Airbnb Host Left us on the Side of the Road at Midnight

We stayed at The Art Shack in Salt Ash, Australia between April 28-30. Our main purpose of this stay was accommodation for the Groovin the Moo festival. On arrival, the state of the house was disgusting, with the kitchen bench scattered with old food and surrounded by flies. On Saturday night we returned from the festival on a bus at 11:30 PM. We informed our host, Deborah, that we would be home around 12:00 AM, and also informed her when we had gotten on the bus. She had told us that she had not locked away her German Shepard guard dog and it would be unsafe to enter the property without her being there. At 10:30 PM she told us in a text that she was out to dinner and she would be home around 12:00 AM, so we patiently waited in the Caltex service station across the road because it was nine degrees and we had casual day wear clothing on.

At 11:45 PM we called Deborah and informed her we were across the road at the service station waiting, as the dog was patrolling the yard and there was no way past him. At 11:55 PM she texted us and said she was “coming” and would be there in thirty minutes. At midnight, the service station shut down and the employee told us we had to leave, so we went back outside into the cold and tried to huddle up on the side of Nelsons Road, a 90-kph zone. At this point we were exhausted, afraid and freezing. By 12:45 AM there was no sign of Deborah, so we called her again. We asked where they were because we were afraid and cold. She told us they hadn’t left yet, as the guy she was seeing was playing the pokies and drunk and she was afraid to ask him to go.

She told one of our friends to put the phone on speaker and hold it up to the dog, but the dog went berserk and tried to bite us through the gate. At this point she told us she would be asking him to leave or leaving herself right now to let us in, and she would call us back in a couple of minutes. Nine minutes later we hadn’t heard back, so I called again. She told me that she was definitely on her way home, however she needed to stop for petrol, but she was coming as quick as she could. While talking to her, I could hear the man she was with talking about how stupid we were for not being able to get past the dog. At 1:06 AM she called us and told us that her house mate was at home the whole time, and that she could get the dog away for us and we could go through the front door, and the call ended. Five minutes later we saw her housemate Kathy open the front door, she came out and started leading the dog inside, taking him around to the back room. She then came and gave us the all clear to come inside, and had a giggle about what had happened.

Once we were finally in our room and in bed, I was so cold that I was having trouble breathing. We heard Deborah and the guy come home at around 1:25 AM. We could overhear him with a raised voice continuing on about the situation, and Deborah tying to calm him down. We felt incredibly uncomfortable and unsafe going to sleep. Before we slept we received a message from Deborah saying “So sorry, sleep in till late AM.”

We ended up leaving as soon as we woke up and started our eight-hour drive home completely sleep deprived. While on the way home we took a closer look at the reviews and saw this is not the first time this has happened. A  couple had been kicked out by a drunk host at 12:00 AM onto the side of the road and left with nowhere to go. The fact that Airbnb allows people to host in an environment such as this, let alone with a vicious dog on site, is insane. I’m glad that we are older and it wasn’t a family with young children as I don’t know how they would have held up in the cold.

Avoid Diana in Astoria, Oregon at all costs

Tons of red flags from the first email response from Diana in Astoria, who rents her upstairs attic room. Saying that I must be “new to this,” she scolded me for not writing a more detailed intro description of me and my family and our reason for being in Astoria. I added more info and she accepted us. We agreed on a 5 p.m. check-in time. Driving up from Lincoln City, I contacted her before we left informing her we would be leaving a bit later than expected and said we should be in Astoria at 5:30. She responded via email: “5:30 is no problem. Thanks for letting me know in advance.” The drive up took longer than we thought. Lots of one-lane roads with slower vehicles, lots of twists and turns. We went as fast as we could and did not stop for anything. About an hour out of Astoria, we called her to let her know we were going as quickly as we could, but were estimated to arrive in Astoria at 6. Below is her email response: “Got your vm. Not happy about it, but I’ll see you at 6pm. Please be more respectful of a host’s time in the future, especially when you have asked for a special check-in time. This is not a good way to start as a guest. I know this is your first time with Airbnb, so it’s a learning experience. I would be less frustrated if you had asked if it was okay to change the time and had asked me in advance, rather than messages throughout the day *telling* me that the plan had changed. It feels very disrespectful and inconsiderate, and not a good way to start. I will see you at 6pm. If it’s going to be later than that, please tell me now so we can make a decision about whether this is going to work. Thank you in advance for respecting my time as a host.” My wife read her response as I drove. We were shocked, upset and especially angry about her inferring that she might not accept us if were came any later than 6. My response: “We’re in Seaside right now. We’re going as fast as we can,” to which she responded, “I’ll see you when get here. We can just start again. I know you guys are new to airbnb. Thanks for understanding. I’ll be in the garden. See you then. We drove as fast as we could and arrived at 6 on the dot. We found Diana puttering around in her backyard with her dog. She was visibly upset and agitated. She acknowledged us, but citing difficulties with her dog’s surgery, she quickly and repeatedly reminded us how important it was that we be on time. My wife and two kids and I stood and listened to her prattle on about her dog and about needing to “reset” herself. She was about to put the dog in the house and show us around when she stopped, looked as us looking at her and said, “are you ok?” I said “yes.” She said that other guests who have come late normally offer an apology of some kind. She mumbled something about it not working out with us. I responded, saying that her email beat down was inappropriate and hostile and because of that, I didn’t owe her an apology. I reminded her that we were considerate enough to keep her informed every step of the way about being late, got there as fast as we could but because of traffic, were delayed. I said I was very annoyed that she inferred she might not take us in and I said that it might not work after all. Hearing this, she backed off a bit, saying that had lots of errands that day and was counting on us being on time. She talked about “reseting” and “starting over,” but when I said we were only 30 minutes late, she lost it. She started yelling at us on her doorstep calling me obnoxious and inconsiderate. After we argued back and forth, I asked for a refund. She refused. I said then she needed to let us in to our room. She refused. My wife said she was not honoring our agreement and that we already paid for the room. She said something about being a lawyer and told us to take it up with Airbnb. I protested, she yelled at me and my family to get off her property and slammed her door in our face. Luckily we found a decent, similarly-priced hotel room in the city. I immediately called Airbnb and explained my story. She listened, called Diana for her side, called us back 10 minutes later telling us that Diana’s side of the story was different than mine, said she is a great host with great reviews but after reading Diana’s emails, granted us a full refund on the spot. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Diana would have had us on egg shells had we stayed, not something I wanted on a family road trip to Seattle. My final email to her: Diana – your unprofessionalism and inflexibility today as a host was shocking. And your refusal to grant us a refund was unprincipled, something airbnb obviously agreed with by granting us a full refund. Your new at this – don’t lecture potential clients and don’t do this unless you can handle some measure of uncertainty that travelers sometimes encounter. Chill out! The rest of our stays in Airbnb locations in Seattle were wonderful. Hosts were kind, flexible and accommodating, as they should be. Had I not gotten the refund I deserved, I would never use their service again.