About a month and a half ago I went on my amazing Nashville adventure with my friends. Ultimately, it was a great trip that began with a ridiculously rocky start, because our Airbnb host seemed to feed off of the panic and anxious sweats of sad, poor college students. Simply put, she almost scammed us out of a place to stay. I promised you all the tale and here it is along with some major warning signs to look out for that will let you know that your Airbnb host might be a part-time con artist. Learn from our mistakes!
Warning 1: They Won’t Answer Your Calls
I’ve never done Airbnb before, but my friends have, which is why they were trying to contact our host – let’s call her Angela – the night before we left for our trip to tell her when we were planning to come in. Angela did not pick up the phone. They called a few times, left some voicemails, and essentially wasted their time because Angela had no interest in hearing it.
Despite this, we still headed up to Nashville the next day, because we were willing to believe that this wasn’t a bad sign. Maybe she suffered from severe insomnia like my roommate and took medication that made her sleep 12 hours a day and that’s why she didn’t answer the phone? Maybe she subscribes to those lifestyle gurus that tell you that you shouldn’t look at your phone 8 hours before your bedtime? Maybe she was abducted by aliens? I don’t know her life story!
Halfway into the drive though, we started to get worried. My friend told me that she had seen a review for Angela that said that some people had drove in from, Denver or some other far away place, and when they were only 45 minutes away, she called them to say that their reservation was being cancelled. This also should have been a warning sign, but we’re fools, so we kept driving.
We decided to reach out to Angela again when we were at the halfway spot. I called her and she actually picked up! I was excited! Angela wasn’t a scammer! But then I was met with complete silence from the other end…
*Kill Bill Sirens Play In Warning*
*I Do Not Listen*
“Angela?” I said. She replied, “Yes.” I said, “Hi. I’m one of your Airbnb guests for this weekend. We just wanted to let you know that we’ll be coming in at around 4 today.” She replied, “Yes.” So I said, “Alright. Is that all? Are we good.” She replied, “Yes.” Then I hung up the phone and received a text message from “email@example.com” thanking me for using their service.
*Ears: Turned Off*
Warning 2: They Don’t Tell You How to Get into the Airbnb
Again, I have never used Airbnb before, so I had no clue that your host should tell you how to get into the place you’re staying at. It makes a lot of logical sense to me now, but I didn’t even think to ask Angela how to enter the gated apartment complex we were going to and she “didn’t think” to tell me.
So we found the address on GoogleMaps, drove to it, and realized that we had no clue how to get in. We ended up following an actual resident through the gate and then got stuck looking for the building her apartment was in. The buildings’ letters seemed to be set up in some type of incomprehensible maze and I’ve done enough corn mazes in my lifetime (3, to be exact) to know that I have no skill for them.
We zigged and zagged and drove in circles, before thinking that we must have come into the wrong apartment complex and that we were actually supposed to go into the one right next to it. So we did and realize that it looked nothing like the online pictures, which meant complex #1 was our best bet. We went in again, drove in some more circles that surely made the residents suspicious, and finally found the cursed building.
We went into the building, walked up to the room, and knocked on the door, because we had no clue how else to get in. And then we heard the sound of screaming children…
Warning 3: There’s a Family Living in Your Airbnb
30 seconds later a woman answered the door. This woman was not Angela. She was the person who lived in that apartment and was trying to have dinner with her family. She looked very confused that we were at her door, so we said, “Oh, sorry! Wrong apartment!” instead of, “Oh, hey! We’re here to stay at your home! Hope you have another four plates of spaghetti ready to go!”
We headed back outside and sat in the car where I got hit with the nervous sweats, because there was a whole entire family living in our Airbnb. One of my friends immediately called Angela, who … you guessed it! Did not pick up the phone! We called multiple times and received no answer.
Warning 4: Your Listing Magically Disappears
Our next brilliant move was thinking that we got the address wrong. We would have checked to see if other people who stayed there before had any advice in their reviews, but the listing had gone off to Narnia and was inaccessible. So we sat in the car and called someone from customer service who promised to get back to us in 15 minutes, which was code for “never.”
We dialed customer service again. It was getting dark outside and the security guard for the complex kept driving past us, making us very nervous. 4 black women sitting in a parked vehicle outside of an apartment for 2 hours? Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
We decide to leave and deal with our customer service struggles elsewhere, where we could enjoy some soft comforts like food and trivia. And boy did we need them since our new customer service rep told us that there wasn’t much they could do for us, because our friend who booked the trip was sick and did not show up, making this a “third party booking,” which violates their terms and agreements! Yikes!
The most he said he could do for us was reach out to Angela and see if she contacted us within the hour. “If she doesn’t get in touch with you, then we can expedite your booking into another room,” he said. But that would cost us whatever the price of the Airbnb was, plus it would only get us in for a night. Double Yikes! Also, we would not get a refund. Triple Yikes!
So we went to The Flipside, where we had some really unseasoned chicken and did not get to play trivia, since we needed constant access to our phones to sort out our homeless-in-the-city situation. Then, with 15 minutes left in her hour, Angela messaged our friend who booked the trip.
Warning 5: They Wait Until the Last Minute to Tell You Everything
“Sorry. My phone was broken,” Angela sent. This didn’t answer any of our questions about the booking, but it was enough to satisfy the customer service people. Angela was real and alive, which was all they needed to know. Everything else was up to us.
It turns out Angela broke her iPhone and it had been in the Apple store all day and that’s why she couldn’t contact us. Now, if you have any common sense, then you can recognize that this makes no sense. If her phone was broken, why didn’t she reach out through the Airbnb website? How was she able to answer my call? Why was her call so suspicious? If she was using a third party website to do her phone calls, why couldn’t she contact us through another device? Why was the listing missing? I have so many questions!
Angela didn’t answer any of those questions, but she did begin to clear a baby lung’s amount of the air. Apparently, she got the apartment number wrong on her listing and had “no clue.” We were actually supposed to be staying in a spot across the hall. She didn’t apologize after telling us this, but she did hang up the phone.
We paid for our food, apologized to the waiter for being such Debbie Downers, and got ready to head out on the road again when we realized that Angela was still slacking in the information portion! She still didn’t tell us how to get into the place! My friend tried texting her, but Scammy McScamerson wouldn’t answer, so then we called.
This time, I talked to her on the phone and she told me that apparently the door was unlocked and the key card for the gate and the room key were all on the desk inside the room. It was so simple! If only she’d had the sense to share this information earlier.
We finally got to the apartment, exhausted. I wanted to sit back, relax, and watch a little Netflix, but none of us knew the Wifi password. It wasn’t on the whiteboard on the fridge, like everything else we needed to know. We checked to see if it was on the back of the router, but we couldn’t find that either so we called Angela again.
“Hi, Angela,” my friend said when she got her on the phone. “We just want to know what the WiFi password is.” “There is no WiFi password,” Angela said. “What?” said my friend. “There’s no WiFi. There used to be but I don’t pay for that anymore. I forgot to take it off of the listing.”
I don’t remember what I did when I found out this information, but I can assume I was full of fiery rage. First, Angela doesn’t know the address to her own Airbnb. Then she fails to tell us how to get into her Airbnb. And then her Airbnb doesn’t even have all the amenities she promised on her listing! I’m getting so angry even recounting this tale, that I could probably flip a table!
Thankfully, life went on. I put my phone plan’s unlimited data to work and we all got on with the trip and had a pretty good time. That being said, a scorching pit of fury still burns in my heart for Angela. Learn from my mistakes friends! Your scam artist of Airbnb host usually leaves some signs that they’re a scammer and you shouldn’t ignore them. Also, remember, just because one thing in your trip goes wrong, doesn’t mean that everything else won’t turn out alright!
What’s your most tragic travel experience?
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Thanks for reading!
Until next time, have an awesome rest of your day and an amazing rest of your week!