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.

Referring a Friend on Airbnb Impossible to Redeem

Airbnb is having a promotion where if you refer a friend, they receive an automatic $35 credit in qualifying first time bookings. Well, according to them, “qualifying” is referring to a trip of at least $75, which was fine since the trip my friend wanted to book was over $350. However, every time he clicked on the link, there would be some kind of error that would prevent him from redeeming the coupon. First, the IDs that they requested were constantly being declined for no real reason. After trying for 30 minutes, he finally got them to accept an ID. Then, of course, the credit was not automatically added to the trip during check out, as had been promised. Thinking it was some sort of error, we tried again, and again, and again… and nothing. We tried making the booking using the phone app for maybe an hour. So he became frustrated, and we try to find some way to contact Airbnb. When you click on “Contact Airbnb” in the help section, nothing happens: no link, no number, nothing.

Although I have had relatively positive experiences with Airbnb in the past, the inability to redeem credits that they keep pushing feels unpleasant. It almost seems like a scam in my opinion: they push and push and when you finally refer someone the credit doesn’t even go through. Since the person already went through the hassle of registering his ID and everything, chances are he will make a booking anyway. By the way, we are not unfamiliar with technology; we’re in our mid-20s and grew up with computers. We know our way around websites and software, and we’re pretty convinced this is something on Airbnb’s end (potentially deliberate). Now we’re here to complain about the issue, and I feel my experience with them has been tarnished. It’s for something so silly too: not giving credit that they constantly advertise. It seems greedy to me.

Giving up on Airbnb Verification Process to Book Bungalow

I registered with Airbnb, as there was one property in particular that we just had to have: this really beautiful seaside bungalow with views to die for. I made a booking and the owner accepted it, but in order to finish the booking I needed to get verified. I thought that would be no problem. I got my email and phone number verified, and then they asked me for my passport. Last time I checked, only border authorities have the right to check passport, but I just wanted to book my holiday so I went ahead and sent it in. I made a photo of my passport and waited. The website said there was a problem. Then I made another photo, this time with perfect lighting conditions and saved it in the highest resolution; Airbnb gave the same response. I held up my own passport in my webcam (a real person, with real documents) crossing my fingers that a computer would recognize me as a real person with a real document; nothing happened.

Normally this would have already been a few too many steps for me, but my girlfriend and I were just in love with this bungalow, so following all the guidelines and help desk information (which was not a lot, considering they are massively invading my privacy with this verification process) I linked my Google account so they could cross reference my name. I still had no luck, just a lot of frustration. At this point it wasn’t just coming from losing our dream holiday. The frustration was also coming from realizing what I have just done, allowing some website (and whatever 3rd and 4th parties behind them) to go through my personal emails, including my PayPal information, and have a perfect high resolution photo of my passport.

Needless to say I have deleted my account and will never return to this website. The keen traveler I am, with 80+ nights booked with my Expedia account, I will finish my experience at Airbnb with zero nights and actually quite a bit of fear and frustration that I had to go through using personal documents and still not getting recognized as a human being. I will never return to this website, unless in the following years I ever end up being a victim of some identity theft.

I did respect the fact that it’s because of Airbnb that I found this bungalow, so I never wanted to cut them off, and was more than happy paying their share. They cut me off with their ridiculously faulty (and arguably dodgy) verification system. After that I had no other choice but to Google the name of the property, and after a little research, I ended up with a direct contact to the owner. I do not encourage anyone to do this; it is against to policies and also not a “nice” thing to do. However, it was literally the only choice they left me with. Ironically, it saved around 100 bucks, shared between the owner and myself.

Airbnb Verification is Nothing but Invasion of Privacy

I was going to New Orleans for a work trip and thought I would find a nice Airbnb. I looked around, found one, and made a reservation. Everything was good so far. Then I started working my way through the reasonable verification process. I sent in my drivers license picture and then clicked the Facebook verification tab to complete the process. Despite having had a Facebook account for years, it seemed like Airbnb didn’t think I wasted enough time on it; they rejected my Facebook verification. Then I tried the video verification. The website said that I would get approval from their verification team within a few hours. I recorded the video, and nothing happened. There was no ‘submit’ button and it didn’t seem to submit itself. It just sat there. I figured I would let it do its magic and left for a few hours. When I got back I had an email from Airbnb saying that I only had a couple more hours to do my verification video before my reservation got canceled. I searched all over their website looking for a way to get an answer, but despite the friendly ‘we’re here to help’ messages all over the site I discovered that they were decidedly not here to help. There is absolutely no way to contact Airbnb through their website. I kept going back to the verification page trying to figure out what was wrong. When I did I saw that the Facebook verification option had disappeared and been replaced with an American Express tab. Then the video verification tab disappeared as well. When I originally tried to verify with Facebook there was a page that showed all of the data that they wanted to mine from my profile. That included all of my contacts. I deselected that box because I didn’t want my contacts to start getting hounded by this company. What are the chances that my Facebook profile was rejected because I wouldn’t give them unfettered access to my private data? I’m thinking pretty good. I always had a pretty good opinion of Airbnb and the way that they helped people make a little money. I now have a pretty lousy opinion of the company. They refuse to allow me access if I don’t let them scrape all of my friends’ information and they make it nearly impossible to get any customer service. Shame on Airbnb.

Illegal Scams and Fraud Run by Airbnb Hosts

I am new to Airbnb but my college kid and her friends use it when they travel. I thought I’d give it a try. What I have learned is that as a guest there seems to be a lot of identity validation requested and they ask for a lot of information. At first I took some comfort in this. Then I tried to reserve my first property. The host claimed on the listing that they have trouble updating their calendar so to email them to confirm availability. Not thinking too much of it, I did that and they responded promptly. They then said to get started they would need my name, address, and government-issued ID. I wasn’t sure if they meant put it into the platform or send it directly (which I would never do). Anyway I used the platform to request the reservation and woke up to an automated email from the Airbnb Trust & Safety team saying I should never contact hosts directly off the platform; the host is now being put through a verification process. They said they were suspending the host’s account.

So it doesn’t appear that there is much of a host verification process at all. In fact, this looks like an identity theft scam. I wanted to point out this detail to Airbnb but their automated alerts do not mention any way to discuss this with them. From what I can tell, there is absolutely no way to communicate with the operators of the platform. The way they treat someone using their platform for identity theft, a very serious crime, is to simply remove their account. I’m sure that will really scare them off. Assuming they actually know the identity of these hosts and I could correspond with someone on the platform about this fraud, I would expect them to alert the relevant authorities. Their behavior is both irresponsible and negligent.

I found Airbnb Hell searching for any way to contact Airbnb and I am concluding that it simply does not exist. Not wanting to give up on one bad first impression I went to book a second property. The 24-hour mark has almost passed and I haven’t heard anything from this host either. I guess I’ll take a third swing but then it’s three strikes and I’m off the platform. I know there are many wonderful and responsible hosts on the platform but Airbnb appears to be doing next to nothing to filter the bad and fraudulent ones. It seems you can post listings that you have no legal right to rent out; how can that be their practice? What I have learned is you have to do your own vetting of the host and be very careful. They could be frauds and criminals, and Airbnb does little to prevent them from using the platform. If anything goes wrong you are on your own.

Cancellation Nightmare with Airbnb: Left in the Cold

I would like to bring to your notice the inconvenience I faced by booking my accommodation using Airbnb. I had booked (on August 19th, 2016) an accommodation in Cape Town for three nights, December 29th until January 31st using Airbnb for a group of four adults and one child. Airbnb confirmed my booking and I could see on the app that I was supposed to check in on December 29th. When I reached the accommodation on that day the owners were not even aware that we had a booking with them. The house was horrible and the owners themselves informed us that they did not pass the verification criteria set by Airbnb and they have never confirmed Airbnb for any booking. We were in a fix as it was already 6:00 PM local time. We talked to Raven from Airbnb and she assured us that she would be able to book an alternate place for us. We tried to book alternate places through Airbnb but none of the owners were able to host us at such a short notice. It was 9:00 PM by then. Then we started to make a booking through other websites but as it was holiday season everywhere we tried was full. Finally we got a booking in the Capital Hotel for a night. As the Capital Hotel was booked for the other two days, we had to go for accommodation hunting again the next day instead of enjoying the holiday as planned. I can assure you that we tried to find the cheapest options and everywhere was full. So, finally we had to book into Protea Hotel for the other two nights.

The accommodation was way over our budget but we still had to book it as the only other option was to sleep in the car. To add insult to the injury, we had to spend extra on food as well as we had booked accommodation with a kitchen and the hotels did not provide us with any self catering option. The $50 for food and the refund which Raven offered us doesn’t even cover for the inconvenience caused to us by the miscommunication on Airbnb’s part. We had to spend a day and a half looking for alternative accommodations instead of enjoying our holidays, which spoiled our stay in Cape Town. On top of that, nobody even contacted us from Airbnb to even find out if we had managed to find something else. I expect Airbnb to reimburse ZAR 11491 for my accommodation and food bills as it was a mistake on their side that spoiled our holiday, and forced us to spend so much extra than our budget. If a place can not even pass verification, how could they have it on their accommodation list? If the owners did not confirm the booking, how can Airbnb confirm the booking?

Airbnb Made it Impossible for me to Book

I’m not really an Airbnb guest nor do I intend to ever be one in the future. I recently tried for literally two hours to book one of their properties. I was repeatedly asked to verify my phone number and email, which I did without a problem. They also asked for a photo. I’m thinking: “What? Who do they think they are?” But I sent one in. Then they wanted a copy of my last credit statement. This is after providing verification several times and spending hours doing so. This was the final straw. I have done business for years with both VRBO and Homeaway, without needing to provide pictures and credit card statements. To verify our credit card, all they needed to do is run it. Ultimately, we made other arrangements, through a competitor. The end result? Airbnb lost a potential customer who uses similar services 2-3 months a year and the associated rental fees, but most importantly, the host lost the chance to book their property. We will do business where the process is simple and our platinum credit card is honored. It was pretty poor customer service. I hope this isn’t a publicly traded company because with this business model, they probably don’t have much time left before bankruptcy.

Airbnb Refuses to Pay for a Guest Who Stole Everything

We accepted a reservation from a verified guest. The guest stole everything out of the house. I mean everything, down the broom next to the furnace. We did everything Airbnb required that we do: file a police report, make an Excel sheet of all the items taken, provide receipts for everything, and take before and after photos. It has now been a month and they continue to drag their feet. Hosts beware: Airbnb does NOT verify their guests. Get additional information from your guests: driver’s licenses, credit cards, photos of guests and vehicles. Meet every guest prior to their stay and check them out. Do not rent to anyone new to Airbnb and does not have exemplary reviews – no matter what. Believe me, the money isn’t worth it. Airbnb does not care about you, especially if you can’t make them any more money.