Airbnb Allowed me to be Scammed in Hawaii


I booked a house from December 23-25 in Maui. The host asked me to use a wire transaction for the deposit and cleaning fee to his private account, a total amount of $840. He claimed the deposit is refundable but the cleaning fee isn’t. The first time he gave me his “secretary’s” account to wire the transfer but it fell through. I guess I should have stopped there. Then he gave me his property manager’s account so I filed the transaction on October 24th and it went through. He said he received the money and the house was booked. Then I received a message saying my reservation has been canceled. He explained to me that this was a result of a system error due to Airbnb being updated. He suggested I make my reservation directly with the property manager. He also asked me to proceed with the rent payment to his property manager’s account so they could complete the reservation.

As of this point, I had already wired him $840 and he still asked me to wire $749 more to his property manager’s account. He said as soon as I did that my reservation would have been officially made. He also said it was a private booking but it would show up on the Airbnb website as soon as the upgrade was finished. This was my first time using Airbnb and I thought it was normal that he sent me a text massage directly. I already wired $840 to his account. He asked me afterwards to also wire the rent, $749, to his account. Then I realized something was wrong. I replied to him, saying that my family had an emergency and we had to cancel the trip; I wanted my deposit back. He said he understood perfectly and will refund my money the moment he receives it.

Now it’s been one day and I still haven’t heard back from him. I texted him a few times but he still hasn’t replied to me. The property is in Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii. The host’s name is David. His email address is

Airbnb: A Place for Scammers and Fraud

So I will start from the beginning, at the end of September beginning of October I was looking to book an apartment for 10 to 12 people for a friend’s hen party, Airbnb had been recommended to us and even some of the girls had booked and used them i

I will start from the beginning. At the end of September, I was looking to book an apartment for 10 to 12 people for a friend. Airbnb had been recommended to us and even some of the girls had booked and used it in the past with no issues. So off I went in search of an apartment close to the centre of Amsterdam. I found one that looked great, sent the photos to everyone, and we all agreed it would be perfect for us. The listing even said we could add people if needed. I looked through the reviews – all fine – and it even said the host was “approved.” I clicked on the contact host section of Airbnb’s website to make sure our dates were available for next May. I got an instant message back to say they were and an email would be sent for me to secure the booking if I wanted. The email came directly to me, with my full name, a booking number, an Airbnb letterhead, the works… it all looked official.

I followed through the payment service, sent everything over, and let the girls know it was all booked. I then received an email from the “host”, who called himself Frank Bider, to introduce himself, tell me the best way to get to the apartment from the airport, and to let me know if I needed help on things to do or places to go to just contact him. I thought nothing of it and said I would probably contact him closer to the time to find out how I could check in, etc. A few days later another email from Frank came to say that Airbnb had not validated my payment and the confirmation number was incorrect for my booking; a refund had been sent and I could make the booking again if I wished. I asked Frank how long this would take and if he knew what had happened. He replied saying that it was an issue with Airbnb and should be sorted in a few days. I waited 24 hours but received no email from Airbnb about this refund or anything. I contacted them directly, waited, and still heard nothing. I sent email after email to Airbnb but still nothing.

All the time Frank was still in contact with me. He then asked me to send another payment but this time by bank transfer. This was when something in my brain figured it was not right. I was frantically trying to contact Airbnb but I had no response from them. Finally I got the standard robot response saying I had no bookings with them. I sent a copy of all the emails with their letterhead, and then the worst happened. I received an email back from Katie at Airbnb to state although these email had an Airbnb email address, they were not official and had not come from them, stating they would never contact me off site via email to make a payment. I couldn’t believe it. I started to email to ask for help and see what I could do: phone my bank to see if they could help?

Again, Airbnb went silent. There was no contact whatsoever, so I took to Twitter. After days of me sharing bad stories I had found and my experience someone contacted me and said I would receive an email soon. Finally Chris from Airbnb emailed me. I asked time and time again for a phone number but nothing. Chris asked me to send proof of my booking and the money leaving my account so I did. I sent a copy of my statement and all the emails with their letterhead and everything on it. He then asked for a copy of the fraud report I had made to the police so I sent that as well with contact details of the person to whom I spoke. I then received an email back to state that because the emails were not from Airbnb and I paid through a payment system that wasn’t theirs there was nothing he could do. I felt this was a very generic answer and then asked Chris what they have in place for their customers to safeguard them against this type of fraud, as at no point when making a profile on their site or when looking for an apartment were there any notifications or advice to say “don’t do this”, or if you receive a direct email, report it.

Then again I suppose if they did this they would lose customers and scare people away with their warnings. Chris then asked me for proof that I had been on their website in the first place. He asked if I had taken screenshots of the profile or a copy of the web address or anything to show I was on their official website? I thought this is absurd. Who would take a screen grab or snapshot when searching for anything online? I was most definitely not on their website looking to get scammed out of £1000; I was on there looking for accommodation and to book a trip. I advised Chris of this and explained how I though it was ridiculous to ask a customer if he had documented his search on Airbnb’s website to prove he was on their website. I know that this information will be on their servers and they would see I was on there website. He then told me he couldn’t see my profile but backtracked to say he could see I had logged in and confirmed my email address and added another. I replied back to say I had not been on Airbnb since and had not done anything with my account or email address.

When I went on to check this information for myself my account had been locked and stated I must take a photo of my ID before I could log in again. I will not be sending Airbnb or anyone a copy of my ID and think it is a complete joke my account has somehow been locked. The simple answer I keep getting from Airbnb is that without screenshots to prove I was on their website I cannot say I originally went through them for contact or that they initiated this contact between me and this so-called host as I have no proof. Even though all logic would say if I was not on their website why would the fake email of come through to me with an Airbnb letterhead, Airbnb logos and Airbnb information? Why would the fake host contact me saying “thank you for booking through Airbnb” and “Airbnb has not validated your payment”?

The problem with Airbnb is the security is not tight enough. Anyone can be a host and anyone can set up a fake profile. They do not check anything and only after an incident has happened do they start to change things on their website. Their customer service is shocking. I have been going back and forth with them via email this whole month asking for a contact number and only this week did I finally receive a response with a number to call. I have said I will be reporting this to ‘Watchdog UK’, ‘Ripoff Britain’ and other review companies but the problem for me is I’m over £1000 out of pocket. With no light at the end of the tunnel for me to be getting my money back, no compensation, nothing. All Airbnb says is that I can’t prove I was on their website so they won’t compensate me and hope I use Airbnb again. Well trust me… I won’t.

Threatened by Host, Airbnb “Trust and Safety” Can’t Help

Your, your family’s, and your friends’ safety is at risk with Airbnb. They do not care about you and will not help you when a real threat occurs with a host. Our host did not show up at the apartment we rented and we had to pay for a taxi to her brother’s home to get the key. She expected us to ride a dilapidated old scooter with suitcases to the actual apartment; we paid for a taxi instead. The apartment was not the building on the listing: the room, size, layout, amenities, and everything else was different. Total scam. Initially Airbnb helped us get a full refund. However, the host threatened to call the police and somehow learnt where Airbnb relocated us. This is terrible customer safety. Our case was elevated to Trust and Safety but they never replied. Never. Not after being threatened, and not after nine phone calls, twelve emails and five weeks since the event. Not one single contact. This is the Trust and Safety team. This was a urgent priority matter and it is only by pure luck and our own initiative we were able to rescue our holiday. I have used Airbnb before, but never again.

Airbnb Consented and Approved of Fraud

I’d like to share with you how I was a victim of a fraud while using Airbnb’s platform and how surprisingly the company is doing nothing to prevent such fraud from continuing to happen. I used Airbnb for the first time to rent two apartments in Amsterdam for myself and seven of my friends, and after browsing Airbnb’s offers I saw that many hosts ask users to contact them via email in order to book the apartment rather than speaking to them on Airbnb (see screen shots below). I talked to a host via email and he sent me a confirmation regarding the booking for two apartments (it looks like a confirmation from Airbnb). I paid the host 2,100 Euros via wire transfer – and lost my money. I acted as many innocent and unexperienced users might do: following the instructions of an Airbnb host listed on Airbnb under the assumption that if information is published on Airbnb then it’s okay to comply, especially when Airbnb said nothing about avoiding this kind of practice when creating an account.

Now there are two major problems with Airbnb regarding this case:

1. Why does Airbnb allow its hosts to publish instructions to its users that are allegedly against Airbnb’s policies? Airbnb claims that they would never ask a user to go out of their site to talk to hosts but they allow hosts do to so and by that allow its users to be scammed by criminals using Airbnb’s site?

2. Even after I talked to Airbnb’s Customer Support and Risk Management Departments and described how the fraud works – the same fraudulent hosts and others were still active on Airbnb, publishing the same instructions to users and continuing to scam people out of their money all under Airbnb’s nose– the company did nothing about it. Even though they were fully aware and knew everything they needed to know about this fraud (as I said, my friend sent them screen shots and a full explanation of how it works), they did nothing. Only after I published the story on Facebook, tagging Airbnb, did they “kindly” remove the fake hosts from the site and there were about six of them in the Amsterdam section alone.

Airbnb is saying that they are responsible for their users’ safety but in practice they are doing nothing to protect their users from criminals using their site and platform. They can and must do so using very little resources, and to add to them doing nothing they also ignored my many emails and phone calls to their support center and responded only after the story was published on Facebook. Is that a user-concerned site and company? Is that the type of security and service a company of Airbnb’s scale should supply its customers? I regret to say that Airbnb’s behavior is shameful and shows just how much they care about the safety of their users and customers: not at all.

Fake Airbnb Amsterdam Listing Interrupts UK Vacation

I do not know if this is a host or a guest problem because I was a potential guest who suddenly discovered I was a host with an amazing apartment in Amsterdam. I don’t even live in Holland. What’s more, I had many bookings for my fictitious apartment. Here is my story.

The very first time I ever visited Airbnb to browse for holiday destinations I clicked an email address on the listing. I did not – but now do – realise these listings are a scam. However, at this stage, I had not signed up as I assumed you only signed up to be a host, not just to browse. The listing was in Amsterdam. So I emailed the Airbnb host and I was told I could have the apartment and the host would even pick me up (how thoughtful). I became suspicious of the listing when I spoke to my adult kids who had used Airbnb before and I showed them the pictures. They said it was too good to be true and that it’s probably not a good idea to email someone directly. I was disappointed but relieved as I had made very little contact and had not gotten anywhere near paying anything.

So, I made no more contact with the host. I checked out more Amsterdam properties and many of them had email addresses within the images. This is also the case with San Francisco. I wrote to the problem section and sent an email to Airbnb and to the community. This was answered by a member but I never heard from Airbnb personnel. What happened next was frightening and very inconvenient. I had left my home country, just after browsing and making enquiries, and flown to the UK for a vacation. When I reached the UK I checked my emails and had received about 15 enquiries about the Amsterdam apartment about which I had made the enquiry. These emails were requests from guests wanting to stay in the apartment; they all thought I was the host and owned the place. I went to the site and, sure enough, I was listed as the owner of the apartment; a photo of me was even accompanying the listing.

I did not know whom to contact in Airbnb as none of the FAQ addressed this new development. If a phone number had been present I would have rung it. As I said, I was on holiday in the UK and could only access my email intermittently. I had already tried to work out how to contact Airbnb with no response. I started to wonder if even the Airbnb address to which I was writing was a scam. At this stage, I did not know if the people who had booked my fictitious apartment were genuine. The numbers were growing by the day. I could not work out how anyone would benefit from this action. I decided to assume all of these people – by this time there were about 35 – were genuine and were organising flights and holidays, etc. So I decided to write to each person and tell them the apartment did not exist and I was not even a host.

No one wrote back to me but they must have cancelled their fictitious bookings because I started to get emails from Airbnb that my account would be deducted by $128 for each cancellation. I didn’t have an account. I continued to receive bookings and wrote back to each person. I wondered if they were paying into an account somewhere or they were all fictitious. I explained the apartment was not mine and I did not even live in Holland. I felt like I was going crazy. I then got emails from Airbnb warning me about cancelling these bookings. I still did not know if any of the correspondence from Airbnb was genuine. As I was finding it impossible to sort, and be on the move daily, I asked my son to try to sort it out. He discovered my apartment would be listed and then taken down intermittently. My photo was still on the listing with my email address (this photo had come from my Facebook page).

Today, nearly two months later, I checked the Amsterdam accommodation. My fake listing seems to have gone, but there still many apartments with private emails in the photos. I think Airbnb took my listing down but never even bothered to contact me. Obviously they can’t keep on top of the scammers. I was a first time user and so had not been aware of the dangers of emailing this address. I am still not sure how the scammers hope to get money from people. Unless people pay them directly – which could be the case – if someone is new and assumes Airbnb is all secure, then everything on the site must also be okay.

Why make me the host? If people were emailing me, then how would the scammers get their money? If I don’t have an officially listed property, have not become a member, and do not have an account, why did the Airbnb system not recognise that? It’s become obvious to me that the wheels are well and truly coming off Airbnb. It’s a shame but the company’s arrogant and hands-off attitude to dealing with serious problems is earning them no friends. They are so difficult to actually get hold of. In fact, it’s impossible if your problem doesn’t fit one of their neat little categories.

Family Vacation to Paris Leads to Airbnb Scam

We are a family of five that took a long anticipated vacation to Europe in the summer of 2016. We stayed at Airbnbs in Barcelona, Germany and London, and planned to in Paris as well. That’s where things fell apart. This transaction involved an Airbnb host that was a no-show, and that we know scammed us. The transaction was placed in February and arranged to be “fulfilled” in June, a simple deposit and subsequent payment for an apartment rental. We followed all the Airbnb regulations and processes fully. We contacted Airbnb immediately when we discovered that there was going to be a problem with the transaction. Prior to departure, we were in contact with the Airbnb host regarding any special instructions for our Paris check in.

We arrived as a family of five on our prearranged date in Paris with reservations and prepayments made as agreed. This is what occurred: we texted back and forth and had a correspondence between us and the host. No specific check-in deadline was noted to us by the host. We gave the host information regarding our arrival time at Orly Airport to drop off our rental car and take the train. There was no timely response from the host and no message noting any problem. At no time did the host mention a meeting or conflict. The host did not give us clear instructions in the event of a delay… and we were delayed getting from Orly to the city by an hour or two, arriving in Paris by about 6:00 pm or so. We sent an email notifying the host we were on the bus. The host never provided instructions as to what to do when we arrived at the building. Upon arrival, the host was not present.

We could not locate his name on the apartment directory call box. The host then contacted us via text message that evening that he had a “meeting” (this was on a Monday evening) and he was having some difficulty with his schedule in order to meet us. He then directed us to “come to [him]” across Paris to pick up the keys to the apartment. The apartment was miles from the address and the new address provided by the host to pick up keys did not match his description. He directed us to go to “25 Rue del la Butte”, to pick up a spare set of keys, noting that he was “waiting for us” and that these keys would be on the “5th floor, door on the right”. The address was quite far from our host location in Paris. I took a cab with my son ($40.00 Euro Cab fare expense) while my wife and daughters waited with our suitcases at the original building address. Arriving at the “Rue de la Butte” address, (confirmed by the address sign on the side of the building) again the host’s name was not on the call box, and no one answered the buzzer. Most importantly, it was only a two story building. He had said he was on the fifth floor.

Because he was not responding, we also sent the host a Facebook message noting that we could not locate him at the “25 Rue De La Butte” address. Looking at the destination address, the host did not have his name anywhere on the entry letterboxes. He just scammed us, and scammed Airbnb. Upon returning from the alternate address we knew we had to find alternate lodging. We waited on the streets of Paris with three children until after 11:00 pm, repeatedly attempting to contact the host via email, text, and Facebook. We finally checked into a hotel for one night only, wondering if we’d hear anything further. We planned to move to the Airbnb the next evening, but the host did not contact us to offer this. We also thought that Airbnb would help us with a resolution, but this proved difficult.

We assumed at this point without any follow up from the host and the false address that we were the victim of an elaborate internet scam. This thinking prompted us to cancel our transaction with the host. We were in immediate communication with Airbnb via the website form and called on three different occasions to speak with three different case managers to try to resolve the issue. There is no phone number on the Airbnb website, just the dispute form which we completed that evening following our check in to the hotel. The important thing to know is: AIRBNB DOES NOT CARE AT ALL IF YOU GET RIPPED OFF. Their “resolution department” will pay a lot of lip service to you when finally cornered, but really, it is a ridiculous sham of a customer service department.

We kept email records of all of our communication with Airbnb trying to outline the events. It is important to note that this was one of four Airbnb stays that we scheduled for our recent trip. The other three stays were quite pleasant and the hosts were all responsive and amicable. In this regard, this was a simple and straightforward transaction dispute. We were out over $1500.00. We entered into an agreement to stay at a specified arrival date. We contracted for a product and did not receive it. Pretty straightforward, right?

Airbnb issued a tax credit of $18.00 and a ‘lodging credit’ of $125.00. Try putting a family of five up in two rooms by the Eiffel tower for $125. We reasonably asked that the remainder of the charge – $1572.00 – be credited to our credit card account. Airbnb was basically non-responsive. I got the impression that they do whatever is necessary to obfuscate and delay any resolution. You cannot call them from the website: there is no number and you get directed to a FAQ/community page. This was especially frustrating. Finally, we contacted our credit card company. After about 90 days or so, Airbnb did not respond to them either, so the amount was fully credited to us.

Here is the takeaway, folks:

1. Airbnb can work well and may do so for most folks, much of the time. The other folks we dealt with were honest and the locations were as advertised.

2. If you have a dispute as a guest, you are basically screwed. You will not get much attention and Airbnb will not delve into any detail or take money back from a host. Document everything as you go. Put all important communications in writing as email whenever possible.

3. When you use your credit card, remember that there may be a 90-day window to dispute a charge. In this regard, if you make reservations months in advance, you may struggle to get the money back. We did, but our bank (Verity in Seattle – kudos to them!) worked with us to do the right thing.

4. Take a few minutes to look around the destination at your location, so you will have a {lan B if your host is a scammer.

5. Most importantly, DO NOT CANCEL YOUR AIRBNB TRANSACTION. This basically shuts you out of reviewing the host and cuts off all contact between the two parties – just what the scammer/host wants.

Airbnb Villa Scam Cons Families on Holiday in Ibiza

We have recently been the victim of a scam on Airbnb that cost us nearly £4,000. My partner, my two children (5 and 1), and I wanted a last minute getaway due to a stressful few months, so we booked cheap Ryanair flights to Ibiza with the hope of finding somewhere to stay last minute and managed to stumble upon the Airbnb website through Google. Before this point, I’d never heard of Airbnb. I registered with the site and contacted a couple of hosts regarding availability but had no luck in finding anything as the places we could afford were fully booked. We had almost given up and nearly cancelled our flights as we couldn’t find anywhere to stay but at the bottom of the list of properties I saw some villas that said ‘others you may be interested in.’ I clicked on an amazing looking villa that showed our dates were still available. It was still out of our price range but as we were due to fly in less than two weeks we contacted them to see if they could offer us a late deal.

We didn’t hear anything for a few days and then I had an email through Airbnb from the host, saying her messages had not been getting through to her and she had been told by Airbnb to put her private email address on one of the pictures so she could receive the messages that way. We asked about the dates available via her email address to be told they were available and we managed to get the price down to £3,000 for the nine nights plus a £600 deposit which was still very much over our budget. However, we were thrilled about this as the villa had five bedrooms so we thought we could invite some friends over with their kids and make it a holiday of a lifetime, splitting the cost of the villa. We invited two couples along with their four children, who also booked flights to Ibiza and were going to stay for a few days each. As we had never used this website before we weren’t aware of the payment system or the way the website worked in general but we asked a few people about booking on Airbnb as we were a bit wary; the people we spoke to said it was a legitimate company and it would be fine.

We were emailing our host back and forth and asked how we should pay and she said she could not take the payment directly and that it would have to go through Airbnb. Rather, she would send them the details there and then and we would get an email confirming the reservation and details on how to pay. We received a very official looking Airbnb email, from an Airbnb email address with a confirmation booking number and details of payment by bank transfer to an Airbnb host. Like I said, we had never used the site before and the email appeared to come from Airbnb so we assumed this was the system of payment, as when I set up my profile on Airbnb I received no warning about how to pay other hosts correctly. Instead, there are various references of ways to pay littered across the site, including “instant book”, “contact host” and “expedite credit card payment”. These create enough confusion so that when an email is received from someone listed as a verified user you do not doubt it.

We paid the £3,600 by bank transfer on 01/08/16 and were still in contact with the host as we had various questions, e.g. did they have a travel cot, how far was it from the airport, etc. We were in contact with them up until the night before we were due to fly to Ibiza and the host even offered to pick us up from the airport but we said we had hired a car and we just needed the address. The host didn’t reply that night with the address and the following morning we rang her mobile number various times, contacted her by Whatsapp, and emailed her. By this point we were getting very worried as we were due to leave for the airport that afternoon. I contacted the Airbnb helpline and spoke to a lady to whom I gave the confirmation number, but she could not find my booking and suggested I contact customer services who would look into the matter for me. They did not have phones and I could only contact them by email.

I was furious by this point as I could not believe that if you have a problem or issue with a booking that you cannot talk to a human being in person and could only by email, hoping that you are able to get a response before you travel. I did get a response quite quickly luckily enough but it appeared to be a standard automated email that was not personal or did not sympathise with my situation at all. I gave the representative all the details that I had of the contact I’d been dealing with and I received a further blunt automated response back to say there was no booking and nothing Airbnb could do to sort out the situation or offer a refund as we paid outside of their system (which we didn’t realise we were doing). That would be the final email we would receive.

I’ve since had another email through Airbnb from another ‘lady’ asking me to provide further details of myself through her personal email address in order for her to accept a booking request, which I assume is another fraudster trying to take advantage. So it seems to still be happening on a regular occurrence. To summarise, we lost £3,600 for a villa advertised on the Airbnb website that I assume did not even exist! I had to tell my excited five-year old who had his case packed all ready to go that we were no longer going on holiday. We had to cancel our flights (another £356 lost) as we could not afford to stay anywhere else at such short notice. Our friends also had to cancel their flights and tell their children there was no holiday. We are still paying off a holiday we did not go on and will do for some time. Overall our loss was nearly £4,000! I am flabbergasted that the customer service for such a large company like Airbnb is so poor and they could not even apologise or compensate my family for the money we have lost. Since we were victims of this scam I have Googled Airbnb scams and found that this is not an isolated incident as articles have been written in the Guardian (04/06/16), The Huffington Post (27/01/16), and The Telegraph (20/03/15), just to name a few.

Regarding victims that have fallen prey to fraudsters on the site. It was suggested in one of the 2014 articles that a warning be issued to new subscribers warning them of the danger of fraudsters on the site and a guide be given on the correct payment process. It seems this was not looked into or carried out as had it been, then I would not have been a victim of fraud and lost £3,600. How are they allowing people to advertise villas and apartments on the site that do not exist? Are they checked out and verified before they advertise or can anyone post a rental on the site? I just don’t understand how this is happening! I wanted to write this story as a warning to others so the fraudsters cannot do this to anyone else.

My NYC Nightmare: Building Doesn’t Allow Airbnb

My daughter and I booked an apartment on the Upper West Side of New York City several months in advance of our September 1st visit. I was in touch with the host via text several days in advance, who told me to tell her when I was landing, and she would give me directions on how to get to her apartment. Upon my arrival at the airport from Nashville and on the way to the apartment, I called her, at which time I was told that she was changing the location to her son’s apartment on the Upper East Side. I was also told not to tell the doorman that I was an Airbnb guest, but “a friend of her son’s girlfriend Zoe.” I was very upset and told her to cancel the reservation and I requested a refund of by $1,345. So far, in spite of repeated attempts to reach her and Airbnb, I have not received a refund. Help!

Outright Theft by Airbnb Discovered in Chile

So, my story begins when I showed up to the door of what was supposed to be my Airbnb in Santiago, Chile. I called and emailed my host several times until I finally got a response. Her response was shocking to say the least. She told me she never accepted the booking and, in fact, she wasn’t even based in Santiago. Well, needless to say, I was pissed and panicked. I called Airbnb only to be put on hold for an inordinate amount of time. I was told that this was classified as an emergency and I would be contacted very shortly. Three weeks later… I still haven’t heard from them and I’m still being charged for the stay. That incident made me decide me to research my account. I saw a charge from Airbnb for $454. I never stayed  anywhere that they would need to charge me for that amount. I called and told them so and, again, was told this would be an emergency response. That made me concerned, so I started digging through my bank statements to find that Airbnb has stolen $5500 out of my account over the past year. Now I can’t get anybody on the phone to talk to me about it. But, it’s good to know that it is a priority for them to get this resolved.

Airbnb’s Model is Designed for Scammers

We booked and confirmed a two bedroom apartment in midtown Vancouver four months in advance. Everything seemed fine except the host told us she did not have “front desk” privileges and access would be via the side entrance. The host’s name was Ashleigh P. A few weeks before leaving for Vancouver, I noticed her listing had disappeared from Airbnb. I messaged her and she said she had to take it down because she was getting too many requests. She replied using the name Nicole P. One week before leaving for Vancouver I contacted Airbnb to discuss my rising doubts. I was told there was no need to worry. They were confident everything was above board. Why were they so dismissive?

Five days before arriving I got a message reminding me she had no “contract” with the management at her condo for concierge services so she would meet me personally to let me in and show me around. At 8:30 AM on the morning of the booking I was boarding a plane to fly to Vancouver and I got a text saying to meet her at a different address in Vancouver. I called Nicole/Ashleigh and she told me she could not provide the apartment to which she agreed as her access pass had been blocked but she moved us to a one bedroom in a different area of town. She was not prepared to explain or “argue with you about this.” The booking had been changed and she had no obligation to do more.

What transpired was that she had been subletting an apartment illegally in a building and the owner/building management found out and blocked her access. She had been doing it successfully for some time and had good reviews but now had been caught and barred. Obviously, the assurance she had given Airbnb was false. When I raised this with Airbnb they said: “We have hundreds of thousands of hosts. We can’t verify all their claims.” Airbnb cancelled the booking and helped us find another that we had to accept with just four hours’ notice. It was a long bus ride out of town and the unit was on a very busy highway. Our holiday was completely ruined.

What is my complaint? Airbnb said Nicole told them she had a last minute hiccup and they accepted her excuse. They agreed it was unacceptable but they had absolutely no plan to do anything other than help me find an alternative accommodation; after all, she was a successful host (i.e. she made big money for Airbnb). I was told this really did not happen often and I was unlucky. I was told four times that Airbnb took great care to look after their customers and that my experience was unusual. The bottom line is that Airbnb will keep Nicole/Ashleigh. She is a valuable source of income to them. They understand what has happened but if she tells them she is okay to offer an apartment then they will take her word for it. Airbnb’s model is set up to facilitate scamming and they know that, believing they can “manage” victims when they inevitably emerge. It’s a “let the buyer beware” portal. So beware.