Scammers Keep Adapting: Long-Term Apartment in Vienna

I was planning to find an apartment to rent in Vienna long term and used the website jobwohnen.at to look for a place. There I found a really good offer of a very nice apartment, with a really good price and an incredible location. I thought it was perfect and decided to write the person renting the apartment, Matilda Veracruz Barrera. The listing was in German and it seemed really nice. Since I speak Spanish and the name of the contact was clearly from a Spanish-speaking country, I suggested that we could communicate in Spanish. After a short time, I received this message:

“Hello, I just read your email regarding my apartment for rent located in Vienna, Austria. It has two rooms: one bedroom, one living room (51 square meters). I bought this apartment for my daughter during her studies in Austria, but now she’s back home permanently. I’m renting the place for an unlimited time. Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you, like how many people you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long. The flat is exactly like in the pictures, furnished and renovated. The utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV , dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of the rent. You will have one parking spot, whose rent is 470 EUR month. The guarantee deposit is  1250 EUR, and you get it back when you decide to leave the apartment (you will have to give me at least 30 days’ notice). As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment. My daughter is building her life here. I am too old to move to Austria, so we won’t disturb you. You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture. Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Matilda Veracruz Barrera and I’m 56 years old, Deputy Director of the chamber of commerce from Barcelona/Spain, planning to retire in the next two years. I have a lovely husband, Luis Veracruz Barrera, and a 25-year-old daughter, Luisa. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandmother. Another member of our family is an 8-year-old Labrador which we all love, so I have no problem if you keep pets. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Barcelona even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. This won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Barcelona (on my expense of course). Looking forward to hearing from you soon. All the best from Spain!”

This message to me seemed perfect but also strange, since I suggested that we could speak in Spanish but she responded in English. I thought that maybe this person had this already written in English and was just copying and pasting to anybody contacting her. Now I realize that the listing was in German and the sudden switch to English was weird as well, since I wrote her in German in the first place and just suggested Spanish as an option. I was very naïve and decided to write her back. I was super nice and super detailed with my moving date, and my purpose in Vienna, so that the person would trust me. After that message I received this:

“Gracias por su respuesta, Como te he informado antes, el precio de 1 mes de alquiler será de 470 euros con todas las facturas incluidas en él, y quiero también un depósito de garantía de 1250 euros (el depósito de garantía de € 1250 que recibirá de vuelta al final de la Contrato), sin impuestos adicionales a pagar. Quiero recibir el dinero mensualmente en mi cuenta bancaria, por lo que espero que no será ningún problema para que el cable del dinero. Estoy dispuesto a enviarle las llaves para que pueda visitarlo y ver que se adapte a sus necesidades. La entrega de las llaves y permiso de visualización (firmado por mí), se hará con Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) para asegurarse de que podamos confiar en el otro. Si estás interesado te puedo explicar el procedimiento, así que espero noticias de tu lado porque realmente necesito ocuparme de este asunto. ¡Gracias!”

This message seemed ok. I thought that it was the real deal since it was written in Spanish. The thing is that I gave so many details and this seemed to be a very cold message. Also the Spanish wording is a little bit weird and with some clear mistakes. I thought: mistakes from a Deputy Director of the chamber of commerce? If you put that message into Google Translate you get this:

“Thanks for your reply. As I have informed you, the price of one month’s rent will be 470 euros with all bills included, and I also want a security deposit of 1250 euros (you will receive the security deposit of €1250 back at the end of the contract), without additional taxes to be paid. I want to receive the money monthly into my bank account, so I hope it will not be any problem for you to do a wire transfer. I am willing to send you the keys so that you can visit and see that it suits your needs. The delivery of the keys and permission of visualization (signed by me), will be done with Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) to make sure we can trust each other. If you are interested I can explain the procedure, so I expect news from your side because I really need to deal with this. Thank you!”

Of course they used Google Translate. The whole situation still seemed so fishy but I decided to continue to read her responses. I wrote her a short message saying that I was interested and that I would like to know how the process with Airbnb works. I also told her that I needed the apartment for July and not immediately. I received then this back:

“Hello, the contract is made in your name, and yes, everything is included. First of all, I want to tell you that if you are ready to proceed with this transaction I will need to inform you the steps about how this service works. You will have two days to inspect the apartment before your final decision to rent. I will pay the shipping costs. This is how it works:

  1. I will deliver the papers to Airbnb.
  2. After I deliver the papers they will require your payment confirmation of the first month and the guarantee deposit (€470.00 + €1250.00=€1720) to the company. Airbnb will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the keys and the papers in their custody. Also Airbnb will give you further instructions about the deposit.
  3. After the payment is confirmed the delivery process will start and when you receive the keys, you will have two days to inspect the property before your final decision to rent.
  4. If all is in order, you will instruct Airbnb to give me the money. Future rent will be sent directly to my bank account.
  5. If you refuse to rent the apartment, Airbnb will give you a full refund (€1720.00) and you will give them back the keys and the contract. If you are interested in renting the apartment please send me your information, so I can make the deal: name, address, city, postal code, country, phone number, a copy of your ID, passport or driving license by email (scan or photo) and a picture of you. Thanks!”

Again the conversation was switched back to English with no feedback on my elaborated details. It seemed so fishy at this point that I decided to Google this woman at the chamber of commerce of Barcelona, and I couldn’t find anything. Then I decided to look for Airbnb scams and found a very similar story posted on Airbnb Hell some days ago with a long-term apartment in Iceland. That’s why I’m sharing my story, because it is clearly a scam. I am not angry with Airbnb; they haven’t done anything to me. I cannot say that Airbnb is a good or a bad platform, since I’ve never used it before, but there’s definitely a bunch of idiots outside of Airbnb trying to use it to scam people. This post is just to show people out there to be careful with these kind of offers. Don’t fall into this trap. Fortunately I was careful enough in the end, but some people might fall for this and the amount of money they are asking for is quite a lot. I hope this helps others in similar situations and they will report it here or somewhere else. Please let me know where else can I share my story so people won’t be fooled in the future.

Constant Noise from Airbnb Guests Annoys Neighbors

My next door neighbour owns 15 properties in Dublin, and unfortunately we happen to live next to one of them. The listing says up to six people are allowed (for a two-bedroom apartment), which effectively allows big groups of friends to rent it. As a results, every other weekend we suffer from loud music and noises coming from this apartment. Our efforts to speak to the visitors is nothing more than a short-term solution. They might listen and somewhat calm down but there are new people every few days. We’ve never seen the owner, and we unable to discuss this matter with him. We’ve been forced to file a complaint with Airbnb, but still have yet to receive a reply.

No Payment Following 12-Day Airbnb Stay in Italy

Having hosted someone from Italy for 12 days in our Australian apartment in January we are still waiting for payment. We received an automated email saying we would be paid on January 23rd. We have been on Airbnb’s books for four years now and have Superhost status. Despite numerous calls to their call centre – the staff of which point blank refuse to pass you on to the management level and if you persist with the request, cut you off – nothing has happened. All they do is pass a so-called ticket to their non-responsive team. Despite many emails to this group no one comes back and now my emails are bouncing back saying they are not deliverable. I wonder what filter they are using to do this? Is it fraud? The work of the FBI or maybe Brian Chesky? On top of this, someone within their organisation has switched my daughter’s bank account details back to those of one that was closed in 2014. So despite receiving money being deposited in 2015 and 2016 now it has been changed back. Hence my use of the word fraud. I can’t help but notice articles in Forbes Magazine where this is now a worldwide issue regarding non-payments and the behaviour of their call centre. It also mentions that the company is worth $25 billion, which clearly adds up to a lot of non-payments. I also noticed that they had a TV ad shown during the Super Bowl. What’s the cost of one of those, three million dollars?

Hostess Attacks My Weight In Response to My Review

Where do I start? My boyfriend and I were going to Madrid for a few days to help him prepare for a month-long trip to Africa. He grew up in Madrid and has a Spanish passport. We booked an apartment from a hostess named Olga. She had wonderful reviews and seemed very nice. Well, our stay was not what we expected; it was horrible. However, I understand that my concerns may not be concerns to other people so instead of writing an extremely rude comment, I chose to write an honest, yet professional review of my stay. After reading her review and responding to her review of me, I deleted my Airbnb account. Here is what I wrote:

“The apartment is much smaller than the pictures make you believe. There is no terrace and the only windows are in the bathroom, which isn’t good because the neighbors can see right through when they’re open. If you have a lot of luggage, it is not ideal because the building does not have an elevator. There is really only enough space for two people. If you’re just planning to sleep in the apartment and not cook or plan or anything special, it’s ideal for that purpose since you won’t be spending so much time there. But, since Madrid was more of a stop to another destination and not the destination itself, my boyfriend and I were expecting to have more space and expecting all the appliances to work properly. The apartment just did not fit our needs, and we felt that some things could have been explained better.”

Her first review of me was positive, but when she saw that I was not in awe of her apartment like everyone else was, she attacked me and wrote a second review and a response to my review. Her response says it all so here it is (it is in Spanish so I will translate it for everyone):

“Any apartment is too small for Elizabeth’s size. Of course the hot water runs out when she showers. I recommend that Elizabeth reads the description well before making a reservation. The listing of the apartment said that it was small and that there was no elevator. Also if you travel with four large suitcases it makes it difficult to go up any kind of stairs. In reference to the hot water: the heater has a capacity of 50 liters and this is the first time in four years that someone has complained that the hot water ran out. The internet is made of fiber optics and runs very fast, so we also have never had complaints about this either. I’m sorry she had so many difficulties, but I think the solution lies with her; to pick spaces that are super big and that have an elevator.”

First of all, there was no hot water the first night we got there, nor the next morning. We turned on the shower and only cold water came out; clearly it wasn’t working from the moment we got there. My boyfriend and I had to hand wash ourselves three of the five days we were there. Secondly, size has nothing to do with the perception of the size of the apartment. In her second review of me that is present on my profile, she wrote that I was “extremely heavy.” I’m sorry, but not being a size 6 doesn’t make me “extremely heavy.” I’m a size 16. The average woman is a size 12. The apartment was objectively small. My boyfriend is like a size 6 or 8 and even he was upset with the small size of the apartment. Third, I had two small suitcases and two big suitcases. Honestly, her photos don’t represent the apartment.

I was really upset that she attacked my size just because I was unhappy with my stay. I didn’t mention it in my review, but every time my boyfriend and I tried to cook in the apartment, the breaker would just cut off and all the electricity was gone. By her logic, that is due to my size too. Instead of realizing that she needed to fix some things in her apartment, she attacked me with rude comments. What makes me so angry is that my post wasn’t even mean. Just because I didn’t fall before her feet and praise her like other guests have done, I guess that means a rude and hateful comment is warranted. In short, she was a total jerk and so immature. It’s no wonder girls have body image issues by the time they’re six. Other women constantly put them down and make them think if they’re not a size 2, then they’re fat.

Needless to say, I won’t be using Airbnb again. This was my first and last experience with them. The fact that they don’t have an email or a phone number for you to complain is so annoying. I reported the review and her response, but it is still active. I have attached a picture of her profile and this is the link. If you come across her place, don’t stay there. Although it is (as I said in my review) ideal for people who don’t plan to spend time in the apartment, don’t stay there simply because the hostess is a demon from hell and will lash out at you if you don’t praise her. From now on, it’s hostels and hotels for me.

Airbnb Takes Payment in the Wrong Currency

We booked a house in Norfolk, UK for a week, and received confirmation from Airbnb. Everything seemed okay so far. The cost was obviously in pounds. We used our AMEX account, which is in the UK. We clearly paid in pounds from a UK bank account, but because our address is currently in Australia Airbnb charged us in US dollars and 8% for the currency conversion. So Amex paid out in dollars and converted it back into pounds for us to pay off the credit card in pounds. The house originally cost £681 and it has cost us £727. Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. The host cancelled, so I telephoned her to find out why; she said she hadn’t heard of us. The dates had been booked out for ages. She was so fed up with Airbnb she was withdrawing her property. So beware folks: check which currency you are paying in. My complaint was dealt with by an email quoting some obscure terms and conditions. I had the last laugh though because I was lucky and received a refund into my Amex account in US dollars, which Amex converted back into pounds. Due to a more favorable exchange rate, I actually made a very small profit. I will never use Airbnb. I think we got off easy.

Airbnb is a Free Breeding Ground for Scammers

I signed up for Airbnb a week ago looking for an apartment in Copenhagen for me and my family to stay during a business trip. I thought that renting an apartment would be more comfortable for my two children. I filtered through many apartments. I requested a few and was denied by the hosts, saying that the apartments were not available the days selected. So after a few automated rejections I decided to send messages directly to the hosts asking if the apartments were available the days I needed. I found one conveniently next to the convention center in Copenhagen that was available. The description had a name and picture of the host and said “verified”. I now know verified means something entirely different to Airbnb. The host sent me a message asking for my email so he can send me a rental agreement. I received the agreement, signed the paperwork, and sent it back.

I then received an email from Airbnb requesting to pay for the apartment. The email name plainly said “Airbnb”. The email was identical to the ones I had received from Airbnb in the format and design, from the apartment listing to my photo and the host’s photo. I mean exactly the same. I clicked the link and it directed me to a website that was exactly the same as Airbnb. I was logged in and as I clicked links it clicked in and out of my account. It had my PayPal info. I went to pay with PayPal and it showed an error message that said only wire transfer were allowed. It provided details for the wire transfer and said to please upload the confirmation to Airbnb afterwards, all through this phony Airbnb website completely identical to the real one. This wasn’t some small scam; I could upload data, and log in and out.

I received confirmation emails identical to Airbnb’s emails. The night I was traveling with my family I received a message from the host saying the apartment had flooded and I should find other accommodations. It was midnight; I was furious. I got on a plane with two little kids and nowhere to stay. The host emailed me through Airbnb again saying I would receive a refund shortly. I called Airbnb and found out this whole thing was a scam. They would do nothing as they had no information about the host. Nothing.

What if this person was a murderer, rapist, or junkie? My family could have been in real harm. I can’t believe they have no information about this person except an email. They accept no responsibility and still have his listing on their site. I will provide a link. I searched around the internet and now understand this has been a scam that has gone on for a while now on Airbnb. Their safety precautions now are to tell guests to simply beware through their terms and conditions, not to really verify their hosts by asking for identification, bank accounts, or credit cards. I just can’t understand how they can openly offer a service that allows scammers. They have done nothing to protect their users after scams have been uncovered and will do nothing. Something terrible will happen if they don’t really take some action. I have notified the FBI about this fraud so if enough people do they will examine their business practices. It’s called an IC3: Internet complaint center. I would stay clear from booking anything through Airbnb. If it’s my first time and this happened there has to be a lot more going on. I provided pictures of the listing that is currently still up after I provided Airbnb with the details. I also submitted a complaint with the BBB.

Host Cancelled 24 hours Before we Arrived in Paris

We had a last minute cancellation by a host 24 hours before our arrival in Paris because of bed bugs. That reservation was mostly made with Airbnb gift cards and a small charge placed on my credit card. We were contacted by Airbnb via email, (luckily I had connected to wifi while we were having lunch in Brussels) and while we were sent a list of available properties from Airbnb, none met the criteria of our original booking; we were given a one-bedroom unit when we needed a two bedroom for my mother, wife and myself. Our customer service representative told us just to make contact with new hosts directly and book what we wanted. Airbnb offered a 10% refund for our troubles, which sounded good at first.

We found and booked a new property with a host named Adjel, using the Instant Booking feature on the app. The gift card balance from the original cancellation was applied to this new reservation, and we thought we were set. Hours later, though, Adjel informed us that the property we had booked was not actually available, and he shouldn’t have accepted the Instant Booking request because he was having work done on the property. Rather than cancelling immediately, he tried to shift us into another property that simply wouldn’t work for our group of three. We asked several times for him to please just cancel. We notified our customer service representative that this was happening. By this time, it was late in the evening, the night before our arrival in Paris, and we still didn’t have a suitable place to stay. There was no response to our request to cancel the unavailable booking from Adjel, or Airbnb staff.

We found a third property that would work, connected with the host, Justin, and booked it as soon as he verified availability. In the morning, we got word from customer service that Adjel had finally cancelled, and that our gift card balance was refunded to our Airbnb account. We responded that we wanted the gift card balance applied to this new reservation with Justin, not just refunded to our account. I did not want Airbnb “store credit.” That didn’t happen as requested and now we’re struggling to get this settled. We don’t want a $550 Airbnb credit sitting in our account when there is a $600+ Airbnb charge on our credit card. We have called into customer service again this evening, and were promised by the representative with whom we spoke that this could and would be resolved.

That was several weeks ago and I finally received an email from Airbnb saying that they would not do anything. I had spent several hours with their “customer service” department and was hung up, put on hold for an hour, etc. I explained the situation to my credit card company and they made a charge back to Airbnb since they were not willing to help. I have dealt with credit card processing in the past and it really is not that hard to credit an account and charge the correct amount, but apparently Airbnb was not willing to take care of this. My wife and I started using Airbnb back in 2009 and have had great experiences; we’ve never had a problem before. Our third Paris property had a view of Notre Dame, was right on the Seine, and had all the charm of what I expect from an Airbnb property. Over the years I have raved about Airbnb but this event has completely called their business practices into question.

I’m Not Even a User and I Can’t Stand Airbnb

I’m not even an Airbnb user and I absolutely can’t stand them anyway. So many people in my building rent their flats to tourists who get insanely drunk, shout like crazy day and night, make a mess of our shared toilets, and won’t go to sleep cause they’re too busy shouting or taking drugs and yelling (I live in Amsterdam). This is a sort of mixed industrial area, and our walls and ceilings are pretty thin. There’s no isolation so since the whole Airbnb hype started, life has become so much less enjoyable, more like a living hell. Our building has now suffered from so many incidents: things get stolen, Airbnb people ring your doorbell at night because of course they have no idea which doorbell to ring when they’re so drunk and drugged.

Can anyone just sue Airbnb? The world was a better place without it. The worst part is that my “friends” don’t ever have space in their house for me anymore because they’re all renting their spare rooms to Airbnb users. When I’ve needed a place to stay, everyone says no because they have Airbnb guests. Honestly, that means those “friends” suck, but it’s also creepy that everyone is letting strangers stay in their houses. From what I hear, this site is way more expensive than most hotels anyway. Why not stay at a nice hotel where you’re provided privacy and security? People are weird.

Extremely Rude Airbnb Host in Rome

First of all, the host was no help at all when we asked about parking so we ended up checking in that evening looking for a safe 24-hour parking spot. It was too late for the host to reply about the parking situation and since English was not his first language, we had a miscommunication. When we arrived at the place, we didn’t know which buzzer to press as he didn’t mention it; it was a good thing he arrived after a few minutes or we’d have ended up freezing on the street. When we went up to his place, he didn’t let us into our room (even when we were so tired and hungry). He made us stay in the check-in area and interrogated us. The way he spoke to us was unaccommodating, rude, and disrespectful as he made side comments which made us feel awkward. Then he asked for our documents, which we denied him; this was our first time using Airbnb when we have been asked for our identification. Sometimes the way you say things is more important than what you are saying. Because of this, we were skeptical.

Before using Airbnb, we had already been asked to scan our proof of identity. We had already been using Airbnb for quite some time now; there had never been an incident where we have been asked for our documents. We understand if the purpose is security, but this kind of thing should have been elaborated upon clearly in the posting so guests won’t be surprised at what is expected of them. We can fill out a form if this is mandatory, but we will never give a copy of our travel documents as they have already been checked at Airbnb from the beginning. He kept mentioning “mafia” but we couldn’t understand what he was talking about because it was in Italian. While my husband was filling out the form, the host kept sighing heavily and making side comments which made us feel really uneasy and uncomfortable; we felt he might do something to us.

Days before coming, I asked the host if we could stay one more night and he agreed. Although I didn’t confirm it, we needed to know if we would feel comfortable staying here. Clearly, that was not the case from the beginning. We were about to leave but the host insisted we stay. We told him that we were not going to stay another night. He insisted and I confirmed we were not going to stay one more night. I may have asked him about staying one more night but I never confirmed it. How could we stay one more night if we didn’t feel comfortable anymore? Airbnb is not cheap; you can pay the same amount for a hotel room but since we like the feeling of being welcomed warmly, we decided to use Airbnb. Due to this incident, we will never use Airbnb after this holiday.

There was also no heating in our room so it was cold. There was no heating in the toilet so it was really chilly after finishing a shower. The toilet is separate from our bedroom so it was really cold. The picture of the toilet that was given to us was not shown in the listing, but only ones which were pleasant to use. We were able to sleep around 3:00 AM as noise can easily be heard from outside the window and I woke up around 7:00 AM due to vehicles outside. I didn’t get any sleep. Then I had to move the double bed out of the way in order to see the mirror. We never even bothered to use the kitchen as we were feeling uneasy already.

Upon checking out, I messaged the host to let him know that we were leaving as we had to return the keys. He never replied back so we waited for about ten minutes (I even thanked him). When we were about to leave, he came and never said a word. How comforting it was for us to leave his place. Also, I believe we were supposed to be given safety cards and should have been shown the fire extinguisher but there was none. We are not so particular about these things but since the host had an unwelcoming rude attitude, we might as well be finicky about it. I already left this review at Airbnb but unfortunately, it hasn’t been shown on his page. The reason why I booked it there is because he had lots of good reviews. Now we understand how it works. The host will not accept the review and will not give the guest a review either. This way, any bad review won’t show up. As I was looking for the host’s pictures of the bathroom, they weren’t visible anymore. Too bad I wasn’t able to take pictures of the room where we stayed as it was totally different from what I saw on the listing prior to booking.

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.