My Airbnb Fraud Experience: Nightmare in NYC

Dear Airbnb,

I’m absolutely disgusted by your service and lack of concern for your customers. Before I start in on you, I’d like to start by explaining my situation, solely for the entertainment of the readers. Last week, I found out that I was a victim of fraud through Airbnb. Two of my friends and I decided to book an apartment in New York City, to spend four days of our Thanksgiving break there. The apartment we found seemed amazing: great location, cheap price, and just perfect for three international college students. The host of the apartment had listed his contact number on the website and it said to contact that number in order to book the apartment. We tried reserving it on the Airbnb website itself, but for some reason it wasn’t happening. We were scared that if we waited too long, the apartment would no longer be available; therefore we decided to contact the number that was listed.

We messaged the number, got in touch with the host, and reserved the apartment. He asked us to do the payment through Western Union, which is generally a credible way to wire money, and so a week later we made a $700 payment ($300 for the apartment for three nights + $400 as a security deposit). We received confirmation emails from Airbnb as well and believed that everything was confirmed. The payment was made to someone called Michael Harrison. The next day, the host reached out me and asked me to make another payment of $600; he said it was some sort of tax fee and that is when I realized something sketchy was happening.

I contacted Airbnb immediately and then found out that the apartment listing was invalid and the apartment doesn’t even exist in real life. I contacted Western Union after this, but the receiver had already collected the money. We tried resolving the issue with the host, but he blocked my number and the only way to resolve the problem was through Airbnb. I contacted your customer service number at least 15 times. Your staff was extremely unhelpful and didn’t seem to take my situation seriously. I waited about three days after calling and finally decided to send an email. I sent three emails and did not receive any response. After calling a few more times and finally tweeting, you decided to respond to my emails. You were not willing to compensate us for the cost or provide us with accommodation. Our transport has already been arranged, but unfortunately we will not be able to go on this long awaited trip, since we have nowhere to stay and already lost $700.

If the apartment listing was invalid and non existent, it shouldn’t have been available on the website in the first place. It is so misleading to your customers. More than anything, your staff didn’t seem to take our concerns seriously, considering our trip is next week. They were rude, unhelpful and extremely unapologetic about the incident. Being a frequent user of Airbnb, I was completely put off. I’ve never had such a disastrous experience before. They were not willing to compensate us for new accommodations or refund at least the security deposit ($400). I have nothing more to say, except that I am never using Airbnb again. I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue with you, but you were unsympathetic and indifferent to this situation. Losing $700 is no joke. I’m disappointed at your lack of concern and overall approach to this whole situation. Your staff is unhelpful and not willing to do anything to help me. Being such a well known, world-renowned company, this is absolutely appalling.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

4 Comments

  1. As you claim to be an experienced Airbnb user, then you know very well that it’s against their TOS to book (and pay) off the site. Airbnb don’t have your money, this Mike Harrison does – so how can they be responsible for refunding money they never had?

    You’ll have to face the fact that YOU were in the wrong here.

    I find it strange that anyone would hand over $700 without understanding the terms of service and how Airbnb works.

  2. You were not scammed by Airbnb, but by the person you gave money to outwith the Airbnb site. If you can’t book through Airbnb probably not a real listing. As a host I would never ask someone to book off site. I hate Airbnb and their practices, but in your description, they are not at fault.

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