Airbnb can Block your Account Whenever it Chooses

On April 24th, 2017, I was sharing a message with a host to book a reservation for Japan. The host had my reservation from April 25-29. However, Airbnb did not allow me to make my reservation for some reason, then blocked my ID so that I could not log in. I was embarrassed to call customer service directly, and I did not receive the answer to a question that I posted on Twitter and through several emails over two days (see picture). There is no obligation to respond to the deletion of my Airbnb account or even the prevention of deletion under the terms and conditions. The company still has my passport image, my name, phone number, and my credit card number. I am extremely unhappy and afraid of revealing personal information. I am still not going to use the company and I will not be able to hear their answer. It is irresponsible to say that there is no obligation to notify someone without informing him of the reason for deleting his account. It looks like Airbnb has no legal responsibility.

Chilean ID isn’t Enough to use Airbnb in Chile?

I have used Airbnb many times before, but now I am surprised to see that they have asked for ID verification. After supplying images of both my government ID and Chilean driver’s license, the site said that these types of documents are not valid in their system… after they specifically asked for them. I am residing in Chile and looking for an Airbnb rental in Chile. Why wouldn’t they accept a Chilean ID? This brings me into a neverending loop where I cannot book anything, making Airbnb in Chile unfeasible. I might as well permanently stop using Airbnb, since I can’t reserve anything. Add to that, there’s no real way of contacting anybody to get this fixed. What a slap to the face for customers.

In Airbnb Hell with my Cat for the Past Five Days

My Airbnb hell started when I tried to book a room for two weeks in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area on April 19. I requested a booking for a room that showed availability for my dates:

Hello,

My kitty, Cookie, and I will be flying into Fort Lauderdale tomorrow at 3:30 PM, so we hope to get to your house about 4:30. I look forward to meeting you then! Kim.

P.S. Cookie is well housebroken and declawed.

I sent this last Wednesday at 5:14 PM only to receive the following response:

Hello Kim,

Sorry for the inconvenience but those days are not available. Thank you.

I then tried to book a different place in Miami that showed “pets allowed” only to receive the following email from the hostess, Andrea, the next day as I was landing at Fort Lauderdale Airport:

Hi Andrea,

Do you have room for me and my cat, Cookie, for one week, April 20-27? We are flying into Fort Lauderdale from Denver tomorrow, arriving 3:25 PM. Cookie is extremely polite; she goes only in her box or outdoors, and she does not scratch. We hope to meet you tomorrow. I am a 64-year-old nonsmoker and nondrinker with a live and let live attitude moving to Portugal. Please advise.

Thanks,

Kim

Last Wednesday at 7:53 PM:

Hello Kim,

Thank you for your inquiry. The room is not available on April 20th, only starting April 21-27. What kind of arrangements do you have for your cat? Where will she/he sleep, eat, poop etc? I already have cats living here.

Last Thursday at 12:33 AM my request expired because Andrea didn’t respond within 24 hours. Airbnb recommended finding a new listing. Now the cheapest hotel was a Red Carpet Inn for $48 through Priceline so I stayed there even though my budget was for $21 per night . It got worse. The following morning I went to book a new listing only to be locked out of the Airbnb website; when I tried to book a new listing, it asked me to verify my bank account by entering two small deposit amounts. So I entered $0.50 and $0.75, thinking I was supposed to tell them two amounts to deposit and then verify they were deposited in my bank account. The message said “FAILED – TRY AGAIN,” so I entered two different amounts, and again “FAILED TO VERIFY BANK ACCOUNT.”

Now I was locked out of Airbnb because it then said to upload my bank statement. When I tried to do so, it would not accept the upload. I went on the site to find a phone number for help; there was none. Nor does the “Help Center” offer any solution or help for my problem. It doesn’t even describe it. I Googled “phone number for Airbnb” and a site called gethuman.com gave me a number which I called. After a long wait on hold, I finally got a person, but was disconnected while explaining the problem. I called back, again was put on hold, got a person, and then was disconnected again. Third try: same results.

I tried to email the Airbnb Help Desk:

Dear Airbnb,

I have been trying to book a room for the past 24 hours. When you requested deposit amounts on my bank account, I thought you meant I should give you two small amounts to deposit in my US bank account. I did, twice, and it said it failed. Then I went to get a bank statement to send you and saw you had already deposited two amounts into my bank account; I was supposed to see and enter them. I didn’t understand that from your website and now my bank statement won’t upload to Airbnb. I cannot book a room. Please let me book something. I have no place to stay tonight. I can’t call you… it’s maddening. Please use better English to communicate on your website. It is very unclear what you want users to do. See the attached photo of my US bank account showing the deposits.

Here is the response:

Unfortunately, your email has not reached Airbnb. To find an answer to your question, please visit our Help Center.

Thanks, Airbnb Customer Service 

I must now stay at the Red Carpet Inn for $79 because it is not possible to book anything through Airbnb. The next day, yesterday, April 22nd, my Airbnb account was working again, so I booked the first room I could find within my budget in Fort Lauderdale, asking the host if he would accept my kitty. He said it was okay so I went to his house and was relieved to find he would also rent the room to me through my entire stay, until May 7th. Meanwhile another lady booked the room through Airbnb’s ” Instant Book” for April 24th for one week, after he had committed to renting the room to me for two weeks.

Now Airbnb says I must leave, though I have no place to go and there are no rooms for rent for my dates. I told Airbnb: I am a 64-year-old woman you are trying to put out on the street with her cat with no place to go; I had already rented the room from the host, and I am not leaving. According to their rules, when the host agrees to honor the commitment he had made to me, Airbnb tells him they will charge him a penalty of $100 and issue a bad review and not allow him to book on Airbnb as a SuperHost if he cancels the Instant Booking with the lady who is due to arrive tomorrow.

It’s unconscionable. Airbnb is a nightmare, treating its customers – both guests and hosts – horribly and the public should be made aware.

Credit Card Verification – Security Check Process is a Failure

I’ve just read the post on April 18th on Airbnb Hell from the first time guest who had a nightmare with the verification process and needed to book a room. Specifically, he was asked to enter specific amounts from his credit card into boxes on his screen. When he was unable to do that (because it’s impossible to know what amounts to enter), he was asked to submit a credit card statement. Still, Airbnb requested more information until he gave up. I am going through the same experience. The difference is: I’m no first time user. I’ve been a host for two years with a dedicated townhouse that I use for short-term rentals on Airbnb all year round. I’ve been a guest for much longer. I have a single credit card that I’ve used for years, which I’ve used many times before to make Airbnb reservation. I used it to buy airline tickets within an hour before I tried to book accommodations through Airbnb on April 18th.

After submitting my credit card statement, which I did quite reluctantly, I received a message that Airbnb would get back to me within 24 hours about my reservation. They didn’t. I checked my credit card balance. I have a credit. In other words, there was no debt on the card, which has a large maximum. I’ve never defaulted it. I didn’t get a response yesterday so I called again. I asked the customer service representative to escalate it. She was nice and pleasant and said she would. I also replied to the email I received from the customer service representative I talked to the day before to let her know how badly Airbnb was managing the situation and that I wanted a resolution.

I just got off the phone with my third customer service representative in three days. She was able to get a supervisor on the line. He said he will try to resolve it for me and promised to call me back within two hours. He said that Airbnb has new security procedures in place that are being handled by a separate unit. He admitted that they aren’t working so well and other guests have been having the same problem. This security unit is somewhat isolated in that they will not deal directly with guests. I get the feeling that the customer service unit has little or no access to them as they held me hostage while determining if I am a risky guest. Meanwhile, I’m waiting. It’s certainly possible that the accommodations I tried to book (for 4/28-4/30) are no longer available and that other places may not be either as time is quickly passing and my trip approaches. Not only is this a problem for guests, but for hosts as well, as they are forced to wait and wait to see if a guest’s credit card is approved long after a booking request. The entire process is seriously deficient and needs to be modified by Airbnb. Needless to say, I’m quite disgusted and my confidence in Airbnb has plummeted.

Hacked After Concerns About Identity Theft

I used Airbnb once and was pretty satisfied with it. Shortly thereafter, Airbnb required that users upload two forms of government-issued ID. With seemingly every large online business being hacked every other month, I simply won’t do that. My credit card has fraud protection, but should Airbnb be hacked and my bloody passport stolen, I think I’m fairly screwed.

I decided to cancel the account. When you try to go to account settings, you’re blocked until you upload your ID. Airbnb, of course, lists no way to actually contact anyone at the company, so I put it off. Like a fool, I forgot about it. Now someone in Poland has accessed my account. I was able to reset my password, but when I finally dug around on the web to find a phone number for Airbnb, courtesy of Airbnb Hell, they said they can’t help me access my account until I give them the credit card number I used to pay for my one trip. I can’t access my account to see which one it was, and I don’t have it on me – because both of my credit card numbers had to be changed after retailers at which they were used were hacked. I left some negative feedback on the site briefly spelling this out. I did actually get an email from Airbnb letting me know that I could cancel my account by going to my account settings. Helpful…

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.