Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the WorldLeipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

I’m on a 2 week trip of Germany with my mother as I write this.

She had a premonition that this stay wouldn’t go well. She had booked Jochen’s apartment back in May but just last week (the last week in September) he had written her to cancel, saying he had “overbooked” his Airbnb apartment. He had offered to substitute the booking with a hotel reservation. She had gotten upset, telling him that she had specifically booked his 2 bedroom apartment because she was travelling with her son. He had relented, but hadn’t sounded happy about it.

That brought us to just a few days ago. I wrote Jochen a day before we were supposed to arrive at his apartment. Here’s how that went.

part 1. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

Not the friendliest guy. But no cause for concern yet.

***

 

The next day I write him while we’re on the train, letting him know that we are on schedule and would arrive by 2 pm.

Part 2. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

The apartment is close to the train station and we have no problems finding the building. We don’t have an apartment number but figure that Jochen must be inside waiting for us. I text him.

Part 3a. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

We wait. And we wait. We’re outside the building. It’s a cold miserable day. We wait some more. We had been waiting 30 minutes when I decided to write him again.

Part 3b. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

WTF?? I had told him twice exactly when we would arrive. To have to wait 30 minutes was unprofessional (and something I would never expect from a German). I have a long fuse but when I get angry I get really angry. And I was starting to feel that buzz between my ears…

 

5 minutes later a young man with a ponytail comes up to us and introduces himself. He’s not Jochen, he’s Jochen’s friend. He says Jochen is in his car. He puts on a friendly act and is helping us bring the luggage up the stairs while yammering away in German (I don’t speak German but my mom does).

We get inside the apartment and he quickly shows us around. It’s actually quite a nice apartment – a bit cold (more like an aparthotel than an Airbnb apartment) but it’s well laid out.

He then brings us to the kitchen and starts waving around a booklet. I’m not sure what he’s talking about. It appears to be something about a tourist tax. My mom isn’t happy and she’s kind of ignoring him, I’m not sure exactly where the conversation was going.

Mr. Ponytail gives us the keys and leaves. I think everything is settled. We make ourselves some tea and unpack.

An hour later we go for a walk around Leipzig.

It’s about then that I get this text from Jochen.

part 4a. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

It strikes me as a threat. It also strikes me as bullshit because Jochen doesn’t have copies of our passports. And if he didn’t have copies of our passports, how could he register us as tourists to the city of Leipzig in the first place?*  I also recalled some vague Airbnb instructions about never, ever paying a host cash outside of the Airbnb system.

* whenever Lissette and I are in Croatia we have to show our passports to our hosts. Croatia is very strict about registering and following up on tourists in their territory.

I write Jochen back.

part 4b. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

He almost immediately writes back. I can tell he’s agitated. 

part 4c. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

I have to admit that the back and forth was putting me in a bad mood and ruining my day. I have no issue paying a tourist tax if required (and further reading at the room confirmed that Leipzig charges 3 Euros/day per tourist) but I was more and more convinced that Jochen didn’t register his guests. I was willing to bet he pocketed all the money.

 

So the first thing I did when I got back to the apartment was write to Airbnb Help on Twitter. I’ve always found Twitter the easiest way to get in touch (they prefer though that you write them on Airbnb using this link: https://www.airbnb.com/help/contact_us)

Here’s how that went.

Part 7. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

After giving them a few more details, they gave me a helpful reply.

part 8. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

BINGO!

A couple of hours later the Airbnb case manager wrote my mom, confirmed all the details that I had communicated through Twitter, and said that she would contact the host to tell him the Airbnb rules about such payments. That was around 10:30ish…

 

It was about 45 minutes later that it happened…

 

The electricity went out.

The apartment was pitch black.

 

We thought it would maybe last 5 minutes. 10 tops. This is Germany after all. My mom went to bed. I stayed up, the computer still had juice and it was the only light. The more I thought of it the more it bothered me.

I was a little past 11:30 when I wrote Jochen.

part 5. Leipzig and the Worst Airbnb host in the World

 

I waited but didn’t hear back. About an hour later I went off to bed. There was still no electricity. Across the street I could see lights…

 

***

 

I woke up from sleep around 4:30 am. The electricity was still not working and it was then that I was 100% sure that Jochen was the one responsible for the electricity. Different scenarios crossed my mind of what we would do the next day. But I was convinced that this was his way of evicting us.

I eventually fell back to sleep.

***

 

We were up at 9 am the next morning. No electricity. We decided to go to the cafe across the street: Coffee Fellows (very nice cafe and a great place to work and plug in your computer). We had to find something for that day (which is today as I write this). I didn’t like the few options on Airbnb so I decided to look at hotels…I also decided to look at hotels in Dresden instead of Leipzig (more on that later). I found the perfect Aparthotel, the Aparthotels Münzgasse An der Frauenkirche. It’s a 2-room hotel right next to the Fraunkirche church, one of Dresden’s major sites. And for 110 Euro a night the price was right. 

Then I wrote Airbnb.

 

writing to Airbnb

 

We went back to the apartment, packed, and walked the 5 minutes to the train station. 

At noon, we were on the train and speeding towards Dresden.

At was about 20 minutes later that I heard from Jochen. As you can see from my reply I wasn’t interested in his stories.

 

 

***

 

We’ve heard back from our case manager at Airbnb several times today. As of right now we’ll be getting back at least 1 out of the 3 nights we had booked in Leipzig. I’ll update this post when we have a final outcome. I’ve previously been critical of Airbnb but they’ve been very good on this case.

Update: It took almost 2 weeks but we ended up being refunded the equivalent of 2 out of the 3 nights in Leipzig.

 

***

 

We spent the day exploring beautiful Dresden. It’s a city I’ve seen before with Lissette and written about (10 Things to See and Do in Dresden, Germany). But my mom’s never seen it. I’ll be honest: we weren’t impressed by Leipzig and our Airbnb experience was the push we needed to leave. An afternoon in Dresden and my mom’s already blown away. Maybe our Leipzig incident was a blessing in disguise.

 

I’m exaggerating about Jochen being the worst Airbnb host in the world. There’s been worse stories in the media. But who turns off someone’s electricity when they’ve paid for the apartment? That’s pretty bad…

 

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28 Comments

  1. I know this post is from last year but I am a host in Leipzig with more than one listing and I can honestly say also with my Reviews that my guests had a stunning time and some even moved here after visiting the city. I moved here last year and there is so much to explore. Making a horrible Airbnb experience which might shadows the visit of the city you have not seen much of and makes it loom like a place to run away is not great is not really fair even if I accept your opinion. Just wanna mention that.

  2. WHAT a trying time. We’ve stayed in couple US Airbnb’s that have not been great,
    but we have no stories of that magnitude. One home was so cluttered, one had to
    do gymnatics to maneuver around. She must have had 20 little vases on her window
    sill, all holding dead flowers or plants. I guess the couple was too busy to discard
    them. Our Room – – – not cluttered like the rest of the house. Another home
    was like this one, clothes and shoes and stuff all over the floor. One never saw a glimpse
    of a floor underneath. The kitchen was a disaster.
    Neither of these places was a soothing, pillow stop.
    Fortunately, most of the time we stay in an Airbnb, we are out and about and only sleep there.

    1. Oh, that’s pretty bad as well Judy. It’s not as if you have a buddy staying over for the weekend, it’s an Airbnb and people put their stuff away. I would have been pretty upset.

  3. Hi Frank,
    After reading other readers not so great experience as well as your bad experience with Airbnb,
    I think it would be better to view a place first before booking them. Perhaps, Airbnb should have accommodation agents or guides in towns or cities to meet travelers to ensure travelers get the best deal.

  4. Wow, that’s horrible, especially about turning off the electricity. So sorry you didn’t like Leipzig. We’ve been there a few times and it’s actually one of our favorite cities in Germany.

    1. Hi Patricia. We had basically half a day there so take our opinion for what’s it’s worth in this case. It was also grey and raining so…
      But Dresden definitely beautiful so we don’t feel we missed out.
      What do you like about Leipzig?

      1. It definitely has the vibe of a city that is making a comeback. They have excellent public transportation and the main train station is itself a destination. Their history is amazing. Napoleon was defeated there and the monument commemorating that event, The Monument to the Battle of the Nations, is one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen. Even if you don’t like classical music – and I’m not really a fan – the city’s association with composers such as Bach and Mendelssohn are fascinating. It also has associations with famous writers including Faust and Schiller. Protests there in 1989 were instrumental in the downfall of communism. It’s a university town, which means young people and international students, both of which contribute to the great vibe. Lots of great shopping, restaurants, cafes and bars. Beautiful architecture, both old and new. Very affordable (for now) and has been rated the most livable city in Germany. I could easily live there. Oh, and they have fabulous Christmas markets!

  5. It must be the planets aligned against us or something Frank… We just had ours
    happen, basically within a day or two of your experience.

    Budapest (I know, one of your favorites)

    We checked in, and having a toddler, it was just about time for his nap.
    The apartment was self check-in, so easy enough so far. Until I opened
    the door.

    There was broken glass all over the floor, from the kitchen to where I
    was standing at the door. I messaged the host, who said do nothing,
    I will be there in 30 minutes.

    So I am thinking someone had broken in, or vandalized?

    Our baby was really cranky, so I messaged the host we would wait for
    him in the bedroom, and my wife could at least put him to sleep.
    As I waited for the host, my wife called to me, “COME HERE!”

    She had pulled down the covers to put the baby there, and there was
    a bug crawling around on the sheets. (not a bedbug, but still)

    As she further pulled down the blanket, she finds long strands of blond
    hair. My wife is a brunette. The apartment was not even cleaned, nor the
    sheets changed. Needless to say, I am beyond pissed at this point.

    This is when the host arrives…

    He is a nice enough guy, and is genuinely interested in cleaning the mess.
    But then I showed him the bug, he said.. oh it isn’t a flying bug. Like that
    somehow made it OK for our baby to sleep with it?

    He kept on mopping and vacuuming, and I finally told him.. We are not
    going to stay here. On that he dropped everything, and went out the front
    door.

    If he at least talked to me, I would have maybe left a review of, “Nice location.”
    But treat me like s**t? You get the wrath!

    AirBnb tried to wiggle out, first giving me a $135 refund on our $510 stay.

    Once I sent them the pictures and video of the bugs? They relented. A little.
    The service rep said the host would allow a full refund, only if I agreed not to
    leave a negative review.

    After I blasted AirBnb for being a willing accomplice in a PROVEN bad situation,
    my full refund appeared.

    Of course they left me NO OPTION to review this host. Be careful everybody!

    1. WTF??

      Jeez, I wonder what his story was?

      Did you ever get to understand about the glass? Sounded like normal course of business for this host.

      And for Airbnb to give you a full refund ONLY if you didn’t leave a negative review – well, thats a quid quo pro. Something Trump would do.

      So sorry about your horrible experience.

  6. Terrible experience, I like Germany but dealed with unfriendly people a couple of times, once our guide in Frankfurt an other in Hamburg with a train tickets clerk. Missed you in Dubrovnik, sent you a reminder to see if we could meet but at that time I was having problems logging into my att mail and used my aol and maybe it didn’t work. Enjoyed all of Croatia following your recommendations Split and Trogir, the best but Zadar and Dubrovnik are beautiful too and all of them excessively clean and safe, at this moment we are in Naxos, after the craziness of Santorini full of tourists, this less popular island is a relaxation break on our vacation, not hilly at all, much more less expensive an excellent food (better than in Santorini) I recommend this destination, next is Mykonos that we already were there, unknown Istanbul, then Madrid and Home on the 19 of this month. Once again thanks for your articles and hints we had a wonderful stay in Croatia thanks to you and Lissette.

    1. Hi Carlos,
      I tried writing you about a month ago on your AOL. Sorry we didn’t get a chance to meet up.
      Glad you enjoyed Split and Trogir. I think Central Dalmatia the most beautiful part of Croatia.
      Sounds like a BIG trip, you must be starting to look forward to getting back.
      I’m sure one day we’ll cross paths Carlos!

  7. Frank, I have used Airbnb few times without any issues, but your experience certainly has highlighted that things can and will go wrong. I just hope they will refund your money in full. I am glad things are going well in Dresden and your mother-son trip has not been totally spoiled. I love how you get to travel together every year. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks Gilda. Still in negotiations and it’s funny how the host is not responding to Airbnb’s communications. We’ll see how that all pans out..

  8. 2015 I experienced my first Airbnb in Krakow after your recommendation writing “why not use airBnB” and it was incredibly wonderful and good, that I got hooked. But as you already know, some could go terribly wrong. Twice for us in Munich. The host lying about location being close to center town to find out I needed 3 public transportation to get there. The 2nd one claiming to have A/C , and in 30 degrees there was none, while she left everything in the unit with no space for our toiletries, cloths to hang etc. I had to fight hard and long with AirBnB to get some credit refunded (got only a portion). Traveling soon to Spain and I am hesitant if to book Airbnb there. I like your vigilant follow up, never let the AH have the upper hand….kudos.

    1. Hi Sara. Marti had a good point about choosing just Superhosts. Most of the time you’ll end up not being disappointed.
      You’re very right that you have to fight with Airbnb and they don’t really afford much protection against really bad experiences. We weren’t impressed with how they followed up on our Yerevan experience. In this Leipzig case we’re still going back and forth so we’ll see…
      I don’t like being pushed around, which is also my curse…but thanks Sara.

  9. Yikes! We would have done exactly what you did. Actually, we have. I’ve told you before our Airbnb story from Leon, France so I won’t repeat myself, but suffice it to say we checked out within an hour of arriving. Airbnb was very responsive and we received the full 5 days refund because the apartment was not correctly represented.

    We loved Dresden! We stayed 5 nights and soaked up all that we could, if you’re still there take a free walking tour, very informative and I think I told you to visit the Green Vault. Amazing.

    Enjoy your time with your mother, I love that the two of you meet every year. So special.

    1. That’s true Marti. Takes care of about 90% of potential problems. But I’ve had a few issues because these days Airbnb is giving out those Super Host badges like they’re dirty diapers. I was surprised to see the idiot we had issues with in Yerevan is now actually a Super host. In what world that’s possible I don’t know…

  10. Hi Frank, thanks for writing about your experience with Airbnb, and in particular, for posting the texts with the host and Airbnb. We travel a lot with friends and family and have had such bad experiences with Airbnb that we no longer use it. In Berlin, the owner’s brother was an hour late letting me, my husband and my mother into our apartment. THEN, he wanted to individually inventory every kitchen utensil on a piece of paper for us to sign…..one egg slicer, one carrot peeler, two graters……etc., I finally told him we were exhausted after our flights and hadn’t flown to Germany to steal kitchen tools! In Switzerland, the guy wanted to charge for towels, it was cold at night, so that was it. We decided we’d rather stay in a hotel or apartment hotel where paid staff are available so there’s no waiting on check in and any issue is addressed on site. No more Airbnb for us and we haven’t looked back, except to laugh about my 80 year old mother looking like kitchen thief! Lol!

    1. Ha, thanks Diane. Signing a list has happened to us (in hotels) a few times in Thailand, including listing things like TV sets, beds, etc.. I think there it’s because of the Chinese tourists who are notorious for taking stuff. But in Germany? Wow. I love your reply to him.
      My thoughts: I think Airbnb is good for 3 nights and more and only if there is a notable price different. But otherwise Aparthotels (or hotels in the case of 1 night) if less than 3 days. I notice Booking.com getting more and more into that apartment category which is good: Airbnb needs competition and needs to clamp down harder on bad hosts.
      Thanks for taking the time. Great comment 🙂

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