How Airbnb Scammed me out of Nearly $2000

My fiance, our small dog, and I have been looking for short-term sublets after our lease ends this fall. We found an interesting listing on Airbnb and wanted to reach out to the host to schedule a time to view the place since we planned to stay there for at least a few months.

The interesting thing about the Airbnb interface is the “request to book” button follows you up and down as you scroll while looking at a listing, but the “contact host” button is buried way towards the bottom. All I wanted to do was reach out to the host to make sure it would be a good fit for us. I didn’t know requesting to book would put my fate in the hands of the host, especially since it clearly states I won’t be charged yet.

Apparently once I did this, the host received my “request to book”, accepted it, and my card was automatically charged for the first 28 nights of my stay. I called Airbnb customer support immediately and messaged the host, both of whom completely understood the error and said they would be able to help me out.

A few hours later I got a call from customer support who said that since I was only trying to contact the host to view the place before booking, the host agreed to let me come see the place and then we would evaluate the situation from there. They decided that because of their long-term cancellation policy, they wouldn’t be able to refund me the money.

I have called and messaged them non-stop over the last two weeks now, and they still don’t want to refund my money. I even viewed the apartment, which was disgusting and had ants, dirty dishes, and garbage all over the place. The host seemed very reasonable and understanding in person. He agreed I should have my money back but was worried about paying cancellation fees, which don’t exist for this situation.

The next day I got a call from Airbnb letting me know that the host had decided not to issue the refund. All of this could have been avoided if they had just not paid the host knowing full well that I never intended to book anything. I notified them immediately of the issue, yet they still decided to pay the host my money, and now because the host is a greedy thug, I’m out almost $2000.

Because he decided to stick with Airbnb’s cancellation policy, he thinks he’s entitled to my money for having performed absolutely no services or worked to earn it. Take a look at the attached screenshot and see for yourself. It is Airbnb’s intention to scam innocent people out of money. This company doesn’t care about its guests. They just like helping “hosts” (if you can even call this guy a host) steal money.

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


  1. New

    Don’t feel like Hosts get special treatment, they don’t.
    I’ve been a host off and on for almost 8 years with a 5 star rating and have never cancelled.
    I recently had a new guest book one of my rooms that wasn’t available due to an Airbnb software bug. It allowed the new guest to book and send me a message stating he was going to arrive at my home in 5 minutes.
    I told him my room wasn’t available. He started screaming and threatening me. I got him calmed down, told him I would call Airbnb and ask them to help find a room. I also said I would look for Airbnb, Hotel and B&B rooms for him even though it wasn’t my fault I had no room. It was opening game day and my least expensive rooms started at $200, I would have loved renting him a room for the night (hotels started at $500 in the city near the stadium but 5 minutes after the game started, left no rooms within 5 mile radius. I’m only 3 blocks and there’s no one closer than me. By the way, I never received money).
    I looked 2 hours trying to find him a place, sent him messages and links but never heard back from him.
    2 weeks later he made up a false review since Airbnb sends review requests to people that never stayed at a property for some ridiculous reason. You can’t rate something you never had.
    This guy gave me 1 Star in every area, said I didn’t give him towels, linens, soap, house was dirty and dusty.
    Since I was such a long term host, no cancellations EVER, 5 Stars, the guy never saw my house yet alone came inside or went into a room making everything he wrote in the review a lie.
    You can’t review something you never experienced. In addition, Airbnb allowed a booking when he should have never been able to book but their software allowed it.
    I’ve now lost my SuperHost title, lost the listing due to not supplying basic required items ( remember he said I never gave him linens, towels, soap, had a dirty house etc… the last review a guest will see if they ever do see my listing, is all 1 stars. I haven’t received 1 booking since this happened.
    It May also be because Airbnb has a default selection for SuperHost when anyone search’s so my other listings never come up now since I lost my status.
    I’m out of business. Airbnb and this Jerk (who never used Airbnb, or booked a room expecting a room be available 5 minutes after booking 3 blocks from the stadium on opening hame day, ruined my business that took me years to build in 1 minute) It would have been a totally different story if this guy had booked a week or even a day ahead thinking he had a room and I canceled on him at the last minute for no reason. It still wouldn’t have given him a right to make up lies, if I did. He hadn’t lost anything but 5 minutes of his time, no fault of mine.
    I spent 2 hours of my personal time trying to help him find another room. ALso, he wouldn’t accept any room that was more than 5 blocks from the stadium on opening day, which was completely unrealistic and he knew it, I’m sure that’s why he was frustrated and probably had been looking for a while. He should have planned ahead, coming to a major city on opening football day 400 miles from home, expecting a room blocks from the stadium. Anyone knows there’s no city in this country you’ll get a room in a large city blocks from a major event 5 minutes after it starts except for an idiot that lacked any kind of sense planning ahead. No rooms were available weeks before.
    I suggested he get a place 5 miles away where there were may be available Airbnb and hotel rooms. The guy refused. I’m sure that’s what he ended up doing but still decided to slander me and Airbnb said Too bad for me, people can write whatever they want. They have a right to report their experience. I told them he didn’t write about his experience because he never stayed at my house and wrote lies which put me out of business.
    They sent me their guidelines regarding this and their own guidelines state they will remove a review if a person is dishonest or lies about their experience.
    Their response was too bad and I was hung up on every time I called once they would find out it was me. They refused to respond to my support tickets.
    I tried opening new ones but once they knew who I was, they’d hang up again.
    I’m an almost 8 year host that’s made them over $100,000 and they don’t care that I’m no longer a Host for them and they sided with a non-customer for no logical reason other than they can do what they want which is nothing when they never received a penny from him. They have no loyalty to Hosts or Guest’s and refuse to follow their own rules once you point it out.
    I’m sure no one from Airbnb ever called to help this guy making him even more furious. They would have had to accept responsibility for their bug that allowed him to book which was NO fault of mine.
    Even though I spent 2 hours of my own time trying to help this guy, he took his anger out on me and left me without means to support myself.
    Airbnb does not care about Hosts or guests. They won’t do anything to help either. Whatever is the shortest path to not working is the one they take.
    Who even knows if anyone above a support level person knows how these low level uneducated employees are running their company and losing 8 year 5 star SuperHosts with perfect records, current guests and any new ones?
    I’m going to sue them and suggest anyone that has an actionable claim do the same.
    I’ll go back to running my B&B as a B&B again. It was more work but I made more money for my rooms.
    Guest go to a B&B, pay a little more money but you’ll be dealing directly with the owner instead of a support center for a company that doesn’t care. I cared about a problem that wasn’t mine. That’s why I was a 5 star SuperHost, I cared about my guests and even non-guests.
    If they did, they’d have reviews for their own employees and have an escalation process in place to resolve issues to the Guests and Hosts satisfaction. Not hang ups and Support ticket closings if they were being rated. There’s no software application in the world that I know that doesn’t have a review for your experience with their employee. They only have reviews for guests and hosts. This way, they can point a finger at one or the other and accept no responsibility.
    Hope this helps you understand that Hosts are actually treated worse than guests. It’s Airbnb that needs to be made accountable.
    Best thing to do next to bringing a case against them is to stop using them and tell everyone you know and on Social Media.

  2. I would call my credit card company and dispute that charge and refuse to pay it. Most credit card companies’ customer service departments can take care of that for you. And it’s possible your credit card company wants your business more than AirBnB does.

  3. I got scammed last year when I had to cancel a booking because of a medical emergency. The host was able to rebook and refunded me my rental fee but I wasn’t refunded the AIrBnB reservation fee. I contacted AirBnB and they said that was up to the host to do. The host said it was up to AirBnB to do. Both said there was literally no way they could refund me my money. So I spent $500+ to not go on vacation and have surgery at home instead. Oh, but the host offered me a discount if I wanted to book in the future. No thanks. Never using AirBnB again, ever.

  4. You not only pressed the “demand for reservation” button but also ticked the box “I agree with Airbnb TOA”. Nothing to do with a scam……… Time for a computer literacy course?

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