Airbnb Doesn’t Care if Hosts Lie and Mislead Guests


Booked a house in Fish Hoek, Cape Town from one Sonny Naidoo. In his listing he claimed the property had 2 bedrooms and a steep flight of stairs. The picture in his listing was of a flight of stairs that looked fine – however when I got to the address I found that the picture was taken in front of another property all together. The actual house had multiple flights of steep stairs to climb in order to reach it. Upon the climb I found that the house actually didn’t have a second bedroom, only a sort of pseudo loft in the kitchen accessible only by climbing a ladder. No safety gate of any sort on the platform either, making it very unsafe for children (listing claimed to be child friendly) AIRBNB support told me the following: “I’ve reviewed the video Joel and while I understand that the staircase shown was not the same as the one you actually climb to the listing but the whole point of the picture was to show the view. It was stated in the description that there was a steep climb and that you would need to be able bodied but that is why porters were supplied. At this point as the description covered the basis of the fact there was a steep climb I would be unable to process a refund for the reservation besides what I have already given.” So – it seems a host can post a picture of another property – inferring that it is the actual property, and airbnb doesn’t care. A host can claim 2 bedrooms, while not describing it accurately, and AIRBNB doesn’t care. I’ve attached a screenshot taken from the listing, showing the staircase from a different property – a clear misdirection – then the actual listing and pictures of the ACTUAL climb property taken by myself.

Bad Host, Bad Customer Support, Now demanding more money?!

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.

Don’t trust the descriptions

Just a warning to everyone that the descriptions on AirBNB are extremely misleading. Our main requirement for accommodation was that we wanted a fully equipped kitchen so we could cook our meals and save some money by not eating out every night.

When we got there we had a look in the kitchen cupboards and there were plates, cups, cutlery and a toaster. Oh and of course the fridge.

To me that is NOT a fully equipped kitchen. As much as we wanted to save money on meals, we weren’t going to have toast every night to do so!

I rang AirBNB and SURPRISE! They are sorry but there is nothing they can do!