I travel 270+ days a year for business in the tech industry. I thought Airbnb would be a good way to enjoy extended stays at different projects. I am a contractor so I am responsible for my own expenses. One of my favorite travel perks is my American Express Platinum Club membership; I use the points for everything. When I saw I could link my card directly to Airbnb and use points for my stays, I said to myself, “What a great convenience!”
My first Airbnb stay went great. I rented a penthouse condo for a week. Then the nightmare began, I was on business in Costa Rica to build a system to run a large call center, which would end up keeping me there for two months. I booked a few places to kind of Goldilocks my way around to find the best deal. I booked three locations, saw they were charged immediately to my Amex card, and went to sleep that night looking forward to a day of meetings.
When I woke up the next morning, I turned on my computer, only to see my account had been suspended due to verification. I immediately contacted Airbnb support. They asked me if the email had been from someone at customer support. When I said it was, their only answer was they would expedite a response. Half way through the day it got worse. Since Airbnb suspended my account, I could not access the location of the host where I was supposed to stay that night. I called Airbnb and they told me they could not give me that information, and I would still have to pay for the nights I reserved.
Having been a business traveler for over 30 years, I could never imagine reserving a hotel room, paying for it, then the hotel not giving me it’s location. I contacted American Express Platinum Services and they said that Airbnb had not tried to verify my account. Then things got bizarre. Airbnb sent me an email three days after this started asking for a picture of my Amex Card. I immediately called Amex and they informed me merchants were not allowed to ask for this kind of information. It has been two weeks since this incident and Airbnb has still failed to contact me or remove the suspension on my account. Don’t get me wrong, I would never use them again, but I worry because they have a copy of my passport on their system and I am worried about identity theft.