Non-binary Airbnb guest fined £100 after being mistaken for ‘curly-haired gentleman’

Lucy Merryweather was on good terms with her Airbnb host in Perthshire until they were possibly “mistaken for a man” and fined £100 for sneaking in a third person

Lucy Merryweather, 32, from Cambridge, is boycotting Airbnb
Lucy Merryweather, 32, from Cambridge, is boycotting Airbnb

A non-binary Airbnb guest claims his host tried to charge a £100 fee for “smuggling in a curly-haired gentleman” when it was himself.

Lucy Merryweather, who sports a “manly” hairstyle and clothes, was enjoying a holiday in Perthshire, Scotland, with her partner last month when the mix-up happened.

As the 32-year-old checked out, Lucy said they were spotted by two people believed to be cleaners, who reported that a “gentile with curly brown hair” was also seen leaving.

When confronted with a supposed secret third guest, Lucy explained that only two people were staying at the property.

But when they returned home, the communications manager discovered the host had tried to charge an extra £100 for the supposed third guest and took the issue to Airbnb himself.

Lucy said the “third guest” was actually her


Kennedy News and Media)

Airbnb claimed the review did not violate any rules


Kennedy News and Media)

The host also left a review claiming “it’s clear” three adults had stayed at the property and warning other Airbnb users not to rent to Lucy.

Although Lucy explained the situation, she couldn’t have the review removed because Airbnb reportedly determined that it “did not violate their nondiscrimination policy.”

Due to the upsetting and frustrating experience, Lucy has decided to stop using Airbnb and share her experience on social media to warn other non-binary people of what might be happening.

Lucy, from Cambridge, said: ‘We were on friendly terms with this host until we left.

“She had left us a letter, left us some brownies and recommended some walks for us. We even spoke the day we left the property.

“We checked out in the morning and saw two people on the host’s property that we had never seen before – an older man and a younger woman. We thought they were there to clean the apartment.

Lucy was unable to remove the host’s review


Kennedy News and Media)

“Ninety minutes after checking out, I checked my phone and saw that I had received a message from the host stating that a third person had been seen leaving the cottage.

“My suspicion is that one of them told her that. She asked me, ‘Do you have a third person with you?’ and I said ‘absolutely not’.

“She wrote back saying that a hairless gentleman – my partner – and a gentleman with curly brown hair were seen getting into my car.

“The problem is that ‘a gentleman with curly brown hair’ is a pretty accurate description of me.

“There’s a 50/50 chance that I could be identified as either gender by random people on the street.”

It was only when Lucy returned to Cambridge that they saw the situation escalate further.

Lucy said: “When I got home on May 31, I saw that the host had tried to charge me an extra £100.

Lucy was frustrated with the host’s feedback


Kennedy News and Media)

“But because she couldn’t prove what she claimed, the charges didn’t go through.

“She had escalated it to Airbnb’s dispute service. They got in touch with me and asked me what happened, I gave them a pretty thorough breakdown of what happened from my perspective.

“My suspicion was that someone saw us at the property, mistook me for a man and reported me as the third party.

“Airbnb came back to me and said the host couldn’t provide documentation to prove I had a third party, so from their perspective the matter was closed.

“Meanwhile, the hostess had left a public review saying she believed I had smuggled a third person in and therefore could not recommend me as a guest to other hosts.

“I contacted Airbnb’s dispute resolution service again and asked them to remove the review.

“They came back to me and said that they had done the review according to their review policy and that it was not against the policy, so the review can stand.”

Lucy believes this was all due to a misunderstanding about her gender representation and gender identity.

Airbnb said it is investigating the matter



They added: “I told them I was concerned there was an aspect of discrimination at play. This host told people not to rent to me based on an incorrect assumption about what I looked like.

“At that point, Airbnb escalated it to their anti-discrimination team, who came back and said the review did not violate their anti-discrimination policy and that they would not remove it.

“In my opinion, if a host says ‘don’t rent to this person’ because they made a mistake about me based on my presentation, that’s probably discrimination.

“I didn’t text the hostess back because a few days had passed when I saw that she had escalated it with Airbnb.

“I didn’t want to argue with her about it, I wanted to trust Airbnb’s dispute resolution process.

“After they said they wouldn’t remove the review, I wrote a rather lengthy reply to the review explaining what I think happened.”

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When they realized that Airbnb would not withdraw the review, Lucy decided to stop using the platform.

Lucy said: “I ended up getting very frustrated with Airbnb’s customer service and deactivated my account.

“It was a very frustrating and upsetting experience.

“The rating makes it less likely that someone will rent from me in the future and to be honest I probably won’t use Airbnb in the future because it was a really horrible experience.”

“If they had been willing to remove the review I would have been perfectly satisfied. I didn’t seek compensation.

“Ultimately this company said they were fine with this. It was so disappointing for me as a customer.”

An Airbnb spokesman said, “We take allegations of discrimination seriously and are investigating this matter.”

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