Scammed Because Airbnb Really Doesn’t Care

I admit there are numerous statements across the Airbnb website stating do not book outside the site. Being a new user, when faced with a message on a listing to contact the host directly, I did. In all innocence, I actually thought that the listing had been validated by Airbnb prior to uploading and that no changes could be made once live. Therefore if the listing had a request to contact them directly I would assume that Airbnb had approved it. Logical, not stupid. However, we all know that’s not true. Airbnb has no security measures, procedures, responsibility or morals. Apparently you can easily create a bogus host, draft up something pretty, wait for it to go live, and falsify it as much as you like, including adding and amending details. Then if they are unfortunate to be flagged or worse still, have been successful in their scam (as in my case) they take the listing down and Airbnb has no way of tracking them. It’s an absolute playground for scammers.

So how does Airbnb deal with this? Do they install preventative measures to stop this happening? Scrutinize and have more background checks on hosts before uploading? Do they ensure no changes can be made once the listing is live or they are only managed through administrators at Airbnb?

Don’t be silly. That would be taking responsibility and accepting that when you start a business providing a service you do so accepting an obligation to ensure the security and safety of every single user. But wait: I hear you say they have disclaimers, so this excuses them for not taking responsibility for investing in the site. They can continue to scrape as much profit as possible while hiding behind these warnings. Basically Airbnb are giving scammers carte blanche to take advantage of the site, targeting the vulnerable and naïve.

Can you talk to anyone about this? Absolutely not. I did manage to get a lovely superhost representing Airbnb who was understanding, but in his words:

“I do understand that this does happen often and we do have security measures. For these scam listings, they are fine when they set up their listing but then they change the information or add a picture with a number and then remove it quickly or remove the listing before we can get the ID. I can assure you than once we find these listings; we do notify our Trust and Safety Team to remove the listing and the host.”

I am sure that more can be done as well. So come on, Brian Chesky, be a man and face up to your responsibilities; stop hiding behind disclaimers or warnings. Create a site where every user feels safe and secure using it. Limit the possibility of scamming and fraud. Have some human contact – a customer phone line so if there are any issues they can be resolved quickly, professionally, and without the need to find these websites.

Reservation Cancelled, Host Selling the House

Airbnb has over $1600 of my money. They have had it for three days, but I don’t have a reservation. I spent hours pouring over the rental choices and finally settled on a place. I gave Airbnb my debit card information and immediately received a message that my reservation had been accepted. A few hours later I received an email from the host – not through the Airbnb website, but just through Yahoo mail saying that the house was up for sale and they didn’t think it would be available for our dates. I waited a day and didn’t get a notice from Airbnb. I contacted the host and she said she was in an area with bad wifi reception and her emails to Airbnb kept getting “kicked back” (somehow she was able to communicate with me, though). I contacted Airbnb by phone (had to Google the number because they don’t make it easy to find them on their site). A foreign-sounding customer service representative said he would forward my case up the ladder. There was no word later that day or the next. I called again and they said it would be 48 hours. All this time they were holding my money and I couldn’t rent another place. In the banking business this would be called check kiting and it would be illegal. I’m not sure why Airbnb is allowed to do it. About a year ago we had a rental in the Napa Valley area and the host cancelled without an explanation. I looked around online and saw that the place was in escrow. This has never happened to me with VRBO, HomeAway, or Tripadvisor vacation rentals. I recommend avoiding Airbnb if you can.

Supposed Technical Error Keeps Guest from Booking

For the past few weeks I have been trying to book a property for an upcoming stay in Melbourne, Australia. I used Airbnb this past summer and had no problems whatsoever. My account has been verified and I even have a good review on file. Now when I try to book any property it says: “Sorry this property cannot be booked at this time. Please contact Airbnb Support.” It’s been saying this for weeks and for every single property available to book. I have contacted their customer service line multiple times to which they are completely useless. The first time I called they told me it would take one day and someone would get back to me with a solution. I never heard anything and every time I called back they had no way to help me besides saying that a “ticket” has been opened with technical support; they would get to us when it would be our turn. After asking to be transferred to a supervisor or the technical support department they said that it was not possible because they don’t work in the same building. Now, weeks later, I still have not heard anything and our vacation is coming up in a few days. Airbnb was our best option as it was the cheapest and most affordable for starting a year-long trip. To make things worse, it is high season in Australia at the moment so all the cheaper properties are now almost completely unavailable.

Airbnb Customer Service Still Won’t Refund My Money

We stayed in an Airbnb apartment that had not been cleaned when we arrived. The place was filthy and smelled bad. We contacted our host who said the cleaner was running late because of the recent holiday period. We were very annoyed because we had both traveled a long way that morning and had already waited outside the apartment for two hours in the heat, as we arrived before check-in time. We asked for a partial refund due to the inconvenience, which our host kindly agreed to. Seven business days later and we still have not seen the refund in our account. First of all, it was really difficult to get in contact with Airbnb, and when we finally did after being on hold for a long time, the lady that answered was very rude and not helpful at all. We originally paid for our stay with my friend’s PayPal account. Months after we paid in full for our accommodation, her account was hacked, her money stolen, and then her account was permanently closed by the hacker. Airbnb refused to pay our refund to any other account other than the one with which we paid, fully aware of my friend’s unfortunate circumstance. Calls were made back and forth trying to get our money back and we spent a lot of time on hold. In the end, they did not give us our money back, even though PayPal customer service said it was their responsibility. Not only has our host missed out on money, so have we (and a substantial amount of time), Airbnb was the only one to benefit. I am really disappointed and annoyed, and will let everyone I know not to trust them. Their customer service is horrible, they are not empathetic at all, and their policies need some serious reviewing.

New Year’s Cancellation: Three Red Flags

My family and I planned an overnight visit to NYC on Christmas Day in 2016. We found an Airbnb listing for an “Amazing & Modern” apartment in Times Square for our stay. The first red flag was that the payment was in One Vanilla prepaid cards. The second red flag was the security deposit: how does one get his security deposit back when the payment is a prepaid card? The final red flag was that we could not find the apartment when we did additional searches on Airbnb. We could not find any support on Airbnb so we opted to cancel the reservation as we did not want to be without a place to stay on Christmas Day in NYC. After a day or so, my wife sent a nice email staying that due to some concerns we would not be staying at the “Amazing & Modern” apartment. The response from the person we were in contact with via email wrote back to my wife: “Thanks for wasting my time.” My wife responded with an email that she wrote: “Ditto.” To which the response from the person we were dealing with was, and I quote: “I shit on your mother’s grave you faggot!!!!”

About Last Night: New Year’s Eve Scam

I am a first time Airbnb user. My friends have used it and all had pleasant experiences so I figured I’d try it out. It was New Year’s Eve and I was supposed to check into my Airbnb with three of my friends except my host had not responded to any of my phone calls or messages. He was quick to accept payment for my stay but did not provide details about the check in time or a full address to the location (only street name, city, and zip code). I guess I am at fault for assuming this was a trustworthy site that vetted their hosts. The even more frustrating part about this is that I could not find an email for Airbnb on their site where I could submit my complaint. Thanks to Google, I was able to find this site and a customer service number. I have now been on hold for 20+ minutes and haven’t been able to speak to one live person. I’m pretty sure I’m out $168 on New Year’s with nowhere to sleep tonight. This is honestly the worst experience I’ve ever had. Please do not ever make a reservation with this person.

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.