It Sucks Being Conned by an Airbnb Host’s False and Misleading Advertising

There are times when I just freakin’ hate the damned sharing economy. You know that part of the economy where you get to pay to use other people's stuff like cars and apartments and rooms etc.

I had done my fair share of trying the sharing economy and generally had an OK experience, at least mostly I felt that I got what I paid for.

If I was being a stingy skinflint then what the hell should I expect.

My recent experience in a luxury Airbnb was just a total debacle. You know how you feel when a vendor basically says, “we don’t believe you and we don’t give a shit about your future business”.

My wife and I are heading to Mexico City for the first time and I was told by a good friend of a friend to stay in a specific part of the city called Polanco. Turns out Polanco is really nice. Easy to walk around, lots of bars and restaurants and generally a lovely part of the city.

MY REALLY BIG MISTAKE!!! I decided to search for an Airbnb. I found what sounded like a perfect apartment. Described as, “Quiet luxurious, spacious, great Polanco location and with several very positive reviews.”

All good so far.

Long story short is that the headline description of the property, “Luxurious quiet loft in Palanco” was a pile of bulldust. I read the ad and thought, perfect and ticks the key attributes I wanted. Mainly that it was QUIET because I can put up with a lot of there is QUIET.

Upon arrival late in the evening reality set in fast. The place appeared mostly as per the photos. However, it was anything but quiet. Traffic noise from the street was so loud I thought our bed was on the road.

We did try to find sleep and even used the airline earplugs we still had in the hope that we’d get some sleep. NADA.

This “Quiet luxurious, spacious, great Polanco location” Airbnb was on the busiest intersection in Polanco and the windows and doors did not seal out the noise at all.

I’m calling the property headline “complete bullshit”.

The construction guys arriving across the road at 3am to fill their dump trucks with building debris was the last straw on our first night.

We did finally drift off to sleep around 4.30am but by 5.30am traffic was building again and we were awake.

I was really pissed. Felt like I’d been totally conned and then I looked again at the Airbnb ad.

The great reviews weren’t that many — 5 in fact and all by local people. A cynic might think the 5 awesome reviews were the owners buddies.

Oh and icing on the “pissed-off cake” was that it was a smokers apartment, which is fine if you’re a smoker, however neither my wife nor I smoke and the place stank of cigarette smoke.

As soon as we shower my wife says, “I’m not staying here another night” and I TOTALLY concur. Not going to let this ruin our first visit to Mexico City.

Next job is find a hotel and bingo, I strike it lucky with a Hyatt that’s about 4 blocks away. Still in Palanco and right next to the big park near the history museum.

Now I need to tell the owner about our crappy experience and ask for my money back. Well, most of it, in that I can’t really ask for a total refund given we did occupy the place for 1 night.

This is where the whole sharing economy bullshit story comes undone.

I’m told by Airbnb that this owner has a firm cancellation policy and that I might get at most a 50% refund and that I’ll be advised in due course by the owner.

Airbnb is not much help at all. They side with their property owner and basically say I accepted the terms and the owner will decide if I get a refund.

Yay Airbnb. Way to go. You just told me you not only don’t value my future business, you also don’t believe my explanation of how unhappy I am with the experience and how I think the headline for the property, “Luxurious quiet loft in Palanco” is false and misleading advertising.

The transaction with Airbnb cost me over USD600 in unused accommodation. Sucks.

I’ve stewed on this for a while because the “Airbnb experience” was in late December.

I was going to just wear it as a cost of stepping into the sharing economy. Something I won’t ever be doing again.

Anyway, then today I read this article and it instantly rekindled my anger to such a degree that I thought I should write a warning article too.

At least my honest review hasn’t been taken down. Sits next to the other handful of way-too wonderful reviews:

However the property description has changed to remove the word, “Quiet”.

And a final note re this Airbnb Plus nonsense. Apparently this place is certified as APlus, which I can truly say is “impossible”:

“A selection of homes verified for quality and design. Every home in Airbnb Plus must pass an in-person quality inspection to ensure it meets high standards of comfort, quality, and style.”

About the author:Greg Twemlow is a Sydney-based Social Enterprise Founder | Startup Mentor | CEO | Writer | Speaker | Podcaster

Originally published at




sharing what I’ve learned from 35 years as a citizen-of-the-world, parent, corporate executive, entrepreneur and since 2018, CEO of a registered charity

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Greg Twemlow

Greg Twemlow

sharing what I’ve learned from 35 years as a citizen-of-the-world, parent, corporate executive, entrepreneur and since 2018, CEO of a registered charity

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