Family Scammed by a Host in Seattle

My daughter and fiancé moved to the Seattle area. Upon arrival they discovered their apartment wasn’t ready due to mold issues. They had to retile the place and wouldn’t be able to allow guests to move in for another week. My family was stuck. They also had a sweet older cat with them. They had to book a hotel for the first night. I, being the helpful mom to my 22-year-old kid and her fiancee and kitty, wanted to look into an Airbnb rental so they could be comfortable.

I found this listing. If you scroll down on pricing it says: “Extra people: $48/night after the first guest.” It could be my mistake that I did not see this. I was going back and forth with her from Friday evening into Saturday late morning about the listing. Moving forward, I went to book and the price went from $80 per/night to $128 per/night. I attached the screen shots of our messages and my confusion on the part of the second guest. If you read this, you can see she is even confused and looks like she is saying that I was probably trying to book for three guests (myself, daughter and her fiancé) and she said I need to book for a total of two people.

I made the mistake of thinking when I put one guest I thought myself plus one guest. It was a dumb mistake on my part since I have booked with Airbnb before. However, in all the comparable listings in that area – I clicked through about twenty – the prices were always for two people; I didn’t think twice and booked it. The other thing, the host clearly saw me saying “them” when referring to guests and listing their names. I even told her their story in the beginning: how it was my daughter, her fiancé, and their cat (I did not include this screenshot, but I can if needed).

Here’s where it gets interesting. My kid had her number and proceeded to text the host that they were on their way. She texted my kid and said “your mom only paid for one person.” My kid asked how much it would be for two people and she stated it would be an additional $180. I told my kid that it was too much, thinking there are other places for that price that were private.

Did I mention that this host’s place was not private? She said it was like “one big master bedroom, but the kitchen and bathroom is shared.” She has it listed as an entire home/apartment but the room and living room was separated from the kitchen by a blackout curtain; her and her husband’s room is private in the back. $128 per night in that area? Why didn’t I just book a whole cottage for $100 per night?

You can see in my messaging that I was considering having them just stay the one night and not the rest of the week. However, I ended up canceling the whole thing and they stayed in a hotel. I also wanted to attach the text messaging thread. You can’t get each other’s number until you book for safety purposes. She and I were texting back and forth with this misunderstanding and I apologized profusely. I asked then if I would get refunded. She assured me I would. I told her okay, I would cancel and thanked her for the refund. I knew she had a strict cancellation policy but I figured she has been super nice and understood the situation was my mistake.

The next day I contacted the Airbnb resolution center on the site. All I wanted was to make sure she refunded me. They told me to request money from the host, so I did. There was space to put the reason and I typed “misunderstanding at check in, host agreed to refund full amount.”

What does she respond with? “Not truthful guest.” She then declined to refund me. If she would have said “no, sorry I can’t give you a refund” then I at least I could have paid the extra $180 and not be out $400. She basically has no one staying in her place for five days and Airbnb and the host got $450 (fees included) out of me. Even Expedia doesn’t do that. Once I accidentally booked the wrong dates and was out of the cancellation policy. They still refunded me and told me: “It’s ok. Sometimes stuff happens.”

I ended up calling my bank to have them dispute the charges. I had to tell them the whole story and send them the screenshots of the messages. When a case manager from Airbnb called me, he seemed nice at first, taking in my story. I even sent them the screenshots of the text messages where she stated more than once she would refund me. He said they are the final say in this matter. I received a call back from the case manager the next day. He stated the host said I lied and tried to “pull one over” on her, that I tried to book for one guest and was really bringing two. Like she didn’t know and capitalized on my mistake. Then she said I called her and harassed her. I did no such thing. If I were able to upload all the screenshots of the text messages then you could see I was nothing but apologetic and kind.

Now this host was so rude. He was talking over me, yelling at me, and bullying me. I was made out to be the villain. This host just joined this month and had no reviews. That in itself should have been a red flag. The Airbnb case manager made me feel foolish and said that this host has a strict cancellation policy; when I booked, he stated that it was a legal and binding contract and he cannot force the host to refund the money. He said she wasn’t going to refund the money at all and I am basically screwed.

First off he talked over me, then when I did the same he yelled at me. When I raised my voice he said over and over this was a legal and binding contract and in the end he essentially said: “Well, you have booked with us before. You should know how to book. This is your fault and you will not be refunded.”

He didn’t even offer a partial refund or a voucher. Nothing. I hung up and cried because I was just bullied on the phone over nothing, just an Airbnb listing. Why does this case agent even care? He should have tried to be a better mediator in this situation and look at my history of being a guest: I have never complained or done anything shady.

I’ve blasted Airbnb on Twitter. You may have seen them if you follow @airbnbhell because I copied them on Twitter too. The case manager emailed me and said “it was a pleasure talking to you this morning… blah blah blah” I responded with a lengthy email, told him he bullied me and yelled at me, and I was in tears afterwards. I mean I hate be the victim but this host acted like one and got $400+ out of it. Why can’t I tell the truth and tell them how I felt? I felt like a used pair of underwear.

When I emailed them back I also copied Belinda Johnson, who is Airbnb’s Chief Legal Council, and Donna Boyer, who is Airbnb’s Director of Product. Working in tech in the Bay Area (where Airbnb is headquartered) you can find out who these people are. Just about an hour ago I received an apology from Anthony with a $200 voucher. Really? Seriously? If I do not plan to use Airbnb anymore, what good is it going to do me? Just send me my money! At least send a voucher that is equal if not more than what I went out of pocket. I ended up rebooking another listing for my daughter through Airbnb and luckily that went fine. It would have been nice if this voucher was there before that since I just plan to use VBRO or VaCasa or something else in the future. Thanks for listening to me ramble.

Airbnb Nightmare at Casa Pasco at Lake Chapala, Mexico

We arrived at Casa Pasco in Lake Chapala, Mexico, having booked through Airbnb. Our welcome started with the owner answering the door after repeatedly ringing the bell at the gate. No “Hello” or “Welcome” just, “Where have you been?” Well, we landed in Guadalajara, grabbed a taxi and the taxi driver had difficulties finding Casa Pasco. The owner, Scott, gave us quite the rude welcome. Immediately my first thought was this place was not going to be what Airbnb advertised, starting with some small out-of-control dogs that attacked the pet we had traveling with us.

There was a sewage/chemical smell in both Casa Pasco Casitas. The internet was not working, as had been promised in my Casita. I went to my family member’s Casita, and the internet was still working poorly: forget about watching Netflix or even getting some work completed. The smell was so disgusting I returned to my Casita. Every time we went to ask for help we always felt uncomfortable as the owners were not so friendly, as if we were a bother since we were complaining. It was almost comical watching Scott try to work with a simple internet router that was hanging outdoors on a nail outside my Casita.

Within a couple of hours of being there I knew we had to get the hell out of this place. No way we were staying for multiple nights. I talked to my family member and explained that we were leaving no matter what. We stayed up the entire night, keeping my family member up in my Casita outdoors to avoid the stench of sewage and chemicals (maybe roach spray?). Scott claimed to be so involved with the local community; he said that his local friends and soccer team kids would be visiting and that we should be kind and accommodating. We were also told to lock our belongings up while they visited. I won’t say or express what I think about this host.

Within 12 hours we were packed and left this Airbnb nightmare. The photos look great and the reviews are all great but one must wonder about the authenticity of each review as we had to negotiate with Airbnb and the owner to get a partial refund. Airbnb seemed to side with the host and I wonder if they even suggested that the owner take an honest look at our complaints and resolve them. I will never use Airbnb again, as I don’t feel I should have to negotiate the way we had to. I think that us offering to pay for the first night was more than fair especially after our experience. Don’t use Airbnb, and stay away from Casa Pasco at Lake Chapala. We found an amazing place within those first 24 hours by searching for accommodations on Google. A place that said “welcome”, loved our pet, and allowed us to decompress after 12 hours of hell.

Cockroaches, Ants, and Construction Disruption in Airlie Beach

There were cockroaches, ants in the bed, and no privacy. We were even kicked out of our room for construction work. We booked a four-night stay at a place in Airlie Beach that was advertised as a ‘penthouse apartment’. The listing can be viewed here. This is possibly one of the most misrepresented listings I have stayed at through Airbnb. Advertising this as a penthouse is like advertising Adolf Hitler as a peacekeeper. It was dirtier than a Rawalpindi market, and the host, Leah, was as helpful as fly screens on a submarine. Jokes aside, here is the story.

The ‘King Bedroom’ was separated (used loosely) from a storage room by a tall cabinet and a piece of material draped over it, with a car’s sun visor leaning against it. This offered little-to-no privacy from the adjoining storage hall. The glass doors to the room had gaps between the walls, letting sound and light easily pass through. The sliding door to the balcony was old and unsturdy. It had a gap where, even if shut properly all the way, wind could come through and made sleeping at night impossible.

There were cockroaches. We saw several crawling around during our stay: two in the room (see pictures), and one in the laundry/bathroom area. There were also ants in the bed and on the walls. As we walked into the room at check-in, the building manager picked up a pinchful of ants from the floor. In the middle of the second afternoon of our stay, the building manager asked us to leave the room so that a wooden board (making up part of the wall of the room) could be patched up and fixed. We were trying to take a nap because of the lack of sleep we had on the first night.

By the second night, we’d had enough. It was approximately 8:00 PM when we looked for an alternative place for accommodation. As it was a Friday night, there was nothing available close by or within our price range ($100-$150/ night). We reluctantly spent the second night there and agreed to cancel the stay the next day, forfeiting the second half of the stay that was booked and paid for. Upon cancellation, I reached out to the host to try and request a refund for the total amount paid. We had not stayed for the last two nights, and the first two were atrocious. I did not think it unreasonable. I sent through photos of the uncleanliness and explained the poor experience we had. She sent back an animated response, wrought with spelling errors and incomprehensible sentence structure. I could barely understand the bulk of it.

I managed to deduce that she had denied the request, so I pushed on to Airbnb’s Resolution Centre. After several email exchanges, the case manager concluded that as per the terms and conditions, 24 hours was the window for cancellation and receipt of a refund. He offered a credit of 49 AUD as compensation towards my next stay. I responded by saying I would not be using Airbnb again to redeem this credit, so it is useless. I explained 24 hours to request a cancellation was an unreasonable part of the terms and conditions, as the bulk of the issues were encountered after this window. I referred to the ‘extenuating circumstances’ clause, highlighting the exception to their policy of ‘severe property damage or unforeseen maintenance issues’. He ignored this. He thanked me for my time in corresponding and my understanding in the matter.

Needless to say, I couldn’t understand a single shred of logic observed by this case manager. I initiated a chargeback through my bank for the $400 charge to my credit card. The outcome is pending. I have resubmitted a formal dispute with Airbnb. The result is pending. I have also investigated using the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) regulatory body to lodge a dispute. This will only take place if my bank is unsuccessful in recovering the charge. I’d like to note that this is not about the money, so much as the principle. Even if my bank is successful, I would like to warn users and non-users of Airbnb’s unreasonable customer service policies and poor support, as well as this host’s lack of consideration and diplomacy with respect to her guests. Stay here at your own peril.

Airbnb Put Me in Identification Verification Hell

I had been booking accommodations with Airbnb throughout New Zealand and Australia until one day, Airbnb would not let me make any new bookings until I complied with their ID verification process. I began the process and became very alarmed: I was being asked for a ton of personal data, with questions referring to my former spouse (from whom I have been divorced for twenty years), an address I had 60 years ago – where did Airbnb find this? – and past places of employment. The clincher came when they asked for my social security number, a scan of my passport, and access to my Facebook account. Smelling a scam, I Googled “ID verification” and found out this was indeed a legitimate Airbnb process. Then I phoned them and actually got through. No matter how much personal data I provided, they kept asking for more, assuring me all the while that my information was secure.

…secure until someone hacks Airbnb and has access to enough information to steal my identity and ruin my life, a situation simply not worth this risk. So now I am unable to book any future accommodations on Airbnb. I understand that a host needs to feel confident about strangers staying with them, but this verification process goes way too far and clearly exposes travelers to the risk of identity theft. I am a 70-year-old woman, retired from working in healthcare, with no criminal record who has been a pillar of my community for decades. I am not a threat to anyone. Furthermore, someone who really is up to no good could most likely obtain false documents and still get through their ID process. I am angry and upset that I can no longer use Airbnb, despite the fact that I am a totally honest, harmless and ethical person. My message to Airbnb: you need to figure out a better way to vet travelers. If an honest, harmless retired senior can’t use your site without divulging a ton of personal data, something is amiss with your process.

Hell in Apollo Bay: Australian Airbnb Fraud

I purchased accommodation through this host for a property called Diandera Dirrah a in Apollo Bay, Australia from the December 27th to January 2nd. I have confirmation emails from Airbnb confirming these dates. I paid $2617 for six nights’ accommodation and on the second morning the host arrived at the property and told us to “get out or she would call the police” as she had “spies in the neighbourhood who told her we had a party.”

We did no such thing. She was yelling, laughing hysterically and threatening us. I had no leg to stand on and we left. We had to camp at a local football oval and buy tents and yoga mats to sleep on as we were five hours from home; it was horrible. We drove past the property and saw she already had new occupants staying there. This is a scam. She took $2617 from hard working, responsible individuals and threatened us. We should have received a refund but Airbnb did nothing to help. She then illegally altered the receipt to say that we only stayed one night for $2617 which is an absolute joke. Please see the attached documents that prove we were confirmed for six nights and then the altered receipt. Do not stay here; they will steal your money.

Airbnb Hell: Forced to Cancel Reservation First

I will never use Airbnb again. My host canceled our reservation in New York City because he got fined. He contacted me but did not contact Airbnb. So I had to cancel the reservation online. Now have to wait up to 48 hours for the host to respond. I made the horrible mistake of calling Airbnb. I was on hold for over an hour listening to the same miserable song playing over and over again, then got some nitwit on the phone who knows nothing. He told me I’d have to pay $117 because I canceled the reservation due to the host canceling. I tried to explain to him over and over again that I didn’t cancel but the host did. Now he sent it to the Airbnb “case manager”. Is this for real? Do they really have case managers? I already paid over $1,000 and now I feel like I’ll never see the money again.

The People Who Run Airbnb Are Thieves

Thieves! Never trust the listing and pictures. What you see is never what you get. I arrived with my family at the place we booked for our dream vacation on Boxing Day and we could not believe what we paid for. We paid four months before our vacation. The holiday turned into hell for us immediately. After going through a painful negotiation with the host and Airbnb they agreed to partially refund us on difficult terms if we left immediately. I spent all of Christmas Day and night listening to my kids crying from cold and exhaustion in the cold dungeon we booked as a luxury apartment. Now after 20 days, Airbnb refused to refund me, even the host did not receive any payment from them. They are just sitting on the money and not replying to email and phone calls.

Airbnb Screws Guests with Refund Policy

I’ll keep it short. I had a place reserved for a month on Airbnb and the host (Laila) did not have the apartment ready. She told me that she would give me a full refund, but then decided to change her mind that night. That was on a Friday night. She kept telling Airbnb that she would let my family and I stay (my wife and I have a two year old), but would ever answer our calls. Finally, after three days in a hotel, Airbnb cancelled the reservation on her behalf and gave us a full refund. That was on Sunday night. They did not take the word of the guest at all, only what the host said.

As Laila was not ready, I reserved another place in a last-minute situation to get my family somewhere to stay for the month. When I arrived at the apartment I asked the host if he was allowed to rent to me, and he said he wasn’t but that it was ok because he had just bought a house. I told him that I wasn’t comfortable with that, and to please cancel the reservation. He told me no, and to get out of his apartment. After he kicked my family and me out, I called Airbnb to explain. They then cancelled the reservation on my behalf, without my permission, and gave me a $2 refund on $2350. I called his apartment complex to confirm that he was not allowed to rent, and they provided me with the portion of the lease saying that he is not allowed to sublease or use online rental sites.

I let Airbnb know and sent them the portion of the lease, but they said that I needed to provide his full lease with his name and address. Seriously? They know that I can’t provide anything other than the contact information for the apartment complex so that they can reach out. I’ve been going back and forth with them for over a week, and they gave me an 80% refund, but at this point it’s looking like he’ll keep $600. Now I have to go through the process of filing a claim with my credit company in the hopes that their lawyers can resolve it. If you have the option, do not use Airbnb. There are other sites like HomeAway and VRBO that will provide you with a much better service, and offer protection for this exact situation.

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.

Hosts Pressure and Lie to Guests to Cancel Bookings

I am relatively new to Airbnb, but I’m already sick and tired of it. I have had two experiences from hosts who wanted to cancel the reservation, but are too disorganised and lazy to do so more than a week in advance. They concoct fake excuses to pressure the guest into cancelling the reservation themselves, saving the host paying a cancellation fee. My first experience was with Evelyne Chiarro in Saint-Quentin-la-Chabanne. About a week before I was going to stay, she asked me If I had a car. I replied that I didn’t, so she edited her profile description to say that a car was mandatory to reach her address, and if I didn’t have one, I should cancel. She then refused to give directions to her house, and ignored all my other emails. I requested she cancel, but she ignored that. Because it was so close to the non-refundable deadline, I had to cancel the reservation myself.

My second bad experience was with an Agnes Pingkan in Groningen. A week before I was due to stay, she sent me an email saying that she didn’t live at the address any more, she thought she had deleted the Airbnb account, and she was surprised it was still accepting bookings. I emailed her five times to cancel my booking, but she ignored them so I had to do it myself. Her room is still listed on the website. Needless to say, complaints to Airbnb were ignored too. Both these times caused me a lot of stress and I had to book expensive hotels in the area because of the short notice given. This makes me distrust Airbnb because I don’t know if my bookings are going to be honoured right up until the last minute. Unless Airbnb deletes these user accounts and cracks down on this sort of fraud, I can only recommend people avoid this website in the future.