Our Airbnb From Hell + 4 Tips For Booking a Trip
When Jacob and I were planning our wedding, I thought it would be a great idea for our families to use Airbnb. I was imagining a huge house for all of my family where we could make breakfast and get ready together. It sounds good, right?
I had this idea because Jacob and I have stayed in a lot of Airbnb’s, from Asheville, Atlanta, Charleston, Augusta and more. They’ve all been beautiful. We love experiencing a city like a local, it’s so much better than staying in a hotel.
That is, until our last experience.
This post will seem like a rant, and it is, but it’s also about Airbnb’s horrible customer service during this experience. I would never tell you to not use Airbnb and quite frankly, we will probably use it again, after a lot of research on our host that is.
If you’re planning on getting an Airbnb follow my tips below this rant.
Our Experience with Airbnb
My father booked this Airbnb in June, it boasted that it had enough room for 25+ people, it was massive and had plenty of room for our family. My dad booked it but for only 1 guest. Mind you, this was his first time booking an Airbnb and it is a common mistake, I’ve even made it before.
Well, we were in communication with the host, she asked my dad how many people would be staying and he said, “15 adults and 1 kid” and she responded, “ok great!”. Everything seemed perfect, I even messaged her telling her that we were planning on having an informal rehearsal dinner at the house and she said that was fine. She even said she could help with getting the food.
Well, 3 days before we were supposed to check in she messaged asking if we would still need food and for us to update the reservation for 15 guests. That means she wanted another $1,500. We were shocked. We then realized that our reservation was for only 1 guest, which we paid $1,900 for and she wanted more money that we did not have.
With just days before the wedding I’m sure everyone could understand we spent a lot of money and we were not going to just throw another $1,500 away.
Well, my father called Airbnb and they said that at the time of booking it was only an extra $35 per person, which would have been an extra $500 but she was charging her new price of $60 per person, per night, which would have been $1,500. My father was willing to pay the extra $500 and he submitted it to her and she rejected it.
She said because we didn’t do it at booking we had to pay the new price, even though one of our case managers said otherwise. Regardless what the case manager said, the host is still in full control and has the ability to charge as much as they like.
Instead of taking the extra $500 for that house, she offered us her “personal” house, which she claimed was bigger but it’s just not what we wanted.
We actually found another property, hosted by another couple. It was beautiful and off of the lake, in order to book this one, we would have to receive a full refund from our original reservation and this host had a strict cancellation policy. At this point we wanted nothing to do with this host and just wanted to have a relaxing stay.
A strict cancellation policy for Airbnb means that you will get your full refund only after 48 hours of booking, if it is less than 7 days then you get none of your refund. But the thing is, it is entirely up to the host to give you a full refund or not.
Mind you, our host asked us our guest count a short time after our booking. She knew how many people would be staying there but only mentioned the extra charges 3 days before check in, when there was no way we would be able to receive a refund.
Our host was not kind at all, she knew that this was for a wedding and how stressed we would be and she didn’t care.
We ended up taking her second property because she wouldn’t give us a refund. I was on the phone with Airbnb for 2 days straight. The only thing they did was transfer me from one case manager to another. They would contact our host and they would say something to her and then something completely different to us. It was so frustrating. Originally, both the host and Airbnb said that this second property would be only $2,000 dollars. So at most, we thought that it would be an extra $200 from our original $1,900 for taxes.
But I was wrong, she was requesting an extra $497….. how? I asked for an itemized receipt of the charges before we paid this extra amount and she treated me like I was crazy. I called Airbnb and they said they couldn’t do anything. I was so confused. Where do you pay up front before you know what the charges are? This final case manager was so rude and I was tired of it.
This was the day before we were supposed to check in, one day before my wedding rehearsal. I was perfectly pleasant with everyone I talked to from Airbnb but it was getting me nowhere.
On this final phone call I was crying because of how stressed I was. The case manager must have been sympathetic to me crying because he offered to pay $297 and we pay $200. Finally someone from Airbnb was doing something. Although this isn’t what we wanted, we took that deal.
After the host was satisfied with the extra money, the host boasted to us that she sent her housekeeper with $600 to make sure we have toilet paper, bar stools for extra seating, and everything else we might need. If this was her family’s personal house wouldn’t there already be toilet paper? When we arrived there were no bar stools for extra seating. This wasn’t a big deal to me since we didn’t request them, but she made a big deal about them and didn’t deliver. There was absolutely no sign that someone actually lived in the house. There was no oil for cooking, nothing in the pantry, or refrigerator, the water filter in the refrigerator was gross, I doubt anyone has used it in a while. There was also mold on the ceiling in one of the rooms downstairs. The place was definitely dirty and looked artificially clean.
Afterward, I looked at other reviews from her. In total, she has around 185 reviews, some are great and others are horrible. With all of her bad reviews she responded. She was argumentative and in some downright nasty. I’m going to share some with you.
Here are some examples of our hosts horrible Aibnb reviews:
“Beautiful house, tranquil location with gorgeous views. The room was clean and comfortable. No bath soap or shampoos are provided, so come with. The shower in bathroom did not stay warm/hot long enough for full shower. We did not tell owner until after, by choice. The shower doesn’t affect our rating, as we were confident the owner would have addressed it by moving us to another room (we liked our room and didn’t want to change). Although we were prepared to share a house with other couples who we did not know, it ended up being a bit awkward the whole weekend. It felt like we had to stay in our room so as to not disturb others. Also, there were cameras in the house (visible in common areas) and we felt as if we were always being watched. During our stay, one couple reported receiving a text message about not turning the lights off when they left the house… I am guessing the owners were watching by camera to know this. This made me check the bedroom for a camera. I did not find one….. but the situation gave us a strange feeling all weekend. This is a beautiful home with several outdoor areas for relaxing. This would be a great place to rent with other couples that you know. Side (Website hidden by Airbnb) retrospect, $120 add-on for cleaning one bedroom/bathroom is a bit excessive…especially when we didn’t really use the common area, stripped the sheets and washed the few dishes that we used.”
“I am shocked and so saddened by such a review. We’ve had such wonderful people share the lodge and become friends, never had anyone feel restricted to a room? Everyone else on property had a great time and YES WE HAVE TWO CAMERAS in the common areas well described in listing for safety and security like any hotel, resort or smart homeowner who allows shared spaces will have. Our smart Home sensors let us know when lights are not turned off, unfortunately you all turned every single light on over 20 of them, and left them on even when the home was empty. We hope in the future if sharing space or being social is an issue you book an entire home not a single room, maybe tell the host you’re having a problem instead of leaving such a review without giving the opportunity to correct anything that’s wrong. I’m sorry my husband and I were at the hospital with our newly born micro preemie babies and weren’t there on site but we asked several times how things were with no response. Some people are just ugly to others without reason. All prices and home policies including the two cameras are well described on listing.”
If her guests give her a four star review instead of a 5 star review this is her response:
“I’m so sorry Airbnb won’t let you change your stars we know you had a 5 star stay but their rules are they won’t change it for anyone. Good luck to you! Next time be sure to let the host know you’re bringing animals especially when there’s two!”
This guest didn’t say anything negative in their review:
“Super nice house! Very comfy.”
“I’m so sorry you felt the need to leave only four stars just because we had the unfortunate pleasure of finding your group damaging our home and had to ask you to stop. In the future please respect people’s homes, furniture and probably don’t have sex in the hot tub especially when there are families on property with children. Sharing a home vs booking the entire place are definitely different. We love hosting young people but you brought two extra adults, jumped all over the furniture like children breaking things then we had to warn the other family not to go into the common areas because you were not answering the phone when we called to ask you all to stop the going ons in the hot tub. Next time just book the whole lodge not just a room!”
This review was not a bad one at all but the host was so nasty in response:
“Some pointers, Annie will do anything to make your stay (and other’s) as comfortable as possible, if it means being a little confrontational. There was one incident. The morning we were leaving, Annie texted and called to accuse me of overtaking the kitchen for 1.5 hours without signing up for a time slot, claiming that we were disturbing the other family from making breakfast. However, we were not aware of signing up for kitchen use and the time period the other family signed up for (which was 8-9AM). My sister in-law did start boiling water before 9am as I confirmed with her the night before and I did pan fry my leftover AFTER 9am, but that was because I couldn’t find the microwave (which was hidden in a cabinet). We were also in the kitchen for less than an hour. In addition, the other family already cleaned up and finished breakfast and did not have a problem with us using the kitchen; we actually had a great conversation with them. I do apologize if we did interrupt their breakfast time. One advice I do have is to post a schedule on the fridge to avoid any future conflict like this. Annie and I do acknowledge that there was a misunderstanding in the cabin policies. We did make sure to leave the lodge as clean as we found it. Just a heads up, the lodge policies are VERY STRICT to accommodate other families. We are fine with strict policies but the policies we had to abide by were a little much for us. Keep this in mind when booking this place. Specifically for the Logger Family Suite, the listing states that there is a pull-out couch but it is indeed broken. However, she does provide an extra air mattress for you to enjoy your stay. The night we were staying, the Wifi did not work, but this didn’t inhibit our stay at all. On a brighter note, the cabin is beautiful! The interior design of the cabin added a mystical feeling to our trip. Absolutely gorgeous! The location of the cabin is perfect: it overlooks the little town of Helen, has a scenic mountain view, and is close to many hiking trails. Even with our complications, we still recommend!!”
“I’m extremely disappointed in your unfair and untrue review. We do have a schedule for the kitchen posted to which you clearly stated you did not need. You were on common area cameras in the kitchen for almost 2 hours. It shows the other family waiting around being nice but eventually leaving. You had difficulty speaking English but here in the review it seems your English is just fine. The house policies are not strict your family just wanted to impede on other guests enjoyment. Our listing is very clear about what is expected. Perhaps next time get a private cabin not a single room for 5 people. The pull out was not broken prior to your arrival but thanks for letting us know it’s now broken!! There was a terrible storm that knocked out cable and Internet. So sorry, I’ll ask Mother Nature to check with us first next time. We hope future guests will be more understanding about storms in the rural mountain area. I hate you didn’t enjoy our home although everything we saw says you did. It’s only after we had to ask you to not monopolize the kitchen did you become upset.”
One word: Wow!
If I would have read these reviews before my father booked it I would have definitely passed on it.
Even though she has a lot of good reviews she was absolutely nasty to those that were not praising her. I couldn’t believe it. I really don’t think Airbnb monitors reviews at all. If they did I’m sure they would have communicated with her in some way because of her behavior.
What did Airbnb have to say?
One word: Nothing.
Airbnb has NO CONTROL. The host is essentially able to charge their guests whatever they want, decline to cancel, refuse to help you the guest in any way. From this experience it seemed like Airbnb is more concerned with making their hosts happy than they are with providing a great stay for the guests.
If that’s the case then why should I not just stay at a hotel? They provide amazing customer service, there is housekeeping and some even have a kitchenette if I want to cook something.
One Airbnb case manager told us that our host didn’t want to cancel our reservation because then she would lose her “Superhost” status. How crappy! She would rather keep our money and make us miserable so she can still be a Superhost.
What is an Airbnb Superhost?
“The Superhost program celebrates and rewards Airbnb’s top-rated and most experienced hosts.”
Basically they have to have a great response rate, 10+ stays, a minimum of 4.8 stars (which is why our host would go off on guests that gave her only 4 stars), and less than 1% cancellation rate (which is why she wouldn’t cancel our stay).
4 Tips if you’re going to book on Airbnb:
1. Read ALL the reviews
This is so important, especially with this last experience. A while ago, Jacob and I stayed in a cute little cabin in Asheville that had a wood burning stove that we did not know how to use. The reviews mentioned it but we didn’t really pay attention. Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing. At night we were both sitting on the floor trying to get the wood to burn while Googling how to use it. It wasn’t a bad experience at all but it’s just something we should have studied a little bit before we went.
In the reviews you will also read things such as “Jack was so nice and showed us around town”, for example. Then you know that you’ll probably run into the host yourself. If you’re like me, you would rather not interact with others. Maybe you will, that’s up to you.
2. Make sure you know their cancellation policy
Airbnb has 6 types of cancellation policies: flexible, moderate, strict, super strict 30 days, super strict 60 days and long term. Understand them before you book, you never know what will happen. You might get stuck in a situation like ours which is not fun.
3. Make sure you review their hidden fees
There are tons of hidden fees with Airbnb. Some hosts implement the extra fees and some don’t. Some charges are a service charge (which are unavoidable), cleaning charge, extra person charge and pet charges. Like I said, I’ve stayed in places that do not have a cleaning charge, which is nice. This place that we stayed at recently had a cleaning charge of a couple of hundred dollars but we still had to take out the garbage, take off all the sheets and towels and clean the dishes. We would be happy to do that anyway, but why charge so much extra for cleaning, if we’re doing a good chunk of it ourselves?
This host also claimed to be pet friendly but charges for the pet, so… are you pet friendly or not?
Sometimes with all the extra charges, I’d rather just stay at a hotel.
4. Make sure you know what kind of listing it is
With Airbnb you can book several kinds of listings, such as a private room, a whole house/apartment or just part of the house. Make sure you understand what kind it is so you’re not surprised when you arrive. When you’re searching for a place you can edit your results under Type of Place. The options are entire place, private room, hotel room, and shared room.
Airbnb is not a bad company. I’ve never had to call Airbnb support until now. I’ve always had a great experience with using this company but I realized that they don’t really do anything. It’s just a website and they defend the host at all costs, which is really frustrating for a guest.
As someone who has worked in customer service all of my life, I know good customer service. Airbnb gave me roughly 7-8 different case managers for 1 case. This was my fathers first time booking an Airbnb after I would talk so highly of the company.
We all understand that my father should have put 15 guests in the beginning, which was definitely our fault but everything after that was crazy and such a headache for no reason.
This made the few days before the wedding miserable and if I could redo it I definitely would book a bunch of hotel rooms. My family would have also saved so much money going with a hotel.
This is something that I tried to let go, I had the mentality of “it’s over, it’s done”, but it’s not. Other families are going through this and that is not fair. I would never wish this experience on anyone, it was miserable. Most people go to an Airbnb to relax and it’s really hard to do that when you receive crappy service.
I would never tell you not to use this company, I’m just telling you to be careful.
If you plan on staying in an Airbnb in North Georgia let me know, I can recommend a great place that we’ve stayed at (not this one).
Other places that I have stayed at using Airbnb include: Atlanta, Columbus, Charleston, Asheville, New York, Puerto Rico, and Augusta. These have all been beautiful experiences and I am happy to recommend a place in these cities for you to stay at.
What should Airbnb do differently?
In all honesty, I would love for someone from Airbnb to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think the least that they can do is provide a reimbursement for our family or a free stay for another time. This would prove that Airbnb actually cares.
We went through such a headache with this host and Airbnb. What sucks the most is that they had absolutely no sympathy. The only thing they did was transfer us from one case manager to the next. Every case manager would say “I’ll give you a call back once we talked to the host” and me, being naive, would wait. After never receiving a phone call back, I started calling every hour on the hour. And they would tell me, “You don’t have to call, we’ll call you”, which was a load of crap.
Only when I started crying, only when I reached my breaking point did Airbnb do something and that is HORRIBLE customer service.
I pray that someone from Airbnb will read this post, work on their customer service and email me.
If they need a new customer service manager I will definitely hop on and teach the whole company what it means to provide customer service because obviously they don’t know a thing about it.
I hope that if you’re using Airbnb that you have a better experience than we had. I am done ranting for now.
Despite this crazy Airbnb experience, our wedding was amazing! I cannot wait to share with all the photos from our photographer (www.andreamariephotos.com).
Here are some photos from our very first trip to North Georgia. We visited Tallulah Falls and stayed at an amazing Airbnb in Clayton, Georgia.
If you can relate to our experience, leave a comment below. I would love to hear about all about it, hopefully by everyone sharing Airbnb will finally do something about this mess. But, I guess we can only hope.
Coming up next to the blog is how to stay healthy while traveling, a distillery, and a review of Smile Brilliant! I cannot wait to share with you all everything that is coming! If you have any recommendations of what I should write about next please share, I want to write about what you want to read about.
In the meantime, check out these other blog posts:
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