Firstly, the host didn’t respond to my email questions about the listing or the property until a few days before we left. We were too late to organise anything else, so took him and the apartment on good faith.
The host never greeted us, he sent someone else along instead (without telling us). We were then told that the 6 of us were put into 3 double rooms instead of having the 5 (I searched for a place with 5 separate bedrooms, the place came up, so I booked it) – something I enquired about but he ignored in the email chain. His representative however, was quite nice and friendly, and said ‘Just use the extra room and make the bed again for the guests arriving tomorrow, and don’t tell the Host’. So we did.
The next morning, someone who wasn’t either the representative, nor the host, waltzed in at 10 in the morning for what we could only assume was a ‘viewing’ of the apartment. This guy began going room to room, only to quickly discover we were all there in our underpants half asleep. Were never informed of this person coming around.
Later that day, the guests for the other room arrived. It sounded like they were speaking Portuguese I’d guess (we were in Italy), they took a quick look, and then left, saying they were not going to stay there – so they were obviously mis-sold on the property as well, but as they were they for only one night, probably decided the hotels 50m away were a better option. The representative explained this to us, and then said ‘just use the extra room, and don’t tell the host’.
I had enquired also about anything he wanted us to do while we were there (rubbish, cleaning, etc) and for any particular rules he had. He just said “Just leave the keys in the kitchen when you go. You have paid for a cleaning service in your bill, and just put your waste in the rubbish bin in the kitchen’.
We washed clean and bagged our recycling, and left the bin. The beds were as beds are after being used. There were no hampers etc for the towels, so we left them in the bathrooms.
When asked to review the host and the flat, I was aiming to be amicable. So I left a 4 star review, mentioned to double-check the number of rooms you get, that the host and his representative were pleasant and helpful, and about the random morning viewing. What he did in response was to lie and say we left the flat in a ‘state that I don’t even want to describe’ (There was nothing broken, spilled, stained, scuffed, damaged, stolen, or left out of place). He then said that it was his ‘good nature’ that we wasn’t going to bill us for it. However, before I could even respond to his review, he then sent me a ‘Resolution Request’ for 650 euros(!) – citing that we had used extra rooms we had not paid for, and therefore owed him.
Since his representative was the one that told us to use them (one of them wasn’t even a room I should add, it was a fold-out settee in the kitchenette area, which someone slept on as a couch, clothed, the first night), and since there were no other bookings that came through AND ACTUALLY STAYED, we decided he wasn’t out of pocket at all, and swiftly declined his resolution request.
Should AirBnB try and take his side for any reason, they also face a tricky hurdle of that I never game the site anything but my first and last name, and my email address. So I’m not sure how under Californian Law (as the T&C says arbitration is governed under) they plan to force me into coughing over the extra 650 euro when the host and property are in Italy, and we’re in Scotland. In any case, we’d dispute it thoroughly.
I’m sure there are good experiences, but it seems like it’s worse than normal renting where you can get real a***hole landlords – worse here because it’s all short-term trips and vacation stays in heavily touristy areas, so no-one is looking to make friends with you.
It’s also worth noting that AirBnB’s customer service was awful, never responded to my questions about how it came to be that I could ask for a 5-room place, be presented with one, and then try and squeeze 6 single people into 3 rooms, and they signed off their email with ‘Live Long and Prosper’. Hardly professional.