Not Airbnb Hosts, but Still on Mailing Lists

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I pity the poor investors who will eventually be parting ways with their money when (and if) Airbnb gets their act together to file for an IPO. Today I received the Airbnb Magazine in the mail. I am not a host or guest. The name on the “To:” portion of the address label was to a Mr. Richard Fabian. Mr. Fabian was the supposed “host” of our home when he set up a fake account portraying my family as Airbnb hosts.

The outcome of that story is buried somewhere in the Airbnb Hell server but basically we had people dropping by the house unannounced looking for their key. The fact that we never heard back from anyone at Airbnb regarding this fraud does not surprise me now that I’m receiving their magazine. Throwing away money by mailing on what looks like an expensive rag to a fraudster is par for the course of this organization.

Airbnb, you grew too big too fast. Stop for a moment and count the bedbugs.

Airbnb Hosts Aren’t Allowed to be Offline

I put my house on Airbnb a few months ago. I’ve stated in my rules that the house is a self check in house and I have stated the codes to enter the house, as well as, of course, the name of the street and also the number of the door. I’ve called my house “Beach&bike”, because I have two bikes and the house is near the beach. My house is located in a small plaza with eight other houses. It sits on top of a hill and it has a bike nailed to the upper floor.

My first guest was unable to find the house, and canceled the reservation, with Airbnb’s permission, and no refund. As if I’m obliged to be the guests GPS. I could go on for hours criticizing Airbnb for trying to enslave hosts. For instance: you’ve missed a text message at 4:00 AM? You’ll get rated as a person of “slow responses” because you, as a host, are not allowed to sleep.

However, it was what happened next that I found surprising. Airbnb allowed a guest that was never in my house to comment on it. And so, the guest give me one-star ratings for everything. The guest rated the house as very dirty – without ever being inside. The guest commented the house was a “scam”, thus implying that I – the host – am a dishonest person.

I’ve contacted Airbnb several times, explaining that a lie is a lie and that if the guest admittedly was never inside the house then the guest could not comment, at least not on that subject. I’ve told them time and again the house was no scam – as proven by dozens of happy guests. Airbnb cares as much about the truth as Trump.

It’s a rule Airbnb has: a person can rate the cleaning of a place without entering it. It’s an Airbnb rule that a person can rate an area as terrible where he was sitting for an hour, and knows nothing about it. It is an Airbnb rule that a person who was not ever your guest and doesn’t know you can commit libel and lie about you, imply that you are dishonest, and leave these comments forever on the Airbnb site for everyone to see.

Why? Airbnb cares only about one thing: earning money. If that includes lying, cheating, and having no respect for morality, so be it. They call themselves a “community”. Don’t be fooled. They are just like Uber, another money-seeking giant trying to squeeze you.

Guests can Extort because Airbnb doesn’t Enforce its Policies

The Airbnb Extortion Policy prohibits “guests threatening to use reviews or ratings in an attempt to force a host to provide refunds.” However, Airbnb doesn’t appear serious about enforcing this policy, so guests can happily extort hosts to provide refunds for any frivolous concocted reason. Hosts have little recourse because the guest can always state their frivolous reason as their “personal experience” in their review and leave a one-star review in retaliation if their unreasonable demands are not met.

Here is what happened in my case. The guest knew at check-in that there was another concurrent guest’s dog on the property in the shared apartment listing but she claims she did not know that at the time of booking and that my not telling her that explicitly was unacceptable. She knew within moments of check-in that there was a dog locked in the other guest’s private space.

I offered to have the dog moved to a downstairs room on a different floor and she simply said “It’s fine. I just feel bad for the [locked up] dog.” It remained locked on a room on her floor. At nearly midnight of her last night’s stay, she messaged saying she was unhappy because of the dog’s crying (probably wanting to be taken out) and that she was allergic to dogs (surprise).

I immediately apologized and sought to address the situation but within moments of my response, she sent me another message saying she moved to a hotel and asked me to refund that last night’s stay with what was clearly a veiled threat, “I am keenly aware of review issues and I have no intention of leaving a bad review… I have left and moved to a hotel. I realize it is late and you cannot book someone for this night. However, I would appreciate a refund of tonight’s fee.”

I politely reminded her that her booking was on a strict cancellation policy, so I could not refund her. She went to write several long messages about why she deserved to be refunded, threatened escalating it to Airbnb or a credit card chargeback, tried all the escalations, and lost because her case had no merit. She retaliated by leaving a one-star review as was clearly implicit in her earlier threatening message (quoted above).

Airbnb seemingly considers her review to not violate its Content Policy because it allows a guest to state whatever they want as their “personal experience” and doesn’t seem to care to stand by its extortion policy. A guest can simply blackmail hosts by asking them for refunds on frivolous grounds, and even if they don’t explicitly threaten a bad review like in my case, the host knows the implicit threat exists.

There is little the host can do about a bad review. A guest could literally say, “I felt cheated because the place’s location felt like it was on the moon, so the listed location felt inaccurate” and leave a one-star review and Airbnb won’t do anything about it.

A reasonable customer service rep might help get it removed but that is rare and their policy is such that it explicitly allows guests to report obviously verifiable lies as their personal experience (as long as it doesn’t violate other parts of the Content Policy, like no discrimination, hate speech, etc.). Seems like a poorly worded Content Policy or at least a poorly enforced one.

Airbnb still has a house listed that conned me out of money

I had a horrible experience with a home owner who was listed all over the place. You would think Airbnb would recognize that someone is a thief or con artist, but they don’t care. They “as you can see on their terms and conditions,” are not responsible for anything. They have literally washed their hands of what is happening in the world of home ownership.

This guy in Turks and Caicos rented our families an illegally listed rental, not posted with the country, not legally for rent, not registered as a rental, yet still renting. After the hurricane in 2017 the house was destroyed. The owner said that he would refund us and he did not.

Our agent continued to go after him but he and his family are crooks. All you have to do is google the host in Ontario to see he’s been shot at and he’s been a crook from the get go. Yet the country of Turks and Caicos allowed this criminal to rent his home, all while collecting taxes illegally and never remitting them (per the tourism board and their management).

I asked them for help and they told me I needed to go after him even though this guy had stolen my money. The guy continued to lie and say he was going to give me back my money but did not. He then had his attorney write me to try and say that I would get it back as soon as the insurance paid out. Guess what? Insurance paid out and he didn’t pay me back. He kept not only the insurance money (millions) but left a whole line of people that needed to be paid.

We used attorney after attorney and are still fighting for our funds. If you go to his site it’s still up, and he will pretend to be someone else, send you a contract, and take your money even though the house is not rentable. He has yet to finish fixing it, and it’s not even legal. To top that off, his attorney was then arrested for money laundering. Like something out of a horror story. I called, wrote, emailed, and nothing.

Then I went through all the websites and saw it was still on Airbnb. I wrote to tell them and they never replied. Here is the house, my proof. This con artist is still listing it and people are none the wiser. The police and tourism department will not help me. They continue to make it more and more difficult.

He took over 100K from my family and he gets to live his life out with millions from insurance fraud and vacation rental fraud. It’s all nonsense. This is all unbelievable. I hope everyone sees that these people do not care and are not a real travel company. They list things that other people list and they don’t care whose home it is or where or what.

Now that they have purchased Luxury Retreats they are now one and the same. I fear people are too quick to think they can get a deal which is not true. They are not giving you a deal and you pay to use them. I just hope this company takes down that fraudulent rental. I’ve also seen a home listed on their site that I know is not the right rate, listing completely strange information and under a company I’ve never heard of. So how can they even police such a big site? They cannot…

Be weary everyone. Call real people; don’t book online – it’s a nightmare. If you book through click it sites you’ll see nothing but more of the same. Be wise: ask for licenses, tax identifications, all of it. If they are not licensed to rent, run the other way.

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.