Nonexistent Building and Fraud in NYC

We booked a “charming studio” in Manhattan on 60th street, one block from Central Park. Initial confirmation came back confirming the listing as shown. BUT the week we were leaving we received a second confirmation with a different address. The new address was seven blocks away, under the Queensboro Bridge exit ramps, and adjacent to a strip club. I contacted the host about the discrepancy. I received about 20 automated messages confirming our “charming studio” but not responding to my question. I told her we wanted to keep our original reservation for the charming studio near Central Park and that her other listing showed it as two bedroom units, etc. She said there were also studios in the building. I told her we wanted to keep our original reservation near Central Park. Next, the host claimed it was a typo. WHAT?

I called Airbnb. The nightmare began. Then she claimed it was an administrative error. And finally two days before our departure she disclosed that the original address is for a building which doesn’t exist. Meanwhile Airbnb assured us that they would help me find alternate accommodations for us within our desired area. I explained that we were going to be in NYC for two and a half months and that my son would be receiving medical care and so we needed to be able to walk to his appointments and needed to be close to the original location we reserved. They kept trying to convince me to accept the other reservation. I explained that it would not work and that we would have to rely on cabs and that would add over $400/ week to the total. We were then assigned a case manager (Olivia) but every time I called I had to go through the whole explanation again and got more lip service. I was told our case manager would call us back. This never happened.

I was told our case was now labeled urgent. Still, there was no call back. Then I was told they would provide a list of available places but not necessarily within my desired location and price range. I was also told I would have to contact hosts myself. With a 24-hour turnaround response time and further “no availability” for the “available” listings they provided, I was told I was on my own to find alternative accommodation elsewhere. I was now within 24 hours of our departure, I still had no resolution and no place to stay for my son and I and they were still sitting on over $5,500 of our money. The stress they added to our lives cannot be measured. The experience was not just frustrating, it was unethical, fraudulent and illegal. Having a case manager is a joke if he/she does nothing to help you.

I finally got different case managers (Shawn and Buster) who told me they were going to refund our money. I have to see yet to see a refund. I contacted a friend in Manhattan and put me in touch with her realtor. When I told her what had transpired, she did not bat an eyelash. She said that many of her clients call her because they have rented through Airbnb and that many of the NYC Airbnb listings are illegal and so folks are booted out of their rental midway through their stay. Virtual commerce. Virtual crime. My “host”, Rachel, was actually in London. And the crazy thing is, as of my departure THE LISTING FOR THE NONEXISTENT “charming studio” with the map location on 60th street and one block from Central Park was STILL UP on the Airbnb website. I have not decided how I will proceed. Be careful out there.

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One Comment

  1. Why do people even bother with waiting for a refund from what seems to be a crooked company- FILE A COMPLAINT WITH YOUR CREDIT CARD COMPANY- THEY WILL return your money to you and if y’all have all the proof everyone says they do, you’ll win the appeal!

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