Beware Custom Pricing Algorithm used by Airbnb

The original listing price of this Airbnb was $63 per night. This is when you look without dates, like you are planning a few days here and there while traveling and don’t know the exact dates. Once the dates are added, the price can go up four times in the same month. Not seasonal, but because there is an algorithm used by investment property hosts to help them surge prices.

There is nothing to indicate which hosts use surge pricing so if you use a filter for prices but don’t add dates the lowest price for the month shows up. The price we were billed was considerably different. Shown below is the bill summary and a screenshot of the page the unit was listed for. When I made the reservation I was in a hurry and I didn’t pay much attention to anything past the initial price on the main page. The bill is summarized below.

I went back to go through a reservation process for five days (but didn’t actually reserve the place). It started out with the $63 per night. After I put in the start and end dates for a five-day stay, a bill summary popped up showing a very different price. This shows the price going to $252 (four times $63) and then being reduced to $126 for long stay discount.

Please explain how this could be advertised at one price and then changed completely upon going through the steps to make a reservation.

$258 per night x 5 = $1290

(subtract long stay discount)

$1290-$645 = $645 (for 5 nights) is $129 per night

Cleaning – $49 service fee – $89.53 occupancy taxes and fees =$162.38

Total : $945.91

Risks for Hosts and Guests in Unapproved Sublets

I own approved short-term accommodation in Australia. The state government and the local authority require me, as part of the conditions to operate, to comply with requirements of health, safety, insurance, and local amenity or I can be closed down and/or fined.

For example, doors leading into or out of the accommodation cannot have a lock on the inside requiring a key to be opened in case of fire, the smoke/fire detector system is superior to that required for normal residential use, linen must be washed every three days in at least 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees F), pests (cockroaches, rodents, flies etc) must be controlled by regular fumigation/baiting/barriers, and pets are not allowed in the kitchen, bedrooms or swimming pool area due to disease.

Very strict rules are in force if I supply any food, e.g. sugar cannot be available in an open container, milk must be date stamped and in an unbroken sealed container and refrigerated below 4 C with logs of purchase and use by date, and the fridge must have a thermometer and be kept below 4 degrees Celsius. Regulations for the swimming pool are horrendous but all for the health and safety of guests. I also have to pay a yearly license fee to operate.

The premises are regularly inspected, without notice, by Government Health & Safety Officers. These measures obviously cost more than that of normal residential accommodation as they are over and above the usual requirements. Consequently, I cannot compete in price with an individual who rents out on Airbnb a spare room in their home or the whole of their accommodation when they go on holiday. Airbnb encourages people through incentives to let out their accommodation, with no checks of their legal standing to do so. Unapproved and illegal lets regularly crop up on Airbnb before the authorities shut them down.

People being people seek the cheapest deal and so bypass me in favour of an Airbnb sublet. This causes loss of business for me. It also means guests expose themselves to hazards, disease and financial risks by staying in unapproved accommodation.

For example, a recent newspaper report of an illegal Airbnb property advertised as ‘family friendly’ had a young family as guests over Christmas. The property had swings built by the owner. The father was pushing his two young children on the swing when it toppled over as it was not anchored in the ground. The younger child was crushed and killed on the spot. The other child was admitted to Intensive Care at hospital with life threatening injuries. The owner had invalidated his insurance as he was operating illegally so stands to lose his house in litigation for personal damages/injury. He was also fined by the authorities.

This would not have happened it he had stayed in approved accommodation such as mine. Bear in mind that all insurance is invalidated if not operating legally or to purpose. Most homeowners have residential property and contents insurance. Insurance companies view letting out a room or property to the public as a commercial activity and not residential use by the owner/occupier. Thus any claim for third party liability, damage, loss or injury will be dismissed by the insurer if found the property was not used in accordance with law and insured purpose.

We all know how insurers try to evade paying out if possible. This means a guest must proceed against the host’s personal assets, which may be nil if renting and not an owner or insolvent.

The choice is yours: make some bucks via Airbnb and risk losing your home or being declared bankrupt if things go wrong as well as being prosecuted, or, if a guest, save a few dollars and risk sickness, injury or death without benefit of the host’s insurance, if any, if let out illegally.

Airbnb Hosts are Screwed. Just say no.

Welcome to Airbnb 2019. I have removed my listings. My how things have changed. I have been an Airbnb host since around 2010. I have always been a Superhost, for what that’s worth. It used to be so easy and so cool. Now it is truly a nightmare.

The focus has changed to be politically correct and all for the guest. The guest gets to see your photo but you can’t see theirs until they book. Really? How is that fair? Like a guest won’t discriminate based on my looks?

Any time you talk to customer service you are sent to India. Their accents can be so thick I have to ask them to repeat things and then I have to repeat things to them as well. Who is this working for? Why can’t they hire people in the states for these jobs? I had my account locked out for no reason and that has never happened. I will just make a list of what has happened this year.

I was locked out of my account. It took numerous calls to India and then no follow up. Magically it was unlocked.

My listing disappeared. It would show up in a Google search. When I logged into my dummy account (one I set up to see what guests actually see) it was not listed. It took two days and many phone calls to try to even explain this to the customer service. I kept telling them you need to look at this with an Airbnb account logged in, not my host account. Again hours on the phone. Exhausting.

I only take guests who have a complete profile. I state that in my listing in the first sentence. Yet Airbnb wants me to take anyone.

We no longer have the right to refuse a guest for any reason. If a guest takes too long to respond I politely tell them they need to respond soon or I won’t accept. Well Airbnb didn’t like that and it puts a mark against your account.

My feeling is Airbnb no longer want hosts who live in the homes. They want a turn-key operation just like a hotel. I am extremely upset by this. It’s like they want to run an underground hotel.

The host is not valued. We are being pushed out by investors and Airbnb loves that.

If you call and ask any questions they don’t want to hear about it. They blocked off a day for a guest who did not have their ID. They blocked that day out for 11 hours for the “potential” guest to provide Airbnb with an ID. I told them they better unblock the date as this was a new user and there was no guarantee I would even rent to him.

After this happened is when my listing disappeared. I do believe they take a retaliatory stance towards hosts.

Airbnb is actively weeding out owner occupied listings in favor of investor owned units. This is an underground hotel situation. They wont tell you to quit, they will just do what they did to me: make your life miserable so you quit.

Airbnb has turned very greedy. Any good they do comes off the back of the hosts.

Airbnb does not care about the safety of the host. If we don’t feel comfortable with a potential guest we should not be penalized for not accepting them.

Airbnb no longer has my support. I will do what I can to keep them from growing in my city. I will now oppose them. I see what their goal is. They want to get rid of owner-occupied properties and move into self-run homes turned into underground hotels.

I see the error of my ways with supporting Airbnb. All it does is cause more people to travel.

Guests are not as appreciative as they were when I first started. Most guests are still nice, but I can tell some wish we were not living in our home as they have gotten used to renting cheap space with no owners present.

I rented my space to share with other humans and had an experience. Airbnb used to be about that. Now they want to just be an underground hotel. Airbnb could care less how we hosts feel. Just say no to Airbnb.

Why Are Airbnb Services Even Allowed?

I just don’t understand why this type of service is even allowed. I moved into my neighborhood several years ago as a young family with plans to provide my son a happy and loving childhood. Now, because of the Airbnb that recently “opened” next door, that dream has been shattered.

I wanted my son to grow up in a community where everyone knows one another and neighbors watch out for the kids as they play. Instead, every few days, we have strangers living next door that have absolutely no respect or concern for our community. They are loud, disrespectful, and inconsiderate.

Last night, one of them parked in my driveway and attempted to enter my home while we were sitting in the living room watching TV. Do you know how terrifying it is for a four-year-old to have a couple of strangers attempt to walk inside your home? Neighborhoods should be focused on building a sense of trust and community, not utilized as a way to make money while jeopardized your neighbors.

These uncaring “guests” trash our local park, park in front of my driveway so we can’t get out, leave trash in my yard, and stay up causing commotion at all hours of the night. In a time where you can’t even feel safe going to the store, now I can’t even feel comfortable in my own home. This sense of entitlement to doing whatever you want with “your” house is ridiculous and completely defeats the purpose of living in a neighborhood.

If you want a short term stay, go to a motel or hotel; that is for what they were made. A house should be reserved for preserving a sense of community within those that live in the neighborhood and providing a sense of peace and comfort to raise a family. Thank you Airbnb for robbing people of this American dream.

This is a horrible concept and I hope cities crack down hard on how these services are managed. What a complete disappointment in those that have no respect for their neighbors (mostly because they don’t actually live there) and exposing us to a constant set of inconsiderate strangers that destroy our sense of community for a few extra bucks. What a shame that this is what has become more important to people.

My Bad Airbnb Review was Disappeared

I wrote a very clear, factual, but damning review of a room in Bolinas, California, and Airbnb did not post the review. When I called to see where that review went, they claimed they do not spike bad reviews, but that is pure BS. The room was almost $300 with add-on fees, and it consisted of a bed and a folding chair. That’s it: no table; no soap; no instructions on how to work the door lock; no parking (in spite of the fact the listing claimed there was parking for guests).

They’re an exploitative rental, and Airbnb is exploitative for protecting bad hosts. I could say more but just realize that Airbnb is not an honest mediator. Guests reviews, very factual but negative, are not shared with you, the consumer public. I’m done with them. You should try another platform and avoid places that they falsely list.

Airbnb Still Doesn’t Understand Local Tax

I collect hotel occupancy tax for the City of Galveston, Texas. We have a state tax rate of 6% and a local rate of 9% for a total of 15%. Without notice, in May of 2017, Airbnb began collecting and remitting only the state tax (6%). Additionally, Airbnb did not give owners a way to collect the local tax as part of the guest’s transaction. Owners would contact the guests and explain they would be charged an additional 9% upon arrival. Not only did the Airbnb reps lie to owners that Airbnb was collecting and remitting all taxes, but their reps lied to guests that there was no local tax to be paid. VRBO did the same thing in April 2019. We need to make this nightmare go away.

Airbnb’s Questionable Verification Process

I used to love Airbnb, the website that offers me access to nice accommodations for my summer travel. But now I am disappointed and angry at how Airbnb has been treating me.

I used Airbnb for two years and had success. I received 4-5 star ratings from the host families I stayed with. Now Airbnb is refusing me service. Airbnb wants me to send them a copy of my passport or driver’s license. I understand the rationale behind this step; it was designed to increase confidence in both hosts and guests. However, their process of verification made me instantly uneasy.

First, it made no sense to ask me to provide this information when I am already an established and repeat customer. Airbnb has all the necessary information: name, address, sex, birth date, phone number, email address, credit card, past hosts’ reviews and a profile picture. My history should have established me as a trustworthy customer. It appears that being an established customer means nothing to Airbnb.

Airbnb’s verification process is unreasonable. I travel extensively during my summer breaks (I teach) and I am familiar with hotels, motels, resorts, B&B’s, college dorms and other host families’ accommodations. Travelling usually involves reserving accommodation with a credit card. Upon arrival, the facilities perform a quick check of the passport or driver’s license.

The difference here is that I’m uploading sensitive information to Airbnb. These days anything on the Internet is vulnerable. The difference between entering my credit card information and my passport data online is that my credit card has some pretty serious guarantees and fraud detection in place. If someone gets a hold of my passport information and my identity is stolen, this can take years to fix.

Airbnb also asked that I provide them my social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google) connections. A business has no right to ask for social media information. After spending ample time reading reviews and blogs on Airbnb, it appears to me that Airbnb should sticking to established customs and use common sense in business practices. Online there are numerous articles on Airbnb infringement and overcollection of customers’ personal information. Many people are questioning their practices and tuning away from Airbnb.

Airbnb in Two Words? Frustrating and Inconvenient

First of all, Airbnb’s payment policy works against the customer since you have to pay in advance without having the opportunity to look at the property. My son reserved a property in Tokyo months in advance, just to find at arrival that the place was filthy, and did not offer the number of accommodations advertised on the website.

When finally reaching Airbnb for a refund, they said that by company policy the host had to have a chance to try to solve the problem, all the while not offering another place to stay. Service carriers make communication very complicated, our family is in complete distress, and travelers face the utmost uncertainty on where to stay next. All in all, an unacceptable inconvenience for all.

Unreasonable Deposit Taken by Airbnb Host

I have had two Airbnb experiences. Both were a nightmare, but the second was the worst. I cancelled an Airbnb eight weeks prior to my stay and the host still kept my deposit. It is the most unfair practice ever. Even hotels allow you to cancel up to 48 hours prior to your stay. Eight weeks. The host had plenty of time to re-rent the suite, so he basically stole $300 from me for the deposit. He was unresponsive and I think that Airbnb should be shut down.