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.

Airbnb London Hell: Host Refuses to Cancel

I had booked an apartment with Isable and Hyder in London. I had made my booking at the end of October and paid three months in advance (all emails and payments are well recorded and can be provided if needed). Prior to making our journey to the apartment, we had contacted the host in the morning to reconfirm the booking and ensure everything went smoothly. The host had confirmed on several occasions that the apartment was ready for us. This was confirmed on the evening of December 28th, the next morning, and while we were on our way to the apartment.

When we arrived the consigner informed us that there was someone in the apartment we had booked. We tried to contact the host on several occasions and did not get any response from her; she avoided taking our calls. We finally managed to get ahold of the host, who then tried to relocate us to another apartment, which was much smaller in size, dirty and quite disgusting, and without a working shower, heathers, cooker or oven (recorded in photographs above). We informed the host that we would not be able to stay in such an apartment and she asked us to cancel our booking without any refund or compensation for the trouble they had caused us. However, we informed them we would be willing to take another apartment, similar to the one we had booked, but this was unavailable. The host then informed us they would compensate us £100, which was very insignificant, and an insult to the damage caused. We refused to cancel the booking and went through the process of a booking a hotel in the same area, which cost much more. At 7:02 PM the host decided to cancel the booking and a refund of £1041 was made to our PayPal account. However we had spent a lot of time and money in planning our five-day trip: £100 in household shopping including fruits and vegetables, £28.67 for our Uber from Harrow to Saint Edmund’s Terrace, £8.98 to Forset Court, and £25.24 back to Harrow. Our hotel booking is now £510 per night for three people and we are staying a total of five nights, totaling £2,550.

Disgusted Beyond Belief: Dirty Airbnb

Since Airbnb does not allow reviews on places if we leave I’m posting my story here. People may wonder why I tried so hard to make this work after reading my email. It was because I was exhausted and the thought of hauling our stuff down three flights of stairs and finding a hotel seemed like too much. I was a fool to try so hard. Here is the link to the property. Due to Airbnb policies not everyone gets to write a review which is why I was fooled.

Here is what happened. Prior to arrival, I called the host, and within 45 seconds of the conversation he said, “you can’t judge me.” I asked him why I would judge him and he said he was going through a breakup with a girlfriend and had lost his BMW. He said he had people judging him of late. If he means judging him based on what I’ve written below, then I guess I’m also judging him.

We arrived and texted Ryan, the host. He told us to come to a bar close by to get the key. My husband, Hanny, and I do not drink. It was 8:00 PM, and we were both tired. By the time we got the text we had already unloaded all of our luggage. We were not going to put it back into the car to find a bar, which Ryan told us to Google. I texted him back and informed him of this. After waiting some minutes without a reply from him, I called. He said he got the text and was on his way.

The complex he lives in does not know he is renting out space. I suspect this is not that unusual. We didn’t have a problem with that, but we also didn’t want to have to worry about what to say if approached. It was apparent the apartment had not been cleaned in some time. While not cluttered it was dirty. When we walked in, the table that should have been used for eating was not only dirty it had a dirty shirt in the middle of it. Ryan got us some towels, chatted for a few minutes and headed back to the bar and his date. We were tired and wanted to go to bed, so that was okay.

The bed was a whole issue within itself. It was missing a top sheet, and the bottom sheet showed clear signs of being dirty: nail clippings, popcorn kernels, and discharge. The pillow cases smelled of perfume. Hanny called Ryan to ask where we could find clean sheets. Ryan offered to come back, but we didn’t want to wait for him. He told Hanny where he could find the linens. He found one top sheet and a couple of pillow cases in a linen closet. I found another top sheet in our room. We were so tired we just wanted to make this work. So we stripped the bed and put on the two top sheets. Then we noticed the top sheet from the linen closet had something on it. Soap, hand lotion, who knows. At that point, I said screw this and pulled the sheets off and took them over to washer/dryer area. He had a huge mound of clothes on the machines that we had to move over to get the lid open. Inside was other clothes that I think might have been dirty. So I had to remove a stranger’s dirty clothes to wash our dirty sheets. There were also clothes in the dryer.

After starting the laundry, I went back to the room to unpack. Nothing had been dusted. The desk and the chest of drawers had a layer of dirt. I’m not picky here. I have a picture of a wet paper towel that shows the dirt I was wiping off so I could set our clean belongings on them. I went to use the toilet and found just a few squares that I could use. No other toilet paper was in that bathroom. Later, I took the roll from Ryan’s bathroom. After flushing the toilet with very little toilet paper in it, it went down and then came back up. When washing my hands, I could see the bathroom sink was not clean and the mirror was dirty. I went and got more paper towels to try to make things at least look clean. At this point very few paper towels were left. I used about ten squares in total, so there was not much on the roll. I went to put my fruit in the fridge. It was dirty. The stove top was dirty. The sink was full of dirty dishes.

I went to shower and found a dirty wash cloth hanging in there and a box that had used soap stuffed inside it. I chose not to shower. I went back into the bedroom and stepped on a dead worm. I put the dead worm on the kitchen table. I figured it wouldn’t matter since it was already filthy. I sent Ryan a text listing some of the conditions above and started packing. Hanny was about to call Ryan and tell him we were leaving when he came in due to the texts. Ryan’s unit is probably fine for young people who don’t care about basic cleanliness and want to hang out and party. For adults that are there for business, it was not so good.

Ryan kept trying to blame his cleaning lady, but I don’t think that room or unit had cleaned within the past two weeks. He could have stayed out of the bar and cleaned the unit knowing he had guests arriving. I tried to speak to him about taking responsibility and not playing the victim role. It was a waste of breath, and I was too exhausted to spend time having this conversation with him. He is too young and immature to be offering an Airbnb to anyone except his peers. He needs to change his post and stop claiming he is two blocks from the beach. While it is two intersections, it would take about 15 minutes. If you read his reviews, you will see to what I’m referring. He also has people going up three flights of stairs with their luggage. He doesn’t tell them about the elevator at the end of the hall. I think this is due to him not wanting people to notice what he is doing. He puts the onus on to his guests to ask these basic questions.

Thrown Out Before Christmas: Australian Airbnb Nightmare

During our most recent Airbnb stay, the electricity kept cutting out, the wifi wasn’t working, and after spending 3500 euro we needed to pay to use the washing machine and dryer. I simply told my host my concerns and he told me to get out of house ASAP, just like that. This was booked months in advance and was to be our home for six weeks, through Christmas, and that was it; he just wanted us out. I contacted Airbnb thinking they would be helpful in booking me in a new apartment but no… they just told me that if our host wants us gone, we need to leave and that’s all there is to it. I asked for a manager and the customer service representative said she was in charge of the case and hung up. Later, she sent me an email in reply to my request for assistance on rebooking and a refund for the money we spent on washing clothes. I couldn’t believe they would leave three young girls with no friends or family – we were moving across the world – alone and homeless on the street; all I received were smug answers to my questions. I couldn’t believe I was being treated this way, first by a host and then by customer service. To speak to me like that while I was homeless and out of pocket as they charged me a higher nightly rate instead of the discounted monthly rate was unbelievable. There I was on the side of the road with two suitcases, little money, no home for Christmas, and being spoken to like I was nothing more than dirt.

To all Airbnb users visiting Melbourne, do not book with a host named Frank. His property name is “Spacious, Bright & Charming home.” If you run into trouble and need help he will have no problem just kicking you out. I can’t believe this is just allowed to happen. I’ve had great experiences with Airbnb but I’m still in disbelief.