Skid Row Negotiation

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August 14, 2017
The Power of Words
September 19, 2017
Recently I attended the Toastmasters International Convention in Vancouver BC.  There will be another post on that this week. It was a great event and I had a great time other than the location I was staying. I decided to stay in an Airbnb location.  I’ve done this before on more than one occasion.  In fact last year’s Toastmasters convention in Washington DC I had an Airbnb a block from the hotel.  Unfortunately this time, I did not do enough due diligence on the location. (Note:  I read the reviews on the property, looked up the address on google and on the map which turned out to not be enough to give a clear picture of the area).
This listing claimed a new building steps from dinning and shopping.  The building was new, however, the listing failed to disclose the fact that is was in skid row Vancouver.  That’s right, skid row.   
I attempted to negotiate a 50% refund with the host.  He was unwilling at first and then offered 15% which considering what he was charging was ridiculous based on the location.  He came up to 25% with offer of a future discount to stay with him again. At that point I decided to take it up with Airbnb which got me nowhere.
Apparently Airbnb is not concerned with the location of a listing or whether or not the host is licensed to do Airbhb in a city that requires licensing (from what I understand Vancouver is one of those cities and based on his instructions to me I don’t believe he is licensed).
It is apparently my “opinion” that the listing is in skid row as that’s not a city or a place.  It’s only considered an opinion.  Interesting opinion which everyone I spoke to from there had, including the “hop on, hop off bus” which announced as it turned onto our street that this was the worst area in Vancouver.  I’ve included a few photo’s from the neighborhood
The blurred out photo of the guy on the steps was getting his drugs ready to use.  We passed by someone in the so called secure parking garage shooting up and passed another guy sitting on a ledge smoking a crack pipe. One guy in front of us walked over to the wall and urinated only a few steps from the sidewalk.  The photo in front of the building shows a homeless man pulling his cart.  He had been sleeping in the alley of our building.
I’ve included my complaint to Airbnb.  They called me right away but told me they were not going to do anything about it.  My next step is to do a chargeback on my Amex.  I may not end up with any money back but I will surely publicize this everywhere so no one who reads this will use this guy.  The address on Keefer St. Vancouver BC.  The hosts name is Sergey and he has two other listings in BC.
Lesson learned – do more due diligence on the neighborhood before accepting the location.  Don’t accept the reviews as a good source of information.  The reviews were all positive but he coached me to give him a good review as well so assume he did that with all his clients.  I haven’t given my review yet but will be doing so shortly and will be honest.  I have not had any other problems using Airbnb but will be much more cautious should I decide to use it again.  Bad experience and maybe my expectations are too high?
See complete write up below.  By the way, Airbnb was willing to get me a few dollars back for the parking and cable issue I mentioned.  That would be all it was, a few dollars.  What’s the point?  That wasn’t the big concern.  It was the lack of information on the neighborhood that concerned me but again, that is of no concern.  I did send the above photo’s to them as well.  They didn’t care.
Airbnb complaint:

Apartment itself was new as described however the following issues existed:

  • Cable only got one TV channel
  • No A/C which was indicated on the listing, however, the 2 small windows opened only about 3 inches which left it impossible to cool off. There was only one small fan for the entire apartment and it did little to cool it off. Temperature was a minimum of 83 degrees the entire stay.
  • Mattress was extremely hard and uncomfortable
  1. I was instructed to not mention to anyone that this is an Airbnb rental. I later found out from locals that Vancouver has a licensing requirement for Airbnb and suspect this renter is unlicensed and not authorized to be running Airbnb locations. See email below:
  • Please do not discuss or advertise the fact you are staying via Airbnb to anyone in the building. Please do not engage the concierge at the front desk or the building manager in particular. If anyone bothers you or asks you questions during your stay, just tell them you’re visiting and staying WITH your friend Sergey who lives in this building 🙂
  1. There was a parking garage attached to the building but we were not afforded to opportunity to use it, not sure why. I was told I had to park in the parking garage at $7 a night (as stated in the listing).
  • IMPORTANT: secure gated parking in the next building is available for $7/night.

That was incorrect, it was not secure and was actually $24. The $7 is only if you arrive after 6pm and leave before 6am. Otherwise full rate applies. This was not disclosed in the listing. One of my vehicles was vandalized and property stolen. I was told by Sergey that the outside didn’t matter, only the fact that I thought his place was nice (see statement in email – )

So, to me is very important that you are happy with my apartment, that is great to hear and that is very important to me but i really can not do anything nor be held responsible for the quality of people on the street in China Town.

  1. Fraudulent Listing! It was not disclosed that this location is in skid row and I as a woman traveling would be putting myself in danger every time I walked out the door. The price was slightly less than a high-end hotel by the convention center. This price is not fair and reasonable for the location. The place is in the middle of Skid Row Vancouver. He claimed it was not the bad area but attached photo’s show otherwise. Trash, homeless and drug addicts were on this street and the next. I experienced and witnessed the following (some photo’s attached):
  • Drug addict smoking meth pipe close to parking garage
  • Drug addict shooting up in the stairwell of the parking garage
  • Homeless on some substance sleeping in the stairwell of the parking garage
  • People smoking marijuana all over this area
  • Trash all over the streets
  • Homeless people sleeping, camping, close to the building, on the street etc (see photos)
  • Hop on Hop off bus announced as it turned onto our street “you’ve seen the best of Vancouver, now we are entering the worst part of Vancouver”
  • Someone obviously on something shouting expletives (video available upon request)
  • Homeless person screaming expletives and digging in the trashcan drinking from used cups and eating discarded leftover food while threatening whoever walked by.

I would not have stayed in this area if I knew it was in skid row. I had added expense because I was afraid to walk in the area especially at night. I spoke with a few people at the convention I was attending and they said “YOU ARE STAYING WHERE?!!” They told me this street is the worst area in the city of Vancouver and that it’s high crime. Drug use abounded everywhere. I could have spent all day taking photo’s of people using drugs. The area also smelled of urine from people urinating wherever they wanted. We were walking back from getting the key, which was 2 blocks away and had to walk through skid row to get there. I was unaware that this was a dangerous area prior to walking to get the key. A guy in front of us walked off the sidewalk, unzipped his pants and urinated right there in front of us.

I attempted to negotiate a settlement with the owner. I was willing to take 50% which is generous given the conditions. However, his max offer was 25% and a “discount” for when I return? I don’t believe he gets the seriousness of the problem. I am in my 50’s and slightly disabled. I cannot fight off some crazy drug addict or other criminal. This listing needs to fully disclose the location and warn people of what they will face staying here. If he is unlicensed his listings need to be shut down until the proper licensing is obtained.

New building sure, but in the middle of skid row not disclosed.

Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez
Veteran negotiation and contracts expert Eldonna Lewis-Fernandez, author of “Think Like a Negotiator,” has over 30 years of experience crafting killer deals both stateside and internationally, many in excess of $100 million. She’s currently the CEO of Dynamic Vision International — a specialized consulting and training firm that helps individuals hone negotiation skills — as well as a nationally regarded keynote speaker, session leader and panelist on the Art of Negotiation. Eldonna may be reached online at

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