I have written about staying with Airbnb before. I have stayed with them both on a blogger review exchange as well as paying full price for several stays. It’s a company that I have grown to love in the last year and always consider it an option when I travel. When my friend Tiffany and I decided to visit Savannah for a few days to experience the southern dining and some ghost tours for the Two Mother Forkers blog we have in the works, my first thought was to use Airbnb. For practically the same cost of a hotel, we could stay in an old historic home. And since I had gone to Savannah over the summer with my daughter Gabi to look at SCAD, the local Art College, I knew the area well enough to know that staying in a home would be safe and accessible to everything we wanted to do by foot.
So being a blogger and having worked with Airbnb and owners of the places we’ve rented before, I asked the homeowner of this rental if she would be interested in having me do a review post in exchange for a stay. Here is the message I sent and her response.
Now notice, I paid $390 before even requesting anything. I wasn’t looking for a free stay, I was going anyway. But if she was willing to work with me, then I would be happy to do a review of her home on the blogs. She couldn’t do that for she wanted the cash flow, I get that, and end of story.
Real Savannah Guest Cottage Review
Tiffany and I hit the road to Savannah and arrived at the cottage just after 4. Ann was there to meet us (she lives just a few doors down) and showed us around the home. It was built in 1860 and being in the historic city and getting that feel from the home made us quickly love the place. I think the backyard made the it really special. Fall in Savannah gives you that “open window” weather, and we took advantage of that as well as sitting outside in that area.
Loving this! Makes work a dream for the next few days. #twomotherforkers #roadtrip #Savannah A photo posted by Tara (@trippinwithtara) on
As you can see, we really loved the place. The first morning after we woke up at the house, Tiffany said she had bites on her and that maybe we should not have the windows open thinking the mosquitoes are bad. We went about our day and we were out until after midnight and once we got back, we showered and went to bed. When we woke up in the morning, she was covered in bites. And they were welted. I had some too. But they were little red dots, which looked like flea bites, so I pulled back the sheets, and sure enough, there were little black dots hopping on the bed. Tiffany is highly allergic to fleas, that is why she was welting up so bad.
Obviously we were upset about the situation, so after packing up to leave, I called the owner and she wasn’t surprised when I told her. She mentioned that there has been a flea problem with all the rain, but that was pretty much it. I didn’t ask for anything. I was surprised that nothing was offered, I mean the place had fleas? That is pretty bad. But I figured, I would leave an honest review about the place on Airbnb and not bother promoting the place on my blog – even though I didn’t receive any compensation to do that, I still planned on writing one anyway because we just liked the place. After we checked out, we headed to town for some last minute shopping. When we got back to our car parked out front of the house we figured we’d ask if we could run back in real quick to use the bathroom before hitting the road. I called Ann to ask, and she said that she already set off a flea bomb so we couldn’t go back inside. To that, I said no worries, we’d stop on the road. She then offered to let us into her other cabin, behind the house in which we stayed, and we took her up on it. We did our business and headed out. She apologized for the fleas as we were leaving, and I mentioned to her that the place was great and we really enjoyed our stay, and hopefully we can come back and I could even write about it on the blog. I even mentioned the other places I have stayed with Airbnb. The conversation was quick and no big deal.
So, you’d think that was it, right? Well, not quite. I received a notification yesterday that owner Ann, left a review about me on Airbnb. To read it, I had to leave a review. I had just gotten home, and we all know that I travel a ton, so I figured I would get to it this weekend. Really not thinking much about it. Then this morning I woke up to this letter from Airbnb.
Say what? I immediately responded to Airbnb asking what this was about since I hadn’t left a review. Leonie, the person that wrote this letter quickly called me. She said that the owner is saying that I requested a free stay to give her a good review and that there was a flea problem that she is taking care of but was worried I would leave a bad review since she didn’t give me a free stay. What? As I write this my mouth still is open in shock. That is simply crazy. I had no intention on saying anything bad about her home. We actually liked it a lot. She didn’t handle the problem the same as I would have with the fleas. But I asked for nothing. I didn’t threaten her. So this was completely uncalled for. Leonie said that what I have done is extortion and that is not allowed in Airbnb, and if I get another complaint my account will be terminated. Um, again, what? I explained to Leonie all I explained above, about working with Airbnb, staying in several places with them and homeowners, and I have never been accused of something so horrible in my life. I mean extortion? Really? Leonie mentioned the concern that Ann had about the fleas, and I told her that she quickly rectified that problem when we left by flea bombing the place. So I had no intention on announcing to the world her place had fleas. I just wouldn’t say anything at all.
Since staying in Ann’s house I have had 2 friends inquire to me for the link to book it. This is why working with online influencers and/or bloggers like myself is a branch of marketing. It’s a job. We get paid, or we are given products and/or opportunities in exchange to share our opinions. We have a following and it’s valuable. When you do what we do, we have a responsibility to both our readers and the product/event/experience we are writing about. I rarely ever air dirty laundry. I made a choice to keep my blog positive. If I don’t like something, it’s factual, but I don’t often share my bad experience. When I love something, you know it by the great experience I share. I loved this house, even with the burnt bushel of sage in the drawer and Ouija board in the closet – no, not joking – we said, eh…it’s Savannah, but….
So, owner Ann, I am sorry you felt the need to block me from giving you a review on the Airbnb site. Thank you Airbnb rep Leonie for telling me writing this blog post isn’t an issue for Airbnb. So friends that asked about this awesome place we stayed, yes, it is a great house, but there are plenty others on Airbnb. I still love what they do, but for obvious reasons, I would feel horrible if one of my friends stayed in this house based on my photos and posts. There could be a chance you could pay your hard earned money and may have a stay that is infested with fleas, or any other happening that makes your stay less than what you paid for without any compensation, offer to come back, or “let me make it right”. Nothing. Well, for me, it’s an accusation of extortion.
So that gorgeous house we stayed in in Savannah had fleas. The owner freaked out a little, worried about me writing a…
Posted by Tara Salinas Griffin on Saturday, October 17, 2015
*So the disclosure on this post is clear – I PAID almost $400 to stay in Ann’s home in Savannah through Airbnb. I didn’t ask for anything due to the flea infestation. I was contacted by Airbnb via email after Ann contacted them claiming extortion and was told I will not be able to leave a review on the Airbnb site for this property. The rep Leonie from Airbnb said writing this post was fine and apologized to me for the harshness of the email sent to me on this.
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What the actual…I mean? Extortion? This is absurd! You clearly stayed and liked the place! I saw social posts from you all weekend! The place looked great. But fleas! Dang. Rain or no rain that is 100% unacceptable and needs to be disclosed or at a minimum compensated for when clearly there was an issue with the property. I’m so sorry you had this experience!
It’s the most ridiculous claim I have ever received. I mean, we are bloggers…we do what we do, and never have I used my online influence to strong arm anything for myself. BUT, after this, how can I not share my experience.
You have so much integrity. You would never do as they are claiming. Sad. I’m glad you shared your experience. I’d be sad and upset if this happened to my family while I was traveling!
THAT is horrible! Extortion? Really? Paranoid much? WOW! It looks like she was the one trying to extort a good review for a sub-par product. I am so sorry you had this experience, Tara. I have always enjoyed your honest reviews.
Thanks Rachel. I am disappointed how it turned out, especially after really loving the house. What she did made no sense. And for that, something needed to be said.
It’s unfortunate that Airbnb was so proactive with one side of the story. It’s unfortunate that they did not give you an opportunity to write your review before even blocking you from doing so. It sounds like Ann was paranoid knowing she screwed up by not doing something prior to your arrival to rid the place of fleas. I’m sorry you had to experience such an awful mess at an otherwise beautiful place.
Airbnb was one-sided for sure, however, once I spoke to them, they noted the record to my side of the story. They realized that I have worked with them and how this owner behaved was uncalled for, so that made me feel better.
Wow, that is ridiculous, and it seems like it was not handled well by Airbnb. They jumped to conclusions and accused you of doing something without even looking into it. I would be annoyed if I stayed in a place with fleas, and then furious at being accused of extortion!
I am disappointed in the way that Airbnb handled it, but they did hear me out and I felt they agreed that this was not a case of extortion, but a homeowner worried about a bad review. At least I have a voice to share my story here without being wrongfully accused of something in order to prevent a review on the Airbnb site.
I haven’t had the opportunity to utilize Airbnb. but your situation makes me realize their priorities are with the property owners and not with the clients. Regardless of who you are or what your job is, YOU should have been their priority. At a minimum they should have allowed you to write a reply about actual happenings.
I am glad I could at least express what happened to me on here. But yes, the way it was handled by all was not what I would consider good customer service.
Wow, from having worked with you several times and from your work online, this claim is ridiculous. It appears Ann is concerned with losing her cash flow even knowing her property has fleas. An honest and REAL review would ruin it for her. It is a shame how Airbnb handled this. Since they believe in honesty and transparency, they should let you write an honest review. Shame! She can’t keep it up for long, eventually the jig will be up unless she rectifies the problem. I would be weary booking with her at since she was okay taking your money and knowing she had a flea problem. Keep doing you, you have tons of people who know your integrity!
Thanks Nancy! I appreciate your kind words! xo
WOW! I just can’t imagine. Poor costumer service on all parts. What a shame. These are sites that consumers should feel comfortable booking on and reading reviews.
Yes Candice, the whole situation is unfortunate. I feel that nothing more needs to be said about the homeowner, but even with the way Airbnb handled the whole thing. It’s a shame that it ended up that way.
I’m using Air B&B for the first time this weekend, and I hope that it is not like this! I can’t even imagine what I do with this situation!
I have used them several times and never had any issues. It all derived from the homeowner, which in the end made it and issue with Airbnb as well. They have proven that work for the homeowners and them alone, and that is fine, it makes them not liable for issues like the one I experienced. I hope you have had a great experience this weekend.
You are a pompous #$&@ and I don’t even know you.
I am sorry you read this and came to that conclusion Liz. However, thank you for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate comments from everyone. I don’t delete comments off my blog to look better like this homeowner did.
I hope you have a wonderful remainder of the weekend,
Early this year, a Travel Blogger friend of mine got into a problem by contacting property owners in Finland via AirBnB messages, the lesson learned was that it’s very important to make it explicitly clear in the message that the barter for the free/discounted stay is only for the promotion of the property on the Blog/Social Media and not for the AirBnB review itself.
Wow! What a story. I can’t believe the did that to you. Yikes! I WOULD have asked for a refund after the fleas. You are certainly taking the high road. Good for you! I’ve only complained about one Airbnb property and luckily the owner did not come after me about it.
of course like your web-site but you have to test the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very troublesome to tell the reality however I will certainly come again again.