Boyfriend and I Wanted a Unique Airbnb Getaway

My boyfriend and I wanted a unique vacation. We found a small place a couple of hours away that offered “glamping”. We figured it would be a fun experience. The strange thing is this boutique glamping hotel exclusively uses Airbnb as its booking platform. I wasn’t excited about that but figured I’d sign up and give it a shot.

It’s been nothing short of a hassle. First of all, signing up is pretty invasive. It asks for you to upload a picture of your ID or to give your social security number in lieu of that inconvenience. I don’t know about you, but no one is getting my social security number. I reluctantly uploaded a picture ID.

Secondly, have you read the terms and conditions? They are already assuming you are a dirty, messed up person and they are already thinking of ways to kick you off the property and keep your money if you have to cancel.

Apparently someone signed up for the same nights as me right around the same moment I made the reservation. Instead of contacting me, they just let the 24-hour period run. I got an email saying the host had not responded to my request and so I should simply pick another place. Another place? This place was the only reason I was on Airbnb in the first place. Why isn’t there an option for picking another weekend? Maybe it is because Airbnb really shouldn’t be used as the booking platform for a hotel. I had to go back through the system again and pick another weekend.

My second request was accepted pretty early and my card was charged at the same moment. That is fine. What’s not really fine are the hidden costs. The ad for the place reports you will pay $X per night, a $75 cleaning fee, and a $250 deposit. I thought the deposit seemed hefty, but I budgeted for it to be held. It turned out there were additional charges. On top of the things advertised above, they also charged me $56 just for using Airbnb (hefty – I’ll pay for the service but $56 seems like they’re gouging me). There was also a $27 occupancy tax, which I expected. All fine and done.

I received another email saying my host had requested even more money. $61 more was needed to cover taxes (6% county, 7% state of Texas). Taxes are taxes but I could not figure out how they arrived at $61. I calculated $50 and some change. I didn’t find the $11 worth asking or arguing over, so I sent the additional money while wondering how Airbnb could possibly be cheaper or better than a hotel. They’re currently sitting on $856 of my money (if you count the $250 deposit being held in suspense) for two days in a fancy yurt in middle of nowhere Texas, where you make your own meals, etc.

Is this an Airbnb scam? I start doing more research to see if others found it to be a little too expensive. Apparently Airbnb is being used to scam money out of people and seemingly not doing enough to stop it or help. I wish my $56 would go toward designing a more secure platform.

One week before we were supposed to check in, I received a call from the “host” (he claims). He was very nice but I was immediately suspicious. He went into a long, rambling, nearly incoherent story about how the property just switched owners and as a result, I booked under the wrong owner. He said (I think) that Airbnb wanted me to rebook with the right owner. He said it should be easy. He confirmed my email address and said I would receive an email asking me to “reapply the funds to [his] account”. I told him I would await the email.

It’s been three days and I haven’t received an email. I’m supposed to check-in in four days. I hope all goes well. I am already preparing myself to be kicked off the property or not booked due to a misunderstanding. I will probably pass on any hotels that use Airbnb as their booking platform exclusively from now on. I just feel it’s a bad business model. Why let another non-affiliated company have a say and a share in your business?

Update 6.12.2017:

I never got the email from Airbnb that the host said I would receive. I called Airbnb yesterday morning to ask about it.  They had no idea what I was talking about and put me on hold for 10-15 minutes. They then said they would look into it and contact me. I got an email this morning saying that my reservation had been canceled and that I had been given a voucher for what I paid with the option to reapply the funds to the same or similar place (like the host said I would).  I started going through the steps and realized the voucher does not cover the $88 in tax that I already paid. Airbnb wants for me to repay the $88 in taxes in order to complete this process. In addition, Airbnb is actually requesting that I reach out to the host to work this out… encouraging me to reach out to the host to discuss bookings even after all these scams they’ve been having?

It sounds like Airbnb and the host screwed something up and I am the one being inconvenienced.  I sent an email to the Airbnb team explaining how inefficient and frustrating this has been and this will be my first and last Airbnb stay.  Also, I asked the host to reach out to Airbnb if there is anything else he needs.
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