Vacation Rental in Charleston Goes Wrong

We had a poor experience with an Airbnb in Charleston. In the midst of COVID-19 and the challenges of traveling at this time, we were disappointed that neither the host nor Airbnb would refund (nor give us a credit for) our $670 deposit.

My friend and I booked our trip to Savannah/Charleston back in October 2019. Our original dates of travel were for March and April 2020. With the onset of the pandemic and our optimistic belief that we would be able to travel again, in early March, we contacted our Airbnb hosts and changed our reservations to September. They both agreed and extended the reservations until September.

In June, we cancelled our Airbnb reservation for both Savannah and Charleston. We did this for several reasons: instances of COVID-19 and resulting deaths increasing in our country; restrictions put on place by our governor for travel to New York from South Carolina; nothing in the data indicating that the pandemic would be over (or a vaccine/cure would be ready) by September; and my personal health issues of diabetes and hypertension.

Advice from the CDC and my own physician indicated that individuals with these conditions are more vulnerable for serious health implications from COVID and should not travel. In good faith, we wanted to give our hosts plenty of notice and the opportunity to rebook if possible. Our Savannah host did refund our money except for $81.45 in fees which we appreciated. However, our host in Charleston refused to refund us our $670.

When we reached out to the Airbnb Resolution Department, the representative was not able to resolve this issue for us. He was professional and kind but simply quoted standard cancellation policy. At his request, we provided him my personal health information and a letter from my doctor. Bottom line, no refund.

We have written to Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky as well and are awaiting a reply (so far two certified letters have gotten lost). We find this unacceptable and unethical. Our Charleston host has $670 of our money for services we are not receiving due to the pandemic. Airbnb’s own extenuating circumstances policy was recently extended to the end of September.

In good faith, we gave plenty of notice of cancellation. We feel strongly that an exception should be allowed for this pandemic. Airbnb has stepped up to provide assistance to their hosts in this financially difficult time. We are shocked that they are not supporting their customers in the same fashion. Be aware if you are booking through Airbnb.

Airbnb Guests Get Away with Everything but Murder

I’ll try and keep this as short as I can. We have been 5-star Superhosts (and guests) for years. We hosted in Truckee, CA and in Grants Pass, OR on the Rogue River. We took a chance, by allowing someone who had no reviews to book our place.

When we arrived home (after they checked themselves out), they left the door wide open, and all of the lights on in the apartment. There was trash and crumbs and dirty dishes everywhere. One of our screens was taken off, so they could burn incense on the window ledge (right over our roof) and they broke our washing machine; it was full of dark brown water, that would not drain. The repair man said it was due to them overfilling the washing machine.

We only charged a $250 deposit on Airbnb, which didn’t cover the cost of the damage they had done. Airbnb makes you resolve the issue yourself, with the guest — “Yes, talk to the guest about it. They will agree that they trashed the place and agree to give you compensation for it, no problem!”

Then the guests denied it (when we had photographic proof of everything, including text messages). The guests did not pay the deposit, and got away with everything. What’s the point of having a deposit, if the guests don’t have to pay it?

I surely did not think that Airbnb would let a person you were in a dispute with write a review about you. VRBO does not allow persons you are in a dispute with, write a review on your profile, because they know that it will be false and biased. But Airbnb allowed them to post a review on our account that was false and disgusting when we have a five-year history on Airbnb of being Superhosts and super guests (with 40 reviews).

We are shutting down our Airbnb account as of today, because of Airbnb’s awful and negligent handling of this entire situation. We have been amazing hosts (and guests) of Airbnb for years and the fact that Airbnb allows and practically invites this type of behavior from guests is outrageous. A guest can come into someone’s home, trash the place, break things, deny it and never pay the deposit (that they should) and leave the host a false and horrible review. We will only use other companies for hosting and traveling from this day forward. We will highly recommend all of our friends, families and guests to use anything but Airbnb. We will never recommend Airbnb to anyone.

Are Some Host Reviews an Invasion of Privacy?

We spent a few nights in Kelowna in an Airbnb accommodation. We are a couple with some dietary restrictions, so we were specifically looking for a unit with a kitchen.

Our tw0-day stay at this unit was okay. We didn’t have any problem except that we had to deal with cheap dollar store pans, pots and utensils, which we kind of ignored because we were there for just two nights. Upon finishing the trip, we were unpleasantly surprised to see the host posted a review that among other things said “the guests spent whole two nights cooking in the unit kitchen provided.”

I personally took it as invasion of privacy as it is none of the host’s business to see what we were doing. I found it creepy as it also raised questions on whether the host was keeping an eye on what we were doing. I reached out to Airbnb with this concern and they brought the review down first. Upon pushing further, they assigned someone to this case who claimed that they had spoken to the host and that the hosts had assured them that they were not spying on us and checking out what we were doing.

To my utter anguish Airbnb decided to bring back the review and publish it again for some reason best known to them. Upon following up, they said that the review had been taken down due to some error earlier. This all begets the question — how seriously does Airbnb take privacy-related complaints?

In my case, I still do not know why someone would care what guests were doing in their basement unit, proudly boast about it in their reviews, and Airbnb would still not take it down. Any host could tell the whole world what you have been doing during your stay and Airbnb doesn’t think it’s inappropriate to post such personal stuff. No issues with breach of privacy.

Airbnb Disaster in Mexico and Aftermath

We were staying in Cancun and had booked a condo on the beach for four days for $340.86 in Chicxulub, a small beach town on the Gulf of Mexico. Pictures looked great and description wonderful. We rented a car and drove the four hours to Chicxulub.

When we arrived, we discovered there was no elevator; it was our fault for not asking (we are 71 and 72 years old). There was no running water. I reached under the kitchen sink thinking I could turn it on there and discovered several spiderwebs. I didn’t touch anything.

A man appeared about five minutes after we arrived. He did not speak English and immediately went to the back of the condo. We walked back a few minutes later and found him trying to light the pilot light for the water heater. He was unsuccessful after several attempts and left. We tried the air conditioning (as advertised for this condo) and none of them worked in any room.

At this point we called the host and she did respond in a timely manner. We texted her describing the problems and she replied that she would send a plumber over in about 20-30 minutes. We thought about this briefly and decided that the situation was simply too overwhelming (we still had to carry four suitcases up three flights of narrow stairs).

We texted her back to let me know that we simply could not stay and that we were cancelling. She apologized and we left. I sent an email to Airbnb explaining the situation and they refused to refund anything except $30.

We have always used HomeAway. This was our first time using Airbnb and believe me, it will be the last. They even sent an email asking us to “rate our stay.” I don’t want to trash this host as she said she had no hand in all of the problems, but I don’t want anyone else to waste their time and money on this property.

Write Honest Reviews for your Airbnb Stays

I’ve stayed in four Airbnb properties over three years. One was very good, two were okay, and one was awful. The awful one underlined why everyone needs to be so careful with Airbnb.

One part of the awful stay included when the host embarked on a two-hour daily tickle game with his young son right on the other side of my room door. There were no curtains in my room, with the neighbor’s lights shining directly into my face all night long. There was one bathroom for eight people, a washing machine regularly operating right outside my window, a barking dog upstairs, family feuds on the other side of all walls round the clock, and hosts that stayed in with the TV blaring from 7:00 AM. I came away with insomnia and was so happy to return back home.

I simply would not pay above a certain amount for a place that I’ve never seen (and in an area I’ve never visited before), for which I cannot cancel once I’ve booked, and for which I need to make a large leap of faith having tried to read between all the lines of previous guest reviews. Airbnb relies heavily on trust, and as we all know, not everyone – both guests and hosts – can be trusted. You would be really foolish to part with more than a thousand dollars for an Airbnb stay.

I’m not defending Airbnb, but people have to be realistic about what they get, and if a place doesn’t have, for example, an electric kettle but an old-style stove kettle, I don’t think this really warrants a complaint. However, when what they get is dangerous and/or harmful to their health, then there is real cause for complaint.

As a female, I’m careful not to book with male-only hosts and to research the street crime around the apartment area, but some people seem to forget that your host/guest could be just about anyone. You should never let your guard down.

I definitely do think Airbnb should do a lot more to ensure greater safety of both their hosts and guests, and they certainly need a more thorough and better host profile and review system. There also needs to be more regulation around short-term rental markets to protect guests, hosts, and the surrounding community. The all-round system could be so much better than it currently is, and it’s a pity Airbnb seems to do everything to avoid leading the way on this.

The fact that Airbnb also seems to remove some negative reviews is also disturbing and effectively false advertising. I was so careful to scrutinize all the reviews for the bad place that I stayed at. Not one review mentioned that there were children in the house or that the place was beyond noisy 24/7 or that the neighbors’ lights were so bright at night, making it impossible to sleep. I simply cannot believe that no one else other than me had a problem unless other guests simply did not want to point out the negatives for fear of damaging the host’s income stream or receiving a poor review from the host.

I urge all guests who have stayed at an Airbnb to write a review and to be honest about anything that wasn’t good. If I had seen just one review saying there were young children in the same house, I would not have booked that property.

Almost left stranded in California with nowhere to stay

I strongly suggest anyone who has also had terrible experiences with Airbnb to file complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and the Attorney General of your own state or California. Trying to contact Airbnb has been the single worst customer service experience ever in my entire life. Their poor service is creating danger for individuals both in the state of California, nationwide, and worldwide.

This business poses a threat to the safety of citizens because they do not respond to clients who book with them in a timely manner, their customer service agents hang up calls, and they refuse to resolve issues with locked accounts/verification even when people are stranded with nowhere to stay at night because of their poor processes and poor technology. I can only provide my story here, but there are countless others accumulating online from people who have been left out of luck, stranded, and in some cases have come to personal harm and dangerous situations due to Airbnb’s procedures and their horrendous customer service.

On October 31st, I moved out of an Airbnb which my friend had booked for us. I have stayed at two Airbnb’s: one near Temecula, CA and another at Big Bear Lake, CA. Trying to book one for myself, I immediately ran into issues in which their system could not verify my phone number and locked me out even when I had service.

I tried calling them and explained I was a customer and unable to book with their service due to technical issues. If they didn’t get their issue of my phone number being verified fixed then I would need to book a hotel for the night and incur an unnecessary expense.

The agent was unable to do anything to help me get my phone number verified so that I could book an Airbnb. Despite a manager saying that hopefully I would not have to book a hotel room and it would not come to this, I never heard back and ended up incurring an expense of around $82 to book a room at a cheap motel, which was the last option I could find because they never got back to me as promised.

The next day I tried contacting someone again and was told by an agent that she would work on it and send me an email. Lo and behold, the next day without receiving any followup from anyone from Airbnb I suddenly found out I could verify my phone number successfully with Airbnb, and I went to book a reservation. The host I stayed at was great and I got a good night’s rest for two nights with the first Airbnb I booked myself, but I thought it was poor service that no one followed up with me and that I was left to deal with their faulty systems on my own.

My main issues with Airbnb which entails my primary formal complaint I filed with the BBB began today, November 3rd. I am currently booking a place to stay for a month near Corona, CA, I found a listing on their website and contacted the host, who said he would get back to me. The host would not be ready for me in the evening, so in the meantime I booked another Airbnb at a nearby location in Chino, CA for the evening, and for the next day in case the first host could not accommodate me and I would need to find another living situation.

Later the same day, the host of the other Airbnb got back to me and let me know I could come tomorrow. My reservation for the night also messaged me and said I could check myself in with a door code through the Airbnb app. Thirty minutes after this message, around approximately 7:30 PM PST I became mysteriously locked out of the Airbnb app and website due to “security reasons.”

Because I was locked out of the app I could no longer message the host or see the door code to get in to my reservation to stay for the evening. I tried calling Airbnb’s customer service and the first person hung up on me/the call dropped. The second person said she would mark it as “urgent” and it would be handled by a proper team.

I explained this issue needed a resolution tonight so that I would be able to message the host I had already paid for, a sum of $95 in order to get into the room I had booked and paid for. The agent said someone would be contacting me shortly by phone/email and hung up the call. Thirty minutes later I had no response and was standing outside in the cold with no way to get into my booking because the code to enter my reservation was inside their app which they had locked me out of for “security reasons.”

I tried calling back to which another agent I asked for help. She stated she would look into it, placed me on hold for five minutes, got me back on the line, and said she could not do anything. I asked to talk to somebody else. She said she had one more thing to look into, then she placed me on hold, and after five minutes of hold time, the call was dropped.

Because I knew the address I was able to find the host’s phone number and contact them directly so that I would have a place to stay tonight. However, my Airbnb account is still locked and I am unable to use their service which I have paid for. I have never in my life been treated so poorly from call center agents, and I saw it all because I used to work in customer service.

This is not how you treat people, Airbnb. We demand justice.

San Juan del Sur, Nicaraguan Hell Vacation

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I stumbled down the hot street looking for rooms when suddenly a gate opened on to a large property and I peeped in. I pushed past the garden fixture, a young teenage fella hired for general property duties, towards a frazzled woman of about 60, wiping sweat off her forehead and giving the fixture a look for letting me in.

“What can I do for you?’ She was a Brit.

‘I’m looking for a room,’ I said, dropping my suitcase. She looked me up and down, asked me a few pointed questions, then walked me back to a room in a house two houses back from the first, each with a pool.

Thus was the beginning of the worst holiday I’ve ever had. My first Airbnb and my last. I surveyed the room: art deco, clean. We agreed on $45/night, but I was disappointed to learn that I would be sharing the house with her disgruntled husband, an inveterate television watcher, late night snacker, ball scratcher.

Any question I asked him he directed back to his wife. I asked for a key to my room, but there was none. She said, ‘Well, just hide the things that are important to you.’

Easier said than done when you have a suspect roommate, whom I was soon to meet. I dove into my bathing suit and went out to the pool, where I was introduced to a disheveled woman in her seventies from Chicago with a humped back, and a distended stomach the likes of which I had never seen. But for her long, tangled gray hair, you might have thought she was pregnant due to the protrusion of her stomach, accentuated by stick-like legs that reached, crablike, to suck and the ground towards her. She ground her teeth and smoked beside the pool.

I bumped into her in the hall the next morning and my good morning wasn’t exuberant enough because from that moment on she ignored me. I didn’t exist. It was weird. When I sat outside, she’d pull her chair around to make sure her back was to me. In the kitchen, she turned her back, when she walked out the door, she walked right by me. When her son visited with friends, she did the same. She was unbelievably childish and it became a real pain in the arse for everybody.

The house was super noisy; you heard everything and you had little privacy. Every time a door shut, it slammed and rattled through the house. Every door also squeaked. I asked my host why they didn’t oil the hinges and she said she wanted it that way so she knew what was going on. I wound up slamming my door harder, just to ease her mind.

‘Oh I feel like I’m in between the two of you, now I feel awful. I don’t want to be in this position,’ said the host one morning. ‘I just feel awful.’ She then patted my arm and said ‘be the bigger person.’

Later, she and I were sitting at the kitchen table having coffee (although it was a bed and breakfast I had yet to get any breakfast) discussing alternative medicines. She spoke of her chronically upset stomach (viciously throwing up for hours my first night there), her constipation, along with her dazzling display of varicose veins.

‘Urology,’ she said. A blank look formed in my eyes. ‘You know what that is don’t you?’

‘Uh, yeah?’

She explained urology. ‘It’s when you drink your own urine.’

‘Oh,’ I said. Okay, look normal now, I thought, thinking back to the orange juice in the fridge.

‘It’s very good for your health because you’re drinking your own bodily fluids.There’s nothing wrong with it.’

Did I say there was? Okay, time for a swim.

She couldn’t take the situation with the other guest anymore and feeling forced to choose, stopped talking to me; the guest was a snowbird, after all. There was silence from the host as she dusted while I made coffee. No “How’s your room? Do you need a towel? Are you having a good time?”

It was awkward and I rued having paid her for the week because there was no way I was getting a refund. Mostly, I resented them when they sat around smoking dope and didn’t even offer me a toke.

The host was obsessed with money, or lack thereof. Her husband opened up to me about how much money they owed. I was somewhat relieved when she stopped talking to me because she pissed and moaned about money constantly: the downturn in tourism, their loans, her daughter’s expensive school in France, the houses. She was so self-absorbed.

The people who stayed at the fourth house on the property were unhappy. They were up on a bluff and they had no air conditioning for the perpetual burning sun, and no screens for the wind that brought dust, delivering massive gobs of brown sand to every surface inside. The floors were sandy.

The guest had to go to the doctor because of a bronchial infection. She was coughing up great gobs of yellow… let’s not get too descriptive. She couldn’t get any rest, either, because there were chickens right under her window that woke her up every morning at five. Not to mention the dogs that barked next door. When she asked the host about getting the house cleaned, she said:

‘Yeah, if you want to share the expense of that.’

‘How much would that be?’

‘Eight dollars.’

Yes, in spite of her avowed devotion to spirituality, she was cheap. I couldn’t wait to leave. It’s hard staying in a place as a guest where the hostess is pretending you’re just not there.

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Faulty Electrical Appliance Nearly Caused a Fire

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We returned from a weeks trip to Trulli Margherita, a traditional Puglian villa located in Gorgofreddo, Puglia, Italy. We experienced a number of complaints and inconveniences, as well as one distressing, near fatal electrical fault, that unfortunately put a dampener on the rest of our stay.

Although Airbnb and the host were quick to handle most of the complaints we were certainly not happy with how our main complaint was handled. To summarise our complaints briefly:

  • The electrical plug-in fan caught fire, causing a plastic smelling smoke to fill the bedroom in which our 6-month old baby was sleeping.
  • There was no air-conditioning in the bedrooms.
  • ‘Trulli shaped’ wood-fired oven locked away, not for guest use.
  • Bedside lamps to the second bedroom were not working on arrival, maintenance had to be called to replace them.
  • The house bathroom shower valve broke, maintenance called again.
  • Maintenance again called to provide more wine glasses

Our main complaint about this listing would be about an electrical plug-in fan provided in one of the bedrooms. To our horror, it caught fire and filled the room with plastic-smelling smoke. Our 6-month baby was sleeping in this room, so you can understand our distress at having to rush him to A&E to check he was okay. Please note we were sat outside in the courtyard area, checking on him at regular intervals as well as keeping an eye on him via video monitor.

After a few hours in the hospital, trying to convey the issue with a major language barrier, he thankfully checked out okay, but on doctor’s orders we had to follow up with another hospital appointment the next day and a further GP’s appointment again once we were home to be certain. This added incredible stress and anxiety to us for the rest of the holiday.

The host, although quick to respond and apologise for the incident, only offered a mere 10% refund as an apology (a sum we would have expected for the misleading description about the wood-fired oven alone), and no explanation as to whether the appliance had been checked over beforehand. We felt rather insulted at this small offer and upset the matter had not been taken more seriously. If we hadn’t checked on our baby at that time, the situation could have been a lot worse, even fatal.

Please note there were no fire alarms in the property that would have alerted us to this incident. We were further insulted during a phone call with the host where they stated the 10% refund from the owner was offered so we didn’t write a negative review – a rather tactless remark to make about their own self interests, in light of the serious nature of the incident.

To add insult to injury, during further discussions with the host after we arrived home, they claimed the fan was only for decorative use, and that we shouldn’t have been using it in the first place. This was never stated in writing or conveyed verbally during check in. If this were the case, why would they place a functioning fan in a bedroom if it were not for use in the first place? Especially a room with no air-conditioning? Very misleading if true, but we feel they are now only saying this to relieve themselves of responsibility and to avoid a case of negligence in terms of electrical safety.

Our next complaint would be about the ‘Trulli shaped’ wood-fired oven that is listed in the description of the property. On arriving at the property, we noticed it was actually locked away. We enquired with the host about this and they apologised about the misleading description and offered for the owner to come around and light it. Although a kind gesture, this was inconvenient and inflexible for us – we did not particularly want to ‘book’ in a time with the owner.

Overall it was disappointing, as the amenities and features of the property were some of the reasons why we booked it in the first place. Air conditioning is listed as an amenity; however, it is only offered in living spaces, not bedrooms. Again, a rather misleading description of the property. We had a few restless nights’ sleep due to the heat as a result.

The other maintenance issues, although not serious in nature, were just more inconveniences to us during our stay. We certainly got to know the maintenance man very well. Aside from our complaints and credit where credit is due, the Trulli itself is very charming and cosy – maybe a little basic – but perfect for a family getaway.

The real seller, however, is the spacious external, covered seating area and poolside. It was a shame the wood-fired oven was not for use, as we were looking forward to making pizzas out there. Other than that, the area was very good for evening dinners and sunny days lazing around the pool, which is exactly what we were after.

The area itself is a bit off the beaten track (hire car a must), but this rural setting was exactly what we were after. Within walking distance there is a well stocked ‘corner-shop’ as well as a charming pizzeria. Alberobello and Castellana Grotte (amazing caves) are both a 10- to 15-minute drive and well worth a visit. Monopoli and the surrounding beaches around 20-25 minutes and again worth seeing.

Unfortunately as a conclusion, I cannot recommend this listing to anyone, not until the owners, the host or Airbnb confirm there has been some sort of electrical safety check to assure users it is safe to stay in. They also need to go back and accurately re-write the listing description about he wood-fired oven and air-conditioning. A real shame, as otherwise it would have been a good stay.

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Airbnb Inefficiency for Explanation on House Rules

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Airbnb does a great job helping guests with their suitable short-term accommodation, and hosts with extra income for accommodating guests. I have had great stays all this time, until I met this host who first of all posted confusing house rules, then ignored my messages when I tried to confirm if she was going to charge for any extras. Airbnb did not have any answers.

Why were there such misguiding house rules on the listing? Why was my host ignoring my messages especially where I asked if there was any extra payment she was going to charge me? Airbnb’s support team put my call on hold for 1.15 hrs and my feelings turned negative after observing a “no intentions to help” attitude from the first supervisor I was brought onto the call with.

In addition, they had no clue about the rules in the listing and they could not provide any explanations. They let my money go to the host even when I informed them about my discomfort within 48 hours of my booking. The host has kept the amount in full ($302.61 when the normal cost on other days are much cheaper) even when I did not visit her place, and kept on informing her that Airbnb has suggested I not cancel the trip because of her strict cancellation policy.

I’ve had very good experiences in past with nice hosts, but this was one terrible experience due to a very inconsiderate and selfish business. I want nobody else to suffer like I did. Please be extra careful with this listing, house rules, cancellation policy and double check with the host before booking.

Customer service was not helpful at all especially when it comes to accepting their own flaws and working on them. The only way to file a complaint is through a feedback form which again goes to the same people who give the same response: whether I get a full refund or not is at the host’s discretion.

Airbnb Wouldn’t Send Messages from Guests to Hosts

We are new hosts and had a really bad experience with Airbnb. Airbnb didn’t send us SMS messages from guests, not even for one. As we are not on the Internet all the time (and we didn’t get those SMS messages from Airbnb), of course we didn’t respond to guests. The guests didn’t book, we lost at least 250€, but also lost other guests, who had to book another place, which was more expensive (we had the lowest price in the city: 13€/person/night) and of course with a bigger service fee for Airbnb only.

Maybe the reason was just that: for guests to pay a bigger service fee. That takes us to this conclusion: for just a few euros or dollars more, everyone loses, guests and hosts. You can just imagine what could happen if some guest (maybe you) booked instantly: Airbnb wouldn’t send you an SMS, the guest would face closed doors as the host might not be home that night, and the guest would be in the middle of the street in one of most dangerous cities in the world. Who would care?

Airbnb didn’t gave me any answer as to why they didn’t send an SMS from guests to me for one whole week. Because we didn’t respond to guests (as we didn’t know about their questions before booking) we also had a really bad response rate, which Airbnb didn’t correct as promises. Guests base their decisions on the response rate too. We lost a whole day due to talking with Airbnb staff, but nothing happened: he just talked and talked.

Be aware when you search for a place on Airbnb: the cheapest ones are never on first listing page. It is a shame for such a big and rich company to make so many ugly mistakes in year 2019.