OT: AirBnB and their issues

Ok, this one is sad. Saw this linked off of hacker news.

I am not sure if this is satirical, humorous, or real. It doesn’t quite matter though.

We’ve used AirBnB twice now. And we have a firm policy, as a direct result of those very negative experiences, of never … ever … using it again.

To be fair, AirBnB is effectively a market maker dealing with the commodity of unused space which could be turned into a profitable asset. The problem with this is twofold, one of which I’ve experienced, first hand. The other problem is highlighted by the linked post.

In my experience, what is advertised is not what you get. Often it is not even close to what you get. Its even worse, as when you call up the proprietor of the space, they will purposefully misrepresent various important aspects, omit others, for the purpose of closing the deal.

To wit: We used it for a space in Chicago last year to stay at while meeting customers. We were assured that the space we were looking at had a) a working AC (hot summer day), b) space for 3 people to sleep, c) adequate parking. As it turns out, none of these things were in fact correct. Yet we were sold this space (I didn’t rent it, someone else did). There was no way for us to check the veracity of the statements on the site. There are reviews, but hell, they can be rigged.

Then I rented a house with my brother and his family for a week through them. On paper, the house looked fantastic. AC, laundry, a kitchen, multiple bedrooms. What they neglected to mention: a) the AC was a single small wall mount unit down stairs, completely inadequate for the room in question, never mind for the whole house. b) the complete lack of adequate cooling or airflow in the rooms (it was up well over 90F in the house). The lack of bed space (it was represented as being able to sleep 8, when in reality this was 2-4 at best).

It was so bad that we left halfway through, and rented a hotel room at a lower rate, in Duchess county rather than continue to stay at that terrible space.

There was no way we could ascertain the quality site or veracity of the claims made by the proprietor before showing up there. The reviews were glowing.

We left a bad review, and informed AirBnB that this was a terrible place.

But this is the AirBnB problem. Its a market maker with a very uncertain product valuation to exchange. You don’t know, a-priori, that the proprietors will be honest, or have a good product to offer. We are 2 for 2 seeing very bad product offered. You don’t know if the customers of the product will comport themselves by reasonable rules, as the posting I linked to points out.

These are, IMO, fatal to the business model. There is no way for them to verify that their customers or vendors are on the level. Unless they put massive holds on credit cards for BOTH, and then assess damages later. But that would fail for them, as they are trying to be a new-age BnB … a more “efficient” BnB.

No thank you. I am done with this, as AirBnB has no way to quality control what is consumed or sold.

Real BnB’s are great. Far better than hotels, often at comparable costs. We’ve used them for the last 4 of 5 SCxx shows, and given that we are in New Orleans this year, will likely try to do that again. The experience was marvelous. Everything worked as expected. The spaces were wonderful, the company and atmosphere terrific. Same with Salt Lake City. And Seattle. We wound up at a hotel for Denver, but still … real BnB is far superior experience to a hotel, which is nearly infinitely superior to AirBnB.

I really don’t see how they can impose quality on their offerings. Reviews simply don’t cut it.

If you are seriously looking at using them, remember, Caveat Emptor. They are the poster child for this phrase.

This is all about the market for lemons, and asymmetric information in markets.

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