Top
Why AirBNB is NOT worth it anymore

Why AirBNB is NOT worth it anymore!

We’ve been using AirBNB for almost 5 years now. In these five years, we’ve had some good experiences and some bad. However, every good experience we’ve had has been because we are always very careful with where we choose to stay. We only look for hosts with good reviews, great pictures, and almost always stay in independent apartments. But our bad experiences have always been because of AirBNB’s absolutely terrible customer service. Our AirBNB experience can be summed up as: It’s great when everything goes well, if things go wrong, AirBNB will never help you out and you are on your own. This can be varying levels of scary depending on which country you are in and what your situation at the moment looks like.

That’s pretty sad for a company that is valued at over $25 billion. One would expect that they’d have halfway decent customer service by now.

So far, we’ve had three really bad experiences with AirBNB. The first one was in Mexico when we checked into a house that looked like it was haunted. We contacted AirBNB customer support about the unhygienic conditions and creepy vibes and they couldn’t do anything. Finally, we decided to check out and move to a hotel and after a few days AirBNB refunded our money.

AirBNB bathroom in Mexico City

AirBNB bathroom in Mexico City

 

The next bad experience was in Brazil. We booked an apartment for four people. When we arrived there, there was a double bed and a single bed. So we got in touch with the host saying where is the fourth person supposed to sleep? His reply was “There’s a couch in the living room”. Really? This “couch” was not even a sofa bed. When we asked the host for help, he said “Take it, or get out”. So we contacted AirBNB customer service. AirBNB customer service tried to look for alternate accommodation and as usual, didn’t find anything. So, they got back to us saying they would refund the service fees we had paid them and we could use that money to buy an inflatable mattress. We were desperate and had no choice, we ended up buying an inflatable mattress and our friend ended up sleeping on it for the duration of our stay. He slept on the floor on an inflatable mattress, and yes, there were cockroaches in the house. How would you react if a $200/night hotel treated you this way?

At this point, given our past bad experience we didn’t follow up further with AirBNB. Two years after this incident, I discussed these issues on a popular programmers forum called HackerNews. An AirBNB customer service rep promptly got in touch with me and was extremely apologetic. He refunded our entire payment for the Brazil incident and even offered us some vouchers as compensation. He said that they had greatly improved their customer service and that they would now be able to handle such issues with no problems. He assured me that we could now confidently continue using AirBNB without any fear. Well, James from Customer Service, I’m sorry to say this but you were wrong. Your customer service still sucks.

This time, we’ve arrived in Lisbon for 15 days. We booked an apartment and as usual we work at home and we also spend some time exploring the city, meeting friends, etc. The municipality is renovating the cobblestone streets in front of our apartment. Our host failed to mention that right in front of this apartment there is heavy construction going on. So once we arrived, jet lagged from Canada and went to bed, we were rudely woken up with the sounds of cranes and bulldozers. The entire house rattles when they are breaking the cobblestone in front. We cannot talk to each other, we cannot have visitors over, and we certainly cannot get any work done.

I contacted the host asking when the construction will be over. It’s been 5 days and he has not responded to me. I contacted AirBNB customer service with a video of the construction out front. It’s been 48 hours and they have not responded to me. In fact, when I got in touch with Daniel at customer service, he was quite snarky. He said a trip manager would get in touch with me and I asked him “when?”, to which he responded saying “soon”. I asked “is soon 2 hours, 24 hours, or 15 days?” To this, he responded with “I hope it will be less than 15 days”. He also mentioned how they were very busy since this is the peak season because it’s summer, etc. How reassuring! I did remind him, that they are a global platform and that it’s not summer everywhere.

We’ve decided to wait until Monday and then move out of here because we need some time to find a new place. I sent a “Change this reservation” request to our host, he hasn’t responded to that either.

The construction is scheduled to take place for 120 days and the host didn’t mention a thing to us. Every day, from 7am to 7pm this house shakes like there is an earthquake. The noise and dust is incredible as well! Apart from this, the house is indeed a very charming place.

The not so lovely view from our AirBNB apartment in Lisbon

The not so lovely view from our AirBNB apartment in Lisbon

 

With its enormous scale and reach, AirBNB has become the de-facto choice for renting apartments in most places around the world. But a $25 billion valuation doesn’t mean that they can act with complete disregard towards their customers. AirBNB is already in trouble because of violating local laws in many countries. In Barcelona, they were fined for violating local tourism laws while in Paris many AirBNB locations continue to be illegal. In New York City, AirBNB has been working with hosts illegally since it is not permitted to rent apartments for under 30 days in multi-apartment buildings.

Customers are not fully aware of the risks they take on when they book with AirBNB. The entire experience can be very hit or miss. Today, with increased volume, the prices of AirBNB rentals have now started rivaling those of hotels. What used to be a way for people to rent out their houses has now become a full fledged business for many.

Ironically, the people who make a business out of their AirBNB rentals are more serious about the customer service experience. Our experience has been that if you rent from “property managers” via AirBNB, the experience tends to be better. Possibly because property managers don’t see their AirBNB rentals as a side business and thus make up for AirBNB’s miserable customer service.

 

There are several issues that guests who go through AirBNB could face and the biggest ones are discussed below, what’s worrying is that most of these issues are trust and safety issues.

 

1. AirBNB customer service is terrible

This is by far the biggest problem. You pay AirBNB a service fee (around 12%) but they don’t see this as much more than platform fees. They do not offer any valuable customer service and if your experience takes a turn for the worse, do not expect anything from them. You are on your own. Compared to a hotel where you can escalate a situation to the management or even to the relevant government authorities in a city, AirBNBs are almost completely unregulated and you have no recourse in most cases. Since the people who run the platform (AirBNB) aren’t going to help you out, if you run into a host who doesn’t care, you are on your own.

 

2. AirBNB verified photos come later

If you don’t understand how wrong this is, let me explain. AirBNB offloads the risk of VERIFYING a property onto their users, that is, those that stay in a property for the first time. Since a few years, AirBNB has been paying photographers to go and take photos of properties. However, they allow hosts to list properties without verifying anything about the property. So a host can upload pictures of pretty much anything. You end up at their place which looks nothing like the photos. This is what happened to us in Mexico. What are you supposed to do? Contact AirBNB support? Good luck with that!

Would have appreciated some verification before we landed up here!

Would have appreciated some verification before we landed up here!

 

3. AirBNB offers insurance to hosts but guests get nothing

Hosts on AirBNB pay around a 3% fee on each booking. Guests on the other hand pay 12%. However, AirBNB offers fairly comprehensive insurance to hosts in case guests come and trash their place. But, as a guest, what do you get when things go wrong? Just an extremely stressful vacation in most cases.

AirBNB protects hosts but not guests

AirBNB protects hosts but not guests

 

4. AirBNB has dishonest reviews

AirBNB’s review system suffers from “Would you say this to someone’s face?” syndrome. I’m not sure if that’s a real syndrome but basically it’s easier for people to be more objective when they are criticizing or reviewing a nameless, faceless, big business. AirBNB host reviews tend to be more positive than normal and this is not because everyone’s having beautiful experiences. This is because when you stay at someone’s place, even if it’s a small house rental business, you meet the owner and make a connection. It’s very difficult to publicly criticize them later about the fact that there was mould on one wall or that the WiFi wasn’t that fast or the shower didn’t drain quickly.

4 months later, when we arrived at this property, the mold in the walls was still there!

4 months later, when we arrived at this property, the mold in the walls was still there!

You’ll most often leave the host a private note as part of AirBNB’s feedback system and be on your way hoping that they fix it. Guess what, hosts don’t always fix ‘it’. If you check reviews for hotels you will almost always see brutal honesty. It can also be hard to sift through all of that but at least it’s the whole story rather than “Oh my gosh Barbara is such a lovely person and received us at 1AM” without mentioning that the flush worked in reverse and would spill water all over the bathroom floor. Also, hotels will receive you at 1AM and you will never feel the need to be grateful for that.

 

5. Hosts get to review you

This has got to stop. In no other aspect of life does a business get to review their paying customers. This is great to establish trust and for a host to know who they are hosting, but after you’ve had 5 or 10 reviews, you don’t need to continue getting “reviews” from your hosts. Besides, reviews on AirBNB are much more valuable for hosts because they get additional business because of them.

Furthermore, this contributes towards the dishonest reviews you see on AirBNB. You know that your host is going to review you as well and you will thus only want to say nice things about them. Yes, the reviews are secret until both of you have reviewed each other, but it’s still a contributing factor. Plus, your host gets to respond publicly to the review you have left and there are many instances of hosts blaming their guests on AirBNB.

Cat-fight on AirBNB reviews! Who should we believe?!

Cat-fight on AirBNB reviews! Who should we believe?!

 

6. Increasing Prices that have resulted in costs at par with Hotels

Most touristic cities now have many hosts renting out via AirBNB. I remember a time in 2011 and 2012 when these listings were a nice way to find apartments that would include a kitchen but would be cheaper than a hotel. This is no longer true, this reasoning has turned around on its head to become “You get a kitchen and can save money on eating out, so you should pay more for your apartment”. This is reflected in rising AirBNB prices in all these cities. Unfortunately, although you end up paying as much as a hotel in many cases, you will not have the security or standards that a hotel almost always ensures.

 

7. Lack of consistent standards

Hotels have had, for as long as I can remember, a rating standard where I can know that a five star hotel is pretty good and a four or three star hotel would normally work alright for me. Of course, this varies based on country and region but within any given country or region, the meaning is pretty clear. Compare that to a 5 star AirBNB rating which just mostly means that the host is a nice guy. When you check into a Hyatt or even a Comfort Inn, you know what you can potentially expect. Hotels are often very specific about everything that they offer because almost all of this counts towards their star rating (telephone next to the toilet anyone?), but with AirBNB you can never know what to expect. You can sort of get an idea through the reviews that a property has but even those are not fully transparent.

 

8. Inflated fees

There seems to be a great variation in the fees you will see these days through AirBNB. The filters on the site do not take into account cleaning fees associated with listings. What hosts have started doing recently is listing their properties cheaper and then tacking on $200 as cleaning fees. This results in them ranking higher for price sensitive searches but then they end up earning the same amount because you pay an inflated cleaning fee. We’ve often arrived at apartments that were dirty even though we paid a $100 cleaning fee. In that moment, we had to clean the apartment ourselves. Most of the times, the host refunded the fees to us, but did you ever have to pay a cleaning fee at a hotel? Did you ever have to clean your own hotel room inspite of paying cleaning fees upfront?

How a night that is supposed to cost $125, easily turns into USD280 with AirBNB!

How a night that is supposed to cost $125, easily turns into USD280 with AirBNB!

 

9. You might be living in an illegal rental

AirBNB does not verify that its hosts are allowed to rent out their apartments as per local laws. This is why they have gotten into trouble with many local authorities in New York, Paris, Barcelona, and even Berlin. Since many cities have zoning and short term rental laws, you could get evicted in the middle of your rental period. Lots of apartments on AirBNB are sublets without the knowledge of the actual landlord. This has also led to ugly situations for several guests in the past. It’s pretty hard to place your confidence in a company that has repeatedly flouted regulations and laws all over the world and continues to do so. Their excuse? They make hosts “aware” that they should follow local laws.

 

The conclusion here is that if you want to have a good vacation, do not take a chance with AirBNB. If you do choose AirBNB, it’s good to be aware of the risks that I have outlined above. Not all of them are very obvious and remember, you are often paying extra (AirBNB service fees) to take on more risk as a customer.

In any case, it might always be better to book a place for 1 or 2 nights and then negotiate directly with the owner if you’d like to stay longer. There are zero advantages to booking a longer stay with AirBNB because they offer no guarantees. There have even been times that we have arrived at a place we’ve booked and the owner had to offer us a different place because they rented out our apartment to someone else. So even your ‘reservation’ is not of much value.

Although AirBNB’s fees increase with the duration of your stay, what they offer is nothing more than a platform to connect with hosts. So it’s really best to pay them for what they offer, that is, a platform fee for a one or two day rental, and then book a place for yourself once you arrive.

 

For us, thankfully this third AirBNB incident has happened to us in Lisbon and we’ll just move on Monday to stay with our family here. AirBNB still hasn’t replied to our concerns.

 

AirBNB’s Response

A few minutes after we tweeted this issue to AirBNB, a senior case manager got in touch with us. She was very polite and handled the situation really well. She gave the host another 24 hours to respond but they did not make contact. We’ve decided to move out of this place on Monday and AirBNB has refunded our expenses for this reservation. It’s not ideal that our reservation did not work out but I think AirBNB has done their best after they finally made contact with us.

One thing that is important to mention here is that AirBNB covers guests under a 24 hour guest refund policy. To take advantage of this, you must make them aware of any issue within 24 hours of check in. So, in future, if you use AirBNB and have absolutely any issue, get in touch with them right away. Of course, this does not work if your issue only comes up a few days after check in but they should try and accommodate your concern in any case.

It should not take a public tweet and 48 hours for AirBNB to get back to us on any issue. This is something that they need to fix at their end. Our host had many positive reviews and we’ve usually had good experiences with hosts who have positive reviews on the platform so this situation was quite unexpected. Should we use AirBNB again? Let’s see.


Subscribe to the Backpack ME Newsletter

Tips, fun stuff, and TONS of inspiration! Straight to your inbox!

70 Comments

  • Great post. I’ve only used Airbnb twice – one experience was a disaster, the second was much, much better but still not perfect. You feel helpless when a host goes unresponsive, and it’s scary to think that Airbnb’s customer service isn’t up to scratch.

  • Rahid Says

    I have only used AirBnB once and the experience was great.

  • Talon Says

    Wow! I would never pay that much of a cleaning fee. Absolute bollocks!

    I’ve have really good experiences with Airbnb customer service, but I am finding it harder to find places without issues. When we have a good experience lately, it seems to be the exception and not the rule.

  • We used AirBnb for the first time for our recent Japan trip – we were very happy with the first apartment in Japan, and we also enjoyed our apartment in Kyoto. For us as a family of five (2 adults, 3 children) the price was substantially cheaper than what we would have had to pay in a hotel, and we also had separate bedrooms from our children rather than all being in a single room together which is our preferred option to retain our sanity.

    I agree that you need to be very careful – as we were on limited time I deliberately chose places which had multiple good reviews rather than taking the risk of being the first customer to an unknown option.

    I would definitely use them again but as you have said, if you get a dud you do not have too many options to get help to resolve from the company.

  • We’ve stayed with Airbnb 4-5 times over the last couple of years and have tried to be super careful about the choices we make. I’d agree with you – it’s not always perfect and yet we opt for it because it is within budget at times. We’ve had a couple of slightly strange experiences too and what we’ve learnt is to not rely on listings without too many reviews and to consider Airbnb for shorter stays. Since we are not full time travelers we usually use Airbnb as a short stay or as a part of a longer trip for a couple of nights. On the contrary we’ve had good experiences with hostels and would highly recommend those. In Lisbon we recently stayed at Living Lounge and in Porto we stayed at Gallery hostel – both experiences were great! Let us know if you need any more info about those :)

  • That is horrible! I haven’t tried AirBnb though i’ve inquired to some hosts when I was in Thailand. Hope AirBnb top bosses gets to read this.

  • I used Airbnb twice in Brooklyn. The host was very nice; only thing was that the sofa was not a fold-out, so I spent three nights curled up on it. Oh well haha My host in Bolivia was great though!

  • Ugg, I had to book with AirBnB because they are more well known and Im visiting a smaller city but there is a company I like A LOT more. They are called NightSwapping, nights cost MAX $35/night and if you can host you can swap credits instead of cash. I stayed in Paris with nightswapping and had an entire modern flat with a balcony for four nights all for less than $100!

  • Emilie Says

    Hey
    Personally I’ve never had any issues with AirBnB but I’m not surprised it happens quite often.
    This issue I see here is that you are quite lucky to be active online and on social media. AirBnb answers quickly when you have an issue because of this but I guess many people only desperately try to reach them by phone (when roaming charges are not too crazy) or by email with no concrete answer!

  • Just reaching out to give you a new travel resource. free platform and free exchange. let me know if you have any questions!
    antoinette@talktalkbnb.com

  • Grace Says

    Wow, that sounds pretty terrible. Luckily I’ve only had good experiences with Airbnb (knock on wood!). There are definitely some horror stories. I guess that is the risk you take with AirBnb vs staying at an accredited hotel for example.

  • Kenji Says

    I used AirBNB about ten times in the past nearly three years and my experience was uneven. While in the past I would cautiously consider them as an option, in addition to the issues raised in the article: fees to hosts went up sharply, and between that and the trend for a number of hosts to raise their prices, its not worth it anymore: in a number of tourist spots consider hotels, apartments and other regulated options and not rely on AirBNB or its big competitors. HomeAway raised their fees so quickly that not only are a big portion of your fee going to HomeAway, leaving alot less of your monies going towards your stay, and incidents of pricing ripoffs are much more common now based on experience. A niche would be a listing site with customer service and some middle ground on fees – love to know when such a site exists.
    A temptation is consider AirBNB is in places during times of really high demand or spots with not many other options, which gets back to AirBNB’s now high costs and weak screening, that is against the renter.
    Would travel insurance cover some of the issues with AirBNB, if you had to use them? I’ve wondered because of the issues around a possibly illegal rental and the customer service issues that exist today, whether travel insurance would help, and when it would not?

  • Yann Says

    I used to use booking.com for years of business travelling. A was a little fed-up with the hotel-style and wanted to spice a bit my stay with home-like accommodations. I always had great experiences in many countries I visited (canada, france, london, bangkok, delhi), soon ireland.
    I also found that prices are getting higher and someday, another airBnB competitor will rise with better services (couchsurfing, guesthouser, homeescape, vrbo…) but competition amoungst hosts is good because it tends to get prices down and the new comer will put low price first to get good reviews than will slightly raise its prices until he gets less, etc.
    In London, airBnB is much lower than hotels. In Bangkok and Beijing, hotels are cheaper or same price, so, you can choose.
    In fact, airBnB should do like booking.com : you can review with your name or not. If you want to complain, you can do it anonymously. That is something airBnB shall consider – but for such big player, only money count and they are playing short term profits.

    • AW Says

      I agree completely. Any review can be met with a spite review, and also a response directly to you beneath your review – a nice place to attack you directly in spite! The lack of anonymity and mutual dependence on inflated reviews makes them unreliable. I have gotten duped by gushing reviews by places that were pretty cheesy and dumpy. a cramped studio with a bad ant problem, non-working tv and appliances, in a really seedy community, was given reviews like “Amazing. Stunning. Fantastic.” I was not the only guest in my party and we all agreed the reviews had little relationship to reality. Then there was the fact that the host made false accusations of damages after we left that we had to fight…so not worth the aggravation. I have never had a single issue in the 80+ hotels I have stayed in – AirBnb is a big risk. Not worth the few dollars saved. In a hotel room, you are ACCOMMODATED. In AirBnB, you are often asked to ACCOMMODATE the quirks and temperament and sometimes unreasonable expectations of the host, who don’t really see that they are in fact running a rental business.

  • Worra Says

    Soo negative. Airbnb is great! Hope I never have u as my guest.

  • Ria Says

    I believe where we are talking about community it’s all the time we will find good and bad experiences. The same with couchsurfing and others. Some deal better with issues to solve, others not so good. But in any case – I think it can happen all the time if people won’t talk about it in public :) More people will speak, maybe quicker situation will change:) I had several Airbnb experiences and all were good :)

  • vera Says

    Good to know… thank you for sharing!

  • Jo Says

    That is a very depressing report. How sad that a company profiting like that cannot be responsive to client complaints and concerns. I have only used Airbnb once in Sydney and it was fine. However I am traveling to Portugal this year and have already booked 2 places on Airbnb so I am going back to check my bookings! Thanks for the heads up

  • Igor Says

    We used AB 10-15 times so far. We never had any issues, but fact is that we always explored multiple apartments, and we choose only those having a larger number of positive reviews. “Larger” means more than 20, and as well I would spend a couple of minutes to make sure reviews are honest, and guests are from around the world, not only “locals” that are most likely friends and it’s faked.

    Anyways, it’s a good post and a good reminder that you always have to take care about yourself, as no one else will.

  • Frank Says

    We’ve used Airbnb pretty much consistently over the last 2 years that we’ve been travelling full time and I have to say that we haven’t had many issues. That’s usually because: 1) we’ll go mid-range, avoiding borderline dodgy places, 2) since we’re usually renting a place 1-2 months, I’ll go over reviews in detail and will always write the host about anything I’m not sure about.
    So 95% of our experiences have been great. But there have been a couple of 1 or 2 night stays where maybe I didn’t look at them hard enough and where we had bad experiences. One was deceitful, saying they had internet but in fact didn’t.

    Which brings me to your next point about customer service. Yes, it does suck. Firstly, where is there a telephone number or email on the site? It drove me crazy the 1st time I tried looking for it.
    Secondly, I got in an argument about the no-internet host with their service department when they wrote me telling me that my review was inaccurate and that the host DID have it. I told them no, he didn’t. I had just left the day before. They told me that he must have gotten it since then. Bullshit. But what they did it remove my review which I wasn’t happy about because it was the least of the problems with that apartment (this was in Trieste, Italy). Yes, customer service sucks and they side with the hosts.

    The other thing that honestly rubs me the wrong way. They’ll give you a credit if you get friends to subscribe. But you, as the customer, get no compensation for being a frequent, volume customer. Last 2 years we’ve used Airbnb over 300 days a year and what have we had to show for it? nothing. So it doesn’t reward loyalty.

    I agree with some of your other points and disagree with a few others. this comment would end up being too long. As far as costs go I find Airbnb generally cheaper/better quality than hotels but that depends on the market and the competition. But as full-time travellers we want an apartment, not a hotel room. In the end I just wish there was more competition – in many markets hosts have become greedy.

    ON THAT NOTE: We’re flying into Lisbon July 30 and looking for an apartment for a month. I thought I had an aprtment but then the lady complained that it was high season and that she would have to ask more than the monthly rate showing on the site (that pissed me off). Zara, since we’re talking about competition to Airbnb, you have any tips?

    Frank (bbqboy)

  • I use AIRBNB for all our travels, we always stay for 1,2 months in the same apartment while enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle. I do agree with you that prices are rather on the high side, especially when comparing with local rentals, but it’s impossible to find a descent hotel for under 1200 euro/month if you want to stay in Brazil, Mexico, etc. I’m not talking about hostels or 1/2 star hotels. You can find nice apartments for that price though. Apartments also offer space, vs hotel rooms.

    Airbnb makes my life easy when searching for a place to stay: I go online, check the pictures and comments and book the place. I do not mind paying 200/300 euro/month more vs having to search for a place locally (adding the hotel cost for 1,2 nights when you arrive), etc.

  • Suzanne (PhilaTravelGirl) Says

    I used Airbnb last summer in Europe -great start in Venice and London, mixed in Milan and I ended up in the emergency room in Malta due to a dirty and unsafe place (I fell on loose steps and fractured my foot). Airbnb was quite responsive in my incident telling me of the 24hr rule (I wasn’t aware). We left early for a hotel and the host trashed me so much it was libel that Airbnb has to get involved – I had pictures to refute her claims. Airbnb has gems and duds so you need to do research first in my opinion. More people can afford to travel with Airbnb but they are t always the best value after fees etc.
    As a business travel manager I’d never let my employees stay w/Airbnb for duty of care issues and ten other reasons I wrote about on my blog.

  • Don Moder Says

    “You might be living in an illegal rental” should be #1. The chances you are in an illegal rental in New York City was over 75% according to a study by the NY Attorney General. So please stop believing all the AirBnB hot air. You are aiding and abetting these illegal acts, you assisting in making the lives of the neighbors of these illegal renters worse. Plus, the risks you assume by renting on AirBnB are huge and there is nobody protecting you, most of all AirBnB. AirBnB is setting the trap. You are walking into it knowingly with the false idea you are saving a few bucks.

  • This is a great post. I’ve been using AirBnB for a few years now, both as a host and as a guest, and I agree that booking an apartment through AirBnB can be very hit and miss!

    I’ve had some wonderful experiences, like renting an airy cottage by the coast in Barbados for a few weeks, and I’ve had some awful ones, like when I stayed in a hostel-house in Fort Lauderdale which was grimy and musty, the Wifi didn’t work, and the host was an ass. And in that situation when I complained to AirBnB about the host – I got the same kind of customer service experience as you did. AirBnB don’t care if the guests are unhappy, all they care about is that they’re making money.

  • Glen Says

    Well, it happened…. after using Airbnb constantly we had our first incident. We booked a place in Lisbon, which was in the lovely area of Alfama, a fantastic apartmernt, nice host (even came to pick us up at airport) but on arrival we were told there was a huge week long street party which gradually gets busier and louder all week until the bank holiday weekend, and it was all right under our window, literally the singer and speakers systems (all 4 of them) right under it. First night was fine, we went down and joined in, second day we got back from a great day out and at 6pm its starts and gets louder and louder and the same song over and over… its too much, we couldnt relax, couldnt stay in living room because it was unbearable and the thought of being there all week fighting through the crowds, rubbish and not sleeping fills us with dread (first night was 4am, second 3am)…. So I tweeted Airbnb, within 10mins they Tweeted back, within 5 mins of that they had emailed me to say its been flagged, 5 mins after that they called me and 1 hour later they’d sorted it with the host he agreed to let us move out the next day, I found another place and we had a great holiday. Aitbnb were sensational, totally understood, helped on every step, called back (and emailed) next day to check it all went smoothly-I heard horror stories so was fretting but nope amazing and it is why we still feel its totally worth it.

  • Avi Says

    I agree with most of the comments above here, and about the non-concerned attitude of Airbnb.
    I am both a guest and host. As a host, I have been enjoying good guests, but my whole view reversed with the last guest and Airbnb attitude.
    A guest trashed the place, stole some stuff and broke some stuff at home while I was gone.
    Now, Airbnb would ask you to fill plenty of long forms, upload pictures, and then once you fill the official complaint, give you 48 hours of notice to upload the purchase invoices of all lost or broken items. Its a pity because, I do not know of anyone who keeps invoices of everything in their home. Ask me invites of the cups in the kitchen I got last year, or the books I got 2 years back or the dart board I have for throwing darts in my living room or the world map I have in the study…
    And if you don’t upload in 48 hours the receipts, well, you get an automated post from Airbnb claiming you are out of time and they will NOT do anything now or in future. They are happy to just charge their fee. No wonder hits are quitting and moving to other platforms. I should too…

  • Kathryn Says

    I’ve had some good experiences with Airbnb and some shockers. I use them a lot and have found their customer service helpful but, last year, I was travelling with my sister and we had big issues with a place. She’d booked in her name and had only one prior booking, I’m not sure if that changed the way she was treated or not but they were far less considerate.

    With that experience, the place had glowing reviews from past guests, who must have low cleanliness standards because the place reeked. We arrived in the middle of winter and had to open every door and window. It smelt of rancid fat and couldn’t have been a recent thing.

    We got our money back but had made an urgent hotel booking, to get out of the place (there was a lot wrong, not just the smell). We got no other compensation, not even an Airbnb credit for our troubles.

    One of the issues was that we hadn’t phoned their 24 hour emergency number. I’d thought that was only for actual emergencies, like you are being attacked or the plumbing backs up, so we emailed.

    Re: #4 reviews — if you just look at the emails you get, you see the slant they take. It’s all about letting your host know what you liked. Reviews shouldn’t be written for the host, there’s the whole private feedback section for that. They should be written for other potential guests. I always give my honest opinion when I review but I try to do it in a factual way – something that is a nightmare for me, might be a huge bonus for someone else.

    I stay a lot in Tokyo and Airbnb used to be awesome there. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a definite decline in standards and increase in fees.

  • Mickey Says

    I too am a serial AirBnB renter. What are the other options though? I’d be curious to learn. Thus far what I’ve found is AirBnB only brings to surface the local norms of the country you’re visiting. For example, in Spain they’re awfully relaxed about time/bathrooms/finery/internet while perhaps in Hong Kong they’re all about space efficiency.

    For the most part I disagree with nameless reviews all things being considered – last thing we want is spammed walls to have to wade through. Is this ideal? No. But in a peer-to-peer model having traceability is vital. I believe strongly in reviews when it comes to community services, so I want to leave mine for the next person to read. Is there a better way? Maybe, perhaps they only allow reviews from people that have stayed in the listings but they remain nameless – a period of 6 months to fill in your review? I don’t know.

    What I do know is while a bunch of new problems have surfaced from AirBnB I’d rather have these new issues then the problems I had a few years back which was often arriving somewhere completely blind with absolutely no idea of location/neighbourhood or even a person [for better or worse] to guide me. A few years back I barely could travel except for thinking about hotels, which become complicated for anything more than a couple/small family.

  • Anushka Says

    I absolutely agree with you when it comes to review, sometimes we can’t put bad review just we don’t want one to loose customer because of us, this happened to us in our recent trip to Georgia, the host house was 7-8 km away from center and the house was on hill, i asked him many times will it be easy for us to commute to the centre and he assured us yes, but when we landed up in his place even though his house was beautiful we were depressed we felt like house arrest as there was no way to go to center, no taxi nearby and our only way to commute to to ask the host to drop us, to which he was bit rude, and even then we posted a diplomatic review not to hurt his feeling.

  • I have used AirNnB twice with bad results both the time, despite checking reviews etc. The first time, after booking an apartment shown to be available, the owner changed his mind good 5/6 hours later and said it wasn’t. We were on the road, and left struggling to find another place to stay (this time we did NOT use AirBnB), precious time we could have spent on exploring the city pr any other productive work. The second time, what was listed as an apartment turned out to be a hotel. We were disappointed because we prefer staying at apartments or homes.

    The thing about the AirBnB and these app based aggregators is that they have all the business footfalls without any responsibility.

  • Josh Says

    I agree. Airbnb customer service is bad. And with hosts its been hit or miss. And if I had a problematic host. Airbnb has always sided with the host. My last host turned out to be bipolar. She declined to renew my stay the night before and without a heads up. I was able to book another spot but Airbnb canceled my new reservation the next morning then accused me of squatting even know I had no where else to go. Then they made me and my dad sit stranded all day while the host pressured us to leave. Finally they put me in a hotel for a week promising to assist me with lodging for the rest of the month. When it came time to make good on their word they terminated my account with them and refused to help me, because they said I no longer have an account with them.

  • Dear Ashray/Zara
    Me & my wife have stayed in about 28 Airbnbs till date in last 2.5 years. All our experiences have ranged from good to exceptional. While I absolutely understand your bad experiences, for me good amount of research for even a night stay helps on platforms like Airbnb. Cross Verifying listed location with Google Maps, reading each n every review etc are the things that has helped is during our stays.
    I hope Airbnb smoothens out rough edges and continues to be an exceptional asset to travellers like us !!!

    Currently in Brazil …going to Chile next ..will take your advice on that …thanks ..
    Regards
    Ankit

  • Todd Says

    This comment is not exactly on point but can’t find any help for my Airbnb issue. I own a property and list it with Airbnb through a property manager who is considered the actual host. I have not received payment for one 6 day rental and the PM won’t pay me, telling me that it is Airbnb’s responsibility. I can’t deal with Airbnb directly because I have no relationship with them, only the PM. The PM says she’s trying to get them to reverse to her (she’s been paid) and repay to my account. It’s been more than a month now and still nothing. She says she doesn’t want to pay me because that will mean income to her for which she will have to pay taxes. Any advice?

  • Diane Says

    I am having problems with Airbnb right now. I have used them for several years and really liked the service. I had an issue 2 years ago, when a host canceled 2 weeks before my Christmas trip. Even though I had to spend much more money to stay at a hotel, Airbnb customer service was very respnsive and immediately refunded my money. This time, I have a host who is saying he double booked and wants me to stay part of my trip somewhere else and then go to his place. I said no, but he refuses to cancel the reservation. If I cancel, I will be charged a fee. I contacted Airbnb 3 days ago (after searching online for their phone number, because you can no longer contact them AT ALL through there website–no phone number, no email). Mike said he would have it resolved within an hour and email me. In an hour, I received an email saying he wasn’t able to resolve it yet–but, it would be resolved the next day. The next day –No Mike. And, still no Mike. I have called Airbnb 4 times and each person I speak to says that Mike is unavailable, they don’t know when he will be available, and no one can help me but Mike because he is my “case manager.” What is the problem?! They can see by the communications between myself and the host through Airbnb what is going on, yet they refuse to do anything about it. Originally, I was going to re-book once it was straightened out, but now–NO WAY, I want a full refund and I will NOT use Airbnb again. BTW, when searching online for the phone number, I found that there are many, many people who are experiencing the same problem I am. Airbnb no longer deserves to be in business. At least my host tried to make changes now and not when I arrived in his country!

  • Bleep Blorp Says

    I appreciate what you’ve written here, but as a host (as well as a frequent guest) you are taking out your upset on the wrong people. There are WAY more crappy guests than hosts (just check the Airbnb message boards), and hosts are WAY more vulnerable ultimately. Typically, the worst that a guest will experience are the things your mention, such as noise, accommodations in poor shape, lack of cleanliness. I’ve been there, and it’s not fun, so I’m not dismissing your qualms. But you can always cancel your reservation and go to a hotel, motel, another short-term rental—my point is, as much as it stinks up your vacation, you have options. As a host, your entire home is vulnerable. Seriously brutal things can happen which can cost you an absolute fortune and drag out well past the vacation period, costing you enough that you might be in serious financial distress. I don’t have the spirit to go point by point, but my bottom line is this: Airbnb has lousy customer service, is not rewarding good hosts enough, has a search algorithm which is punishing careful, thoughtful hosts and assisting crappier hosts, and ultimately, despite a general peer-based model I believe in, is very vulnerable to an Amazon or Google or Facebook disruption in this space due to its own sacrifice of quality for growth. I, as a guest and a host, look forward to that disruption.

    • Jay Hawk Says

      As a host, I feel I am 98% of the face of AirBnb. I get new users constantly who check in anytime they want, text me at 1AM, blame me when they can’t figure out a thermostat, damage things, BUT of course want their privacy and OF COURSE want it all to cost $1/night.
      I bend over backward to basically give my wonderful house away. People commonly use 3 full bed/bath though only 1 person is listed to stay (its cheaper). I am not throwing people out, but when I mention things like this or the ABSOLUTELY GARBAGE HOSTING APP, i have got the most pathetic assistance from AirBnb. I had two felons a month out of jail put into my place, I had a guy who sent his moving truck driver who spoke no english, I’ve had about 50% of the time where I am accomodating someone outside of the correct booking procedure. Hosts are way more at risk. One person give a 1 star review and I wouldn’t look viable for another year because I am not in a touristy area where this is a business model.
      Simply put, I agree that violating laws and zero background checks is why Airbnb fails their duty as matchmaker and simply leans on people to fix things first, because they barely answer the phone in less than 20 minutes!

      • Jeanne Denney Says

        Get it. Yes. Being a host can also suck. It takes a lot to keep these places running and not all guests are good eggs. Yet Airbnb wants you to “Instant book”. No thank you.

  • Holly Says

    I have used airbnb on/off around the world for a year. I’ve had some good experiences, no thanks to Airbnb, but enough bad ones. And Airbnb’s “service” to help me out of a jam? ABYSMAL. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to stay in a hotel and NOT get refunded because a host pulled a fast one on me. And PS, I didn’t reserve cheap places, but hosts nowadays are super greedy and will cancel your reservation if they get a higher offer. There is no protection for a guest and, in all, I have spent as much money altogether than if I had stayed in hotels to begin with. Absolutely DO NOT recommend this business. Can’t wait until they go under. Awful, soul-less place with crapy CSRs.

  • whatever Says

    I tried ABnB several times to see what all the rave was about. That was 2015/2016. I can say that if you don’t value your time and want to play Russian roulette with your comfort and safety, the ABnB is for you. I had nothing but bad experiences the 3 times I used ABnB. I was able to resolve my issues with refunds after much angst and frustration with customer support.

    ABnB is a terrible value. That’s my biggest issue. You get all the inseucurity of not being confident your accommodations are as described, with no backup in the event you’re not satisfied (at least in a hotel/motel you can ask for another room, or even another hotel in the chain).

    The pricing has skyrocketed to beyond hotel pricing on many accommodations. If fact, I’m starting to see “alternative” accommodations pop up for insance pricing — (e.g. the Coleman pop-up camper in nowhereville with taxes, fees, and a cleaning charge adding up to $90/night). I love to pay more to camp out when I could have spent about half that for a consistenly comfortable hotel room.

    Other rooms, apartments and homes are priced beyond reason with new ABnB hoteliers trying to cash in on a ship that sailed long ago. I’m seeing people rent standard apartments, stoked with sparse furnishings, and then, in certain violation of the their monthly lease, try to provide these as ABnB accomodations, for hundreds of dollars a night!

    I simply don’t have time for nonsense in my life. And whatever ABnB used to represent in terms of the sharing economy, it’s now just another dot-com’esque company posistioning itself for an IPO in the insane $30 Billion range, like any other Facebook, Twitter, Uber, etc. To put that in perspective, $30 Billion is a mere $4 Billion shy of the valuation of the entire Mariott hotel chain network. The later actually has a reputable network of hotels, motels and resorts you can book with confidence. The former, on the other hand….

    • Mickey Says

      Hey, I can understand the angst. I’ve probably stayed in Airbnb listings for the better part of three years now, some weren’t great and others were exceptional.

      When you think about it, what other portal exists for the medium term renter? Say 2 weeks ~ 3 months? A hotel is well too expensive for such a period, not to mention the size is usually small with no accompanying white wares like a laundry machine, dryer, decent sized fridge, stove etc. Airbnb is about the only widely spread medium term rental solution available for us serial travellers – I’d welcome an alternative but there isn’t one quite as widespread.

      I do agree, some parts of the world Airbnb isn’t optimum. It’s often great in Thailand/Spain/Toronto/Hong Kong/Bali but sucks awfully for Philippines/China/Casablanca I reckon this is mainly because of usage though, some parts of the world have adjusted to the idea of homes as a service, others haven’t as yet.

      Anyway, if you have an alternative for the medium term renter share! I can’t find a better community for month long stays.

  • Pringles Says

    Airbnb is the worst!!! Not only do they price gauge folks with their additional fees but they often make it difficult for parties to communicate with each other. For example, on my last trip, the day I arrived at my rental, the host and I tried texting each other via the airbnb site only o receive emails that my info wasn’t verified so I could not speak with our host. That’s after we paid and checked in. This of course resulted in a bunch of complications that disrupted our stay and check out. This is only one example of the crappy experiences I’ve had with them. Only reason I’ve used them again is because I had no choice due to last minute plans. I’d like to say never again moving forward. I highly recommend to everyone that if you get stuck using these crooks and find a host you like that you get their personal information and book with them directly in the future. I’ve done this several times over the years… been easier and a lot cheaper! For both the renter and host. Airbnb’s days are numbered. There is no need for them. Only a matter of time till hosts catch on to the many other sites that DO NOT charge additional fees and do not interfere with how a host a renter communicate. I’m proud that I’ve been able to get quite a few hosts to abandon airbnb in favor of other sites.

  • Jeanne Denney Says

    Hey, want to say that as a host I have a similar experience only different feeling quite abused by certain guests who want to cancel. I quit after the last Airbnb fiasco after 6 years of having pretty happy guests. The guest that wanted to get out of the agreement (for completely different reasons…their horse wasn’t in the show), photographed an old sink in my farmhouse that has some stains on it and alleged that the house was dirty. I mean I say clearly that it is a vintage and older home by a RR. The price reflects this. We didn’t want to take out that old sink. It was so great and just had mineral staining. It is not representative of the rest of the house that is “charming” by all reports. Yet the guest represented it as the norm, and Airbnb gave the guest a full refund without even the courtesy of a conversation. This was also unaccepatable customer service, with ME as the customer. You can’t clean and scrub and prepare for guests and have this nonsense and still want to do it. So there it is. Not easy for hosts either. In the new regime, you have to be disinfected hotel. Good luck finding charm, ordinariness and normalacy in an accomodation.

    • justadude Says

      Jeanne, i read your post and have to agree, millennials really are the devil’s assh*le. i also had my hosting nightmare. i didn’t detail it, because details aren’t important as much as the root of the cause. read my post, especially the end, i think you’ll like it ;-)

  • Michael Andrade Says

    I’ve stayed in Airbnbs all over the world and have only had good experiences. I’ve never paid more than $35 a night, even in expensive cities like Tokyo, and usually pay around $25. I think you’re making a mountain out of a molehill, and are just looking for content to fill up your website.

    • Anita Says

      I would direct you to the 40+ comments on this post. There seems to be a lot of people that had problems with Airbnb. Both hosts and guests.

  • JJ Says

    Coming from the hosts side, I agree Airbnb does not do much for it’s customers. If you think you have it bad as a guest on Airbnb, try being a host. Airbnb never supports us.
    It is obvious you need to start using Hotels again.

  • Jen Rodriguez Says

    I hate airbnb. We had a bad experience in Paris last May 30 for 4 nights and i dont even know where to begin about how terrible their customer service is. Please help!! I need someone to help.me get in touch with an airbnb rep that can intervene

  • Paul Says

    Customer service in airbnb is horrible. It’s like a conveyor belt of passing issues but not really resolving them. I’m losing faith in this service.

  • Penny Says

    What I hate about AirBNB is that there’s absolutely no way to reserve something, like in advance, for a whole month, and then arrange to pay the host when you GET THERE SAFELY. This is especially important for international travel. I booked whole month in Montreal at a hostel and didn’t make it there because I was denied entry back into Canada at the border…long story short, couldn’t even contact the host for NINE MONTHS after that. So I lost the money for a whole month. (Well that was by no means ALL the money I lost in that venture but still…) If I’d been able to just book it like say with some kind of 48-hour hold or something like other booking sites allow you…then I’d not have lost a whole months’ worth of rent money.
    What happened there was that I had no idea that the Canadian citizenship card that I’d used to LIVE IN Canada back at the turn of the century, not “wouldn’t be accepted to cross the border by land” but would be treated like “fake” by the current border NAZIs and confiscated because, as the second interrogation officer told me, “maybe he just didn’t recognise it or something.” With AirBNB I’d have to lodge a massive campaign to get that money back…it does allow hosts to “hold” a room for you to reserve but only for like 10 hours.
    Oh and another thing I hate about AirBNB is that it refuses to accept most of my debit cards. The only one I can use is my prepaid Wal-Mart one which requires me to physically GO to a Wal-Mart and load the account up with cash. It’s a pain in the neck, not to mention a safety issue most places I’ve gotten stuck in lately, to have to find an ATM, get out hundreds of dollars cash and then find a Wal-Mart. All WALKING.

  • Airbnb left me stranded after locking/suspending my account in Costa Rica.
    Read my Airbnb nightmare Story

  • Katy Says

    Hi from Slovakia. I only visited airbnb homes in Slovakia, But last year booked cca 10 entire apartments and I can’t agree more !!!! My first host acused me from breaking glass, using extra towel and having a visitor during the day and asked 50€ extra. I was shocked and of course I didnt pay and I wrote honest review about this generous host Fiťmová Nitra Airbnb. Airbnb deleted my comments and she has SUPERHOST status. Wtf.. Then once I booked beautiful apartment but had many problems with the building and neigbour. Host wasnt there, he didnt care. It was like a home in Gypsy village, also in Nitra. I left place 10 minutes after I arrived and host didnt want to give me back money I paid until I apologize for troubles and literally beg for it! Psycho, what I can tell.. Next time I booked place in Trencin, old flat but no problem for me, the problem was smell. I bought candles, sprays, cleaned, windows open whole night (outside was snowing) but smell didn’t fade. Maybe someone died there or I don’t know. It was embarassing, but I couldnt breathe so I wrote him after first night and left, I didnt ask money back. Guess what? He is also superhost. My other experiences was not as good as hotel, but sometimes hosts were really nice. I can’t imagine what it must be to travel with family and to the different state.

  • justadude Says

    for what its worth, its not only guests who suffer, its hosts as well. the “verification” of guests is a joke and the host reviews are possibly fraudulent as well. nothing will placate you once you’ve been vandalized by a guest. not to mention the time, hassle, headache, etc. that goes unrecompensed.

    as for listings, the product is going the way of flip-key in that commercial hotels are listing themselves as apartments, the prices are sky-high now, etc etc etc. BASICALLY AIRBNB IS A LOW-TRUST NETWORK.

    so for giggles, i am doing something to kick them in the shins a bit teehee. i am NEVER going to host again, but im basically listing my property for a stupid low price to bait a flood of interest, and then im REALLY nasty and insulting as i reject all of them … over a series of exchanges. i wanna sh*t AirBnB’s bed, so that they know how it feels. <:o)

    • Steve Says

      My friend, I know your post is from a long time ago so maybe you aren’t still crapping Airbnb’s bed but did you ever consider you’re also crapping innocent peoples beds when you bait them into contacting you? Something to think about. No malice whatsoever or offense intended. Thanks for listening

  • Paul Simkins Says

    Adam Ruins Everything exposed AirBNB shortcomings.
    https://www.reddit.com/r/AirBnB/comments/55dk39/adam_ruins_everything_how_air_bnb_is_risky_for/

    That said, I have used AirBNB multiple times in the US and had no issues.

  • Billy Says

    I have found Airbnb to be total scammers!! I wonder if the company is setup to scam accommodation owners and guests alike.

  • Jean Todd Says

    I made the horrific mistake of using a local Airbnb “management agent” to handle my listings. While I had no issues with guests, but for one, this agent was the worst. I did not get paid for the first couple of listings for a couple of weeks after the guests left and had an awful time convincing the agent that she had a duty to make sure I was paid. Of course, she got paid immediately so my money was in her bank account. The last time I had a guest (I stopped doing Airbnb after that one), I didn’t get paid for 4 months, and then only after threatening to sue. I might as well have given the booking away.The worst part was that, because my listing was managed by her, I had no relationship with Airbnb, so could not make a complaint to them. Again, she had her cut and mine immediately. And, after all that aggravation, she kept her fee. She gained the benefit of getting reviews on the Airbnb website, which increased her credibility and possibly booking credits for her own trips and I got squat. So, for all you Airbnbers who book through their website, make sure you are booking with the owner of the property and not some third party who only cares about their fees (in my case, 25% plus a share of the cleaning fee…and I did all of the cleaning). This “management” practice probably compounds the problems property owners and Booker’s experience. And, in these cases, the owner can expect nothing from Airbnb.

  • Christopher Laine Says

    If anyone would wish to become a part of an Airbnb CLASS ACTION and CRIMINAL action in the US DISTRICT COURT FOR WESTERN WASHINGTON, Seattle, please feel free to email me.

    We have just filed criminal charges with the Attorney General for Washington State and will do so in all 50 plus the Canadian Provinces if sufficient numbers respond.

    Thank you

    • justadude Says

      @ Christopher Laine i think that is a terrific idea! their business model should constitute something akin to reckless endangerment, negligence, or something. if anything, a nice fat federal lawsuit should serve to slap them in the face and shake them up a good bit.

  • Evan Says

    AirBnB is horrible. Their customer service is a disaster. And they do nothing to help if you need a deposit back for extenuating circumstances. I will never use the service again. Only Hilton or Marriott from now on.

  • Sara Says

    it was an american company. hustlers, and hucksters. Emptiness.

  • Matt Says

    AIRBNB IS MASONIC!!!!

    These are serious gangsters dog!

  • Ignatz Says

    You suckers who still obsessively patronize “disruptive” industry players such as Airbnb and Uber, which abuse their “contractors” and clients alike while subverting local laws and regulations can go right on doing so…the more of you people who expose yourselves to such abuse, the more hotels will discount their empty rooms to people who want consistency and at least a measure of security.

  • David Says

    Very very good article! All over the world countries are tightening rental rules and the accounts practices of Airbnb. Cutting down seriously on Airbnb incomes and expansion. Several court cases are also ongoing in major cities in the USA. At least in Europe, I believe the next step will be court cases and rulings throughout the EU and hopefully from the EU High Court to improve customers/consumers interests and rights. The consumer position across Europe is very very strong. Airbnb will sooner or later regret their dubious policies and “guidelines”. They will simply be forced to follow common rules and laws on services and goods. The owners of Airbnb have lost complete control of their business and believe they can choose what rules apply or not for a consumer. Their initial idea is good but it seems they live in a parallel world of their own implementing their own distorted logic.This cannot go on.
    Fortunately most guests and hosts are sensible enough to ensure satisfaction for both sides.

  • Alida Willow Says

    I suffer from middle ear issues which causes imbalance/vertigo, especially after long flights. I contacted a host prior to booking and asked if I could check-in early so I could lie down. She said that was fine. I booked at her place, but on arrival, she told me that someone was in my room and I couldn’t check-in. She wouldn’t even let me lie down in her house. Link to her room – https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/25340836?source_impression_id=p3_1563338167_%2FqpWrhVFg7WONI%2Bt
    I was so dizzy I could barely walk. I had to leave my suitcase at her place and walk down and lie in an oval for 6 hours. While there, I had no water, food, and I was nearly mugged (I had my laptop out and a guy on a bicycle kept circling; I had to finally lie in the full sun because it was near a couple of other guys; I ended up sun burnt). Air bnb contacted me and promised they would help me find other accommodation. I needed somewhere close by because I’ll be catching up with friends in that area in a couple of days. I couldn’t find any nice cheap accommodation in that area, so I sent a link for something just a little more expensive (not much considering what I’d gone through). Air bnb stopped getting back to me and wouldn’t confirm if I could book. My phone was nearly flat and I didn’t know what to do, so I found another, cheaper, place in London and quickly booked (I didn’t have time to google the address because I had 2% battery). When I went back to get my suitcase, the host had locked me out of her house (I had a key, but she’d locked both locks). I then had to sit on her doorstep for long time. When she arrived she laughed in my face and said- because you asked me to cancel the booking, you can’t write a bad review. I began to cry. It got worse. My phone went flat and then I had to walk my suitcase up a steep road to a cafe, charge it, and then call a taxi from there. It was then that I found out that my new accommodation was 3 hours on public transport from where my friends live (also a 1 hour taxi ride which cost me $100.00 AU; I sent Air bnb the receipt asking for refund and they have manually removed the receipt from the conversation). I rang airbnb and they told me that they would help. The gentleman said he would personally fix this terrible thing that happened to me and move me closer to my friends. He promised me that Air bnb would make up any financial losses. He promised me he would take on my case personally until it was resolved. But then I received a message through air bnb, where he stated that he won’t take on my case, and that it was being passed back to the person who didn’t fix things last time and who left me stranded in an oval, spinning like a top. It has been hours and I still haven’t received any contact from air bnb. Now I’m stuck on the other side of London, 3 hours on public transport from where my friends are. The first week of my holiday is ruined; and worse still, air bnb are no longer answering my calls!!!! I just want to cry. I wish a booked a hotel room.

    • Steve Bricker Says

      This comment is in response to Alida though I’m not sure it will reach you. I’m not a social media or tech guy in the least. I don’t normally get involved with these types of blogs but just happened to come across this one. Reading your story makes me feel like I have nothing to complain about. My main response is with regard to your Airbnb experience but would like to mention your vertigo briefly. I suffered from severe vertigo for years but fought through it & though it recurs occasionally, I’ve learned how to cope with & minimize it. I am glad I never took the medications offered by doctors who had no firm diagnosis of what was causing it. With extensive research I learned that besides all the negative side affects of medications, that certain types of vertigo caused mainly by Meneires disease or other like conditions are often adapted to by our brains though sometimes taking a long time. If we take the medications, our brains never learn to adapt. Don’t get me wrong, I know nothing about your situation so I am not suggesting you don’t take medication. I’m just giving you information. I feel incredibly bad for you & I cry with you about your experience. It isn’t fair or right. I hope you will one day receive your recompense from Airbnb. Though my experiences are bad enough, they are not near as traumatic as yours. Still I would like to relate them & my associated thoughts. I have several experiences both as a Superhost for Airbnb & a traveller through Airbnb. Fortunately there are many other vacation rental companies out there that Airbnb will eventually be forced to reckon with & if people like us push them, that may force them to do it before they eventually go bankrupt & leave millions who have made deposits on rentals with nothing. In the interim, I can still host with Airbnb costing Airbnb money while I host with others as well giving my preference to them. As a guest I don’t boycott Airbnb but I use alternatives including hotels WHENEVER possible & practical. Airbnb is absolutely by far the worst company I have ever dealt with in my entire life & I’ve dealt with a number of bad ones. Airbnb takes the worst company award in a landslide. Everything you described is what they are masters at. It seems they train their representatives that they can say or promise anything they like without needing or intending to honor their word. I have dealt with some fantastic reps from Airbnb but the majority have been the most arrogant brain dead group I’ve ever met. I think their first question required for their hire is Are you a major PRICK that loves to screw people around & ruin their day? That pretty much sums it up. They don’t enforce their written policies for their “community members” or worse yet even attempt to honor them themselves. It’s just a shell game. Their word means absolutely nothing, it is trash. They do whatever they THINK is best for them, but they are their own worst enemies & will likely self destruct one day as more & more people become aware of their tactics in addition to their problems with governments. They are the epitome of transactional based rather than moral or ethics based. When they need to resolve issues between host & guest, they make decisions based not on ethics & their policy which SOUNDS GOOD but on who is the most likely to bring them more business & income in the future. I’ve experienced that first hand a few times now. As a Superhost for Airbnb, I have only needed their help in resolving serious issues with a couple of guests out of the hundreds that I’ve hosted. The majority of our guests have been truly awesome & I attribute that in large part that I as a host try to be truly awesome. Though I am in it primarily to produce income, I also recognize that my guests are paying with the full expectation of having a great experience & I have an ethical responsibility to do my very best to ensure that. I also ENJOY doing that. Their is nothing more rewarding than earning income while at the same time making someones stay great & hearing their feedback on how satisfied they feel with the money they spent. Unfortunately Airbnb doesn’t differentiate between ethical hosts & slumlords. In fact, they encourage being slumlords by consistently sending messages suggesting hosts to cut their prices to compete with other hosts. This at first seems self defeating (& it is which I’ll discuss), but it seems to be from AIRBNB’s perspective that they want travelers to think of Airbnb as the ultimate for price while offering the ultimate for accommodations while not investing a dime in accommodations inventory or maintenance themselves. In partial response to other comments posted, I can’t speak as to the fees Airbnb charges. I personally couldn’t see Airbnb being able to survive on 3% with all their employees & other costs but truthfully, I have no idea. I’m a business owner so I know that no one truly knows a businesses operating costs until they walked a mile in those shoes. How a business arrives at their costs or charges them out doesn’t really matter as long as we are aware what we are agreeing to pay for their services offered, the most we can do is complain about price but no one forced us. It is not how they arrived at price but more total & final price that matters to us no matter what we are purchasing. As long as we had a choice short of life or death or other serious consequences & agreed to it without some sort of threat or repercussion against us. If we are exploiting peoples life sustaining & basic needs, that’s different. It is when they misrepresent what they are offering that it becomes FRAUD on their part & then we really have the right to complain. Returning to the slumlord issue, I personally refuse to be made that as a host but I don’t actually require the income to live a decent life or to live at all. While some places can be quite, or were quite lucrative to run an Airbnb, the unique characteristics & challenges of each area & Airbnb’s failure to recognize that can mean catastrophic losses for hard working oppressed people while Airbnb continues to exploit that & people for their bottom line. The sad part is what I witness as a self supporting volunteer in a country with a lot of corruption & nauseatingly rich people & a lot of poverty where the “peasants” work usually 7 days a week 12 hours a day just for a meager roof & a few scraps of food. There is a slowly growing middle class but it is incredibly tough for so many including ones that bought places to rent as Airbnb’s at incredibly high borrowing costs just to see their rental prices forced down by up to 70% over the past few years as Airbnb pits hosts against hosts. These “poor” people in every sense of the word are beautiful people that really WANT to be great hosts but can’t afford to as their incomes are cut while some guests ruin their furniture or take their things reasoning they paid for them. A side point, our top quality, very attractive & expensive furniture purchased 30 years ago that was still like brand new until 2 years ago when we became airbnb hosts is now all ruined & needing replacement. People are people with many different standards, moral & ethical viewpoints though likely most think their standard is acceptable & correct. These “poor” hosts who have had their income forced down to nothing waste countless hours more precious & valuable time & resources receiving the runaround with nothing to show but frustration from Airbnb. For ourselves, we can absorb those costs & still profit a little. For these people, they can’t & we don’t have the heart to complain that there were only a few old dishes or whatever. Out of desperation & losing money, they’re renting out a decent +-~$100,000 USD 2 or 3 bedroom apartment including AC for $37/night, $60/night less than 1 room for 2 people in a local hotel of like quality construction but without the accommodation capacity or amenities. I love the platform & concept of Airbnb & being a shameless optimist I still have hope they will come around. If they actually lived up to their commitment to develop a “community” where members are required to respect the noble ethics & principles Airbnb CLAIMS to follow but instead of compromises for short term profits, I believe it would actually be a successful & sustainable company. It certainly is much nicer to stay in a place where we can co-habit with friends & family, cook our own meals if we wish or sit up & watch TV, listen to music or read a book while our significant other(s) go to bed in a separate room(s). Personally I don’t like the commercial somewhat institutional atmosphere of hotels as much as the personal feel of an Airbnb. It is truly a shame because it is an excellent platform with the potential to become even so much better. It is only their people that prohibit that & that has to go to the highest levels of management. As for the community members, the majority of our guests in our residences have been awesome! The same for the majority of our hosts in whose residences we’ve stayed! Some of our guests have caused damages by negligence but of those, most have conscientiuosly paid. As always, there have been a few whose game plan from the start was to negotiate a free stay or substantially reduced stay based on frivolous claims. I am happy to report that Airbnb supported us, I believe fairly & impartially, & those guests did not win the game. On the other hand, we did have 2 large groups of associated guests stay in 2 separate stays within a short couple week period that both left our place extremely dirty & used an excessive amount of electricity beyond the stated allowance & when we requested Airbnb to assist to collect from them from our stipulated damage deposit within our allotted period of time, Airbnb told us they had cancelled both their accounts for breach of Airbnb’s terms so couldn’t help us resulting in the loss of hundreds of dollars. Worse yet, I lost hundreds more in unproductive wasted time in hours & hours of receiving the runaround being bounced or receiving unfulfilled promises of being bounced from one Airbnb rep to the next. As a businessman, I normally know when to cut my losses & move on but Airbnb is in a class all it’s own with their noble sounding written ethics promises & policies, & more promises made by their reps that lead to nowhere but absolute frustration & anger. I certainly don’t condone nor is there justification but I can comprehend how some mentally unstable people lose it & do horrendous things. That’s the sad reality of this world. Here are our experiences. We rented our beautiful 3 bedroom heavily invested condo in an exclusive area with free 5 minute beach shuttle & huge beautiful pool & courtyard out last December to guests though it meant we had to vacate for a few days which we were quite happy to do just for a little change. Through Airbnb, we rented a “studio” apartment close by but in a more touristy lively district. Immediately after reserving the place, as I was looking over the pictures again, I suspected the pictures to be misleading so contacted the host & confirmed that it was indeed NOT a “studio” apartment since though having a small attached kitchenette & bathroom, it had no sofa or sitting area as it at first looked in the pictures. The host suggested I could do my necessary business including banking on my computer at the table & chairs on the outside uncovered, unprotected patio subject to robbers in the touristy & much less secure area than ours, Caribbean sudden wind driven torrential rains even from a blue sky, sunshine, 4 types of dengue, malaria & chikungunya which BTW are carried only by one type of mosquito which happen to be daytime/dusk/dawn biters. If you get bitten after dark, it’s itchy but no worries. Our host, of a foreign nationality, gave me “permission” to cancel while feigning not fully understanding my language or the “strict” cancellation policy of Airbnb that he himself set for his listing. I wasted several hours trying to get a straight answer out of both host & airbnb that he was giving me permission to cancel without being subject to the strict cancellation policy meaning I lose all my money. I then officially requested to cancel through Airbnb & the host officially refused so I requested an Airbnb resolution. Remember, this was same day within at most an hour or so of reserving upon realizing that the listing was NOT as represented. Short on time, I decided we’d acquiesce & try the place at least for that evening. It was an okay place but didn’t have a King bed as represented nor was a “studio” apartment. I decided to leave the next morning fully confident Airbnb would decide in my favor and refund our money for at least the 2 nights we didn’t stay at minimum. The end result, after months of the runaround wasting valuable productive time on an unproductive venture for tens of hours, a most arrogant Airbnb rep finally told me in a most disrespectful & condescending way, that in a nutshell, it didn’t matter what the listing actually said. It only mattered what the pictures showed. The partial picture of the bed from a different angle that looked like & I thought was a sofa didn’t matter. Seriously, so the physical word description didn’t matter but only the pictures mattered. I graduated from kindergarten but he obviously didn’t. I rely on word descriptions & representations as to what I am receiving. Pictures are not always reliable or representative nor do I look to them other than for a general impression. The kid said this guy was a Superhost so obviously he was a good host for a good property. He obviously failed to remember I am a Superhost too. He didn’t get that most guests visiting the Caribbean normally don’t need a workstation & only want to sleep & go to the beach so YES, most would be satisfied or at least live with the situation & enjoy their week or two even though the listing was misrepresented. A true “studio” apartment was the very least that we could make due & this certainly was not a “studio” apartment. His Superhost status means nothing other than to confirm that he was a scam artist feigning a bad understanding of English or Airbnb’s cancellation policy even though having several vacation rental properties on Airbnb & in trying to get us to cancel the reservation thinking that we were uninformed to Airbnb cancellation policy. His worker who met us also told us he’s a scam artist who speaks & understands English decent & pays his workers peasant wages while making a killing himself.
      Our experience with several Airbnb reps is that they are as much double talkers & scam artists or more than this host was. I’ve literally talked to dozens over months & months & been falsely promised all kinds of things related to only a few incidences requiring airbnb’s involvement to resolve. Seriously I’ve never experienced such a dysfunctional group of liars in my entire life. One rep contacted me weeks after I’d just told myself to forget it. It was almost as if she or they were being antagonists dangling the carrot in front of the rabbit. She contacted me to tell me she’d be in touch with me & then never contacted me again. I finally contacted them after it ate at me for weeks. I regretted it since it led to nothing more than multiple more hours of frustration, anger & stress. Stupid rabbit.
      Back to our experience, after deciding we were leaving his apartment & would take the chances of receiving a refund, we booked another Airbnb for the next 2 nights described as a few steps from the beach that the pictures made look bright, clean, cheery & modern. Only to arrive to a dark, dirty, dated place with sparse mismatched & dilapitated dishes & amenities a couple thousand steps from the beach. We immediately contacted the host & Airbnb to tell them the place was misrepresented & unacceptable & we were leaving as soon as my wife could get back from a meeting she was at. We contacted another host just steps from the beach & BEFORE booking went & looked at it. It was nice & as represented! So we booked it for 2 nights at least getting to partially enjoy the following day at the beach as I spent hours on the phone with Airbnb who agreed the 2nd place we went to had violated their standards & policies but still wouldn’t refund us the full amount for an unspecified reason. In summary, we rented our beautiful, comfortable, secure huge 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom 2 kitchen condo for 3 days to some really wonderful guests only to have to rent 3 places & spend almost the entire 3 days trying to negotiate to get what we had been promised causing us to lose all the joy we had anticipated from a few days of “change” & causing us to spend more money in total renting those 3 different places than we received for our place. These hosts are not the ‘poor” hosts I discussed previously. They are the ones that live off the backs of the hardworking people that they pay a peasants wage. We pay a living wage to all who work for us but many in this country who could more than afford to, do not. Though our experience is bad enough, we feel much more for you Alida & for many others like you than for ourselves. We certainly have just a small idea of what you went through, though it is impossible for us to appreciate that fully. My wife & I would like to somehow be able to offer you & your friends some free time in one of our places in Canada or the Dominican Republic. I’m not sure if this will reach you or not but if it does, please contact the publisher of this blog & if they can confirm you are who you say & connect us, we would be more than happy to do that. I hope that some smart lawyer figures out how to do a class action against airbnb so Airbnb can be forced to honor their promises & all us nobodies can see some sense of justice. Though the injustices many of us face pale in significance to those suffered by millions on this planet. We personally have confidence & look forward to a future, much brighter future, for earths inhabitants including those who have died & rest in sleep but that’s a whole different subject altogether. Still we do what we can now to make as many peoples days brighter as we can. We hope this makes yours & possibly others day a little brighter today. Kind regards, Steve & wife.

  • lissa Says

    This is an excellent forum, and I agree with so much of what people are saying. Charging guest 12% of total price is just plain wrong…they already charge the host 3%, make do with that, everything else is complete extortion! Hosts all over the world need to wake up, and demand that airbnb stop charging the guests an extra 12%, afterall its your guests…airbnb just runs a website….3% is enough for them to take care of administration….its just extortion, get rich quick…Brian Chesky is worth 12 billion folks, yes he got your inventory for free, and turns around and charge you and your guests. wow this should be criminal! its like the numbers people, who run illegal gamble houses…they just sit and wait for the fools to come and play a number, whilst they get rich quick…none of them even have to labor and work from 9 to 5….this should be criminal…. only GOvernments should have lotteries, so the money goes back to the people, and certain protocols should be in place for people like brian chesky who rob people…

  • Great blog. This blog is written in such a way that it every individual who read this get plenty of knowledge.

  • Maksim Says

    For long stay AirBnb shows fantastic overprice, appartments can cost 7 times more than in reality. Airbnb is SCAM. You can rent much cheaper via direct contact with host.

  • Mickey Says

    AirBnB has no conflict resolution that benefits the host or tenant. It is especially awful for the 1 month tier, for those of us that like to travel for longer periods.

    Consider:

    29 below days:
    If reservation cancelled with ample time you can recover 100% back [minus service fee]
    If reservation cancelled with strict policy you can still recover about 50% back.

    30 days
    If reservation cancelled you will lose 100%.

    30+ days
    If reservation cancelled you will lose the first month.

    Essentially either book 29 days and below OR 60 days and above. Never ever book 30 day bracket because you will lose 100% even if your host is willing to cancel the reservation. I had a case where a full trip was cancelled ~ while one host had to jump through hoops to cancel the reservation in such a way that I would get a partial refund, the other host couldn’t make the effort. I don’t fault him, its endless suffering explaining things to a new operator each time you finally each customer service.

    So:
    First host able to re-rent the place. I got a partial refund. Both sides got something. Fair.
    Second host had an empty apartment that could have been re-rented. I lost 100% of my reservation. Terrible.

    It doesn’t help the guest or host really when I’ve got a 30 day trip that next time I’ll just go ahead and book 60.90, 120 days etc because the cost of a date change is exactly the same.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Subscribe to Backpack ME