Airbnb user says roommate in Paris was a nightmare

Q:I am writing to inform you of something that I consider to be a misleading listing on Airbnb. It was my first time using Airbnb. Several of my friends had recommended it, so I decided to give it a try when I was looking for an apartment to rent in Paris.

I found an ad for a three-room apartment in the 16th arrondissement. He looked very good. Had the type of coffee maker I like and what looked like a comfortable room, updated bathroom and a nice view. There was also a small balcony with a table and two chairs.

When I finally saw the apartment after meeting the host at a nearby cafe, I was appalled at the state of things. Yes, in the pictures on the website it looks a bit cluttered with a few interesting travel items. Not too bad – adds character to the place. What I didn’t expect was that almost everything was covered in dirt and dust.

The blinds were shabby; they were twisted and non-functional. The dining room, which looked so inviting in the photos, had half-dead plants in the window. The table was unpleasant looking and covered with a piece of transparent plastic. The chair cushions were dirty.

The kitchen was awful. All the windows were dirty and old, left open, one closed with a dirty piece of string. On the counter was a grime covered dish rack that I’m sure had never been washed.

Then I went into the bedroom. What was on the ground? A grubby old black rug, not the plain Berber rug in the picture. Next to a folding bed, I saw two mismatched towels on the table. I picked them up, and it wasn’t something I would put next to my body. To do the housework? Perhaps. Rough? Absolutely – hard as boards. yuck!

I stayed overnight, showered in the morning with towels I borrowed from a friend, and packed my things. I took pictures of everything and left. I have not posted a negative comment on any website. The host offered me $30, which I declined. I have legitimate complaints and wish to be reimbursed for the costs I have incurred. Can you help ?

Sharon ShaughnessyChicago

A: Airbnb should never allow such a rental into its system. Already. I went through the photos you sent, and I can’t believe you spent a night there. Airbnb publishes a set of hospitality standards (, and even has an app that its guests can download.

The only way to avoid a dump is to read the reviews and description carefully. For example: if an owner responds to reviews defensively, chances are you’ll have the same issue. Words like ‘quaint’ or ‘charming’ or ‘vintage’ can be code for ‘obsolete’ or ‘obsolete’ or ‘aging’.

I can see how you tried to handle this quietly. You ignored the negative review online and tried to contact the host, then Airbnb, in writing. This is exactly how it should be done. Unfortunately, Airbnb deferred to the host, who offered you a small refund, but then responded to your demands for larger compensation in an almost unfriendly manner. So much for hospitality.

You could have hired someone more senior at Airbnb. I publish the names on my site at — but I think you have suffered enough. I contacted Airbnb on your behalf and they refunded you $682, ​​which is your entire stay, which is more than generous. The only night you spent in the apartment from hell is paid for by the house.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. Find travel tips at Email: [email protected] Twitter: @elliottdotorg

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