Airbnb Allows, Maybe Even Assists, in Fraud

I booked a place via Airbnb to stay at Shawnee Village Resort. I booked through Airbnb instead of via Craigslist, because I felt Airbnb would reduce my risks and provide assurances against anything irregular such as fraud. Even though I could have booked a lake front home near the Shawnee Village Resort for the same amount of money, I just felt uneasy booking with someone on Craigslist — does the house even exist? What guarantees do I have that they won’t pull a fast one and take my money or ruin my weekend? Booking through Craigslist, I have nothing to support me.

S0, I booked this two-bedroom place for three nights in order to get away for the long weekend. I booked it on Oct. 1 and it was confirmed for Oct. 9-12 by the host via Airbnb the same afternoon. Then on Oct. 8, he contacted me and said that “due to COVID restrictions” he was unable to provide us the first night and our RSVP needed to be amended to arrive on Saturday, so only giving us Oct. 10-12. That is not a long weekend get away.

He said that I could phone the resort and enquire about the COVID restrictions, which I did. I spoke with the property manager, who told me that no new restrictions have been put in place; they are operating under the same rules as when they reopened in July. She also told me that they have been “booked to capacity (which was limited to 75% since July) for this long weekend for more than two weeks.”

My point is, the host advertised and accepted a reservation from me for a property that he did not have at his disposal. It wasn’t available to be rented on Friday night, and instead of telling me that on Oct. 1 or any day in the last week (when I may have had better options) he waited until the last minute, knowing that I would be stuck and have no choice but to accept the shortened stay. He screwed me.

As if that’s not bad enough, Airbnb has done nothing to make this right by me. In trying to get a hold of anyone, their answers were late and didn’t even provide an answer as satisfactory as the solution (a discount) that I had already worked out with the host on my own.

What exactly am I paying Airbnb for? I would have been better booking on Craigslist. I hope they make some attempt to correct this. The host advertising a property that is not available is fraud. Airbnb enables him in committing that fraud.

Abandoned by Airbnb after Fraudulent Host Swapped Houses

It’s almost impossible to find a place to lodge a complaint or comment on Airbnb, so I’ll do it here. Our dream vacation to Cancun was entirely ruined when a deceptive host picked us up at the Cancun airport and dropped us at an entirely different house than the one we rented with no mention of any change in venue.

We initially booked a beautiful beachfront property in the hotel zone and arrived in Cancun, excited and ready for R&R and lots of beach time. What we were dropped off at (by the host’s representative) was a house on the Lagoon (the mosquitoes and crocodiles were just dandy) and a house that was rundown, dirty and quite insufficient for our party of six. It was certainly not what we rented and Airbnb easily acknowledged that fact.

After 24 hours of phone time with Airbnb and a cancelled reservation (Airbnb did that), a near fistfight with the owner of the fraudulent house where we were dropped, a host who was initially unresponsive and then unapologetic and belligerent, we were basically without a place to stay in a foreign country during spring break. We were thrown to the wolves by Airbnb.

Airbnb refused to help us find or fund hotel lodging in the Cancun hotel zone (it was more expensive) and there was no other housing available during this peak time in our target area. We gave them the names of several hotels in the right area that had availability. No go. The most they would concede (even though they acknowledged the fraud) was a 10% concession for a new booking, but the end result was that we would have to find and book the property ourselves.

We did eventually find a nice house inland and that host was great, but we were forced to rent a car at a cost of $500 and fight traffic, find parking and travel one hour each way to access the beach. It was not fun. It was not relaxing. It was exhausting. It was generally an awful vacation because of the housing issues.

We were pulled over by a corrupt policeman who demanded a $96 bribe to not give us a ticket (careful tourists – Cancun cops are on the take). That’s just another trickle down effect of the housing fraud, as we shouldn’t have been driving at all. We should have been relaxing on the beach. Airbnb should have honored their guarantee and funded a hotel in the same area that we booked our vacation.

The worst part is that despite our complaints, this host is still managing 24 properties in Cancun on Airbnb (six weeks later). There seem to have been no repercussions at all for him. I am horrified that he was not removed as a host after what he pulled, and after what Airbnb acknowledged that they knew he pulled. They were aware of the whole sad scenario.

Why is this fraud tolerated among Airbnb hosts? When I complained to Airbnb, someone responded, “Oh, we handled it. The house was removed from our listings”. It was not the house that committed this fraud; it was this host.

As far as we’re concerned, never again, Airbnb. What a horrible experience. I spent the first 24 hours crying and frantically worrying about what we would do as I had been the person in our party of six who was responsible for booking lodging. My whole party spent the rest of our hard earned vacation unable to do the things we planned for our vacation. Shame on all of them. Airbnb, honor your commitments.

Airbnb Warning About Getting Refunds

Yet another cancellation story but also a warning to do things in the right order. I booked a three-bedroom apartment in Soho, New York City run by a lady called ‘Clodagh’. A month after the booking was accepted I received a message from her saying she had to cancel the booking. But Airbnb still showed the listing as valid. Only after I sent her a message telling her to handle the cancellation properly from her end did I receive an email from Airbnb. It offered me a refund or to use the money I’d paid, plus a 10% credit, on another property. I’d already booked another apartment, with great difficulty as it was getting close to the dates, so I chose the refund. I believe she sent me the cancellation message expecting that I would then request a refund and the cancellation would then have been instigated by me and I’d have probably lost my money under the VERY STRICT cancellation policy imposed on guests ONLY. If you receive a cancellation message directly from a host, wait until you receive a message from Airbnb before you do anything. I’m not going to use Airbnb again until they offer some kind of security for booking or sufficient compensation to cover hotels for the cancelled period.


Lying Airbnb Host in Monument Valley

I manage Airbnb properties in Edinburgh but have never stayed in an Airbnb property myself until I went to the States recently and stayed in a trailer in Monument Valley, which just happens to be on the Navajo reservation. In fact, the trailer was owned and run by a Navajo indian and his wife, who was a white American. Now a bit about myself: I have travelled extensively all over the world and love experiencing different cultures, and don’t for one minute consider myself superior to cultures that are not westernised, but obviously this host thought differently.

The trailer we were staying in had no water; we were told that on the listing, so it wasn’t a problem. We also knew the toilet facilities were not in the trailer. Again, no problem; we were were expecting relatively basic conditions. The problems began with the directions. They were more than useless, a fact a few of the guests had noted before. We got lost then lost again. Eventually, the host’s wife came out to meet us as it got dark.

The trailer itself was very basic, with no lock on the door, rusty cutlery and thin torn plastic acting as windows which would flap violently in the wind. There were one pan, broken cupboard doors, and bare electric wire hanging down from the lamps. The water was kept in a large plastic water container which was fine for us. There was a shower a few metres away but we were told that it may be difficult to get going and to go to the husband’s relatives in the trailer next door and ask if we could use their shower if we couldn’t get this one to work. Needless to say I had no intention of doing that.

It was not what we were expecting and we were very disappointed. We sat late into the night humming and arguing whether we should go or stay. The next morning we left but not before I tried the shower – which of course wouldn’t work – so I washed my hair outside the trailer as my friend poured water over my head. I then used one of two hand towels to dry my hair. We left and sent a text voicing our disappointment and suggesting ways of improving a guest’s experience… well, what I got back was nothing short of insulting. The host’s wife said that not only was I a habitual complainer (I met her for ten minutes and never stayed in an Airbnb property before), I was culturally insensitive and what’s more I had lied about having a shower.

To cut a long story short, I was determined that my review was factually both positive and negative (there were positive points, such as location), but the review written by the host that appeared on the site was appalling: it was nothing but a rant insulting me (bearing in mind I had never spoken to nor seen the host). He basically wrote what she had put in the texts to me but doubled the insulting bits and telling other hosts never to have me stay. At no point did I ask for a refund. In fact, initially, the host’s wife suggested she would give me a refund, but it wasn’t about money. Not only did he call me a liar, saying the towel was wet therefore I had taken a shower, but to personally attack me was appalling. I asked for the review either to be edited or taken down as it wasn’t a review but a personal attack on someone he had never met, and some of it totally irrelevant to the actual review.

Airbnb of course did nothing and basically said just forget about it and move on. Dare I say this, but they don’t want to upset their indigenous host by taking it down and be accused of favouring the white person. In the meantime, it is there for all my clients both old and new to see, which doesn’t do my business any favours. I am now debating to take it further and put in a complaint to the top guy. Maybe if we all did that something would change.

What gets me are the reviews; on the whole they are all five star although sometimes there is a thread of discontent. But what is it with people? Were they so glad to be staying in Monument valley for cheap it didn’t matter where they lived? Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t an Airbnb property have to meet certain criteria: a lockable door, clean (which it wasn’t), safe. Bare wires aren’t safe and suitable for accommodation. We weren’t expecting the Hilton but we did expect a clean safe place with serviceable cutlery and more than one pan and a door to lock that would protect our belongings.