The Roof Caved in at our Montréal Airbnb Apartment

It has been a year since we went to Montréal, Québec, where we had a nightmarish experience which could have been lethal. Indeed, the two-room apartment we rented looked very nice on the Website pictures but when we moved in, there were lots of missing features and, worst of all, it looked shabby (quite a few damaged and broken things, not least of which was the toilet seat) and filthy (among other things, the sheets had been slept in and not changed). After getting in touch with the host, we were given unconvincing explanations about supposedly careless guests prior to our arrival and handed a few extra towels and sheets. We mentioned the cracks in the ceiling as something rather preoccupying but the host did not seem to pay attention.

On the second day of our stay, when we got back home in the evening after some sightseeing around Montréal, we were absolutely shattered when we stepped inside the apartment. The roof had caved in where the cracks had been and collapsed onto the bed where our eighteen-year-old daughter had slept the night before, damaging her iPad and leaving the tiny bedroom littered with rubble which could have killed her had the accident taken place during the night. We once again got in touch with the host lady who seemed as stunned and devastated as we were when she rushed to her place and then helped us call Airbnb to try and solve the issue.

We spent half the night talking on the phone with an Airbnb employee in the US but the company representative claimed that the homeowners were responsible for any occurrence inside the place they rent through Airbnb. Accordingly, the company cannot be held responsible for anything that occurs if the host did not take out rental insurance. After some discussion, the host agreed to refund the remaining days but we insisted that we wanted a whole refund of the amount we had paid through Airbnb. The company clerk only offered a token $100 (less than 5% of the price we had paid) as a refund and did not offer any help at all in finding a place to spend the night and go on with our two-week stay. Shame on Airbnb.

For all her faults for renting such a shabby place, the host lady was nice enough and agreed to refund the whole sum, which was okay with us. However, the company did not suffer any loss in the matter, which is really shocking as they are the ones who should suffer most from providing such a lousy product to tourists.

As I have made clear enough through my account of a rather scary experience, Airbnb does not assume any responsibility at all in case of any problems, and only offered us a coupon for our next stay which will never happen since we have decided to never again have anything to do with this company whose policies, were they better known, would mean bankruptcy. Their practice is a shameless way to take advantage of both hosts and guests. Needless to say, we had to fall back on a nice hotel room which cost us twice as much as what we had paid Airbnb. We were safe and cosy at long last, which is what every traveler is entitled to but which is not what Airbnb users are always likely to experience. We were also glad to still be alive and well but in retrospect we shuddered at the thought of what might have happened if one or all three of us had been seriously hurt in the accident. The conclusion that I draw is that Airbnb would deny any responsibility whatsoever in such tragic situations so beware and look elsewhere for nicer places to spend a holiday.

Unsafe and Dirty Apartment in London, Still no Refund

Last month, my boyfriend and I booked an Airbnb in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London for three nights. The experience was unpleasant from the beginning. We picked up the keys from a coffee shop and the baristas were short with us and unfriendly. We then entered the apartment, which was advertised as a studio, but was completely misrepresented. The apartment did not have the amenities of a studio (it was nine square meters in total with only a microwave and small fridge, making it technically count as a studio). It was dirty, and had towels left in it that were already used and falling apart. The worst part was that the apartment was completely unsafe.

When I say unsafe, I mean that when we entered, the front doors to the apartment had been left wide open. It was easy for anyone to walk directly into this apartment building, go upstairs, and break into the rooms. The front doors were left open every single time that we entered and exited the apartment building. Our personal apartment door did not have a lock on it that was very secure, so we were completely vulnerable to any intrusion. It had the lock of a bedroom door, and a dent in the wall seemed to indicate that it had already been easily kicked in in the past.

We decided to call Airbnb customer service. Our customer service representative took down all of the information and ensured us that safety is the number one priority of Airbnb. We had to wait on the phone for 40 minutes (and this was an international call since we were not calling from our home country) and then explained the situation and how we felt extremely unsafe in the apartment for another 30 minutes. She told us to take videos of all of the extreme noise, dirtiness, and the unsafe and opened doors so that we could send them to her later. She also said that she would call us back within five minutes so that we could proceed with the case by sending all of these videos, and that most likely Airbnb would change our apartment for us that night.

The problem is that we never received a call back from Airbnb, and after a horrible night of sleep (the bed was caving in, there was noise directly outside the door, and someone even banged on the door in the middle of the night) we decided to check out in the morning. I am still shocked that there was absolutely no response from Airbnb when we had stated that we were experiencing huge safety issues. We tried to explain the situation to the host, but she was just rude and told us to deal directly with Airbnb, as the person kicking in the door was probably just drunk (this was clearly because this apartment scam has probably been going on for a while).

I had to look for another nearby hotel and spend extra money just so that we could sleep in a safe place, with no guarantee of a refund and no response from Airbnb at this point. When I arrived back home, I again called Airbnb and sent all of our receipts from the new hotel, all of our information (the videos I took, the photos, and the communications we had with the host and Airbnb), and spent approximately ten hours of my time going back and forth explaining this situation and sending all of my documented information. It is clear that we deserved a full refund, and even something extra, considering all of our time spent documenting, talking on the phone, and sending details over emails. It is clear that this shouldn’t even be a question as we were left with no response in an unsafe apartment.

However, first Airbnb offered us no refund (even though over a phone call, which customer service said had been recorded, they agreed that we should have a refund). After I insisted to have a second and third opinion on the case, we were offered only a one-night refund and a $100 Airbnb credit. This is the worst example of customer service I have experienced in my life. Our main contact told me over and over again that she had no decision making power over our case and that I was not able to speak with someone with decision making power. As stated before, she even agreed that we deserved a refund, but she was not the one deciding. How can it be explained that I could not even speak with an official decision maker?

It seemed like I spent hours playing a cat and mouse chase with no real winner and no clear answers. Why were we never given an explanation of how this refund was calculated? Customer service told me that we met all of the requisites for a refund, however in the end this randomized refund was offered to us with no real explanation of how it was calculated. It is clear that it is just in their interest to give no refunds to customers, as I had to even insist to get this partial refund; their first offer was no refund for no valid reason. I asked in various emails how this was calculated with no response.

I was also even told at one point that only my boyfriend could be in contact with Airbnb since the reservation was made on his account. So are only the guests that make the reservation valid guests? Do they discount all other members of the reservation in times of disagreement? This was also clearly a way of just trying to not deal with me, as I am a native English speaker and my boyfriend is Italian, so of course it was easier for me to be the one to explain this situation in my native tongue. I found this response one that just tried to avoid dealing with my level of discontent as no real answers could be provided.

This offer of a partial refund took almost a month to resolve. This is extremely slow, and as of today it still is not even listed as refunded in my boyfriend’s account. How can they explain that a company that is supposed to be prided on efficient service takes so long to answer a customer service query? I have never experienced such a terrible example of a company solely asserting their market power without caring at all about their customers’ experience. Clearly I won’t be using their services again and hope that this example makes others think twice before paying them for a service without any guarantee of true care for their customers.

Extremist Political Signs at Airbnb in Bozeman

I booked a stay in Bozeman, Montana with what turned out to be an unusual host named Stacey. When I showed up at the place, I noticed there were extremist political signs all over the front yard and in the windows. Venturing inside, I found much more. I texted her that her place was just too weird for me. She would not provide a refund. She seemed a little strange, so I expected that. What I didn’t expect was the runaround and no support from Airbnb. I did not feel safe at this host’s house, I spent no more than five minutes there, and Airbnb would not refund anything. To add insult to injury, they wasted a huge amount of my time on numerous emails back and forth for nothing. They would not even allow me to post a bad review on this crazy host’s listing to warn others about her. Airbnb Hell, please take my $5 donation to fight Airbnb.

Airbnb’s Policy with Children Leaves Much to be Desired

Upon arriving to a home which was promised to be cleaned and ready for use, we found many items that could have potentially hospitalized or kids or worse. Prescription drugs (EpiPen in paper box) were left on an open shelf on a nightstand and picked up by my three year old. Used razors in the shower were also easily accessible by a toddler, along with melted bars of soap to add to the grotesqueness. Open containers of alcohol were in the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. Used tissues were stuffed into a seemingly new box, discovered by my 13 year old who needed a tissue and discovered a box full of dirty used tissue trash. Expired food (some from October) was in the fridge we were supposed to be able to use. The oven was greasy with stains that looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years. Snow and fog prevented us from leaving the same night since we arrived late and discovered these issues late. Upon requesting resolution from Airbnb, they said the host had a strict cancellation policy and everyone has different opinions of what is considered safe/dangerous and clean. So they were suggesting we pay for something that we didn’t use and could have killed my kids. Airbnb needs to know their contracts should include verbiage that covers basic child safety requirements when hosts offer homes to families with children. Their staff should be instructed how to read and understand their own cancelation policy, which states if a home is unclean and unsafe that is concerned a legitimate reason for initiating a refund. How that is pushed as a matter of opinion or open for interpretation I don’t understand.

Learn From Our Mistake: Airbnb Illegal in Singapore

Earlier this year my family booked two nights at a condominium in Singapore. Everything looked good, and the host responded well. There were no problems with the booking. Upon arrival, a different host greeted us, and we noted in the lift large signs stating “Airbnb illegal in these apartments. We have CCTV.” The apartment was certainly not ready for us, and the host claimed a problem in a change of ownership which we needed to discuss with Airbnb. To cut a long story short, it appeared that police had in fact visited this block recently, and the original owner cut his ties. We told the new host we did not want to be part of an illegal practice and would leave early next morning, which we did, involving time wasted and additional expense during our short break. I have since raised this with Airbnb and gotten absolutely nowhere. It appears that sublets of less than six months are indeed illegal in Singapore and most people certainly knew this. Suffice to say, our condominium and many others continue to be advertised on their website.

Threatened by Host, Airbnb “Trust and Safety” Can’t Help

Your, your family’s, and your friends’ safety is at risk with Airbnb. They do not care about you and will not help you when a real threat occurs with a host. Our host did not show up at the apartment we rented and we had to pay for a taxi to her brother’s home to get the key. She expected us to ride a dilapidated old scooter with suitcases to the actual apartment; we paid for a taxi instead. The apartment was not the building on the listing: the room, size, layout, amenities, and everything else was different. Total scam. Initially Airbnb helped us get a full refund. However, the host threatened to call the police and somehow learnt where Airbnb relocated us. This is terrible customer safety. Our case was elevated to Trust and Safety but they never replied. Never. Not after being threatened, and not after nine phone calls, twelve emails and five weeks since the event. Not one single contact. This is the Trust and Safety team. This was a urgent priority matter and it is only by pure luck and our own initiative we were able to rescue our holiday. I have used Airbnb before, but never again.

Landlord Did a Bait and Switch – Kept Full Rent Paid

We are from Maryland. In July, we hosted visiting German relatives (a couple with two small children) who also asked to see New York during their stay. My husband had work commitments and could not go with us, but I and my 81-year-old elderly mother-in-law agreed to drive them there for a few days’ stay. Using AirBNB, we selected a property in the Bedford Stuyvesant (“Bed Stuy”) neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY at 138 Lexington Avenue, owned by a Crystal Elly Haylett. Here’s the link to the house: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3752035. The 5-star feedback on this property (which we later realized was entirely provided by visiting foreigners living outside the U.S.- should have been a red flag) gave no hint at all about the high crime factor in this neighborhood. While the landlord and AirBNB tamely describe Bed Stuy on the AirBNB site as “a neighborhood in-transition”, we later learned that this is a far more dangerous place that continues to show up in the high crime rate zone for shootings an murders (see the crime map for Bed Stuy for the time period we were searching, above). We used the positive feedback that Crystal displays in her AirBNB ad as our guide in deciding to book this property; feedback that we now realize could likely be edited since we were unable to leave details of our own bad experience. Once we discovered, to our horror, more details about the high crime in her Lexington Avenue neighborhood, it was clear that it would be a coin-toss for us as to whether or not we felt safe enough to roam the streets there after dark. When my own sister (who lives just an hour north of New York City) and a niece (who commutes daily into the city to Penn Station for her job) called and begged us to move our lodging to another, safer neighborhood in New York, that was the nail in the coffin for us, and we asked Crystal to change shortly after we booked her place. However, Crystal initially refused. Since all of our vacation money was tied up in her deposit (something we were clear on with her) we had little choice but to move ahead and stay at her property despite the risks. We told Crystal quite clearly in writing that, because we could not afford to lose our deposit (again, our vacation money for lodging) we had no choice but to stay at her property, regardless of our crime findings. Perhaps she feared that we would leave a negative review for her (which caused us to be suspicious since she professed emphatically that it was so wonderful there), because she soon wrote back to suggest we look for another property that we’d feel more comfortable with. I thanked her and made it very clear that we expected to get 100% of our money returned, something she never once disputed. But once we made the change she herself requested, and found a safer property elsewhere in New York, she refused to give us our money back (again, 100% of the rental fee). AirBNB is standing by her, even though it’s clear that she is the one who asked us to look for another property, and did not dispute our request at all for a full refund if we acted on her request. One can easily see why neither the landlord nor AirBNB would be more forthcoming about the high number of shootings and robberies in neighborhoods like this – it’s unlikely that more Americans would book them – and it’s likely the reason why she has nearly all unsuspecting foreigners staying there. And so, here we are today, out nearly $1300 thanks to Crystal Elly Haylett who pulled a bait & switch on us – encouraging us to book another property in the explicit full knowledge that we could not afford to surrender our deposit (full rent) and kept our deposit. AirBNB is doing little to assist us, and a lot to defend this landlord. We’ve reported the full details of our experience to The Better Business Bureau and are hiring an attorney to pursue action directly against the landlord. AirBNB has so far failed to provide us with Crystal Elly Haylett’s full contact information so that we can move forward with our action. Despite this bad, eye-opening experience, my husband and I have had three excellent previous experiences with AirBNB. But this latest one has likely burst the bubble for us. Travelers reading this: BEWARE. AirBNB has so far done nothing to protect us and everything to protect an untruthful landlord who effectively stole our vacation money. Our German relatives are not impressed either and have professed to spread the word over there about our bad experience with AirBNB once they return. We will definitely share our experience whenever and wherever we can. Moving forward, we plan to use VRBO to book future housing. I encourage anyone reading this to consider doing the same.