What to do, or maybe not, when major amenities aren't working

I’m a host. My sister and I arranged an AirBnB stay in a cabin in North Carolina as guests for a week. We combed the listing’s amenities carefully, and found both air conditioning and wifi in the list–essentials for us. Reviews were in the 4.6 range.

When we got there the host told us the wifi is “terrible,” but we soon discovered it would not work no matter what we did–the signal, when present at all, is just way too weak.

The a/c turned out to be a couple devices with fans that you pour water into, so that the air blows over water, which did little or nothing beyond what fans alone would do. (Devices would not accept ice cubes.)

The first few nights were cool enough so all was well–we used our weak phone cellular signals for email–and then we hit a 100 degree day and a sultry night when we didn’t get much sleep.

The next day, after a long nap in cooler daylight hours, I wrote to the host, politely and respectfully, pointing these things out, and adding that her listings amenities list needed to be accurate. I also noted several specific and kinda gross lapses in housekeeping.

The host wrote back a message that AirBnB Support later characterized as “rude.”

Surprised by this message, I called AirBnB Support. By this time I was starting to think that we were entitled to some partial (small) refund, or at the very least, the host had to stop telling lies in her listing. Support suggested I write again to the host and that they would be talking to the host as soon as possible.

I wrote back to the host and said I’d contacted ABB Support seeking a partial refund. And I restated my experiences as Support suggested I do.Polite, professional message.

Host wrote back fast and told us, rudely, to vacate immediately. I refused to do so as for one thing, we had no where convenient to go. Host soon relented and said we could stay until the day and time we had previously planned to leave.

The current status is: Host has refused any refund, according to Support. ABB is reviewing our case to see if we are entitled to any refund from AirCover.

ABB Support was super nice and apologized over and over again for the host’s behavior. I sent photo evidence.

My thoughts:

  • If an important amenity is not present, and you decide to complain to the host, you run the risk of the host retaliating by canceling your reservation.

  • If an important amenity is not present, consider canceling the reservation on your check in day. In our case this would have been really difficult but no impossible. Get your money back and get out.

  • Hosts can definitely get away with listing major amenities that do not exist on the property. I’m feeling I should verify things more thoroughly.

  • Rude, nasty messages from a host can really be a buzz kill on your trip. For the host it’s just a job, not a vacation. Ask yourself if it’s worth it.

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I just had an important amenity malfunction (the fridge) in my Airbnb. The guest contacted me and I reimbursed her for the spoiled food plus for one night stay. Your host should have at least reimbursed you for the day it hit 100 degrees because she really doesn’t have an a/c as listed. She also doesn’t have wifi either. I would reach out to customer service again and also write a review in which you warn other guests that there is no a/c or wifi.


I don’t see what the point would be in messaging the host in a situation like this. I would either cancel and leave when finding the amenities promised to be non-existent, or accept the situation and address it in the review and ratings.

Messaging the host during the stay if you don’t want to leave, when they have clearly misrepresented the listing amenities, is pointless, because they are not issues she can fix. She isn’t going to install AC for you, and she either has no options for decent Wifi, or chooses to cheap out on a poor server. So I’m not sure what outcome you were expecting, other than a discount, and a host who doesn’t offer one on their own initiative, knowing guests are rightly unhappy with the inaccuracies, is not likely to agree to a discount request.


This is an excellent observation. I sent the first message after reading ABB help pages on this subject, and my take was that messaging the host is always the first step.

BTW the ABB Support rep’s first question was, did you send a message to the host.

But you’re right. We really did not want to up and leave for a variety of reasons.

I felt betrayed by the host. This wasn’t a refrigerator that suddenly stopped working; this was deliberate padding of the listing’s amenities to get more guests, hoping most guests wouldn’t care about the missing amenities, or would stay quiet.

But I definitely agree with you. I don’t think we handled this as well as we could have.

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I genuinely hate you had a bad experience & the host behaved like a jack-ass.

Just for clarity—depending upon your altitude in the mountains many places don’t have any type of air conditioning. Temperatures in the 90’s are an almost never event especially in June. In June we had crazy hot weather.

I’m not excusing the lack of cleanliness or the host’s rude behavior. temperatures that high were extraordinary meaning not expected and you could probably file a claim under the extenuating circumstances policy for a weather related /can’t stay at the rental refund

Temperature example.
Beech Mtn high today 74
I’m 2 1/2 hours east in the piedmont. High today 93.

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The first step is always to contact the host and give the host the opportunity of fixing the issue, whenever possible. Unfortunately your host did not try to correct the issue by installing an a/c nor did she offer you reimbursemet for that 100 degree night. If she really cared about her guests she would have gone to Lowes and could have purchased a small a/c unit for the bedroom so her guests could sleep comfortably.


I didn’t mean to insinuate that you handled it poorly, just that there really wasn’t any positive outcome that was likely possible.

For sure guests should message hosts about something that isn’t functioning properly and give them an opportunity to address the issue, but the issues here were not anything that would be resolvable. She knows the Wifi is awful, she told you so. I don’t think it’s a bad idea to document, by sending the host a message, that the Wifi isn’t just poor, as she mentioned to you on arrival, but that you are getting no signal at all.

The point of doing that would be for Airbnb to be able to see that a problem existed which you informed the host of, and which the host had no response to other than to tell you to leave.

A host advertising things they don’t provide, whether they have done that with intent to deceive, or because they are inattentive to their amenities list, seems like an issue to address with Airbnb, as the only opportunity a host has to make a guest more content in such a situation is to offer a discount, which she passed up the opportunity to do.
She could have said, on your arrival, “I’m so sorry, but the Wifi has been just awful recently- I hope you aren’t dependent on it, if so, I will give you a full refund if you choose not to stay. Otherwise, I can offer you a 25% discount for the inconvenience if you want to stay in spite of that”.


There is a place next to the air conditioner amenity to designate what type of AC it is, for instance, we have window AC units. It sounds like what this host had was “Portable AC”. And it is an option under the AC amenity, so unfortunately Airbnb considers it a legitimate type of AC. If you want her to more clearly represent her listing, this is worth pointing out. And also worth being aware of when you speak to Airbnb.

Or worse. I had a very poor experience last November. One of the many issues was that the host lived next door and kept showing up inside the house we rented, without being invited or even knocking (and with no covid precautions). So I didn’t contact him about the many issues because I didn’t want him showing more than he already was or becoming more aggressive than he’d already been.

It’s usually not worth it, in my estimation. If you can’t find something, or there’s a minor issue that the host is likely unaware of or if something quits working unexpectedly (like the fridge) then it absolutely makes sense to reach out to the host. But if the host has lied (or been overly vague) about the amenities, if they don’t show respect for your privacy or if the listing is very dirty when you check-in then it is not worth it.

If it’s impractical for you to find somewhere else to go then it’s better to carry on and then call Airbnb when your trip is completed. Or, ideally, after the 14-day review period is over :wink:

For reference, I waited until the 15th day to call Airbnb and report the host. My only goal was for them to have a strict talking with him, so to speak, because he was a fairly new host. I did not even mention the word “refund”. But I did speak with a case manager who was very empathetic and supportive. I felt better. And about a week later, I received notice of a 60% refund that had not even been mentioned.

You’ll get a partial refund. I don’t think you need to worry about not getting something refunded. I’m more worried about the bad review the host is going to leave you (cause that works both ways). Next time wait out the 14 days as you would as a host.

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Ah, but as a guest you can’t if you want some kind of refund. You only have 72 hours to complain–unless I misread or misunderstood ABB policy.

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No, this was not portable a/c. This was a “cooler,” also called a swamp cooler.

Portable a/c units are made by companies like DeLonghi Pinguino and they cost hundreds of dollars, and require more power than the cabin had. They work on the same technology as a window air conditioner, but can be moved on wheels. They vent to the outside through a window.

In a previous life I worked for Consumers Power Company. Everyone in the industry understands a/c to involve a refrigerant of some kind. A fan blowing over room temperature water is not a/c.

I suppose it’s possible the host is ignorant of what air conditioning is but that seems hard to believe, given their sophistication otherwise.


Yikes! ! ! I would have had to leave!

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Yes, that is part of the policy. Airbnb says, “Remember that you have 72 hours to report any issue to us from the time of discovery.”

But it is not what is reported in practice by hosts or guests. Besides, the same policy also says, “Where a guest demonstrates that timely reporting of a Travel Issue was not feasible, we may allow for late reporting of the Travel Issue under this Policy.”

And we all know that Airbnb does whatever they want.

Maybe not if you arrived at 9 pm from a ferry ride, with a large dog, and had cousins on the way from several states away in the slow season when most restaurants, shops and vacation rentals are shut down. There was nowhere to go.

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I get to respond to a bad review. My plan is to quote the shocking paragraph where she tells us to leave, and explain that my reporting her inaccurate listing to ABB precipitated the review.

The other thing I did–on our way out I took photographs of how neat and tidy we left the place, with emphasis on showing the bed linens and such were fine when we left.

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I wouldn’t do that. Airbnb might remove the review if it quotes private messaging between host and guest. But you can certainly say in the review that her response to you pointing out that the amenities she listed did not in fact exist was to tell you to leave.

While I have never used a swamp cooler, one thing I’m well aware of is that they can actually cool a place quite well if you live in a dry area. They don’t work for s**t where the climate is humid. So may be perfectly adequate for Denver or Phoenix, but not for July in North Carolina or where I live, near Puerto Vallarta.

It was smart of you to photo document the clean and tidy state you left things in, lest she try to pull some lies about you being bad guests in retaliation.


Of course (but do tread carefully). If you really want a refund then it’s the safest bet to report to Airbnb right away. I was only entertaining the question you asked, “ask yourself if it’s worth it”. For me it was different anyway, because I didn’t want a refund.

Good advice. I am not too worried about a bad review of me because there’s always VRBO and hotels, and the corporate owned ABBs don’t seem to care.

It just saddens me that culturally we’ve come to a place where everybody just lies a lot.

BTW ABB Support asked me to photograph something showing that the WiFi didn’t work/exist, but we couldn’t figure out what to photograph! They suggested I photograph the modem/router/gateway but I looked around and couldn’t find anything that looked like it was that.

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There are many apps for your smart phone that will give you a readout of wifi strength etc - in fact, airbnb has one especially for us hosts so that the wifi speed etc can be verified; in the future, having an app like this can be very useful.

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Doesn’t ABB automatically own the copyright to all of our writing on their platform? I’ve always assumed they monitor those communications with bots or something…

Maybe she doesn’t actually have any Wifi at all and just lied about it. Or the modem is at her house, and the signal doesn’t reach to the guest house, and she’s too cheap to put in a booster device.

Yes, it’s dismaying to see how lying has become something that a lot of people seem to find acceptable. Also that they will lie in order to scam refunds. Yet they don’t see that scamming a refund after you have stayed and availed yourself of the place and the amenities is actually theft, no different than if the guest had stolen the money out of the host’s wallet.

What I meant was that Airbnb doesn’t approve of making private messages on the Airbnb platform public. I know the moderators on the Airbnb Community forum delete sections of posts that are screenshot, either of messages from CS, or from guests. It seems to be part of Airbnb’s overarching “privacy violation” attitude. So I can totally see them agreeing to delete a review at a host or guest’s request if they see that a message was quoted in the review.

Did their message start out “Home is where the heart is”?

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