Abandoned: Non-Existent Airbnb in New York City

Upon arriving in New York, we caught a cab and gave the driver the address of the Airbnb we booked. He pulled up to a parking lot and said, “this is it”. We got out and went up and down the street trying to find the address. It was non-existent; there was no such address. It was rush hour, 85+ degrees and we had gotten up at 4:00 AM. Needless to say, we were frantic.

I called Airbnb and could not get through. After dialing continuously for over 30 minutes and being put on hold for over 15 minutes, I finally got someone on the line. She was very nice and promptly gave us a credit on this booking. Then we had to find a hotel, which, obviously, was a lot more expensive. This is the chance you take when you use Airbnb, so just beware. Will I book with them again? Probably, but I will really read the reviews. This particular apartment had a lot of reviews – believe it or not – so here again, beware. Airbnb is a crap shoot for everything to work out. We had booked in Barcelona and nothing went wrong.

Unauthorized Credit Charge Out of Nowhere from Airbnb

Never leave your credit card saved on the Airbnb app or website. My card was fraudulently charged for over $200 but promptly credited back, as shown on my statement. I did not even log in to the website or app for more than eight months. I lost out on more than $10 due to currency exchange differences. Airbnb refused to credit me back, and refused to say why my card was charged without authorization. It took them more than two weeks to even reply to me. My bank can’t do anything because Airbnb returned the amount they scammed from me. My big question is how can Airbnb charge a credit card without approval or authorization? This amounts to a scam and should be considered criminal. I thought my case was isolated, but a quick search on Google turned up similar stories.

Worst Customer Experience, Fake Airbnb Fees

I booked an Airbnb about a month in advance of my trip to San Sebastian, Spain. I had a few messages with the host and felt good about the booking (good location, all good reviews). My last comment to the host was that I had to arrive late: about 10:30 PM due to traveling all day from another city in Spain. I sent this 24 days in advance, yet four days before my trip he replied saying that he will have to collect a 40 euro “late check-in fee” at the door.

I immediately contacted Airbnb to voice my concerns and to find out if this was something he had the right to do. This “late check-in fee” was nowhere on his listing. After three phone calls and a lot of being put on hold, customer service at Airbnb said the host is not allowed to charge an extra fee that’s not clearly on the listing for all to see. They said they would reach out to him right away to “resolve” this as they did not want to cancel the booking without hearing his side of the story.

I called Airbnb for three consecutive days begging for some sort of answer up to the point that I had passed the cut off for cancelling without a penalty and no one could help. Finally I had to beg and plea the night before my trip to escalate to a case manager. She attempted to assist, but literally said she was hamstrung and they do not issue refunds or reimbursements – ever – without at least letting the host respond. Since it was past the cancellation period, she said there was nothing she could do now that they should have reached out to the host sooner. She also said they could issue a coupon for a future stay, but that the max they could ever issue is $200 USD. I don’t know if any of this is true, but it sounded like complete BS to me.

I called my credit card company. They said I was not the first to dispute an Airbnb charge, that it’s not a problem, and they would take care of me. How dare Airbnb take the side of the host. He had three weeks to reply to me and towards the end I bet he was dodging the calls and emails from Airbnb. Airbnb needs to get their act together.

Foreign Phone Number Only Contact for Airbnb Host?

Please don’t book any rooms or apartments listed by this host. I had made a reservation through Airbnb for a one-night stay on June 23rd, 2017 at a studio apartment listed in Boston. An amount of Rs.5708 was paid for the stay upfront and the reservation was confirmed by the said host. As per the details provided to me through email by Airbnb, check-in could be done anytime after 8:00 AM.

I reached the address at around 6:00 PM. To my surprise, the building at the address was an office and there were no apartments. I tried all possible means to reach Airbnb and the host to provide the correct address of apartment. The phone number provided by the host was a Vietnam number and was unreachable or temporarily out of service. I used the messaging platform provided by Airbnb to contact her at periodic intervals; however, nothing developed. I had also written emails to the address provided by Airbnb. No response was received from the host, even on that medium.

I tried reaching Airbnb Customer Care, however they kept me indefinitely on hold and I was not able to speak with any of its Customer Care Agents. In fact on one occasion, they kept me on hold for twenty minutes and I was still not able to connect with any Airbnb Customer Service Agent. This incident was also brought to the notice of Airbnb through emails. The following response was received from Airbnb:

I’m sorry to hear that you have had difficulty with host responsiveness. We urge our hosts to keep their calendars up to date and respond to all inquiries and requests. Although we do our best to encourage all of our hosts to stay active, some hosts may not be as responsive as we would want them to be. I will be forwarding this to our trip team. I hope this helps but if you have any more questions, please let us know.

It may be noted from the aforementioned communication from Airbnb that even its team members had failed to get in touch with this host. Please note this was the last communication I received from Airbnb on the matter. Because of the Airbnb host, who had failed to provide details of the correct location and access related details, a situation had arisen where I had to spend the night on the side of the road or the lobby of this office building.

As no details of the apartment had been received, I had to make last minute arrangements for an alternative stay. I could not have waited the whole night on the road expecting communication from Airbnb or its host. No such communication from them even happened in the end. The last minute arrangements cost me an additional $215. Airbnb and its hosts are in the business of servicing clients by providing arrangements for guests to stay. Once a stay-related request of a client like me is confirmed from the side of Airbnb’s host after receipt of payment, it becomes a contractual agreement on the host’s part and the part of Airbnb that has to be fulfilled.

I was surprised to see that a host at a US property had a Vietnam mobile number listed and Airbnb displayed it as a verified number. Furthermore, this number was actually out of service and thus there was no way to speak with her. Even Airbnb employees were not able to reach her. Thus, as a result of poor management and insensitive behavior of Airbnb towards me (i.e. their client), including insensitive and irresponsible behavior on the part of Airbnb’s host, I was forced to look and make alternate arrangements. This had cost me $215 in addition to the amount I already paid to the host.

As Airbnb and its host had failed to fulfill the said commitment, I have sent numerous emails to Airbnb and the host to refund INR 5708 that was charged to me, compensate me $210 that I had to pay for making alternate arrangements for the night as a result of the failure on the part of the host and Airbnb, and $1000 for the mental agony and torture I have undergone. I have not received any response from them to date. I would suggest potential Airbnb users avoid making any booking with this host and in fact, avoid Airbnb as it does not provide any help in situations when it is most needed. Airbnb and its hosts can leave you stranded in a foreign land without shelter, and as a result spoil your holiday by gifting you the worst mental agony.

Oh Brother! Extortion and Intimidation in Toronto

Traveling is stressful enough as it is, especially when you are coming from a week of business travel in Europe, to a quick vacation stop in Toronto, before returning home. However, when you throw extortion by your Airnnb host into the mix, it elevates the stress to a whole new level.

Let’s set the scene: I (female) was meeting up with my male friend in Toronto for an event. We wanted to stay in the city and found this listing that appeared to be decent enough. The inside of the house looked charming, with a view of the CN Tower. It was titled the “420 Cottage” and was described as 420 friendly. This was not something we were interested in, but it was located in a great area and for a decent price. We decided to book the property.

Upon arrival on a Friday night, the property looked rundown, with the small front “lawn” a jungle of clearly neglected waist-high weeds. The listing didn’t include a picture of the front of the property, only the inside and view looking towards the city… for good reason I suppose. We got into the property without any issues, and Friday night went smoothly enough, if you could ignore the overly potent stench of marijuana emanating throughout the walls of the unit and the faucet handle that wasn’t even attached.

Upon exploring the unit, we noted that there was a locked door leading to a downstairs unit, which we did not have access to. We also noted some information about parking guidelines and local things to do posted on the fridge and left on the table. Saturday morning I woke up at around 7:15 AM and noted that it sounded as though somebody was entering the property. It sounded as though they spent a couple minutes in the kitchen area, near where the door to the downstairs unit was located, and then left, locking the door behind them. Assuming it was the host, we did not think much of it.

We left for our event at around 8:00 AM, locking the door behind us. At this point, it should be noted that there are two locks on the door: a bolted lock and a lock on the doorknob. I did my due diligence as a renter and locked both locks, from the outside of the house. We returned to the property at around 4:30 PM and were unable to gain access. The bolted lock would unlock, but the lock on the doorknob did not. We texted the host, who stated that we didn’t follow the rules, which clearly stated that the knob lock should not be locked as it cannot be opened with the key provided. However, given that the lock cannot be unlocked with the key provided, one would assume it cannot be locked with said key, which means we should not have been able to lock the door.

In addition, there were no house rules posted inside the home; if there were, they were not clearly visible, and the only rules noted on the Airbnb listing were: “No parties or events. Not safe or suitable for children (0-12 years). No parties are permitted in the house, but there is plenty to do nearby.” There were also no notes posted near the door or the lock, indicating to renters that the lock would permanently lock you out of the property. The host noted that she was out of town and unable to help, which was not previously disclosed to us, but that she would have her brother come let us into the property at 8:00 PM.

At this point, it was an inconvenience to not have access to the property, but we didn’t have another option. At around 8:15 PM we returned to the property and were able to get inside by only unlocking the bolt lock. We showered and headed out to dinner. This time when locking the door, we locked only the bolt lock and were very careful not to adjust the lock on the nob, as instructed. When we returned from dinner, just before 11:00 PM, we found that the nob lock was once again locked. Knowing that this was not our doing, we once again texted the host indicating that we had been locked out, explaining that per her instructions we did not touch the nob lock. Her response was: “That’s awful that the door locked again. A locksmith is $150. My brother says he will come for $100. I am in Windsor and cannot help you.”

With all of our belongings inside the house, including passports, laptops, and luggage, it was very clear at this point that we were being extorted. Knowing that the brother had access to the property and the host was out of town, we speculated that it may have been him who entered the property in the morning and that he had deliberately locked us out of the property later in the day. After stating that this request was unreasonable, I tried calling Airbnb to get advice on how to handle the situation and was placed on hold. Simultaneously, my friend was on the phone with the host (the booking was in his name) trying to figure out what to do. He was told by the host that “if the knob lock is off by even a millimeter, the door will be locked,” which is not how locks work and indicates that she was aware this lock was problematic and failed to correct the problem or disclose the information to her guests.

My friend indicated that we didn’t have that much cash on our persons, to which she stated that she more or less has to bribe her brother to help. Out of desperation, my friend agreed to pay $80, all the while I was still on hold with Airbnb. We were told that the brother will arrive in 25 minutes. For my safety, I take my friend’s belongings, besides the $80 and his cell phone, and wait in our car down the road. About 15 minutes later the brother showed up while I was waiting in the car, about 45 minutes after being placed on hold with Airbnb.

I finally got in touch with somebody who refused to help me, since I was not the individual who made the reservation. Despite being able to confirm the name and dates, and stating that I was not looking to file a claim as my friend will do that later, I was just looking for guidance on how to handle a situation in which I feel unsafe and taken advantage of, I was turned away. Immediately after hanging up with Airbnb, I got a text message from my friend stating that I should come retrieve my belongings, as he did not feel safe enough to continue our stay. He told me that when the brother arrived to unlock the door, prior to giving access he stated: “I am an opportunist – I will take the money now.”

I entered the property and grabbed my belongings, loaded up the car, and we left to spend the night in a hotel. At this point, my friend called Airbnb and began filing a complaint. Similarly to myself, he was placed on hold for about 45 minutes before getting in touch with a person. He explained what happened and was told to hold again while he was being transferred to a manager. Over 20 minutes later, he got on the phone with a manager, who offered virtually no assistance. She stated that we can be refunded for one night, since we exited the property, but that nothing else will be done since “there is no documentation and it is he said/she said.”

Despite indicating that we have text messages documenting the case of extortion, that the host was aware of the issues with this lock and failed to correct or disclose them, and that we felt extremely unsafe in the situation, we were told nothing would be done. By the time we were finished with the calls, having accomplished very little, it was nearly 2:30 AM.

The next day, we were refunded $171 of the $409 we paid for the rental, which is hardly enough compensation for what we went through. I have since filed a police report and we are continuing to pursue the issues with Airbnb, who remain utterly useless. Never would I have expected to be extorted by an Airbnb host; never again will I be using their company, and I will encourage everyone I speak with to not use them. There was obvious negligence on the part of the host to disclose important information regarding the use of the property, including both information about her being out of town during our stay and the known issues with the locks. Given that she was out of town, an additional local contact should have been provided, or some form of emergency contact information. Maintenance of the property to provide a suitable unit for renters was clearly neglected.

The host and her brother locked our belongings in the property and used it to get additional money from us. Then, the negligence of Airbnb to provide any form of assistance when a guest who is using their services (although not the owner of the reservation) is placed in an unsafe situation, is horribly irresponsible. If I had been traveling alone, as a female who was not local to the country, who does not carry cash on them when traveling, I would have been in an even worse situation with limited options and been left even more vulnerable. When traveling, I try to screen my hosts and ensure they are somebody I would feel comfortable interacting with. Had I been aware that I would have to deal with the host’s brother, I would have changed my choice of accommodations.

Lastly, Airbnb’s inability to rectify the situation with my friend, the reservation holder, is appalling. The fact that Airbnb is claiming that we do not have any ground to stand on with these claims and stating that our concerns are irrelevant, is a testament to their unprofessional business practices and lack of concern for their customers. The fact that I was extorted and felt so unsafe that I needed to file a police report in the hopes that it would prevent other people from going through a similar situation speaks volumes to the severity of the situation. Airbnb’s failure to identify this severity and keep their customers safe is an indication that they are an unprofessional company and should not be doing business.

Ottawa Airbnb Nightmare: Kate the Con Artist

I’m currently fighting with Airbnb and this con-artist host to resolve this issue. I will post updates if possible. Here is the rundown of everything I sent to Airbnb, with a request for a full refund:

I’d like a full refund for this incorrectly advertised, poorly hosted, nightmare of an Airbnb rental. I’ll start off by explaining what was wrong with the property itself before I go into the more disturbing issue with the host. First of all, the advertisement was listed as: “massive downtown seven bedroom.” The description said it was a large home that was very spacious, with large bedrooms.

The first thing we noticed as we we drove twenty minutes past downtown was the location. A rundown, beat-up house in the middle of a bad neighborhood in the south end of Ottawa. We were disappointed before going in, but tried to make light of the situation. We walked in to a crammed kitchen, a tiny excuse for a living area, with what was supposed to be the rest of it converted into the first “bedroom”. The rest of the house was just as small and crammed.

The first thing we went to do, as a small group of six, was to sit down in the kitchen and start eating some of the food we brought with us. We went to go sit down and the table tipped over and almost broke. We lifted the corner of it and I messaged the host to tell her about the issue. She kindly told me where the tools were in her house in case I wanted to fix it. I told her I’d leave the table in the corner and wouldn’t use it instead; she had no problem with that.

The place was clean for the most part except for bugs. Only eight of us stayed the night, and only four bedrooms were used out of the six small ones available. The next day, we cleaned up what we could, except all the dishes, because we knew that was taken care of with the cleaning charge. We even swept everywhere before we left. I personally checked every bedroom and washroom to make sure the place was properly presentable and a five-star rating was completely within reach for myself as a guest. I locked the front and side doors and put the key in the lockbox happy with the overall trip even though the Airbnb was disappointing.

Then came everything afterwards. Kate messaged me asking me what I thought of the property and to give her a personal review. I gave her a review in a polite and respectful way and even praised her as a host, just to be nice. I don’t think she liked my review so that was the last I heard from her for the day.

I realized I forgot my wallet in one of the rooms and messaged Kate the same day to ask her if she could please meet me or do whatever protocol we have to go through to retrieve my lost wallet. It took her over 24 hours to reply, after I reached out to Airbnb support for the issue. This leads me all back to right now. The host just sent me a disgusting message and is outright lying in all her claims. It’s very shameful someone in a position such as herself, who manages multiple properties, would be this slimy and corrupt in an attempt to pull more money out of her overpriced rental property than she already has. I’d like Airbnb to call me personally to deal with this. The only claim that she was accurate about was us moving that 8×10 paper-thin sorry excuse for a ‘carpet’ she had on the living room floor. No one touched the TV, the windows or the screens. We never left the residence so no one was ever locked out. The host is trying to steal money and delete the mediocre review I gave her.

There’s more I have to add. The six pictures of evidence the host provided were lazy enough to help prove all of it was a lie. She showed one broken screen in the backyard of the house that we didn’t go near or had any reason to go to. She opened the garbage bag that we left outside of all the things we cleaned, and for some reason took a picture to prove something in her favor…? There were a few flakes of ash in a bathtub that they placed to take a picture of, and then there’s a picture of what looks like a perfectly good TV – no picture of the “pulled out” cord. No picture of any broken fan. Then a picture of the living room that also looks very neat and tidy. There was also one more picture of a window, one with nothing wrong with it. Apparently we broke two windows?

The house was “smoking allowed” so the years of stench from other people smoking was strong when we came in. I still feel like I’m dreaming because I can’t believe that people have to resort to this slimy low level just to make extra money. Anyways, I’ll fight this in court if I have to.

 

Kicked Out of Airbnb Over Security Deposit

Upon arrival, this host asked us to pay an extra $90 for a security deposit that she hadn’t posted on Airbnb. It was strange because she didn’t care when she got it; she just wanted it to keep it. We told her that she hadn’t posted it on her Airbnb and we didn’t have enough money with us. In response, she threatened to kick us out right then and there. She then told us we had to go with her to the tourist agency and we told her we were already registered. She then told us we weren’t and told us that we can’t leave the country without a “white cardboard”. We had been in Montenegro using Airbnb for some time and no one else had ever asked us to register. All her messages seemed very threatening towards us. The apartment was unsafe because none of the doors locked. The wifi did not connect. We were very disappointed in this host and believe she should not have been able to host. She was very misleading and seemed like a scammer. Now we are out $154 because she told us if we didn’t give her more money we would have to leave. It does not seem fair to us that we could either leave or be kicked out and still be out of the money. We are young traveling college students who had really loved using Airbnb. I hope to still use it. I’m not sure if any money could be refunded; if it could, that would be wonderful. If not, she should not be hosting in the future. She tried to scam us and threatened us. Overall, we love Airbnb but please take this into consideration.

Airbnb Trips Turns into Extortion in DR

My friends and I went to Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic on June 10-19, 2017. During our stay we had a couple issues: the grill not turning on, the fridge spoiling our food because it was not working. We booked an ATV riding experience and paid in cash on the spot because we wanted no surprises; some reviews stated the host had extorted money from guests for similar tours. We told them we had booked a catamaran with another company and they seemed a bit upset.

The next day we were told the catamaran company would pick us up at 8:45 AM. He said the company told him that; we were a bit confused by this because we had an email saying it was an 8:00 AM pickup. We thought maybe they worked together. We went on the catamaran. It wasn’t what we expected; it was boring, and even the best parts were mediocre.

After getting back we were then told the hosts had taken us on their catamaran (not the one we had booked) and they knew how to cancel our original PayPal transaction; they insisted we should send them the money after the tour. We were confused how they could do such a thing without our permission. They put it in a claim with the other company, saying they had come and taken us.

The next day the workers came again, telling us to pay $100 more then what we paid with our original plan. We told them PayPal had not given us our money back yet, and we would do it as soon as the money was received.

We left the 18th at night. One of our friend’s flight was later on in the day so she stayed. The host would not let her leave, brought security saying she couldn’t leave and the police were on the way. A guy friend of ours was in the same villa so he gave the host $350 and she charged the credit card that was on hold for $500 and the Airbnb account $720 in order to let our friend go.

We called the original company that we booked. They notified us they came and the host had said we didn’t want to go with them. We were also told they don’t issue refunds, so we payed for two catamarans. This host is a fraud and must be stopped. How can she live with herself, extorting people? She made a few thousand off of us for the Airbnb and extorted us for more. She told us a pickup time of 8:45 because we told her the pick up was at 8:00 AM. The company couldn’t reach us with all the security and they wouldn’t have waited 45 minutes. She set us up so we didn’t know we were on her catamaran.

Family Scammed by a Host in Seattle

My daughter and fiancé moved to the Seattle area. Upon arrival they discovered their apartment wasn’t ready due to mold issues. They had to retile the place and wouldn’t be able to allow guests to move in for another week. My family was stuck. They also had a sweet older cat with them. They had to book a hotel for the first night. I, being the helpful mom to my 22-year-old kid and her fiancee and kitty, wanted to look into an Airbnb rental so they could be comfortable.

I found this listing. If you scroll down on pricing it says: “Extra people: $48/night after the first guest.” It could be my mistake that I did not see this. I was going back and forth with her from Friday evening into Saturday late morning about the listing. Moving forward, I went to book and the price went from $80 per/night to $128 per/night. I attached the screen shots of our messages and my confusion on the part of the second guest. If you read this, you can see she is even confused and looks like she is saying that I was probably trying to book for three guests (myself, daughter and her fiancé) and she said I need to book for a total of two people.

I made the mistake of thinking when I put one guest I thought myself plus one guest. It was a dumb mistake on my part since I have booked with Airbnb before. However, in all the comparable listings in that area – I clicked through about twenty – the prices were always for two people; I didn’t think twice and booked it. The other thing, the host clearly saw me saying “them” when referring to guests and listing their names. I even told her their story in the beginning: how it was my daughter, her fiancé, and their cat (I did not include this screenshot, but I can if needed).

Here’s where it gets interesting. My kid had her number and proceeded to text the host that they were on their way. She texted my kid and said “your mom only paid for one person.” My kid asked how much it would be for two people and she stated it would be an additional $180. I told my kid that it was too much, thinking there are other places for that price that were private.

Did I mention that this host’s place was not private? She said it was like “one big master bedroom, but the kitchen and bathroom is shared.” She has it listed as an entire home/apartment but the room and living room was separated from the kitchen by a blackout curtain; her and her husband’s room is private in the back. $128 per night in that area? Why didn’t I just book a whole cottage for $100 per night?

You can see in my messaging that I was considering having them just stay the one night and not the rest of the week. However, I ended up canceling the whole thing and they stayed in a hotel. I also wanted to attach the text messaging thread. You can’t get each other’s number until you book for safety purposes. She and I were texting back and forth with this misunderstanding and I apologized profusely. I asked then if I would get refunded. She assured me I would. I told her okay, I would cancel and thanked her for the refund. I knew she had a strict cancellation policy but I figured she has been super nice and understood the situation was my mistake.

The next day I contacted the Airbnb resolution center on the site. All I wanted was to make sure she refunded me. They told me to request money from the host, so I did. There was space to put the reason and I typed “misunderstanding at check in, host agreed to refund full amount.”

What does she respond with? “Not truthful guest.” She then declined to refund me. If she would have said “no, sorry I can’t give you a refund” then I at least I could have paid the extra $180 and not be out $400. She basically has no one staying in her place for five days and Airbnb and the host got $450 (fees included) out of me. Even Expedia doesn’t do that. Once I accidentally booked the wrong dates and was out of the cancellation policy. They still refunded me and told me: “It’s ok. Sometimes stuff happens.”

I ended up calling my bank to have them dispute the charges. I had to tell them the whole story and send them the screenshots of the messages. When a case manager from Airbnb called me, he seemed nice at first, taking in my story. I even sent them the screenshots of the text messages where she stated more than once she would refund me. He said they are the final say in this matter. I received a call back from the case manager the next day. He stated the host said I lied and tried to “pull one over” on her, that I tried to book for one guest and was really bringing two. Like she didn’t know and capitalized on my mistake. Then she said I called her and harassed her. I did no such thing. If I were able to upload all the screenshots of the text messages then you could see I was nothing but apologetic and kind.

Now this host was so rude. He was talking over me, yelling at me, and bullying me. I was made out to be the villain. This host just joined this month and had no reviews. That in itself should have been a red flag. The Airbnb case manager made me feel foolish and said that this host has a strict cancellation policy; when I booked, he stated that it was a legal and binding contract and he cannot force the host to refund the money. He said she wasn’t going to refund the money at all and I am basically screwed.

First off he talked over me, then when I did the same he yelled at me. When I raised my voice he said over and over this was a legal and binding contract and in the end he essentially said: “Well, you have booked with us before. You should know how to book. This is your fault and you will not be refunded.”

He didn’t even offer a partial refund or a voucher. Nothing. I hung up and cried because I was just bullied on the phone over nothing, just an Airbnb listing. Why does this case agent even care? He should have tried to be a better mediator in this situation and look at my history of being a guest: I have never complained or done anything shady.

I’ve blasted Airbnb on Twitter. You may have seen them if you follow @airbnbhell because I copied them on Twitter too. The case manager emailed me and said “it was a pleasure talking to you this morning… blah blah blah” I responded with a lengthy email, told him he bullied me and yelled at me, and I was in tears afterwards. I mean I hate be the victim but this host acted like one and got $400+ out of it. Why can’t I tell the truth and tell them how I felt? I felt like a used pair of underwear.

When I emailed them back I also copied Belinda Johnson, who is Airbnb’s Chief Legal Council, and Donna Boyer, who is Airbnb’s Director of Product. Working in tech in the Bay Area (where Airbnb is headquartered) you can find out who these people are. Just about an hour ago I received an apology from Anthony with a $200 voucher. Really? Seriously? If I do not plan to use Airbnb anymore, what good is it going to do me? Just send me my money! At least send a voucher that is equal if not more than what I went out of pocket. I ended up rebooking another listing for my daughter through Airbnb and luckily that went fine. It would have been nice if this voucher was there before that since I just plan to use VBRO or VaCasa or something else in the future. Thanks for listening to me ramble.

Boyfriend and I Wanted a Unique Airbnb Getaway

My boyfriend and I wanted a unique vacation. We found a small place a couple of hours away that offered “glamping”. We figured it would be a fun experience. The strange thing is this boutique glamping hotel exclusively uses Airbnb as its booking platform. I wasn’t excited about that but figured I’d sign up and give it a shot.

It’s been nothing short of a hassle. First of all, signing up is pretty invasive. It asks for you to upload a picture of your ID or to give your social security number in lieu of that inconvenience. I don’t know about you, but no one is getting my social security number. I reluctantly uploaded a picture ID.

Secondly, have you read the terms and conditions? They are already assuming you are a dirty, messed up person and they are already thinking of ways to kick you off the property and keep your money if you have to cancel.

Apparently someone signed up for the same nights as me right around the same moment I made the reservation. Instead of contacting me, they just let the 24-hour period run. I got an email saying the host had not responded to my request and so I should simply pick another place. Another place? This place was the only reason I was on Airbnb in the first place. Why isn’t there an option for picking another weekend? Maybe it is because Airbnb really shouldn’t be used as the booking platform for a hotel. I had to go back through the system again and pick another weekend.

My second request was accepted pretty early and my card was charged at the same moment. That is fine. What’s not really fine are the hidden costs. The ad for the place reports you will pay $X per night, a $75 cleaning fee, and a $250 deposit. I thought the deposit seemed hefty, but I budgeted for it to be held. It turned out there were additional charges. On top of the things advertised above, they also charged me $56 just for using Airbnb (hefty – I’ll pay for the service but $56 seems like they’re gouging me). There was also a $27 occupancy tax, which I expected. All fine and done.

I received another email saying my host had requested even more money. $61 more was needed to cover taxes (6% county, 7% state of Texas). Taxes are taxes but I could not figure out how they arrived at $61. I calculated $50 and some change. I didn’t find the $11 worth asking or arguing over, so I sent the additional money while wondering how Airbnb could possibly be cheaper or better than a hotel. They’re currently sitting on $856 of my money (if you count the $250 deposit being held in suspense) for two days in a fancy yurt in middle of nowhere Texas, where you make your own meals, etc.

Is this an Airbnb scam? I start doing more research to see if others found it to be a little too expensive. Apparently Airbnb is being used to scam money out of people and seemingly not doing enough to stop it or help. I wish my $56 would go toward designing a more secure platform.

One week before we were supposed to check in, I received a call from the “host” (he claims). He was very nice but I was immediately suspicious. He went into a long, rambling, nearly incoherent story about how the property just switched owners and as a result, I booked under the wrong owner. He said (I think) that Airbnb wanted me to rebook with the right owner. He said it should be easy. He confirmed my email address and said I would receive an email asking me to “reapply the funds to [his] account”. I told him I would await the email.

It’s been three days and I haven’t received an email. I’m supposed to check-in in four days. I hope all goes well. I am already preparing myself to be kicked off the property or not booked due to a misunderstanding. I will probably pass on any hotels that use Airbnb as their booking platform exclusively from now on. I just feel it’s a bad business model. Why let another non-affiliated company have a say and a share in your business?

Update 6.12.2017:

I never got the email from Airbnb that the host said I would receive. I called Airbnb yesterday morning to ask about it.  They had no idea what I was talking about and put me on hold for 10-15 minutes. They then said they would look into it and contact me. I got an email this morning saying that my reservation had been canceled and that I had been given a voucher for what I paid with the option to reapply the funds to the same or similar place (like the host said I would).  I started going through the steps and realized the voucher does not cover the $88 in tax that I already paid. Airbnb wants for me to repay the $88 in taxes in order to complete this process. In addition, Airbnb is actually requesting that I reach out to the host to work this out… encouraging me to reach out to the host to discuss bookings even after all these scams they’ve been having?

It sounds like Airbnb and the host screwed something up and I am the one being inconvenienced.  I sent an email to the Airbnb team explaining how inefficient and frustrating this has been and this will be my first and last Airbnb stay.  Also, I asked the host to reach out to Airbnb if there is anything else he needs.