The Great Dress Robbery at San Sebastián Airbnb

I was staying in San Sebastián last August and left all my best dresses hanging in the wardrobe; I was pregnant and running for a 5:00 AM train. I contacted the host the same day and arranged for him to send all my things back to Sydney. He seemed agreeable at the time and then I never heard from him again. He refused to answer any phone calls or messages. I estimate my lost items cost almost $2000 in dresses, some with the price tags still attached. I have spoken to a half dozen Airbnb team members over the last six months who have dropped my claim without even contacting me. This is what I received from a staff member (please see image). I’m so shocked at the lack of professionalism and patronising tone of this email.

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.

Airbnb Built on Institutionalized Fraud

Airbnb takes the full payment amount from guests when bookings are made. Then they keep the money for however many days, weeks, or months before the guests actually arrive and are supposed to pay the host as follows: “Airbnb releases your payout about 24 hours after your guest’s scheduled check-in.” What actually happens is that Airbnb sends an email to the host at the point when they should pay and suggests that the bank will take time to pay. This is a total lie. In New Zealand, payments are processed very quickly. The banks may sit on interbank payments for up to one day and do not process interbank payments on weekends and public holidays, but they do not just sit on the money for days as Airbnb suggests. What is actually going on is that Airbnb sits on millions of dollars of guests’ and hosts’ money for days. Meanwhile the guest has checked out and often even left the country before the host is paid. This is just another way that Airbnb is screwing the market. Remember, Airbnb does not have any property. In fact, they have nothing except an APP which causes frustration in communications, so they can keep the guests and hosts at arm’s length until they have got their money. I would strongly suggest that guests instead find a property outside of Airbnb, especially if it is a hotel or guest house and they can check the price directly. When there is no commission to Airbnb, hosts can often offer a better price. If you pay money out to a host who owns a hotel or guest house that has been in business for some time, you at least know where they are; they have a physical location. Whereas you struggle to even get Airbnb on the phone in some random foreign country. Best wishes from a host still waiting to get paid.

Thanksgiving Hell from NYC Airbnb Landlady

My nightmare began when my fiancé and I decided to rent a place for a short stay in New York City to do some Thanksgiving shopping before returning home. I was obviously misled by the price ($55) and the attractive title: “Historic Harlem walk up.” First of all, the room is not located in the artsy, bohemian, historical, Columbia University area of Harlem, but on 7th St and 5th Ave, which we have come to learn is basically one of the blocks of “Dominicans Don’t Play,” a Latino mafia, as we were told when the police came after we reported a brawl at the entry hallway at 2:00 AM. When the officers left, they recommended we tried to find a hotel somewhere else: “You’re here at your own risk.”

The building is located between liquor stores packed with Haitians gambling with dice at the entrance. The morning we left we had to literally give two dollars to a homeless sleeping in front of the door, or else… Why did we end up there? Well, as people can see in the listing, the picture and description give the impression the room has enough light and space for two. I should have read the reviews first. The space you’re renting is not a room; it’s a locked closet with no ventilation, smells like weed and sometimes gas at night, and it comes with its own door to a bedroom where pretty much anyone else can enter and invade your space. That space, of course, is not even where the landlady lives, which by New York law is illegal to rent.

Let me warn you about the landlady. She goes by several aliases in Airbnb. She’s one of a kind. As soon as you see her, you can tell she’s up to something. She made totally inappropriate comments to my wife, and was moody all the time. Forget about the Airbnb commercials where the local host is warmly welcomed. Her face suggested she hadn’t slept in a week and gave a creepy air to the place. I was so happy when we left. This host definitely has a language barrier and does not speak proper English or Spanish (I speak both), however she replied to my review that I was the one to blame, despite the fact I am fluent in both languages.

Things to remember: Avoid Airbnb, and if in New York, avoid this listing. I have flagged her profile, but of course Airbnb does not care as long as people keep flowing in. I also warn families and couples not to rent to her because something fishy is going on in that building.

Bait and Switch: Unethical Airbnb Owners

This story is regarding my Airbnb rental and my host, Caroline. On December 17th, 2016 I made a reservation with Caroline to rent a home in San Pedro, CA, I received confirmation of my reservation and at that time my credit card was charged $1,829 for a one-week rental of the home. The rental dates were from February 18-25, 2017. On December 18th, 2016 I wrote to ask Caroline whether, during our stay, we could have a luncheon for my 90-year-old mother in law. She wrote back saying that would be no problem. Then, on December 19th, 2016, I was shocked to receive the following email:

“Good morning! I spoke with the owners this morning again about your booking and they are really worried about a party and are not keen to it any longer. They went to a neighborhood party and a few people mentioned that they were not happy about the last party and would report them. I’m sorry. I wish I could change their mind and they are sorry too but they can’t afford the risk. I hope you guys can understand. They also mentioned the house was booked at $200 and that they can’t afford to stay at a nice hotel for that and that they’d prefer a minimum of $250 per night. I’m not sure how our minimum got changed to $200 but that wasn’t correct. There’s been some software changes in the system but we can’t figure out how that could have changed. I hope this isn’t all too disappointing. I’ve never asked for a guest to cancel but this is what the owners want me to do. If you guys can make it work then I’ll need you to accept the changes or if it can’t work, which I’d understand, then you can cancel. Again, I’m really sorry about having to chance this on you. But I hope you’ve got enough time until February to choose another place if that may be.”

I had made a reservation in good faith to rent this property and now, with less than 60 days until the short-term rental began, I was being told the rental cost was being increased by 24%. As this rental was found on Airbnb, I contacted them to ask about this uncomfortable situation. I was contacted by two customer service representatives who said this was absolutely not acceptable behavior, that it was a “bait and switch” tactic, and against Airbnb’s policies. A few days later another representative from Airbnb contacted me and said she would work to resolve the situation. Instead, on December 27th, 2016, they informed me my reservation was being cancelled. I believe the actions taken by Caroline were illegal under California State Law, specifically regarding short-term rentals: “If you have a month-to-month (or shorter) periodic rental agreement, the landlord must give you at least 60 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is greater than 10 percent.”

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.

Slandered and Threatened at Airbnb in Mexico

I am now rounding out my sixth week at an Airbnb in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I am in total shock over how I have been treated and if the advice I’m about to give saves even one person the psychological pain I have suffered, it will have been worth it. Somewhere within the Airbnb contract, it says that a host ask a guest to leave for any reason. That, in and of itself, is insanity. And in the state of Guanajuato, it is completely untrue. In my case, the “hostess” saw me smoking a cigarette in her “casita”. That was a no-no. I apologized but her response was, “I am changing the locks and will throw all your belongings onto the street.” My response was to call my Mexican attorney. Yes, I have one. He advised me to tell her to back all the way off. Which, I did. Instead of her backing off I starting receiving daily Airbnb emails from her and from Airbnb itself. Her emails included the following flowery phrases she used to describe me: “pissed off addict”, “worst person I have ever met”, “you are beneath me”, “unethical”, “shame on you” and endless references to this one cigarette. She repeatedly told me to “GET OUT”. So after more than five weeks into this drama, I asked my lawyer to write her a letter.

Here is the real deal about renting in Mexico, through Airbnb or just directly with a landlord. Harassment of a tenant in Mexico is a criminal offense. Any attempt to evict a tenant outside the court is a criminal offense. Airbnb has no jurisdiction here and therefore, the tenant holds all the cards. Did I want to leave? Of course. But nothing was available that was not quadruple what I had already paid the hostess so I had to stay put. Do not knuckle under if you find yourself in a similar situation. You are being abused, you are the victim. There is nothing Airbnb can do to remove you. In fact, if any attempt had been made to remove me, that person would be subject to arrest. I hope this helps someone.

Airbnb Laundered Over $100K into Unauthorized Account

We are a corporate housing provider. One of our employees opened up personal Paypal accounts under their own name and Airbnb deposited over $100,000 into these accounts. It has been two weeks, several phone calls, and follow-up emails with still no response. We will have to engage a lawyer as Airbnb has shown no initiative towards a resolution in recouping our funds. If anyone else has experienced such fraud, and negligence on Airbnb’s part there should be a class action suit.

I have discovered a person who was working for me opened an account under his name with Bank of America and Airbnb through utter negligence was sending my payments for my company into this person’s account through Paypal. The result of this egregious negligence on Airbnb’s part is that over one hundred thousand dollars of my money went to someone else’s account. There was grand theft committed against me and my business solely due to lack of any security by Airbnb. In the past few months I called Airbnb multiple times and asked if there were using any other account for my company except the two authorized accounts I have. Each time the Airbnb representatives assured me that there were no other accounts being used except these two. I continued digging into all my Airbnb transactions and bookings as I was going over all of our company bookings and many tenant payment methods were missing. I thought it somehow linked back to Airbnb, yet they continued to have no answers.

Finally, on November 30th, I called Airbnb yet again and I asked them to go over every single payment they have paid me. When we got to the last few payments they weren’t in either of my accounts and the representative couldn’t tell me into which account they were deposited. After putting me on hold to research this, the representative came back to me and said that the payments went to a Paypal account. Not only did they never realize this in all my past conversations with them, they also – to my shock – had no information on this Paypal account and they asked me to call Paypal for more information. After I called Paypal I found out that multiple accounts had been opened and closed through my company, using someone else’s name since 2014, with Airbnb being the sole source of deposits. This was shocking news, again leading to what I have found to be well over $100,000 in theft.

Learn From Our Mistake: Airbnb Illegal in Singapore

Earlier this year my family booked two nights at a condominium in Singapore. Everything looked good, and the host responded well. There were no problems with the booking. Upon arrival, a different host greeted us, and we noted in the lift large signs stating “Airbnb illegal in these apartments. We have CCTV.” The apartment was certainly not ready for us, and the host claimed a problem in a change of ownership which we needed to discuss with Airbnb. To cut a long story short, it appeared that police had in fact visited this block recently, and the original owner cut his ties. We told the new host we did not want to be part of an illegal practice and would leave early next morning, which we did, involving time wasted and additional expense during our short break. I have since raised this with Airbnb and gotten absolutely nowhere. It appears that sublets of less than six months are indeed illegal in Singapore and most people certainly knew this. Suffice to say, our condominium and many others continue to be advertised on their website.