Another Customer Service Incompetency Story
Guests complain the house is not clean. I offer to send a cleaning lady the next day, they refuse saying they have already dusted the place. They ask for a refund of the cleaning fee. I say OK. The next morning, guests complain they, 7 people, drank limited water because the fridge is not cooling. !!! At first, I am guilt-tripped into thinking that the house is in such an awful condition that seven people had to go thirsty. They ask for 2 days refund. I accept that too. Then they say I should be paying right away. I say I haven't got my money from Airbnb and can't refund something I haven't got. They keep on pressuring. When I ask why they are in such a hurry, they answer they want to have money to spend on vacation.
At that point, I become aware that they are not so good-intentioned. I also realize how stupid a comment is saying they spent the night with limited water just because the fridge was not making ice! Mind you, I had bought a 19 liters tank and several water bottles along with fruit and ice-cream as hospitality. So it's not because there is no water available in the house, not that they couldn't drink water, it's their caprice. Realizing their exaggerations and trying to put blame on me even when I am trying to help them, I no longer accept their claims. I tell them to contact Airbnb.
They stay the week and leave. Stove top full of grease and burnt meat, my camp chairs broken and gone. I chalk it up and forget about it. More than a month goes by. Airbnb writes to me to ask if the guests completed their stay. It is a Sunday night. And as I said, it has been more than a month since the guests have left. I say to myself I'll be answering Airbnb the next day. There is no urgency, after all.
Surprise! Bad surprise! Airbnb has written that they are refunding the guest since they haven't heard from us. Hey! It has not been even 24 hours!
I go mad at their unjust way of handling the issue, making a refund on our behalf without hearing our side. I write to them several messages. Case managers change, but none of the four see the injustice of their conduct. They keep repeating the same useless rhetoric, not giving any answer to my totally valid questions.
We walk out of the platform.
We have a summer house in Kaş, Turkey. It's a beautiful house with a wonderful view. We gave it on Airbnb once during holiday season and that was it. This year, again, we just gave it for a week. I wish we hadn't as it turned into yet another snake story down the rabbit hole.
The story with the guests' messaging is on a Turkish post, but is recounted here too as answers to Airbnb Support. The conduct of Airbnb after the guests' complaint is simply unbelievable and should be thought at management schools as a case study; as a mismanagement example that is.
The booking was from August 16th to August 23rd. More than a month had passed after their leaving our house. I thought it was just finished and gone down the drain. Then, on September 27th, we got a message from Airbnb.
Ok, I thought. I'd be answering in a day or two... This was a Sunday, I had better things to do, other priorities to attend to. After all, it had been more than a month since the guests had left, it could wait two more days, there was no urgency.
But what is that?! The next day, there was a big surprise waiting for us!
I was, as understandably (I hope), furious!
They had reimbursed the guy! Reimbursed him without waiting to hear from us!
During the time of the guests' entrance and during their stay, I take care to be online. Just so that I can take care of any problem that may arise immediately. However, we are not people who are constantly online. The emails come to my husband's phone and as that is a private email, he doesn't check it every second like the work email on workdays.
Besides... As I said, it's been more than a month since the guests have checked out, what's the urgency? How can Airbnb take such action without hearing our side of the story??!
Right afterwards, there was a bot, asking if we got the assistance we needed!
I responded no and sat down to write a full rebuttal, a diatribe!
"You cannot imagine how outraged I am at this obnoxious conduct of yours! And this is Airbnb?? A multi-million dollar company with I don't know how many millions of users worldwide??
So you processed a refund on my behalf without even waiting for an answer from me for 48 hours?????!!!! So we, as hosts, have to be online and at your demand within 24 hours to any message or we get punished???!!!!
This is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!
I was thinking you'd have read my answers to Veysel at least through translation. I was going to respond to you later on during the day but seriously, this is disgraceful, scandalous and appalling! Veysel and his friends have stayed in my house and finished their reservation even though I had accepted to refund them even the first night, even when your policies do not provide for that. They chose to stay. Sure, I accept there were some issues with the cleanliness in the house but definitely not as much as they tried to convey. They didn't accept my offer to send a cleaning-lady over the next day, they said they dusted themselves and wanted money back. I said okay. Then, they complained some more. As I said, I told them they could leave and I would refund them in full. You know very well that they have a right to that anyway. They chose not to use that right, they stayed.
They were obviously trying to exploit the situation and get money back from me. I even accepted paying them, they insisted I pay immediately, even before receiving my money from you. They even said themselves that they wanted this so that they would have money to spend during their vacation. Obviously, they were cheapsters trying to get their cheap vacation even for cheaper.
They have written to me in the morning saying “We seven people had to drink limited water due to the fridge non working.” Come on!... I again accept, the fridge was not cooling properly but it was NOT totally unfunctional. Plus, what kind of a person does not drink water if it is not freezing cold and prefers to go thirsty??! Their message, emphasizing the 7 people and pressuring me was obviously a way to stress me to abide by their requests. I emphasize the fact that I had bought and put a 19 LT bottle of water, plus several 1.5 liters bottles in the fridge for them. I also bought fruits and ice-cream as a treat because I was working with someone new for looking after the house as I live abroad. I do NOT accept any of their claims and I find your refund to them, deducting money from us totally against any concept of fairness.
The fact is, I have claims against Veysel and his friends for all the trouble they have caused me with their baseless claims, wasting my time for all this, plus, my camping chairs have been broken and gone missing, my hair-dryer has gone missing. The way they left the kitchen was totally unacceptable, with burnt meat and grease all over my gas-stove. It was disgusting to clean. But I chose to chalk it up instead of filing a complaint with you.
I have read so many horror stories, even national scam stories about Airbnb, I have heard several complaints from guests who were refused their valid refund claims. If this is the way you are ruling over, I suppose you seriously need to oversee either the personnel or your policies.
So we were supposed to drop everything we had to do right now only to answer you within 24 hours, for a reservation that was completed more than a month ago, something which had no urgency at all? Is that what you are saying? And not even a line of warning? For example saying that you will be getting ahead with the refund unless you hear from us?? Seriously??
If you have actually gone on with the refund, I ask you to please kindly take it on yourself and put our money back on our account. We will not be accepting this kind of conduct. If you disagree, of course we cannot force you. We will just be leaving the site and publishing your unfair procedure online all over social media and on our websites.
Then I realized... They had not waited even a day. So five minutes later, I added that point too:
"Actually, you didn't wait even 24 hours! We get a message from you asking if the reservation was finished at 3:55 PM Sunday, September 27th. The next morning, at 11:30 AM, you say “Since we haven't heard any response from you we will do action according to our policy.” and go on with the refund right away, informing us at 1:43 PM on September 28th. Even before it has been 24 hours have passed from your first message!
You owe us 275 Euros for this damage and inappropriate conduct!"
The response from Airbnb was short, that is dismissive.
I was once again furious at this... how should I say... this insolence! No word about their processing a refund without even hearing from us! Without even waiting for 24 hours for a response from us!
I sat up way past midnight and wrote another message rebuking their conduct.
This was sent on September 30, at 1:49 AM.
Oh so you "UNDERSTAND" we are not happy about the “resolution” you provided for this issue!
WHERE IS THE SORRY FROM YOU FOR COMING TO A CONCLUSION WITHOUT LISTENING TO OUR END??! WHERE??? WHAT KIND OF A PLATFORM DECIDES ON SOMETHING WITHOUT GIVING THE OTHER PARTY THE RIGHT TO ANSWER TO A COMPLAINT????
Oh yes??!! You can see there is a violation on OUR END???
Oh yess?? So you have “just based the severity of the issue from the photos they have provided” to you???
OH You did?? Good for you!
And what if I provided you proof that I sent money to their account in Turkey? What then??
Do you know if those photos belong to my house or which parts they belong to??? Hmm?? Do you??! Have you seen the photos of how neat and clean the beds were? How brand new they were?? Hmm?? Have you??
Do you know if those photos were taken after they dirtied or if they were like that when they entered?
And why did they not leave my house if it was so horrible??
Do you know they asked the neighbor for a breakfast price and do you know how much he quoted and they found “expensive”??
Do you know all the things they have said to me, giving away their intentions??
And seriously... Did I agree or want them to stay in my house for the full term under these conditions at this price???
Do you know how much a camping site charges in Kaş and how prestigious the peninsula where my house is? Do you know how many square meters they've got to themselves?
You should know that our nextdoor neighbor charges the same price I charged for the whole house for just one room as it is listed on your site too! And a very tiny one where you cannot move around at that??
So you think it is fair that these people complain and send some unrelated photos and get refunded 30 % of what they paid?
And I repeat my question: WHY DID THEY NOT LEAVE MY HOUSE IF IT WAS SO DIRTY??
Plus, why did they say all was fine when the person in charge showed them the house when they entered?
Oh but my house is in such violation that they deserve a 30 % refund, oh so you based the severity of the situation and your decision from their photos. Good for you (!)
Oh good, so you have answered us within 24 hours! Good for you!
But you still have exceeded the amount of time you have allowed us to answer you before going on deducting money from our account! So based on my argument of YOUR UNFAIR ASSESSMENT WITHOUT GIVING US A RIGHT TO ANSWER, PLEASE JUST GO ON AND PUT THAT MONEY BACK, PLUS AN EXTRA 275 EUROS FOR YOUR UNACCEPTABLE CONDUCT!
And this is SENIOR management??!
We are not obligated to be at your beck and call 24/24. or are we?? I mean we basically are obviously! Otherwise, you just assume we will not answer and say Ohhh... “Since we haven't heard any response from you we will do action according to our policy.” !
It is YOUR JOB to answer questions and complaints on your site. And you reply late. LATER THAN YOU ALLOWED US TO!
Let alone that, why has it taken you more than a month to come back for this issue?? If you were going to refund them, why didn't you refund them back then?
So why did you even bother to write to us??? Why on earth?
Why did you even bother to say “I would like to know if you have made arrangements with guest and if they were able to finish their reservation with you.”??
Did I want these people in my house??? They are the ones who did not leave after the first day, they are the ones who refused the cleaning-lady, and they are entitled to a two days refund plus the cleaning?? WHAT FOR???!
Oh I know... They are the ones claiming they have lost two days when it had not been even 24 hours since they entered the house! Oh, of course, such people are supposed to be given credit (!) The more they exaggerate, the more they assert and stress the host, the more right they are, right?!
And they are the ones who complained that the fridge was not working when they had in fact food in the fridge and the person I sent to check -paying an extra amount of money at the top season in a posh neighborhood asking for urgent attendance- confirmed that they had food in the fridge and it was working?
And then they are the ones claiming I did not send anybody! Even when they are the ones who have left the key in the postbox for someone to check! Just because they were out late and were not home at the time, it makes it that I did not send anybody, right?!
And you give credit to someone who writes that -oh 7 people had to drink limited water because the fridge was not cooling??! When there was about 25 liters of drinking water in the house? Water that I had bought for them?? SO THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHOSE WORD AND COMPLAINT IS SUPPOSED TO BE HEARD AND GIVEN CREDIT TO?? SERIOUSLY??
I have this message written in my sms box. So you say such people's complaints and claims are valid??
Goood for you (!)
Plus... Oh you understand I am not happy (!) What “not happy” are you talking about?? I am OUTRAGED! And it is not only about the money you deducted, even though it has a part... I AM OUTRAGED BECAUSE OF THE WAY YOU DID THIS THING! UNACCEPTABLE UNACCEPTABLE UNACCEPTABLE. TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE!
And there is no acknowledgement of that even after I have written about it and made you aware of your wrong conduct! (If you were not already! Which is something not acceptable at all on an international platform of your size and prestige!)
I am waiting for someone from TOP MANAGEMENT to sort out this issue and say sorry!
You owe me big big time for this waste of my energies, time and upset due to your total mismanagement of this issue!
Airbnb responded five days later.
Again.... No sorry about their improper, unprofessional and unethical conduct.
"I personally apologize for the decision"?? What does that even mean??
I took my time to respond this time. One cannot spend so much draining energy on a useless topic that shouldn't have taken place in the first place.
On October 7th, at 11:32 PM, I wrote:
Hello Bianca. Just to notify you in advance, I am going to be very blunt here. Please cut the bullshit!
“I wanted to sincerely apologize for the late response, hoping that things have been well with you. I'd hoped to reply sooner, but due to this unexpected crisis we are all experiencing right now, we had a huge number of tickets that needed to attend to.”
Seriously?? Ah thanks for your genteel concerns and thoughtful apologies! I counted roughly, I've asked you about 46 questions in my previous message. Guess how many answers I got to those questions from you? Well, this is obviously a rhetorical one and I will answer it myself. Zero! 0! NIL. Sıfır. I could write it in other languages for you to understand but Zero is Zero in many other languages as well, I am sure you have the capacity to understand what it means. Or do you not understand English or do you just pretend not to when you cannot answer questions?
Look... I even wrote this in capital letters and I repeat:
WHERE IS THE SORRY FROM YOU FOR COMING TO A CONCLUSION WITHOUT LISTENING TO OUR END??! WHERE??? WHAT KIND OF A PLATFORM DECIDES ON SOMETHING WITHOUT GIVING THE OTHER PARTY THE RIGHT TO ANSWER TO A COMPLAINT????
If you were going to “judge the severity of the issue from the photos they have provided,” why did you even bother to write to us in the first place?
Why did you even bother to say “I would like to know if you have made arrangements with guest and if they were able to finish their reservation with you.”?
Do you really believe 20 hours is enough time to wait for an answer and then say “Since we haven't heard any response from you...”?
I SERIOUSLY WANT ANSWERS TO ALL OF THE ABOVE. AND I WOULD ALSO LIKE A VERY HUMBLE, SINCERELY REMORSEFUL APOLOGY FROM A TOP AIRBNB EXECUTIVE AS IT IS SO IN YOUR FACE OBVIOUS FROM THE ANSWERS YOU CANNOT GIVE TO THESE QUESTIONS THAT YOUR CONDUCT IS UNACCEPTABLE!
I also want answers to all the questions below too, that I will be listing with numbers for you to respond properly and easily. Don't worry, I cut out the majority of the previous questions, just keeping the most important ones; again, just to ease things out for you:
1) What if I provided you proof that I sent money to their account in Turkey? What would you be doing then??
2) Do you know if those photos belong to my house or which parts they belong to?
3) How do you know if those photos were taken after they dirtied or if they were like that when they entered?
“Most of the time, adjustment should be 50% from the affected nights, but my agent just adjusted 30% as we can see you've also provided a resolution in the best way you can.”
Obviously, you have NO GRASP of the issue at hand. First of all, where does it say on your website, that if there is the slightest “violation” as you call it, that “adjustment should be 50% from the affected nights”?? I haven't seen anything like that in the link you provided.
And the indication of why you don't have any grasp on the issue can be seen from the fact that you are not even aware that 30 % was NOT something you evaluated but it was the amount that the hosts asked for. Of course, plus the cleaning fee, that makes 33 %. Which is certainly not acceptable in any case, (the most you could refund was the 35 Euros cleaning fee and that they have already recompensed for that by breaking and taking things from my house.) let alone your doing this without hearing my side of the story.
And your CEO talks about us being “partners”!
Yeah, some partner you have been!
As Chesky confesses, you could have been better partners and apparently you still need to work on that!
GET ME SOMEONE WHO CAN ANSWER ALL THESE QUESTIONS OR WHO HAS THE MATURITY TO ADMIT THAT YOU HAVE MADE A GRAVE MISTAKE, THAT YOUR CONDUCT WAS APPALLING AND ABHORRENT AND UNACCEPTABLE. AND MOST OF ALL, UNBECOMING TO THE REPUTATION OF A MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INTERNATIONAL COMPANY LIKE AIRBNB.
WHAT'S MORE, A DRY APOLOGY IS NOT ENOUGH AT THIS POINT, WE ARE EXPECTING YOU TO COMPENSATE US FOR YOUR VIOLATION OF FAIRNESS. AS OBVIOUSLY, THERE IS A GRAVE VIOLATION ON YOUR SIDE, OF TAKING AWAY OUR INALIENABLE RIGHT TO ANSWER.
Also, Please stop giving me links to your website!
I'll give you a link for you to read and study so that YOU ABIDE BY YOUR STANDARDS in the first place, then talk about violations to others.
The global Airbnb community is as diverse, unique, and vibrant as the world around us. Fairness is what holds us together, what makes it possible for us to trust one another, integrate seamlessly within communities, and feel as if can we can truly belong.”
Do you think it is fair to pay out someone without listening to the other party?
I don't think it is possible for anyone to say yes to this even though you have tried to lamely say that by your evasive answers.
I give you one last chance to answer me properly, I have wasted more than enough of my time on this matter. So unless I get a proper apology with a refund of the money you deducted from our account, plus a similar amount deposited to our bank account, I will take this to social media, to all the top management of Airbnb, Brian Chesky and all the key executive team, and also contact traditional media to see if I can get this news of your unfair practices out there. If you believe you are too big anyway and you get negative rep anyway and do not care, fine with me. We will just be leaving the site and advocating people not to use a site with such unfair practices.
I expect integrity from such a company. I suppose almost everybody does. If you believe, Veysel needs to be refunded, take it on yourself, out of your pocket and pay him as you have not done the judgement properly and fairly. Please act like a respectable company and do the right thing.
I understand that this low performance of yours showing a complete lack of judgement capability is a direct result of your overwhelming workload due to the pandemic and the layoffs back in May. But this is no excuse. If you need to attend to too many “tickets” that you will not be able to judge properly, just refuse to do it like this. It harms both your integrity and the name of the company.
A company is as good as its customer care. You cannot tell how good a company is when everything goes fine. This unjust refund based on only on a one-side claim shouldn't have happened at all. I believe you are aware, if not, you should be aware that this has been a very wrong decision in your part. We read so many horror stories relating to Airbnb, I suppose this might also be a reaction on the other side to please guests whatever the cost. However, hosts are your clients too. Or rather, we are your partners. And such an unfair conduct is, unfortunately I have to repeat once again, is UNACCEPTABLE.
I understand that now that you have taken an action, you cannot undo it and obviously you cannot accept the wrongdoing either. So please, get me someone who has the authority to undo this action and take responsibility.
PS: The capital letters are not shouting, even though I am admittedly and rightfully enraged at your unacceptably unjust conduct. I wrote in capitals because there is no possibility to write bold letters to emphasize important points.
PPS: Oh, I said we would be leaving the site unless a proactive solution is found. But actually, we should not be leaving Airbnb. After all, we have just found the way to get accommodation at half price: Any time we stay at an Airbnb, we will just send you some random photos from any unrelated place or after we dirty the toilet seats or bed sheets etc. You will just be refunding us without listening to whatever the host says, right?
Oh how well they know how to embellish their values and standards!
Fairness my ass!
Three days later, we got yet another "case manager"!
It took Angelica four days to get back. Once again, no understanding of my main point, no remorse or accepting of wrongdoing.
Actually, you can tell from the above answer why they don't get it. These people who are answering me do not even know English! What is “a money”? Or take this sentence: “When my agent message you, we have in contact of the guest already...”
I understand, most companies today delegate this offshore to save money, but this is supposed to be top management to respond. And I know... Someone's English is not a sign of their competence; their English may be not so perfect, but they can be competent. However, it is obvious that that is not the case here.
Still... I couldn't help but refute this improper message too:
Once again, I am going to be blunt. You obviously do not understand a shit about where I am coming from!
I'm sorry for the expression but this level of incompetence -especially at a multi-billion dollar international company- is something I cannot stand!
You are again trying to defend your undefendable manner of handling the issue, i.e not listening to what we had to say before passing judgement and making a reimbursement on our behalf. Not waiting even 24 hours for an answer from us for God's sake!
How is it not possible for you not to be able to understand this simple thing??
What's more, so many different responsible people from Airbnb looks into the issue and not one of them gets this! Seriously???!
So you “were able to validate the pictures sent” (!) and “it is similar to the photos uploaded on my listing.” (!)
So the mattress, for example... I suppose you got that it belonged to my house, because obviously, I posted photos of bare mattresses without any sheets on my listing and the brands of the mattresses matched, and obviously that couldn't be any other mattress but my mattress (!)
So you verified the cable of the iron as I have published a photo of the iron plug on my listing (!)
So you validated that the photos belonged to my house as I have posted photos of my kitchen cabinet doors opening up and displaying them (!)
I also posted photos of my toilet seats on my listing (!) so you could validate that too with 100 % accuracy.
Woooow! What kind of strange details of our house have we posted?!
(* All of the above are sarcastic remarks. I felt the need to mention as you may be incapable of getting that too.)
What's more, you also validated that our toilet seats were dirty when the guests walked in and not after they had dirtied it themselves!
Woooow! I congratulate your super vision- all seeing extra capabilities! Can you please tell me the secret of your superpowers or send some over to me as well? That would be great to be able to divine all such details. So that I would know who steals things from my house and who dirties it when I am away.
I have validated that Airbnb is a crap company, as evidenced by the crappy answers of its representatives, their ineptitude and most important of all, their unjust practices.”
By the way, we removed our listing from Airbnb but for anybody interested, these are the photos of our house on the Airbnb website:
As you can see, there is no photo of our TV even. What's more, the bed is no longer on the floor, there is a proper bed. In other words, there are improvements from the photos seen on the Airbnb listing.
And below are the photos that the guests took to complain:
I am not contesting that there were some problems with the house, what I am contesting is the validity of the extent of the guests' complaint and the inappropriateness of Airbnb's conduct.
The guests tried to find some irrelevant corners, looking at behind the doors when there was such a beautiful view in front of them.
The moldy mattress was not a mattress that was given to the guests to sleep on. The house is fit to accommodate eleven guests, so it was just one of the four extra mattresses. Apparently, the previous tenants left it wet somehow and it got ruined. It could and should have been discarded by the person looking after the house, but obviously he wanted to save it. I told the guests to throw it away if they wanted to.
The plug of the iron... Again obviously, the previous tenants forced it somehow. But then again... Who goes looking for an iron the moment they walk into a summer house? I mean okay, of course they have a right to that as it is listed as an item in the house. I told them they could buy an iron and I'd be refunding, but they didn't. Obviously, they didn't really care about it. But it was something they could use to complain.
Apart from all this... All these Airbnb "senior" managers are just so incapable of understanding that that is not the point I am trying to make! The point is Airbnb making a judgement based on one-side only, their not bothering to listen to us.
In the meanwhile, while I was writing the above answer, yet another person support had written to us. After Glazia, Bianca, Angelica, we got Princess E.
I took the time to answer her too.
"Hello Princess E,
We don't want you to apologize DEEPLY for the adjustment that happened in our payout. We want an apology for passing judgement without even listening to our side of the story, be it for show, without waiting even 24 hours for an answer. Of course, at this point, we are not accepting just dry apology in words but something concrete to show your remorse. Or we do not care, we are out of this platform anyway."
That was supposed to be it; but I cannot stop when someone doesn't take responsibility for a serious transgression on their part:
Plus... Even if you take the guest's complaints as 100 % valid... Tell me... What is so grave there that they deserve a 33 % refund? How come they deserve a refund more than the 35 Euro cleaning fee? Hmm?? Tell me... How come? You think this is fair? Especially given that on our listing we state it openly that the house is being setup and that's why we kept the prices low. When the next door apartment charges the same amount for only a single tiny bedroom, they get a place with four huge bedrooms at such discounts, plus they get a 33 % discount on that? And what for?? Was it so unhygienic, was it infested? Were the bed sheets not brand new? Ok, so it was not sparkling clean and there were some messy corners in unused parts of the house. Oh no, of course they deserve much more than the cleaning fee (!) People who complain about not being able to drink water because it was not cold... Yeah, they deserve to be taken seriously for their complaints and compensated for it (!) Wooow, great judgement on your part!
Again.. I couldn't stop at that. I keep repeating the same points in different words, hoping they might understand. I suffer from a teacher's deformation.
Another point... I go into an Airbnb house. I dirty the toilet, go in with my dirty shoes and dirty the stairs, use the kitchen and then send you photos. And then you'll be refunding me without asking the host, right? You'll say to the host "Oh there was feces in your toilet" and "Sorry but "the decision made was based to evidence we've gathered from the guest" (!)
Your conduct is so unacceptable and horrifying. Only one sided. Don't listen to the host. And of course, how are we to prove that the house was not dirty as the guests claim? Why don't you make a policy for all hosts to send you photos of the house right before guests walk in? Then you may have a right to take the guest's claim without consulting the host.
To me, if they haven't left the house, I'd take it that there wasn't a grave issue validating a 33 % refund. At least, not on the grounds of cleanliness.
You are all so very wrong in every aspect of your responses. I wish there was some decent, capable person to understand this over there.
Basically... My house may not have been in optimum condition; nevertheless, this doesn't excuse or even justify Airbnb's response. I was not there, but they were not there either. So neither of us can tell the veracity of the guests claims. I have two witnesses, one totally objective party, the electrician who went in to check the fridge and told me that there was food in it and it was working. And I entered the house the night of the day the guests left, and the fridge was functional. There was no sewage smell coming neither in the toilets nor in the terrace. That is a touristic area and if there was any such smell, it would have been reported by the neighbors immediately. The person who cleaned the house refuses any kind of dirt in the toilets and I trust his honesty as he is someone I know.
On the other hand... What I can tell from the guest's responses to me is that their complaints are not valid and their intentions did not sound well-meaning. Pressuring me to pay them even without us being paid, saying they wanted to use the money while on vacation, asking how much discount I was going to give them, demanding three days of loss even when it had not been 24 hours, refusing my proposal to send a cleaning lady, saying the fridge was not working when they had food inside it, making it as if it was a disaster not being able to drink ice cold water etc. They even said "You are changing your mind every ten minutes," when I had not changed my mind but had just offered them a discount instead of leaving the house, and I did that only not to put them through the trouble of finding another accommodation.
Had they been well-intentioned and not pressured me, not blamed me when I was only trying to be helpful, not exaggerated every little thing... I would have refunded them myself. But not under these conditions... Not after all their unfounded accusations and their greedy pressuring.
I wrote one last message to Airbnb Support:
Just one last thing... Let's suppose that the guests are right in everything they said, let's say for the sake of argument, that our house was dirty, we violated your rules and everything... I will never ever accept that refunding the guests 275 Euros is justified, but let's put that aside for now and concentrate on the main issue as you insist on not understanding or pretend not to understand.
Three questions I want answers to. The questions are open and clear, and similarly open and clear answers would be appreciated:
1- Why did you even bother to say “I would like to know if you have made arrangements with guest and if they were able to finish their reservation with you” if you were not interested in hearing an answer from us?
2- Do you think 20 hours is enough time to wait for an answer and then say “Since we haven't heard any response from you...” to go on making a refund to the guest?
3- Is making a judgement without listening to one side, a side you claim are your “partners” in line with your ethics and standards? Do you think it is fair?
I strongly urge you to read your own documents first. Mainly, your standards:
where it says... that is, you say:
“these five standards—safety, security, fairness, authenticity, and reliability—remain central pillars in our efforts to help ensure safety and foster belonging. We’re always working to make sure they’re upheld and enforced.”
Actually, there is a fourth bonus question:
4- What punishment do you get when you don't abide by your own standards and violate your own rules? How do we enforce the rules on you, if as Airbnb, you do not uphold your own standards?
I suppose the answer to the last one is clear, as all the others. We just walk out, but just curious to hear what you have to say.*
Still... Let's say my house was problematic. A super host's account was deactivated too due to Airbnb Support's ineptitude. I'm sure there are so many similar stories out there. We read them here and there. They are generally short complaints. Few people have the energy to write in such detail and document all this stuff. And I admit, it is sooo consuming. It would have been much simpler to walk out without bothering to write all this, but I still believe that these are important to take lessons from.
As Jon de la Souza says "Airbnb is no community, no sharing economy, but just a Silicon Valley money making machine."
Asher Fergusson took the time to document the problems with Airbnb, too.
"Is Airbnb Safe? We Analyzed 1021 Horror Stories to Find Out"
Or if you want to see thousands of complaints TrustPilot is a nice place to start from.
I wish everybody simply walked out of this unfair, problematic platform. Yet I know that people will still be using Airbnb as they see it in their interest. That's the way of the world. Even Allie Conti, who wrote an article on Vice titled "I Accidentally Uncovered a Nationwide Scam on Airbnb" admits she cannot say she will leave the platform.
First of all, I don't think Airbnb is actually cheap. There are many hidden costs that pop up later and you pay unawares if you are a novice to the website. More than that, I couldn't care less about "a bit cheaper"... I care about principles. I left Booking because they were allowing illegal activity on their site and did not bother to do anything about it. As regards to Airbnb, I would rather rent my place through some other platform or simply not rent it. Or I would rather pay more or simply stay in a random place and take my chances. I'd rather be in a position where I will not have an agency to refer to when things go wrong. I'd rather be independent and flexible. I'd rather accept the failings of a place than try to grab a bite back from them. I'd rather just walk away instead of deal with all these troubles of inefficient bureaucracy platforms require.
I understand that everybody wants some sort of protection from misconduct of other parties and Airbnb is supposed to be doing that for us, be it as guests be it as hosts. However, when the decision platform is the source of misconduct, it all goes wry; and unfortunately, Airbnb is such a platform.
Listening to both sides before coming to a conclusion is the basics of trust. Let alone basics, it is the foundation of any relationship. If that foundation is not there, you shouldn't be there either.
Count us out!
PS: I know that many people may shrug their shoulders at my recount and say "So what? They made a mistake and refunded money without listening to you. Everybody makes mistakes."
Yes, every makes mistakes. That is not the problem. I could have understood and forgiven that. What makes me so upset is the insistence on the mistake and no apologies, no stepping back from it.
* Actually, I should have left the platform at that point but since I asked questions in my message, I said I should wait for an answer... One last chance... Just out of curiosity...
I wasn't holding my breath for a decent answer. However, perhaps, I still had some small flicker of hope. Perhaps, if they passed it on to a higher manager, finally someone might accept the clumsy way this issue was handled. Instead, we got this:
There was again a bot asking if we got the help we needed or still needed assistance; I didn't even bother to answer, I promptly went to deactivating our account. They asked for the reason of deactivation and I wrote this:
“I suppose you already know. It's because of the ineptitude of dealing with a complaint and not listening to us, not answering our valid questions. Listening to both sides before coming to a conclusion is the basics of trust and fairness. Let alone basics, it is the foundation of any relationship. If that foundation is not there, if you are not given a voice and you are not heard, you shouldn't be there either. We are out.”
No way... No way people accept any wrongdoing at whatever point in an argument. No way! Okay, their decision may be final. But at least, I mean at least say “You are right that the case was not handled properly, we should have waited for your answer.”
No, not even that!
“Not ever in my life did I get even that!” I feel like saying so, turning it into a doomed postulation. However, that's not true. HAL-Holland America Lines once accepted my claim and refunded us 2000 USD. It still took a long, time consuming, excruciating amount of exchanges, but when I finally managed to reach a top level management, someone finally accepted and said “You make a very strong claim.”
Yeah, indeed I had a very strong point :) And I knew it. (Just like in this case with Airbnb.) But that recognition almost never comes. When it did, I had so much gratification. Not about the refund, even though that was a good amount as well, it was more the recognition of my being right. And that was so right in your face, too. I was right, the contract was so open, but they kept telling me that their procedures were like this over and over again. I mean, there are things that are up to discussion and argument sometimes, I am not talking about those cases, I only get into things that are so very clear cut. In this case with Airbnb, their decision about the refund may be up to discussion, but their conduct, their unfair way of handling the issue is so very crystal clear wrong.
Well... Life is just trying to weed out the bad apples and finding yourself a handful of trustworthy, decent people and companies to keep in your life ;)
I feel it very important that my being right be recognized. I suppose it is very natural, too. People who are victims of abuse, rape etc. always want the acknowledgement of society at large that they were wronged. I feel that need, too. I know I feel it too much, I know it is problematic, and I suppose I now know the reason why. Because I have never been acknowledged in my family. They have wronged me and never showed any remorse for it let alone say sorry. It is a bleeding wound in my heart. Perhaps I am trying to heal that wound by all these endless tirades against these companies. But it's over. May I go to hell if I ever get into such disputes, or publish such an article about anybody or company for wrongs they do. It's their conscience, it's their level of understanding and capacity... I'll leave it at that.
A wonderful caricature for those who know Italian! It's a play with words: "Errare humanum est" is Latin for "To err is human." And "perseverare" means "persevere/insist" on the mistake... Which is diabolical, as the saying goes. Instead, Snoopy turns it into "To persevere is surely west" as "est", that is "is" also means "east"
Writing Disgruntled I became aware of another issue with Ric and got stuck on... Ric says "I apologize for this person’s actions." I find that very obnoxious. Who is he to apologize for my actions?? Who is he?? I can apologize for my daughter, she is my child after all, and she is still not of age. I can and I actually should apologize for my daughter's actions if I see that she caused someone trouble, did something she shouldn't have done. I can even apologize for her actions when she becomes an adult, after all, she is my child and I've raised her. But even then, I'd find it a bit obnoxious to apologize for an adult person's actions. And I'd only do it if it is a very grave issue, like if she harms someone, steals etc., not oh she wrote something to someone on the internet and oh my God, they might have been bothered!
Or perhaps my husband can apologize on my behalf. Depending on the circumstances. For example, if I have done something wrong unawares and he becomes aware of it first. He may say sorry for what I have done. He knows me, he knows that I'd be sorry too if I knew about it. We have a very close relationship with him, we represent a family, a one front to the outside world.
But who is Ric? He has no relation to me. It is so patronizing of him to apologize for my actions. He obviously does not know his place.
The only thing Ric has the right to do is to take responsibility for getting people included in such a mess and being the unintentional intermediary causing such "harassment." Ric can only apologize for his actions, not mine. Not another adult's!
The contrary is insolent. But we knew that from his previous actions and non-actions to correct his mistakes. So nothing new here.
Just recently, I rented my summer house in Turkey. Being in Italy, I put someone else in charge. Not being there to supervise things myself, I bought some fruits and ice-cream to the guests thinking there might be some shortfalls of the house. When the guests arrived, they complained. They said the house was not clean. I said "I am sorry." I didn't say "Oh I am sorry on behalf of the person in charge." I didn't say "I apologize for the person in charge not cleaning the house." I said "I am sorry. I take the responsibility." And I offered to pay some of their money back.
The person in charge is supposed to apologize to me and the guests if he has the opportunity. As for me, I take responsibility and apologize for the inconvenience of the guests on my own behalf! To me, that's what maturity calls for.
Oh, Ric did not issue any public apology for his slander against me, for something he broadcast through all his media. But he is apologizing publicly for a personal message I wrote to one of his patreons!!!! Woooow!! What a great personality!!!!
And I don't think the other two patreons were bothered at all. The only person who could have a right to complain was Stephen. And Ric is issuing a public apology for that on someone else's behalf! But when it comes to the huge wrong he has done me, oh not a word! Of course, the only thing he is concerned about is his financial interest, the goal is not to compromise that. He doesn't have an ethical responsibility towards his guests or any feeling of guilt for defaming someone. What kind of a person is this?!
If his interests are compromised, he apologizes even for someone else's actions. Sorry, of course it's easy to apologize for someone else I suppose. Where is the manhood Ric? Where is the maturity to stand up and take responsibility for what you have done?
I'm waiting Ric... Take up responsibility and apologize for your defamation. Stephen apologizes to me for misleading me with a thumbs up and for his unkind response. I am ready to apologize for my nasty retort. Only after both of you take your responsibilities in this situation. I am the one who was wronged in the first place and I am the one who this situation caused the most unease and stress to.
Click to read to find out The Best Sleeping Pill...
It's not what you expect.
I haven't been able to sleep lately. I mean my sleep routine has been turned upside down since the lockdown. I started staying up late and getting up late. It happened gradually. I thought I'd be getting back to the normal routine when schools reopened. But seeing the constant postponing and finally the decision to be closed for this semester, I let go.
Whereas my husband, as a slave, sorry as an employee, had to keep up his normal routine. So we are on duty for the house with my husband. It's not a bad arrangement. This way his work doesn't bother me so much as we have only one space and one work station. When husbandish and daughter go to bed, I can work in peace.
However, now that we will be going to Turkey for the first time in ten years by ferry and by car, plus too many stressful things to settle over there, plus too many decisions to make for the selling of our current house, the construction of the new, the moving plans, the change of schools for Lara etc. I have literally been overwhelmed after the calm and peaceful period of the lockdown. I have never been a good sleeper but I was going to bed at 3:00-4:00 am and sleeping around seven hours. The last couple of days I started going to bed at 6:00 am, not being able to sleep, then getting up to work more instead of turning around and around in bed, then going back to bed at 8 am, dozing off a bit, waking up at 10:00-10:30 am to start this unhealthy routine all over again.
Carlo suggested I take some camomile, or some alcohol. Camomile might be relaxing but it doesn't put me to sleep. As for alcohol, I cannot have more than a couple of sips, which is not of much help.
All of a sudden, I had a bright idea! I said “I'll be putting on Ric's podcast when I come to bed tonight, it won't bother you, right? I won't put it up too high,” I said to Carlo. Luckily, he is a classic man and he sleeps the moment he lays down and puts his head on the pillow. It irritates me so much when at times I say I'm going to sleep, he comes next to me and says he will only rest, then he starts snoring even before I start winding down!
Anyway... I don't know how I did not think of this before! as I have fallen asleep a couple of times when I said I'll listen to the podcast in the bedroom not to disturb my working husband. The voices or the tone of the interview is so dull, the questions so boring that it is difficult to listen to as hard as you try. Your mind drifts off. And then you drift off to sleep.
Luckily, the podcast worked like a charm and put me to sleep in my direst moment. I finally got a good rest. Thanks Ric!
Haha! I gave out a good laugh when I was listening to Ric's podcast Counting Countries on Very Hungry Nomads
and heard him say:
“Also, a quick note to some of my listeners and supporters. A former guest on Counting Countries who is a bit disgruntled has been harassing some of my listeners. I apologize for this person’s actions and hope you have not been overly inconvenienced.”
He is talking about me of course :)))
It's interesting he didn't mention my name. Neither did he use a pronoun to refer to my sex. No giveaways as to who the mysterious disgruntled person in question is ;) I bet he constructed the sentence carefully. I don't think he “feared” that I'd again start with “Oh you saying that I am harassing people is defamation” etc.
I don't know what's the point of that note was, not that I care.
Have I been harassing people? I don't think so.
But I know what Ric is referring to of course. He doesn't tell the story, just throws dirt on people without any evidence. He has made the judgement that I was harassing, so that's it. He doesn't tell people the whole story and let them decide for themselves.
Anyway... For anyone that may be interested, here is the whole short story:
Sure, I was disgruntled. “A bit disgruntled”?? You bet I was a lot disgruntled at Ric's baseless accusations, when he slandered me publicly and did not post any apology for it. So I wrote a post making A Call to Ric Gazarian's Patrons
Then I went on Facebook and found them there. Only four of them. And sent this short message to them.
Now... Would you call this harassing? I wouldn't. There is no harassment here. It is just one “disgruntled” person as Ric put it, making a call, trying to campaign for correcting a “perceived” wrong and unethical broadcast. It is just two lines, takes a minute to read. If people are not interested, they are not obliged to click and read the link and can simply discard my message.
Facebook does not publish messages from people you are not friends with on your Messenger openly, they are very non-invasive; they simply show you that you have a message from this person. Then, if you click to read and interact, fine. You connect and from then on you can both see if the other person is online. If you find the message or the person to be bothering, you can simply click the “I do not want to hear from this person” message that Facebook displays at the bottom of all unsolicited messages. All set and done.
Now... I had sent the above message to four people. I did not hear any word from three even until now. And I did not bother to resend or do anything. I do not care. My task was to write and tell my story and share. It is out of me. If anybody is interested, they read. If not, I do not force anyone to anything, not that I can either. I am insistent when I believe someone has done wrong; however, I do NOT harass people. I just let my thoughts out, express myself and go about my business when I am done.
I never get any feedback or returns to any of my writings/solicitations. I have no expectations of people. But in this case, I was surprised! You see how Stephen Rothwell responded to my message, right? He put a like!
I said “Hmm?? Perhaps he got what I was trying to say and he will stop supporting Ric.”
I felt like I needed to thank him. Also, getting encouragement from Stephen's like, I wanted to ask something. Because you see, I am always trying to understand people's actions and the reasons behind them. So I wrote and said: "Hello, thanks. May I ask why you are supporting Ric? Just out of curiosity..."
You see, I am trying to get support for my Mission to Every Country to Burn Passports to Protest Birthplace Racism and Global Apartheid. I thought knowing/understanding why people support others might give me some insight into my endeavor.
And the answer I got from Stephen was: "I don't care about your problem with Ric. Please don't contact me again.
My first reaction was Hoppalaaa! (That's a Turkish word for Gosh!) “Why did you bother to put a thumbs up then?? Yeah, all you people are strange.”
But I was really bothered. Seriously... You may not be interested, you may not want to hear from someone, but there seriously is totally no reason for you to be mean like this. No reason for meanness. Unnecessarily. I wasn't a pest who was tugging at his shirt. I sent a simple message, which he put a like to and upon which I asked a simple question. Seriously... You don't treat people like shit. You don't just hit an old woman who only held an open hand to you asking for your help. Go on walking your way, you don't need to help. But don't be mean. Be ignorant/dismissive of people kindly.
I know there are millions of people out there asking for something, either money, or your signature on a change.org campaign, or calling for help for someone in need of blood, school money, help for finding shelter for cats and dogs etc. I understand... We are bombarded with these through social media. I understand... We cannot just dig into all of these and care for even a couple of these. The most we do is click a button, relieve our conscience and move on. But again, seriously... We don't have to be mean towards people who ask something from us.
I don't think Stephen had a right to respond to me like that. Especially after he put a like to my message. Perhaps he did it by mistake. But please, please... Take up responsibility if you have given the wrong impression to someone by mistake. I wrote to him first and asked.
“Then why did you put a like?”
I expected an answer at that point. No answer. Or for him to block me. He did neither. Then I thought hard about it: Whether to write something else or not. As obvious, I decided yes. I do not care what people think about me. Especially not those who are incapable of looking at themselves and the trouble they cause others.
To hell with any unnecessarily unkind person in this world. I'm trying to understand. He might have been upset, and might have responded like that. But no, he doesn't have a right to take out on me whatever unpleasantness he had. That's no excuse. Besides, if you do, you should be ready for repercussions like mine. Yes, I was upset. It felt like a slap on my face. And for no reason. I felt like a child slapped for asking an innocent question. I was fed up. Seriously... There are simpler and less aggressive ways to get people out of your life in the cyber world. Helloooo.... There is the block button.
I was very upset about him responding to me like that. I can never think of being so dismissive of anybody who has not done me any harm. Plus, he is giving me an order, and I don't take kindly to orders. Yes, there is a "Please" before the "Don't contact me again," but it's still an order. You know why?? Because it is something he could have taken action himself. If we ask other people to do something when we could simply solve it ourselves, it is definitely an order. There is a subtle difference there. Between kindly asking, requesting something from someone or being dominating.
I waited for him to respond to my question about why he put a like then? Just for him to say "It must have been by mistake" or something. I waited two days. No response.
Then... For the first time in my life, I wanted to be mighty like these people, so uncaring about others. Be mean like them. That's the language they understand.
If you call this harassing, then yes, I "have been harassing some of Ric's listeners."
I beg to differ.
Did I like writing and sending that? Well, no.
Do I think it was a nice thing to do? Not really.
But do I regret it? Hell no.
I don't like aggressive people who do not care about others. And I learnt, or rather life taught me to treat them in kind. So I don't care a bit about him or Ric either. Writing is my way of getting the poison people inject in me out. So that's it.
And oh sure, I blocked him right after sending that message ;)
Disgruntled II- Who can you apologize for?
Click to read to find out The Best Sleeping Pill...
It's not what you expect.
There once was a man in a town among towns. Was a lot his property and estates, his titles and reputation, he had inns and taverns and Turkish baths, he had children and grandchildren. He was also healthy and even happy.
There was another man far among faraways. Didn't have this or that, diamonds or other. But he was healthy and happy too.
The man who had everything got curious about the man who had nothing. People around kept talking about him. How could a man with nothing be happy? Our man was intrigued. Curiosity... It's not easy to hush once it takes over, makes a man hit the roads. As such, our man left his comfortable and warm house, to visit this man who had nothing.
When he arrived, he found the man he was looking for sitting in a naked room with a few worn out clothes and furniture. After an exchange of greetings he asked timidly: “May I ask your permission to ask you a question?”
Well, this was a question in itself but our man didn't seem to be aware. The estimable reverence didn't seem to mind, he nodded solemnly.
Upon which, our man asked “Where are your possessions?”
It's not good etiquette to answer a question with a question but the reverence reflected a mirror and asked:
“Where are yours?”
Surprised was our “man with so much”... Wasn't it obvious? Still, he answered the question not to compromise his manners.
“I'm a passer-by, I've come and I'll be going.”
The one with nothing answered as if he was waiting for this reply:
“I am a passer-by too in this world, I've come and I'm going.”
The Persian story of the ring with “This too shall pass” is famous.
When I was travelling the world as a solo woman, people always asked me if I was not afraid. My take on it was always “If no permanent damage is done, all is fine; it's just adventure.” I knew, from experience, that things that seemed troublesome at the time turned into fun stories later on. Whatever hardships you faced, you took a shower, had food, slept through the night, you were like brand new.
However, the key point here is... As long as no permanent damage being done. Unfortunately, in some cases, permanent damage can be caused. In such situations, it is not so easy to say “This too shall pass.” On the other hand, we humans are habitual creatures and we get used to everything.
The caption underneath this photo reads:
“How many days does poverty last father?”
“40 days my son.”
“Would we be rich after 40 days?”
“No son. We'd get used to it...”
Even with worse situations... Yes, there are worse situations. I have read stories of paraplegics. After a disabling accident or unexpected sudden illness, people are devastated. However, after some time passes, they get used to the new situation, psychological tests show that the overall happiness turns back to previous levels and stays the same. We are resilient.
That is, mostly... There always are those of us who cannot bear their situation and decide the only way out of the darkness is ending their life.
I used to see those people as weak links in the chain. I was brought up with the belief that taking one's life was a big sin, that you'd be burning in hell forever if you did. In fact, that fear held me from committing suicide during my adolescence years when my parents were going through an ugly divorce with constant fights involving physical violence. I don't know if I would have acted on it had I not been installed with the fear of hell, but it certainly was a deterrent from even contemplating the thought for long.
Anyway... Now, as someone with half a century behind her back, so many experiences and so much reading, writing and questioning, I am an agnostic and I do not judge those who commit suicide. Who knows that we don't get another chance at life after we die? Perhaps they are in a better place. Or perhaps, they are still struggling with their demons. Who can say? What I know is that this is what life on this world is, this is what humanity is. We all have our existential problems and no one is immune from this, not even the richest or the most famous. You may or may not like Jim Carrey, but I find his quote very illuminating:
To me, the other part of the story is more important. That is, thinking that moments of glory shall pass too. As someone who has been on the front cover of a national newspaper, I have sort of an idea what that means. I know people who are trying to reach every country, aiming for Guinness World Records. I follow some of them and see how they are after the spotlights and the interest that comes with it. However, in the end, they all fade away into the distance. A new person, a younger traveller, or someone after a more daring adventure takes their place under the flashlights. It all is transitory. Yes, sure, some last a bit longer, but in the end, all fade.
So “This too shall pass” is a good reminder to let go of your pride at such times.
However, there is a flip side of the coin here too. Because, if you see everything as passing by, you feel no need to do anything. So it is more about finding the balance and doing things with the knowledge and apprehension of our, our lives' and possessions' transitory nature.
Kim Kardeshian has millions upon millions of fans, she has 165 million followers. Similar personalities abound. They make good money too. Do I want to be like them? Sure not! Heaven forbid!
I am happy in my 3+1 small world. Even though it would be nice to enlarge it a bit more replacing the bad apples with some nicer ones and to have some sort of a following who cared for what I wrote. But I cannot complain. I know enough of the world to appreciate my blessings.
Puff... Some magic dust!
A bit of background for those who do not know Thor. Thor is a 40 year-old guy going to every country in the world (193+2), plus some more, he decided on 203 countries. His gimmick is he is doing this without flying. Ever.
Why did I need to add that “ever”? Because there is already Graham Hughes who is on the Guinness World Records for travelling the world without flying. However, Thor argues Graham flew a couple of times, back home and back to the place he left off. Even though Guinness had no objections to that and approved Graham's record, Thor says that does not count.
Where is Thor now?
In Hong Kong.
Stuck in Hong Kong.
How far is he into this project?
You want to know time-wise, distance-wise or country-wise?
Well, he left in October 3, 2013. So that makes 6,5 years.
He is in country number 194. That is he has 9 countries left.
Seems sort of the end of the road is close. Not really. All those countries are islands and with this coronavirus outbreak, every gate is closed; be it the countries closing their doors or cargo ships, the only alternatives to flights, not accepting any passengers who are not essential for running of the operations on the ship.
Thor is also trying to promote the message. “Keep on keeping on” and that you'll get where you want to be if you never give up.
That is a good motto.
Unless of course you are stuck somewhere where you don't wish to be, when you've got better things to do. When life is going on without you, passing by in front of your eyes while you wait for things to change, biding your time... No, it's not so good.
Biding your time when you are mentally at the end of your limits, when you have been like that for such a long time. Nopes, not a good idea.
You see, Thor has been stuck in Hong Kong for two months plus.
He's been stuck in Lebanon and other places too before. Waiting for visas. Hoping to get some access to some hard-to-get-in country.
He has had to deal with bureaucrazy too many times. He has had to do turn arounds and retrace his steps for tens of thousands of kilometers because there was no overland access to the place he wanted to go from the place he was.
I wouldn't want to be in Thor's place now.
Well, even he doesn't want to be in his place either.
But isn't it funny?
He has put all these restrictions on himself. 24 hours in every country. It doesn't matter if he has to sleep like homeless people out in the cold on the street, twisting and turning.
Here are two screen-shots from his blog:
Ah, and of course no going back before the trip is finished. Well, this one he has to keep because he wants to be unique. He wants to be above Graham. He wants the grandeur. He wants to bask in the glory of being the one and only. Well... Even if not one and only he will always be the first. That's what he is after.
At the end of one of his posts, Thor says he did a Skype call with students in Hong Kong and he got asked the question “Is the journey more about experiences or setting a record?”
Thor just says: “Brilliant!!”
Doesn't answer the question directly. But I suppose when he says “Brilliant” he implies that it is about experiences. After all, we all know that that is the “correct” answer!
However, I'd say, if Thor was honest to himself, he'd admit that it is more about the record or at least finishing up what he started rather than experiences at this point. As it is obvious he doesn't enjoy being out there and would much rather prefer to experience a different life after so much time on the road.
But he will not tell you such a thing.
Actually, he will tell you he is doing other things with this project. He is inspiring people, he is showing people that you'll reach your goal when you keep hanging on. Like he answered the person who labelled his saga as a vanity project.
Well... I'd ask him:
“Thor... You want to give the lesson that it is ok to torture yourself by self-impositions which aim at grandeur??”
You know what would be so cool and really shoot Thor up to respectable status for me (not that he'd care to be respected by me of course but still...) If he could just go to every country and skip the last one. Even find the boat or transportation to the last one and not go. Or go and not stay 24 hours.
Like the great sailor Bernard Moitessier did in the “1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race, the first non-stop, singlehanded, round the world yacht race. With the fastest circumnavigation time towards the end of the race, Moitessier was the likely winner for the fastest voyage, but he elected to continue on to Tahiti and not return to the start line in England, rejecting the idea of the commercialization of long distance sailing.” (From Wikipedia)
“One of the world's most famous ocean sailors, Moitessier had sailed for more than a year from Plymouth, England to the Indian Ocean when he inexplicably abandoned the lead in the 1968-1969 Round-the-World single-handed race. He sailed to Tahiti, dropped anchor and dropped out.” BoatUS
Sailing Inland & Offshore writes:
“For Moitessier, the race finished in mid-Pacific after he had passed the three Capes and crossed his outward track, leading, and with the hardest sections behind him, he decided to forfeit the race and continue into the Pacific again, to anchor finally among friends in Tahiti. His actions were never explained by the news media; they could not have been, for the voyage had always been seen by Moitessier as something other than a sponsored, publicized, competitive event. It was on the ocean, alone with his boat, that Moitessier began to regard this as a voyage that could not end for him with the reward of those whose values were not his.”
A voyage that could not end for him with the reward of those whose values were not his.
Yes, this is the important point. What are your values?
Unfortunately, for Thor, the values are his too. That's the trouble; that's the dilemma.
I wish he could be strong enough to give up these values.
It really would be to his advantage/profit. As a person. Make him grow as a person.
Sunk Costs Fallacy- Escalated Commitment
I know Thor is never going to do that.
But apart from that, he should still be giving up the project. If only to cut his losses.
On one of Thor's posts, Ric Gazarian commented:
“Keep up the good fight! Your patience is amazing!”
"It's not patience, it's having no other choice!" I replied.
"Going back at this point after investing so much time and effort would be such a downer that it is not really an option. Plus, obviously, having the right to brag about being to every country without flying is such a big deal to Thor to pass up."
However, if Thor knew any better he'd give the sunk cost fallacy some deep thought. Sunk cost fallacy makes you act stupidly. There is something called Escalation of commitment related to that. Which is "a human behavior pattern in which an individual or group facing increasingly negative outcomes from a decision, action, or investment nevertheless continues the behavior instead of altering course. The actor maintains behaviors that are irrational, but align with previous decisions and actions."
One can never get back the time, nor the money spent on some dream to pursue. So people keep playing, they keep on keeping on to avoid the pain of loss. Negative impulses are greater than positive ones. It is so designed for our survival.
However, for Thor, he shouldn't feel it as a loss. As he has greatly benefited from the experience already. In fact, he has benefited enough. But now, it is just costing him, taking away from him. Without adding any more value.
On his “You Are Not So Smart” website, David McRaney writes about the sunk cost fallacy:
“It is a noble and exclusively human proclivity, the desire to persevere, the will to stay the course – studies show lower animals and small children do not commit this fallacy. Wasps and worms, rats and raccoons, toddlers and tikes, they do not care how much they’ve invested or how much goes to waste. They can only see immediate losses and gains. As an adult human being, you have the gift of reflection and regret. You can predict a future place where you must admit your efforts were in vain, your losses permanent, and when you accept the truth it is going to hurt.”
There is merit in giving up. When you realize that what you are after is not worth it. It's called cutting your losses.
IT IS OK TO QUIT!
I believe Thor is now at a point where whatever he does, he'll be regretting it later in life. He will always wonder what if he had taken the other road, done the other thing.
If he goes on, he'll regret it:
I suppose by now it is clear that this Covid-19 is not as innocent as Thor was claiming at the beginning. Someone in his family or his circle might get sick. He'll be feeling the guilt of not being there for them.
Or suppose he completes the project and returns, but they have trouble having a child. Thor will be blamed. “You and your stupid saga...” I can hear his now fiance, future wife if be, saying.
Perhaps I am too pessimistic. I am a doom's day scenarist.
I really hope he doesn't hear these words but if he does, they will definitely hurt. They'll hurt much more than a stranger calling his project vain.
He will wonder if he should have gone back. Gone back when he was stuck like this. Instead of trying to push it through, waiting a pandemic wave to pass.
He will wonder if it was worth giving up his personal life for the glory of that Guinness World Record he craved so much.
Upon return, he will realize most people do not care at all. Even the ones who followed him back then, that is those who are applauding him now... They'll be long gone too, gone after their own life, or following a new traveller guru after Thor has finished.
At that point Thor will realize the meaninglessness of it all, he'll find life empty once again. He will realize that all these “rewards” he was after were not worth. That they do not give satisfaction.
Yet I know... If he returns home now, he'll regret it too. He'll always wonder what would have happened if he had grit his teeth and endured, what opportunities he missed.
I, of course, wish none of this happens. That the road is cleared soon, even if a month or two, and he goes on to complete t/his project.
It means so much more to him, I know that very well. I wish he finishes his saga, returns and has a happy life, basking in the glory and reaping the rewards of his efforts and “patience”. Unfortunately, real life rarely works that way. It never runs smoothly or as we hope it to. The repercussions, the unintended consequences of our actions follow us.
Life never matches with our expectations.
Even though, of course, it sometimes does surprise us and exceeds our expectations. Mind you, that usually happens when we listen to what it is telling us to do instead of persisting stubbornly on the path we are obsessed with.
The question is... Which one you will regret less?
It is said that at the end of your life, you regret the things you didn't do, not the ones you did. But here, Thor is not doing one thing when choosing to do the other.
Another thing that is said is that you never think "I should have worked more" at the end of your life. You wish you'd have spent more time with your family and for yourself.
So for Thor, I think the choice is obvious.
I know you want to keep on keeping on but life has a way of letting us know when to stop. It guides us, if only we should listen.
We are human beings who should be capable of weighing situations and changing plans.
As in Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler”
"You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run..."
PS: Actually, this piece was meant to be written privately to Thor. However, I couldn't find his email address on his website (he doesn't have it). So I changed all the second persons to third person and published here thinking it is also good advice or good food for thought for everybody.
PPS: Of course, for Thor to give up at this point, it would mean such shame and feeling of failure. So how to deal with that? How to get over that?
The Way Out... is hidden in the wind.
PPPS: If you think what I write is worth something, please support me on Patreon
Somebody has apparently called what Thor is doing “a vanity project” and he found it hurtful. I understand that very well. There is always someone who interprets what you are trying to do in a bad light and it is not nice. I've had my share of hurtful comments like I was waiting for applause etc.
Most “ordinary” people are not aware of what it is to be out travelling like Thor, they have never been out in the world like that. They do not know what it is to be away from your home for so long, to miss the familiar, to have to run after visas and arranging transportation day after day month after month year after year. They do not know what it is to not to be able to enjoy the small ordinary things of routine life. You cannot expect them to understand either. We all use guidelines based on our own experiences.
On the other hand, it is true that it is a vanity project. Every “every country chaser” is a vanity project especially those who do it publicly, publicizing, not privately.
Safe from mine of course ;)
Just joking... I mean I of course I keep my project out of the vanity travel projects but -apart from the likes of Anthony Asael, the Israeli guy who has been helping villages etc. or Sal Lavallo or perhaps a handful of other people's who do not center on themselves but their project- most world travel “expeditions” are vanity projects.
Thor says he replied saying:
““I have met with and promoted the humanitarian work of the Red Cross Red Crescent across 189 countries. In turn this has brought the movement more volunteers, more donations and more visibility. In addition to that I have shown thousands of people a world behind the cameras. A world where a mothers love to her child is no less across any border. The Saga also inspires many people to chase their dreams and motivates them not to give up when it gets hard. It is such a vanity project”.”
Well... Sorry but if you are after a Guinness World Record, that definitely goes under the category of a vanity project.
What's worse, there are now people going to every country twice; it is becoming a race towards vanity and stupidity.
Open Message to Thor
I had written this to Thor as a comment on his website last year. If he could do this, he could get out of the classification of a vanity project:
Keep on keeping on on your project. But please do NOT keep on keeping on the blind faith in the antiquated status quo of borders, people defined by the borders they are born into and their radius of movement on the earth defined by their nationalities and visas required from them.
Ahh... And I have a proposition for you. Would you like to take over my flag and burn your passports at the end of this trip? :)) I guess that would be too much to ask of you, I believe you cannot bring yourself to burn and destroy those passports which you have worked and suffered so much for. They are a testimony to your feat. Well, you can get the Guinness certification and burn them ;)
I know you won't be doing it, but if you did, I believe only then would you take your place in the records of humanity as a true pioneer. Just think of this... How would people who live in a borderless world and see this current state of the world like the way we see Apartheid or slavery today look at you and your project? How would those future generations look at you?
Someone in that distant future would be just travelling all the “countries” without the need to get any visas or cross any borders in no significant amount of time; s/he might even trace your exact steps, only without the visa and border hassles. How long would it take? Definitely less than a year.
What do you think they'd think of you? I'd say they'd think you a fool. So I'd beware if I were you, lest you go down history as a laughing stock while intending to be written as the biggest hero in history ;) Or of course there'd still be people who hail you as the greatest hero of your time because of your achievement. I believe those will be the minority though.
Homo sapiens is the most stuck-up name a species has bestowed upon itself. If there really will be a true homo sapiens in the future, I have no doubt they will look at us only as fools, hopefully they'd not only condescend us but feel pity for us too. Even though being pitied is not a nice thing either, under the circumstances, I suppose that should be a welcome judgement for us.
This is part of a seven piece series on the EPS- Every Passport Stamp Facebook group and Counting Countries podcast. The following are the foreword to this piece:
My EPS Adventure- Behind the Scenes
Asked to Come Back
A Call to Ric Gazarian's Patrons
Threats and Controversy
A Podcast Gone Wrong
Why am I still bothered with this issue even after two years??
1- I was mobbed for no other reason than trying to do something good for the community. Mother Theresa has said “If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.” It is so true; they do. Afterwards she said “Do good anyway.” Well... I'm not so sure about that. Why should I still do good to get back sticks and stones??
2- Then the discussion was closed to comments. My right to answer was taken away from me.
It is feeling not being heard. Worse, it is feeling someone covering your mouth, preventing you from even speaking up. So I realize that's why I feel relieved when I write these and express my thoughts. It's not important that anybody cares and understands; I mean it is important of course, if people cared and understood that is much more preferable. Still... Even just Knowing that you spoke your truth is liberating.
3- I was slandered by Ric when he announced I was kicked out from the group for several violations. That wrong was never made right.
It's not okay and not enough to just simply change it on his website where nobody goes and reads, the mistake had to be acknowledged and the correction had to be disseminated to the same audience. A Call to Ric's Patrons
4- Ric also dismissed the most important thing to me at the time. The wish to protest Global Apartheid, Birthplace Racism. I say “at the time” because now our lives have changed with the coronavirus and all that has lost its meaning, people are not moving anyway. But I am glad that at least the Western world is not moving either, so it doesn't feel so unfair.
5- There was en masse hatred for some people in the community and the ones who spoke out the hatred were never reprimanded. I was the only one who spoke out against the unjust hatred, nobody backed me up. It upsets me people not having any values.
It also upsets me that this hatred was illogical and seemed like a womanly jealousy.
Mother Theresa also said: “People are illogical, unreasonable, self-centered. Love them anyway.”
Well... It is really hard to like such people. Sorry, I'm not there yet. As a matter of fact, got a long way to get there! Misanthropy seems to fit me better. But maybe one day I'll learn to love people regardless.
6- I was disenchanted that Stefan went along with it too. Didn't say anything to them. The fact that he was not present and not invested in the group but was there only to reprimand when someone complained makes things even more upsetting. The double-standard was so in your eyes. Plus, singling out of individuals to ostracize is wrong.
7- Ric asked me to go on the podcast a second time. I accepted but asked why. He said I had interesting stories, good. But he also said “this one is going to be even more controversial.” Which was basically his motive, to use me as controversy material for his interest. I understand him, but he doesn't understand that I don't say things to be controversial but I believe in them. And it is seriously not nice to feel you were used.
8- When a conflict or an argument ensues, especially in a group, nobody remembers the details after some time.
People just keep the feeling. The feeling of being wronged or someone being unreasonable. We just attach a label to that person and put them on a shelf. That label is either “like” or “dislike”.
It is the same even with our friends, family and immediate circle. But because we interact with the immediate circle on a daily basis, we sometimes get a chance to review that label, we sometimes go back and discuss the issue over with the details that has stuck out on each party. So it is possible to update that label. Seeing the other party's view, being able to look at it from different angles makes a difference. Plus, the passage of time provides you the distance to put things into perspective. The more distance you put between the event and yourself -that is you get away from taking it personal- the wider view you get to see things more clearly.
However, when you have been the victim of mobbing in a group, your label is generally never put into review again. People do not have that kind of time to invest on strangers. None of us do.
So I have been labeled the “irrational” or “crazy” one, the “wrong” or the “problematic” one. Which I do not agree of course.* Still, it is not nice.
People have a right to their opinion. But when that opinion is formed without full information, it is upsetting.
I am not a person who is after being liked. That is my husband. I, on the contrary, show my difficult side and try people. To sort out the worthy ones.
Do I care about the ones who label me like these? Obviously, they are not the ones for me, to understand me, to care for me.
Plus, there is something else in there. It is not true I had no one who understood me. I have a handful, or let's say a couple of people from the group who still interact with me and consider me “worthy”. That is enough for me. Those are the people I care about anyway.
So in the end, all is good.
* There is some reason for people to label me "irrational" but that only means they have not tried to understand. Not all rants are equal, just like not all children who throw tantrums are wrong. Sometimes children throw tantrums and it is well within their right. Sometimes adults go into rants and they have totally valid reasons for it.