Finished Dealing with Amateurs at Airbnb

Although I have never had a horror story with Airbnb as some people have, in the six or so years that I have been using it, this is what I have found:

90% of the time, there is some significant issue. Either it is in trying to find the place, or in trying to gain entry. Or the place is dilapidated or has many maintenance issues. I have found the reviews to be unreliable as well. In contrast, when I book a hotel, there are only significant issues around 10% of the time, plus the reviews are much more reliable.

In using Airbnb, I am relying on amateurs. The problem is that when a person travels, they are more vulnerable and insecure because they likely have no network of friends in the area. Traveling is generally stressful enough without unpleasant surprises. I find that in using Airbnb, I really save little money and its just not worth the hassle. In the future, I will be using hotels and other alternatives.

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Complaint Concerning Airbnb Gift Card Balance Usage

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I made a reservation for a family trip with a total cost of around $1,500. I benefitted from purchasing gift cards in advance so used my balance for the initial payment. Recently, I added a night to my reservation which created an immediate charge of $267. I was surprised that my PayPal account was charged even though I had enough gift card balance to pay for the modification.

I called Airbnb customer support. The agent couldn’t explain why the gift card balance was not used for this transaction. He went on hold for about ten minutes and came back referring to the gift card facts page. He texted me the link. Buried in the page is the policy that gift card balances will only be used for the initial payments and not for modifications nor the final payment.

Please note that there is no reference on the Airbnb gift card packaging that states that gift cards will be used only under certain circumstances. It says that it will be used “when you book your next trip.” Is that a clear statement of Airbnb’s gift card policies?

I asked the Airbnb agent her honest opinion as to why this gift card policy exists as it makes no logical sense to me. She said she could think of no reason why my gift card balance isn’t used.

I am now stuck with a $900 gift card balance and will be required to use my PayPal to pay for $900 with the recent modification and the upcoming second payment. I guess VRBO will be my preferred option in the future.

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Identification Trouble from Airbnb Hell

I’m not a frequent Airbnb user, but it has always been a good experience for some years now. Recently, Airbnb requested some real identification and asked for a copy of my passport. No problem, I can understand about that kind of request. It may even be some improvement to avoid scams or other abuse.

However, Airbnb then asked for verification with a live image of mine. I tried. I tried ten times with the app. I could take a selfie with the app, but then I just dropped back to the home page of the app. There was no kind of confirmation whether this image was received, and obviously it never was.

In parallel I tried to contact Airbnb support. They always wanted to walk me through the confirmation process. I did three times and it never worked. I asked to escalate this problem to someone who could find another solution. They walked me through the process again.

They asked me to install Airbnb on another phone. I did. Now the app asked for a confirmation code, which I received on my own phone. Again, that’s a reasonable request, but the second app did not give me any option where to enter this four-digit code which I had received.

I’m still in identification hell. I tried to book two different accommodations several times. After 12 hours this reservation will be deleted automatically since I still lack proper identification. You might guess that there should be any kind of bypass for the support team to accept any other kind of identification, but there is nothing else they claim they can do.

Broken app which has never been properly tested? Broken support, who can not help you at all? Unfortunately, there’s not much alternative to Airbnb nowadays (in Germany), other than ordinary hotels and booking.com.

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Empty Airbnb House with no Utilities Hooked up in Winter

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This happened this weekend. It was my second time using Airbnb and what a nightmare this has been again. The first time I booked with this host she called me at 1:00 PM for my 5:00 PM check in to tell me she had no water but she would be willing to bring me portable water. I needed to shower. She said okay.

I had to call Airbnb and they gave me my money back since I had at that time booked a second Airbnb, and that host was so good especially since it turned into a really last minute booking. I drove by my original booking and saw that there was a tag on the door that showed the water was turned off due to lack of payment. Okay, so the poor girl ran into tough times. I then felt really bad for her, so decided to give her another shot two months later. She accepted my booking and didn’t answer any of my messages, which was a red flag.

I showed up. It was -30 C and snowing. There was a little more than a foot of snow from the sidewalk to the door with no footprints, and a bunch of newspapers that were brown in the mailbox. There was no smoke from the chimney and clearly no doors had been opened at this house in at least a month. I took pictures of the front and back. The snow had not been shoveled all winter so far and clearly no one – upon examining the back of the house – had lived there in months.

I took pictures and called Airbnb. After half an hour they told me they were going to pass my file on to someone else who could actually help me. After going to the event I was going to that night it was 10:00 PM and Airbnb had not assisted me at all. I found a hotel and booked it.

The next day, there was still nothing from Airbnb. I sent messages and got radio silence. I used my points and booked yet another hotel, so my $122.22 booking had now turned into $122.22+$135+$140. I couldn’t afford to keep booking hotels so I booked another Airbnb for my final night at $82. I had now spent $479 on accommodations that I budgeted and booked for originally $122. Just an extra $357… No big deal, I guess.

Finally I was so fed up I called Airbnb again. They informed me my file had never been passed on; I need to restart the process. Yep, do it all over again. This time they were wondering if they could possibly find me a new Airbnb. I’m like: “look at my profile; I already did so and paid for it. Finding me a new Airbnb should have happened two days ago.”

At this point I was just begging to get my original booking money back, and the host’s stay taken down so no one else had to deal with this ridiculous scam artist. I’m not holding my breath.

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Airbnb and Identity Theft: Think About your Data

We’ve done business with Airbnb in the past and it was okay. This time around, our email address had changed, so we had to come in ‘new.’ That meant we had to go through the process of setting up a new Airbnb account, and boy, has that process changed.

First we were asked to give them a phone number so they could send us a code to proceed. I don’t like giving out my phone number, but okay. They called, I got the code, entered it, and continued. Next they wanted front and back photos of a government-issued ID with my photo, and specifically asked for a driver’s license of a passport.

Think about how much information about you is on either of those documents: they get your full name, date of birth, address, license or passport number, photo and your signature. A hacker’s dream. I instead entered pictures of two of my dogs (they later came back and said those were insufficient).

They let me continue at that point and now asked for a new picture of me using my computer camera (don’t have one) or an app they will send to my cell phone. At this point I quit and complained to their so-called ‘help’ site (never got an answer).

If this happens to you, no matter how good that rental looks, stop and think about all the personal information you’d be giving to Airbnb. No site is immune from hacking. Airbnb can claim they’ll protect your information, but that’s baloney. They don’t care about your private information or they wouldn’t ask for it. Asking for it also shows that Airbnb simply doesn’t trust you. They assume from square one that you’re trying to screw them somehow even though they will have your credit card to assure payment.

Other rental sites, like HomeAway, have rentals at comparable prices in the area you want to rent. I’ve been renting all over the world for forty years (well before Airbnb existed). These other companies don’t ask for the detail of information that Airbnb does. At least not yet.

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Listen to my Warning about Using Airbnb

I have used Airbnb a lot during a period, and advise people not to use it (at least the budget accommodations, a bit cheaper than a hotel, but sometimes not).

I found 5 out of 10 hosts had a criminal record (even money laundering) and the rest had serious financial troubles. Many people who rent out rooms are in desperate situations because of their personality and choices they have made. Desperation makes bad hosts. They all have introductions about how they love to meet people from different cultures, but most rent solely to make a buck the easy way. Many lie about their work (unemployed, fired, criminality). I have found mobsters use Airbnb a lot to launder money.

Reviews are wildly exaggerated positively, as guests seem to lie just to be able to stay cheaply (poor? stingy?). It is a veritable lalaland, to be found nowhere else. On Airbnb, hosts, guests, and the company seem to have some kind of joint psychosis.

Indecent sexual advances are quite common. I have had one sexual assault (he broke into my cottage) and several other highly inappropriate Superhosts. Most hosts lie: inaccurate photos, how many people are living there, internet, breakfast, location, noise, busy roads, etc. Lying is standard on Airbnb.

Airbnb does not give a s$#t, as long as it does not give bad publicity. They just want money and do not care about your safety at all. Their standards are abysmal. Airbnb destroys the housing market globally and actually promotes greed. If you are not extremely poor, stay at a hotel. It will also be cheaper in the end (proper breakfast, etc.), and you will not have to deal with shady hosts and unplanned negative surprises. Stay safe.

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Cancelled our booking within 24 hours of check in

We booked an Airbnb months ago in NYC, very close to where my husband was to be a groomsman in a wedding. With less than 24 hours to check-in, we received a cancellation notice without any explanation from the host. After a frantic, stressful search, we found another property on HomeAway (a competitor). When we called Airbnb, they basically shrugged their shoulders, gave us a refund, offered us a $60 credit if we booked within the next month… and deleted all of our communication with the host.

What is that about? We wanted to write a negative review of the host to keep people away from them, but Airbnb would not allow us to. It makes me wonder if this is common practice by Airbnb in order to limit the number of negative reviews to keep people using the site. We won’t use them again.

Worst Experience with Airbnb in Arlington

We booked an Airbnb to share with friends in Arlington, VA. It looked great and the host was responsive when we asked questions before booking. When we arrived at the complex and called the host, his number was disconnected. He did not respond on the Airbnb App and no one at the complex knew anything about an Airbnb listing. In fact, the management told me that owners were not allowed to list on Airbnb.

I called Airbnb (thank you Airbnbhell for the number) and got someone. He tried to contact the host with no luck either. After an hour of this, he said he would refund my money and help me find a place for us to stay. It took nearly three hours to find a place and I had to pay an additional $995 on top of what we had budget to get this place. When I pushed Airbnb to pay the extra they said all they could do was give me 10% of my original payment of $104.50. This was a terrible experience for me and my guests.

Last-Minute Cancellation Leads to Airbnb Nightmare

We were due to fly to Florida from the UK on March 23rd. We’d heard nothing from the host and she didn’t respond to messages or a phone call. We reported it to Airbnb and they cancelled our reservation 14 hours before we were due to leave for Florida because the host had problems with payouts.

We were told we could have compensation of £221. Because the agent took two hours to get back to us, we lost the next 18-day reservation and could only book ten days. He took our £221 away because the price was less than the original booking, but we still needed somewhere for the first eight nights.

He told us that we couldn’t have the £221 off the next booking. I complained and he gave us a £100 voucher. Again, because he took so long, we lost that booking and the £100 voucher. By this time, with only five hours to go and having been up until 3:00 AM, I couldn’t take it anymore. We just booked a hotel through another company. Please refer to my messages as proof of what a complete and utter nightmare we have been through by using Airbnb.

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Interracial Discrimination From Airbnb Rampant?

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After I was banned for life from Airbnb for absolutely no reason (booked twice, great reviews from my hosts, paid on time, went to book a third trip but was locked out), I went to try to contact them through Facebook and found a pattern: they are banning interracial couples for no reason.

They have us sign in through Facebook and most of us have photos with our partners. Then through a quick Google search I found out they’re being sued for discrimination at the moment. I ended up booking with HomeAway instead and highly recommend you do the same.

What do you guys think of this?