I have already started my quest to phase out Airbnb. In the beginning I thought they were this great company who would stand behind what they said, but um…. no…. I quickly found out that this is not the case at all. My first negative experience was when I was contacted by a guest with no photo or profile about renting my apartment. In retrospect, I should have realizedthe reason for this could be a criminal record. This was about the 5th month that I had been using airbnb. So, she ask ed me if the dates she wanted were available and I told her yes.So, then she tells me, okay my friend is going to contact you with her account. The friend contacts me. Also, no photo, but a photo of something else. I asked her to fill out her profile and put up a photo, but she tells me she is just to busy with work for that. So, I tell her that everyone in her party will have to give me a photo ID. Then she asks me if they have to pay everything up front which for some reason gave me a weird feeling, and I said yes she did. She said she would email the IDs. Then she books and no IDs. She then tells me they will give them to me when they arrive.
When they arrive they tell me that they went on Google Earth and search the area inch by inch to make sure it was safe. Again a strange feeling came over me, and then excuses about giving me the IDs later when the rest of the group arrives.
So, next thing I know I am eating Thanksgiving dinner and I get a call from her with this fake hyperventilating sound asking me if the cleaning lady had keys to the apartment. The answer to that question was no, because the company I was using at that time did not allow the employees to have keys. I am sure she had pulled that scam before because she was shocked when I said no. So, I turn to my friends and I say, this girl is going to ask me for money, I guarantee it. Then after dinner, I call Airbnb to tell them what is going on and they tell me to go over there, but not to give them more than 5 minutes notice and not to go alone. I brought a camera because I was afraid they were going to steal my stuff and I wanted to document the condition of the lock.
I get over there with the handy man from the building down the street in case the lock is broken. Upon arriving I see there has been no damage to the lock, and no evidence of a break in. When I get inside, there are piles of brand new merchandise and at least 10 wigs all over the apartment. At this point, I am really scared they are going to steal my stuff so I take photos of all my things in the apartment while they are boozing it up. Then they tell me their story which changed later, and I say okay lets call the cops so you guys can make an insurance claim(they had said they had travel insurance) suddenly the doom and gloom that had been hanging over their trip since this alleged $650 had gone missing was replaced by optimism that it would turn up. Then I remind them that I need their IDs and they tell me that they have decided not to give them to me.
During the entire time they stayed I keep getting messages from her saying that the missing money has really put a damper on her trip. Which I could already tell meant give me $650 or you are getting a bad review. This was not the only hint foretelling the actual extortion attempt that was coming, but I do not remember all of what she said now.
The first time I went there, I forgot to turn on my tape recorder which had a brand new tape in it, but the second time, I did not and the story of when and how the money went missing was changed. The handy man again was with me and he picked up on this as well. One thing I gotta say is these girls were very charming and impeccably dressed so watch out for the charming con artists.
Anyway, she keeps emailing me with the subtle threats and about how I needed to help them solve the mystery and problem of the missing money, and how this missing money is putting a damper on her “experience in my apartment” I told her that I was not a detective and she needed to call the cops.
The entire time I kept Airbnb apprised of what was going on and they told me not to cave and not to give her the $650. They expressly told me that they had my back. However, later they told me that she had told them that if I did not give her the money she would give me a bad review and they told her that was okay as long as she followed certain guidelines. What? They told her she needed to call the cops and not me about the money. She refused to call them, and then they tell her it is okay to give me a bad review. Way to go Airbnb.
So, then she starts demanding to talk to me in person on the Airbnb message thread. This is when I knew the actual unveiled extortion attempt was coming. One of the days shedemanded that I come, I could not come and she became belligerent about it. I told her I would come on check day to assist her in making a police report. I went on check out day and again she refused to make a police report. This time I had my tape recorder with a brand new tape in it going before I even got into the place so I got all of it.
She proceeds to tell me that if I do not give her $650 she will give me a review that will ruin my reputation and destroy my business. Then she goes to lunch after check out time and leaves her friend there who will not pick up her trash. So, I start asking the friend questions which were also recorded. I asked to show me any proof that the money ever existed and shetells me banks in St. Lucia do not give receipts. Okay, how about a receipt from the money exchange here in America. Nope, we would not have kept that. Alright then, no proof this money even existed. So, by this time it is way past check out and the cleaning person is having to clean around this girl and their stuff. The extortionist comes back and I notice that theyhave not given me both sets of keys back, and I have to run down the stairs with her to make sure she gives me my keys and she starts screaming about Airbnb in the lobby of my building. After she is gone I call airbnb. The rep agrees that the messages leading up to the actual in person extortion attempt already look like extortion, but they cannot listen to the tape because it could have been altered. Really, this girl told your employee that if I did not give her the money she would give me a bad review, and they can’t listen to the tape? Not, to mention it was a brand new tape and could be examined forensically.
After this my BF tells me probably nothing will happen and with the help of an airbnb rep, I decide not to give her a review unless she gave me one and if she did, I will do it at the last minute. I asked the rep when the last minute would be (and this is also in writing) and he tells me 11 am on a certain date. The morning of the date rolls around. I wake up and see shehas given me a review, but I cannot see it. So, I quickly write one up and try to post before 11 am, but the system tells me it is too late. Then I see she has given me a pretty debilitating review. She has done this before I am sure. So, I call Airbnb and tell them that the time they told me was incorrect. Well, guess what? They did not care and would not change it, even though the time and date they gave me was in writing. They also would not delete the review even though they were the ones who told me not to cave and not to give her the money. The next guy I appealed to read the messages and said he did not get it and she did not have to call the cops. It was as if he had no idea what had transpired, and did not know that theytold me not to cave and not give her the money. It was like he thought I was making the whole thing up because I got a bad review. I would have been better off to give her the $650 and I would have gotten a great review. I lost almost 2 months of business after that. So, the long and the short of it was that they told me not to cave and that they had my back, and it was really all just talk. One hand does not know what the other hand is doing over there.
I was so disgusted I paid $1000 to get on VRBO. So far, I have had no problems with VRBO except their guests book a lot more in advance so it took awhile to start filling my place with their people. I actually have many more horror stories about Airbnb including being lied to over and over again by their employees, and I think their website is messed up and they will not admit it, but this is enough for now. I really cannot wait to completely phase them out.