Repetitive, Obnoxious, Superfluous and Totally Unnecessary Verifications

In the last week of April 2017, I was prevented from making a reservation through Airbnb because it claimed that the credit card I added was new and it was necessary to verify that I was indeed the card holder. There is nothing new about my credit card. I have using the same card for more more than three years and Airbnb is among those which have debited my card, many times, twice in April 2017 alone. I had to send Airbnb a bank statement to prove this. As pointed out by another furious ex-user of Airbnb, not everyone possesses the necessary tools to scan a bank statement and send it to Airbnb. Moreover, few people in the world carry bank statements on them. Such documents are at home. If you are lucky, it may be possible to download them from the Internet, scan them, and send them to Airbnb. If you are at home, this is usually no problem, just a waste of time and energy. If you are abroad, especially in a country without easy access to a computer and scanning equipment, then forget it.

After going through this process, I was finally able to make my reservation. In the second week of the following May, I was again prevented from making a reservation for exactly the same reason. Airbnb had to verify if I was indeed the holder of my “new” credit card. However, unlike my first bad experience, this second one was far worse. I was told no fewer than four times that the problem had been solved and that I could proceed with the reservation. Four more times I tried to make the reservation, four more times I was asked for proof of ownership of my credit card, and four more times I had to get hold of a bank statement and send it to Airbnb as proof. I am still unable to make the reservation.

Airbnb has acknowledged that there is a problem with its site and I must wait a few days before I can make my reservation. I have already wasted three days trying to make this reservation. Time is money and loss of time is loss of money. Airbnb used to be user friendly. Its success has turned it into a site that leads you to waste a huge amount of time. Try finding a telephone number on its site; I tried and failed. I had to do a Google search to get hold of a telephone number to Airbnb’s customer’s service. The time wasted to respond to its unnecessary and obnoxious verification certainly does not justify the fact that it is cheaper than hotel accommodations.

Will I use Airbnb again? If and only if it is my very last option. There are far better sites with far better services and means of communication. Promises that customer service will get back to you before the end of the day or that the problem has been solved or will be solved within 24 hours, are simply not respected and no attempt is made to explain why or to say when the problem can be solved. I still cannot make my reservation.

Airbnb Customer Service is Completely Unprofessional

I just opened an Airbnb account and was unable to verify my ID despite following the exact instructions for the setup. I went through hell to no avail to find answers from their useless help center and eventually found a link to raise my question. It went to a community member whose answer did not help. I opted to transfer the question to Airbnb. After three or four days, I finally received an email from a “Customer Service Experience” team member. The answer she gave is a repeat of what I have tried on the help center. The most horrifying bit? She has my Airbnb account associated with an email address of a stranger. I am terrified to see this – does that mean after I signed up for my account, someone fraudulently altered my account email without my knowledge? If this is true, it is a security breach on Airbnb’s part. The “reply to” address is a generic box, so of course I never get any response back.

I went back to the Airbnb Help Center trying to find a way to raise a question; it turns out the system has users endlessly looping and there’s no way for me to ask another question at all. My major complains with Airbnb’s dodgy business:

  1. The Airbnb website has a list of acceptable online accounts to link to an user’s account to establish trust. After linking one on the list, the system keeps asking for more. This is false advertisement and gives no clear indication of how much Personal Sensitive Information (PSI) they attempt to collect from unsuspecting users. This is a big trust issue for a company like Airbnb.
  2. Their own customer experience team told me my account is linked to an email not known to me. This seems like a huge security breach to customer data and worthy of attention from the press. There is no way to address this with Airbnb since there is no way to contact their customer service directly. The customer experience team is a joke.
  3. Customer service is non existent as I have experienced it. In the real world, people using services run into issues that can’t be resolved by looking at help center topics and need to talk to a real person. Having a dodgy website that keeps looping through help topics and not giving customer a way to contact Airbnb just shows how serious Airbnb is about serving customers.

Is the company trying to hide something?

Airbnb Put Me in Identification Verification Hell

I had been booking accommodations with Airbnb throughout New Zealand and Australia until one day, Airbnb would not let me make any new bookings until I complied with their ID verification process. I began the process and became very alarmed: I was being asked for a ton of personal data, with questions referring to my former spouse (from whom I have been divorced for twenty years), an address I had 60 years ago – where did Airbnb find this? – and past places of employment. The clincher came when they asked for my social security number, a scan of my passport, and access to my Facebook account. Smelling a scam, I Googled “ID verification” and found out this was indeed a legitimate Airbnb process. Then I phoned them and actually got through. No matter how much personal data I provided, they kept asking for more, assuring me all the while that my information was secure.

…secure until someone hacks Airbnb and has access to enough information to steal my identity and ruin my life, a situation simply not worth this risk. So now I am unable to book any future accommodations on Airbnb. I understand that a host needs to feel confident about strangers staying with them, but this verification process goes way too far and clearly exposes travelers to the risk of identity theft. I am a 70-year-old woman, retired from working in healthcare, with no criminal record who has been a pillar of my community for decades. I am not a threat to anyone. Furthermore, someone who really is up to no good could most likely obtain false documents and still get through their ID process. I am angry and upset that I can no longer use Airbnb, despite the fact that I am a totally honest, harmless and ethical person. My message to Airbnb: you need to figure out a better way to vet travelers. If an honest, harmless retired senior can’t use your site without divulging a ton of personal data, something is amiss with your process.

Good Enough for Secret Service, Not for Airbnb Verification

I signed up for Airbnb because I did not wish to stay in your average hotel; I wanted to rent a house. I guess you can say I am not your Average Joe, and have been quite blessed in my life and career. I am friends with former President George W. Bush, and even attended his daughter Jenna’s wedding in 2008. I was with Vice President Mike Pence on November 10th, 2016 in Indianapolis and then went on the air with Jason Fechner, news anchor of NBC Affiliate RTV6 in Indy, right after my meeting with the Vice President. The only reason I “name drop” is to prove a point. I am not overly wealthy, but am a well-respected businessman in my community and am a man of high morals and integrity.

I booked a home for the first part of our stay with no issue. The next day I attempted to book another home for the next half of the month, on a different island. This is when the hell started. I have never been through more hell trying to get “verified” in my life. The Secret Service never treated me like this, regardless of which President or Vice President I met with. After ten days of calls, poor customer service, and no emails, I received a notification informing me of my account cancellation and refund. It seems that Airbnb uses a flawed service to check “criminal records”. First off, I never gave them enough information to pull a proper background check, so they must deny someone if there is a close name match. If I can meet with leaders of America, why can’t I book a room through Airbnb? I own one of the largest computer-consulting firms in Texas and deal in top security issues on a daily basis. I pull background checks on my employees, and employees for my clients. Airbnb never acquired enough information from me to do a proper check. Do yourself a favor and do not waste your time with Airbnb. Use HomeAway or VRBO. I did and have two nice homes for our month in Hawaii.