AIRBNB is all very well, with pretty high scores in user reviews.

We used the system when we had a drive in Targa Tasmania three years ago, and we had excellent accommodation in every part of the spectacular island.

But things didn’t work out quite so well for a Brit named Ben Speller.

A soccer tragic, he just had to go to see his team, Tottenham Hotspur, playing the Dutch Ajax outfit in Amsterdam a couple of weeks ago.

He saw a three-bed listing on Airbnb for a ‘clean home in Amsterdam with private bathroom’ for £100, which is about $180 in our folding stuff.

It seemed almost too good to be true, given the importance of the Champions League soccer match, but bargains do pop up once in a while, so he thought it was his lucky day, and snapped it up.

However, he was left speechless when he arrived at the address to find it was actually a shipping container on the roadside. And the ‘private bathroom’ was a portable loo.

“We had already driven past the container three times in the taxi trying to find the place,” he said.

“We thought, ‘This can’t be it.’”

But the address on Pauwenpad in the Frankendael district of the Dutch capital was correct.

“We opened the door and looked inside, then locked up again, and left,” he said.

Inside, the accommodation in the ‘clean home’ turned out to be three single mattresses with three pillows and one large sheet stretched across all three makeshift beds.

Two doors were visible from the outside – one leading to the ‘bedroom’ and the other to a small grey portable toilet.

So Ben got back in the cab and asked to be taken to a hotel.

Then he called the Airbnb owner, identified only as Jakob, voiced his disappointment and demanded a refund.

Jakob replied with the Dutch equivalent of ‘get lost’ so next day Ben got hold of Airbnb.

After explaining his predicament, his £100 was returned, as well as £230 (about $420) for the emergency hotel stay.

The container was later reported and removed by city contractors.

Airbnb was not amused.

“We have removed the host and listings from our platform,” a spokesman said.

“Misrepresented or fraudulent listings have no place in our business.”

To cheer Ben up a bit, Hotspur came from behind to draw with Ajax in the soccer match, but won on aggregate.

Suck that up, Jakob.


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Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.
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