Conned by Airbnb over Easter Weekend

I used Airbnb to book a villa for eight people… I thought I did anyway. Prior to that I had contacted several hosts and got exactly the same reply every time. I liked a villa whose host was named Sandy. Villa Vouglemeni looked great. I received a confirmation email and was then told the payment needed to be made via bank transfer as it had been confirmed but not yet booked. We turned up at the place after paying £2355. The villa was real, but the booking was a fraud. Eight people were forced to book hotels at a peak travel time (Easter). The real owner had spoken to Airbnb ten days ago saying the listing was a fraud but Airbnb did nothing to prevent further fraud from occurring. They left the link up, so we booked and got conned. Then we had to pay again for alternative accommodations. They ruined our holiday. We lost all our money and they refused to listen or help; they just kept sending the same form letter. Help me share this story and get my money back and everyone else’s.

Airbnb is Losing their Business to Scammers

My family had an upcoming trip to London. I booked a place from a verified host, who had 25 positive reviews for his property. Less than a week before our arrival, my host sent me a message that the apartment I booked was no longer available. He suggested I stay in another apartment of his. According to the calendar, the apartment would not be available for part of our stay. The host is not answering my messages or phone calls. I’ve been calling Airbnb for three days straight. Each time they assure me that my case has “high priority” and their trip team will be in touch with me shortly. Nobody ever called me back. Today I’ve been told that they are busy helping people, who are right now standing on the street without a place to sleep; that’s why I should wait. I probably should, until my family is on the streets of London without accommodations. The customer service representative suggested I look for a new place and tried to contact my host, but he could issue a refund only after 24 hours. I asked him to help me find a reliable host with a real property, because at least 60% of Airbnb listings in London are fakes used for scams; he assured me that Airbnb is vetting all its listings. I used to love Airbnb, but it seems they are losing the game to scammers. Airbnb definitely needs a stronger security team and they need to handle situations like mine before people are on the street with no place to stay, not postpone until the last 24 hours.

Nonexistent Host Still has Friendly Neighbours

I live in the north of Belgium, close to the Dutch border. I booked a nice looking single room for two nights, approximately 50 minutes drive time from where I live. It was the cheapest accommodation in that area. I used Instant Book because I had never had any trouble reaching hosts before. The host, ‘Anna’, had been on Airbnb since December 2016 and apparently, nobody had booked her place yet, since there were no ratings or comments on her page. I thought that was logical since the street she claimed to be living on was in a small, not at all touristy place; it wasn’t close to a city, and not far away enough to be off the beaten track either. Nonetheless, it was perfect for my purposes and every host needs a first guest, right?

On my departure day, I hadn’t heard from Anna. I didn’t know whether she had seen her latest reservation, I didn’t know whether checking in at 5:00 PM was okay, and I didn’t know what her house number was. I called the telephone number on her page before I got into my car. It went to voicemail right away. I really wanted to get away for a weekend; I wanted to go hiking, so I didn’t give up on Anna yet. I drove past the street she claimed to be living in because it was more or less on my way to the nature reserve that was the purpose of my journey. I thought: I might as well see whether some neighbor knows where Anna Hendriks lives, then, when I hopefully reach her, I’ll know instantly whether she is willing to host me instead of when I come back from my hike.

I thought my plan would work out when I saw a house with a rather large name plate: Hendriks. The woman that opened the door was clearly not the Anna from the profile picture. I explained to her that I had booked a room through Airbnb on her street and that I am now looking for its owner.

“There is an Anna living on this street, but she is a young girl,” she responded. “There is also a woman with grey hair but her name is Corry and she doesn’t rent out her rooms either,” according to friendly Mrs. Hendriks.

I thanked her and apologized for disturbing her. I told myself I would not bother her neighbors, Corry and Anna, because it will probably not lead me anywhere. I feel betrayed. I called the host for a third time and left a message on her cell phone. I have the feeling she doesn’t exist, which is a shame, because she has at least one nice neighbor.

I decided to file a complaint against her with Airbnb. I switched on my mobile data and cancelled my reservation. It was too late to get my first night refunded but I did get my second night, according to the automatic Airbnb help menu. Thank god the host has a flexible cancellation policy. I later asked for a refund for the first night but she didn’t respond. Of course not: she doesn’t exist. Nowhere in the Airbnb help centre can I find any information telling me how to deal with hosts that don’t exist. I want to get my money back and I want to prevent other people from booking with Anna. What can I do?

Airbnb Property Pictures in Mallorca Used by Scammers

I am a property owner in Mallorca and it has come to my attention about two months ago that my photos have been duplicated and are being used by another host on a scam listing. I do not know this host and I have not given him permission to list my property anywhere. In the comment section, clients have also expressed their complaints that the host had contacted them only two weeks before arrival (long after he had already taken their money) that the advertised property would not be available and therefore he could offer them another property. The guests did not choose or agree to this, but they obviously had no choice because they already paid. Airbnb did not help the guests and they do not seem to care about the comments because this should be enough proof for them to be aware of the scam that is going on. I have written to Airbnb to request the listing be taken down immediately but after many messages with different people, I was told that it was not Airbnb’s responsibility to verify contracts between hosts and owners; therefore they could not take the listing down. This is really unbelievable and I am starting to get desperate. I hope someone who has been in the same situation is able to help me. The last thing that Airbnb has done is advise me to send proof of copyright of the photos to their copyright department, but these are my personal photos. I feel they are just trying to keep me occupied and in the meantime, the scam listing is still showing my property without my permission. To protect myself legally, I have reported the scam to the local police, but they cannot help me either. All this has been nerve wracking and very damaging to my property’s reputation. I really look forward to receiving your comments and advice on how to approach this issue once and for all.

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.