Couchsurfing in Rabat, Morocco, with Oualid, a chilled guy with a warm heart.
During the year 2014 I had awful experiences with Couchsurfing. Three years using it full on, for the first time I wrote negative and neutral references, I had bad experiences and felt like shit sometimes.
In 2011 Couchsurfing became a corporation, including ads in the site and raising $22 millions in venture capital funds. I don't think is wrong to earn money with a website that was non-profit before, it also brings positive things like more employment and website improvement. But please don't destroy the spirit, don't kill such a beautiful community. As a matter of fact, a bunch of couch surfers complain a lot in travelers forums about negative experiences they have been experiencing the last months. Also what the hell are you doing with the website design? It's confusing and changes every month, so you have to learn all over again where the groups are, how can you be hosted, how to send a reference, etc etc.
Couchsurfing has now 10 million members (the same number of population in Portugal, wow) and got so commecial that a large amount of members are using it for dating purposes or to find a way to get money promoting their business like tours or hostels.
I can tell you my own experiences. In March I traveled in Morocco during 5 weeks and to emerge in the culture Bruno and I decided to use couch surfing. As soon as we started searching for possible hosts we couldn't believe in our eyes: mostly of profiles were incomplete with lack of information about the couch surfer and mostly with at least one neutral/negative reference. We usually try to send 5-7 couch requests to have bigger chances to be hosted but in Morocco we would send 0-3 requests. Yes, zero because we would give up, it's better staying in a hostel then with someone we don't share same interests or do not trust or with good argumentative negative references.
Worse, we were hosted by 2 guys who were living in a cultural house and said if we want a tea or coffee we had to pay for it! What? Other couch surfers we met to show us around just wanted to sell tours. I cannot count the private messages I got in couch surfing inbox with guys who wanted to meet up for flirting with their super sweet and cheesy messages or other couchsurfers selling desert tours. This is completly out of mind and unacceptable! CS wasn't build for this.
Another three bad experiences I experienced:
1. This guy who invited us to stay in his house in Bogota and in the day of arrival he cancelled. We didn't even asked him, it was really desrepectful because we were counting on him.
2. We spent Christmas 2014 with a couchsurfer who got so drunk that started to be nasty calling us invaders and to get out of his place! We felt tiny and left pretty disappointed because we thought we were friends and there was a connection there.
3. A guy in Salsalito (close to San Francisco) who invited us to stay in his boat house and. although he was a nice person, he was clearly taking advantage of not having money so couch surfers would pay for his food. We often cook for our hosts, we try to show portuguese cuisine but we have no obligation at all to do so.
I found a really sad new about an italian police man who was using Couchsurfing to sexually assault women. (Read Here) How sad is that?
Spending New Year's Eve with a friendly couchsurfer Angie, her family and Lorenzo who was doing AirBnB in her place.
In the top of this, there are people using Couch Surfing as a Free Accomodation, when it's not the point at all! Luckly all the couch surfers I hosted were nice, polite, social but I heard stories of couchsurfers leaving the house all day, come back at night and go to sleep directly, not even saying a Hello to their hosts. Or couchsurfers who eat all fridge food, or others who just want free wifi and stay all day in the computer not even interacting once with the host.
I recommend you guys to read this post by Dale: Why Couchsurfing is free is a myth. and the comments as well.
Of course, there are really awesome couchsurfers out there with the true spirit of sharing stories and exchanging their culture but seems they are only a few and rare these days.
I thought about deleting my account many times but how can I do it? I made friends with a lot of couchsurfers and the only way we contact eachother is by CS website... Few of them don't have facebook account.
Good News though! There are little angels out there building other Hospitality Exchange Websites that I will talk about them soon in the blog, after a good research ;)
Are you a Couchsurfer? Did you have a bad experience with couchsurfers? What happened? If you are not a couch surfer, what do you think about the website?
We were the first Couchsurfers of Gabriel, who hosted us few days in Quito, Ecuador