AirBnB lets questionable host rent after guests denied access to property, robbed at gunpoint

I am an Air BnB “Super Host”, and have used them whenever I traveled abroad, with no problems…..UNTIL I recently travelled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I booked what looked like a beautiful apartment on the beach. When I arrived late night at the airport, I missed the cab driver who was supposed to take me to the property because he had the wrong name on his mobile phone, so I got another cab from the airport taxi stand. As we approached the property, there were dozens of prostitutes and assorted “others” (pimps/drug dealers???) out in front of the building. The cab driver got out briefly and contacted the security guard to let us in. He showed the guard our confirmation page. The guard said that this is “Not a hotel, it is apartments”, and that we should go away. The cab driver insisted that we were at the correct address, so the guard told us to go around to the side street by the gate. He then disappeared. The cab driver pulled us up by the gate entrance and popped the trunk. My friend got out and walked into the compound. I got out and walked to the trunk to get my bags. Within SECONDS, two men came up and put a .45 under my chin. I slid out of my shoulder bag and slipped away from the man who was beginning to subdue me. While I half expected to get the top of my head blown off, I only got a broken tooth as the gun hit me when he half-heartedly tried to keep me from escaping. I ran around the car away from him and into the compound. my friend and I quickly ran into the lobby and into an elevator to get anywhere out of sight. we made it to the 3rd floor, and got out, looking for a place to hide. we could hear men laughing downstairs and then I heard them say that the “stupid bitches must’ve gotten in the elevator! They’re in the building.” We then tried to go higher, but the elevator wouldn’t move! it had been locked down. So we got out and hid in a janitor’s closet for what seemed like hours(really just minutes). I was certain they were going to come and get us. I snuck out and waited to see if I could hear anything. Nothing. So I tried the elevator again(and it worked again) to get out of the building. we were headed to the lobby again, but atleast I had a broken broomstick to defend myself this time! The doors opened, and the cab driver was standing there with 2 of our bags that he saved from the thieves! Also in the lobby, were 2 pissed off security guerds that were telling us that we had no business here and that we needed to leave immediately! They didn’t care that we had just been robbed and that we had rented an apartment there, or that we had a piece of paper showing that we had rented it. Fortunately I still had my mobile phone in my pocket, so I tried calling the host. No answer! and he was in Mexico CIty, as well. I asked my cab driver to take us back to the airport because American Airlines had my passport number and a record of our arrival into the country. the next day after having the tourist police take us to the US Embassy to get emergency passports, Air BnB rebooked us at a nice property about 2 hours drive from Santo Domingo, in Bani. In addition, they got us $500USD via the new host, so I could continue my trip(cruise to Europe). This was good. HOWEVER…when I returned to the US, I wrote a truthful review of the property and recounted my experience. AirBnB quickly pulled down the review, and is continuing to let this host rent to unsuspecting guests. They say that it was my fault that I got mugged, and next time I should be a smarter traveler. I am a former flight attendant and quite an experienced traveller, having travelled to places such as South Africa, Mozambique, Honduras, Indonesia and India. In addition, I’m an experienced host with AirBnB. They basically said that because I missed the pre-arranged cab driver, it was my fault that I was attacked! I also found out from one of the other condo owners that this host is not supposed to be subleasing his place, and that he was getting around this by having his cab driver friend pick up guests and take them to the apartment directly, thus avoiding the security guards. So, I got robbed and nearly shot because I missed the cab driver at the airport due to a silly mistake! This will surely happen again to someone else, because this is a marginal host dishonestly renting a property in a very dangerous part of a very dangerous city in a 3rd world country. Please keep in mind that most hosts on AirBnB, myself included…are nice, trustworthy people who have your safety and comfort in mind. But now I realize that we have some questionable hosts, and AirBnB is unwilling or unable to stop doing business with these bad actors. My recommendations are to make sure that your host is available to you either in person or by phone throughout the check-in process and easily accessable throughout your stay. Also NEVER use AirBnB in dangerous/poor places like Honduras, Brazil or Nigeria. Use extreme caution when using them in Russia, China or South Africa. I have used AirBnB in several places in South Africa and had wonderful experiences, but don’t ever book in a township. VERY dangerous! Most importantly, communicate with your host and ask plenty of questions BEFORE you arrive. A good host will be happy to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. A good host will not ask you to send them money, around Air BnB. However, some hosts will offer other services(myself included) like airport pickup and bike rentals. Never pay for them ahead of time. You should be able to pay the host During your stay. If after communicating with the host, if it doesn’t feel right…cancel it!

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