After my latest catastrophe, it’s time I write my personal Airbnb review about their hosting system and customer service.
The Airbnb Experience
I needed a private room in Santiago, Chile, in order to work from my laptop without much disturbance. I was staying in a hostel in Santiago and had 2 days to find a room I could rent for 40 days before my next destination. My options were limited.
I ended up staying with a new host with no Airbnb reviews. I was skeptical, because you know, there was no previous track record but the place looked decent from the photos.
When I arrived at my host’s place, the host’s mother let me in because my host was at work.
The bedroom was smaller than expected because there were boxes (or should I say storage stuff) in the way.
My bed was covered with cat fur. I used the host’s lint brush to remove the cat fur while her mother used masking tape to help me. I thought this would be the worst of it.
The host later removed the clutter in my room throughout the first week.
I don’t mind living with pets. I’ve travelled long-term and have stayed with animals in different types of accommodations. I used to have pets myself.
But this host kept the cat litter box near the kitchen. I mean right beside it, right in front of the washer, and about a metre away from the fridge.
The cat litter box was not an over-the-top enclosed box. So, when the cats used the litter box, the cat litter would get on the floor. Yes, there were two cats. With people and cat movement, the cat litter eventually made it to my room and everywhere else in the apartment.
Sometimes the cats shitted outside the box. Of course my host cleaned it up when she saw it.
After about 2 weeks, I saw cat feces right in front of the fridge door. So, I decided to shorten my stay from 40 to 30 days (because I wanted to keep the monthly discount and I doubted I would get a refund at the reduced rate if I left right away).
I didn’t want to go through my host or complain to her about her pooper troopers. I don’t like confrontations nor should I have to tell someone how to keep an apartment clean, especially when they are my roommate.
The Airbnb Review System and Its Inadequate Customer Service
I emailed Airbnb (a few times due to no reply) about shortening my stay. I even showed them the photos of how dirty the apartment was as per their request. Airbnb told me I would have to ask my host for early cancellation due to the cancellation policy. WTF Airbnb? Luckily, my host agreed.
By the way, trying to email them is like trying to go through a gauntlet.
I Ieft my Airbnb place after 30 days. But what Airbnb should have done was given me a refund (which I requested from them), at least from the date I emailed them to day 30.
Airbnb’s policy on requesting a refund is to ask the host directly through Airbnb’s online system. Which I didn’t feel comfortable doing because my host was a nice person; she just didn’t know how to run a business.
I didn’t even write a bad review for her, which I initially wanted to do. I just abstained from writing a review.
You see the problem with Airbnb reviews? Sometimes, it’s just too personal. The Airbnb review system is skewed for this reason. It’s skewed in favour of hosts – and Airbnb – to make a profit.
There’s another problem, they seem to not suspend or remove hosts when the guest experience is horrible. I mean, after showing Airbnb the cat feces on the kitchen floor, my host still has her listing up. This problem was not a one-time thing. It happened again.
It’s Still Useful
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some great experiences with Airbnb. It’s a great way to get the local feel of a place. I would still use them again with caution, especially if I can save money as a budget traveller. Of course, it’s better to look for listings outside of the Airbnb system in order to avoid the fees.
One thing is for sure, the bed-and-breakfast experience with Airbnb is endangered – or extinct.