Airbnb – On the receiving end. (ouch!)

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We are thinking of staying in London for a few days. Other Half wants to visit a friend and we both want to visit art galleries. I do not want to entertain the stratospheric prices of most London hotels which are in the £100+ a night  bracket so I thought I’d have a go at Airbnb.

I chose a fairly unfashionable area of South London to get a better price for a five night stay. I found a place that asked £21 a night and the amount and quality of references seemed reasonable. I enclose the correspondence with a chap with a Spanish sounding name and from his writing limited knowledge of English. (Potential guests are allowed to correspond with the owner prior to booking).

Me: I don’t expect a cooked breakfast but is there a facility to make coffee in the room and also to have cold cereal? Which are the nearest stations?
Owner: Good to hear from you Brian. The breakfast you described is fine. Do you fruits and fruit juice as well? The stations are Thought Heath, West Croydon and East Croydon. I’d be happy to host you. Best wishes.

So far so good but then I had another question which started to annoy him for some reason.

Me: I know London very well and Thornton Heath is quite a long way from East and West Croydon station. I need to be on a bus route so can you tell me the name of the nearest street. I can then suggests some dates to you.
Owner: with respect Brian, ( my hackles go up at this point), Thornton Heath is within brisk walking distance of East Croydon and West Croydon, from where I live off Bensham Lane and a 5 to 10 min bus ride.

Me: with more respect – brisk walking is not so easy if you are 73 (I measured the distance for walking mode on Google Earth and it is 32 minutes from Bensham Lane to East Croydon Station). I will come back to you. Brian

Owner: (gives up and terminates any pretence of being polite at this point). I get a standard letter saying ” unfortunately this establishment is unavailable for the dates of your trip. We’re sorry this particular listing didn’t work out but there are other places nearby that you can book instantly without sending a request to the host.   The owner then says in a PS  ‘sounds like you are over fussy and argumentative’.

Me (to myself) … er I thought I was just trying to get some information. I then wrote a final note saying

Me to owner (really p*** off): You really have dug a pit for yourself and you keep digging. I didn’t say they were the only dates. The letter you sent implies that I would prefer not to send a request to the host.  You seem to have a rather short emotional fuse. I have lived in London for 50 years and I know what a short walk is and what I am willing to do. You seem to have made the decision for me.  If that is your way of doing business then good luck but you have just lost a customer.   Brian
Funny, there was no further response to this note.
Reflection: I started off with 100% goodwill but the whole thing turned on its head when I displayed knowledge of London and I was somehow abused for this.
*****
I think Airbnb is basically a good idea but it does rely on the integrity of all who take part. From what I hear, the after sales service is not particularly good so I suppose everyone enters at their own risk. < pause while I searched the Internet> I have had a look at trustpilot.com to find the average star rating of 2424 reviews is 1/5. I understand that a higher percentage of dissatisfied people will complain than satisfied people but you might like to read some of the comments yourselves. Click here.

This is from a review five days ago which was 22 December 2017

Over 7 days i tried to resolve this problem with air bnb and their customer service has been appalling. Including being promised a callback by 5 different air bnb agents – NONE EVER CALLED ME BACK. They would just message me and they i would not be able to call and speak with them again. Over 7 days, my situation was never fully resolved. Every time i called i either got hung up on, never got a call back, or the agent never left notes so i had to repeat the very long story of my experience over 4 times, and still 7 days later no resolve. Nobody has called me back, despite me repeatedly calling them and every time i call I HAVE TO START ALL OVER AGAIN. Horrendous. They dont even care that i was deceived and mislead by the host even when the picture comparisons are as clear as day.

and this is one from 20 December 2017

Airbnb get it together please!
tho I have used airbnb several times in the past and have had lovely experiences most of the time their current website SUCKS and is totally useless. After spending 2 hrs trying to find places to stay on an upcoming trip and getting nowhere I went to hotels.com and booked hotels for my stay. Airbnb was a great idea and had its day in the sun but it seems the sun has set. One problem is they revamp the website seemingly on a daily basis and by the time you get the new system figured out they have updated to a new stupider system. Hope they get this message, I really did enjoy my past stays but for now it’s back to hotels.
and a small one from 19 December 2017
website does not seem to be authentic.When you book propert at an X price and after few hours they say that this is not the correct price and the prices are much higher.Are you here to fool customers and make a joke out of us
*****
While I’m on the topic, I notice that the company helpfully listed ‘nearby places’ including Penzance.  Only a completely dumbed down traveller would know that it takes about seven hours to get this place which is at the extreme south-west of England. All I can say is that their algorithms are totally useless.

The only advice I can give is that you should only put down what you can afford to lose and do not have any expectations of professionalism or politeness.

Pity, such a good idea but like all ideas based in America they are just interested in the money.  America first – indeed.

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