Guests Meet Sketchy Host, Airbnb Refuses Refund

As a single mom traveling with my two children for the first time, I decided to book an Airbnb so that I had a backup if something went wrong. This was a big mistake. A week before my arrival the host was unreachable (for the first time) and after three days was found. A few days before our visit we spoke on the phone and I asked if we could check in earlier, since we were scheduled to land at noon. He said that would be no problem.

The day before we left I contacted him to confirm and he said he would be home, and to call him from the airport. I did so but he didn’t answer. After a few unanswered calls, I decided to take a taxi to the address given on Airbnb, thinking I would just knock on the door and wake him up. We got to the address but there was no entrance to the building. The only entrance was from the side of the building, but it was a different address and his name wasn’t there.

I was alone in Barcelona with two kids and three big suitcases, and it was raining. We waited for him in a cafe nearby; after half an hour he responded on the phone. He came to the cafe and had a strong smell of alcohol on his mouth, so I felt completely insecure. I asked him what was wrong with the address and he said “Oh, the flat is somewhere else. didn’t I send you the address?”

Would you go with a man like that, as a woman traveling alone with two kids?  I contacted Airbnb immediately and they sweet talked me back and forth, suggesting I could solve any problems with the host, implying something about the cancellation policy. To this day I have not received a serious answer, and there is no number to reach customer service. I paid 3000 IS and have nobody to turn to. I contacted the Israeli press and they are now checking what can be done. What a huge disappointment. I will never recommend traveling with Airbnb.

Burgled within 60 Minutes of Checking into Airbnb

My wife, our young daughter, and I checked in to this apartment in Lisbon, Portugal mid-afternoon. When we arrived, the first thing we noticed was the dangerous staircase; it was nearly impossible to lift a large suitcase all the way to the third floor and I struggled to do so. Despite this property being listed as ‘child friendly’, the staircase was an extreme hazard and at this point I was already concerned about our three-year-old.

When we finally reached the staircase summit and the apartment, a young lady was waiting inside who spoke limited English but showed us the apartment and seemed helpful. The apartment seemed nice and in a great location. It also seemed like a low security risk for the following reasons: a very steep, straight staircase; two other apartments (one on each floor); no escape points for potential thieves; and tourists/cars around outside. Keep in mind it was also about 2:45-3:00 PM at this point (broad daylight). However, we learned that safety and security was a big problem.

Here’s what happened. Shortly after check-in, we went for a brief walk to look at the surrounding streets and picked up some food. Upon our return (approximately 45-60 minutes later), we opened the building door, walked upstairs and discovered the apartment door had been kicked open (visible footprints over the door) with a broken lock. All our possessions including passports were stolen (including my three-year-old daughter’s).

We immediately phoned the host who contacted the local police and Airbnb. To their credit, each party responded well: we received a refund from Airbnb and they offered to put us up for a night in a nearby hotel. We later discovered two critical pieces of information for which we should have been informed but were not:

  • The building was in fact, empty, with no neighbours. This means that had the break-in occurred while my wife and child were alone, no one would have heard or seen anything (I was on a business trip). A simple burglary could have in fact been much more serious.
  • The property had been recently burgled before our experience, which we discovered from another reviewer on Airbnb.

The break-in was perfectly timed and this property is definitely being targeted by professional thieves and criminals. From the moment of our arrival, we were being watched (either by chance or someone knew of our arrival time) and the intruders had very easy access to the building; the front door was flimsy and provided little safety. This kind of burglary would easily have required some coordination and good timing: at least 2-3 people (one outside to keep watch) and the others to lift/struggle down the staircase quickly to avoid being caught. Remember, the street outside was busy and there were cars and tourists coming past.

There were also a few peculiarities. The thieves were extremely forceful with the apartment door (it was smashed/kicked open and broken with pieces of wood were everywhere), yet they were able to access the building door extremely easily (it was perfectly closed when we returned). It also struck me as a little odd that they also stole a key. Surely, their interests would be primarily in the valuables and getting out (not returning especially as the locks would be changed). I can only theorise at this point but regardless, it scares me to think what could have happened during the night or at other times. Intruders could easily walk up the stairs (with no neighbours around) and simply try their luck. We appreciate the host’s attempt to support us but this is a serious security and safety risk and I am concerned for future guests.

Was My Host Just Plain Nuts? A Guest Ponders After Bad Review.

As a warning for Airbnb guests, you are only allowed two weeks to respond to reviews. I didn’t even know I had a review until after the fact. There is no way to contact Airbnb from what I could find. On the listing of reviews, my visit didn’t even show up on the site from my viewing.

I have to wonder about Airbnb’s practices regarding reviews of hosts. They make their money from having hosts supported. Even a few negative reviews too many would hamper their success. If negative reviews are kept out, no one is the wiser. Notice Amazon businesses bending over backward to do right by their customers. The overwhelming number of reviews of my hosts portray their experiences as all sweetness and light. There’s a dark side.

It is difficult to fathom the animosity and personal attacks expressed in my host’s comments about me as a guest. She began by claiming I disregarded her 11:00 AM check-out time. Her listing stated nothing with an 11:00 AM check out. Her Airbnb listing stated, “Flexible check out time.” She never stated differently. The fact is, I did, coincidentally, leave the room at 11:00 AM.

I checked my emails while in her living room and left the house until about 3:00 PM, returning to pick up my belongings. Her listing also stated she and her partner “work 8-5 jobs” and that I took advantage of her and her partner, claiming I knew they were not home. I did leave my bags in a corner of their living room during the day while I was out. I certainly did not know their whereabouts. They appear to live in the basement of their house. I didn’t see them Saturday and they made no effort to communicate with me. I assumed they would have been home.

Where the host stated I stayed five hours after her check-out time, I did make a judgement call about leaving my bags at her house while I spent the day out. I was not at her house during that time. But what did Megan actually communicate to me regarding my departure time and my leaving my bags at her house while I was out? We texted at 3:00 PM that day: “Okay, if you could leave prior to 5:00 that would be great… I have no problem with you leaving bags while you were out, but would like to have known in advance.”

Fair enough. My bad. An egregious transgression of etiquette? Additionally, she claimed I lingered at her house, “When I realized [the guest] was still lingering, I asked him to leave,” but, as I quoted her above, she admitted to being okay “if you could leave prior to 5:00,” which I did.

The host also wrote “rides to/from the airport are not included or offered in our listing but you pestered my partner into driving you 20 miles across town.” Pestered her partner? Going back again to her and my 3:00 PM phone text, “I won’t be home in time to give you a ride. I apologize!”

She omitted the fact I stated I could also call Uber. She omitted I offered her the $20 for the service I was told Uber would have charged. There was no pestering. Moments after our phone text, and her demonstrating an openness to my offer, I walked into the house and made her partner the same offer just before the next guests walked in. As he checked in the new guests, I sat at their dining table waiting for his answer. When he finished with the guests, he offered to take me. If he had said no, I would still have had 2-3 hours to catch a ride with Uber or a taxi. I had no investment either way how I would have gotten to the airport. I thought I was being thoughtful with my offer.

The host added to her complaints, saying I was “creating a chaotic and uncomfortable situation” in her house. Her new guests, her partner, his brother, and I were all the people at the house. Five people. At other times it would be possible for her partner, his brother, their housemate, and his friends or relatives whose were staying there, along with the host and her son, to have all been at the house – four additional people. Somehow, I, as one person sitting quietly at her dining table was “creating a chaotic and uncomfortable situation?” I waited patiently for her partner to do a routine check-in, and then he gave me a lift to the airport – accepting my $20 payment. Easy-peasy. How was that “creating a chaotic and uncomfortable situation?”

In addition, she left out the fact that because the bedroom was so hot, even with windows open and fans going, I slept on top of the bed where the only attention for the room would have been to straighten the bedcovers – I had cleaned the room before leaving. I left a note for her saying as much.

It appears that despite any effort on my part, the host glossed over if it might show I was not the “unpleasant,” “entitled and disrespectful,” “pestering,” “lack[ing] etiquette” and “lingering” guest she portrayed me. 
Considering her comments of me, perhaps I should have given a more frank telling of the condition of her house and my experiences with her. The house was a mess (I politely excused that, with her having a young son). The bathroom had the appearance of a college dorm bath being used with several people’s bath items strew about, crowding the sink and tub areas. I wrote only, “The bathroom was adequate, but in need of updating.”

I was shocked by her insulting accusations and other comments about my stay. I went back to her site to see what credibility there might have been in her numerous accusations… precious little. What I did discover was a photo of her bathroom only showing the toilet, excluding the tub. I believe this was an intentional deception on the host’s part to hide the bathtub from view – with good reason. The tub is the worst I’ve ever seen in a house. To that, I wrote only the bath is in “need of updating.”

I nearly chose not to shower because of the dark brown and grey-black stains where the finish had long worn off. It looked like a vat used for toxic chemicals that had worn off the finish. I wish I had taken photos to show I am not exaggerating. I’m surprised no one else had mentioned it in their reviews. I suspect it was left unsaid, just as I had left it unsaid, as an act of generosity as a guest.

It appears after all is said, her only issue with any legitimacy was that I did not call her before leaving my belongings at her house for a few hours. For that, she lashed out, maliciously lying, misrepresenting and berating my character and my actual behavior, all the while creating a fanciful fabrication of what my stay actually consisted.

I was willing to be graciously forgiving of her failings as a host and in my overall assessment of my stay. She suggested as her last comment to me, “Let this be a learning experience for each of us.” Indeed!

Fleas in the Bed, Airbnb Host in the Wind

We needed a place to stay for three nights before moving on to St. Ives and found a cottage listed on Airbnb. On arrival we were fairly happy with the cottage, which was decorated and kept nicely, if a little dirty, but nothing too bad. Our baby daughter was using her walker, and we noticed that her feet were dirty after a few minutes on the floor; again, we decided that we could live with this for a few days. The host had informed us that the previous guests had broken the curtain rail in the second bedroom, but that he didn’t think it would bother us. It did, as my teenage son was in that room, and he had to pile pillows into the window frame to block out the light in the morning. Again, we were only there for a few days so we could put up with it before our holiday moved to St. Ives.

Trying to run a bath for our daughter, I noticed that one of the bath taps wouldn’t work, so I filled it using the shower. Again not ideal, but we could work around it. The hosts kindly left some coffee, but the only coffee pot we could find was full of mould. We stuck to tea; it was no problem as I like tea. Now for the tipping point. We got into bed and allowed our daughter to lay with us for a little while, when my wife saw a flea jump onto her then off again. I sat up and we pulled the covers back and saw a flea (possibly the same one) jump onto and off of the white sheets. By this time it was too late to do anything so we had no choice but to sleep in the bed. In the morning we saw two more fleas and my wife had been bitten.

I contacted the host and very politely told him that he had fleas and that we couldn’t stay. He said he would refund me asap, and thanked me for being so understanding. I told him that if course we wouldn’t leave any negative feedback, as these things happen. We spent the day trying to find alternative accommodation, eventually finding an apartment in Plymouth, Devon. This was a very stressful day, not knowing whether we would be able to find a place to stay and having a six-month old to look after. A few weeks later I still hadn’t heard from the host, so I looked on the website and saw that you could request money. I did this, requesting £250 of the roughly £300 we paid.

A couple of nights later I received an email telling me that the host had refused to refund us, and in addition he felt that we hadn’t left the house in a respectable state. We had only stayed one night, and as far as I can remember the only things we left were items of food packaging by or in the bin, and the pillows piled up in the window. My son initially tidied this but I told him to put it back so that the host knew that it was an issue. I have asked the host to explain what he meant but haven’t heard back. I have asked Airbnb to get involved but haven’t heard back. Most annoyingly, the host left it long enough so that I couldn’t leave feedback.

Paying for a Host’s Remodel, Damage Present Before

Last month we rented a large family home for our family of four adults and two infants. The host left us a code to the door, and we welcomed ourselves into their beautiful home. The basement had a family room, which we enjoyed every day. The floor was laminate, and right away we noticed a small area (two boards) that looked to have had some minor water damage. We didn’t think much about it since it was like that upon our arrival.

One week later and 15 minutes after our 11:00 AM departure we received a note from the host stating that we had caused water damage to his basement. My husband’s response was that nothing had occurred in the home and that the small area was blistered when we arrived. The host made two attempts to have us pay for the damage; we explained in simple terms the floor was like that when we arrived and that we weren’t taking responsibility.

The following day the host informed us that he was filling an insurance claim with Airbnb. Two days later we received an email from the resolution center stating that the host wanted $6,000 to replace the entire 750 sq ft floor. Should we not respond in 72 hours our credit card would be charged. Our family didn’t do anything wrong, and this host (a Superhost) is trying to extort us for an entire remodel. We’re not sure what to do. We are crafting an email in response to the resolution center, but should we seek legal advice first? It’s not a few hundred dollars to replace a floor board; it’s an entire basement. We didn’t take pictures because we didn’t even know it was a problem. I do understand that hosts need to be protected, but I see nothing on the Airbnb website about guest protection. The hosts we rented from have been doing this as a business for years and have hundreds of excellent reviews. I do feel that our family is being taken advantage of.

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.

Mom Gets Hurt, Customer Service Couldn’t Care Less

I have used Airbnb before and had a wonderful time. I’m not blaming them, but my host and how things were handled were the problem. To make a long story short, my mom, my little nephew, and I went to Palm Springs and arrived at the Airbnb house. The pool stunk like fish or worse. The host gave me reasons why it smelled, but I didn’t want reasons for the odor, I just wanted it fixed. Granted , she sent someone over the next day.

Then my mom got hurt because ground that was not level in the car port had been covered with a carpet and we didn’t know this. She sprained her foot badly. However, things didn’t get any worse until 2:00 AM on the same day of our arrival. I had to call 911 to come get her because I had my nephew with me. The paramedics took her because she was in so much pain. We got back at 7:00 AM with a brace and walker.

I reached out to the host to let her know she should take care of this issue before it happens to someone else, and we thought we were hanging out in the car port. The last time I checked, when it’s blazing hot outside, the car port is a great place to park and let your family out, especially a diabetic 70-year-old mother and a 5-year-old nephew… I can use a parachute on my vacation to land at a house I rent if I want to. The host then asked us why we didn’t use the front door. Guess what? I didn’t want to. I just paid money to rent her house and took care of it like it was my own, even leaving it spotless (even after she talked to me like I was an idiot): I can use whatever door I want and I chose her carport door, so my family wouldn’t melt.

Her pool stunk, my mom got hurt, and everyone was miserable the whole time because she decided to cover a hole in the ground. Did it make the carport look better? What if something had happened to my nephew? The host is lucky my mom has health insurance to cover all expenses for the hospital and doctors. She is still in pain and has a brace on. Today is August 28th and I went on vacation August 7th (and injured the same day). It’s really sad that this has still not been addressed properly. I have had a few emails with Airbnb, but nothing has been done to refund my miserable vacation. I have called Airbnb a few times and asked for the people named on previous emails; the only response I have gotten is “he is not in today but will call you back as soon as possible.”

They didn’t call. They just emailed me telling me that I should go to the resolution center and deal with the same host that spoke to me like I was a moron. I don’t want to deal with the host. I want the Airbnb professional handling these cases to call me and tell me what I want to hear, not email me and give me the same disrespect I got from their host. I’m still waiting for their undivided attention.

Sweet Dreams in the Dungeon, Hope There’s no Fire

A while ago, I stayed in an Airbnb in Southern France, in a very charming little village. It was big, it was cheap, and there was a nice roof terrace, but the host wasn’t entirely straightforward about a major issue: two of the bedrooms were in a damp, dark basement, only accessible via steep and rickety stairs and without any fire escape. One of the bedrooms did not have any windows at all. It was basically a cellar with two beds in it. The walls weren’t even plastered. The other room only had a tiny opening near the ceiling, which was out of reach, impossible to open, and of no use as an emergency exit.

If this had been a properly regulated holiday rental, these rooms would have never been allowed to be classified as bedrooms. The basement bathroom did not have door handles and my partner managed to lock himself in for a good half hour until we rescued him.

For the first couple nights I refused to sleep in the basement, instead hunkering down in the extremely dusty living room with my kids. However, when my son, who has a dust allergy, started coughing, we had no choice but to sleep in the basement. All our clothes ended up smelling damp. Every night I had problems falling asleep because I was worried. If there had been any kind of issue, an electrical fire (the wiring also looked dubious) for instance, this could have been very dangerous for us.

I did not complain as I did not make the booking myself but I will not use Airbnb again. There is no guarantee that what you get will be fit for human habitation or safe in the event of an emergency. That’s why hotels charge more: because they have to comply with regulations and the taxes they pay fund health and safety inspections by local municipalities. You may save money on Airbnb but you might die. Sorry to put it in such stark terms, but it’s as bad as that and I’ve learnt my lesson.

There’s Rude, There’s Extremely Rude, Then There’s This Host

There’s rude, there’s extremely rude and then there’s being told to “f$#@ off” by your host. That’s what happened when I phoned my Airbnb host about the TV not working (aerial feed had been torn out; bare wire remained). “I don’t see it as a problem,” he assured me. He suggested I repair it myself.

“Okay, but how would you feel about it if this happened to you?” I asked. “Get another place. Find another room.” he said. “What?” I asked, shocked. “F$#@ OFF” he shouted. Then the phone went dead. I was on another man’s property. I was with my wife and my daughter. I was now uncertain as to whether or not we could stay. I felt very unwelcome. How can I write a good review after that?

Airbnb Expected us to Use our Psychic Powers

My husband and I recently sold our home and needed a temporary place of residence for three weeks before we could move into our new home. We figured an Airbnb would be the most comfortable route as we have a dog and a young son. Upon our arrival to our Airbnb everything seemed fine and the host had been very kind in his messages. Upon further inspection, the toilet was not clean, the shower looked like it had not been cleaned in awhile, the shower curtain liner was brown at the bottom, and the host had left his used bar of soap that had body hair on it in the shower. The fridge was full of his food which left no room for the groceries we would need for three weeks and the freezer had dried food stuck to it. In addition the bed was only a full bed for three people (myself, my spouse, and our son).

We stayed there less than 12 hours and the next morning I immediately messaged the owner and kindly told him it would not work. He asked if there was anything he could do and I stated that we just wanted a refund and it was okay. I later called Airbnb asking for a full refund and they stated they would back the owner’s refund policy of only 50% if we did not cancel prior to staying there. My question is this: how on earth could it be possible that we would know before seeing the apartment that it would not meet our needs? We paid $2156 to stay there for 22 nights and only actually occupied it for eight hours. How is it fair that we only received $856 as a refund?

The cancellation policy was stated, but the apartment we expected was not what we got. The owner is also at fault. It is not expensive to hire someone to clean a residence before you know you will be having guests stay there. Basically we are out $1300 because Airbnb somehow expected us to use our psychic powers to know that the apartment would not meet our needs prior to staying there. Not only is that the most ludicrous and ridiculous policy I’ve ever heard, but it’s also theft to let someone take so much money from us and then not provide us with a refund. I will never, ever, use Airbnb again and I will let everyone know how they do not advocate for their guests. I will also be filing a complaint with the BBB. My husband even offered to refund the host for the time we did occupy the residence and still a refund was denied. In the past I have used VRBO to book vacation homes and have never been disappointed with my experience. This has taught me that I should have stuck with a company who cares about its guests and to never, ever, use Airbnb again.