Airbnb is a Free Breeding Ground for Scammers

I signed up for Airbnb a week ago looking for an apartment in Copenhagen for me and my family to stay during a business trip. I thought that renting an apartment would be more comfortable for my two children. I filtered through many apartments. I requested a few and was denied by the hosts, saying that the apartments were not available the days selected. So after a few automated rejections I decided to send messages directly to the hosts asking if the apartments were available the days I needed. I found one conveniently next to the convention center in Copenhagen that was available. The description had a name and picture of the host and said “verified”. I now know verified means something entirely different to Airbnb. The host sent me a message asking for my email so he can send me a rental agreement. I received the agreement, signed the paperwork, and sent it back.

I then received an email from Airbnb requesting to pay for the apartment. The email name plainly said “Airbnb”. The email was identical to the ones I had received from Airbnb in the format and design, from the apartment listing to my photo and the host’s photo. I mean exactly the same. I clicked the link and it directed me to a website that was exactly the same as Airbnb. I was logged in and as I clicked links it clicked in and out of my account. It had my PayPal info. I went to pay with PayPal and it showed an error message that said only wire transfer were allowed. It provided details for the wire transfer and said to please upload the confirmation to Airbnb afterwards, all through this phony Airbnb website completely identical to the real one. This wasn’t some small scam; I could upload data, and log in and out.

I received confirmation emails identical to Airbnb’s emails. The night I was traveling with my family I received a message from the host saying the apartment had flooded and I should find other accommodations. It was midnight; I was furious. I got on a plane with two little kids and nowhere to stay. The host emailed me through Airbnb again saying I would receive a refund shortly. I called Airbnb and found out this whole thing was a scam. They would do nothing as they had no information about the host. Nothing.

What if this person was a murderer, rapist, or junkie? My family could have been in real harm. I can’t believe they have no information about this person except an email. They accept no responsibility and still have his listing on their site. I will provide a link. I searched around the internet and now understand this has been a scam that has gone on for a while now on Airbnb. Their safety precautions now are to tell guests to simply beware through their terms and conditions, not to really verify their hosts by asking for identification, bank accounts, or credit cards. I just can’t understand how they can openly offer a service that allows scammers. They have done nothing to protect their users after scams have been uncovered and will do nothing. Something terrible will happen if they don’t really take some action. I have notified the FBI about this fraud so if enough people do they will examine their business practices. It’s called an IC3: Internet complaint center. I would stay clear from booking anything through Airbnb. If it’s my first time and this happened there has to be a lot more going on. I provided pictures of the listing that is currently still up after I provided Airbnb with the details. I also submitted a complaint with the BBB.

Host Cancelled 24 hours Before we Arrived in Paris

We had a last minute cancellation by a host 24 hours before our arrival in Paris because of bed bugs. That reservation was mostly made with Airbnb gift cards and a small charge placed on my credit card. We were contacted by Airbnb via email, (luckily I had connected to wifi while we were having lunch in Brussels) and while we were sent a list of available properties from Airbnb, none met the criteria of our original booking; we were given a one-bedroom unit when we needed a two bedroom for my mother, wife and myself. Our customer service representative told us just to make contact with new hosts directly and book what we wanted. Airbnb offered a 10% refund for our troubles, which sounded good at first.

We found and booked a new property with a host named Adjel, using the Instant Booking feature on the app. The gift card balance from the original cancellation was applied to this new reservation, and we thought we were set. Hours later, though, Adjel informed us that the property we had booked was not actually available, and he shouldn’t have accepted the Instant Booking request because he was having work done on the property. Rather than cancelling immediately, he tried to shift us into another property that simply wouldn’t work for our group of three. We asked several times for him to please just cancel. We notified our customer service representative that this was happening. By this time, it was late in the evening, the night before our arrival in Paris, and we still didn’t have a suitable place to stay. There was no response to our request to cancel the unavailable booking from Adjel, or Airbnb staff.

We found a third property that would work, connected with the host, Justin, and booked it as soon as he verified availability. In the morning, we got word from customer service that Adjel had finally cancelled, and that our gift card balance was refunded to our Airbnb account. We responded that we wanted the gift card balance applied to this new reservation with Justin, not just refunded to our account. I did not want Airbnb “store credit.” That didn’t happen as requested and now we’re struggling to get this settled. We don’t want a $550 Airbnb credit sitting in our account when there is a $600+ Airbnb charge on our credit card. We have called into customer service again this evening, and were promised by the representative with whom we spoke that this could and would be resolved.

That was several weeks ago and I finally received an email from Airbnb saying that they would not do anything. I had spent several hours with their “customer service” department and was hung up, put on hold for an hour, etc. I explained the situation to my credit card company and they made a charge back to Airbnb since they were not willing to help. I have dealt with credit card processing in the past and it really is not that hard to credit an account and charge the correct amount, but apparently Airbnb was not willing to take care of this. My wife and I started using Airbnb back in 2009 and have had great experiences; we’ve never had a problem before. Our third Paris property had a view of Notre Dame, was right on the Seine, and had all the charm of what I expect from an Airbnb property. Over the years I have raved about Airbnb but this event has completely called their business practices into question.

I’m Not Even a User and I Can’t Stand Airbnb

I’m not even an Airbnb user and I absolutely can’t stand them anyway. So many people in my building rent their flats to tourists who get insanely drunk, shout like crazy day and night, make a mess of our shared toilets, and won’t go to sleep cause they’re too busy shouting or taking drugs and yelling (I live in Amsterdam). This is a sort of mixed industrial area, and our walls and ceilings are pretty thin. There’s no isolation so since the whole Airbnb hype started, life has become so much less enjoyable, more like a living hell. Our building has now suffered from so many incidents: things get stolen, Airbnb people ring your doorbell at night because of course they have no idea which doorbell to ring when they’re so drunk and drugged.

Can anyone just sue Airbnb? The world was a better place without it. The worst part is that my “friends” don’t ever have space in their house for me anymore because they’re all renting their spare rooms to Airbnb users. When I’ve needed a place to stay, everyone says no because they have Airbnb guests. Honestly, that means those “friends” suck, but it’s also creepy that everyone is letting strangers stay in their houses. From what I hear, this site is way more expensive than most hotels anyway. Why not stay at a nice hotel where you’re provided privacy and security? People are weird.

Extremely Rude Airbnb Host in Rome

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First of all, the host was no help at all when we asked about parking so we ended up checking in that evening looking for a safe 24-hour parking spot. It was too late for the host to reply about the parking situation and since English was not his first language, we had a miscommunication. When we arrived at the place, we didn’t know which buzzer to press as he didn’t mention it; it was a good thing he arrived after a few minutes or we’d have ended up freezing on the street. When we went up to his place, he didn’t let us into our room (even when we were so tired and hungry). He made us stay in the check-in area and interrogated us. The way he spoke to us was unaccommodating, rude, and disrespectful as he made side comments which made us feel awkward. Then he asked for our documents, which we denied him; this was our first time using Airbnb when we have been asked for our identification. Sometimes the way you say things is more important than what you are saying. Because of this, we were skeptical.

Before using Airbnb, we had already been asked to scan our proof of identity. We had already been using Airbnb for quite some time now; there had never been an incident where we have been asked for our documents. We understand if the purpose is security, but this kind of thing should have been elaborated upon clearly in the posting so guests won’t be surprised at what is expected of them. We can fill out a form if this is mandatory, but we will never give a copy of our travel documents as they have already been checked at Airbnb from the beginning. He kept mentioning “mafia” but we couldn’t understand what he was talking about because it was in Italian. While my husband was filling out the form, the host kept sighing heavily and making side comments which made us feel really uneasy and uncomfortable; we felt he might do something to us.

Days before coming, I asked the host if we could stay one more night and he agreed. Although I didn’t confirm it, we needed to know if we would feel comfortable staying here. Clearly, that was not the case from the beginning. We were about to leave but the host insisted we stay. We told him that we were not going to stay another night. He insisted and I confirmed we were not going to stay one more night. I may have asked him about staying one more night but I never confirmed it. How could we stay one more night if we didn’t feel comfortable anymore? Airbnb is not cheap; you can pay the same amount for a hotel room but since we like the feeling of being welcomed warmly, we decided to use Airbnb. Due to this incident, we will never use Airbnb after this holiday.

There was also no heating in our room so it was cold. There was no heating in the toilet so it was really chilly after finishing a shower. The toilet is separate from our bedroom so it was really cold. The picture of the toilet that was given to us was not shown in the listing, but only ones which were pleasant to use. We were able to sleep around 3:00 AM as noise can easily be heard from outside the window and I woke up around 7:00 AM due to vehicles outside. I didn’t get any sleep. Then I had to move the double bed out of the way in order to see the mirror. We never even bothered to use the kitchen as we were feeling uneasy already.

Upon checking out, I messaged the host to let him know that we were leaving as we had to return the keys. He never replied back so we waited for about ten minutes (I even thanked him). When we were about to leave, he came and never said a word. How comforting it was for us to leave his place. Also, I believe we were supposed to be given safety cards and should have been shown the fire extinguisher but there was none. We are not so particular about these things but since the host had an unwelcoming rude attitude, we might as well be finicky about it. I already left this review at Airbnb but unfortunately, it hasn’t been shown on his page. The reason why I booked it there is because he had lots of good reviews. Now we understand how it works. The host will not accept the review and will not give the guest a review either. This way, any bad review won’t show up. As I was looking for the host’s pictures of the bathroom, they weren’t visible anymore. Too bad I wasn’t able to take pictures of the room where we stayed as it was totally different from what I saw on the listing prior to booking.

The Great Dress Robbery at San Sebastián Airbnb

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I was staying in San Sebastián last August and left all my best dresses hanging in the wardrobe; I was pregnant and running for a 5:00 AM train. I contacted the host the same day and arranged for him to send all my things back to Sydney. He seemed agreeable at the time and then I never heard from him again. He refused to answer any phone calls or messages. I estimate my lost items cost almost $2000 in dresses, some with the price tags still attached. I have spoken to a half dozen Airbnb team members over the last six months who have dropped my claim without even contacting me. This is what I received from a staff member (please see image). I’m so shocked at the lack of professionalism and patronising tone of this email.

Absurd Cancellation Fees One Day After Reservation

I was just planning a trip to Italy in June (their high season) for a wedding and I wanted to talk to some of the hosts to be sure the place where the wedding was being held was close enough. Some of the places had automatic reservations, which means that if you wanted to ask the host anything, you first needed to reserve the place. I booked two places, because in the cancellation fee policy it said I could cancel them any time until 30 days before my arrival. Once I got answers from the hosts and determined which place was better for us to stay (a day after) I went ahead, canceled one, and kept the other. When I saw my account I was reimbursed but for 190€ less. Now they say that there’s a new policy for multiple reservations where they will keep the Airbnb service fee even if you cancel a reservation an hour after making. But this is not shown anywhere unless you look at the really fine print. Does anyone have any thoughts or recommendations on how to recover this 190€?

Paris Host Trying to Steal Security Deposit

My bad luck began when I found a really charming apartment in Paris on Airbnb and cancelled my hotel at booking.com. Apparently my host was very sweet, but time and again proved to be greedy. She demanded money for everything including early check in, a crib, and even an extra sofa bed which was listed in the property details already. Anyway, I paid and stayed there. I left yesterday and she knew I was in Paris for few more hours after check out and didn’t contact me at all. Now she opened a request for damaged goods demanding 500 euros. And what she listed doesn’t even exist in her apartment. Now she says her maid took pictures which she hasn’t shared yet, but reading stories here I’m not very optimistic. Should I block my credit card already? I have another booking coming up with Airbnb in two days for which I have already paid in advance. I’m not sure what to do.

Host and Guest Agree, Still Shorted on Refund

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My story starts off in Athens, Greece on September 28th, 2016. I went into my Airbnb account and booked a stay with Konstantinos for $244. For some reason, the app stated the property was not available for my dates, and I would have to search and find another property. I did find another property for the same dates but for $318; this was a bit more but I needed somewhere to stay. Shortly after I received a message from Konstantinos stating that the property was not yet clean and it would take three more hours to be ready. I immediately contacted the host and bought the glitch in the system to their attention and that my credit card had been charged. My credit card should not have been charged because the dates were not available, so I had to rebook with another property for the same dates. Konstantinos asked me to please go and cancel the request and they would refund my full amount back to me. Konstantinos stated this made their ratings look bad and please go into the app and cancel the transaction and all my money would be refunded back to me. Here is a copy of the Airbnb messages between the two of us:

Konstantinos: Good morning! I am very happy that you will stay in my house! Can we set an appointment there at 14:30, because the house has to be cleaned and ready for you. Is it ok with you? Also consider that you need about two hours to get to the center from the metro. Waiting for your response and I will send you all the information about how to come here and check in! All the best, Kostas.

Me: I am sorry but my credit card didn’t go through and we booked with someone else.

Konstantinos: Okay, but I still see that you booked with me. Are you sure you cancelled? Because if not, your credit card is going to be charged. All the best, Kostas.

Me: Can you please release the charge? We tried to book with you and an error stated I could not book because the dates were not available.

Konstantinos: I cannot cancel the charge because I have penalties on my status from Airbnb. You have to cancel the reservation. Please try to do it and message me. Thank you.

Me: I will call Airbnb.

Me: I will text you back with an update.

Konstantinos: Okay, but please try to do it quickly to avoid charges and also it looks like the place is booked now. It is not good for me. Thank you.

Me: Yes, I know it is showing booked; that is why the system said my dates were not available to book, and my credit card was still charged. I did cancel but my money has not been released. My bank said you can release the authorization hold on my credit card.

Konstantinos: As i told you, you have to cancel. If I cancel, I will have penalties on my Airbnb status. After you cancel I will refund you, don’t worry. But if you don’t cancel ASAP I will lose money because the place looks like it is booked. Please cancel ASAP. Thank you.

Konstantinos: Did you contact Airbnb?

Me: No. I did go in and cancel the booking, so I will go back and recheck.

Me: Okay, see if it is canceled now.

Konstantinos: I just refunded the whole amount, 170 euros. Thank you and maybe next time!

You canceled this reservation

You will receive a full refund of $216 based on Konstantinos’s Strict cancellation policy.

You should expect to receive this amount in your VISA 9205 account by Thu, Oct 06.

However, I was only refunded $217.00 (didn’t include the service fee) and the very next day I was charged another $244.00 on my credit card again. I have tried endlessly to have the wrong corrected but haven’t had any success. Can anyone help or give me some suggestions on this matter?

Granada Horror Story: Left Out in the Cold

I booked a place in Granada, Spain for two nights. I called the host the day before my arrival to say I expected to arrive in Granada around 4:00 PM (I rented a car for the trip from Cordoba) When I arrived (at 4:09 PM) I called the host to arrange a meet-up. There was no answer. What could I do? I decided to try and drive to the apartment address but after two hours of driving around in circles I gave up and parked the car in a public parking facility. Then I noticed the host had texted me to say the key was in a cafe (no address given). I found the cafe online and called – no answer – so I took a cab there. The cafe was closed even though their website said they were open to midnight. I started to get a stream of unintelligible text messages from the host. In one he confessed he had no cellphone connectivity at work (where he presumably was) even though he had sent several texts, but never once did he answer my dozens of phone calls.

Finally, in one message he seemed to suggest he would be free by 10:00 PM, six hours after my arrival. I had had enough of this run-around, plus I was traveling with a sick companion who needed to get to a warm bed as soon as possible. I cancelled and booked a room in a nearby hotel. To this date the host refuses to give me even a partial refund, even though I am within my rights for a refund on at least one of the two nights. After reading all of the horror stories about Airbnb’s “customer service” I haven’t bothered to waste any time trying to get them to take action. And yes, you cannot post a review for a cancelled reservation. Needless to say, I will never book again through Airbnb; you pay upfront and then you are totally at the mercy of the so-called “host”. I hope the U.S. government or someone takes action and shuts this whole scam operation down.

Late Arrival, Host Abandoned me in Belfast

I was suppose to stay with a host in Belfast tonight. We agreed to check in at 8:00 PM earlier in the day. After encountering an accident in the highway I messaged to say that I would be there around 20:30. I arrived at 20:30 only to have him message me, saying: “You missed check-in. Your problem. You know the rules.” He then stopped responding to all forms of communication. Firstly, that is a shocking response. Airbnb hosts surely can’t be allowed to be completely rigid on precise check-in times, especially when you’re traveling from far away. And if they do need to go somewhere surely there has to be a way to come to a solution. I even offered to come and collect the keys from wherever he was and no reply. Secondly, having no way to contact anyone or to charge my phone, I was left stranded in the cold. Airbnb was also no help and the call center was unresponsive. I love Airbnb but now I can see that it’s a horrible service when they have not vetted the host properly – because central customer support is shocking. I didn’t even get a full refund; they kept the funds for future use. I’m inclined to never use the service again.

Thirdly, the “community” that Airbnb is supposedly trying to build surely doesn’t have room for this kind of host but it’s in moments like this that I see that they don’t do anything to vet hosts. Lastly, even after posting all of this, I’ve tried to find a way to contact Airbnb and complain; there is basically no way to contact them. It’s shocking. What are they taking the +10% service fee for? Surely there should be an email complaint service that all customer based organizations have – even terrible ones. The reservation was canceled and so trying to get help about it is no longer an option. Pathetic, especially from a company built upon an image of customer service. The minute you and the host can’t resolve an issue it all goes pear shaped. Airbnb, I hope being left stranded doesn’t happen often. You have no idea the emotional distress caused by being stranded alone, with luggage and in a foreign place especially when it’s dark, rainy and cold. I at least could afford a hotel – most people can not.