Airbnb Colludes with Host to Fraudulently Charge Guest

A few months ago I rented a large property on Airbnb in Cape Town, South Africa. During our stay we accidentally caused minor scratch damage to one of the interior walls whilst moving our belongings up a stairwell. I notified the host via email of the damage to his wall (including attaching a photo of the wall) and offered to immediately arrange for repair work to be done (i.e. a refill/replaster of the scratch and repaint of the affected wall in the existing wall colour).

After no response from the host, I decided to go ahead and call a local contractor to do the repairs on our last day at the property and then sent a picture to the host of the repaired wall and asked him to confirm if he was satisfied. A couple of weeks later, the host sent me an email demanding to be paid R4000 (USD 300) for the cost of repair of the wall damage and the replacement cost for a couple of broken wine glasses. I naturally queried this, as the wall had already been repaired by a professional for half this cost claimed by the host, and at my own expense. I therefore asked the host to provide photos of any additional repairs he had allegedly done and invoices for those expenses.

He refused but instead sent a formal complaint and damages claim to Airbnb more than a month after my stay at his property (which according to Airbnb policy is not permitted beyond two weeks following a stay). I then sent several emails to the relevant Airbnb consultant, disputing this claim. Airbnb never responded to any of my emails. Several calls to their call center/”help centre” also proved fruitless. A month or so later, without warning, Airbnb summarily deducted USD 400 from my credit card account (claiming those funds would then be transferred to the host for damages.

The host has yet to provide a single shred of evidence that any such expenses were ever incurred and why his damages claim suddenly jumped by a further USD 100 from the initial USD 300 the host had first claimed to me directly. Should you ever find yourself in such an unresolved dispute , I recommend you cancel or block your credit card before Airbnb can make such fraudulent deductions on your card.

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