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!