I really need the money, but can’t stand this any more

When I retired I bought my dream house in a popular US vacation destination. It’s a relatively large house and I spent a fortune remodeling and putting it together. In 2008 I lost the remainder of my savings in the big crash, and now have to support myself and my house on half of what I intended to live on for the rest of my life. A friend recommended Airbnb, as I have a two-bedroom guest house on the property. It seemed like a great idea, as I enjoy having guests.

The first year was a rough learning curve, and like all hosts I have had a few horrible guests, but that was all in more than 60 guest parties. I’ve put every dime and every bit of my energy into optimizing my rental, and hiring someone to help me clean, which costs more than the cleaning fee. I bought luxury linens and lots of breakfast food and treats, for which I been rewarded with many sweet notes of thanks. I was feeling very proud of myself and was sure I would keep doing it. I was made a Superhost, and it may sound stupid, but it meant a lot to me – I had started my own business and was making a success of it. I always had more requests to book than I could possibly accept, no matter what the season.

My car died and I bought a new car, figuring that one guest party would make the monthly payment. I had a protocol and income I could count on. Or so I thought. Then, without any warning, everything changed. There were no requests to book for two months in the summer. I looked for my listing, but it wasn’t there. I called Airbnb customer service and they insisted it was there, but that hosts aren’t able to pull up their own listings.

I called friends who went to a lot of trouble to help me, and they looked through every Airbnb listing where I was listed and in surrounding areas, but still found no listing. Money got tight and I was getting scared as I didn’t have another way of supplementing my income. I couldn’t understand it; no one had ever complained about me to my knowledge. I had never made a claim or caused any trouble. I continued to call Airbnb customer service, who couldn’t explain it. They would speculate and make up ridiculous reasons why no one was asking to book. I asked if there had been any complaints, and was told that I wasn’t allowed to know that.

Forget being transferred to a supervisor: that never happens. One particularly horrid young woman, after I had said “thanks anyway” and was about to hang up must have thought I was off the line because I heard her say very clearly “what an idiot.” I never could get hold of a supervisor, so the customer service representatives seem to think they can say and do anything to anyone and get away with it. Now I understand: I wasn’t working for myself (although it’s damned hard work); I was working for a company that had no accountability to anyone, and was making so much money that one host seeking justice and consideration was someone who could be ignored and discarded like garbage. Even big corporations know better than to treat their workers like this.

Here’s the big joke: recently Airbnb sent me a package with the book about how this business started, and a letter telling me how much they value me as a Superhost. I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here in the US, good, honorable people have lost their lives fighting for workers’ rights to get treated decently. Not to be fired without notice or even given a reason why. Not to be arrested and jailed without knowing what we’ve done wrong. I’ve lost a third of my income, and now I’m signing up on other sites and will probably get guests through that. However, I’m so disappointed in and ashamed of Airbnb, who had a spectacular idea, got very wealthy, and then turned on the people who have worked so hard to made Airbnb what they are today. I hope the other companies now popping up all over the world to do the same thing learn what not to do by reading posts like these.

Superhost Gets Super Bad Treatment From Airbnb

On July 11th, 2017, I received an award from Airbnb for being a Superhost for four quarters, something I have consistently achieved over two years and seventy guests. I have since received appalling ‘service’ from Airbnb. There are two types of Airbnb hosts: the rich landlords who own multiple properties and offer nothing but a bed and a coffee machine and make a fortune. Then there are people like me for whom this is an important living in a depressed economy. I pay tax on Airbnb earnings. I go out of my way to offer five-star service, gourmet breakfasts, quality linens, and thoughtful, discreet care.

I have just had someone flounce out swearing abuse – while I was doing online teaching – after a week here. She booked for a month. In that time she clogged the plumbing so a plumber had to be called; I didn’t charge her. She broke the kettle, claimed it was my elderly cat who can barely get onto a sofa, never mind leap onto a kitchen shelf. The kettle was fused to its base and could not be turned on, heaven knows how the guest did that. She broke an antique bookend; I asked her to superglue it. This was something precious to me that I’ve had for two decades and from my gran. She claimed she needed an alarm and I must buy her one – this from a Luxembourg citizen who had lived in Boston for six years and recently flunked out of college. I looked at IKEA, couldn’t find one and suggested she try CVS or Target.

She managed to break the cupboard door – not sure how – and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. The damages exceeded $600 and when I tried and load claims onto Airbnb it refused to accept pictures. I’ve sent in two queries about this no response. The Airbnb person tasked with this case has treated me with disrespect and contempt. He promised to take this matter higher early last week. Nothing.

The guest said the room was not cool enough for her. In three years I have received no similar complaints; the house has air conditioning, is surrounded by trees, and there is a spare fan in the room. I bought another high-end fan – for $67 – and she managed to break that one too. I have no idea how. She was only paying $100 a night (in exclusive Wellesley) and got breakfast each day: a poached egg, two chorizo, avocado with supergreens, rye toast, wild honey, raspberry yoghurt (organic), herb tea, and orange juice.

She went through five toilet rolls, two boxes of tissues, and two boxes of candies in addition to finishing two new containers of body wash in a week. I did two loads of laundry for her on Saturday – washed, dried, folded, and put it in her room – and there was not a word of thanks. On Sunday she demanded I do another two loads: a bra and two panties for one load (whites), then for colors a towel (her own – I gave her three fresh towels on Saturday and fresh bed linen). I said such a small load was environmentally unfriendly. She freaked and was verbally abusive, shouting and bullying me.

I was in such a state afterwards I locked myself in my room and sat on the phone for forty minutes trying to get help from Airbnb. There was no answer, so I emailed them and went to their host forums. No help. Airbnb phoned me last week on the guest’s behalf and only when I mentioned my email did the representative say: “Oh yes, it is here. I haven’t read it.”

I told him everything I listed above. He called me back and said I must refund the guest, despite a strict cancelation policy saying I don’t give refunds and even though I was not in the wrong. He says the guest was complaining that she was too warm in her room (she’s also over 6 feet, overweight and on multiple medications – by her own account – for anxiety, so that might be a contributor. I’m 5’2″). I noted how I tried to help her, including two long sessions of unpaid counseling (I’m a trained trauma counselor). I recommended she go to an acupuncturist to assist with her nerves; she went twice.

I told Airbnb after incessant bullying from him I was prepared to give the guest half of her payment back. The representative from Airbnb started yelling at me; I twice had to ask him not to yell at me… this to a Superhost who has just received a rare award from them and who has 70 glowing reviews.

When I was teaching over the internet on the guest’s last evening – which she knew – she came in the room, music blaring, shouted at me, and began banging doors. Really bad conduct. I later audiotaped her ongoing abuse. I was so frightened of her that I stayed in the living room, curtains open, lights on, hand near the phone in case I had to call the cops.

I apologize for this story being so long but if you have the time, read it all the way through. Someone also tried to book with me then refused – the second person in a row because there are so many verifications now loaded onto my profile that a guest has to supply a passport (which most Americans don’t have), a drivers license, and two other forms of ID. This person declined to book – and frankly I would not give my passport details either.

I wrote querying this last week. That too has been ignored. Many hosts are like me: ordinary folk, trying to make ends meet. We are the bedrock of Airbnb. We do right by everyone, our mostly wonderful guests, and we pay tax. We buy superior foods and linen for our guests that we deny ourselves and yet there is still no support from Airbnb and sometimes frightening situations.

Airbnb ‘Superhosts’ are Super Greedy Opportunists

Our host neglected to update their calendar to require a three-night minimum. I therefore successfully booked and paid $3436 for two nights. I was excited and let our party know it was booked; they sent me their share of the cost on Venmo, etc. Then the host emailed me that it was a ‘purely business decision’ to cancel my processed payment and reservation. Translation: they can get more than my processed $3436 and they are greedy.

This type of transaction destroys the integrity of Airbnb. Mind you this is a “Superhost” that completes benchmarks such as:

1. Completing at least ten trips in their listings in a year (translation: they aren’t struggling to get reservations, so why are they so greedy?)
2. High Response Rate (translation: they quickly respond to let you know they can get more than your $3436, so they are cancelling your reservation)
3. Five-Star Reviews (translation: if we wouldn’t have unfairly cancelled your booking you would have loved it)
4. Commitment – Superhosts honor confirmed reservations — they rarely cancel. (translation: how ironic. This ‘Superhost’ is a joke)

Lastly, this host has a very strict cancellation policy – only a 50% refund up to one week prior to arrival, except fees. Why is it so easy for them to cancel with impunity? That just doesn’t sit well with me and makes me question the morals of Airbnb and its hosts. The Airbnb motto of “Belong Anywhere” should be updated to “Belong Anywhere as long as you’re the highest bidder.”

Airbnb Deletes Honest but Negative Reviews

I found out that Airbnb will side with its so called Superhosts over the guests in a dispute. There are fewer places to stay and millions of potential customers. Airbnb needs hosts more than they need the six disgusted guests, apparently. They lost all six highly paid customers on the first night. At approximately 2:00 AM on our first night after dinner and just a couple drinks (the host claims we were very drunk and very noisy – couldn’t be further from the truth), we returned to the beautiful but very dirty condo in Mexico City. One bed had multiple different hairs in it (never had been washed after last occupants?) My female friend refused to sleep in it and chose the sofa. The male had no option, so he slept on top of sheets. Our other couple fell asleep in second room only to find that the pillow “design” he thought it was the night before turned out to be someone else’s blood.

Both couples fled to nearest hotel. Fortunately my husband’s and my room was fine. I was too scared to look closer. I contacted the host, only to be told that it was impossible that this had happened; we must have done it. I’m sure we dirtied a perfectly nice apartment after we had already paid just to then go pay a lot more at a hotel. She must’ve accused me at least 15 times of lying. I stayed because we had invested so much already. I complained many times to the deaf ears of the Superhost and figured I would take it up with Airbnb upon our return. I had pictures and testimonies.

To no avail, Airbnb simply said it was her word against mine and they could not decide in my favor. Once my review was up and for all to see (she must have stopped getting calls on it) they informed me they were taking it down because I dared mention to said Superhost that I did not wish to leave a bad review (they considered that a threat). All I asked was for said Superhost to please help satisfy my request. My request was a refund of $150.00 against the $600+ I paid. I had been honest and told her of a third couple joining us. Now I see I should’ve never admitted that and I would never been charged for the third couple. After all was said and done, they paid me just $75.00 and took down my very honest review.

Ottawa Airbnb Nightmare: Kate the Con Artist

I’m currently fighting with Airbnb and this con-artist host to resolve this issue. I will post updates if possible. Here is the rundown of everything I sent to Airbnb, with a request for a full refund:

I’d like a full refund for this incorrectly advertised, poorly hosted, nightmare of an Airbnb rental. I’ll start off by explaining what was wrong with the property itself before I go into the more disturbing issue with the host. First of all, the advertisement was listed as: “massive downtown seven bedroom.” The description said it was a large home that was very spacious, with large bedrooms.

The first thing we noticed as we we drove twenty minutes past downtown was the location. A rundown, beat-up house in the middle of a bad neighborhood in the south end of Ottawa. We were disappointed before going in, but tried to make light of the situation. We walked in to a crammed kitchen, a tiny excuse for a living area, with what was supposed to be the rest of it converted into the first “bedroom”. The rest of the house was just as small and crammed.

The first thing we went to do, as a small group of six, was to sit down in the kitchen and start eating some of the food we brought with us. We went to go sit down and the table tipped over and almost broke. We lifted the corner of it and I messaged the host to tell her about the issue. She kindly told me where the tools were in her house in case I wanted to fix it. I told her I’d leave the table in the corner and wouldn’t use it instead; she had no problem with that.

The place was clean for the most part except for bugs. Only eight of us stayed the night, and only four bedrooms were used out of the six small ones available. The next day, we cleaned up what we could, except all the dishes, because we knew that was taken care of with the cleaning charge. We even swept everywhere before we left. I personally checked every bedroom and washroom to make sure the place was properly presentable and a five-star rating was completely within reach for myself as a guest. I locked the front and side doors and put the key in the lockbox happy with the overall trip even though the Airbnb was disappointing.

Then came everything afterwards. Kate messaged me asking me what I thought of the property and to give her a personal review. I gave her a review in a polite and respectful way and even praised her as a host, just to be nice. I don’t think she liked my review so that was the last I heard from her for the day.

I realized I forgot my wallet in one of the rooms and messaged Kate the same day to ask her if she could please meet me or do whatever protocol we have to go through to retrieve my lost wallet. It took her over 24 hours to reply, after I reached out to Airbnb support for the issue. This leads me all back to right now. The host just sent me a disgusting message and is outright lying in all her claims. It’s very shameful someone in a position such as herself, who manages multiple properties, would be this slimy and corrupt in an attempt to pull more money out of her overpriced rental property than she already has. I’d like Airbnb to call me personally to deal with this. The only claim that she was accurate about was us moving that 8×10 paper-thin sorry excuse for a ‘carpet’ she had on the living room floor. No one touched the TV, the windows or the screens. We never left the residence so no one was ever locked out. The host is trying to steal money and delete the mediocre review I gave her.

There’s more I have to add. The six pictures of evidence the host provided were lazy enough to help prove all of it was a lie. She showed one broken screen in the backyard of the house that we didn’t go near or had any reason to go to. She opened the garbage bag that we left outside of all the things we cleaned, and for some reason took a picture to prove something in her favor…? There were a few flakes of ash in a bathtub that they placed to take a picture of, and then there’s a picture of what looks like a perfectly good TV – no picture of the “pulled out” cord. No picture of any broken fan. Then a picture of the living room that also looks very neat and tidy. There was also one more picture of a window, one with nothing wrong with it. Apparently we broke two windows?

The house was “smoking allowed” so the years of stench from other people smoking was strong when we came in. I still feel like I’m dreaming because I can’t believe that people have to resort to this slimy low level just to make extra money. Anyways, I’ll fight this in court if I have to.

 

Please Can I Get Some Help from Airbnb?

I have been a quiet, law abiding Airbnb host for quite a few years now. I have tolerated, after agreeing to an Instant Booking, being warned that I shouldn’t say ‘no’ again (I only did once) and, if it happened again, I would be listed lower in the search results and potentially scrapped altogether. I have also quietly accepted being told with great fanfare that I was suddenly a Superhost complete with virtual badge and then told I was no longer a Superhost essentially because of one iffy review by a very difficult man who arrived very late, left very early, and hadn’t read or realized that we were rurally located. So, now I find that my listing has almost disappeared, that my calendar has gone (blank page now), and I can’t access anything on the Airbnb website. I therefore can’t keep anything up to date so am just waiting for another patronizing blast from the blokes who seem to run the show because I really am pretty hopeless as a host. I have tried, via various computers, to access the Help Center, to contact Airbnb via email, and all to no avail. None of my attempts will register a message so I am now totally unable to contact Airbnb to seek help. What can I do?

Airbnb Hosts Can Cancel Reservations Without Cause

We made reservations with a host in Amsterdam in September 2016, but our host cancelled our reservations in April 2017 without any reason other than Airbnb’s Amsterdam agreement to limit the number of nights hosts can rent out their apartments to 60 days per calendar year. Why would you make reservations ten months in advance, purchase airline tickets and foreign currency with no confirmed lodging in place? That is the question we’re asking Airbnb to answer for us. If any host can cancel your reservations, why even reserve with Airbnb?

Now we are out $2600 for airline tickets because we refuse to settle for lesser accommodations. The ones we booked were listed by a “super host”. A super host listing doesn’t mean anything to us because we no longer trust the Airbnb business model or platform to uphold a confirmed reservation. This was our first time booking through Airbnb and we can honestly say that we will never trust Airbnb or any similar entity that rent out vacation properties in this manner. I’m looking to join a class-action lawsuit with other Airbnb guests that have been inconvenienced for the convenience of an Airbnb host. This practice is not fair or ethical by any means.

Airbnb Rating System Deceives Guests and Hosts

We’ve been hosting on Airbnb for six years. However, we easily went from being Superhosts to “your account might be suspended.” Why, you ask? A couple of malicious reviews and Airbnb’s rating system, which is not averaged. Because we had so many guests, we were unable to keep track of individual reviews and when we got five-star ratings for six out of seven of the features we assumed that we still scored a 4.8-4.9. That is not the case; we got proof recently when we received a review for a new listing. Our guest rated us four out of five stars for the Overall Rating, however he also rated us five stars for everything else (locality, cleanliness, communication, etc). Our listing showed a four-star rating when he was finished. Since we didn’t have any other reviews we were able to finally see why our overall rating on our listings dropped below 4.4 stars while all along we were receiving at least four- or five-star ratings out of the six. We called Airbnb and our guest. Airbnb quickly changed the rating from four to five stars. However, our guest said he never leaves a five-star overall rating, as that would be the equivalent of a room at the Hilton. We seriously don’t blame him. The star rating system for food and accommodations has been around forever, so much so that is almost a subliminal message. He genuinely thought that if six out of seven ratings were five stars, the overall 4.8 would be more than adequate for a $50/night room. That was not the case as apparently Airbnb is using the Yelp system without advising their users about it. This is not even a fair Yelp rating system. At the end of the day, they’ll give you a four-star overall rating even though we scored six out of seven five-star reviews and only a four star…

Host Pet Allergy Problem: Awful Airbnb Guests

I have had several problems with Airbnb in the past and I am a Superhost. This time was so crushing. I specifically stated I have a no pet policy because my oldest is extremely asthmatic to dogs and cats. I came home to find the guests brought a dog into my home and it defecated all over the house. It was disgusting. After 40 emails and pictures, Airbnb would not refund the carpet and house cleaning bill. Sadly, this is not the first time Airbnb has sided with a guest over a Superhost. I had a guest cancel on me at the last minute and I have a strict cancelation policy; Airbnb refunded the guest in full. Airbnb customer service is perhaps the worst I’ve encountered. You cannot actually speak to Trust and Safety and when you call the help desk they claim they have no way of getting a hold of the team. What is the point of a security deposit if a guest can break house rules and not be held accountable?

Reflections from a Guest: Airbnb is Going Downhill Fast

As long term Airbnb users, we can say it that is starting to go south and management doesn’t care. Firstly the currency conversion fees: when I book in a location with a different currency I am forced to use Airbnb’s woeful rates (more profit to Airbnb). I’d rather use my bank’s rates, but can’t do that anymore. Next we have awful hosts (looking at you NYC). What happens here is you enquire about a booking for given dates at the advertised price. The host comes back with a ‘special offer’ which is much higher than the advertised rate and may or may not include a ‘please pay me XXX on arrival in cash as well’. Nope, the calendar price is what we will pay. Suddenly, ‘I’m sorry the house is no longer available’. A bit of a grey area, but customer support doesn’t really care as there has not yet been a confirmed booking. Although a confirmed booking does not seem to matter either, as my next and last gripe will explain.

This has happened twice now. We make a booking, it is accepted, paid and confirmed, and we are all happy. Then sometime before the arrival date, the host decides to increase the price. We refuse, and ask Airbnb for advice. In the meantime, the host contacts Airbnb and they cancel on the host’s behalf. There are no penalties to the host, who is also a Superhost. We are left to find alternative accommodation and Airbnb doesn’t even follow their own terms and conditions.