Some Superhosts are too Immature to do Anything

For my 10th wedding anniversary, my husband and I planned a big vacation to Hawaii: Hawaii island, Kauai and our final stop on Oahu. We stayed in two different Airbnbs on the Big Island and it was great. No issues there. Nice hosts, cheap, comfortable.

We were only staying on Oahu two nights and found an Airbnb in Kailua. Quiet neighborhood, free parking, mountain views. A little out of the way, but it was like $50 a night and saved us hundreds of dollars. The listing was a younger couple with a Superhost badge and positive reviews. A few automatic cancellations, but most were 40+ days before the vacation so plenty of time to reschedule if necessary.

We booked four months in advance. I sent messages about a week before our trip to all our hosts confirming arrival dates and times. There were no issues at that point. I sent another message to the host when we were boarding the plane for Oahu to get the door code as they stated in their listing.

When we landed, I still hadn’t heard back, so sent a follow up message to let them know we were in Oahu and that we’d be at their location shortly. We made a quick stop at Pearl Harbor and then got dinner. We still hadn’t heard back. I was starting to get a little worried, but figured they were probably just at work and it was still fairly early. We drove around a little more… still no response.

Finally at about 6:00 PM we decided just to drive over there. We got to the location and there was a car in the driveway and the lights were on. We knocked on the door; we could hear footsteps inside and we started to relax. Except… Nobody ever came to the door. We knocked again. We heard someone running. They still didn’t come to the door, but suddenly the lights that were on were shut off and the blinds were closed. Are you serious?

After waiting almost fifteen minutes, I looked at the profile to get a phone number; there wasn’t one listed. I sent another message. I waited thirty more minutes. It was about 7:00 PM at this point and getting dark. I noticed there was a newer review on the profile from about a week before we arrived. The guest stated that they showed up and the hosts weren’t there and they ended up having to find other accommodations.

I was freaking out. I immediately called Airbnb customer service to see what we could do. They tried contacting the hosts and couldn’t get through either. They told us we’d have to cancel and find a new host. It was dark at that point – it was 8:00 PM – so were we really going to find anything?

The answer was no. We ended up getting a roach-infested hotel in Waikiki for almost $200 a night, four times what our two-night stay was supposed to cost. Airbnb refunded us the $104, and gave us about $50 towards the new hotel, but between the additional cost of parking and the room, we ended up spending about $340 more than we expected. I was pissed.

What was even more disappointing to hear is that because they were a Superhost, Airbnb won’t do anything about it. They’ll be charged a small fine for the last-minute cancellation, but they still get to keep their Superhost badge. Even after screwing over at least two guests, if not more.

Systemically Sick Customer Service at Airbnb

As a really respected and successful Airbnb Superhost, when I hit the road, I bring a serious set of expectations to the traveling guest side of the equation. As long as everything is perfect and there is no wrinkle in the reservation or use of the selected Airbnb, I have to admit that I generally enjoy exceptional experiences.

My only hedge in ensuring that outcome is picking properties with Superhosts at the helm. I know what it takes to get that status and keep it and it involves a level of commitment that should be the minimum requirement for being an Airbnb host. I wouldn’t have to be wasting a perfectly beautiful afternoon writing this if that was the case. It’s not.

One-hundred percent of my contact with Airbnb support over the last five years has been a nightmare. The level of competence can only be described as several sandwiches short of a picnic. Powered by the deadest batteries in the bunch. Problem solving individuals need not apply.

The sad part is that the robots Airbnb puts in these jobs didn’t start as robots. They are first people that have a brain and heart. However, after being held accountable to uphold and execute the policies Airbnb has in place to resolve the simplest to the most complex issues, they turn into idiots, non-thinking livestock that salivate when the phone rings and they fire up their prepared scripts, emails, messages that all say the same thing: “We can’t help you, it’s not our problem, it’s yours…”

This happens every painful time I attempt to get “support.” They are racing Comcast to the bottom on this one.

Example #1 – Travel Disruption (TD)

This topic is a multilayered nightmare when it rears its ugly head. Every organization I deal with in the “real travel industry” has solid plans and strategies for dealing with TD. It comes with the territory. Try getting Airbnb to help when there is a TD in your plans and you might as well go back to the alternate universe you apparently came here from. Airbnb is not a travel company; they only masquerade as one. You have an Airbnb problem? Good luck, because they have a policy that alleviates them from any help. Incredible. You’re on your own.

Example #2 – No Airbnb

This is different from a travel disruption because it precedes it and is directly caused by Airbnb and their blatant distancing from the false environment they’ve created. They don’t own any of the properties, so why should you expect them to manage them? You shouldn’t but you also shouldn’t have to pay for them when they don’t exist and you have a contract with an organization that says they do. The system is flawed, so buyer beware. Have that direct line to the credit card charges dispute line on your speed dial. It’s the only way to combat the incompetence built into the system to handle anything but a perfect rental.

I could go on, but the real work needs to be done a systemic level within the Airbnb organization, instead of wasting resources on “animal stay promotion” or “experience” sales. They make enough money on the float from the transactions, obscene amounts that haven’t been seen since American Express was in the check printing business.

There are no shortage of travel companies that could be used as a model for Airbnb customer support. Marriott and Westin come to mind. Avis and Alaska Air work. Don’t hold your breath. Airbnb is building a Part Patrol that will be as ineffective as the rest of their organization when it comes to service…

Airbnb Business Relies on Creating Deception

I have had a few horrible experiences which I will describe below. The underlying problem is Airbnb’s self-protectionist deceptive practices. The review system is but one facet of the core problems.

I was booked a stay in an RV which the owners, who also had rooms in their house, would not let you use the bathroom. I asked if it was alright to come in at night to use the bathroom. As soon as I asked that question, the hosts (who are Superhosts) told me that the refrigerator had something smelly in it. This was the afternoon that I was to stay the night.

I told them I did not have time to change my plans (I was at work) and hoped that was the only thing wrong. The “superhost” kept trying to contact me so that I would reassure her that I would only give her positive reviews. Mind you, I had not stayed there yet and I was unable to return the contact because I was at work.

She cancelled my reservation at the last minute out of fear of the tiniest chance someone might give her a bad review and because I think she really did not want me coming in the house in the middle of the night. I ended up sleeping in my car that night and missing out on the next day at work because I had nowhere to shower and I was so tired. I missed out on making money and disappointed a lot of people. It took days to get my money back.

Another Superhost decided to sell her house and we were told we could not be in the house during the day so the realtor could show it. Also, this Superhost was never really there. She left this crazy tenant in charge who made life miserable for everyone else. When I brought my concerns to the Superhost about what was going on, she told me I could leave if I did not like it. She told me she would give me a full refund on the whole time I was there.

Then she told Airbnb she was cancelling my reservation and they told me to leave, even though I had done nothing but relay concerns to the Superhost and I was only refunded the part of the stay I was not there. It took Airbnb days to refund me. This was in the middle of my daily month-long radiation treatments and I could not work. I ended up sleeping in the BART station.

I have paid for an Airbnb in which no one ever came to the door. When I emailed the hosts they said they had forgotten and did not want visitors in their house after all. I had to email them myself for six hours to have them cancel so I could get my money back. Airbnb was no help at all and when they did finally cancel the reservation, it took days to get my money back from Airbnb. There I was again with nowhere to stay. Airbnb actually told me to get a hotel, which is $200 around here.

There are other similar incidences. Airbnb has a review system set up so that guests cannot get good reviews without giving a good review and may be penalized otherwise for not guaranteeing a good review for the hosts before the guest even arrives. This is really to Airbnb’s advantage so their company appears to be more positive than it really is. People continue to be Superhosts while other people get to sleep on the street, all for Airbnb’s profitability. This is a form of false advertising and one day there will be legal ramifications. I look forward to it.

Cold House from Airbnb, Used Electric Oven to Stay Warm

This is my personal Airbnb Hell story. I was born in Canada but had not been there in almost 50 years as I had moved to the United States when I was very young with the rest of my family. However, I had no choice but to return for personal reasons. I arrived at the Airbnb listed as “Comfy Room” at a house located in Surrey on August 21st, 2016. At first, everything went well. In fact, I lived there for several months before things starting falling apart.

I began to notice the following issues. Every time that Lyn Taylor (real name Evelyn Mercado) would clean my room she would turn off the nightlight that I had plugged in so that I would not be stumbling around in the dark when I woke up during the night to use the restroom. The nightlight only uses 0.7 Watts. She later complained to me that I was leaving that light on – how cheap can you get? The weekly housekeeping started turning into every eight days, then nine days, then ten or more days. Eventually it got to the point where I had to get myself a clean towel as I could not depend on either Paul or Lyn to take care of that.

They have Instant Book so people would be checking in at all hours of the day and night, including 2:00 AM in one case. Many times they were not even there when people would come to check in and I would have to answer the door and explain to them that I was only a guest. Many guests were told that the key to their room was in the lock box outside the front door, but when they opened the lock box there was no key inside. They were staying in the basement suite underneath the house but it began to feel at times like they were absentee landlords.

I stayed there only because I had no close family in that area. At that time I had not driven in over four years and did not have a drivers license. The weather was turning cold, so I did not want to take the chance of going through all of that hassle to find another place that might be just as bad, or even worse.

One time I was having trouble sleeping. It was almost 2:00 AM; I heard noises outside my room and noticed that some lights were on. I opened my door and discovered that Lyn was cleaning downstairs, in the middle of the night. Another issue I noticed is that several times when I was taking a shower the warm water disappeared and all that came out was cold water. One time the water was so cold when I got out of the shower I actually felt warmer. They rented out all five rooms in their house and were staying downstairs in the basement. When the house was full there could be nine people or more using the hot water to take a shower, wash clothes, etc.

I also noticed that as it got colder outside that I would feel cold in the house even when I was wearing a flannel shirt over another shirt. I mentioned this many times to both Paul and Lyn and they would always say “the thermostat is set at 22 Celsius” even though I complained numerous times. I know that 22 Celsius is the same as 71.6 Fahrenheit so I knew that was not the real temperature; 71.6 Fahrenheit is a very comfortable temperature. I told Lyn that I was feeling cold one time and she told me that “I am sweating inside here while I am working.” Of course this ignored the fact that she was dressed in very cold weather clothing and was vigorously cleaning around the house. Many other guests also complained to me personally about feeling cold. Eventually it got to the point where my hands felt like ice even when I was fully dressed. One evening another guest who had also complained to me about feeling cold took their meal out of the oven and then told me that they would leave the oven door open for a while to heat the room up. I noticed that soon after he did that the room started feeling warmer. This other guest and I began to use the oven to keep us warm. Otherwise, we would have felt like putting on our jackets inside the house. That is how cold it felt. We did that for about a week.

The other guest left on a Saturday morning as he was retiring and moving to a property that he had purchased. I continued to use the oven every now and then to warm things up and on Sunday, the day after the other guest left, Paul and Lyn confronted me about using the oven to stay warm. I told them that I had only been using it for a week and had only used it because I was so cold. Lyn became very angry and told me that “ever since you have moved in our electric bill has gone up.” She told me that “I want you out of here tomorrow.”

I truly believe that she would have thrown me out then and there even though it was cold with snow on the ground outside except for the fact that her husband Paul said, “Nothing is going to happen tonight.” Lyn threatened to report me to Airbnb and give me a bad review if I did not accept their cancelling my reservation. I left the next day as they requested. Lyn sent me an email in which she accused me of taking hot showers even though it was “minus 5 outside.” What does she think I am going to do, take a cold shower when it is so cold outside? She also accused me of leaving the oven on when I went to bed which is not true. I owned up to what I did and told them why I did it. I would never have done that if they had not ignored my numerous complaints, as well as the complaints of other guests about feeling cold.

I had paid for the entire month of March yet I moved out on March 6th. I received a message from Lyn in a day or so in which she said that she and Paul were in line to become Superhosts and they would appreciate it if I could give them a good review as she felt I was a good person. Against my better judgment I gave them a good review and Lyn had stated that she would review the February and March billing for the electric and get back to me about a refund. I never heard anything back so I contacted Lyn in April about my refund. She stated that she was still having jet lag (even though she had returned home about two weeks before) and that she would get back to me by the end of April.

When May arrived I then contacted Airbnb to see what I could do as I was told by my bank that I had to contact them to see if I could resolve the issue as they were the actual merchant. Airbnb checked with Lyn and their last message stated: “Thanks for your patience. I wanted to give you an update on your refund request for your reservation. At this time, Lyn hasn’t agreed to issue you a refund for the adjustment to this reservation.” I have now filed a formal dispute with my debit card issuer as I am owed for the 25 days in March that I paid for and did not receive. The only refund I received was $18.00 Canadian dollars and a $75.00 credit from Airbnb. I am owed about $840.00 Canadian dollars. It is obvious to me now that Lyn never had any intention of refunding my money and just tricked me into giving them a good review to help them become Superhosts. I feel used, to put it lightly. Basically I got ripped off big time. I will never use Airbnb again. I could care less about the $75.00 credit they gave me.

Even Airbnb SUPERHOSTS are treated like tools!

Over the past 2 years of hosting. We’ve had our share of horror stories. Each time, Airbnb ONLY cares about their service fees. As long as they can keep that, they let the guests do whatever they want and will even cancel a guest with a full refund when the guest had no proof that anything was wrong. We hosted over 500 people in our units and are Superhosts, but Airbnb will take the word of guests with no reviews over ours. If there are any damages, good luck getting your deposit back! Oh, and your commitment rate goes down when THEY cancel a guest for no good reason, so you have to call and email them over the next few weeks to get them to fix it and hopefully keep your Superhost stats.

This is only 1 example of how they treat you as just a money-making tool, they have no regard for honesty or integrity: Recently, the guests asked for a refund AFTER their stay, claiming that they had only stayed there for a portion of the time, since their plans changed. They have no way of proving this and the situation really is not our responsibility. We told them no, and afterwards they apparently called Airbnb and they received a 50% refund just like that. We don’t know what they told Airbnb, but Airbnb didn’t even bother to contact us before making a decision. Oh, and the guest was still allowed to write a review after this ordeal! Because we denied the refund in the first place, they decided to get back at us and slander us with a bunch of false claims in the review. I called Airbnb and told them that there clearly was no indication of our unit being in bad condition and that it was apparent the only time things got ugly was after we denied the refund. Airbnb said they value people’s opinions and that the great thing about this community is that the reviews are not censored. I just really wanted to spill all kinds of profanities when I heard that. The thing is, I had called them before responding to the guests asking for Airbnb’s advice. I said that I was worried about bad reviews so I feel pressured to give in to demands. The rep ASSURED me that Airbnb will not allow unfair reviews. That if there is reason to believe the bad review was only because we denied the refund and if the message thread had no indication of any problems stated in the review, they would remove it. Low and behold, now that the guest actually went out to write a false review, they did NOTHING. I would understand if the guest wrote they were angry because they wanted a discount, but they wrote things like the place was dirty and in a bad location and did not look like the photos and gave 1 star reviews! How can this be true when we have over 500 reviews and 5 stars on all units?! Also, the guest had told us they were having a great time all throughout the stay!! Still Airbnb did not help.

Similar situations have happened more than a handful of times now. Where Airbnb would give us lip service when we asked for advice and assure we will get reviews removed if ____ and ___ happened or we will get our deposit back if _____ and ____ happened. When shit actually goes down, they do absolutely NOTHING for us. What is the point of us paying these service fees when no services are provided when we need them! I understand if they claim this is just an advertising fee for us to expose our units, however, then why do they CONTROL all the payments and deposits. Those people who actually got their host guarantee/damage deposits on social media or the news are just their publicity ploys! They will only help when they know that it could damage their reputation, I’ve never heard of any fellow host friends who was able to get any compensation. Many have similar stories to mine. In sum: THEY ARE ALL TALK AND NO WALK. THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT GETTING THEIR SERVICE FEES. THEY OUTRIGHT LIE TO THEIR HOSTS. THEY HIDE BEHIND THE PRETENSE OF A SHARING ECONOMY WHEN THEY ARE NO BETTER THAN BLOOD SUCKING CORPORATIONS WHO EXPLOIT OTHERS FOR PROFIT. When will something better come along so that we honest hosts, who are just trying to make some side money, can actually choose to host for a company that actually provides the services that they advertise?!