Under Investigation for False Privacy Claim from Guest

We are currently under investigation from Airbnb after a guest who stayed at our place for the last 40 days (into their 100-day stay) decided to make a false claim against my husband and I for “violating their privacy.” After the guest’s initial inquiry about staying at our cottage in northern Ontario, we told them that we were currently there doing renovations to the lower level to make it a duplex.

Our listing does state that they are renting the entire cottage, but we had called Airbnb and asked for guidance on what to do since we were doing renovations. They simply told us that as long as we had approval from the inquiring guests that we would be there, everything should be fine. We have all the documentation and emails and written consent from the inquiring guests that they were okay with us being there doing the renovations in the lower level. We kept up communications to make sure we weren’t bothering them with any excess noise and tried to only be there during the day when they were at work.

Their check in date was Jan. 11, and they were medium-term rentals staying until April 30/ All throughout the time from Jan. 11 until Feb. 9 everything was fine as far as we knew. We have text proving that they were fine and anytime we needed to enter their space to do something and we have written documentation of asking their permission.

We did expect the renovation to be complete as of mid-January, until the stay at home order that was in place on Jan. 14 obviously delayed our renovations by a couple of weeks. This is something that was completely out of our control.

On Feb. 9, the guest called my husband and said that they were feeling a little bit frustrated with how long this was going. We packed up that day and went home to avoid any conflict and prevent making our guest feel uncomfortable. My husband went back up on Valentine’s Day weekend to clean up his tools while they were not there because they didn’t stay there on the weekends. As of then, everything was fine: we hadn’t heard any other complaints and everything was communicated to the guests.

We then got a notification through Airbnb that the guests would like to change their check out date from April 30 to Feb. 25, which we declined because there was no reason for them to check out early. The renovation was now completed and no one would be in the lower level for the remainder of their stay (why they waited to complain until we were finally done is beyond me).

The next day we got an email from Airbnb stating that there has been a privacy claim against us and that our account will be suspended until the investigation was complete. We got a call on Feb. 20 asking for our side of the story. The claim was that my husband was there during their stay and that was a violation of their privacy.

We used completely separate entrances; we never even saw the guests more than maybe three times the entire five weeks we were there. We never once entered their space without permission and only three separate times: once to replace our modem for the Internet; once to replenish the soap and a broken spoon that the cleaner had told us was broken; and once for the plumber to check something on the washer. All visits were agreed upon and never were an issue when those things happened.

The Airbnb investigator was completely rude and interrupted us multiple times while we were trying to explain our side of the story. We have been Superhosts since the second month of hosting and I’ve had nothing but great reviews with the exception of one who was annoyed that the Internet wasn’t as fast as that in Toronto. I can’t believe that Airbnb is allowing one guest among 17 positive reviews to tarnish our entire reputation as hosts and potentially shut us down.

I guess my question is has anyone experienced something similar to this and what was the outcome? Our worry is that they are going to refund the guest for the time that they stayed there if they deem that we did indeed “violate their privacy“ even though we have proof that they knew the whole time we were there. If Airbnb does decide to cancel their reservation, is there a chance that we will need to refund them for the days that they have already stayed there and if so how is that legal?

Airbnb Guest Review Lies that Damage Hosts’ Reputation

Recently we had a very strong summer of bookings at our coastal house. All of our reviews were very positive — even those who had minor issues provided positive feedback — until the last booking. The guest stated our property was not worth the price and that we charged $100 a night higher than what she paid. She also suggested we didn’t provide wifi which we are very transparent about in our listing, given it is a remote coastal property.

In trying to address this with Airbnb, where we believe a guest has breached their review guidelines, they simply dismissed our concerns of a review that presented misleading and incorrect information that damages our ability to book the house. I can only assume that a guest can make up whatever lies they want with no accountability from their position. I have requested my concern be escalated beyond the community helpers or whoever actually works for Airbnb and sent higher where it will be considered beyond the sugarcoated script quoting inaction that accompanies Airbnb’s generally response. If anyone here has had any success in having a review taken down which was just blatant lies, please let me know how.

Scammer Stayed 24 Nights but only Paid for One

blankblankblankblank

A guest booked a 30-day stay and claimed to Airbnb that he moved out after one night but actually ended up staying 24 nights. Airbnb mishandled the situation and now refuse to correct their mistake.

We are in one of the ten largest cities in the US. The place is very economic ($400/month, average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom-apartment here is $1350). It’s a shared room (3-4 people per bedroom, 10 people in the apartment) and he complained about cleanliness issues within 24 hours.

I do month-to-month rentals and usually have 100 guests at the same time across several location. Over 1000 guests in the last five years. 80% of our ratings are five stars, 90% are four or five stars. Nobody else in the apartment complained about the cleanliness issue. The guest didn’t have a single review.

Airbnb didn’t reach out to me until 14 days after move-in. I pointed out to Airbnb that the guest still lives there. 20 days after move-in they made the decision to refund him all the money besides the first night, because he told them that he moved out, even though he didn’t move out.

I have been chasing them ever since, telling them that he still lives there but they didn’t do anything about it. Everyone saw him and other Airbnb guests also confirmed to Airbnb that he lives there. They slow-walked the case and never asked me for any photo or video evidence that he still lives there.

After he moved out (after 24 days when an Airbnb rep called him and urged him to move out) they suddenly asked me to provide photo evidence that he actually lived there. Now they won’t issue his payout because they say that without video or photo evidence they cannot issue it.

Airbnb made a wrong decision regarding the cleanliness issue given that there were 20 other Airbnb guests living at this location (spread across multiple units) on the same day as the guest but none of them had any complaints. Furthermore, when they first reached out I told them that the guest still lives there and it took them almost a week to come to a decision. When they made their decision, they forgot that he actually still lives there. Now they don’t acknowledge that mistake.

I have attached the four pictures that were presented as evidence by the guest that there was a cleanliness issue. Those are the only pictures that Airbnb showed him. I would like to take them to arbitration and I am seeking an experienced attorney to represent me. Here is a detailed complaint that I sent to Airbnb.

I am challenging the decision that there was a cleanliness issue. This decision by Airbnb was wrong and is the reason there is a dispute in the first place. There was no cleanliness issue. Here is a list of all the Airbnb guests that stayed at this location on March 9 (the day of move-in); none of these people reported an issue. That’s 20 happy Airbnb guests vs. this guy, who doesn’t have a single Airbnb review.

I included the booking code so you can look up the address. The pictures you sent don’t show any cleanliness issues:

1st picture: burned stove counter. There are ten people living in the apartment and most are cooking. Sometimes they will burn a stove top burner and sometimes they don’t clean up right away. Once a week our cleaners come to make sure everything is spotless. It cannot be 100% clean in a shared room environment. You can expect that at a entire place at move-in but not in a shared space.

2nd picture: dirty toilet seat. There are three bathrooms in each apartment. Ten people use those bathrooms and so they get dirty. Once a week they are cleaned spotless but during the week one toilet can be a bit more dirty. There are two other ones where it’s not like that. Again, this is normal in a place where ten people live together and cleaners come once a week.

3rd picture: a kitchen table that’s not 100% clean when ten people live in an apartment to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. This is normal,

4th picture: a vegetable outside the fridge. There are ten people living there and they are cooking. When you cook sometimes a vegetable falls on the floor. That’s how every kitchen everywhere looks. I am sure that vegetable was picked up minutes after the picture was taken.

We have been around for over five years and have a great system to make sure people that share a space can live in a clean and healthy environment. We encourage all our guests to clean after themselves and have professional cleaners coming once a week to do the heavy lifting. There is absolutely no cleanliness issue and it was a wrong decision by Airbnb.

Whatever case manager made this decision didn’t look at the satisfaction of other guests staying there nor the fact that this is a shared environment. We are proud of the cleanliness we provide and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Neither Airbnb, nor Brian Chesky, nor the guest would be able to provide a cleaner environment in an affordable shared room setting like this one.

The guest moved in on March 9 and it wasn’t until March 22 that I received a message from Airbnb. That’s 14 days after move-in. I wrote back immediately that I didn’t agree to a refund and that as of March 19 he was living in the unit. Airbnb did not ask for video evidence then.

On March 24, Airbnb sent photos (16 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence. On March 25, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (17 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence). On March 26, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (18 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence). On March 27, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (19 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence).

On March 28, Airbnb made the decision to refund the guest and there was no word about the fact that he still lives there. No question about video evidence or camera. Airbnb also said that they would not get back to me for three days. It seems that Airbnb just gave the refund at the last minute before the work week was over without double checking if the guest still lives there or not. This is negligence on Airbnb’s part and the reason there is a dispute now.

On March 30 (22 days since he moved-in), I pointed out that the guest still lives there. On April 3, there were no questions asked about video or photo evidence. Someone from the safety team contacted me and then called the guest. Only then did he move out. At no point was video or photo evidence requested.

blank

Guest Dispute Turns Host off Airbnb for Good

blankblankblankblankblank

After holding a room for a month, Airbnb guests arrived far after the check in time. They insisted that they did not want to unload anything for one night. The lady sat on the floor talking to my husband, playing with the dog. Unbeknownst to her, we had a guest.

Ten minutes after my husband left, she and her husband ran in and out of the house. Later I got a text saying it wasn’t a good fit. Airbnb said they would review and handle. Crickets. I left the room as occupied. Then another month was deposited in my account. I had strict cancellation policies and long term cancellation policies. It didn’t matter.

The guests sent a picture of a dog hair in the bed, a rat turd in a chair, a snowman in one of the two master closets and a shower that had fresh, hostess-supplied amenities. None of this was mentioned to my husband during the talk. I objected strongly to the dog hair and rat turd.

My guests staying upstairs verified the room. They left sheets and towels on the floor. The drugs she said she had shipped to our house to arrive the day they arrived mysteriously never came.

I have wonderful reviews and, as I said, witnesses. Airbnb gave me 24 hours to respond. One minute after I submitted a partial response, I got a phone call saying they reviewed my response and were siding with the guests and need the money back. I blocked them from my bank account, my phone and email. They can rot.

Airbnb Illogically Refunded the Cancellation Fees

I had a booking from a couple of guests from China back in mid-January. On January 30, they decided to cancel the booking saying: “Sorry, my friend wants to stay at another place. We shall meet next time!” Hence a partial refund was returned.

Then a few weeks later, Airbnb took that partial refund away saying the guest couldn’t travel and qualifies for the full refund because of extenuating circumstances. I do understand that it is unfortunate that the two couldn’t make the trip. However, the point is that the guests cancelled the booking because they chose to stay in another place.

Had they decide to stay in my place and cancel, I would fully respect that. Logically, I should get to keep the cancellation fees.

Am I being irrational? I had months of long messages with Airbnb support and their supervisor, who then abruptly said the decision is final and closed the case without allowing me to ask for the reasoning for their decision. The responses were expectedly slow because of the situation.

What’s interesting is that in the conversation, I asked for the contact for someone beyond the support supervisor level and the supervisor said that there is no one above him/her and closed my case. I went on Twitter about it. They asked me to DM my case.

Within five minutes, I got a response saying that he “thoroughly reviewed” my case and that the decision is final. How can you thoroughly review a case in five minutes including coming up with a response? At this point, I am tempted to just send the CEO a tweet since he stresses that he love feedback.

Solution to Airbnb Guests Damaging Properties

To hosts or those who are thinking of opening their own Airbnb. I have been hosting for over three years with 67 properties, and had over 50,000 guests stay with me. I met many other hosts and the biggest issues they all run into are with negligent guests. In my units alone I have had over 10% (5,000) of my guests violate my house rules.

Airbnb is based on trust. A guest, AKA a stranger, is entering your home and you have no idea who they are or their intentions. When violations occur, you must be able to prove them, and Airbnb always sides with guests. How do you prove smell over the phone? It’s rare, but few times, I was able to prove that a guest violated my house rules, threw a party, and thanks for my live notification system – AKA neighbors – I was able to keep the $250 damage deposit, remove the guest, and reopen my calendar for new bookings. I realized that I just made $600 of a violation.

Three major common and costly issues I face on daily basis along with other hosts:

Indoor cigarette and marijuana smoking – causes smoke to get into the walls and ventilation making it hard to remove. This cost me cancellations or horrible guest reviews.

Theft – There is new scam going around. Airbnb guests used fake IDs to book my unit for three days, and while you are gone they list all your valuables on Craigslist, etc., and basically have a garage sale in your unit without you being aware. By the time my cleaners got to the room, the only thing that was left was the lock and forks. It cost me about $5K to replace everything and a $500 cancellation. Airbnb ignored the claim.

Parties – Some of our properties are in Florida, AKA party towns. We have guests who threw parties, smoked, drank, caused major damages to the furniture and walls, and destroyed neighbors’ pools… the list is long. Which again, cost me time and money and many police reports.

I figured out a way to fix these issues, using technology, by building it myself. I want to protect all 680,000 hosts, and that’s why I have built and developed a patented, smart smoke detector designed to protect and prove violations. It is federally illegal to tamper with, and has a built-in tamper-proof sensor. But it does so much more: it has a real-time notification system that monitors your guests for violations, from the moment the guest enters to the moment they leave.

It’s able to detect and notify live:

• Indoor Smoking (Cigarette and Marijuana Detection)

• Fire and Carbon Monoxide

• Unauthorized Guests

• Break Ins

• Theft

• Excessive noise levels

• Humidity level (Mold Detection)

• Air Quality

• Bluetooth and Z-Wave Compatible with Smart Locks and Security Systems

• Guest Check-In Notification

As as bonus, it also comes with a built-in Property Management System that syncs with Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor and many others. This system is non invasive, has no cameras, and even mandatory in some cities. It’s plug and play, all you have to do is swap it with your existing smoke detector. I would love to hear your comments and questions.

Just Another Airbnb Nightmare Experience

Below is the letter I sent to all the Airbnb contact emails I found online. There has been no response.

To whom it may concern, I have been an Airbnb client and host for years. This is the first time that I have encountered the problem that is far beyond your regular support team can solve it fairly. I hope that this email would be received by someone who cares, really listens, and reads every detail professionally.

We rented a room in Bangkok and the client wanted to leave earlier. Your team shortened the booking dates and refunded him without our permission. Our payment is now -‪19946.95‬ Baht plus the unit being empty for weeks during high season.

All of a sudden, the guest reported on the second week of stay that he felt insecure as there was an Airbnb prohibition sign in the lift. We explained and provided legal evidence to the guest to confirm that his one-month rental period was legal as it was long-term.

The support team did not care about our opinion on this, refunded the guest, and never answered us again. We have been ignored several times by your support team staff and we are reaching for help now with great hope for justice. We hope you will listen to us. If not, we have no choice but to reach for help outside Airbnb; somewhere justice is still in practice. Thanks in advance.

Here is the review I left to the client:

I am sacrificing my time to write this long review to remind all hosts to be very careful in accepting [this guest’s] booking. It’s difficult to explain everything in print as it tortured us mentally, physically and financially.

Case (1): [The guest] booked the room for one guest and refused to adjust the booking for two guests. Finally, we gave him an approximately 60% discount to end the lengthy discussion and hoped to let him keep his travel plans smooth and trouble-free. Anyhow, we only received less than half of what had previously been agreed upon.

He rejected the idea of paying more. Two guests stayed at our place since day one. He said it wasn’t his business and we should talk to Airbnb ourselves. I spent days attempting to reach Airbnb and no one was there to answer. I was abroad and I had to use international calling. I couldn’t enjoy my New Year’s trip but spent the whole time talking to him and constantly messaging the service team.

Airbnb finally paid for him as the missing amount was the service fee which I also previously told him to make sure the amount we should receive is after the service fee. He didn’t care. Anyhow, the first issue was resolved. Now, the second one went far beyond what we could stand.

Case (2): Things went well for a week or so. Then, [the guest] mentioned about getting checked by local police late at night on the street on his tuk-tuk Bangkok tour. He wanted to travel somewhere else besides Bangkok but his tailor-made suit could only be finished on January 7th. Please remember this date well.

After almost a two-week stay, he got me by surprise by telling Airbnb that he just saw an Airbnb prohibition sign in the lift and felt insecure. He wanted a full refund for his “uncomfortable nights”. Yes, this happened a day after January 7th.

Even though the sign against Airbnb has been there since his arrival. Even though we sent him the government confirmation documents stating that 30-day rentals are legal in Thailand (he wanted the official one so it’s in Thai) and told him where he could get a quick translation service around the corner. He succeeded in persuading Airbnb to refund all of his uncomfortable nights and left our place (with the AC on) with no notice.

We tried to reach Airbnb and they only said that it was their final decision on the case. There was no further reply and no attention to our messages. This made our room empty for weeks during high season and if you are a host you may know what that means. Airbnb agreed to refund [the guest] and repeatedly ignored our messages, simply because the support team agreed that this application was illegal in Thailand.

We still feel very much disappointed in being treated unfairly when we have tried our best to provide all guests with maximum comfort and joy in our home country. Along the way, Airbnb did contact us once. That was when [the guest] asked the service team to talk with us about the missing money from case (1) but never again.

This made us realize that we are not welcome here. After this post I will terminate my account with Airbnb. It was more than disappointing to receive his booking. If I could go back in time, I would rather keep my room vacant.