The Great Dress Robbery at San Sebastián Airbnb

I was staying in San Sebastián last August and left all my best dresses hanging in the wardrobe; I was pregnant and running for a 5:00 AM train. I contacted the host the same day and arranged for him to send all my things back to Sydney. He seemed agreeable at the time and then I never heard from him again. He refused to answer any phone calls or messages. I estimate my lost items cost almost $2000 in dresses, some with the price tags still attached. I have spoken to a half dozen Airbnb team members over the last six months who have dropped my claim without even contacting me. This is what I received from a staff member (please see image). I’m so shocked at the lack of professionalism and patronising tone of this email.

Absurd Cancellation Fees One Day After Reservation

I was just planning a trip to Italy in June (their high season) for a wedding and I wanted to talk to some of the hosts to be sure the place where the wedding was being held was close enough. Some of the places had automatic reservations, which means that if you wanted to ask the host anything, you first needed to reserve the place. I booked two places, because in the cancellation fee policy it said I could cancel them any time until 30 days before my arrival. Once I got answers from the hosts and determined which place was better for us to stay (a day after) I went ahead, canceled one, and kept the other. When I saw my account I was reimbursed but for 190€ less. Now they say that there’s a new policy for multiple reservations where they will keep the Airbnb service fee even if you cancel a reservation an hour after making. But this is not shown anywhere unless you look at the really fine print. Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations on how to recover this 190€?

Paris Host Trying to Steal Security Deposit

My bad luck began when I found a really charming apartment in Paris on Airbnb and cancelled my hotel at booking.com. Apparently my host was very sweet, but time and again proved to be greedy. She demanded money for everything including early check in, a crib, and even an extra sofa bed which was listed in the property details already. Anyway, I paid and stayed there. I left yesterday and she knew I was in Paris for few more hours after check out and didn’t contact me at all. Now she opened a request for damaged goods demanding 500 euros. And what she listed doesn’t even exist in her apartment. Now she says her maid took pictures which she hasn’t shared yet, but reading stories here I’m not very optimistic. Should I block my credit card already? I have another booking coming up with Airbnb in two days for which I have already paid in advance. I’m not sure what to do.

Host and Guest Agree, Still Shorted on Refund

My story starts off in Athens, Greece on September 28th, 2016. I went into my Airbnb account and booked a stay with Konstantinos for $244. For some reason, the app stated the property was not available for my dates, and I would have to search and find another property. I did find another property for the same dates but for $318; this was a bit more but I needed somewhere to stay. Shortly after I received a message from Konstantinos stating that the property was not yet clean and it would take three more hours to be ready. I immediately contacted the host and bought the glitch in the system to their attention and that my credit card had been charged. My credit card should not have been charged because the dates were not available, so I had to rebook with another property for the same dates. Konstantinos asked me to please go and cancel the request and they would refund my full amount back to me. Konstantinos stated this made their ratings look bad and please go into the app and cancel the transaction and all my money would be refunded back to me. Here is a copy of the Airbnb messages between the two of us:

Konstantinos: Good morning! I am very happy that you will stay in my house! Can we set an appointment there at 14:30, because the house has to be cleaned and ready for you. Is it ok with you? Also consider that you need about two hours to get to the center from the metro. Waiting for your response and I will send you all the information about how to come here and check in! All the best, Kostas.

Me: I am sorry but my credit card didn’t go through and we booked with someone else.

Konstantinos: Okay, but I still see that you booked with me. Are you sure you cancelled? Because if not, your credit card is going to be charged. All the best, Kostas.

Me: Can you please release the charge? We tried to book with you and an error stated I could not book because the dates were not available.

Konstantinos: I cannot cancel the charge because I have penalties on my status from Airbnb. You have to cancel the reservation. Please try to do it and message me. Thank you.

Me: I will call Airbnb.

Me: I will text you back with an update.

Konstantinos: Okay, but please try to do it quickly to avoid charges and also it looks like the place is booked now. It is not good for me. Thank you.

Me: Yes, I know it is showing booked; that is why the system said my dates were not available to book, and my credit card was still charged. I did cancel but my money has not been released. My bank said you can release the authorization hold on my credit card.

Konstantinos: As i told you, you have to cancel. If I cancel, I will have penalties on my Airbnb status. After you cancel I will refund you, don’t worry. But if you don’t cancel ASAP I will lose money because the place looks like it is booked. Please cancel ASAP. Thank you.

Konstantinos: Did you contact Airbnb?

Me: No. I did go in and cancel the booking, so I will go back and recheck.

Me: Okay, see if it is canceled now.

Konstantinos: I just refunded the whole amount, 170 euros. Thank you and maybe next time!

You canceled this reservation

You will receive a full refund of $216 based on Konstantinos’s Strict cancellation policy.

You should expect to receive this amount in your VISA 9205 account by Thu, Oct 06.

However, I was only refunded $217.00 (didn’t include the service fee) and the very next day I was charged another $244.00 on my credit card again. I have tried endlessly to have the wrong corrected but haven’t had any success. Can anyone help or give me some suggestions on this matter?

Granada Horror Story: Left Out in the Cold

I booked a place in Granada, Spain for two nights. I called the host the day before my arrival to say I expected to arrive in Granada around 4:00 PM (I rented a car for the trip from Cordoba) When I arrived (at 4:09 PM) I called the host to arrange a meet-up. There was no answer. What could I do? I decided to try and drive to the apartment address but after two hours of driving around in circles I gave up and parked the car in a public parking facility. Then I noticed the host had texted me to say the key was in a cafe (no address given). I found the cafe online and called – no answer – so I took a cab there. The cafe was closed even though their website said they were open to midnight. I started to get a stream of unintelligible text messages from the host. In one he confessed he had no cellphone connectivity at work (where he presumably was) even though he had sent several texts, but never once did he answer my dozens of phone calls.

Finally, in one message he seemed to suggest he would be free by 10:00 PM, six hours after my arrival. I had had enough of this run-around, plus I was traveling with a sick companion who needed to get to a warm bed as soon as possible. I cancelled and booked a room in a nearby hotel. To this date the host refuses to give me even a partial refund, even though I am within my rights for a refund on at least one of the two nights. After reading all of the horror stories about Airbnb’s “customer service” I haven’t bothered to waste any time trying to get them to take action. And yes, you cannot post a review for a cancelled reservation. Needless to say, I will never book again through Airbnb; you pay upfront and then you are totally at the mercy of the so-called “host”. I hope the U.S. government or someone takes action and shuts this whole scam operation down.

Late Arrival, Host Abandoned me in Belfast

I was suppose to stay with a host in Belfast tonight. We agreed to check in at 8:00 PM earlier in the day. After encountering an accident in the highway I messaged to say that I would be there around 20:30. I arrived at 20:30 only to have him message me, saying: “You missed check-in. Your problem. You know the rules.” He then stopped responding to all forms of communication. Firstly, that is a shocking response. Airbnb hosts surely can’t be allowed to be completely rigid on precise check-in times, especially when you’re traveling from far away. And if they do need to go somewhere surely there has to be a way to come to a solution. I even offered to come and collect the keys from wherever he was and no reply. Secondly, having no way to contact anyone or to charge my phone, I was left stranded in the cold. Airbnb was also no help and the call center was unresponsive. I love Airbnb but now I can see that it’s a horrible service when they have not vetted the host properly – because central customer support is shocking. I didn’t even get a full refund; they kept the funds for future use. I’m inclined to never use the service again.

Thirdly, the “community” that Airbnb is supposedly trying to build surely doesn’t have room for this kind of host but it’s in moments like this that I see that they don’t do anything to vet hosts. Lastly, even after posting all of this, I’ve tried to find a way to contact Airbnb and complain; there is basically no way to contact them. It’s shocking. What are they taking the +10% service fee for? Surely there should be an email complaint service that all customer based organizations have – even terrible ones. The reservation was canceled and so trying to get help about it is no longer an option. Pathetic, especially from a company built upon an image of customer service. The minute you and the host can’t resolve an issue it all goes pear shaped. Airbnb, I hope being left stranded doesn’t happen often. You have no idea the emotional distress caused by being stranded alone, with luggage and in a foreign place especially when it’s dark, rainy and cold. I at least could afford a hotel – most people can not.

Airbnb Consented and Approved of Fraud

I’d like to share with you how I was a victim of a fraud while using Airbnb’s platform and how surprisingly the company is doing nothing to prevent such fraud from continuing to happen. I used Airbnb for the first time to rent two apartments in Amsterdam for myself and seven of my friends, and after browsing Airbnb’s offers I saw that many hosts ask users to contact them via email in order to book the apartment rather than speaking to them on Airbnb (see screen shots below). I talked to a host via email and he sent me a confirmation regarding the booking for two apartments (it looks like a confirmation from Airbnb). I paid the host 2,100 Euros via wire transfer – and lost my money. I acted as many innocent and unexperienced users might do: following the instructions of an Airbnb host listed on Airbnb under the assumption that if information is published on Airbnb then it’s okay to comply, especially when Airbnb said nothing about avoiding this kind of practice when creating an account.

Now there are two major problems with Airbnb regarding this case:

1. Why does Airbnb allow its hosts to publish instructions to its users that are allegedly against Airbnb’s policies? Airbnb claims that they would never ask a user to go out of their site to talk to hosts but they allow hosts do to so and by that allow its users to be scammed by criminals using Airbnb’s site?

2. Even after I talked to Airbnb’s Customer Support and Risk Management Departments and described how the fraud works – the same fraudulent hosts and others were still active on Airbnb, publishing the same instructions to users and continuing to scam people out of their money all under Airbnb’s nose– the company did nothing about it. Even though they were fully aware and knew everything they needed to know about this fraud (as I said, my friend sent them screen shots and a full explanation of how it works), they did nothing. Only after I published the story on Facebook, tagging Airbnb, did they “kindly” remove the fake hosts from the site and there were about six of them in the Amsterdam section alone.

Airbnb is saying that they are responsible for their users’ safety but in practice they are doing nothing to protect their users from criminals using their site and platform. They can and must do so using very little resources, and to add to them doing nothing they also ignored my many emails and phone calls to their support center and responded only after the story was published on Facebook. Is that a user-concerned site and company? Is that the type of security and service a company of Airbnb’s scale should supply its customers? I regret to say that Airbnb’s behavior is shameful and shows just how much they care about the safety of their users and customers: not at all.

Airbnb Amsterdam Scam: Fake Payment Email

I recently went onto Airbnb looking for an apartment in Amsterdam to rent for a weekend. I found a perfect one, sent it to my friend, and we all agreed to book. I clicked on the “contact your host” button on the Airbnb website, checked with the host if my dates were available, and got an email back from an Airbnb email address with a price and reference to confirm and pay. So I paid. I then got an email from the host introducing himself. I thought it was weird that he had my email but then thought we at least we can communicate about things to do and see and the time of our arrival. He then emailed to say that Airbnb did not validate my payment and that there was a refund coming back to me; Airbnb would send another payment reference. I contacted Airbnb about my refund and was told they had no information or record about a booking. I hoped for the best and that this was some sort of mistake.

I was constantly sending emails to Airbnb but getting little to no response back then finally I was told I hadn’t requested a booking or sent payment through them. I forwarded the email I received back to them. Then the worst email came:

“We are sorry to inform you this email did not come from us at Airbnb. Although it has an Airbnb email address and has been made to look like the company’s email, it is not one of ours.”

How had I received this email, from someone who had my email address and knew I was looking? The host of the apartment had emailed me back from the contact sent through Airbnb. I contacted Airbnb again to see what safeguards they put in place for their customers. Again I waited constantly for a response to be told they can’t do anything as the payment wasn’t through them. I am still trying to get to the bottom of this and see what they put in place for their customers if anything, and if they don’t why they don’t. Why don’t they validate their hosts like their websites states? Whatever happened to companies safe guarding their customers at the end of the day? Airbnb put me in direct contact with this scammer. I am still currently trying to sort this out but the more and more I search the more and more I see I am not the only person. In fact, there are hundreds out there just like me. Do not book through Airbnb. I’m a little over £1000 down the drain and nothing can help me.

Airbnb Villa Scam Cons Families on Holiday in Ibiza

We have recently been the victim of a scam on Airbnb that cost us nearly £4,000. My partner, my two children (5 and 1), and I wanted a last minute getaway due to a stressful few months, so we booked cheap Ryanair flights to Ibiza with the hope of finding somewhere to stay last minute and managed to stumble upon the Airbnb website through Google. Before this point, I’d never heard of Airbnb. I registered with the site and contacted a couple of hosts regarding availability but had no luck in finding anything as the places we could afford were fully booked. We had almost given up and nearly cancelled our flights as we couldn’t find anywhere to stay but at the bottom of the list of properties I saw some villas that said ‘others you may be interested in.’ I clicked on an amazing looking villa that showed our dates were still available. It was still out of our price range but as we were due to fly in less than two weeks we contacted them to see if they could offer us a late deal.

We didn’t hear anything for a few days and then I had an email through Airbnb from the host, saying her messages had not been getting through to her and she had been told by Airbnb to put her private email address on one of the pictures so she could receive the messages that way. We asked about the dates available via her email address to be told they were available and we managed to get the price down to £3,000 for the nine nights plus a £600 deposit which was still very much over our budget. However, we were thrilled about this as the villa had five bedrooms so we thought we could invite some friends over with their kids and make it a holiday of a lifetime, splitting the cost of the villa. We invited two couples along with their four children, who also booked flights to Ibiza and were going to stay for a few days each. As we had never used this website before we weren’t aware of the payment system or the way the website worked in general but we asked a few people about booking on Airbnb as we were a bit wary; the people we spoke to said it was a legitimate company and it would be fine.

We were emailing our host back and forth and asked how we should pay and she said she could not take the payment directly and that it would have to go through Airbnb. Rather, she would send them the details there and then and we would get an email confirming the reservation and details on how to pay. We received a very official looking Airbnb email, from an Airbnb email address with a confirmation booking number and details of payment by bank transfer to an Airbnb host. Like I said, we had never used the site before and the email appeared to come from Airbnb so we assumed this was the system of payment, as when I set up my profile on Airbnb I received no warning about how to pay other hosts correctly. Instead, there are various references of ways to pay littered across the site, including “instant book”, “contact host” and “expedite credit card payment”. These create enough confusion so that when an email is received from someone listed as a verified user you do not doubt it.

We paid the £3,600 by bank transfer on 01/08/16 and were still in contact with the host as we had various questions, e.g. did they have a travel cot, how far was it from the airport, etc. We were in contact with them up until the night before we were due to fly to Ibiza and the host even offered to pick us up from the airport but we said we had hired a car and we just needed the address. The host didn’t reply that night with the address and the following morning we rang her mobile number various times, contacted her by Whatsapp, and emailed her. By this point we were getting very worried as we were due to leave for the airport that afternoon. I contacted the Airbnb helpline and spoke to a lady to whom I gave the confirmation number, but she could not find my booking and suggested I contact customer services who would look into the matter for me. They did not have phones and I could only contact them by email.

I was furious by this point as I could not believe that if you have a problem or issue with a booking that you cannot talk to a human being in person and could only by email, hoping that you are able to get a response before you travel. I did get a response quite quickly luckily enough but it appeared to be a standard automated email that was not personal or did not sympathise with my situation at all. I gave the representative all the details that I had of the contact I’d been dealing with and I received a further blunt automated response back to say there was no booking and nothing Airbnb could do to sort out the situation or offer a refund as we paid outside of their system (which we didn’t realise we were doing). That would be the final email we would receive.

I’ve since had another email through Airbnb from another ‘lady’ asking me to provide further details of myself through her personal email address in order for her to accept a booking request, which I assume is another fraudster trying to take advantage. So it seems to still be happening on a regular occurrence. To summarise, we lost £3,600 for a villa advertised on the Airbnb website that I assume did not even exist! I had to tell my excited five-year old who had his case packed all ready to go that we were no longer going on holiday. We had to cancel our flights (another £356 lost) as we could not afford to stay anywhere else at such short notice. Our friends also had to cancel their flights and tell their children there was no holiday. We are still paying off a holiday we did not go on and will do for some time. Overall our loss was nearly £4,000! I am flabbergasted that the customer service for such a large company like Airbnb is so poor and they could not even apologise or compensate my family for the money we have lost. Since we were victims of this scam I have Googled Airbnb scams and found that this is not an isolated incident as articles have been written in the Guardian (04/06/16), The Huffington Post (27/01/16), and The Telegraph (20/03/15), just to name a few.

Regarding victims that have fallen prey to fraudsters on the site. It was suggested in one of the 2014 articles that a warning be issued to new subscribers warning them of the danger of fraudsters on the site and a guide be given on the correct payment process. It seems this was not looked into or carried out as had it been, then I would not have been a victim of fraud and lost £3,600. How are they allowing people to advertise villas and apartments on the site that do not exist? Are they checked out and verified before they advertise or can anyone post a rental on the site? I just don’t understand how this is happening! I wanted to write this story as a warning to others so the fraudsters cannot do this to anyone else.

Strenuous Hike to Airbnb Cottage: Unable to Warn Others

My wife used Airbnb to rent what was advertised as “a charming fisherman’s cottage” in La Caleta near Salobrena, Spain. There were some nice photos of the view, but no reviews posted. First lesson learned: if there are no reviews, pass on by. The photo showed an uphill path to reach the cottage, but there was no mention of the fact that there were actually over 250 steps, most of the time steeply uphill, to get to the cottage. The renter mentioned the place was “not for [the] disabled” but my wife and I, in our 60s, are both active people; this climb to the cottage was really hard, especially carrying something in the August heat.

A few days after we left the cottage, my wife suffered a complete hamstring rupture in Granada. I am not claiming there was a cause and effect relationship, but a week of doing that climb (and coming back down was also challenging) couldn’t have helped. The information on the cottage should have stated “uphill climb of over 250 steps to reach the front door may be challenging for older renters or anyone with potential leg problems.” That’s all I would ask. Unfortunately, I was too busy tending to my wife’s accident and the aftermath to even think about posting a review on the site before the deadline ran out and there does not seem to be any way to contact Airbnb directly with a problem like this.

I would never, never consider this “service” again. There is no real accountability other than a bad review, but in our case there was no review at the beginning. We missed the two-week window in which to add one. Hopefully, the next renter will be young and athletic. There were a couple of other issues with the cottage, like the fact that the sun shade over the terrace got ripped to pieces by the wind and even after informing the owner, nothing was ever done, making the terrace unusable during much of the midday. But the accessibility was by far the worst part of this story.