I was surprised and happy to see that someone was able to get some semblance of justice from Airbnb (“Airbnb Hits an Impasse,” On the Spot, by Catharine Hamm, Dec. 8).
In August I booked a home through Airbnb for our biannual cousins trip and had an experience with the host. I booked a home in San Diego for eight, then two more were added two weeks before arrival. The home supposedly slept 15, but was told I had to pay $250 per person. He said it was Airbnb’s policy, so I paid it.
The home was not clean when we arrived. There was expired food in the refrigerator, the trash had not been removed, the patios were littered with old leaves and debris, one of the beds didn’t have a box spring, bug(s) were found in the same bed (cousins were bitten), and there was a dog poop stain on the carpet that someone had tried to clean because the carpet was wet.
I contacted the owner, and he came by. He told us we could eat the food or throw it out and that the stain wasn’t poop. He also tried to charge for every person who came to the house, even if they weren’t staying there. (There are cameras in the driveway.) I had let him know beforehand cousins who live in the area might stop by. He called and asked me to update the contract to include these folks, which I did. We felt fleeced and that our privacy had been invaded/violated.
We contacted Airbnb and were told it could not help me. I tried to reason with the owner to no avail. I shut down the account and canceled the credit card on file just in case he tried to charge it.
That story sounded as if Airbnb dropped the ball on several counts. A few years ago I had problems with a host that turned a little nasty, but Airbnb investigated and figured out the host was wrong and made me whole.
Airbnb is the poster child for buyer beware. As happened to the unhappy renter mentioned in the story, some properties don’t live up to their amenities and accommodations. Plus they all have five-star reviews. What does that tell you?
Unless you have lots of people to accommodate, stick with a reputable hotel. Clean rooms, comfortable beds, nice TVs, maybe free breakfast and consistent experiences from city to city — and better values, in my opinion, than many Airbnb offerings.
I stayed at a superhost’s place on Thanksgiving night in Mexico City’s gentrified Polanco area (a hacienda only 80 years ago) and was chewed up by bedbugs.
I fled the next day, and although Airbnb did not rebook me, it not only gave me a 100% refund but it also paid half my hotel bill for the rest of the time I had reserved at the Airbnb.
The host had reported my complaint herself and wept to me that Airbnb had immediately delisted her, putting her out of business. But just a week after she contacted it, her listings were back online.
Enduring memories of Peru
Thirty-five years ago, my husband and I spent our honeymoon in Peru, including several days around Lake Titicaca, including exploring the reed islands that Thomas Curwen so vividly described in his wonderful travel story “Keeping Ancient Ways Afloat” (Dec. 1). Memories came flooding back, and we are reliving that squishy reed-island feeling under our feet.
Thank you for bringing this magical, remote land to life for so many readers. It’s heartwarming to learn about turismo vivencial and home-stay egalitarianism as well as a group of students assisting in construction of a local restaurant.
Conny B McCormack