How To Lose $8000 and Two Months of Your Life

Ill start off by saying this was the first time I used Airbnb, and it was the last. This past January, my boyfriend and I traveled to New Zealand (for two weeks) with a few friends to go on tour for his music. On our third day of the trip, we started off by visiting a local beach since it was a perfect summer day. We eventually made it to Hamilton, the town where my boyfriend (Joey, AKA Hoody Time) was performing and where I booked the Airbnb. I looked at the message from the host to see if there was a chance we wouldn’t meet her that night and to use the lock box to get the key. We got into the unit, set our stuff down, and relaxed before we had to take off to the venue. We had the front sliding door open for some fresh air when two men, one on a bike, walked by our unit and began chatting with us. They looked like the lived in the building and were just saying hi. Joey invited the locals to our show.

Later that evening we left for the show, locked up the apartment, and never thought twice about anything. Around 1:00 AM we returned to the apartment to find all our backpacks were gone with our laptops, cameras, clothes, money, even my medication and birth control. We all began to panic and then Joey realized that the kitchen window was broken and ripped wide open. We called the police and Airbnb right away. We told them everything that was going on. Airbnb had told me that this was “not common” and they would pay for a hotel for the night if I wanted. I simply told them no because I didn’t want to start looking for a hotel at 2:00 in the morning. I then called the host to tell her that the place had been broken into and robbed, and her only response (in a calm voice) was “Oh wow, I’m sorry, ummm… I’ll try to be there as soon as possible in the morning.”

No one could calm down or fall asleep until 4:00 AM. The police told us they would send their investigation team in the morning and to not touch anything that could have fingerprints on it. By 8:00 AM we were all up. No one could sleep and we had to be on the road by 10 latest, to make it to our next location in time. I again called the host to ask where she was and when she will get here. Her response once again: “I’m so sorry this happened it’s not common. Ummm… I’ll try to be there as soon as I can.” I began to get annoyed since we told her we had to leave, and she showed no urge or concern about what had happened.

By 10:00 AM we left. I had once again called the police and Airbnb to tell them we had to go, both said it was okay and we left. The police told us to leave everything as is since it was a crime scene. Later that evening we had decided to cancel our Airbnb in Wellington and stay at a hotel instead. We all felt so vulnerable. As I was laying down to take a nap and catch up on sleep, my phone beeped with a new email from Airbnb. I opened it up and became angry immediately. The host had requested $300 for damages that she claimed we were responsible for. She had a long list of damaged items and stolen adapters and claimed we left shrimp tails in the kitchen kettle (no one ate shrimp that day). Enraged, I called Airbnb to tell them this was absolutely absurd and if I see one penny taken from my card I was going to call my bank and tell them it was fraud. We literally had been robbed less then 24 hours ago and she had the nerve to claim we did something. I called the police to update them on the situation and decided I needed to take a break from this whole thing for the rest of the night.

The next morning we all woke up feeling down. How could we not? Our whole lives were stolen. Three laptops were stolen, from three of us who freelance and now have a loss of wages while on the road. This is where things get good. We saw in the news a sunglasses store had been robbed the same night, and the guys were caught on CCTV. To our surprise, the guys we had been taking to the night of the robbery were the guys in the photos robbing the store. Then Joey got a phone call from the police with an update, but it wasn’t good. The detective and forensic team showed up to the apartment to find the host and her husband had fixed the window and cleaned the whole place up already. Airbnb’s policy – as well as the police’s and just common sense – is to not touch a crime scene. Within minutes of hearing the detective saying they couldn’t do much now, I called Airbnb to let them have it: “How could you let your host get away with this? Now we are thinking she is in on it!”

Weeks went by of going back and forth with the police for a formal police report since Airbnb was hassling me for one. In the meantime, the host had written a nasty review on me, filling it with lies, claiming it was weird she never met us and we took off. While I wrote responses, Airbnb removed them as this was an “ongoing investigation.” Finally, I got the police report. Not once, but twice did it say that the investigation couldn’t be completed as the host had cleaned up the place and fixed the damages. Now we couldn’t even have a chance in finding the robbers and maybe getting our stuff back.

Once Airbnb got the report, they called me to let me know that my case was closed because they got what they needed and that was the end of things. When asked what will happen with the host, “We will have a talk with her and tell her to handle things differently next time.” Next time? Not once was I given help or aid from Airbnb. They returned any money that was put down for a Airbnb in New Zealand, and when they asked for the receipts for a hotel we stayed in so they could reimburse me, they never even paid me back for it. So that was an extra $600 NZ. We have tweeted at Airbnb and the CEO multiple times and received nothing but a robotic response. Our only option is to now try and sue Airbnb or the host. In total, we are out $7000 in things that got robbed, $1500 in lost wages, and $600 in hotels that replaced Airbnb. I’m sick to my stomach over this whole thing. I have heard too many horror stories from both guests and hosts. I will never use Airbnb again.

Side note: My reviews were never put back up.

Host Requires Direct Deposit for Confirmed Reservation

I have been traveling in New Zealand and using Airbnb. I have used Airbnb in the US, Europe and now New Zealand. Until now I have had good experiences with all my hosts, until I stayed with Richard in Rotorua. I made reservations through Airbnb and they were accepted by the host. On the day we were to arrive we texted to let him know what time we would come. He called back and told us that he had rented the property to someone else (seven people instead of two) who had paid a deposit into his bank account. To confirm, we called a second number given on Airbnb and talked to someone who said it was “no problem”: we should show up at the address and he would send someone with the key. When we arrived we found the seven other people had arrived five minutes before us and they had already been given the key. We then had to scramble to find a new place to stay at an inflated price. The people we talked to had strong Chinese accents and poor English, so it was very difficult to understand them. The only thing I can figure is to reserve with Richard you need to wire money directly to his bank account and not assume that the Airbnb reservation confirmation is real. I have never had this issue before and it was not evident from the Airbnb website or emails that there was an issue with the reservation or an additional deposit was required outside the Airbnb system. I have seen deposits required before but always paid what the Airbnb site charged, got my reservation confirmation, and had no further significant issues. After several attempted phone calls to Airbnb at +1 855 424 7262 I finally got through to a “Case Manager” at Airbnb who said they would refund our rental charges. I’m waiting for their final response to see if we should join Airbnb Hell’s class action lawsuit.

When Airbnb Cancels Your Reservation Without Checking

In late 2016 I made two reservations on Airbnb for a New Zealand holiday. In mid-January 2017 (i.e. one and a half months later) I discovered two unauthorised transactions dated January 14th and 15th using the same credit card for Airbnb in China and two non-Airbnb charges in the UK. I contacted my bank and told them which transactions were unauthorised; they cancelled the card. The bank notified Airbnb of the two unauthorised transactions and refused the two pending charges in the UK. Three weeks later Airbnb contacted me to tell me that their security team had identified suspicious transactions. They just cancelled the two earlier reservations in New Zealand without checking with me to see if they were legitimate. Then I had to try and contact them to get the problem fixed. Emails just bounced back as undeliverable. I couldn’t contact the hosts to try and let them know that we were still coming and what happened.

Finally, I located an Airbnb phone number and waited until someone answered. I explained the problem and was told how it would be fixed. I then received repeated email messages telling me the reservations had been cancelled, and there had been a problem with my card. I couldn’t reply by email, spent ages on the phone, and could not get transferred in their call centre to the person who knew about my case. They promised they would call back, which sometimes happens and often does not. I am recovering from cancer surgery and the New Zealand holiday was something to look forward to doing with my wife, but it is now a nightmare that I can totally do without.

To cut the story short, they still have not managed to fix the problem and are trying to charge my cancelled credit card, not using the new card in my profile. We had used Airbnb twice before without any issues and thought it was a good service. Now, I will never use them again and will tell all my friends to do the same. This is a classic situation in customer service. A customer who complains is giving the company an opportunity to fix the issue. If it is fixed promptly the customer will go away but still tell others about a good experience. If it is not fixed the customer goes away and becomes a negative walking and talking advertisement for the company, because not only did the company screw up, but they did not fix the problem or – in some cases – even try to fix the problem. Customer service like this damages the brand far more than any positive advertising can hope to repair. Airbnb really needs to up its game.

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.