Airbnb Host Offers no Flexibility During Pandemic

This was the worst Airbnb I have ever stayed at in my life. It was like walking on eggshells. I can’t believe I stayed here and extended my stay. I was manipulated and taken advantage of at the same time as well.

Since I was trying to save money in the middle of the pandemic, I figured I should probably stay in a cheap place with a kitchen. I was hesitant with booking with this host since the kitchen was not allowed. I figured she might be able to make an exception so I decided to message her first.

In our conversation, she told me “light cooking” would be okay. Unfortunately, that was my mistake. “Light cooking” was her way to get me to book the room so that she could make some extra cash during the pandemic. Apparently sautéing was not considered to be “light cooking”. Light cooking to her was considered to be making a sandwich, which is not really cooking at all. Because of this miscommunication, I had to throw away $30 of groceries.

My host also came into my room and moved my stuff around so that she could tidy up one day while I was gone for the afternoon. If I can’t come into your room I would really appreciate it if you didn’t go into the one I paid for when I’m not in the apartment. I mean how do I know if my stuff is safe in the room?

I can also see why previous guests were complaining about the bed. I had to fix the bed frame several times since it’s made out of wood. On her listing, it also says that a laptop friendly space is included. When I was at a desk typing on my laptop I was told to go to my room because “the living room wasn’t an office”.

If you’re a tourist and you’re not in the apartment a lot I can see why you would leave a good review but this was not my experience. I’ll never use Airbnb again.

Rejected by a Host Because I’m from Taiwan?

Yesterday I asked a host in LA a few typical questions about housing conditions and parking, and I stated that I’m from Taiwan. The host, without asking further details, simply replied that she’s afraid of the coronavirus situation, and said she couldn’t help us. She rejected my request to book her place.

Now, of course, I’ve lost all interest in this host, but I feel very insulted that she assumed the virus situation in Taiwan (which is fairly safe at the moment) is the same in China (which is much worse). If the health inspectors at LAX let me through, why does she have the right to reject me just because I’m from Taiwan?

What’s more, my friend, who is Japanese and will be traveling with me to LA, also contacted the host and mentioned she was from Japan. Strangely, she was accepted. I’m not sure what’s on the host’s mind here. Either she can’t tell the difference between China and Taiwan or she is hostile toward Taiwanese guests.

Since I can’t book this place so I cannot leave a negative review for this host. I want others to know exactly who the host is and be aware of my encounter. I want people to be aware that there is more and more discrimination on Airbnb based on guests’ background due to fear of the coronavirus. I highly recommend others who are considering  staying at this place to look elsewhere.

Who knows? Maybe as the virus situation gets worse, she will cancel your reservation out of fear, especially those guests from Taiwan.

Host’s Calendar was Full, Didn’t Bother to Tell me

I found an apartment from a new host. I liked it and booked it. After arriving, I noticed it was an agency’s apartment. I tried to book more nights but the host didn’t let me know that her calendar days were not available (didn’t update the calendar, as many hosts don’t do). She let me know which days were available so I booked and paid; she accepted it.

I was thinking there was an automatic system for calendar updates but now I know many hosts play with calendar days to be full when guests try to make bookings so they get money from 2-3 new guests at the same time and then also half of the cancellation fees. The calendar days were available and then full when I made the reservation and paid. She accepted it; the calendar was available to me and then it was not.

After that she sent a new reservation request with new days, without telling me about another guest’s reservation for the same days. Only after the payment was accepted did she tell me she had other guests arriving also for the day and so I had to shorten my stay. She also changed the check-out time to be earlier without any mention of it before. Because of this, she would get more money for shorter stays and I couldn’t accept it.

I declined her offer because I made bookings for those days. The host also told me I could pay with cash but I never do this with anyone. I had to search information on how to cancel the payment for my five-day reservation. The host accepted the reservation and got half of my money without telling me how to cancel. It was the host who was messing with her calendar and changed the days. In the end, the host got more than half of my payment because Airbnb’s cancellation system works like that; it work well for hosts and badly for guests. You lose money if you have to make a cancellation as I had to. I did nothing wrong but the system is making it the guest’s fault when a host plays with the calendar days to be full.

Before this, I heard only positive brags about Airbnb. It’s an incredible system, but it can’t work if bad hosts can do anything they want. There is usually not enough help for guests. I have to wait 1-2 days to get any answers from the Airbnb customer service team. Nobody has helped me. I’m a guest and when I see rules, I follow rules. I also have to verify my profile every time I log into Airbnb. The system is working much better for hosts when they can do anything that they want. Hosts should be more trustworthy. It’s like they are sending guests back to camping and hostels after these experiences.

Bad Airbnb Host Cancels our Mexico Vacation at the Last Minute

I had a similar Airbnb Hell experience with Sofia in Tulum, Mexico. I had reserved her place for a three-week stay a full month in advance. We were so excited to have found a nice place at a reasonable rate. It was priced fairly enough that we could do some of the other fun adventures in the area. Ten days before the trip I tried to connect with Sofia to ask a few questions about the place; she did not respond. As we got closer to the departure date, and after a few more attempts to contact her, I started to worry. I contacted Airbnb and they confirmed the reservation was fine. Well, somewhere between takeoff and landing in Cancun, Sofia cancelled our reservation. She never explained why, refused to answer any questions, and never contacted me again. With only one day’s notice, we ended up having to book another Airbnb that was very nice, but twice as much money and nowhere near the beach, which meant a lot of money on taxis and not the Maya Riviera vacation we had planned for, dreamed and reserved. Because I was still on vacation, I missed the window to leave feedback on her profile on Airbnb. I suspect she got a longer stay offer or more money as it coincided with spring break in Cancun. I’m very disappointed. I spent well over $1000, more than I ever intended to, and it was not a relaxing time; it was very stressful. How can a host just cancel for no reason?

Airbnb Host Invoked the Wrath of God upon us

My husband, best friend and I booked a place in Khaosiung, Taiwan through Airbnb last week. The house was definitely a bottom-of-the-barrel budget listing, and we knew that we shouldn’t expect luxury. However, we did expect that the house would AT LEAST match the listing.

The problems started before we’d even arrived. The host, Cindy, refused to give us the address of her home and insisted on meeting us at a nearby MRT station. Unfortunately, we had trouble locating the station. We found Cindy after about 20 minutes of waiting/searching. After taking a quick tour of the apartment, my husband asked about the wifi – something that is crucial to us since we both work online. Cindy tells us that the apartment does not even have wifi, the complete opposite of what she wrote on the listing. Okay, we thought, we can deal with this. My husband spent about an hour trying to find a data plan for his phone so that he could use it as a hotspot for work.

Fast forward to checkout time. We tidy up the apartment, pack our things and get on our way. My husband promptly leaves Cindy a 4.5/5-star review; only marking the host down for the inconvenience of not having her address and the issues with the wifi. Several hours later, we see a message in our inbox: “Cindy has a request of $30 USD.” Perplexed, we open the email to read a loong tirade from Cindy. To sum things up, she said we’d clogged her toilet, and that we unfairly left her a poor review. My husband, respectful as ever, gently tells her that we are not willing to pay $30 for something we didn’t do, and that our review was honest. Boy oh boy, did we make the wrong choice.

Cindy writes back an even longer message accusing us of 1) purposefully clogging her toilet to sabotage her, 2) taking advantage of her because she’s Taiwanese (for the record, my husband is Taiwanese), and 3) intentionally using English when we could have spoken to her in Mandarin (my husband is self-taught in Mandarin and not quite fluent). The best part? She said that “God knows what you did and he will judge you for it”. In other words, God knows that we intentionally incapacitated her toilet and he is going to fill our lives with misery because of it. So at this point we’re laughing at the ridiculousness of our situation but also feeling a bit nervous. This chick was going to take things straight to the top with Airbnb. I prepared a message to tell them exactly what happened, and sure enough, we got an email informing us that the Trip Team would be reviewing Cindy’s case.

Long story short, Airbnb emailed us an apology for our experience. We received a refund as well as a $25 voucher. But, it didn’t stop there… Cindy sent us a message thanking us for the $50 we’d (supposedly) paid her. Huh? Perplexed yet again, we chalked it up to Airbnb giving Cindy some money to get her to simmer down. We didn’t respond to Cindy’s message because we didn’t want to encourage her. But lo and behold, my husband’s phone rang several hours later, and he picked it up because he was expecting a call from a family member. It’s Cindy on the line (she had the number since we were trying to coordinate things over the phone before our stay). “Thanks for paying $50 when I only asked for $30! I hope that you have an excellent trip, and that you enjoy your future journeys!” My husband hastily responded and hung up.

Finally, FINALLY, we were clear of Cindy. It was time to file this saga away in our book of travel memories. Or so we thought. Two hours after her maudlin phone call, Cindy writes yet again. “You guys are LIARS. You said the apartment was hard to find, but it’s your fault for not being able to locate the MRT station. You should have picked somewhere else to stay if you weren’t able to afford a hotel.” I sure wished we’d picked somewhere else to stay. But here we are, still dealing with Cindy a week after the fact, and hoping that Airbnb will put this issue to rest for us once and for all. Thankfully our Airbnb profiles are still filled with glowing reviews. We are also grateful that Cindy hasn’t been able to get her hands on any extra money from us… but I will never feel completely at ease using the toilet in an Airbnb again!

Airbnb’s Unethical Service Fees

Let me start by saying I am a host and other people have cancelled on me before. I also use Airbnb to travel to other sites. It is currently April. I booked a trip for July for work back in January. However, funding for my trip was cancelled and I am no longer able to go on the trip. I wrote to the host and asked if she would be willing to cancel my trip and issue a full refund. She said, “Yes of course! Let me just figure out how!” So I waited and waited and later got notification that she acknowledged my cancellation and issued a refund of about 3/4 of the money she said she would. Meanwhile, Airbnb kept $70 of the original amount I paid, citing that they were “service fees” and, therefore, nonrefundable. A service rep wrote to congratulate me that the host refunded the room outside of the strict policy (less than she said she would refund). I responded asking to be refunded the $70 services fees. Back and forth, back and forth. And still the answer was “no, the service fees will not be refunded.” Note that it is early April and there are still over three months before my planned check-in date. As a host, I KNOW that the likelihood of re-booking is high. Airbnb has a valuation of billions of dollars and now I understand why: keeping money for services NOT rendered and unethically keeping any money they are able to process… simply because “you agreed to” when this caveat is written in fine print somewhere. The attitude reminds me of street vendors in 3rd world countries. I’m not opening a dispute with my credit card company and hoping to find an alternative to Airbnb to both host and locate other go-to destinations.