Dynamic Pricing = Fleecing the Client?

I browsed Airbnb for a property in Suffolk able to accommodate 13 for a family holiday in August 2022 and found a great contender. The listing quoted £3,141 for a week but there was no mention of COVID terms and conditions. I messaged the host who replied promptly with a satisfactory answer – so far so good.

On booking however, I discovered that the price had risen overnight to £3,535. I messaged again. The host replied (equally promptly) that it was due to dynamic pricing (i.e. based on demand). However, it was a good location and I went ahead with the reservation for my chosen dates which were for Sunday to Sunday. I thought I was home and dry, but no. The host declined the reservation, saying he only did Friday to Friday in the holidays, though this condition did not appear in his listing.

Another message and another prompt reply later, he assured me that if I rearranged my dates to suit his booking schedule, it would make no difference to the price. I asked him to amend the booking to Friday to Friday. Surely this would seal the deal? If only.

The host responded with the dates amended to six days for approximately £3,600 with an option of an extra day to make it a full week for another £200 or so and called it a ‘special offer’. The seven-day quote had now risen from £3,141 to around £3,800 – all within 36 hours.

I declined to book and he withdrew the offer. The moral of the story is that when you hear the phrase Dynamic Pricing, please remember that it actually means that for every enquiry you make, the price increases. I am not naming the property – the host may be very nice (though I will never find out) – but I believe the Airbnb system is fleecing its customers and will not be tempted down this road again. Airbnb’s loss is Cottages.com’s gain.

Nightmare at Mexico Airbnb Makes Us Leave Early

blankblankblankblank

A misrepresented listing led us to find serious issues with listing in Cholula Puebla, Mexico: three bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, three-story house, two years old. It was not only dirty but there was no PPE or COVID-19 sanitizing protocols or cleaning supplies even though the host is a dentist. The host said they only cleaned once a month; there were no cleaning supplies at all, so guess we missed that window, right?

We walked all over the house. There was no gas or internet. We were told to wait for the gas truck and cable company to do installs, while the hosts left. The workmen took 7.5 hrs to finish (no PPE while going up and down the three floors) you can see the installation on the photos I will include. The gas people finally showed up and the pilot was lit, immediately there was a strong gas odor. The host said it was nothing and “just leave the boiler door open” except that the gas leak was very strong all over especially in the kitchen. I should say the boiler temperature never increased from the pilot level so the gas couldn’t get worse which meant no hot water.

We called the host several times about the gas leak, and they finally said a plumber would arrive right away. They never did. I opened the rear sliding door only to be met with all types of flies and mosquitoes. We had to keep it closed. I should add the home was very hot, with no window coverings. We were told the internet would work the following day but it only worked on the first floor due to the installation plus this was an old issue they were aware of.

We gave them benefit of the doubt but couldn’t sleep due to the gas situation and being bit by fleas or bedbugs as soon as we lay on top of the bed. Add to this house wasn’t as advertised — new, modern house completely outfitted — the living room furniture was badly stained, dirty and full of dust plus broken (they were same style as listing but different fabric), and the same for the dining room and kitchen.

The upper floors were stifling hot so they had small fans everywhere. Everything had serious calcium deposits which affected the use of any water, the microwave was dirty and greasy, and everything was old and mistreated. There wasn’t one pan for cooking, just old beat up pots but no spoons, spatulas, coffeemaker, blender, even where you drain dishes didn’t have base on it so couldn’t be used.

They say they’re set up for long-term stays? Definitely not. They also gave us limits for utility use: 500 MX for gas, 500 MX every two months, (roughly $25). You pay for anything over. The host made a abig deal of utility conservation yet with a gas leak, only multiple ceiling lights, no small table lamps available so you’d use much more electricity, plus a very hot house requiring fans everywhere gives the reason for their utility limits.

We left the very next day after seeing had odor was worse, there was no plumber and the internet was still not working properly. We notified Airbnb about getting a refund. It’s been over a week and even though they replied, there has been no resolution yet.

Xenophobic Airbnb Host Harasses Guest After Stay

I am a college student whose lease started after the school was scheduled to close. This meant for the few days in between I was on the brink of being homeless. I had finally found a way to move in early but I still wasn’t given a consistent time and date. My Airbnb host knew this and offered to store my things from my dorm room. He changed his price, but I did not mind or rather had no choice to because there was no available storage left in town that I knew of.

From the beginning, I felt uncomfortable. He was telling me what to do, and I felt extremely rushed. Later on and even before he was very confusing on what he meant by storage. We eventually agreed on storing my stuff in his car and he would deliver to my place at a price. This was fair to me. Overall, our personalities did not match, but I was willing to ignore that because I needed a place to stay and that’s ultimately what I was there for.

We had made an agreement that he would drop my things off at my house at a certain time. I tried to express to him multiple times that my property manager was not very responsive and he kept pressuring me to reach out, call him, and check my phone. It felt like I was caught between two men who wanted different things and my literal living situation was on the line. He told me he would drop me off at a certain time and I agreed to that because it was mainly congruent with the time my property manager gave. He also told me I could remain in the house until it was time to leave. He changed this very last minute and I had to leave earlier.

While I was waiting for the call to move in, he asked me what I wanted my occupation to be. To keep it brief it had to do with immigration and helping immigrants and native citizens with integration; this is a very incomplete explanation of it. His political views definitely differed from mine and he verbatim was quoting what seemed like Trump tweets. I constantly told him I was not having the conversation he wanted to have and he continued to talk about it despite my statements and clear discomfort.

I may have accidentally left something in his possession and he was reluctant to help me because he said I was “cold” after he helped me. I paid him for all services outside of housing such as delivery and picking up my stuff. He also made me uncomfortable by asking which exact unit I lived in after he was done.

When I made my review it was 4/5 stars for my comfort and he responded with it dismissing my comfort with his “good reviews”. He’s blocked me and I have blocked him, but there’s no telling if he has my possessions or not because he isn’t compliant. At first it seemed like he was going to help me but after I said thank you for looking for my stuff and I may have just misplaced it he really went out of line with being like: “I’m shocked you asked for help after being so cold” and accused me of getting my feelings hurt like he wasn’t the one calling me “bent out of shape” and overstepping my own boundaries.

It was honestly the most uncomfortable experience ever. I am missing a small pouch and the fridge I let him handle has a piece missing from the back I believe. I am hoping the pouch is just lost within the bins that haven’t been fully unpacked. I’m not trying to accuse him of anything but for someone who handled me so wrongly he really handled the situation poorly. Talk about hurt feelings. I doubt you’ll enjoy staying here.

blank

Chicago Airbnb Listing Gone Horribly Wrong

blankblank

Even though I thought my host was attentive in the beginning, she dropped the hammer when it came to my noise complaint. She basically said that I was a light sleeper and that the refund policy is strict. I did feel that this was in bad taste. I don’t expect a full refund but I did want to check out early and not stay the month that cost over $2,000. I was disappointed in this since I approached the matter with kindness and gratitude for her attentiveness.

I lived in the downtown Chicago area for 15 years and came back for work and had to stay a month. This was the loudest building I’ve ever encountered in all my years of living there. I hate leaving negative reviews but the description is inaccurate and the host blamed me for not reading it. Airbnb looks out only for hosts since it looks like what’s in the listing is the golden rule (you will be held to this very strictly).

Here’s what was different from the posting. It was actually a studio, not a one bedroom. The listing said, and I quote, “Due to the apartment’s prime location, you may encounter some city noise, nearby train.”

That’s all it says. I’ve taken time to outline what this really looks like below. No CO2 detector as indicated. The smoke detector also did not appear to work (I saw no blinking lights) and it was loosely hanging by wires. TV remotes didn’t work. There were dirty walls with holes and splash marks and a dirty downstairs area with trash everywhere. No ethernet as promised or indoor fireplace as listed. No dedicated workspace as listed. There are two pop up countertop areas and one was broken. The other was not a “dedicated work area.” I tried to setup a workstation there but could not.

Here is the truth about the noise. There are multiple trains that run right past the building all day every day. The orange line, green line, and red line (underground). You hear every train announcement and the screeching and rattling. There are also multiple sets of tracks. Don’t forget the Metra train whistle that you can also hear. It basically sounds like you are living at the train station.

You also have the regular street noise which includes people shouting (and cursing), music, car mufflers, buses, horns, and sirens. I can even hear people skateboarding down the sidewalk. Roosevelt is an extremely busy street that connects to Michigan avenue. It’s like staying next to an expressway.

The building in itself is noisy and the lobby area is pretty run down. I heard loud music blasting at late hours and other hours in the day. There is also the sound of screeching chairs and the smell of marijuana that comes into the unit. I work from home so I had to spend a lot of time in the unit. If you are coming to sightsee (which you currently can’t because of COVID) and won’t be home often, then it could work. I myself had to sleep with noise-canceling headphones and constantly spray because of the smells wafting in.

To top it all off, the host basically accused me of vandalizing the unit and insisted that there was no damage before I got there. I had been there less than 24 hours when I sent her and Airbnb photos of the holes, scratches, and damaged smoke and CO2 detectors on top of the noise complaints.

I learned my lesson: report any and all damage right away. Because when issues start popping up, people will look for any way they can to make you pay the price. She also kept apologizing that I didn’t understand the listing and sent me screenshots of all of the good reviews. She then told me that her husband was a lawyer if I needed one. I was forced to leave the property because there were no working smoke or CO2 detectors and the noise. Airbnb customer service just said she did offer to fix it and expected me to continue to stay there and put my health and safety at risk.

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.