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Airbnb and security camera disclosure (jeffreybigham.com)
680 points by pmlnr 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 394 comments

I've lived in Airbnbs full-time for about 18 months while traveling, and Airbnb has lost my trust repeatedly in terms of reliability, safety, and user-friendliness.

- Host listing quality has gone consistently downhill. Now, it's many slumlords just trying to make a quick buck rather than support the original community idea or provide a great stay.

- Airbnb support response times are horribly slow. They hide their phone number, then force you to go through a ticketing system for urgent issues. Then, they start assigning you a new "case manager" every few hours as their shifts change, which means the rep never is caught up on the issue. Sometimes, they forget to transfer you to a new rep before ending their shift, which could result in zero responses for days until the rep works again.

- When there is a problem, Airbnb supports the host and makes little to no effort to relocate users. For example, when our unit flooded, among other problems, the feedback was basically "well we can book you into another available unit". The problem was that it was peak Summer in Barcelona, we were there for a long period of time, and the only available units were minimum 5x the price.

- We had an Airbnb burglarized. Again, we waited hours for a response, as a police forensics unit was dusting the unit for fingerprints. We suspect that the host was complicit after realizing that previous tenants were also burglarized. Airbnb's insurance policy covered none of our losses ($10K+ in electronics, jewelry, watches, clothing, etc). We ended up feeling unsafe and canceling the reservation with 3 weeks remaining. As a "courtesy", Airbnb support credited our account for less than the cost of one night at a local replacement unit. Because we accepted the credit, they considered the matter "resolved" and did nothing else.

I've spent $30K+ on Airbnb. It started as a great alternative to hotels. Now, I can no longer recommend it, and I prefer a hotel.

It's almost as if AirBnB's hosts and guests are bearing the externalities that should be priced into the transaction on both sides...

For hosts, property damage, etc. is a matter of when, not if, and for those things you get insurance. But as far as I know that's not a standard thing for hosts. Pricing in hidden hosting costs would make hosting look less profitable up front, then AirBnB's market would shrink.

For guests, inconvenient cancellations, bad hosts, bad rentals, etc. AirBnB doesn't give you any real recourse like paying for you to stay elsewhere the way a hotel often does. That would be expensive and you'd have to either pass the cost onto the customers (raise fees/prices), or reduce your margins.

That's not counting societal externalities like permanent AirBnB setups in neighborhoods that are affecting community cohesion.

These days, I use AirBnB to save money by taking on some level of discomfort/risk. If I'm looking for a worry-free night with decent amenities where I want to minimize mental overhead, I just book a hotel.

I feel like what you described is the main reason for the profitability of most "sharing economy" services. Uber is also advertised as a little side gig you can do when your car is not being used while the real goal is to have a taxi service that isn't subject to the same legislation and unloads more cost on the driver.

Personally what I've come to realize over the years is that 'Use a startup while its young, get rid of it and get on the next startup once it grows beyond just being a simple pre-seed, 1st round startup'.

My reasoning comes from the amount of cash investors pour money into startups, and startups having insane amount of deals at the very start in order to attract costumers like uber had and airbnb to an extend. After the 1st or 2nd round is where a strong cfo either joins or the VC's involved want to capitalize on what they got so they are trying to squeeze things in and butcher the level of service something provided so they can either IPO or sell for big $.

What am saying is not always the rule but it does apply to a lot of things.

- New currency exchange card coming out amazing rates etc, 3 years down drops down to whatever your bank was going to give you - uber is a cheap taxi alternative you can use by abusing its own staff and investor money, cool 5 years down the line it becomes the same as any other taxi out there and still manages to abuse their staff - airbnb has some nice quality for money accomodation cause they are taking care of the product? fine again few years down the line when it gets streamlined and is getting squeezed for its maximum value they drop their customer support standards etc.

So yes thats it for me, am not going to remain a loyal customer anymore, am going to use your startup and its initial investing deal you are giving me, and am going to jump ship to the 1st startup that is coming out to beat you. Sounds very egoistic, its not though, am just tired of getting treated like a sheep.

P.S not a startup but a company that I very much liked Blizzard is changing face and its getting squeezed out for money from Activision, I feel betrayed so am a bit biased on my views but as my father once said: 'I bought a miele washing machine 25 years ago and it still works like a charm. I bought a brand new Samsung washing machine as a 2nd and broke within 3 years and good luck with warranty, if companies are going to treat me like this from now on, then am going to treat them like that'.

You don't think that your behaviour (i.e. consciously not just enabling but promoting new & continued "abuse[s of] their staff" etc.) is in any way decent, right?

Of course I bought jewelry from the Nazis - it was cheap while it lasted!


Lets be clear about that, using uber is not the same as buying jewelry from war criminals. (hit a vein cause my grandpa was executed by them).

Everyone used uber and keeps using uber no matter what comes into light. Certainty not many of us knew beforehand what uber was doing, and once it was out I think uber tried to cover it quickly by increasing benefits and whatnot for the drivers. So no its not the same and am not enabling any dodgy business or anything, don't misjudge my comment, uber is a multi-billion $ company of course its dodgy as any multi-billion $ company out there.

I've never ridden in an Uber, and I will never.

So no, everyone doesn't.

Uber is built on squeezing safety and security from the drivers of cars for hire and somewhat from the customers. By using Uber you are complicit in this.

I think Uber is a weird edge case in this comparison because of how fundamentally awful traditional taxi services are in many places.

Maybe slightly off topic but I don't get what the point of Uber driver reviews/star ratings are.

The passenger can't pick what driver they get, so who are those reviews helping?

I have a worrying suspicion that it's only so Uber can put pressure on drivers in some way.

Drivers get removed from the service after their rating drops bellow a threshold, so yes, it matters a lot.

Drivers also tend to prefer high starred riders and might reject low star riders.

So essentially you can fuck with the lifehood of a driver with one lousy * feedback; nice!

Frankly, and probably to the detriment of a few ultra libertarians in here; I prefer a government regulator with established processes, a mandate and enforcement for drivers to observe rest times and drive sober and a requirement by law to be properly insured and health - (let alone background-) checked if you drive people around on a commercial basis to a completely arbitrary review system, which is a joke to begin with.

I can't judge Uber, since I never used and never will use it. But just about any other review system is rather unreliable. That 4 1/2* restaurant on trip advisor, which is mediocre at best? All those 5* AirBnb reviews for places where you have to tip-toe around strangers and find a constantly occupied bathroom? This would get a 3 * rating - if you feel generous - if that would be a hotel room.

edit : spellos and slight clarification

I drove for Uber 20-30 hours/week for 3 years. It was super super rare for someone to try and fuck with me by threatening a low rating. At first, when they did, I told them to go ahead and just give me the 1 star. It really didn't matter. A few 1 star ratings barely puts a dent into thousands of 5 star ratings. Eventually I developed the customer service skills to prevent this from happening while still saying no. If you're a good driver you have nothing to worry about.

In my city, I remember when the news came out that drivers also rate passengers. The quality of passenger behavior skyrocketed.

I think most of the bad views of Uber come from disgruntled drivers and passengers with poor people skills. I know many many drivers and passengers who are happy with the product.

Also, ever since Travis Kalanick left the quality of driver support has tanked badly. It's very difficult to get issues fixed. The level of crippling bureaucracy within Uber is clearly growing. Not sure if that's a coincidence or indicative of his leadership.

You can fuck with the livelihood of any service industry employee with feedback. "Let me speak to your manager."

That's not to defend Uber's predatory practices, but it's disingenuous to pretend that the service industry hasn't been at the mercy of those they serve. Also there are regulations, including background checks, for drivers? At least for Lyft.

I leave your comment 2 stars, would prefer not to read again.

If there are multiple drivers within your radius, Uber applies an algorithm to decide which driver gets you as a passenger. Their rating affects this, so if they have a had rating they'll have less passengers in high traffic areas.

When the parasite consumes the host.

As a short-term tenant who isn't eligible for property insurance, there is no way for me insure against losses. I spent considerable time trying to get a policy after our burglary, and it wasn't possible. In my opinion, providing this insurance should be handled by the marketplace.

The problem is that Airbnb stays are similar to airline flight delays - the cost of a problem can result in many times more costs than just the cost of the flight.

The EU has very strict laws - if you booked a flight in good faith, then the airline is responsible for getting you to your destination, paying for your needs (food/housing) until that happens, and pay cash compensation of up to 600 euros.

In my opinion, the government should provide the same type of legislation for short-term stays. If you make a booking, the platform should at least be responsible for housing you for the duration of your stay.

> As a short-term tenant who isn't eligible for property insurance, there is no way for me insure against losses.

Why couldn't you get travel insurance that could cover accommodation costs and replacement costs due to theft?

Depending on your policy, your homeowners insurance or renters insurance (at your long-term home) may cover you for theft from hotels, Airbnbs, etc. If yours doesn't, you could shop around for one that does.

As a digital nomad, I have no long-term home. I literally live in Airbnbs. I tried finding a policy to cover me, but none exists. Policies also vary a lot with burglaries - eg some require signs of forced entry.

Hmmm I wonder if in that case a good travel insurance would work. You are staying in those places temporarily so I'd argue it's travel.

Have you considered starting this up as a business? Surely there's a market for it, and the claims data alone would make you a valuable acquisition target.

Because it is a very uncommon situation.

> It's almost as if AirBnB's hosts and guests are bearing the externalities

If the parties to the transaction are bearing the cost, it's not an externality. It may be a hidden cost, but it's only an externality if it is born by someone outside the voluntary participants in the transaction.

> It's almost as if AirBnB's hosts and guests are bearing the externalities that should be priced into the transaction on both sides...

Often enough, the neighbors also bear externalities: noise from guests dragging their heavy roller coffers up and down the stairs and smashing all doorbell buttons in the hope someone opens the door as they locked themselves out, rents rising because it's far more profitable to rent 100€/night/AirBnB than 1000€/month on the open market, ...

I wonder if the Airbnb team has ever thought about their profit and its relationship to the externalities you describe. As a customer, I've felt like I pay for something and then bear lots of risk if it goes wrong, but the discount often isn't sufficient to cover that risk.

At the end of the day, it may still be a good thing for the temporary housing marketplace if people who want certainty (in general or just for the trip) stay in a hotel, and people who are willing to trade certainty for some savings stay in Airbnbs. This would lower demand for hotels, and therefore cost. But this is only an efficient outcome if Airbnb guests understand how the company will leave them high and dry if something goes wrong.

I wonder if the Airbnb team has ever thought about their profit and its relationship to the externalities you describe

I'm convinced the majority of "unicorns" ignore (or actively dodge) externalities in favor of lucrative profits.

I'm convinced the majority of "unicorns" ignore (or actively dodge) externalities in favor of lucrative profits.

I think most companies develop convenient ethical blind spots where profit motive conflicts with the ethical problem from generating externalities.

AirBnB takes a strong moral stand on "inclusion" as a principle but has a clear blind spot when it comes to consumer, property, and residential externalities. Facebook takes a strong moral stand on free speech, but it has a clear blind spot for privacy and public discourse.

Other companies don't necessarily take moral stands, but they still develop convenient blind spots. Youtube (Google) and ideological polarization in its recommendations, Equifax and its lack of cybersecurity measures, and so on.

> Facebook takes a strong moral stand on free speech, but it has a clear blind spot for privacy and public discourse.

I think Facebook expressly does not take a stand for free speech, they've been pretty clear about banning offensive/hateful/sexual content from their platform (to the point of being prudish, e.g. with female nipples).

Oddly Instagram seems to allow nipples.

> Facebook takes a strong moral stand on free speech

It does?

Of course! You're free to post anything they approve of.

I know successful companies (and the VCs that back them) look for large market inefficiencies, which create profit opportunity. I wonder if anyone has ever broken down their profit opportunity in terms of: (1) we're taking advantage of this existing inefficiency and (2) we're creating these externalities that we don't bear the cost of.

Some investors would not be dissuaded by (2), if they are purely looking for financial returns. In fact, if you could make a compelling argument that you're externalizing some of your costs, it could be attractive to financial investors because it would help prove that your business model can be profitable.

Considering it was born out of the couch surfing movement you hit the nail on the head. All the worst potential things shared by hosts and guests with a cool risk free cut going to airbnb

Problem is that hotel is often cheaper than an AirBnB's final price.

I'll add to this as well. I've had two incidents over the past year.

1. I rented a place and was told that I could check-in whenever. When I got there, the key wasn't available and I wasn't able to contact the host. I was essentially just standing around for three hours waiting for Airbnb to respond. Apparently, you can contact them, but it's extremely difficult to call them if you're international unless you want to pay for roaming, which I doubt they would compensate you for, so I had to wait for case managers to reply to my email.

After fiddling around with my phone for a while, I managed to install Skype, sign up for some credits, and call them. It was resolved within an hour after that, but the non-savvy tech user would probably have a lot more trouble.

2. The second incident was when I went to an Airbnb and the electricity wasn't working, the roads were closed off for 3 blocks to the apartment due to construction. I paid for a week's stay, but I immediately left since this wasn't disclosed in the listing.

By the evening, I was fed up with the problems, so I left to another Airbnb. I contacted Airbnb, again through email support, since that was all they offer and they told me I could not get a refund since I was past their 24-hour cancellation policy. After going through numerous emails and case managers, I never received my money back based off of a technicality. Their response was that I should have contacted them immediately... but they don't make it easy to contact them.

>I rented a place and was told that I could check-in whenever. When I got there, the key wasn't available and I wasn't able to contact the host.

This. This happened to me one time and from there on, I will not bother with it again. My time and my travel logistics plus standing around with luggage or whatever else, is worth paying for a proper hotel to never have to deal with that ever again.

The reviews should have some warnings about this sort of behaviour, if it's consistently a problem with the host.

I've used Airbnb many times and have never had an issue. Make sure you only use hosts with good reviews.

Their response was that I should have contacted them immediately... but they don't make it easy to contact them.

Companies like this should be left to die.

it's good to hear the horror stories like this.

here's hoping they IPO so I can short them! seriously, companies like this are not long for this world.

Be careful, how long could you short Comcast and United Airlines?

They change the way people travel in a good way. I wouldn't be so hateful towards them.

AirBNB and anything the sharing economy produces is never good for humans. These companies are just proprietary algorithms extracting money on the back of the poor. They should be burned with fire.

Our family of four (2 small kids) needs to travel across the US three times a year. I'm fairly sure we're all humans, although the jury is still out on our youngest. :)

For these trips we stay exclusively in AirBnBs. They are much cheaper, much more comfortable, they have room for our kids to play, and we get access to a kitchen so we can have relatively cheap home cooked meals rather than eating out 3x a day.

That's not to say we haven't had bad experiences. Once we had a combination of thin walls/floors, a downstairs neighbor who was very sensitive to noise, and a one year old who didn't yet know how to tiptoe (we did our best and didn't get any more complaints after the first, but it was a fairly uncomfortable thing to have to worry about). We've stayed in not-great neighborhoods. One kitchen looked fine in pictures but didn't have knives or cutting boards or a single unbroken pot, which made the "cooking at home" options less appealing. The variance of quality in AirBNBs is much higher than that of hotels.

But even with these negative experiences, we're still staying in AirBNBs because it's still much, much better than the alternatives. Declaring that no value is produced by AirBNB or similar companies might be emotionally satisfying, but it's not true.

I like them. I use them for business trips, and at $150/ni for a good room near the San Jose HQ that I need to visit vs $450/ni for an acceptable hotel room, the value is immensely clear.

Of course, when the hotel rate is within $50-$100 of the AirBNB room, I'll happily pay the additional upcharge for the convenience and consistency of a hotel. And if I'm traveling in particularly unfamiliar terrain, I'll pay even more just so I can talk to the concierge and enjoy the security that the hotel offers.

AirBNB and competitors like Vacasa are a good thing. AirBNB's practice of making it impossible to ask an open-ended question, however, is braindead, and unless they fix those kinds of issues, the business will be deservedly overtaken by better followers.

The place you booked did not have electricity and you did not get a refund for the prepaid week? I almost find that hard to believe. There must be something I don't understand here.

Sorry, the electricity was out when I arrived. The host told us it was just temporarily due to the construction outside and the neighbors confirmed it was happening a lot throughout the last few weeks. We were never told about this problem. I didn't want to deal with no electricity on and off so I left.

Id of called my credit card company and filed a chargeback. The credit card associations have more power than Airbnb every dreamt of.

Always call the man that controls the money.

Unfortunately this doesn't work in my experience. The credit card company will absolutely back you if you've been sold bad goods or services, but they seem to need to see evidence that you've already done your due diligence in trying to recover the money yourself. The evidence needs to show that the seller isn't willing to reimburse you. I find email works best for this.

The last time I encountered this was with Air Transat. I had to submit my twitter and email correspondence to my Visa provider. I was never issued tickets but I spent nearly $3k on my card, then had to do it AGAIN so I'd get tickets in time for my trip. So I went on my trip missing pretty much all of my spending money, and Transat and Visa were both just playing a waiting game for the entire two weeks. Thankfully my accommodations were paid for in advance and food in Puerto Vallarta is delicious and cheap. I didn't get my money until about 3 months after they took it from me.

I've heard Mastercard will do chargebacks with no questions asked, but I've never actually done it.

Last time this happened to me I just went to a hotel and asked them to reimburse me (I had to argue but they ended up doing the right thing)

In situations like this it might be a good idea to file a chargeback. You have a lot of leverage as a cardholder.

> I never received my money back based off of a technicality

That's why try to always pay with credit card (preferably Amex).

Actually, I tried to file a chargeback with Amex! They declined it since they said the cancellation of policy was set to "strict" https://www.airbnb.com/home/cancellation_policies#strict-wit....

> If the guest cancels less than 7 days in advance or decides to leave early after check-in, the nights not spent are not refunded.

^ I basically got hit with that rule.


Edit: Wanted to add that I'm pretty sure AMEX has a partnership with Airbnb since I always notice the promotional deals pop up. Spend $200, get $50 back.

Strict cancellation is just a scam. Airbnb is asking you to spend thousands of dollars on something you haven’t even seen with your eyes.

Their pictures are notoriously decieving with the wide angle HDR shots.

It’s just really hard to find a quality place on Airbnb amongst all the noise. They come nowhere close to the customer obsession Amazon has.

Interesting, I'm disappointed by AMEX... What about this part?

> this wasn't disclosed in the listing

Isn't that basically "false advertising" or "bought something and got a different item"? I thought credit cards/AMEX would cover that... anyhow, very disappointing.

Don't use amex in these cases, they are very pro-business and tend to take their side in disputes.

And what, do a chargeback? That's a very easy way to get banned for life from the platform.

So? The guy paid for a week of unusable living. Why would you want to be on that platform?

good riddance!

This summarizes why we can't have nice things. As Airbnb scales, the problems scale too. Unless they started seeing serious financial implications putting the investor dollars at risk, Airbnb basically has no choice but to scale to 'sustain the machine' and stay competitive (monopolistic) in the shared-lodging marketplace.

Airbnb sounds good in theory - like when the founders described how they came up with the idea after they started making side money letting travelers crash at their pad and jovially cooking breakfast with their guests. There's other people out there that could share their homes with nice strangers and enjoy these fun bonding experiences with guests too, right?

However, this theory goes out the window once the platform is opened up to the world for all kinds of good, bad, and in-between actors to use.

Now we have guests/hosts stealing from each other, scamming each other, pulling nefarious acts, and destroying the housing markets of various communities. And Airbnb throws up their hands from the sidelines and apathetically wonders "What could we do? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

Once could argue that this sort of thing happens because people are very quick to try and turn any value-making proposition into a money-making proposition, as though the relationship between the two were simple and obvious, or often, equivalent.

Some things are no longer valuable when you intend to extract that value as money. That's why the poor king doesn't hire cheap mercenaries to protect his kingdom. Sentiment has nontransferable value.

I consider Airbnb to be a menace to society. The hotel industry exists for a reason.

I've been lucky and never had a truly bad experience with Airbnb, but I've had some lousy ones and never a top notch or even good one. Conversely hotels usually provide at least decent service and usually are great in my experience.

What I really dislike about Airbnb is the feeling of being an invader in a neighborhood. Doing something I shouldn't be doing, because, well I am. No one wants the house next door to them to become an Airbnb, so why do we support its practice by using them?

(I no longer use Airbnb btw)

> No one wants the house next door to them to become an Airbnb, so why do we support its practice by using them?

Well, my next door neighbor in my building rents his apartment on Airbnb about 8 months a year (he travels a lot for business so is not often there). Honestly, I don't really mind. There's been a few noisy guests but those are few and far between and apart from that I've talked to and met some nice guests of his.

That said, his apartment is a great apartment since he actually lives there part of the year. It's totally different from apartments that were built for airbnb and tend to be really bad with crappy furniture. And, since the guests are happy, they are more likely to be respectful I think.

Airbnb is great if you want to feel at home when you travel. A hotel room is so impersonal.

Or if you want to have a home when you travel. A kitchen, living room, etc... I'd almost always prefer having these things to a hotel room.

exactly, so much of traveling being unhealthy comes down to not having access to a kitchen to cook your own food.

For vacation homes beside things like ski resorts, something like airbnb makes a lot of sense.

> The hotel industry exists for a reason.

Didnt Airbnb start because the founder could not get a hotel because of some conference in the city and so all the rooms were booked.

I've had nearly identical experiences, the worst being an apartment infested with bedbugs. Despite having video proof [0] of our mattress literally crawling with bedbugs, Airbnb support took the landlord's side and bounced us between case managers until it was finally resolved almost 24 hours later. At least at a hotel they have to acknowledge and fix the issue on the spot.

0. https://youtu.be/RJHScbdp15s

Yeah, we had a similar issue with mice at an Airbnb listing in London. Airbnb asked us to send photos to prove it. They ended up settling for pictures of feces in the kitchen. It took a couple of weeks to resolve, and the host seemed mad that we asked them to come to clean up the excrement in the kitchen. In this case, they wouldn't even let us cancel the reservation - we would have needed the host's permission to end the reservation early without fees.

Same, bedbugs in India, had to go to a proper hotel costing me more than $1000 between room and cleaning all my belongings, I take bedbugs seriously and didn’t want to bring any bug back home. I had pictures of the bugs and the hotel and cleaning invoices. They asked for a medical (!!!) report. Airbnb refunded me 1 of the 2 nights out of 7 I didn’t spend there. So Airbnb costed me more money than going directly to a hotel. Not to mention how distressful and time consuming all this was. I didn’t ever use Airnb before and I’m not going to miss them at all...

correction: did the conversion wrongly, total was around $717, more than the half of it was laundry, they were expecting me in the lobby already. I was arriving with a new set of clothes and a new backpack with my laptop and chargers and gave them everything else including my actual backpack and the suitcase, they had to steam clean or wash more than 57 pieces in my luggage, charged me half price.

Also good to clarify that I paid premium money for a serviced apartment offered in Airbnb, was sold as luxury etc etc. And having no previous experience with Airbnb could not see any potential problem in the add, once there the place was filthy, weird red stains on the walls... Disgusting

You tried to airbnb in India ? It’s probably barely passable in LA. Hotels in India would be quite cheap with the American dollar. Hmmmmmmm :thinking face:

> You tried to airbnb in India ? It’s probably barely passable in LA

yeah, rookie mistake, my first Airbnb, but probably the last too :)

> Hotels in India would be quite cheap with the American dollar

A good hotel (or BnB) in India is not particularly cheaper than in any other country, they tend to have more staff than needed and the service is crazily good when it's good. I've had to bounce back from supposedly good quality hotels, and expensive in relation to the average, to a hotel that would be considered expensive in London a couple of times before this incident. Obviously all depends on your hygiene and quality standards. But if you think that flashing some dollar will make a red carpet appear in front of you... probably is a good idea that you try for yourself to have the exposure that you might be lacking

It is true that you can find very cheap hotels, but let me assure you that you don't want to sleep in those.

Hotels in India are very expensive in the big cities, and for lower-level and 2nd-tier cities, you have to be very careful what and where you end up with. Its either pay a lot, or end up with arrangements and sanitation that would be acceptable to a local would be considered OSHA/CDC-worthy in the US.

had the same issue with bedbugs. was staying at a place for 3 months and they refused to relocate me.

they stopped paying the host so he was up in my shit about not being paid, (he said he couldnt afford to get the place treated) and I was already out of all my money paid out to airbnb. it was a very awkward situation

> Now, it's many slumlords just trying to make a quick buck rather than support the original community idea or provide a great stay.

This is basically the Etsy playbook. Have a good model that doesn't scale. Back yourself into a corner by taking VC money and end up having to do the opposite of what made your service good in the first place to keep growing your platform.

Just like there are only so many people making actual handmade goods, there are only so many homeowners looking to host guests.

Fortunately, there is a never ending stream of Chinese-made trinkets and garbage just as there is a never ending stream of slumlords (oops, property investors) looking to make a quick buck.

I had a similar experience to your last one. I was in a small house fire in a shared Airbnb. I left immediately. Airbnb wouldn’t compensate me because I didn’t take photos and the host claimed nothing had happened. (I was honestly too shaken to even think I would need evidence.) They gave me a $200 voucher which didn’t cover the time left in my stay.

It is partially my fault for not getting evidence, but you’d think they would do more for somebody who, like you, has spent an awful lot of money on Airbnb.

Unfortunately they often have the best apartments available in a city. I do still use them, but I’ll search alternate sites first.

The trouble is that, if you use any buyer protections available to you outside of the platform, you risk being banned for life. That to me seems unfair.

For your case where they wanted evidence - what would have happened if you had no evidence, and ended up issuing a chargeback for "Services not provided? You would have been in the right, but probably would have been banned for life from Airbnb's system. The lack of competition and monopolistic nature makes this seem hostile to consumers.

if you use any buyer protections available to you outside of the platform, you risk being banned for life

Could you elaborate a bit on this? I've not used airbnb but have a trip coming up and am reading this thread with great interest.

Specifically, if you charge back the stay on your credit card, which would get you a refund. I expect that if you do this, Airbnb will ban you from the platform.

Which is fine though, right?

If I’m at the point in a dispute with a company where I’m invoking a credit card chargeback, I’m NEVER wanting to do business with them again, for any reason. I’ve always assumed chargeback == bridge burned.

Why would you continue doing business with a company behaving badly?

When they're a big enough player that monopolizes the available inventory of holiday homes in a region or city you would be backing yourself into a corner by not having the option. Also, maybe tomorrow or next year they could be regulated or under new (better) management and you still wouldn't be able to use the platform.

There’s always ways to get around being banned.

I laughed out loud the other day when I saw an Airbnb receipt that broke down the total cost and showed their Airbnb fee. It attributed the $100 fee to paying for 24/7 customer support during the trip.

Having experienced their horrendous support in the past (bounced from agent to agent over a 72-hr period, as you describe), I can attest that this fee is worth nowhere near that. The support is a joke, and when dealing with something as critical as housing, this is not acceptable.

This is a great example of why we have regulations.

Regulations can be burdensome, they can entrench existing players, etc -- the disadvantages are frequently discussed. But also they can be too light. AirBnB was how inns basically used to work, and then iteratively an infrastructure built up.

I've had similar Airbnb experiences as you, and I'm convinced that Airbnb has the worst customer service of any company I've ever dealt with. I've never felt more defeated, humiliated, and powerless as I've felt when dealing with them. I used to think, "those people who have problems are just exaggerating, or they're problem customers." Nope, Airbnb will screw over everyone, and make them gag on cloying "community" marketing in the process.

I like the idea of Airbnb and many of the apartments can be great, but boy do I wish Airbnb would die a cold, harsh death.

Not sure about recently, but I’ve had the opposite experience living in Airbnb’s three months at a time when I was in between my startup and current job.

My two hosts were very friendly, and I got on great with them.

My first host would throw weekly dinner parties, cooking fresh organic food with vegetables she grew in her garden. When I was sick she would bring me breakfast in bed. Indeed, this woman was a wonderful human being.

My second host I would hang out with on an almost daily basis, we became really good friends. Hockey games, getting smashed on the weekdays, and other such fun times. I’ve kept in touch with both.

The problem is that the whole model changed a lot.

Chances are much bigger that you wind up in some cooky cutter appartment of dubious quality and design managed by some management company that manages dozens, if not hundreds of such appartments and gives exactly zero fucks about your well being.

Experiences as you describe them certainly exist. My girlfriend had a great experience in San Francisco, but that was in 2014.

My expreiences are very mixed and the reviews are rather useless in my opinion. Since I had a couple of youngster neighbors turning their temporary (and illegal) sub lease into an illegal hotel I will not use AirBnb again. It's just too damn painful for the people actually living in a multi party dwelling.

It's like contracts. When everything is good, they don't matter. They only matter when things go bad.

Or human relationships. As one of my old friend/coworker once said, your reputation is like a whiteboard. Once there is a tiny black dot upon it, you’re screwed.

Your colleague is obviously wrong. Think Cosby and Weinstein or look at the other AirBnB examples in this thread.

I may be naive, but I never got the buzz around Airbnb. I had been a user of vrbo (vacation rentals by owner) for a long time, well before Airbnb. I continue to use vrbo, as I rarely see a better deal with Airbnb. Infact even the booking UIs look very similar.

I’ve booked cottages for years, my parents did it for us in the 90s, when the catalog was posted out.

My understanding was Airbnb started as renting out sofas or spare rooms, but is now basically the same as cottages.com, but with more hype, and apparently far worse property owners.

> The problem was that it was peak Summer in Barcelona, we were there for a long period of time, and the only available units were minimum 5x the price.

I've never got this at all. Why should you pay 5x price for AirBnb's risk?

Exactly. They take a huge cut, hold cash for months ahead of time (earning considerable float), preach the need to use their in-app messaging and platform for "safety", then just abandon ship when things go wrong.

If I showed up to a hotel and they didn't have a room available, they would rebook me at a different hotel. Airbnb just seems to say, "well, that's not our problem".

It makes me wish that there was a tenant bill of rights similar to EU Regulation 261/2004 about canceled flights.

"If I showed up to a hotel and they didn't have a room available, they would rebook me at a different hotel. "

Don't be so sure about that. I had a Marriott reservation but apparently they overbooked a whole bunch of us and tried to rebook us at Motel 8 without refunding any of our money. Luckily I had booked through Priceline.com and called their support and they rebooked us at the nearest hotel that's comparable to or better than Marriott, which ended up being a five start boutique hotel. I've been pretty loyal to Priceline every since.

Marriott is shit. Stayed three weeks in Cancun at a four and five start Marriott. No air conditioning. In the middle of the fucking summer. The lowest it'd go was 73. The first week, they were doing construction so there was a jackhammer literally outside our door every morning until we complained enough for them to move us to one of many empty rooms. Unfortunately, it was already booked so I couldn't get a refund or chargeback despite proof of all this. Marriott is just utter garbage and should be avoided at all costs.

It's not exactly fair to say "No air conditioning. In the middle of the fucking summer." When they had AC that goes down to a very chilly 73. I keep my AC at 77, and my wife is still cold half the time.

The construction issue was pretty valid and shitty of them.

Ah yes I should have said it had a shitty fucking broken air conditioner that they refused to fix. Their lies and refusal to fix it were even worse than the shitty fucking broken air conditioner and even worse than not having any air conditioning whatsoever. So you're right, it's not fair. I let them off too easy. The actual situation was much worse. Thanks for pointing that out.

77 degrees outside in the night could still be pretty warm inside.

I have had similar experiences with Airbnb, and problems as a host and a guest.

Why they have gotten away with these behaviours for so long is likely due to forced arbitration.

Their business plan is likely to show as much profit as possible, IPO/get on stock market, exit early investors and founders, and leave the mess and risk associated with their unconscionable protocols to the public markets - offloading it to society as what will inevitably be a loss, as they're not going to realize these nuances.

The forced arbitration is going to stop sooner or later, and cities are going to start to crack down heavily - going through the counter appeals of landlords and commercial hosts with many properties.

> If I showed up to a hotel and they didn't have a room available, they would rebook me at a different hotel. Airbnb just seems to say, "well, that's not our problem".

I believe this is rolled up in hotel pricing, and why Airbnb's are still overall cheaper.

>Why should you pay 5x price for AirBnb's risk?

Why should AirBnb have to not only waive their free but pay several times what they would have earned off the transaction to another party? It is wholly unreasonable for them to put you up in a place that costs 5x(+) as much.

They aren't a hotel chain, they are a booking agent. They don't own the properties, the connect a party that has a space and a party that wants a space. It's not like when you're at a hotel and a pipe bursts and they just put you in another unit that they already own. If the rental was 500 unitofcurrency and the only thing available in their system is 2500 unitofcurrency, they're now hemorrhaging money where a hotel would have virtually no extra expense moving you to another room.

If they made a practice of putting people in considerably more expensive places than they have agreed to pay for it would be absurdly easy to abuse the system from both ends. You could relatively easy manufacture a situation in which what you were renting was unusable getting you a free upgrade or property owners could potentially game the system during high peak times by listing a cheap space, having someone in on it get it, manufacture unusable conditions and then dump one or more properties into the system just under the price of the next cheapest unit and now they have 2 empty locations and are getting paid for the expensive one and can then dump both on vrbo/booking.com/flipkey etc.

At best they should refund your entire stay (unless you've already been there a considerable amount of time then prorate accordingly) and help you find a hotel.

I disagree - they're not a booking agent, they're a marketplace. They don't charge a flat fee for a booking - they take a substantial ongoing cut for the full term of a reservation, even if it's multiple payments over multiple months. They take on more risk than a booking agent and increase their cut proportionally.

What risk is Airbnb taking on? It seems like almost all of the risk is on the tenants and landlords.

Same here. I've had bad experiences, and AirBnB has not responded to complaints in any way. In one case, the host was so hostile that we left after staying one night. I've yet to hear back from AirBnB about it, and my review was not published either.

I wonder how many reviews go unpublished. I had a host try to shake me down for nearly $200 saying that "you spilled something on the bed, I had to have a professional cleaner come out." I had spilled nothing at all! His "evidence" was some unclear photos of a mattress, and that's it. I refused, noting exactly that - it felt like a shakedown, and he had even admitted that another guest had already stayed. I don't know how or if it'll affect my reputation, but I was pretty turned off on Airbnb after that and i'm not too sure i'll use it again.

I've spent a similar amount as you on Airbnb as a hotel replacement over the years. I have the same exact feedback. What started as a great community vibe is now being exploited by slum lords. It's really a shame, the site is a victim of its own success.

I have to believe that with better curation it would have been possible to maintain quality. For example, Lyft still has a great UX with awesome drivers like they did at the beginning, even after they have scaled up to MegaCorp status. It seems Airbnb has made a conscious decision to pursue growth at all costs, including what made them great in the beginning. Time will tell if that was a smart play.

Its interesting that if you spend a few dozen nights a year in a hotel chain they treat you like gold. Airbnb doesn't give anything.

> I prefer a hotel.

I have nothing to back this up, but it feels like hotels have been lowering prices and raising their quality as a result of Airbnb. Lots of "boutique" hotels offering great rooms for less. I was an early adapter to Airbnb and sung their praises for years, but for all the above reasons I too prefer hotels now.

just throwing in one more +1 to how absolutely terrible their customer service was to deal with. We had an AirBnb scheduled for 2 weeks once, and I emailed the host saying we didn't need the first week and we'd be there starting the 2nd week and go ahead and keep our money for the first week.

Well the day we were getting ready to go check-in, he cancels saying we were a "no show" with no refund despite multiple written records of his confirmation that we'd be there the second week.

I asked AirBnb to refund us for half, and over and over they'd transfer between agents who had no f*cking clue about the case and just kept regurgitating some cancellation policy and ignoring my obvious evidence.

Finally I took to the social airwaves and kept calling over the course of a week and they eventually relented and refunded something.. and the best part, they never apologized once, in fact they made some absurd 6-year old passive aggressive comment about still being right but they'd refund me anyways -- and the refund was less than half.

I get that two-sided markets are tough, but even having the slightest decency and empathy during the matter would have made a world of difference to me.

The downfall of AirBnb's quality has been enormous, highly observable, and scarily rapid.

I have had similar experiences to yours (as, obviously, have many other repliers in this thread).

I have mostly switched to booking.com, which also has some homeshare type listings (or maybe that's only in Europe?).

I tend to agree. I've grown tired of the poor-quality, soulless flips that are falling apart and barely cleaned that have completely taken over Airbnb. For business I find myself not wanting to deal with the uncertainty of Airbnb and just get a hotel.

I had some terrible experiences with Airbnb a couple of times. Their customer service is as responsive as that if Google’s; almost non-existent.

I prefer to stay away from any company that doesn’t offer a human to talk to when things go awry.

> The problem was that it was peak Summer in Barcelona, we were there for a long period of time, and the only available units were minimum 5x the price.

What can they do then? Build new apartments for you?

> We had an Airbnb burglarized

Once again, what can they do?

They are not a hotel. You accept that when you book somewhere. It is not magic, there are going to be horrible places, there are going to be shitty owners who rob you.

You want all the benefits but none of the compromises. Too bad.

> What can they do then? Build new apartments for you?

Do the same thing an airline does. If a flight is cancelled, they don't just refund the original price you paid for the ticket. They have to get you to the destination. If the only available option is a first class seat, it's their problem, not yours. They don't ask you to either pay $1000 for the price difference and get on the next flight or get your $100 back and try to get to the destination on your own.

So in this case, the alternative was not building apartments. It was to eat the price difference and house OP in another listing or even a hotel.

Have you considered booking.com instead?

Yeah, it started as a great alternative to hotels, both on price and the sort of hospitality offered. I think the comparison is now much closer, Airbnb has lost a lot of that edge.

At the same price point I would take a hotel, they have employees whose job is to help you and instead of the "hey we're sharing a space and growing together and learning about each other" horseshit Airbnb is trying to peddle.

I find that the only scenario that Airbnb still comes in handy for is when you want to book a large place for a group of 8 people or more to stay together.

vrbo.com works for renting large places too.

I used to use AirBnB all the time. Lately I've switched back to using hotels almost exclusively. The camera/privacy thing is a big part of it. I empathize with the hosts to a degree - you don't want people doing outrageous things in your home. But the hosts want their cake and to eat it too. Don't rent out your home if you don't want the risk of people damaging it!

(As a minor aside, I've also noticed the quality of the places I've found on AirBnB has gone down. The homes I stayed at before I quit using it were not very clean (despite the fee!), things were broken, key retrieval was a pain etc. Hotels used to be much more expensive, but price/quality of experience is starting to get more competitive)

It's funny to me, because AirBnB runs in to all the same problems we had with hotels a hundred years ago. We have dozens of taxes, rules, regulations, building codes etc now for hotels. I imagine at some point it will be the same for AirBnBs. What's old is new.

Same here. A few years ago all our AirBnB experiences were good, but over time they have progressively got worse.

For example, one host housed us in what felt like a derelict hotel/doshouse with all sorts of weird people staying and no working locks or fire alarm. On another occasion we booked a cottage, but it had a blocked chimney and was spewing fumes and smoke in to the living area. And for our tenth wedding anniversary we booked another cottage where the host insisted on staying with us despite the listing saying we would have the property to ourselves. He also insisted on singing to us against our will, this was actually quite creepy.

We did of course raise concerns with AirBnB about the first two and left a negative review for the third. AirBnB did not care and crucially it did not seem to have an effect on the ratings of these properties. That just does not seem right.

I no longer trust AirBnB. I don't trust the listings, I don't trust the reviews and I certainly don't trust AirBnB itself to filter out bad hosts.

This could be because AirBnB has grown so fast and it has struggled to cope, or it could be a conscious business decision. Either way, we don't use them anymore.

It's hard to trust reviews when it's engineered the way it is. You're almost forced to leave a good review or else you'll get a bad review in return. People also don't like feeling guilty and transactions have been made personal. People do the same damn thing with ridesharing, really bad drivers somehow get 5 star ratings.

The way it is actually engineered is that it is impossible to view a review, before leaving your own (or waiting until the review shows up, after which you can not leave a retaliatory review).

For the ridesharing, it depends. Maybe the driver has a route they know well, or has friendly connect. Maybe traffic for you was very bad and chaotic and there was no click.

For ridesharing I played tit-for-tat for a while, until I realized that I don't want to play this game (if my rating drops below a point where less drivers will pick me up, I will switch to Taxi's). For AirBnB: I never leave bad or lukewarm reviews, only good reviews. Getting a host that is actually there for check-in, really acts a host, is getting increasingly rare, so my good reviews are too.

As mentioned by the other responses, you are mistaken. Reviews can't be seen until both parties have submit their reviews or the review period expires.

However, as a host I've encountered situations where I probably should have given a lower rating but opted to not submit a review because the guest seemed nice other than some minor poor behavior (had to ask them to be quiet during quiet hours, ignored our house rules, left more mess than usual, etc). I didn't want to affect the guests' ratings because they weren't awful and had otherwise positive reviews, so maybe it was a one-off... I am sure there is some inflation on the guest reviews as well.

I feel like rating systems need to simplify to:

- Bad & contact support (thumbs down). Details should be given as to what is bad.

- Good enough (thumbs up), the default rating if you don't do anything

And then have a third tier of "compliments" like you do with uber drivers to denote something exceptional.

I like Uber's give compliments feature. There could be a variety of reasons why they were great. Professional and just let me be. Had an awesome conversation with them and learned something. Got some good tips in a new city.

I don't feel obligated to leave a lengthy review, just either the default options and potentially a nice note.

Every time I've used Airbnb, the review process would prevent one party from seeing the other party's review until either the review period ended OR all parties would have posted a review.

In other words, you can't retaliate because of the other party's review: you don't get to see it until you post your own review.

I would have called Airbnb as soon as I found there was an issue and made them book me in somewhere else. You are paying a service fee to them for a reason.

The problem is that's when you arrive to your rented property late on a Friday night with two tired and cranky children, you just want to make the best of a bad situation.

I know AirBnB have an emergency number, but they themselves state on their website that all they will do in a situation like the above is to try and book you in to another AirBnB property or offer you a refund.

I think a lot of AirBnB customers have lower expectations of the service compared to what they would expect when booking into a hotel and AirBnB benefits greatly from this.

After all the AirB part of their name stands for air bed, the whole business was founded on the concept of customers accepting lower standards for a lower price. Now that AirBnB has grown into a quality property rental service it really needs to up it's game in terms of vetting it's hosts and dealing with questionable situations.

They should have called the fire marshal. Airbnb support is probably one step up from Google's in terms of reaching a satisfactory solution for customers.

The fire marshal won't get you your money back, but they'll ruin a host's day if they're renting out a space without smoke detectors.

Oh we did, and the owner of the building ended up in the press for a multitude of reasons a few weeks after we had our stay.

Glad to hear it, you may have saved someone from having a pretty bad time with that.

Basically every line of fire codes were written in response to people burning to death, so I have very little tolerance for landlords messing around.

> I would have called Airbnb as soon as I found there was an issue and made them book me in somewhere else. You are paying a service fee to them for a reason.

DoubleGlazing said:

> > We did of course raise concerns with AirBnB about the first two and left a negative review for the third. AirBnB did not care and crucially it did not seem to have an effect on the ratings of these properties. That just does not seem right.

Of course you can say that DoubleGlazing should have insisted, but, from my own experience, I agree that, if AirBnb doesn't feel like doing anything, then they won't do anything; and that any remedies to force them into action will, at best, take effect only too late (e.g., it's no good getting a response in a week if the residence is uninhabitable today).


as if AirBnb has any means of phone access.

I second this. It's not easy to call Airbnb if you're international. Even if you end up finding the number and reaching them, you're placed on hold waiting for a representative.

I have switched back to hotels too, due to my recent experience.

My friends and I were staying over at a 4-subroom Airbnb during the summer. The apartment looked great, and we really could not complain about the price either.

However, we started noticing that none of the furniture match; there we no more than two of the same chairs, the beds were all different, the cutlery was bent and visibly used, etc.

When two of my friends sat on the edge of a double-bed at once, the whole frame collapsed. Puzzled, we inspected further only to find custom fitted planks, badly mounted by too small screws, legs made of cheap wood, and so on.

Contacting the host, we were told that we had to reimburse him for a completely new bed, as well as the transport and installation costs. Meanwhile, we could just "sleep on the floor".

It became all to clear that the host picked up furniture from some kind of recycling station, and expected the guests to pay for it when it inevitably breaks. This way, he could continuously replace the furniture for new one, and having the guests pay for it!

Luckily, we could prove to Airbnb that the furniture was not original, and that it was modified multiple times, badly. After the whole vacation spent worrying about the communication between the host and the Airbnb, we managed to avoid having to pay.

It scares me that the host was willing and able to ignore the safety of his guests, and he got away with it without any repercussions from Airbnb.

PS: While my bad review of the host did not even put a nudge in his almost perfect 4.5/5 score, mine fell so drastically that most decent hosts might now reconsider housing me.

Luckily, we could prove to Airbnb that the furniture was not original, and that it was modified multiple times, badly. After the whole vacation spent worrying about the communication between the host and the Airbnb, we managed to avoid having to pay.

A similar experience is what put me off to AirBnb. What was supposed to be a carefree weekend at the beach turned into managing the property manager. One thing after another. Starting with no key because the lockbox code was incorrect. Some other doozies include: twin not a full bed, patio door did not lock, no hand soap in bathroom, and the Internet didn’t work.

Hosting is difficult and Airbnb is still learning. Once day they may have it figured out, but I’d be surprised if when that day comes they don’t look a lot like the incucmbent players. In the mean time we are all paying for their training.

I was in Spain and got an airbnb which did not have sheets for the beds or towels. The host, who was in another country on holiday, had me walk down the street and meet her mother, who didn't speak english. Her mother gave me a musty top-sheet that seemed to have been in a closet for over a decade, and asked me to pay her 5 euros in cash for it. This whole process took about 2 hours.

Still didn't get a towel.. should have listened to douglas adams.

I also stayed at the cheapest airbnb in miami beach, which was an unwalkable room full of children's-sized bunkbeds, and populated by fully grown humans with the consideration of children. There was so much chaos i couldn't sleep, and since i was there to compete in a tournament the next day, I literally walked around the streets of miami at 3am until i found a patch of grass where I could sleep. I couldn't bring myself to pay $200 for 3 hours of a hotel.

Could you link to this Miami AirBnB? Sounds interesting.

Thankfully it appears to have subsequently been shut down.


I don't want to dox whoever lives there now, but it was just north of the convention center on Pine Tree Drive

Something doggy people have been doing is signing year long leases for properties, listing it on AirBnB, and milking it for as much as possible until the owner and/or HOA get wind and evict them (sometimes the HOA will find out and fine the owner continually while the eviction is in process, which is always unfortunate). I always recommend to owners and property managers when this happens to stick to the eviction and follow through to prevent future landlords from encountering the same issue (most landlords will not rent to someone with an eviction on their record).

This: "I've also noticed the quality of the places I've found on AirBnB has gone down."

Is the direct result of people listening to your own own advice: "Don't rent out your home if you don't want the risk of people damaging it!"

I rented my home a handful of times when I knew I would be out of town on the weekend. The first renters were great, the next 2 caused a combined $1,200 in damage that Airbnb refused to cover. Refunding me the cost of dry cleaning my comforter that was left with blood stains(!) instead of the cost to replace it was bullshit but that was all they'd offer. There was also no real recourse for one of the guests having at least a dozen people over for a midnight afterparty. I was still finding cigarette butts and trash out of my backyard landscaping for months after that final rental. There's just not enough money in Airbnb rentals for people who only have their own property to rent and don't desparately need that extra income, this the noticeable decline in quality. You're not the only person I've heard say that Airbnbs are becoming more like cheap motels than nice hotels.

Same is true for me.

In my mid-to-late-twenties, I remember thinking "Damn, why are hotels so expensive? I'll just stay in this Airbnb, which is so much bigger anyway. This is the new way and it's disrupting hotels."

Now at the outset of my thirties and a more settled phase of life, I will gladly pay a premium to stay in a hotel.

In the same way, it's becoming more likely for me to flag a London black cab than book an Uber via the app.

There's a reason why some business models and establishment types 'just work' throughout history and it's not entirely because of well-funded lobbying and conservative lawmaking, as we were maybe led to believe in the early Airbnb/Uber days when anything disruptive was shiny.

I wouldn't say they 'just work', but rather that what we see is the steady state they've arrived at, warts and all. The startup industry has this obsessive focus on looking at the steady state and thinking they can fix all the warts, without really looking into why they formed in the first place.

Good to know there's already been some prior thought on this topic.

What is SV?

>it's becoming more likely for me to flag a London black cab than book an Uber via the app.

Those guys know what they are doing and that's an incredibly hard job to get, the points of interest for example, if you spend that much time just trying to get licensed you're probably going to be more professional than random soccer mom trying to make money while the kids are at school. That's not the case with taxis in the US or many other countries though.

>Those guys know what they are doing and that's an incredibly hard job to get

Indeed, the dedication required to acquire The Knowledge [1] is incredible, at least to me considering how the job of taxi driver is considered a fairly low-end, unskilled one here in the States.

"The London taxicab driver is required to be able to decide routes immediately in response to a passenger's request or traffic conditions, rather than stopping to look at a map, relying on satellite navigation or asking a controller by radio. Consequently, the "Knowledge of London" is the in-depth study of a number of pre-set London street routes and all places of interest that taxicab drivers in that city must complete to obtain a licence to operate a black cab. It was initiated in 1865, and has changed little since.

It is the world's most demanding training course for taxicab drivers, and applicants will usually need to pass at least twelve "appearances" (periodical one-on-one oral examinations undertaken throughout the qualification process), with the whole process usually averaging 34 months, to pass."

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxicabs_of_the_United_Kingdom...

I made the switch as well and now only get an AirBnB when traveling with a large group of friends to remote destinations.

For my own travel, I got so sick of the problems with key access. It's just too hard to coordinate with most hosts when you are in a foreign country and don't have cell service or wi-fi.

It's also super annoying when any number of other issues show up: spotty wi-fi, no cable TV, no soap or shampoo, poor quality mattress, etc.

And then hosts often expect you to wash your dishes and put laundry in the washer. Why do I need to do this when I am paying >$100 for a "cleaning fee"???

>For my own travel, I got so sick of the problems with key access. It's just too hard to coordinate with most hosts when you are in a foreign country and don't have cell service or wi-fi.

Yeah, in Spring two years ago a friend an I did a Europe trip, with 4 Airbnbs bookings in total. On three of them we had issues getting in, where we had to contact the host, who was hard to reach or unavailable. And none would give us separate keys.

>And then hosts often expect you to wash your dishes and put laundry in the washer. Why do I need to do this when I am paying >$100 for a "cleaning fee"???

In fairness, cleaning involves a lot more than that step. But there does seem to be an arms race in how much of the cost they can cram into a hidden "cleaning" fee.

I did AirBnB with a group. The place didn't had the beds advertised (I don't count defective inflatable mattress as bed) only 4 forks and 3 knives, the swimming pool was closed for 3 a months planned maintenance. The place had good ratings but from what I understood, the guy operating it had left and the new one was lost. To be fair, AirBnB gave me a $30 coupon. Thanks but I'm not using that one.

Honestly dont get why Airbnb doesnt make /buy a lock mechanism and gives it to hosts. A simple key padlock suffices for 90% of the cases.

I know hte product exists, but airbnb hosts dont have them.

> It's funny to me, because AirBnB runs in to all the same problems we had with hotels a hundred years ago. We have dozens of taxes, rules, regulations, building codes etc now for hotels. I imagine at some point it will be the same for AirBnBs. What's old is new.

An industry can only be disruptive for so long. Eventually, it will either fail, or be successful and become the new status quo.

> Eventually, it will either fail, or be successful and become the new status quo.

The book "Animal Farm" is so prescient, it's scary. I know it was written about governments but it applies to a lot of different organizations and industries:

"The creatures outside looked from <new> to <old>, and from <old> to <new>, and from <new> to <old> again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

Just swap out <new> and <old> with:


online streaming/cable


Not saying all of these will come to pass, but generally as the disruptive <new> are encumbered with ever increasing regulation over time they eventually become <old> again

I disagree with the streaming video example. Netflix, Disney etc aren't facing any regulatory issues that's causing them to circle their wagons and create their own content pipelines and streaming services. They're doing it to maximize profit and be less dependent on third parties.

On the other hand, hotels are innovating on improving the customer experience too.

The Hilton App is easier to use than their actual website. I am able to check-in and check-out without talking to anyone. I can use a digital key on my phone. They send me receipts automagically.

And thanks to consistent corporate standards, I know what to expect in a Hampton Inn vs. Homewood Suites vs. Conrad.

Getting a hotel has become less of a hassle, has less friction, and is more convenient. Oh, and the technology helps the chain as well.

If you disrupt an industry, you better hope your moat is big enough to ward off the entrenched business. Ridesharing might indeed kill the taxi, but there's no way AirBnb is going to defeat the hotel industry.

Uber at their worst still beats the heck out of taxis at their best. (Yes, that's an exaggeration, but only a mild one.) There is a reason why the taxi industry died almost overnight. Legalities aside, that simply doesn't happen to industries whose customers are happy.

However, I've never quite grokked AirBnB. I'm not a big fan of traveling in general, and when I do travel I prefer (and don't mind paying for) predictability and good customer service. Crashing in some random person's house doesn't seem very predictable, as threads like this tend to suggest, and responsive customer service is obviously out of the question.

More like: when immoral profiteers figure out how to best game the new system, the quality becomes more or less the same

> An industry can only be disruptive for so long.

I think another thing people tend to forget: regulations are often there for a real reason. Especially in the US there's a vocal majority who thinks that regulations are the problem. It's true sometimes. The reasons for the regulation were either bad in the first place, or have "aged out." But a lot of times: the regulation in the way of some business is there to protect consumers.

I fully disagree. I view regulation like opioid painkillers. Sometimes they're necessary to solve a problem. Sometimes the problem is temporary. If a society gives them out at the drop of a hat there will be negative consequences far and wide. Regulation is dangerous and is very easy to abuse but it performs a necessary function in society. We need to be careful not to over-prescribe it though because every regulation is at its core a limitation on individual liberty and when we trade away individual liberty the utmost scrutiny should be applied to ensure we are getting a good deal.

Do you have any examples of such negative consequences, regulations for problems that went away (that became inconvenient after the fact), or dangerous and abusive regulations? Your objection sounds dogmatic, but if it's founded I'd love to hear on what.

It sounds like more people should be interested in regulatory reform. I'm a huge fan of refactoring regulations once the problems they've been made to fix have been solved.

The problem is most "bodies of laws" are so complex and have so many competing stakeholders that it's a lot like a method that everyone's afraid to touch so they just comment "#DO NOT TOUCH!!"

The other problem is the "policy people" who create regulations are rarely the subject matter experts. They are good at managing the process to the successful conclusion: a new published regulation. They are not good at deciding what a good regulation is.

I submit as evidence

a) pretty much every case where a "may issue" permit is required to engage in business (these mostly happen on the state and local level and incentivize corruption).

b) Regulatory capture (e.g. the current FCC).

c) The war on drugs (I can come up with other examples of unnecessarily criminalizing things if needed).

And on the other side, the movies/music/video games/tv rating system sure isn't perfect but it's a great example of an industry coming up with a solution that doesn't involve regulation. Various other professional organizations (ones that are not given special protection via legislation, i.e. not doctors and lawyers) are also good examples. The AWS comes to mind as a pretty good one.

Legislation is hard to get right and harder to change and I'd rather only use it when other options have been exhausted (e.g. I support making ISPs utilities and a public option for healthcare).

Personally I find the knee jerk reaction to legislate whenever anything bad happens quite dogmatic.

"Regulating whenever something bad happens" is problematic, but it's a bit of a straw man. You should be regulating wherever people are incentivized to do bad things, which happens quite often when you don't offer any oversight whatsoever. Especially when you are unwilling to even regulate the reporting of misbehavior.

>but it's a bit of a straw man.

Knee jerk legislation is not a straw man. It happens all the time. The CFAA is a knee-jerk law. Here[1] is a more recent example.


And the last paragraph of the article mentions banning long vehicles, which itself is a knee jerk response to when a drunk t-boned a limo on Long Island awhile back.

I agree about regulating incentives though.

c) The war on drugs (I can come up with other examples of unnecessarily criminalizing things if needed).

You're conflating actual criminal law with regulations in order to make your argument.

I think that's intelectually dishonest.

edit : spello

I can only echo that! We did an around-the-world trip for an entire year from 2017 to 2018 and did not use AirBnb a single time. We looked up AirBnb places maybe a handful of times only to find out that the quality and location of AirBnb homes was worse for often a more expensive price than a good hotel. We ended up booking everything via booking.com and hostelworld.com.

Hotels were often cheaper, in better locations, had a better service (longer reception hours, etc.), often breakfast included, room service, other guests which we could connect with and most importantly, no creepy cameras!

Airbnb should be liable one way or another of those situations. They should at least inspect the places before accepting them in the network. They should inspect after a complaint.

I had a massive rat infestation in my Airbnb in Paris. I arrived at the place at night and I didn't see at first the forced temporary leave notice on the building door for all inhabitants. It took Airbnb 12h to respond to my emergency call. They didn't reimburse my first night, considering that I stayed and didn't allow me to review if I accepted the reimbursement of the rest of my booking. The wording was memorable "We contacted Thomas your host and he has agreed to ... ").

They should at least inspect the places before accepting them in the network. They should inspect after a complaint.

That requires people. Airbnb and its SV brethren aren't interested in using people to solve problems. They believe all problems can be solved with an algorithm.

Except when it comes to faking AI.

x.ai isn't SV. ;) It's NYC.

Same. On a recent trip a close friend advised me to look at hotels as well as airbnb. Turns out that a 5* hotel was renting a room at half price (I was looking for a room at the last minute), making it competitive with a mid range airbnb.

I am definitely going to do comparison shopping again, it was an awesome experience.

They did this in Japan. You're require to have an emergency sprinkler system for fires as just one example. If you don't have one, getting one installed is apparently around $20k so that prohibits lots of people from getting started renting out. Then as well they have to registered. If it's an apartment/condo building you have to get permission from the building management/home owners association. And I think it's max 90 days a year.

Hotels are cheaper and more convnient for shorter stays anyway. Also the checkin process and key pickup is abominal sometimes

I think this one is pretty key. For the first couple years when AirBnB started, they were almost always cheaper than hotels, even for whole places. Of course, a lot of that was their fees were lower and they weren't paying taxes. I can almost find better deals at hotels now.

AirBnB's aren't that great, just another service that has already been refined. In hotels you might not be getting what you pay for, but at least there is a level of consistency for major chains. In AirBnB's you're left to the wims of the household that sets you up for the night or week. If the place doesn't have something, most of the time you're not going to call the home owners, but a hotel you have no problem calling the main lobby if there is an issue at 2 am.

Downsides aside, one thing that AirBnB as a service provides over hotels is heterogeneity of location. Especially remote, suburban, or certain urban neighborhood locations will always be underserved by hotels, while still being desirable to potential guests.

That is a big benefit, and I will be honest they have saved me from an expensive hotel at times, especially around packed conference areas. I just have had more bad experiences especially at those times, and would have in hindsight payed the higher rates at the hotels. Maybe this is just my rant, but the inconsistency and lack of some peoples awareness when it comes to hosting really puts me off.

> It's funny to me, because AirBnB runs in to all the same problems we had with hotels a hundred years ago.

Every startup is banking on consumers forgetting this. "Hey, X is far too inefficient/expensive, you deserve Y".

If the startup becomes a unicorn, it's never going to be long before they start following the same rules as the incumbents they toppled.

How recent is lately? My experience a bit over one year ago was great. Likely highly dependent on the area.

>It's funny to me, because AirBnB runs in to all the same problems we had with hotels a hundred years ago.

To a point. I find it a bit silly to regulate a single person renting out their house occasionally for short stretches (read: most users of AirBnB) to a corporation with multiple purpose built, million dollar facilities on expensive commercial property with their own staff and so forth.

I've been looking at AirBNBs recently for a vacation. The small guy is an outlier anymore. Most of the listings are obviously professional, ie they do it for a living and have multiple properties and property managers. The network is hard to unravel since the companies behind the "hosts" create many profiles, but it is easy to see that its not just Carla or Emily or Cody offering up their apartment while they go on holiday. I've been on AirBNB for more than 6 years and have hosted as well, but the rules as well as the standards have tilted heavily to favor the big players.

The last few AirBnBs I've stayed at have all been filled with "stock" goods. The cheapest handsoap, the cheapest paper towels, etc. Basically it looks like they went to the dollar store and filled their house with what's in it, which makes me believe that people don't actually live in there.

Unless AirBNB solicits more fine-grained reviews to elicit feedback on such things, or enacts a policy around consumables, this is the direction many hosts will go. As long as it doesn't reflect in the photos, corners will be cut.

An alternative here would be a meet in the middle type system where venues could opt into a private regulatory body that entailed obeying a system of rules and regulations, and accepting adjudications of the body in case of conflicts. In return, entities could advertise membership as a selling point, and the regulatory body itself could provide lists of participating entities to anybody who'd like to find, for instance, a higher quality BnB stay at. The system would be funded by entities paying a fee for participation, and perhaps also allowing membership for regular customers as which would entail various promotions and prioritization.

This generally would not work for areas where there is monopolization or where the benefits would be less visible to the consumer in the normal case. what I mean by 'the normal case' is that even a shoddy building won't usually fall down, so abiding and non-abiding entities would seem more or less identical until the 0.01% scenario hits with resultant catastrophe. But things like BnBs are perfect for this model since there is major competition for consumers and transgressions against obviously desirable rules (like no cameras in the house) are not particularly uncommon.


As an aside, the reason I mention this as a desirable option is obviously not because I think there should be any hotels that have e.g. cameras in rooms. But rather because these things never just end at a handful of very critical points. Take food safety as an example. Obviously there are a good number of basic ideas everybody would agree on such as ensuring your hands are cleaned/gloved, that food is reasonably fresh, and so on. But as regularly organizations feel obligated to continue to expand, you start ending up with ever more esoteric rules. For instance in California if your dish cleaning sink for a food stall is 9 inches deep, you're in violation of regulations. They arbitrarily require that a dish cleaning sink must be at least 10 inches deep.

This gradual creep of rules poses an issue to people who are just starting a business. So obviously we all want hotels without cameras and food stalls where servers wash their hands, but on the other hand being forced to read literally hundreds of pages of legalese with countless 'gotchas' that can catch even perfectly safe and desirable products is something that can really hamper entrepreneurship, while simultaneously artificially entrenching older entities. Neither of which I think many people would think is a good thing.

Or, how about one rule: No cameras in living spaces. If you want to make money using AirBnB, you understand that you can't use cameras inside living spaces. I don't think we need to invent a new bureaucracy to deal with this.

The system I described was much more akin to something like the Better Business Bureau than a new bureaucracy. It tends to be a way to get things done in a way where both consumers and businesses want to obey them (as is rather the definition of opt-in systems). For instance I just checked the BBB entry for AirBnB [1]. It turns out that even though they aren't affiliated with the BBB, they are rapidly responding to complaints and seem to be resolving most issues. Many of the complaints/resolutions are publicly displayed. Feels rather voyeurish reading them, but it's all quite interesting!

You tend to get much better results with using a third party company (such as the BBB) since the company's action towards the company stands to have much more weight than a single consumer's. It's similar to governmental regulation, except it tends to scale more appropriately with size. E.g. 'Ma and Pop BnB' are generally not going to end up facing BBB complaints since they can resolve things 'locally.' Whereas with governmental regulatory systems 'Ma and Pop BnB' is treated in many ways the same as multibillion dollar multinational "BnB" and inadvertent noncompliance can be devastating, even when such inadvertent noncompliance in no way negatively affected anybody as you invariably end up with some rules that make sense for multinationals, but not necessarily e.g. a couple of retirees renting out a spare room.

[1] - https://www.bbb.org/us/ca/san-francisco/profile/rental-listi...

Is there anyone that still takes the BBB seriously? They operate as a pay-to-play scheme, charging money in exchange for their approval in an outright quid pro quo sales operation.


Beyond that, the advent of modern communication has taken a huge bite out of whatever relevancy they might've had. Why complain to the BBB when you can complain via Yelp/Google Reviews/Facebook, etc. and have a bigger impact.

I've yet to run into a company that didn't actively engage with the BBB. AirBnB quite certainly seems to respond extremely actively to them. I've been fortunate enough to only have a couple of complaints with businesses I was unable to resolve directly, and in both cases I was able to work out a fair settlement through the BBB alone. If somebody would prefer to go the social review route, then that's great - it's obviously a very good thing that we have so many dispute resolution options available for consumers now a days.

What you describe already exists with things like franchises, trade groups, and consumer organizations. For example, if I told you that I stayed in a Hilton last night, with no further information, you probably have a good idea of what the place was like and what kind of rules it had, despite having no idea where it is or who owns it. If I tell you that I stayed at a AAA approved hotel, you’ll know it met certain standards.

What you say also describes governments pretty well. They just tend to base membership on physical location. For your example of sink depth, if a business doesn’t like California’s rules, they can resign their membership and join a different government by moving there.

I'm renting houses/apartments on AirBNB and place cameras outside the homes (to watch who's in front of the entrance door, activity). Placing them inside the home is a real privacy concern - a zone that I would never even consider.

The reason for the cameras outside is to watch closely how many people enter as we're constantly fighting prostitution which leads to a pain with neighbors and other stuff.

We have two properties listed on Airbnb and have been a "superhost" for half a year.

Our listing has extra fees if there are more than 2 people booking and there have been a number of instances where guests would sneak in extra people.

We got a security camera for one of our listings recently. It's an attached suite with a private entrance. The camera is installed outside and it's disclosed with a check box toggled in Airbnb's listing settings.

Being a private person myself, I would not put a camera inside spaces meant private for guests. In these times, I'm even a bit wary on adding a CO alarm because guests might think it's a spy camera.

Obviously, not everyone has the same standards. The host described in the post is quite rude. I wouldn't communicate that way with a guest. Hopefully, Airbnb will reopen the case given the attention it has received.

Actually don't you want to highlight the disclosure of the camera to dissuade trouble makers from picking your place?

I don't think most people think it through that well. I once had a guest stay in our attached guest house where we live and try to sneak in a dog (explicitly not allowed).

I had a host make the same claims. When my SO's siblings stopped by for coffee I got a text within 5 minutes demanding they leave.

There needs to be some reasonableness to this. And consistency.

I wrote them an insanely negative review. I also unplugged their router, because fuck them.

Outside, sure, fine. I'm of the opinion that they should still be disclosed, but I think a camera outside (and not looking in so that it can see any interior spaces) is fair.


Could you please comment civilly and substantively or not at all?


I'll add my AirBnB anecdote.

We were in Hawaii. We checked into the AirBnB, and the first thing my wife noticed was that there were crumbs of food all along the walls of the kitchen. She murmured something about this not being good and attracting bugs.

We turn off the lights, and a few minutes later she jumped up, claiming there was something on her. We turned on the lights, and saw nothing. I brushed it off. A few minutes later it happened again. Same deal. Then a few minutes later it happened to me. I turned on the lights, and happened to look at the roof, and there were 2 large cockroaches on the roof, right above us! Yikes! Then I stepped out, and on the kitchen floor I saw a few of them scurrying about.

So I called up AirBnB at 2AM. They asked me for photos, video, etc. After a couple of hours of back and forth, they agreed to let us leave. They let us book another place. But then they proceeded to cancel our original reservation, so I could not leave feedback! The host contacted me, and when I told her why we left, pretended as if nothing was wrong about 3-inch long cockroaches running around all over the place. AirBnB never reprimanded her.

> pretended as if nothing was wrong about 3-inch long cockroaches running around all over the place.

To be fair it actually is pretty common to see 3 inch cockroaches running around in Hawaii and other tropical places, even in reasonably nice/clean houses. Especially in older houses that might not be insulated or sealed very well (given the weather there's not much need to insulate for heat purposes).

Granted, keeping things clean and making an effort to get rid of bugs when you do see them will obviously make things better, and it sounds like this host was probably more neglectful than they should have been.

This is honestly a really interesting example though - a lot of people's stated reason for liking AirBnB is being in a more authentic, local environment. But then when you have different expectations about the conditions than a local person living in that house might have, it becomes a bad experience that AirBnB should solve. Where should the line be? If you want them to standardize things and make sure all listings are comfortable for the widest range of people possible, doesn't that just end up looking exactly like a hotel?

Cockroaches in a residence in Hawaii is not uncommon, you are after-all, in a tropical rainforest. I have come to expect them in the rainforest/jungle housing. It is inevitable. The houses in these areas are often not well sealed due to local construction quality and/or the need to vent humidity. That said, the crumbs of food can/will exacerbate the problem and probably should have been kept to a higher standard of cleanliness.

AirBnB never reprimanded her.

I think that's what bothers a lot of guests who have an experience so bad they have to leave. Is there any penalty for lying in a description or putting guests at the risk of their own safety?

FWIW, humid climates have roaches. They are not unusual.

Bullshit reason given by the AirBnB. How is someone renting a room qualified to determine from a photo what kind of a device is there in the corner, or even notice. It can be anything, perhaps just a motion detection sensor or air quality monitoring or whatever. Also I do not scrutinize every single photo for details, but I read the description in its entirety.

These things have to be stated in writing and they should have it as a part of listed attributes for the room/house.

There are also accessibility concerns/questions here. What if someone with poor (or no) eyesight is trying to book accommodation? Is there a screen-reader friendly description that says "Living room with security camera in the upper corner"?

Great point. I'd be interested to see what their response to that argument would be if it came from him pretending to have the disability. (or not even pretending)

When I interviewed at Airbnb, they asked me about one thing I learned in the past that could be useful for Airbnb.

I suggested that people who are developing the product should once in a while spend a few hours handling user tickets themselves (perhaps shadowing an actual customer representative), so that developers get to sense (at the gut level) the pain points.

The interviewer did not seemed pleased with that suggestion.

There's an irony here since the CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, used to handle all of the customer service for the company [1].

[1] https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/vox/recode-decode/e/5518597...

dunno if they still do it, but this was normal practice at Etsy when I was an engineer there (2013-2015). Every so often (once a quarter maybe?) I had to spend a day answering support tickets. We discovered (and fixed) a lot of bugs that way.

As a lead developer on some projects, I've explicitly asked to jump into the weeds and handle support.

You can learn SO MUCH about your application just by handling a bit of support. You learn UX issues, you learn what tooling the support people are missing that would allow them to do their job (a simple "send a screenshot to support" button in our app saved our support reps HOURS spending time trying to get customers to describe the problem or teaching them how to take a screenshot on their device).

Not only that, but often the easiest wins are those where you make a happy customer even happier. I saw one customer one time that did this like 10 step process to get some information from the app. They would switch to one user, go to a specific page, open it in a new tab and leave it there, then logout and login to another account, go to their overview page, and then bring the 2 tabs side-by-side to compare numbers.

We already had support for "manager" style accounts that could view info on multiple people, but it didn't have the information they were looking for. A few hours later I had a POC up on our staging system with the information they needed right there, and that person I was talking to became almost an evangelist for our software at their company. Just knowing that they had a problem in the first place was key, and the fix took me a few hours, but it saved them probably that much per week.

I can't imagine a company not mining the info from support for exactly these kind of improvements as a standard operating procedure; it's a gold mine of information, anyone ignoring it doesn't really care about the quality of their product.

One would think so. But here's the problem.

Support (even "in-house" support at global companies) is often outsourced to the lowest bidder. They are paid by support ticket and thus have zero interest in actually resolving the issue once and for all.

It's more profitable to open 20 tickets on the same issue than to actually resolve it.

Also, from the perspective of the call center you're a lousy support person if you actually want to help customers. Your most important metric is calls per time unit. It's in your interest as the support agent to get the customer off the call as quick as possible.

What role were you interviewing for? Also, did they offer you the job?

It was a software engineer role. I did get an offer but in the end I didn’t take it.

>Did not seem pleased with that suggestion.

The interviewer was likely looking for an anodyne coding suggestion, not critical thinking.

To add some background to the discussion: As a host, you are asked to check a box entitled "Surveillance or recording devices on property". If you check it, it asks you to "Describe any device that records or sends video, audio, or still images. Specify each device’s location and whether it will be on or off."

As this is a text box, it is up to the host to accurately describe things like location of device, viewable area, on/off/recording status, and if there is a microphone. There is also no structured way to specify if the recording device is posted outside (ie a driveway, facing away from the property for security) vs inside the rented space.

Finally, they link hosts to their policy here, which specifies (among other things) that cameras that record guests are fine if disclosed, provided they aren't in bedrooms or bathrooms: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/887/what-are-airbnb-s-ru...

I never understood appeal of AirBnB. We used to travel a lot and thought AirBnB would be cheaper to equivalent hotels but it usually is about same or more expensive but with less amenities.

For example:

* There is no room service. You can order delivery but room service has certain charms especially at 2AM.

* In hotels, you come back to a clean room at the day's end.

* There is cleaning fee for many AirBnB. With hotels, you just leave a tip but no need to leave the place in perfect condition to avoid cleaning fee.

* If you have any issues with your room, hotel will relocate you to new room quickly.

* Concierge services, shuttle services, pools, etc are really nice to haves even if we don't use them.

* You are with other travellers in hotel. Very easy to meet new people and share some experience or tips.

Some of my friends get AirBnB in suburbs to save money but then they are renting cars or taking Uber everywhere which probably adds up to same price. Also when traveling I don't want to feel like I am back in 'burbs.

Then, of course, we have privacy issues.

The appeal of AirBnB is that there is a much lower barrier to entry. I rarely spend more than $50-100/night on airbnb. (With the $100 being in expensive areas and usually a whole apartment)

I can rarely, if ever, find hotels that are below $80/night (short of them being extremely sketchy or in the middle of nowhere). Meanwhile those hotels don't always have kitchens, sizable refrigerators, etc.

It's allowed me to travel to places much more and for longer than I would otherwise. One could argue for hostels but private rooms in hostels usually are not any cheaper than AirBNB and they are insanely more noisy/disruptive.

Most hotel we stayed at, cost about $120-150 a night. And these were in Manhattan, SF, Austin, Vegas etc. I would def. stay in AirBnB to save $80-100 a night.

Not sure how I missed such options, perhaps we have bias towards hotels that made us ignore these.

Trying out our first AirBnB with a few friends in Austin next month. It will cost each couple $175 per night for one room in 4Bed/4Bath house . In the same general area, we could have gotten hotel for $150 but thought house would be more fun.

Yep, I recently rented a cabin for a group of 5 couples. That was a lot of fun. Having common areas (kitchen, living room) is something you don't get with hotels, and nice if you want to hang around and play board games or something. (Of course home rental has been around before AirBnB)

That makes no sense to me. Airbnb has changed travelling for these reasons:

* It is cheaper for the location

* It has a kitchen

* It feels like a home

I don't understand these kind of comments. Can you remember any of the hotel room you've been in the previous years? I can't. Can you remember any of the airbnb you've stayed at? I remember every one of them. There is a true home feeling to them.

Maybe it is different styles of different people.

A lot of my friends who stay in AirBnB list same reasons for using it. Also they say that they like to live like locals when traveling.

I can respect it but I really don't want to feel like at home on vacation. Hotels give me that feeling of adventure and travel. I have couch surfed and enjoyed it. But that was probably because I was visiting a friend in burbs without any agenda of "travel".

Kitchen is cool but then again I am on vacation, I don't want to cook.

I have never stayed in any AirBnB but always compared AirBnBs and hotels before vacation. At least, in the US, hotels and AirBnB of comparable quality and location cost about same. Even if it is any cheaper, it is not by much.

And now you asked, yes some of my favorite hotels are Eden Roc in Miami, and Marriott in Maui. Yeah they are a little bit more luxurious compared our normal hotels but highly recommended for special occasions.

I think hotels are fine, if you just like to chill out. For me, hotels never gave much excitement, adventure or novelty. I hate the blandness of all the hotels, how all the decoration and furniture and even the people seem fake. There are good hotels here and there, but usually they are either old or small. Not chains filled with families of screaming kids. After fews days, I also want to eat some home cooked meals. In any part of the world, you get tired of the local staple and just want something familiar for a change.

I'd have never been able stay in such unique places the world with hotels. From a house overlooking volcanoes of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, hillside a-frame in New Zealand, to design desert villa in Joshua Tree, a urban loft filled records in Berlin, a modern lakehouse in Finland to simple cottage near Denali, Alaska and many others.

(Disclaimer, I work at Airbnb).

I hate the blandness of all the hotels, how all the decoration and furniture and even the people seem fake

I often hear that argument and actually think it's the other way round.

Sure, some hotels offer very generic rooms. However, I stayed in memorable, extremely well designed hotel rooms. Awesome beds, which can compare to my own (rather good) bed at home. Let alone the extremely well and thought thru design of the lightning and the blinds. If you want just one example look at the Bangkok LeMeridien.

On the other hand I never experienced a rented appartment, be it via AirBnb or other purveyors, which wasn't completely generic. With the same cheap Ikea furniture of shoddy quality and decorated worse than the worst examples of "hotel art".

I think where you are coming from is the ideal where AirBnb started, but which is no more the case for years. Most offers, by a wide margin, are by professional landlords, hording dozens if not hundreds of appartments managed by some faceless management company.

Wow. You must not airbnb a lot. I've stayed in such cute places along the years.

The only hotel I remember is the Marina Bay in Singapore. All others were just generic experience to me.

You should try to airbnb more :)

I really can't relate to that :)

The only hotel I've actually enjoyed staying at was the Marina Bay in Singapore. Other than that hotel rooms always feel meh. Very generic experience.

If you're comparing cost, you probably go for expensive airbnb experiences. I have never encountered a place where airbnbs were not cheaper than hotels (and I've airbnb'ed everywhere in the world).

The kitchen always ends up being less useful than I imagine it will be because it's so unpredictable what basic ingredients will be there. Many are pretty bare-bones, and by the time I buy cooking spray or oil, salt & pepper, basic condiments, etc. I have spent more than I would have by going out to eat. They're great for longer stays, but for a long weekend trip I almost never do anything more complicated than breakfast cereal or a freezer pizza.

We usually stay in one place for 1+ week, and we usually eat out for lunch but eat breakfast and cook and eat dinner at home, except a few nights out. So the kitchen is essential for us!

The solution is to carry the basic spices with you in small containers. I even pack pre-measured spiceblends for meals that require common ingredients which can be brought in every part of the world. I also bring my own coffee and Aeropress.

The oil or butter is annoying, so you might need to buy it if you're unlucky and the place has no olive oil.

Depending how much of a budget you're on. I used them a lot when I was a student, much less so now.

I mean, if you're into room service, then AirBnb is obviously not for you...

I don't get it either. I get even LESS the idea of renting out your home.

I hesitate to let close friends stay at my place when I am out of town. I can't IMAGINE letting strangers stay.

You hesitate at close friends staying at your place? They probably are not that close of friends. I'd toss the keys to plenty of relatively close friends with a "hey make sure the cat doesn't sneak out, he's a bastard like that. Have a good weekend, feel free to raid the fridge"

We probably just have different views of personal space. I don't like people in my private spaces; it is hard enough when I am there, and even worse when I am not.

It isn't about closeness to the person; I wouldn't be super comfortable with my best friend, my family, doesn't matter.

Investment properties.

After a host made a suspicious/creepy comment about our stay, I started logging into host routers (creds usually printed on the device) and look at what other devices are connected. The camera may not be on that network, or not networked at all, but it’s a little peace of mind.

There is an app called Fing on iPhones and maybe Android. It will scan the WiFi you are on and give you a bunch of information. There’s also a few more network functions you can do. It recognizes phones, my plex server, and a brother printer at my house to name a few.

No router login required just the WiFi password.

> There is an app called Fing on iPhones and maybe Android.

This seemed like a really useful tool; I looked it up on the app store and - uh oh - it's free. Screenshots don't seem to show any ads and there's no IAP, so how do they make their money? Taking a look at their privacy policy[1], they collect:

> Information on MAC addresses and Wi-Fi networks you collect through the App or the Box. Please note that this Privacy Policy does not exempt you from any obligations you may incur should you collect other individuals’ personal data.

So basically, Fing will help you find devices on your network, and then store what it finds forever for other uses. And if you accidentally reveal some PII to Fing while scanning someone's network that's your problem.

This is the state of "apps". Collect everything, store everything, disavow any responsibility for anything. One of the first phone apps I used was a G-meter that just read the accelerometer and showed you a graph of your acceleration. It was a neat little toy. Today that app would send all accelerometer data back to some server farm in case there's anything that can be mined from that data.

[1] https://www.fing.io/fing-privacy-policy/

So, download it while in the AirBnB. If it shares data permanently about the AirBnB location, fine. Delete the app immediately after using it. At your next AirBnB stay, do it all over again.

I don't actually use AirBnB very often. But I do end up doing network maintenance for friends, family and at the startup I work at. Fing seems like it would be useful for that purpose - but not with this kind of privacy policy.

Also, just like it's not ok for hosts to put cameras in the properties they're renting out, I don't think it would be ok for me, as a guest, to knowingly upload data that I would consider sensitive to a third party. Treat others how you would want to be treated, right?

As a host, I'd get a router with a separate guest network anyway. Fing wouldn't find anything.

And using Fing (works better on Android b/c on iOS it can't access raw MAC addresses) is perfectly legal. The fact that a default password is used or the password is posted on the router is not in any way legal permission to access it as a short-term guest. Look at Aaron Swartz's case if you don't know how readily prosecutors will (ab)use the CFAA.

Honestly who cares if it is illegal? What are they going to do? Literally nothing would ever happen. Using default creds on a home router really isn't going to get a prosecutors interest. They would probably laugh at you after you filed a complaint.

Someone who didn't know to change their default Linksys password is probably not going to report the crime.

arp-scan(1) can also do this without harvesting your data.

At the risk of sounding condescending, what you did was a crime and potentially makes you liable under the CFAA. Probably, no one in law enforcement would care, but I would not advise doing this in the future.

Ok, people suck. Not much we can do about that. For all you know, the host is archiving footage and could use it for whatever nefarious purposes later on.

What really isn't okay here is Airbnb's response. Indoor cameras should be explicitly against their policies and finding one in an apartment should immediately terminate all the listings by that host.

This is where some regulation actually makes sense, and it might not be a bad idea for Airbnbs to be treated as hotels -- especially all the properties that are exclusively used for this purpose. There's tons of those in bigger cities and they're pretty obvious since the "host" will have dozens of apartments available.

I will never use Airbnb again until they implement this policy, and I encourage everyone here to vocalize the same.

They'd end up having to remove like most of the listings in Orlando then. It's pretty difficult to find a nice house that doesn't have cameras. I've opted to just stay in apartment hotel suites instead - ends up being way cheaper anyways.

A house that doesn't have cameras INSIDE to monitor what the guests are doing?!

Sadly very common. Esp in areas where the lister is worried about parties.

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