Worst Airbnb Experience at their HQ, San Francisco

We rented a unit for a month and regretted it. Read this to understand what you might experience at an Airbnb location. When we arrived, the owner gave us a key, took us through a dark garage, opened the door and wished us luck. When we walked in, the place smelled bad. The owner gets paid for cleaning between Airbnb visitors but it didn’t look clean when we arrived.

However, we had been traveling for ten hours so we just collapsed. There was no welcome card, no information about the area, or even basic information like which day the garbage would be picked up. It turned out that the regular entry to the apartment was down a dark, dank, dusty hall that looks like no one has been there for years. Spooky.

The bedding looked very used. On top of that, the mattress squeaked with every movement. When we took their bedding off, we found stains and rips in the mattress protector. If you are allergic to dust mites, good luck; no amount of Zyertec will help.

The next morning we went to IKEA and bought our own bedding. My husband was starting a new job the next day. When he left for work I bought my own cleaning supplies. There was no mop or broom or anything else to keep the apartment clean. No paper towels. Nothing. Yet the minimum rental is a month. I guess you’re just supposed to let it get dirty.

I started cleaning. It took days. When I mopped the floor, the water was black. Whatever I wiped showed layers of dirt: the tables, chairs, headboard, cushions, the shelves, everything. I took videos to show my family and friends. They couldn’t believe that such an expensive place was in that condition.

We decided it would better if we covered the couch. It smelled bad. There was an old carpet that looked very dusty, and it was. When I lifted it to clean there was a cloud of dust. We set it aside, not wanting to it to foul the air through our visit.

The kitchen utensils look like a mixed bag of whatever other visitors may have left behind. The sprayer on the sink was rusty and there was rust on the refrigerator too. We didn’t want to touch the dishes so we ate off of paper plates and plastic utensils. When we sat down to our first meal at the table, we could see sticky spots from previous visitors.

When you see the picture of the outdoor patio it looks inviting. In fact, all the furniture is covered in dirt and mold. I tried to clean it but it was way too beat up and old. The chaise has a couple of old, moldy cushions. You can’t sit on the furniture anyway because it’s falling apart.

It would be nice to open the sliding door to the patio for the pleasant air. Unfortunately, there is no screen and the bushes are filled with mosquitoes. When we did leave the door open, bugs and flies would come in. On the walls you will find squashed mosquitoes left behind by other visitors. My husband was bitten many times. I took pictures of the red blotches on his face.

The door to the unit is next to the host’s garage. Several times we opened the door to find that their car had blocked our exit. Either we had to climb over the bumper or push through the bushes to get out. This was unsafe.

I hope you’re not looking for a quiet evening. On random evenings you’ll hear pounding on the ceiling. It’s the kids jumping and running around above you.

Now about safety; the address is “2022 A.” The main house is “2022.” The only indication that there is an entrance to “A” is a tiny half-inch letter. If you have any mail or packages, you’re in for trouble. Twice the owner took my packages and opened them. A bigger problem is theft. Two very large packages were delivered at the owner’s door. They were new clothes that I had specially ordered. After a couple of days, I noticed that they hadn’t been delivered to 2022 A. They were stolen, so we had to file a police report. I have my copy.

Here’s something else creepy. I was in the kitchen and I heard a noise in the bedroom. I went to see and found that someone was trying to get in from the main house through the door from the owner’s garage. It was a woman who called herself the nanny. If I hadn’t remembered to lock the door while I was cleaning, the owner and other people in their house could have just come and gone unannounced. Don’t leave anything valuable behind.

We left ten days early, and we were glad to go. I know what the owner will say: “Why didn’t you tell me?” Shouldn’t an owner who constantly rents their property do more to make it livable, clean, sanitary, and safe? Is it our job to point all this out to the host, who lives upstairs?

The second bad experience was trying to post a review on Airbnb. We posted our review at the end of our rental which meant it was available for Airbnb to review at any time. They waited 14 days to see if the owner was going to write a review too.

After 13 days and 18 hours (late in the evening) Airbnb sent an email saying: “I wanted to reach out to you about the review that you left about the host. We wanted to let you know that we investigated the review and in the review you give out the address of the listing which is a violation of the Airbnb Policy, so because of that we will have to remove the review.”

We hadn’t listed the address, only the street numbers because of the problems we encountered. But, okay, no problem. We could make a tiny edit. However, by the next day they said the “time limit” to edit the review was up, so it did not appear.

I called Airbnb four times and also emailed them. The operators were pleasant but in the end, no one would listen. I simply explained that they had not given us any time to make the tiny correction and that we wanted to post the review. We let the host know about our review. She immediately threatened us writing, “Do not spread a bad review and rumors. I would consider it libelous to do so. The Airbnb lawyers will handle this.”

Airbnb prohibits “extortion” saying, “reviews are a way for Airbnb guests and hosts to share their experiences with the community. Any attempt to use reviews or review responses to force a user to do something they aren’t obligated to do is a misuse of reviews, and we don’t allow it.” That includes “hosts asking a guest to take specific actions related to a review in exchange for a resolution to a dispute between the parties.”

Beyond that they say the hosts and guests agree to follow all Airbnb guidelines and policies, including the Extortion Policy and that failure to do so may result in the restriction, suspension or termination of your Airbnb account. “If you think you’ve experienced extortion, please contact us”, which we did. There was no response. I know this is a lengthy review but if your experience was like ours, you will regret not paying attention to this story.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .


  1. Mistake 1: Never rent and Airbnb for a month.
    Mistake 2: If you are unsatisfied with your rental, contact your host immediately through the Airbnb platform (not a text or a phone call, you need it documented where Airbnb customer service can see it). If the host doesn’t respond immediately, then contact Airbnb customer service immediately, tell them your issue and let them see the messages to the host and any responses. Take photos and send them to the customer service rep, too.
    Mistake 3: Not understanding the review timing. You have 14 days from checkout to submit a review. Once you submit the review, you get 48 hours to edit the review. However, once both host and guest submit their review, no edits can be made even if submitted within 48 hours. Also, once the 14 days have passed, no edits can be made.
    Mistake 4: Not understanding the review content rules. There are things Airbnb will not allow you to write. Using the address or full name is a no-no. Extortion is a no-no. Mentioning an ongoing investigation with Airbnb or a refund is a no-no. Profanity is a no-no.

    So, you complain that you can’t can’t open the window or you will get mosquitoes, but you want to be able to go out and sit on the patio. Make up your mind. There’s obviously some exaggeration and nitpicky behavior on your part because you weren’t satisfied.

    There is no evidence of extortion. How could the host have extorted you if you didn’t even tell them something was wrong.

    Your excuse for not telling the owner is worthless. Yes, it IS your job to point out issues. Hosts are not keen on getting bad reviews, so they are motivated to fix issues. If the host had been non-responsive and you had taken photos and contacted Airbnb, you probably could’ve forced the host to clean it or got a partial refund, but you didn’t.

    Personally, I think you booked a cheap place in a very expensive city and got what you paid for.

  2. Airbnb doesn’t care and now you know the truth. After that murder of five people at an Airbnb party in California they kicked probably tens of thousands or even more hosts like myself off of the platform, in fact they were looking for reasons to do so. I had just the opposite happened I was on the receiving end of guests who destroyed my property. they won’t do anything about hosts like that because they generate a lot of income. They simply don’t want anyone telling the truth about situations. I’ve left the previous comments here on this website and wonder if it’s just a dead end created by Airbnb in order to run some advertising and make people think they’re actually getting somewhere with their complaint. In the end Airbnb will end up being sued in in some class action lawsuit that will do nothing for either the guests or the host and will only make the attorneys rich. Just like uber. Boycott Airbnb is the only solution. I want nothing more to do with those San Francisco business boys and their employees that sit around in bean bag chairs making cool decisions and running a corporation far too large for their limited experience.

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