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 House Filled with Potheads, Constant Sleepovers

Our host did not indicate how many people were living in his house (four people, including him). When we arrived the house was freezing because their idea of comfortable is to sit in the home with jeans and jackets on. Then we thought that the house didn’t have a heater; it did, but they would only turn it on for two hours at night. There was no hot water, just warm water the same temperature as cold water where we come from. The sitting room had nothing, the TV didn’t work, and there was no light. They sat on the couches with their shoes on. Every night they had friends over who would smoke with them and crash on the living room sofa. Every other night they had parties until 3:00 AM and a bunch of people would come and all smoke together, play, and sing music loudly. They would not leave and all of them would sleep in the living room.

The only time we sat with them was the first day, to get to know them. Only one person spoke English. He told us right away that he was going to marry another one of the roommates because she offered him money; he is Italian and she can legally stay in Spain. It was terrible knowing this because our room didn’t have a lock or safe. For safety we had to lock all our valuables in our luggage every day and night. Everybody living in the house was a drug user and the smell of marijuana permeated the whole house everyday. The living room table was filled with marijuana and cigarette ash, as if the house were a drug den.

All their kitchen equipment was in bad condition so we bought our own. They did not have a water boiler so we bought that as well. One day I came to make tea and couldn’t find my mug; they were smoking and using my mug as an ashtray. They showed no remorse and I had to clean it. They did not provide any cabinets in which we could put our supplies and furthermore used our food on more than three occasions even though we told them it was ours. They blamed us for not putting our food in our section of the fridge; mind you these products were not supposed to be in the fridge.

They also kept the cats’ litter box in the small kitchen. At times the litter box wouldn’t be cleaned for two days and the whole kitchen would smell horrible. Furthermore they did not wash their dishes for days and filled the washing area with their dishes; this was why we couldn’t wash our dishes.

Once they could have killed us as well. We came back to the smell of gas and burning everywhere and saw that the pan was on the gas and it had not been turned off. It was possible it had been left like that for more than an hour; smoke was everywhere. We did not speak to anybody throughout our stay and were outside every day. We spent half the day outside trying to avoid their horrible house for the fifteen unfortunate days we had to spend there. Nestor and his roommates are true definition of potheads who have no responsibility or concern about what they do or how they treat their guests. We did not want to write a review, as we thought it was best to just forget about it, but they showed no respect, forcing us to write the truth.

Drug Traffickers use Airbnb Hosts’ Addresses

My last guest was using a name that was not his real name. How he can use a different name from the verified one? He also didn’t have a picture on his profile, but he had mostly good reviews. He booked for two nights. He arrived late the first night and early the next day I had the police at my door with a big FedEx box. The police were part of the Package Interdiction Team; they showed me the closed package with my address on it and the guest’s first name. They asked my permission to enter my house and locate the guest. They brought the guest downstairs, opened the box in front of him, and it was full of drugs. The guest was arrested. The police said this was happening a lot: drug dealers were using Airbnb to do the trafficking, so they could use temporary addresses. I had to deal with returning the guest’s rental car, which was also a nightmare. I reported this incident to Airbnb and never got a call back from them.

Airbnb’s Insurance Policy Doesn’t Protect Guests

In February, our Airbnb rental in Mexico was burglarized. The police came and a report was filed. All told, between two couples, we lost over $4500 of our possessions. The owner was very helpful; he filed a claim with his insurance company, which was denied about two weeks later because we were renters. Our personal homeowner’s policies covered all of our losses except our $500 deductibles for each couple, which might mean that the cost of our policies could go up.

I contacted Airbnb Customer Service over 12 days ago, to collect the two $500 deductibles from them. I was told to send all corresponding information to them, which I did. It has now been almost two weeks since Airbnb’s last contact with me. I have attempted to have other emails answered by their employees to no avail. I am now very angry at the rudeness of Airbnb. In the last two days, I have called the 855-424-7262 number four times. I was on hold for over 15 minutes each time with music playing, then when the music stopped (all four times), and I thought, yeah, someone is going to talk to me, I was disconnected. All four times.

I am mad and will not give up trying to reach Airbnb. They cover insurance for their homeowners; there should be insurance coverage for their renters as well. We are half of their business. My first communication with one of their representatives went very well. I thought this was a good company. However, in the ensuing two weeks, with no followups and reading about problems many other people have had trying to contact them, trying to reach someone by phone only to be disconnected four times after 15 minutes on hold, I am now convinced that Airbnb does not care. The CEOs have made their millions (billions) and they just don’t care anymore. I will be renting from HomeAway and VRBO in the future. Step up to the plate Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk, and Joe Gebbia. Someone at Airbnb should be reading the complaints and frustrations of your homeowners and renters on this website.

Overcharged Payments with Currency Exchange

I have been overcharged by Airbnb over and over again. I have just booked accommodations in Italy and was quoted the price in USD. However, I was charged in YTL despite not having any bank account connected to Turkey in my Airbnb account. Airbnb converts the amount to a foreign currency and takes a hefty commission actually without doing anything. Now I will also be charged by Amex for a foreign currency conversion. It is daylight robbery actually. Despite me taking precautions to prevent it, this has happened again and again. There is also no way of contacting Airbnb – no customer service whatsoever.

Ring Stolen by Host Leads to Customer Service Nightmare

I rented a condo in Panama City Beach, Florida in January 2017 to visit an old friend with terminal cancer. Upon arrival, everything was fine. When I returned home I realized a diamond ring that belonged to my late sister-in-law was missing. As you may imagine I was sick. I have never lost anything and that would be the worst thing to lose. I sent a message through Airbnb to the host, asked them to please look for it, and reminded them in what bedroom I stayed. Low and behold, they found it on January 31st 2017. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was. They asked for my address and for how much to insure the package, and I provided the information.

It is now March 14th and I still do not have the ring. I contacted Airbnb on February 10th after multiple attempts to communicate with the host to which they would no longer respond. Airbnb reviewed all the messages and opened a case. I have not been contacted by Airbnb once. I have called multiple times, been on hold for 30-45 minutes, spoken to someone who stated that my case has been assigned to someone and they would be contacting me, and to date there has been absolutely no contact. Every day I call Airbnb, hold for a long period of time, speak to someone and that is it. I have asked for a manager or supervisor each time and was always told they were busy. I have insisted that I speak with someone and have been hung up on three times now. I am not sure what to do. I have contacted the local police department, filed a report, and also reported Airbnb to the Better Business Bureau. It’s bad enough I lost the ring, but the worst part is lack of help from Airbnb. I will never use them again.

Tenant Hijacks Property, Airbnb Refuses to Help

I’m not really a guest. I am an owner whose tenant decided to operate an Airbnb even though it violated his lease and is a breach of our agreement. When we asked Airbnb to take the property down from their site they refused, indicating their arrangement with our tenant and stating only the tenant can take it down. The tenant has refused to do so, so we served him with a Notice to Quit, the first step to eviction. The process could take four to six weeks if we are lucky. Until he is out, we can do nothing about him continuing to be on Airbnb. Last weekend he rented out to a party of about 200 people. We are in California, where tenants have more rights than owners and when the state needs money they turn to the owners to provide it. We need better laws to defend honest citizens from the leaches that some Airbnb hosts are.

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 Scam: Fake Long-Term Listing in Geneva

I am sharing this because similar stories posted here about a scam in Iceland and Spain are what kept me from getting scammed. I will be collaborating with someone in Geneva for a couple of months and needed to find a place to stay (well technically, I still need to find a place). A friend who lives in Switzerland suggested that I use this website. On it, I found a listing for an apartment that was cheap compared to most of the other apartments in the area (610 CHF/ month for a one bedroom apartment). The ad was certified as ‘verified’. The ad was in French so I emailed the person in French and here is what they replied:

Thanks for your interest in wanting to be my tenant. My name is Klaudia Wannemaker and I’m 44 years old. I bought this apartment for my son during his studies. Now he is back home in Italy permanently. so I am renting the place for an unlimited time. Before we go any further I would like to know something about you, like how many people intend to live in the apartment, your job, and how old you are. The apartment is fully furnished but if you need it unfurnished, you can move the furniture into storage. The rent is CHF 610 per month and includes all utilities listed below:

• High Speed Internet

• Utilities (water/gas/electricity/heating)

• TV Cable

• Parking Spot

The lease is flexible, can be month to month, with a minimum stay of one month to a maximum of 8 or 9 years. The price will not increase monthly, it will remain the same for the whole period that the contract states. About pets: there are no problems if you have pets, as long as you clean up after them. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Warsaw even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. But this won’t affect you at all. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.

To me, it seemed legit although I found it odd that she was replying in English, and her not being around to show me the apartment came across as an immediate red flag. I continued emailing her because I was not sure yet. Also, I had already told her everything she had asked about me, and I had told her I was looking for a short-term lease. In retrospect, this was obviously an automated response, but what can I say? I was still young and hopeful then. Here is the next email I received:

Thanks for your reply. You seem to be a very nice person and I can assure you we will not have any problems. The apartment has been kept up properly and had a professional, top-to-bottom cleaning. Like I have informed you, the price you shall pay for one month’s rent will be CHF 610 and I also want a security deposit of CHF 1000 (which you will receive back at the end of the contract), with no extra taxes. As for the rent, I want to receive it monthly in my bank account, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money. The apartment is ready for you; all you have to do is to check it and see if you like it. I’ve found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast so you can check the apartment in less than three days. Nobody can help me show you the apartment because I don’t know the neighbors very well. The solution I’ve chosen is provided by Airbnb. They handle rentals for people who are unable to solve them alone, which are abroad, so they will take care of both the inspection and payment. If you are interested so please email me, and I will send the link with my apartment listed on Airbnb.

She did not answer any of the questions I had asked again (e.g. how far the place was from the University, etc.) and it just seemed more and more suspicious. Here is what I replied:

Hi Klaudia. Thank you for getting back to me. I’m really excited about the apartment, however, I am not comfortable wiring money for a place I cannot see in person. Indeed, I am in the United States and will not be able to come to Geneva until May. I’d love to Skype with you to discuss a solution, or send a member of my family to look at it (I have a cousin who works in Geneva). Please let me know if that would work. I am also invested in seeing the Airbnb listing for the apartment if that is possible! Thank you!

Her “reassuring” answer:

I want to take this opportunity to assure you that there is nothing to be worried about this rental. You can see on my announcement that I have positive feedback with Airbnb and they verified my personal ID. I will try explain to you step by step how this will work. Take a few moments and read my email carefully. First you must reserve the apartment and after you’ve made the booking, you must complete the payment. In 2-3 days after your payment confirmation the agent from Airbnb will come to show you the apartment and give you the contract. The contract is signed by me and you can choose to rent my apartment for a long or short term period. The monthly rent will be the same for whole period. Once you have inspected the apartment you have two options:

Option 1: You will take the apartment and sign the contract for a long or short term period.

Option 2: I don’t think you will use this option, but you’ll tell the agent that you don’t want to rent my apartment and Airbnb will refund you the money in 48 hours. End of the deal. I’ve chosen Airbnb because they offer guarantees for both of us. I will get paid only after you confirm that you will rent my apartment. I need your full name and a mobile number so I can send you the link to my announcement. Let me know if this is acceptable.

At this point, I knew it was all fake and I sure wasn’t going to wire her any money months before I even arrived in Geneva. I was curious to see what kind of Airbnb listing she would show me though, so I gave her my full name and phone number (that had been included in my email signature all along). Here was her final reply:

Hello. Here you have the link:

http://www.airbnb.com-online-booking.eu/booking/listing/79b710/?rent=1488357890?s=eRGFZrin

(NOTE FROM AIRBNB HELL: because this is a scam Airbnb site, we would advise against following this link, but thought our readers should be aware of the address).

To rent the apartment immediately please select the period for one month and click the ” Instant Booking ” button in the listing. On the next page review your purchase information. After you complete the Airbnb steps, they will send you an invoice with the payment details and the confirmation. The funds must be transferred to Airbnb. Thank you.

If you look closely at the URL, you can tell how it is fake. The ‘-online-booking-eu’ part gives it away. That is not the official Airbnb website although it looks just like it. It indeed said that she was a verified hostess: there was a picture of her, and comments of fake previous tenants. When I went on the real Airbnb website I of course could not find her apartment. Oh and about twelve hours after she sent this she emailed me again, pressing me to make the payment and let her know when I have done so because ‘she needed to know ASAP’. You can imagine how colorful my response was. Anyways, after I was done having fun, I reported her to Airbnb and Wgzimmer. Now I am writing this fun post to spread the word as this is apparently a fairly common scam.

Airbnb Refuses to Pay Host Protection Insurance for Stolen TV

I am a new Airbnb host. I started listing my property on December 1st, 2016. The first 45 days were ok: the guests were friendly, and using Airbnb helped me earn some money. However, on the eighteenth of January, 2017, everything changed. One guest stole my $600 TV. He checked in at 11:30 AM. At that time, the room still had not been prepared so I let him stay in the living room (where I keep the TV) for a half hour. I believe that he saw the TV when he was waiting for his room. Then, at 2:15 PM, I went to school. When I left, he was the only person staying in my house. Then, when I came back at 4:00 PM, I saw my TV was missing. I tried to knock on his bedroom door, and no one answered me. After I opened the door, I saw his room was vacant. That means he left my house. That’s when I knew that he stole my TV. The guest was a thief. His profile certainly was deceptive. Airbnb is always saying they are part of a community of safety, but their guests are stealing people’s property.

I want to share the horrible experience when I contacted Airbnb customer service. I contacted them on the day that the TV was stolen. The representative answered the call, asked about the situation, and then she promised me that Airbnb will solve the case and pay me. She set up a case for me and I provided the evidence. After that, I was thinking my case would be solved easily; in actuality, it was not. After two weeks, customer service contacted me and told me that I needed to set up a case in resolution center, as it was the only way to get paid. Why didn’t they let me know that when I called on January 18th? After I submitted the case, there was still no resolution to my case for two weeks.

Two weeks later I received an email stating I had not provided evidence to them so they closed the case. I actually provided evidence on the first day. I called customer service again. They said they have no information about investigations with the Trust and Safety Team, so the only way I could get compensation would be to set up another case in the resolution center. I did that, then they closed my case again today without any notice. It has already one and a half months, and I still have not been paid. Where is the trust? Where is the HPI (Host Protection Insurance)? Where are the promises from Airbnb customer service? Now I believe Airbnb’s host protection insurance and their customer service are both jokes. I am appealing to hosts who have similar cases to get together with me and sue Airbnb for their unreliable HPI. The HPI is fooling hosts.