I used to love Airbnb, the website that offers me access to nice accommodations for my summer travel. But now I am disappointed and angry at how Airbnb has been treating me.
I used Airbnb for two years and had success. I received 4-5 star ratings from the host families I stayed with. Now Airbnb is refusing me service. Airbnb wants me to send them a copy of my passport or driver’s license. I understand the rationale behind this step; it was designed to increase confidence in both hosts and guests. However, their process of verification made me instantly uneasy.
First, it made no sense to ask me to provide this information when I am already an established and repeat customer. Airbnb has all the necessary information: name, address, sex, birth date, phone number, email address, credit card, past hosts’ reviews and a profile picture. My history should have established me as a trustworthy customer. It appears that being an established customer means nothing to Airbnb.
Airbnb’s verification process is unreasonable. I travel extensively during my summer breaks (I teach) and I am familiar with hotels, motels, resorts, B&B’s, college dorms and other host families’ accommodations. Travelling usually involves reserving accommodation with a credit card. Upon arrival, the facilities perform a quick check of the passport or driver’s license.
The difference here is that I’m uploading sensitive information to Airbnb. These days anything on the Internet is vulnerable. The difference between entering my credit card information and my passport data online is that my credit card has some pretty serious guarantees and fraud detection in place. If someone gets a hold of my passport information and my identity is stolen, this can take years to fix.
Airbnb also asked that I provide them my social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google) connections. A business has no right to ask for social media information. After spending ample time reading reviews and blogs on Airbnb, it appears to me that Airbnb should sticking to established customs and use common sense in business practices. Online there are numerous articles on Airbnb infringement and overcollection of customers’ personal information. Many people are questioning their practices and tuning away from Airbnb.