I have been the owner and host for two Airbnb properties for the past two years, garnering positive reviews and mostly problem-free until now. On October 17th, a young male guest (24-25) with positive reviews arrived. His booking was for three days. During this time he left messages about how much he liked everything about the property and extended his stay by one day.
Meanwhile, my maintenance man encountered him and after a brief interaction texted me with concern that he appeared to be on drugs or intoxicated: he acted “amped up” and paranoid. A day or two later he saw and talked with him again and confirmed the same behavior.
After the guest vacated the property my co-host entered to clean it. She found that one bedroom lampshade had been crushed, as if someone fell on it. She brought this to my and the guest’s attention and said that she would contact the Resolution Center to handle it, the standard procedure. Little did I know that my life was going to explode in all directions thanks to this $10 lampshade.
These Airbnb messages between my co-host and guest reveal why:
“I noticed that one of the lamp shades in the bedroom was broken. I talked to the owner of the property and she advised me to file a claim with Airbnb to be reimbursed for the cost of the matching lamp shades.”
“Feel free to. I’m actually filing a complaint for the peep hole I found in the shower. I’m sorry you feel that way. I discovered the peep hole on my last night of the stay. I did however report the suspicious behavior on the premises prior to that. Facts are facts. I was not intoxicated. All my reviews pre and post my stay here are stellar. You are running a dirty scam, invading others privacy. How dare you. You will not be receiving any money from me. In fact, I have taken this matter straight to Airbnb Corporate with evidence of your intrusive misuse of hosting this home. My hope is that they resolve this matter accordingly, stripping your right to host any more illegal activity, reimburse me for this invasion of my privacy, and follow through with the apology I deserve. Shame on you.”
“Peep hole, illegal activity and dirty scam” were then red flagged by the Airbnb computers. What a surprise to learn that I’m accused of this at age 71. No such things or activities are associated with me or on my properties as established by the positive comments he made after staying there four days. What I also didn’t know at that time is that my Airbnb listings had been immediately shut down so I would not have any future bookings, depriving me of these income sources.
Meanwhile an Airbnb investigator was assigned to me. In the eyes of her and Airbnb I was guilty until proven innocent. She lectured that I had broken the “trust” of Airbnb with my actions. She then gave me 72 hours to provide evidence that I didn’t have a peephole and that people were not walking around on the roof at night (the guest stated that he had heard noises like this, confirming my maintenance man’s assessment).
The roof is totally covered with solar panels; water lines and swamp coolers = dangerous tripping hazards at night. Yes, photographs were submitted as evidence. Also in question is why the guest waited two weeks before submitting a scathing and accusatory review on November 5th. I have also asked Airbnb what evidence the guest provided to support his accusations and told that this information could not be divulged to me. I doubt that he took photos of the peephole before he vacated.
The maintenance man videotaped and narrated a “tour of the bathroom walls” to prove there was no shower peephole. I then sent the videotape to Airbnb after confirming their email, Airbnb.com/help. The email was rejected with “incomplete address” every time. I was now calling Airbnb every day to speak someone who could give me additional support or updates.
I reached someone who was shocked to learn how this case had been mistreated for so many weeks (she had access to my original “ticket” and opened up another to better defend me). She commented that it was blatantly obvious that the guest was lying and fabricating stories and that I was being vilified unfairly. When asked why the video was rejected she said that videos are unacceptable because they may have a virus. Then the original agent said all forms of media are acceptable but I couldn’t send her the video. This had become a Kafka nightmare.
Every professional, honorable company provides standard protocols and procedures to follow for every type of action that may occur. Airbnb does not. At no time did Airbnb send a notification to alert and explain an impending investigation. This is a simple, professional courtesy. Airbnb never provided me with information as to what steps I would need to protect my rights during this investigation. Airbnb never provided information as to collecting specific evidence (recordings, videos, photos) or a timeline to furnish them. The investigators failed to provide this.
Airbnb never informed me that my Airbnb listings were removed and when. Airbnb has yet to inform me how I will recoup my lost booking income since my listings remain inactive. Will Airbnb ever apologize to me for all my lost current and future booking money while my investigation was underway? Will Airbnb ban this guest for eternity? All the evidence supports that I was intentionally maligned.