When your Airbnb goes wrong!

What happens when something goes wrong with Airbnb? More specifically, what do you do when your host isn’t there or maybe doesn’t exist? I’ve been using Airbnb for years and have always been pleased with my lodging.

In my last post, I hinted that something negative did happen when I visited Folly Beach. I think it’s worth writing about.

I booked an Airbnb room in Folly Beach, South Carolina – two blocks from the beach and two blocks from the town center. The description of the property went on and on. It sounded great.

Coastal South Carolina

I got in touch with the owner, Beth, via the Airbnb email system – you never seem to get the host’s email, but you do get their telephone number.

“There’s a keypad at the front door and we send out the code on the day you arrive.”

That sounded reasonable, but the code never arrived. I called her number and I got a Verizon message which said that the number was not in service. That should have gotten me worried, but by then, I was well on my way to Folly Beach.

I arrived in town and started looking for the property. No number 55. I walked up and down the street and asked anyone I could corral if they knew where the house could be. No one did but my GPS stopped at a large house with a keypad.

At 4 pm, when she said I could check in, there was no one there. I called Airbnb. To their credit, someone answered within a few minutes.

“I will try to reach out to Beth,” Solomon, the Airbnb employee said.”

“Good luck with that.” We exchanged the phone number we had for her. It was the same nonworking number.

“We give the host an hour. Someone will call you within an hour. No one did.

By then, it was almost 6 pm and I was standing in front of an empty house by myself, with just a phone – and my car. No matter how technologically astute you are, in this situation, all you have is a phone and cell servive.

I noticed a conventional Bed &Breakfast two doors down and walked over. I made a reservation for three times the price but it was there.

I called Airbnb again. Now another employee said two hours. They sent me a list of other properties via email. Did they really expect me to try to make a booking from my phone on the street for tonight? What host was going to answer immediately?

“Please just make a reservation in the area and I’ll be there.”
“We can’t do that,” he said.

After two hours, Ruby, a supervisor, called. I told her about the real B&B I had booked. She said that she was refunding my money and 50% of the difference between what I would have paid for an Airbnb and the price of the more expensive inn.

The credit for my stay was applied to my credit card right away.

For the 50%, I had to wait until I got a bill from the Inn. I sent a copy right away to Airbnb.
I have to fill out a payout method, as if I was a host. They won’t just refund it to my credit card, so I gave them my checking account details. You could also use PayPal, but I wasn’t in the hosting business.

A few days later, I received an email that my host had canceled my reservation. No reason, of course. But I did get my 50% difference from Airbnb.

Airbnb hosts are independent operators. They don’t have a staff like a hotel or conventional B&B. If something happens to them – whatever – they just don’t show up.
I was lucky that an inn was just up the street and that they had a room.

I was impressed with Airbnb’s quick response. The moral of the story is that I must be prepared to act as soon as I see that there’s a problem with the host.

Are you traveling by yourself?

Are you traveling by yourself?

On Folly Beach

I heard this a lot when I went to Folly Beach, South Carolina, close to Charleston. Was it said in pity or amazement?

“Yes,” I said.

Some couldn’t let go of that. Women, mostly, were with their sons, daughters, other women and even grandchildren.

Of course, most were with their partners, admiring the sunset. See the picture above.

I too was enthralled by the picture book sunset. Folly Beach reminds me of a little Key West, bur a lot closer to Asheville. It’s funky, with restaurants, coffee shops, not much culture, but, oh, that beach.

It was too cold for me to swim. In the morning, it was breezy enough that I needed a light jacket. I walked and walked the beach, meeting people and their dogs. It’s so much easier to talk to new people – I hate the word “stranger” – when you’re alone.

Angel Tree

I often say that I’m a group person.

I love to hike with groups: Carolina Mountain Club, Friends of the Smokies, and any other group. I enjoy going with others when there’s a specific place with a specific agenda.

Beth and I walked the Camino del Norte together. With discussion and compromise, we both had a wonderful time. But we knew what the purpose of the trip was: to walk the whole trail. We met other people who opened up the conversation.

There are whole books, articles and blogs devoted to traveling alone, especially if you’re a woman. Most tell you about group travel, so that you end up not alone. Or they expound  about safe places… I don’t want to go to “safe places”; I want to go to specific places I’m interested in.

OK – so Folly Beach isn’t exactly a beach in Indonesia, but this is where I wanted to go for three days. I didn’t have an agenda other than not having an agenda – very different from most of my  travels.

“What if something happens?” People ask.

“Be more specific,” I say. Most of the time they can’t. Actually, something negative did happen – no, no one bopped me on the head or pickpocketed my wallet. I may (or may not) write about it.

Eating and reading

But everyone was friendly.

Folly Beach is the kind of town where you can strike up a conversation with someone on the beach, street or café. Most places are, if you take the first step. It was obvious that I was by myself while window shopping, on the beach or eating dinner. So what?

Whatever concerns I may have about traveling alone, I had the same with a partner.
Don’t run out of gas
Have cash at all times.
Know the name, address and phone number of where I’m staying….

So, yes, I am traveling alone. Folly Beach is the least adventurous place I’ve been to or plan to go.

What is your experience? Do you like to travel alone?

The Weekend of Small Hikes

Collier Cove Nature Preserve

Sometimes it’s good to see what’s in your own backyard. While going all around the world is exciting, I know that I’m missing a lot of opportunities right here around Asheville.

This past Saturday, I was introduced to two small areas around Asheville.

I was invited to  talk about the Southern national parks and my book, Forests, Alligators, Battlefields: My Journey through the National Parks of the South. Am I still marketing this book?” You may ask. No, but if a group asks me, I go.

Bev McD. of Carolina Mountain Club asked me to speak to her group, RossCraggen Woods – a private club with a few acres in Arden. But before my talk, Bev took me to see a view of Lake Julian, a Buncombe County Park and power plant. See the picture above.

Bev also showed me Collier Cove Nature Preserve, another county park. It only has 2.5 miles of trail, or so, with some elevation but it’s meant to be a full-day hike. I never would have seen this without Bev’s help. I always like to learn how the public acquired the land.

Buncombe County bought the 29 acres from the Collier Family  in 2012. They had already built  the trails on the property. Twenty-nine acres isn’t much but the land is steep, adding to the interest.

From Lunch Roks

Every bit of land here was owned by someone.

Sometimes the owners actually give the land to the public. Most of the times, the descendants sell the land, but not at market (read “development”) prices.

Sunday I met a small group from the Raleigh Camino group. They had come for a weekend of friendship, food and hiking with the Asheville Camino group.

Most had done the long Asheville Camino hike on Saturday, so they scheduled a five-mile hike to Lunch Rocks on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Raleigh Camino group

Only four hikers showed up because the rest were still recuperating from the 16-mile hike. But that was OK. The hike to Lunch Rocks, MST east of the Folk Art Center, was just the right length before the Raleigh group started out on their long drive.

I need to have a repertoire of short hikes, close to Asheville because they come in handy.