Giving up on Airbnb Verification Process to Book Bungalow

I registered with Airbnb, as there was one property in particular that we just had to have: this really beautiful seaside bungalow with views to die for. I made a booking and the owner accepted it, but in order to finish the booking I needed to get verified. I thought that would be no problem. I got my email and phone number verified, and then they asked me for my passport. Last time I checked, only border authorities have the right to check passport, but I just wanted to book my holiday so I went ahead and sent it in. I made a photo of my passport and waited. The website said there was a problem. Then I made another photo, this time with perfect lighting conditions and saved it in the highest resolution; Airbnb gave the same response. I held up my own passport in my webcam (a real person, with real documents) crossing my fingers that a computer would recognize me as a real person with a real document; nothing happened.

Normally this would have already been a few too many steps for me, but my girlfriend and I were just in love with this bungalow, so following all the guidelines and help desk information (which was not a lot, considering they are massively invading my privacy with this verification process) I linked my Google account so they could cross reference my name. I still had no luck, just a lot of frustration. At this point it wasn’t just coming from losing our dream holiday. The frustration was also coming from realizing what I have just done, allowing some website (and whatever 3rd and 4th parties behind them) to go through my personal emails, including my PayPal information, and have a perfect high resolution photo of my passport.

Needless to say I have deleted my account and will never return to this website. The keen traveler I am, with 80+ nights booked with my Expedia account, I will finish my experience at Airbnb with zero nights and actually quite a bit of fear and frustration that I had to go through using personal documents and still not getting recognized as a human being. I will never return to this website, unless in the following years I ever end up being a victim of some identity theft.

I did respect the fact that it’s because of Airbnb that I found this bungalow, so I never wanted to cut them off, and was more than happy paying their share. They cut me off with their ridiculously faulty (and arguably dodgy) verification system. After that I had no other choice but to Google the name of the property, and after a little research, I ended up with a direct contact to the owner. I do not encourage anyone to do this; it is against to policies and also not a “nice” thing to do. However, it was literally the only choice they left me with. Ironically, it saved around 100 bucks, shared between the owner and myself.

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

One Comment

  1. I am also having trouble with the verification process. I have been a member of AirBnB for over 12 months and have recently booked two properties without question. When trying to book a third, I was asked to verify my identity. I copied my Driver’s Licence and it was accepted without problem but I don’t have any social media accounts. The instructions said to upload a short personal video so I did. It went through its saving process then returned to the same screen with the video and two buttons, a red one labeled “New Video” and a clear one saying “Delete existing video” with no indication that the original had been uploaded or rejected or what would happen next. I assumed that there was something wrong with the first video as the New Video button was red, so I took another video (three times) with the same result. I then decided I needed help but couldn’t find an email address to contact or a phone number to ring and the help menu was pathetic. I eventually used the feedback link and, even though the screen said the feedback was to improve their service and not directly answer emails, I received a reply from Elayne somewhere on US Central Standard Time (I’m in Australia and it was well after midnight) after about an hour. I was told that the video would be checked out by their “Trust and Safety” team and the process would take 24 hours. That was 3 days ago and my validation still says that I have not completed and have one item to go. In the meantime, I have tried to book the property twice, thinking the validation would come through, but it has timed out twice (after they took my money – I at least got an email saying it would be refunded in full, but the bank was slow and it would take up to 5 working days). I have tried responding to the email from a real person that I got telling me all was OK, but it was returned as “this address does not accept emails” – Some help system. I’ve been bitten once and I don’t think I’ll be jumping in the AirBnB cage again.

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