Monday, February 6, 2012

Our Bleh Airbnb Experience

Last month we packed all our things and made the big move, as travel lovers (and insiders) we were excited to try Airbnb for the first time and so we booked ourselves into an apartment for a month while we looked for a more permanent place live. We were so inspired by the honest, cheap and friendly vibe the whole thing seemed to have, and what better than living it up like a local?

We arrived on the weekend and things were looking fantastic, the apartment was spacious and so beautifully decorated, I was in bliss and I swore this was a new, cool way travel. But come Monday morning we were awoken by loud drilling and banging resonating in our bones. Yep, The host neglected to tell us the apartment downstairs was undergoing heavy construction.

After contacting the host we were assured this only had a couple days to go and the rest of the work would only be painting, we were satisfied. But as the days continued the noise also continued. From here on the host was unhelpful and almost impossible to connect with, Airbnb offered no solution so we decided we would live with this, the beach just a couple blocks down would be our quiet retreat when the noise, dust and smells got too much for us.

But 3 weeks in the power company turned off all power to the flat, again the host was difficult to reach, a few hours later after Airbnb managed to get in touch with them the host explained to us that it was due to them not having paid their electricity bill the last few months (seriously?!) they then proceeded to rig us up with electricity by stealing it from the neighboring apartment.

I decided with one week left that it wasn't the end of the world, after all I could warn other travelers by writing an honest review of our experience. But that was not the case, because regardless of the evidence in videos, texts and pictures we sent to Airbnb (by their request) it now seems like they have taken the hosts side and removed our negative review

I understand that this is a delicate issue for Airbnb, after all who is telling the truth? But if Airbnb want to succeed they need to understand that their stakeholder is the customer and not the host.  By all means don't banish the host from doing business after one negative experience, but what is the purpose of a trust based service when you can't leave a negative review?

Before the review was removed we received an apology and a coupon to use for our next booking and we may have given it another shot if our review was not removed, but if this is how Airbnb works then how can we trust that the next booking we make hasn't had a negative review that was simply removed?




13 comments:

Milu Medeiros said...

I'm sorry that you had that experience, but mostly sorry that your review was taken down. I'm a host in NY, and while I'd hate to have a negative review, I totally get that it's how it's supposed to work. Hosts should have an opportunity to reply to a negative review, and if the guest *then* feels like withdrawing the review, great. But if not, it stays. Kind of sucks, but there has to be transparency.

I am most bothered by the lack of reply (or appropriate reply). I may be able to forgive something like unexpected construction, but I'd like to know what a previous guests experience was with communication. I think that's pretty important.

Zhao said...

I am really bothered by the haphazard mismanagement internally at Airbnb too. I'm quite new to hosting and have had just around a dozen guests so far, all of which were very pleased with our apartment and hosting.

Yet Airbnb intermittently makes our listing disappear, and their staff have no idea what each other have said or are doing. Some of their staff even called me from an unknown caller ID asking me for personal information, I called Airbnb's official help line and said they would never do that. I nearly reported it as attempted identity theft to the police, but then the person called again and Airbnb admitted that it was them and apologized.

Angela said...

Sorry to hear about your bad airbnb experience. Like some of the other commenters here I am a host (in Amsterdam) as well and I always try and give the best possible service to guests. From a host's point of view Airbnb contribute little to our business apart from an advertising oppurtunity.

I totally agree that you should be able to place a negative review if your complaints weren't listened to.

Anonymous said...

My partner and I are done with AirBNB as well. We've stayed at three different places during our trip across Europe, and while one was marvelous, the other two have not been as represented online.

In 2/3, our host didn't actually have an extra room, but put us up in their bedrooms while they slept on the couch. Even worse was the one instance where the woman already had her bed in the living room and the room in which we were staying was her son's bedroom. He had to sleep on the couch and we felt incredibly awkward about it.

We won't be using AirBNB again.

Eyesha said...

We recently stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Melbourne, and had a bad experience. We left a negative comment ofcourse and I have received a mesg from the host saying that "you should take it down" and that "I am taking it further"...
he failed to provide us with any kind of internet during our 8 nights stay, and claimed that lines were down..which is unbelievable..everyone knows that in big cities in the year 2012, it doesn't happen..and if it happens, you are not the only one affected...
plus some one tried to open unlock our door from out side with a key..at 6 am ..it was horrible...this is the last thing u can imagine to happen to u in a strange city...
Eyesha

Pramod said...

I booked 3 night in cologne, germany and it was first & worst experience with Air BNB. I called the host and told him that I cannot come and I also told him that I dont have access to internet. So, My money should have been refunded as per cancelation policy from the day I phoned him, but rather my money was not refunded because they did the calculation based on the date when I actually cancelled it on the airbnb.com ... So, Please dont book Airbnb... dont even think about it.

Natalia said...

I just had a similar situation with Airbnb. I had to cancel my reservation because the living conditions were starting to affect my job performance and wellbeing. My host in San Francisco (Jaybee from the Mission District) would blast his stereo late at night and disrupt my sleep. Furthermore, he neglected to tell me that the window in the room was not soundproof, and the street noise was really bad; I could hear people talking outside as if they were whispering in my hear. Because I cancelled the reservation halfway through, Airbnb denied me the right to leave a review to warn guests against this host's appalling behavior. Also I am not entitled to any sort of compensation even though I had to incur significant expenses to find other accommodations on such short notice. Airbnb is not a transparent website, and the company does very little to protect the guests, who ultimately pay for the service and keep the system alive.

Anonymous said...

I completely believe the story of Angela Rhodes, AIrbnb are very quick to protect their image in anyway they can.
In my opinion, AIrbnb is only concerned with making money and they certainly control the content on their site with respect to both the host AND the guest. They once suspended my account because I had not replied to reservation requests. At that time, I was too busy and traveling, and simply did not have the time to respond. Why did they suspend me? Because not replying does not look good for Airbnb. Recall, I am a single preson, not a hotel and thus do not have the resources to respond to all requests. But, Airbnb has always touted themselves as providing an alternative experience to hotels. So why the lack of understanding about not replying to request???
Also, Airbnb does very little to address the fact that, in many instances, the rental contract or Home Owners Association rules of the hosts prevents any hosting to occur, and that by hosting, any renters or home owners insurance becomes invalid. They do provide a note on the site to check into these things, but that’s it.
Furthermore, they are in clear violation of San Francisco rental laws (SF Adminstrative Code 41a), do not want to pay the newly required SF hotel tax and have provided no clear direction for hosts in SF, where they are based, concerning how to deal with the newly imposed hotel tax on Airbnb hosts. I was present at the meeting in the SF CIty Hall (March 28, 2012) regarding the hotel tax issue. At this meeting, a young lady, who identified herself as an Airbnb host AND employee, said that without hosting on Airbnb, she would not have been able to pay her medical bills for a recent accident. After the meeting, I spoke 1-on-1 with co-owner/founder Joe Gebbia and asked him why the young lady did not have adequate health insurance provided by Airbnb. His face turned red and he told me he did not know about her specifically or her circumstances but that all Airbnb employees have health insurance. When I suggested that the insurance provided might not be good enough, he asked me my name (presumably to bounce me off the site) and when I refused to tell him my name, he walked away quickly.
I am not a big fan of AIrbnb because I feel that the people running the company are greedy and do not have much concern for the human element involved in their business, nor do they care about SF residential and tenant laws which they are known to violate. The fact is that if all the laws regarding hosting were followed (tenant contract, HOA rules, SF city laws) there would be no Airbnb in San Francisco at all, and Airbnb is well aware of this, but does nothing about it.

starbucksgirl said...



I have had a very similar experience with airbnb. I feel for you Angela.

My husband and I rented a home in the St. Petersburg, FL area for a month. We communicated with the owner before we arrived about whether or not the home had been treated for bugs. I have two small children and did not want anything crawling on them in the house. The owner assured me that he had regular treatments on his home and that we shouldn’t be concerned about it.

The first day that we arrived we found a dead roach in the living room. I was concerned because my baby sat on it and it was on the back of her diaper. I contacted the host and told him about my concerns. He said that we shouldn’t worry about it as the bug was dead. We encountered multiple roaches during our stay and eventually left early. He refunded the remainder of our stay but we were very inconvenienced with having to find another rental situation immediately.

We left a review on airbnb about our experience with both the cleanliness of the house and the roach problem (which other guests had encountered according to their guest book). Airbnb removed our post because the owner harrased them continually to have it removed (airbnb told us that this was the reason). Airbnb told us that we should have provided them with proof that there were roaches in the house. All I could think was, “are you kidding me?”

In the end, I have to think that they continually remove reviews that are negative so that they can continue to make money with their hosts. The website is very host-oriented in my opinion. I cannot rely on their review system based on my experience. How do you know if anyone has actually had a problem with the rental? If they are willing to take down a negative review because the host pressures them to do so then they are exposing their guests to a wide range of problems.

Valerie Taylor said...

I have had only good experiences with airbnb (twice a guest, four times a host so far) but I find it troubling that they would remove reviews instead of simply asking the reviewer to edit the review to comply with their review standards.

I do understand that in the case of a dispute over facts (whether or not there were roaches present, for instance, or whether or not electricity had been turned off due to nonpayment of bills) airbnb may need to require a complaint be substantiated before it can be included in a review. But to completely REMOVE a negative review? Were either of you allowed to repost a negative review that didn't go into any details that the homeowner disputed?

One of the things that makes me uneasy about airbnb is that they don't offer a forum. This has to be an intentional decision rather than an oversight, and I suspect it's because they don't want their users to be able to discuss problems freely with one another. This kind of intentional absence of transparency is really troubling.

Valerie Taylor said...

I have had only good experiences with airbnb (twice a guest, four times a host so far) but I find it troubling that they would remove reviews instead of simply asking the reviewer to edit the review to comply with their review standards.

I do understand that in the case of a dispute over facts (whether or not there were roaches present, for instance, or whether or not electricity had been turned off due to nonpayment of bills) airbnb may need to require a complaint be substantiated before it can be included in a review. But to completely REMOVE a negative review? Were either of you allowed to repost a negative review that didn't go into any details that the homeowner disputed?

One of the things that makes me uneasy about airbnb is that they don't offer a forum. This has to be an intentional decision rather than an oversight, and I suspect it's because they don't want their users to be able to discuss problems freely with one another. This kind of intentional absence of transparency is really troubling.

Anonymous said...

I am very glad that you have highlighted your problems with Airbnb. I rented a flat in C'an Pastilla, Mallorca, sold as 'Mallorca Bay Beach Apartment' which looked fantastic on their website with glowing reviews but was the opposite when I arrived, it was in a former garage in a basement underneath the block of flats where the owners lived...very very basic, uncomfortable and way overpriced! It was budget style worth no more than €30 per night rather than the rip off €70 charged. My advice...avoid Airbnb its not worth the hassle!

Anonymous said...

I have only good experiences as well, mostly as a host. but i keep reading about airbnb's behavior online and it is worrysome. i dont really feel comfortable with a company that treats its customers like this. the only issue i could see is if the review makes very bold claims that the guest cannot prove (i know its a lot to ask, but a photo or video should do) - but as in Angela's case, she did have those things. and i have read of others, so its not really the proof that is the reason for deleting comments. very sad.