Here’s a warning and hopefully some help for others in the Airbnb nightmare club. I recently used Airbnb for the first time. I have several friends that rent their houses through this service so I though I’d try it. This review does not pertain to every person on Airbnb. There are good people there, I know some personally. However, there are bad people there too and I just got a lesson in how far Airbnb goes to protect known scammers. If you read to the end I’ll explain how I unscammed myself.
Ok, I rented a room in Bozeman for 12 days. I paid for it in advance of course. Now, Airbnb claims they don’t charge your account until you check in. What they don’t mention is that for them “check in” occurs 24 hours before your rental starts. The host already has your money and has possibly spent it before you arrive. Possibly on drugs that make them crazy when you get there. Just saying. Apparently this happened to me. When I showed up, the hosts were super sketchy. The house smelled like people just pee in the hall rather than going all the way to the bathroom. There were people sleeping on every couch and piece of free carpet it seemed. The room was in the back. It had probably never been cleaned since the last junkie died there. I mentioned I was disappointed that the house was not as described and not the one in the pictures. They asked me to leave. I couldn’t have been happier to get out. Really, it was a health hazard. I called Airbnb and they said they would help. They’d call back in 5-10 minutes. They’d help me find another place and we’re sorry. I said ok, I’m sitting in my car in a blizzard so somewhere close would be best. They said if it was more than 15 minutes they’d call with an update.
They called almost 4 hours later. They said that since I’d already talked to another employee there they couldn’t help me. I never talked to anyone else. I assume the host called pretending to be me. They said that their hands are tied and they can only do what the host wants anyway. I said that is says clearly on your site that in extenuating circumstances or if the rental isn’t as described, Airbnb will override the host’s policies. He said he doesn’t think it says that. I explained where to read it. He said, well I don’t have the authority to do anything like that. I asked to be transferred to someone who can. He said there is no one who can. ??? He then said the only way is to contact the host and ask for a refund. Really? The scammers make the rules? By this time the hosts had “canceled” my reservation. You’d think this means a refund. You’d be very wrong. What it means is I can’t leave feedback about the host because I no longer have a reservation. If I go to my emails and click the links there it says that reservation does not exist. So, if the host has any clue you will leave a bad review, they can block you from writing one. Also, read through the Airbnb policies on the website. First it says all reviews are honest and from real renters. Keep reading. Wait for the part where they say they erase and or modify the reviews as they see fit. Seriously? Honest reviews re-written by marketing experts. Seems like a real nice version of honesty to me.
Ok, so what to do if this happens to you? Well, hopefully you reserved your room with a credit or debit card. Call your bank. Ask for the fraud department. Maybe even the Airbnb fraud specialist. No joke Wells Fargo said they think they need a few. The guy that helped me said this is the 4th similar Airbnb scam he personally helped with today. At this point, if they hear Airbnb they just shove the money back in your account. He said sorry this happened, and I had my cash in about 12 hours. Don’t try and deal with Airbnb if you have a problem. Well, you can try but do it with the expectation that they won’t help. So, I want to say once more that there are good people on Airbnb. You may rent a place and love it. But please protect yourself in case you do get initiated into the Airbnb nightmare club.