Airbnb Supports Misleading Property Pictures

I had a mini break from school and decided to visit my husband in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada). For the last four nights of my visit we decided to book an Airbnb close to downtown so that while he’s at work I could easily go shopping as well as easily find a place to eat when needed. He saw a reasonably priced suite, ‘Avala Suite’ and he booked it based on the pictures associated with the ad and recent reviews. Thursday night we checked in at approximately 11:15 PM. The first thing I noticed was the bed didn’t have a frame like it did in the pictures; to me, that was minor and didn’t warrant a complaint. Then my husband went to the kitchen and I decided to checked out the bathroom. To my surprise, the bathroom was completely different from what was posted on his ad. I called my husband’s attention to this and he too was shocked. We revisited the ad, because we both knew that what we were both viewing was not what we saw.

The suite was so stuffy and we noticed the ‘clean’ sheets folded in the linen cupboard had hairs on them and looked like they needed to be washed. We used our own pillow covers and sheets to put on top of what was on the bed and decided to go get Febreeze at the nearest gas station to help with the dusty odour. When we got back to the room we decided to rest and contact Airbnb in the morning. Unfortunately when we woke up and tried to locate the ad, the property was no longer listed on their platform, so we did not have the supporting evidence from the ad. We still sent an email informing them of what we saw in the initial ad and sent pictures of what we are now seeing and explain to them that we cannot access the ad to send a screenshot of what was advertised. To my surprise Airbnb replied saying the bathroom was the same and it was just a cleaning issue. Now I became irritated because I felt like we were being taken for fools.

On Saturday I decided to send an email to Airbnb, still being unable to view any ad from Avala. The email sent is as follows:

According to Airbnb’s Content Policy which clearly states that you do not condone listings and profiles which contains contents that are fraudulent, false, misleading or deceptive. If your company does not support misleading contents, why is it that my husband is clearly being taken for granted after filing a complaint about the host of our reservation posting on his ad being completely different pictures of the bathroom for his suite. It is quite clear that the pictures being advertised are completely different as he posted a bathroom with bluish colour wall tiles and the tiles noted in the bathroom on arrival is of a creamish colour. How can your representative sum this up as a cleaning issue? It is clearly not a cleaning issue; the ad was misleading. Secondly, where is the cleaning issue in the host posting a picture of a wooden trimmed toilet seat compared to the white one we viewed on our arrival? I am only left to sum this issue up as either the representative was not interested in doing their due diligence for a proper investigation to see that the ad for the suite is false and misleading or this host may be making you guys a lot of money. In that case, complaints against him fall on deaf ears. Either way, it is not right to treat customers in this manner. Hosts should not be allowed to falsely advertise their space. It is the pictures shown that help clients select the property that seems suitable for visits. This is not ok Airbnb.

I got no reply. Finally on Sunday, Avala’s platform was back up on the website. I took a screenshot immediately and decided to call again. The representative that I spoke to told me that the case manager that dealt with the matter has summed this up to a cleaning issue and asked what I wanted him to do after I informed him of the situation and letting him know that not only is there is picture of a bathroom that does not exist at all in suite but all of a sudden there is a picture of a clean version of the pictures they sent to us the day before which was not there at all when we viewed the ad. I highlighted to the representative I spoke to on Sunday morning that it is not ok for the company to be saying they don’t condone misleading postings of suites, yet, this matter seems to be falling on deaf ears. He simply stated he would send me an email and a case manager will contact me. Honestly I get the feeling that because this host has numerous suites and possibly makes a ton of money for Airbnb, that the rules do not apply to him about false, misleading advertising. However, as consumers, to book a place to stay for visits we only have the reviews of others to help us determine which place to select and most importantly the actual pictures of where we will be staying. I feel wronged by Airbnb and they don’t seem to care at all. Shame on Airbnb.

Scam on Airbnb: Austrian Holiday Falls Through

We were looking for accommodation in Austria near Kitzbuhel for February 16-19th this year. After looking for a bit we found a very nice chalet with amazing views hosted by Mark on Airbnb. I checked his profile: it was verified by Airbnb, with 39 reviews. On Monday, January 30th I contacted him via Airbnb, and he responded saying I should contact his wife via email to confirm the dates. Then I wrote to his wife, to confirm the dates and the availability. We exchanged some emails, and they told me more about the property and rules. After agreeing on the dates and all the details, on January 31st they send me a link, which linked back to Airbnb. When I clicked on it, I was directed back to my Airbnb reservation. I selected my desired dates and it let me enter all my credit card details. I put everything in and submitted it. At that moment, it said that the payment couldn’t go through, so I ha to use a wire transfer. All the details to make the payment were included, so I continued as advised.

Meanwhile, I received an email confirmation from Airbnb for the accommodation, including an invoice and itinerary, all looking totally normal and original. I contacted the host and wrote that I made the payment and informed him of my arrival. He answered that everything was fine and we would stay in touch. The next morning I received an email alert from Airbnb stating that I was probably contacted by someone using a fake profile. I wanted to check this host’s profile but it wasn’t available anymore. I contacted Airbnb, telling them I already made a payment. The host was still communicating with me but his phone number which was listed in his email only rang; no one ever answered.

This morning I received a text from my bank, with the verification code for some payment by my credit card (the same which I used for paying for accommodation on Airbnb) for 53.84 USD. I was just in my car driving and my card was in my wallet. So was obvious that someone stole my card details when I made a payment on Airbnb. I had to cancel my card at the bank, and asked my bank if they could request a refund from the receiving bank. I’m not really sure that they will ever send my money back. I went to the police to report this whole situation, because I was a victim of a scam on Airbnb, having paid 1363 euro for this accommodation. I was using their application from time to time, and many of my friends thought it was trustworthy and safe. I will never book on Airbnb again, because I don’t want to lose more money. Unfortunately this was my experience, which was difficult to recognize, as I was trusting Airbnb. Their attitude is just ridiculous; they take no responsibility for anything. It looks like Airbnb has a dark side. Maybe all these scams are the way they make lots of money.

Airbnb Nightmare for Australians in NYC

I sent the email below to the Airbnb consultant who handled our initial complaint, but have now received a computer generated response saying that “this case is closed.” I cannot access the Airbnb site without agreeing to the new Terms and Conditions, which I am loathe to do until this matter is resolved. I need to know if Airbnb is going to act on our complaint or not, so that I can consider my options with NYC Governor’s Office, or my credit card company.

I have now arrived back home in Australia and intend to pursue this matter further. I am seeking a full refund for the misinformation and the misrepresentation of the Airbnb unit we booked for four nights in New York City. I assume that Airbnb was unaware of the host’s inaccurate listing and address, but once it was brought to your attention, Airbnb should have reviewed the information that I submitted (photos and emails) and acted on that information. It is nonsense to suggest that it is ok for a host to lie about the address of his rental property and the number of bedrooms or living spaces, and for the premises to be filthy. The unit was advertised as providing two bedrooms and one bathroom plus a living room and dining and kitchen area. You can’t advertise both a second bedroom and a lounge room when they are the same space. Also, the lounge was not a pull out bed. The host suggested that our 18-year-old son take the cushions off the lounge and sleep on the frame. It was a lounge, not a bed.

The unit was in fact a one bedroom with a small lounge area that had a sliding partition – and this was meant to be the second bedroom – without a bed. The bathroom was filthy. I have checked all correspondence from Airbnb regarding the confirmation of our booking and your reminders and the address given to us in all emails from your company is 140 W 4th Street. We also confirmed this address in an email to the host, had a friend who lives in NYC check out the address, and we checked the location ourselves when we arrived in New York City on December 22nd, 2016. We were not due to move into the apartment until January 2nd, 2017, so we checked the location and checked the standards of the building. We also chatted with an Australian girl, Loretta, who lives on the top floor of 140 W 4th Street, and confirmed the size and layout of the units. If we had been advised of the different address and looked at 143 W 4th Street, we would have cancelled our booking. Please advise your process for us obtaining a full refund. We contacted Airbnb immediately once we discovered it was a different unit and once we saw the unit. We never stayed in the apartment, and there are reviews from others now that were equally as shocked.

Fake Listing on Airbnb Cost me Over £3500

As a first time user on Airbnb I had never used their site. I was booking a ski apartment in Morzine, France for me and seven others. I found a perfect apartment; it looked lovely and was at a perfect location in town. I emailed the ‘host’ using the link on the Airbnb website, which said “click here to contact host.” For over three weeks I asked questions and explained I had to get a commitment from my seven friends, hence it took three weeks to finally make the booking. We must have exchanged over 20 emails. Little did I realize this host had a fake email address set up with an Airbnb heading: all the fonts, fine print, everything. At some point during our conversations she switched addresses and all further correspondence went through this channel without my knowledge. When it finally came time to book she even mentioned to me that I was to pay Airbnb and not her directly.

I was then sent an invoice from what appeared to be Airbnb (since then I have seen a friend’s real booking – his invoice looks exactly the same) and I paid it. I even checked online 24 hours later, saw the money had left my account and the beneficiary was Airbnb, and so I had no reason to question it. It wasn’t until a month later, when the holiday was getting closer that I decided to touch base and all was revealed as the host didn’t answer her email. When I tried to click through to Airbnb on one of her letterhead emails the listing had been removed. Airbnb sent me their standard email three times stating, “as I paid outside their platform they wouldn’t help.”

They won’t take any responsibility for a fake listing on their site. Since finding out I was cheated, I have done some research and have discovered unfortunately I am not alone; this has happened to a number of people though my situation seems to be for the most money. I am not a stupid person; these people are very clever and know how to scam others. I do not think Airbnb protected my interests. When setting up my profile I didn’t receive any warnings about how to pay hosts correctly. Instead, there are various references to ways littered across the site, including ‘instant book’ and ‘contact host’. These create enough confusion so that when an email is received from someone listed as a verified user you do not doubt it. When taking on a property it should be their responsibility to verify these listings. It wouldn’t be difficult – even a copy of a utility bill from this property would have saved me and others like me from being scammed. Airbnb is a huge international company, stretching to over 190 different countries, so I am just a small fry to them. Unfortunately for them £3500 is a huge amount of money to me and I will not stop until I get it back.

Scammed at Christmas in Times Square Airbnb

This past week, I had an amazing experience in New York City with some amazing people. Now that we’re back home, I wanted to voice my displeasure about a service that I tried for the first time, and ended up losing a lot of money. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about great experiences they’ve had using Airbnb as an alternative option to getting a hotel, and when planning this trip, we decided we would give it a shot as well. I downloaded the app. We found something that seemed like a great deal, all of us checked it out to make sure we were comfortable with it, and I proceeded to go through what I thought was the process to schedule the Airbnb because, again, I had never used the service or the app before. We were excited about our trip. Everything was scheduled, the person answered all of my questions, I sent the payment, and we were good to go. About 4-5 days before our trip, I tried contacting that person again because I wanted to let them know what time we were arriving so we could meet up and get the keys for the place. After not hearing anything back, I continued to try and contact them with no success.

During our layover on our way there, we finally realized that we had probably been scammed, and I was finally able to get ahold of a customer service representative at Airbnb. They took my information and started an incident report for me. I sent them all communications I’d had with this “host”, along with their “contract”, and a link to his original posting, which of course had since been removed. Airbnb escalated the report to try and help me out, but determined that because everything was handled through 3rd party companies, there was nothing they could do for us (everything listed for the 3rd party companies was found while I was using their app). Airbnb has continued to send me surveys asking how my service was. I was brutally honest, but I also felt the need to say something on social media so that others don’t fall for the same scam. I’m glad we were able to find other accommodations, and you’d better believe we didn’t let it ruin our trip. However, we are still out a large amount of money, no thanks to customer service at Airbnb. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to use the service in the future.

Airbnb is a Joke: Dirty Disneyland Trip

Airbnb is a total joke. I strongly suggest no one use it. We booked a house for $1500 for our family Disneyland trip and the pictures of the house made it look awesome. However, when we showed up we realized immediately they had falsely advertised the place. It was listed as being on Disneyland Drive but that was not where it was. It was in a bad part of town where there were bars on every window and the neighborhood was trashy and run down. That wasn’t even that big of a deal. It was posted as a privately-owned condo but it was part of a rundown apartment building. In the listing it stated it had a washer and dryer in the condo but it was a separate laundry area for the whole apartment complex that you had to pay to use and stand there and wait for it to be done. The listing stated it had a two-car parking garage, but it did not. It had a small covered parking area that parked one car and it was so tiny our car didn’t fit in it without us having to climb out the back hatch of the car.

We drove around looking for alternative parking and the nearest place we could park was twelve blocks away. Twelve blocks of walking with kids after walking all day at Disneyland. The listing said the house slept ten, but there was no possible way to do that. The house was filthy. The walls were all scraped and scuffed and dirty, cobwebs were everywhere, there was a moldy shower curtain, drool stained the pillows, there were dirty used bars of soap and loofahs in the drawers and showers, no light bulbs were in any of the fixtures or lamps, clumps of hair filled the sink and drawers, the carpets hadn’t been vacuumed, the floors hadn’t been swept, coffee had been spilled on the counters and was dripping down the cupboards, the fridge was disgusting and made a super loud buzzing noise, and the neighbors were loud. You could hear people running through the other units. It was gross and dirty and nothing like it had been described. We left immediately, contacted Airbnb, and booked three last-minute hotel rooms which were expensive.

We followed the rules on filing a claim and getting a refund on the website and they wouldn’t refund us. The people lied about everything down to the location and we paid a cleaning fee on a house that definitely hadn’t been cleaned before we arrived. So how can they not refund us?

Airbnb Hosts in Cuba Can’t be Trusted

First, the place was advertised as “Casa Jesus & Maria” and it looks and operates as a hostel (a bad one). I booked the place about three weeks in advance for two days and had been in contact with the host almost every week. The last message was exchanged only two days prior to our arrival and, at that moment, we were told that the room we were supposed to stay had been under construction for over a month. We arrived in Cuba at around 11:30 at night (the host was informed about this a week earlier) and were greeted by Jesus and Maria. We were promptly informed that they did not have a room for us. Maria ushered us in and, as if to prove her point, showed us a room with a scaffold inside and no furniture and claimed that the only reason why the room was not ready was due to heavy rain.

My friend and I were puzzled since it clearly looked like the room had been under construction for a while and they probably rented the room to us without it being ready. Worst of all, they probably knew very well that it was not going to be ready more than a day before our arrival and never told us about it. Maria informed us that she had arranged for us to stay somewhere else and that she was going to call the person to come pick us up. It was after midnight and we were stranded at some stranger’s place in Havana, without any local currency, and thinking that these people are really trying to screw us. Maria spent over 40 minutes on the phone, trying to find us another place since her arrangements did not follow through. They barely looked us in the eye while we were there and did not speak to us at all.

Finally, someone knocked at the door and we were escorted to another place by Ana. Ana’s place was definitely not in good shape and it was completely different from what we had signed up for. We were taken upstairs through these very narrow steps (our carry-ons barely fit) and shown an area with a queen bed and a bathroom without a door. The room was as big as the bed, the bathroom had no hot water, and the shared bathroom downstairs did not have a toilet seat. After we finally got ready to go to bed, about 2:30 AM, the bed broke. We had to move the mattress by ourselves since Ana was nowhere to be found. I had an asthma attack because the mattress was extremely dusty.

We woke up the next day and went back to our first host to try to give them a second chance; they had told us that they would have another room ready. Of course the room was not ready and we finally lost our cool. I told Maria that what they were doing to us was not fair and I wanted my money back. I did not raise my voice and spoke to her calmly. Maria got extremely upset and told me that if I wanted my money back I had to deal with Airbnb. We took off and, unfortunately, spent almost the whole day trying to find another place to stay. I speak fluent Spanish and all I could think of when all this was going on was: what if we did not speak the language? We would be even more desperate.

I called Airbnb and spoke with Kendra in customer service. She said that I was going to get a refund and that the incident was going to be “investigated”, that the host was going to be told to “honor the ads.” I was really expecting a little bit more of sympathy from Airbnb since this experience basically destroyed our vacation; we had only planned to stay in Havana for two days. I understand that Airbnb has little control over how hosts act but I was truly expecting more concern from the operator. I do not want anybody to go through what we have been through, especially if they do not speak the language. Now the host is threatening me with Airbnb messages. Needless to say, I had to dispute the charges with my credit card. I closed my account and will never use this service again.

No Apartment and No Money Thanks to Airbnb

After this experience, I contacted Airbnb by telephone. I sent them documents, data and evidences of the scam I experienced through the company. I still noticed that there were ads on Airbnb pages that follow the same strategy to persuade customers to book on behalf of the corporation.

On Saturday, November 12th, I logged in to Airbnb to search for an apartment. When I booked one, I received an email telling me that they were not able to verify my payment method (which was true because I had not yet updated my profile on their system) and they advised me that if I did not do it within 48 hours the account would be suspended and I could not book an apartment through them. They informed to me to verify the method of payment, and I had to send them my full name, address, expiration date, and the last four digits of my debit card. I also added a statement from my bank with sensitive data like my account number.

Someone sent me emails at the same moment I visited Airbnb and they also asked me about verifying my account. It sounded true. In addition, I had not still updated the method of payment on the application. On the other hand, searching Airbnb, I saw an apartment in New York for January 4-7, 2017, near Central Park and Times Square. The apartment, whose host was called Tammy (attached picture), was interested in us and we read the information given that they only accept bookings through WhatsApp, at the number indicated on the Airbnb website. This was something that initially did not seem dubious because we had heard that Airbnb was a very safe and reliable company, according to friends and acquaintances. When I contacted the host by WhatsApp, she told me that she would send me a pre-approval email with all what I had to do (attached image). There, I could read about how to send money (Western Union) and where I had to forward the payment confirmation by email to Tammy (tammy_bangle@yahoo.es) and to Airbnb (automated@airbnb.com; same domain as the website, something that made me trust the email). On Tuesday, November 15th, at 7:45 AM, I sent the transfer and exchanged messages through WhatsApp with the host. Obviously, it was a scam.

My Airbnb Fraud Experience: Nightmare in NYC

Dear Airbnb,

I’m absolutely disgusted by your service and lack of concern for your customers. Before I start in on you, I’d like to start by explaining my situation, solely for the entertainment of the readers. Last week, I found out that I was a victim of fraud through Airbnb. Two of my friends and I decided to book an apartment in New York City, to spend four days of our Thanksgiving break there. The apartment we found seemed amazing: great location, cheap price, and just perfect for three international college students. The host of the apartment had listed his contact number on the website and it said to contact that number in order to book the apartment. We tried reserving it on the Airbnb website itself, but for some reason it wasn’t happening. We were scared that if we waited too long, the apartment would no longer be available; therefore we decided to contact the number that was listed.

We messaged the number, got in touch with the host, and reserved the apartment. He asked us to do the payment through Western Union, which is generally a credible way to wire money, and so a week later we made a $700 payment ($300 for the apartment for three nights + $400 as a security deposit). We received confirmation emails from Airbnb as well and believed that everything was confirmed. The payment was made to someone called Michael Harrison. The next day, the host reached out me and asked me to make another payment of $600; he said it was some sort of tax fee and that is when I realized something sketchy was happening.

I contacted Airbnb immediately and then found out that the apartment listing was invalid and the apartment doesn’t even exist in real life. I contacted Western Union after this, but the receiver had already collected the money. We tried resolving the issue with the host, but he blocked my number and the only way to resolve the problem was through Airbnb. I contacted your customer service number at least 15 times. Your staff was extremely unhelpful and didn’t seem to take my situation seriously. I waited about three days after calling and finally decided to send an email. I sent three emails and did not receive any response. After calling a few more times and finally tweeting, you decided to respond to my emails. You were not willing to compensate us for the cost or provide us with accommodation. Our transport has already been arranged, but unfortunately we will not be able to go on this long awaited trip, since we have nowhere to stay and already lost $700.

If the apartment listing was invalid and non existent, it shouldn’t have been available on the website in the first place. It is so misleading to your customers. More than anything, your staff didn’t seem to take our concerns seriously, considering our trip is next week. They were rude, unhelpful and extremely unapologetic about the incident. Being a frequent user of Airbnb, I was completely put off. I’ve never had such a disastrous experience before. They were not willing to compensate us for new accommodations or refund at least the security deposit ($400). I have nothing more to say, except that I am never using Airbnb again. I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue with you, but you were unsympathetic and indifferent to this situation. Losing $700 is no joke. I’m disappointed at your lack of concern and overall approach to this whole situation. Your staff is unhelpful and not willing to do anything to help me. Being such a well known, world-renowned company, this is absolutely appalling.