I was told to go get something to eat and they would cover it up to $50. Then I was told to extend my hotel room for another night, which they would pay for as well. I was also advised they would pay for my rental car, taxi, and phone calls to them. As of today, seven days later, I am in an Airbnb but only one night of the refund has been processed (not received). I have spoken to several customer service representatives and even been hung up on because they said they could not reach my representative and I would have to wait. There was no supervisor, they don’t have an organizational chart, and apparently the person I needed to speak to was in another part of the country. I am now up to almost $1000 in expenses out of pocket and stuck in my Airbnb because my spending money is tied up.

Airbnb Property Pictures in Mallorca Used by Scammers

I am a property owner in Mallorca and it has come to my attention about two months ago that my photos have been duplicated and are being used by another host on a scam listing. I do not know this host and I have not given him permission to list my property anywhere. In the comment section, clients have also expressed their complaints that the host had contacted them only two weeks before arrival (long after he had already taken their money) that the advertised property would not be available and therefore he could offer them another property. The guests did not choose or agree to this, but they obviously had no choice because they already paid. Airbnb did not help the guests and they do not seem to care about the comments because this should be enough proof for them to be aware of the scam that is going on. I have written to Airbnb to request the listing be taken down immediately but after many messages with different people, I was told that it was not Airbnb’s responsibility to verify contracts between hosts and owners; therefore they could not take the listing down. This is really unbelievable and I am starting to get desperate. I hope someone who has been in the same situation is able to help me. The last thing that Airbnb has done is advise me to send proof of copyright of the photos to their copyright department, but these are my personal photos. I feel they are just trying to keep me occupied and in the meantime, the scam listing is still showing my property without my permission. To protect myself legally, I have reported the scam to the local police, but they cannot help me either. All this has been nerve wracking and very damaging to my property’s reputation. I really look forward to receiving your comments and advice on how to approach this issue once and for all.

Hostess Attacks My Weight In Response to My Review

Where do I start? My boyfriend and I were going to Madrid for a few days to help him prepare for a month-long trip to Africa. He grew up in Madrid and has a Spanish passport. We booked an apartment from a hostess named Olga. She had wonderful reviews and seemed very nice. Well, our stay was not what we expected; it was horrible. However, I understand that my concerns may not be concerns to other people so instead of writing an extremely rude comment, I chose to write an honest, yet professional review of my stay. After reading her review and responding to her review of me, I deleted my Airbnb account. Here is what I wrote:

“The apartment is much smaller than the pictures make you believe. There is no terrace and the only windows are in the bathroom, which isn’t good because the neighbors can see right through when they’re open. If you have a lot of luggage, it is not ideal because the building does not have an elevator. There is really only enough space for two people. If you’re just planning to sleep in the apartment and not cook or plan or anything special, it’s ideal for that purpose since you won’t be spending so much time there. But, since Madrid was more of a stop to another destination and not the destination itself, my boyfriend and I were expecting to have more space and expecting all the appliances to work properly. The apartment just did not fit our needs, and we felt that some things could have been explained better.”

Her first review of me was positive, but when she saw that I was not in awe of her apartment like everyone else was, she attacked me and wrote a second review and a response to my review. Her response says it all so here it is (it is in Spanish so I will translate it for everyone):

“Any apartment is too small for Elizabeth’s size. Of course the hot water runs out when she showers. I recommend that Elizabeth reads the description well before making a reservation. The listing of the apartment said that it was small and that there was no elevator. Also if you travel with four large suitcases it makes it difficult to go up any kind of stairs. In reference to the hot water: the heater has a capacity of 50 liters and this is the first time in four years that someone has complained that the hot water ran out. The internet is made of fiber optics and runs very fast, so we also have never had complaints about this either. I’m sorry she had so many difficulties, but I think the solution lies with her; to pick spaces that are super big and that have an elevator.”

First of all, there was no hot water the first night we got there, nor the next morning. We turned on the shower and only cold water came out; clearly it wasn’t working from the moment we got there. My boyfriend and I had to hand wash ourselves three of the five days we were there. Secondly, size has nothing to do with the perception of the size of the apartment. In her second review of me that is present on my profile, she wrote that I was “extremely heavy.” I’m sorry, but not being a size 6 doesn’t make me “extremely heavy.” I’m a size 16. The average woman is a size 12. The apartment was objectively small. My boyfriend is like a size 6 or 8 and even he was upset with the small size of the apartment. Third, I had two small suitcases and two big suitcases. Honestly, her photos don’t represent the apartment.

I was really upset that she attacked my size just because I was unhappy with my stay. I didn’t mention it in my review, but every time my boyfriend and I tried to cook in the apartment, the breaker would just cut off and all the electricity was gone. By her logic, that is due to my size too. Instead of realizing that she needed to fix some things in her apartment, she attacked me with rude comments. What makes me so angry is that my post wasn’t even mean. Just because I didn’t fall before her feet and praise her like other guests have done, I guess that means a rude and hateful comment is warranted. In short, she was a total jerk and so immature. It’s no wonder girls have body image issues by the time they’re six. Other women constantly put them down and make them think if they’re not a size 2, then they’re fat.

Needless to say, I won’t be using Airbnb again. This was my first and last experience with them. The fact that they don’t have an email or a phone number for you to complain is so annoying. I reported the review and her response, but it is still active. I have attached a picture of her profile and this is the link. If you come across her place, don’t stay there. Although it is (as I said in my review) ideal for people who don’t plan to spend time in the apartment, don’t stay there simply because the hostess is a demon from hell and will lash out at you if you don’t praise her. From now on, it’s hostels and hotels for me.

We Didn’t Clean Host’s House = Negative Feedback

For my 40th Birthday we rented a house on Mallorca, Spain on Airbnb. The total for three nights was  1400 euros, including a 150 euro cleaning fee. I spent three nights there with family and a few friends. The stay was wonderful, but the beds were dirty and smelly. I didn’t report this fact to Airbnb, as we were overall lucky with the accommodation. Instead of giving negative feedback to the host, I just didn’t leave any feedback. After 14 days we found out the host had left following feedback for me:

“My guest, his family and friends celebrated a birthday party at the house. They were very nice and the communication was easy so we decided to offer them a late check out. Unfortunately, they didn’t invest this extra time in tidying up the house a little bit, as we found it very dirty and untidy. This is definitely not the way we consider it should be when you leave a property.”

The host offered the late check out, because this was more convenient to him. Also he had someone inspect the house at check out and the person said everything was ok. I felt very offended, giving my money to someone, and paying 150 euros for the cleaning. And he complains and expects me to have cleaned his house instead. If it was shared accommodation, things would have been different, but this was a commercial house rental. I wrote an email to Airbnb, asking them to delete my first review. They never replied, so I cancelled my account with Airbnb and I am note ever coming back.

Bait and Switch: Double Price in Spain

My husband and I booked a room for four nights in Cartagena, Spain. It was a good price and decent reviews. Shortly after booking the host contacted me to say he made a mistake on the price and it was actually double. He said I booked too quickly and he didn’t have time to change the price. If we wanted to have an enjoyable time at his place we should pay the higher rate. I checked the price a few days later and it was still the same. I declined the offer of the higher price and said I would find other accommodations as the new price is more than what we wanted to pay. I immediately reported to Airbnb and have yet to hear a reply. I discovered a few days later that we had actually been charged for the room we declined based on the new price. I have yet to hear from Airbnb about a refund. I contacted the hosts to let them know that this was a very dishonest practice but they don’t seem to care. I guess I will have to contact visa and let them know that this was a fraudulent charge.

Granada Horror Story: Left Out in the Cold

I booked a place in Granada, Spain for two nights. I called the host the day before my arrival to say I expected to arrive in Granada around 4:00 PM (I rented a car for the trip from Cordoba) When I arrived (at 4:09 PM) I called the host to arrange a meet-up. There was no answer. What could I do? I decided to try and drive to the apartment address but after two hours of driving around in circles I gave up and parked the car in a public parking facility. Then I noticed the host had texted me to say the key was in a cafe (no address given). I found the cafe online and called – no answer – so I took a cab there. The cafe was closed even though their website said they were open to midnight. I started to get a stream of unintelligible text messages from the host. In one he confessed he had no cellphone connectivity at work (where he presumably was) even though he had sent several texts, but never once did he answer my dozens of phone calls.

Finally, in one message he seemed to suggest he would be free by 10:00 PM, six hours after my arrival. I had had enough of this run-around, plus I was traveling with a sick companion who needed to get to a warm bed as soon as possible. I cancelled and booked a room in a nearby hotel. To this date the host refuses to give me even a partial refund, even though I am within my rights for a refund on at least one of the two nights. After reading all of the horror stories about Airbnb’s “customer service” I haven’t bothered to waste any time trying to get them to take action. And yes, you cannot post a review for a cancelled reservation. Needless to say, I will never book again through Airbnb; you pay upfront and then you are totally at the mercy of the so-called “host”. I hope the U.S. government or someone takes action and shuts this whole scam operation down.

Scammed in Spain: Another Fake Airbnb Listing

We have never used Airbnb and will definitely not use it again after we booked a villa advertised on their site. We were looking for a villa to sleep eight of us in Alcudia Palma Mallorca, Spain when we found this property called Villa Pretoria with stunning views. We thought it was beautiful and suited us so we went ahead and made a booking. However, when we tried to pay by the secure credit card payment on the site it was not going through. The host said Airbnb was having some issues with this and advised us to use a link he provided with his bank details to do a transfer. We did, and paid 2,700 Euros. We were all looking forward to our family holiday as our daughter is working in Alcudia and we had not seen her for a while.

A few days before our travel date we emailed Hector for details of how to pick up keys for our stay but he did not reply. The day before we were supposed to travel we went on the Airbnb site to check our booking and there was not one there; it was then we became suspicious. My son got in contact with Airbnb and they said it looked like we had been scammed. They were going to report this but then we got an email from Hector with his contact details, telling us to call him when we landed to arrange to meet to pick up the keys. We thought maybe this was not a scam so we all got on the plane and landed in Palma at 9:00 am on Friday, August 26th.

We got our baggage and our car and rang Hector. There was no answer so we left a voicemail. Still no reply. It was then reality sank in: it was a scam. There we were eight of us stranded at Palma airport with nowhere to stay. This was really embarrassing as one couple who were our friends had not been away with us before. We then sat in the airport and got on the website to look for accommodation and was lucky enough to find a villa in Pollensa that was available. We then had to pay another 2,100 Euros. We were only there for 5 days so it worked out to be a very expensive 5 days.

We went to the police station to report this but they were no help at all as no one could speak English. They said sometimes a translator comes in but they never know when. It would be a matter of waiting around all day to see if they came in or not and as we were only there for 5 days we did not feel we wanted to waste our time hanging around. We did ring Airbnb from Spain as well and they apologised and said they would look into this. It took a few weeks for them to come back to say there was nothing they could do as we paid outside of the secure payment system. What chance do you have as a guest? We tried to make a secure payment and were told Airbnb was having problems and we should make the payment directly to the host.

As we said we never used this site before and will not again. We always use travel agents and think this is what we will do in the future, sticking to legitimate companies. We are so angry and disappointed that no one will help us get our money back. If there is something you can do to assist us in finding this crook who scammed us it would be appreciated. He gave us his picture and phone, which obviously may not be him at all. I do not know how people can sleep at night stealing from hard working people that save up to have a holiday for it to be taken away just like that. I have attached the emails and a copy of the Airbnb site with the host’s details so you can hopefully find out who does own this villa to let them know they are being scammed as well. If there is a villa there, we didn’t find it.