Lying Airbnb Host in Monument Valley

I manage Airbnb properties in Edinburgh but have never stayed in an Airbnb property myself until I went to the States recently and stayed in a trailer in Monument Valley, which just happens to be on the Navajo reservation. In fact, the trailer was owned and run by a Navajo indian and his wife, who was a white American. Now a bit about myself: I have travelled extensively all over the world and love experiencing different cultures, and don’t for one minute consider myself superior to cultures that are not westernised, but obviously this host thought differently.

The trailer we were staying in had no water; we were told that on the listing, so it wasn’t a problem. We also knew the toilet facilities were not in the trailer. Again, no problem; we were were expecting relatively basic conditions. The problems began with the directions. They were more than useless, a fact a few of the guests had noted before. We got lost then lost again. Eventually, the host’s wife came out to meet us as it got dark.

The trailer itself was very basic, with no lock on the door, rusty cutlery and thin torn plastic acting as windows which would flap violently in the wind. There were one pan, broken cupboard doors, and bare electric wire hanging down from the lamps. The water was kept in a large plastic water container which was fine for us. There was a shower a few metres away but we were told that it may be difficult to get going and to go to the husband’s relatives in the trailer next door and ask if we could use their shower if we couldn’t get this one to work. Needless to say I had no intention of doing that.

It was not what we were expecting and we were very disappointed. We sat late into the night humming and arguing whether we should go or stay. The next morning we left but not before I tried the shower – which of course wouldn’t work – so I washed my hair outside the trailer as my friend poured water over my head. I then used one of two hand towels to dry my hair. We left and sent a text voicing our disappointment and suggesting ways of improving a guest’s experience… well, what I got back was nothing short of insulting. The host’s wife said that not only was I a habitual complainer (I met her for ten minutes and never stayed in an Airbnb property before), I was culturally insensitive and what’s more I had lied about having a shower.

To cut a long story short, I was determined that my review was factually both positive and negative (there were positive points, such as location), but the review written by the host that appeared on the site was appalling: it was nothing but a rant insulting me (bearing in mind I had never spoken to nor seen the host). He basically wrote what she had put in the texts to me but doubled the insulting bits and telling other hosts never to have me stay. At no point did I ask for a refund. In fact, initially, the host’s wife suggested she would give me a refund, but it wasn’t about money. Not only did he call me a liar, saying the towel was wet therefore I had taken a shower, but to personally attack me was appalling. I asked for the review either to be edited or taken down as it wasn’t a review but a personal attack on someone he had never met, and some of it totally irrelevant to the actual review.

Airbnb of course did nothing and basically said just forget about it and move on. Dare I say this, but they don’t want to upset their indigenous host by taking it down and be accused of favouring the white person. In the meantime, it is there for all my clients both old and new to see, which doesn’t do my business any favours. I am now debating to take it further and put in a complaint to the top guy. Maybe if we all did that something would change.

What gets me are the reviews; on the whole they are all five star although sometimes there is a thread of discontent. But what is it with people? Were they so glad to be staying in Monument valley for cheap it didn’t matter where they lived? Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t an Airbnb property have to meet certain criteria: a lockable door, clean (which it wasn’t), safe. Bare wires aren’t safe and suitable for accommodation. We weren’t expecting the Hilton but we did expect a clean safe place with serviceable cutlery and more than one pan and a door to lock that would protect our belongings.

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!