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.
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.
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.
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.
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.