Can’t Use Airbnb Credit Without ID Verification

I’ve booked several holidays both in the U.K. and abroad using Airbnb and, until now, have only ever had good experiences. Last year I booked accommodation through Airbnb for a week in Tobago in April, which I subsequently cancelled due to our flights being cancelled due to Coronavirus. Airbnb offered a credit or a refund. I chose the credit (£255.24), because I felt this would be better to support the industry and I could use it for any further booking.

On Aug. 12 I booked a holiday cottage in the U.K. for Sept. 14-18 using my credit. The booking went through at 8:41 PM. At 10:30 PM I noticed an email (sent at 9:15 PM) requesting proof of ID within 12 hours of booking, or the booking would be cancelled. There was no way I could organize this overnight – they required a copy of my passport or driving license, together with a selfie. In any case, I was not willing to hand over this personal information to Airbnb.

At 2:15 AM they sent another email stating that, should I not provide this by 8:41 AM, the booking would be cancelled. At 8:42 AM I received an email stating that the booking had been cancelled. They also stated that I would not be able to use my credit for a further booking unless I provided government ID. There was nothing on the listing, nor on any other Airbnb listing to state that this was a requirement.

I have also received further messages from Airbnb requesting that I verify my ID before making further bookings. This meant I still had the credit, but was unable to use it. I therefore asked for a cash refund of the credit, which Airbnb have refused to give. Their argument is that since I opted for a credit, conditions have changed making it impossible for me to use, without handing over my passport or driving license for them to keep on file.

Had this been a requirement with the original booking, I would not have gone ahead. If this had been made clear when I was offered a credit or refund, I’d have taken the refund. After escalating the issue, I have now been told by Airbnb that it was the host who demanded this ID. But I messaged her when the booking was cancelled and she said this was not the case. She has never made ID a requirement when booking.

When I put this to Airbnb, this was their reply:

“In this case, the host selected it, and it is clear enough, but perhaps she didn’t pay attention. Situations like this can occur.”

I put this to the host and she was shocked. She kindly sent me a screenshot proving that she had not set this requirement. When I put this to Airbnb, their reply was:

“In this case, she probably edited the settings of the property.”

The owner’s response was: “What? That’s ridiculous. I don’t think I have ever amended those settings. Surely they could show you evidence of when I amended those settings.”

Back to Airbnb to express how shocked I was at their attitude towards one of their hosts – accusing her of incompetence and/or dishonesty. From my dealings with her, I feel that she is being open and honest and I believe her.

Their reply:

“Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective. After gathering and carefully reviewing all related documentation, we decided not to issue cash refund instead of travel credit because it would be against our policies. You were informed about the option you have, it was your decision to select the travel credit. We consider this decision final.”

I feel that I am owed a cash refund, because Airbnb’s ID requirement has been made since my original booking and since I opted for credit. I am not prepared to hand over my passport or driver’s license details as they keep them on file. Therefore, I cannot use this credit, which I would otherwise have been happy to do.

I do not consider their decision to be final as the rule of law outweighs their policy – it was they who cancelled the booking I tried to use my credit for. They did seem to change their mind about their policy and suggest the onus was on the host, but previous correspondence seems to suggest that this is a requirement for all bookings.

I have managed to book privately with the host, who does not require me to bring my passport, or show her my driving license (which I would have been willing to do – I just don’t want details kept on file). But it means that I have not been able to use my credit. If I could book through Airbnb without handing over my passport or driving license, I would happily do so and use my credit – but this does not seem possible.

I have copies of correspondence. I think, judging by the time zone, that their correspondence is coming from the U.S., or somewhere outside the U.K.

Suddenly Unable to Book After Three Years

I am a three-year guest of Airbnb and have never had a problem until last week. I went to book a room. After getting to the confirmation page, I clicked on it and a page popped up saying I needed to verify my ID card. The cards do not scan. I have spent hours and hours on the phone and online. I received three different emails from Airbnb saying all three cards are confirmed. My government ID has a green check and verified next to it on my personal info page, and I still can’t not sign in. I was told an ambassador would contact me, along with a few other who never did contact me. Now the latest online support told me my account is going through through verification process, but they have no idea how long that will take. I’m not sure I even believe them anymore. I have been led around and lied to. The phones lines are not available now, and even the support team is not getting back to me. I have spent over $3,000 with Airbnb, and now I cannot book a room. There is no problem on my end; I even went to my banks and checked all my cards were clear. None of them have ever had a problem.

Airbnb and Identity Theft: Think About your Data

We’ve done business with Airbnb in the past and it was okay. This time around, our email address had changed, so we had to come in ‘new.’ That meant we had to go through the process of setting up a new Airbnb account, and boy, has that process changed.

First we were asked to give them a phone number so they could send us a code to proceed. I don’t like giving out my phone number, but okay. They called, I got the code, entered it, and continued. Next they wanted front and back photos of a government-issued ID with my photo, and specifically asked for a driver’s license of a passport.

Think about how much information about you is on either of those documents: they get your full name, date of birth, address, license or passport number, photo and your signature. A hacker’s dream. I instead entered pictures of two of my dogs (they later came back and said those were insufficient).

They let me continue at that point and now asked for a new picture of me using my computer camera (don’t have one) or an app they will send to my cell phone. At this point I quit and complained to their so-called ‘help’ site (never got an answer).

If this happens to you, no matter how good that rental looks, stop and think about all the personal information you’d be giving to Airbnb. No site is immune from hacking. Airbnb can claim they’ll protect your information, but that’s baloney. They don’t care about your private information or they wouldn’t ask for it. Asking for it also shows that Airbnb simply doesn’t trust you. They assume from square one that you’re trying to screw them somehow even though they will have your credit card to assure payment.

Other rental sites, like HomeAway, have rentals at comparable prices in the area you want to rent. I’ve been renting all over the world for forty years (well before Airbnb existed). These other companies don’t ask for the detail of information that Airbnb does. At least not yet.

Airbnb Hosts Cannot Request Government Issued Photo ID?

I have been a Superhost for more than three years. I recently started to require all guests to provide a digital copy (picture via Airbnb message thread or text message) of their government-issued photo ID before check-in details are sent to them. This is for our security as hosts in case anything happens, and we need to file a small claim or lawsuit to recover for damages, fees, etc.

The requirement is disclosed in the house rules. We, as hosts, know Airbnb does not honor their one million dollar host guarantee. I called Airbnb to assist with reaching out to a particular guest who was having issues with sending their ID. The first Airbnb rep claimed that it is against their terms and conditions for guests to provide this information to the host. I told the Airbnb rep she was incorrect because I’ve done this for months and a prior Airbnb rep assisted me with this same situation for another reservation.

Long story short, I called a total of six times and four Airbnb reps says it was against their terms and conditions. Meanwhile, two said the request was alright if it was disclosed in the house rules. I requested to speak with an Airbnb case manager, and the four Airbnb reps who made the false claims about the terms and conditions would not transfer me to a case manager.

If it is true Airbnb does not allow hosts to obtain a government-issued photo ID from the guests, even when it is disclosed in the house rules, hosts have no security if anything serious arises. I would love to hear thoughts from other hosts and guests.

In Some Countries, Airbnb Demands you Break the Law

Airbnb has an artistic interpretation of the law; I guess a lawyer would call it blackmail. Read this exchange for yourself:

“Your company has been warned by the Dutch DPA that it is illegal to demand BSN numbers in your authentication protocol. Your company has agreed to stop doing this, but you are not. The BSN number is in two places on a dutch ID, and you are refusing my payout because I cover up both BSN numbers. Your customer service refuses to help. I now have to send away guests that have payed a lot of money because of your company’s unwillingness to comply with local law an your own terms and conditions and blocking my payout.

It seems like blackmail to block payments from people that do not comply with your illegal demands. I am only emailing you because the customer service is not helpful at all and my bills are running up, and the guests are the victims of this.

You are breaking multiple laws; you can read up on the problem on this government website. Basically you cannot ask to leave the lower line of the passport/driver’s license visible because it contains the BSN number (which you also ask to cover up in the description) . You can also not ask to show the photo (which I did leave visible for you). You are not allowed to ask for a copy of the ID at all.

I expect a big global company to at least read the laws regarding these things. If the dutch people that already have sent this illegal content to Airbnb find out they can demand it back and demand a IT professional to check the Airbnb system if you really erased this illegal content. If you think otherwise, so did Facebook. I would like to comply with your ID process but not by breaking multiple laws in the process (and I will not make a problem of the photo).

By the way with a BSN number you can put someone in huge debt for the rest of their life, this is the reason it is illegal to demand or even ask for it in the Netherlands. Sure your multi billion company ‘didn’t know’ , but now you do. So please comply with the law and stop blocking my payments. Did I already mention it is illegal for you to ask for a copy of an ID at all?”

I’m with Airbnb Support. I’ll be helping you today. Give me a moment while I look into your case. At this time, you payout is temporarily held until you complete the verification processed that is required by our Terms of Service.

“Your terms of service break multiple laws.”

I understand your concerns, however, you have agreed to our Terms of Services and this is a requirement.

“The law says you can not ask for my BSN number, and you even acknowledge this in your process description. The BSN number is in two places on a Dutch ID, one on the lower line which you demand to stay visible. It has nothing to do with your terms if your terms say to break Dutch law. I am still not permitted by law to comply.”

That is up to you if you do not wish to upload your ID. However, Airbnb will not release any payout until you complete this process.

“I will send a copy of this conversation to the authorities (they say if I cannot work it out with you they will contact you. you are demanding things that are prohibited by law. If your terms say that I should break national and European law and you think your rules apply here I have sincere doubts about your willingness and/or competence to solve the issue. Thank you for the conversation.”

Since I am not sure if your issue is resolved, I am forwarding this ticket to a member of our team who can best assist you. You should hear back from us soon.

“Ok, I will postpone contacting the authorities until further contact (if this doesn’t take too long).”

2.4 User verification on the Internet is difficult and we do not assume any responsibility for the confirmation of any Member’s identity. Notwithstanding the above, for transparency and fraud prevention purposes, and as permitted by applicable laws, we may, but have no obligation to (i) ask Members to provide a form of government identification or other information or undertake additional checks designed to help verify the identities or backgrounds of Members, (ii) screen Members against third party databases or other sources and request reports from service providers, and (iii) where we have sufficient information to identify a Member, obtain reports from public records of criminal convictions or sex offender registrations or an equivalent version of background or registered sex offender checks in your local jurisdiction (if available).

7.2.3 You represent and warrant that any Listing you post and the booking of, or a Guest’s stay at, an Accommodation will (i) not breach any agreements you have entered into with any third parties, such as homeowners association, condominium, or other agreements, and (ii) comply with all applicable laws (such as zoning laws), Tax requirements, and other rules and regulations (including having all required permits, licenses and registrations). As a Host, you are responsible for your own acts and omissions and are also responsible for the acts and omissions of any individuals who reside at or are otherwise present at the Accommodation at your request or invitation, excluding the Guest and any individuals the Guest invites to the Accommodation.

8.3.1 You should carefully review the description of any Experience, Event or other Host Service you intend to book to ensure you (and any additional guests you are booking for) meet any minimum age, proficiency, fitness or other requirements which the Host has specified in their Listing. At your sole discretion you may want to inform the Host of any medical or physical conditions, or other circumstances that may impact your and any additional guest’s ability to participate in any Experience, Event or other Host Service. In addition, certain laws, like the minimum legal drinking age in the location of the Experience, Event or other Host Service, may also apply. You are responsible for identifying, understanding, and complying with all laws, rules and regulations that apply to your participation in an Experience, Event or other Host Service.

14.1 You are solely responsible for compliance with any and all laws, rules, regulations, and Tax obligations that may apply to your use of the Airbnb Platform. In connection with your use of the Airbnb Platform, you will not and will not assist or enable others to: • breach or circumvent any applicable laws or regulations, agreements with third-parties, third-party rights, or our Terms, Policies or Standards.

“If you carefully read the above parts of your own terms, you will see you are violating your own terms and conditions. If you read point 14.1, it states that if I comply with your illegal request for my BSN I am breaching your terms so I have to abide by local laws by all means (according to you) and by doing that you will not pay out anything. So please stop violating local laws, European laws, and your own terms and conditions.”

My last message to the help center was closed without a reply, so I am copying it over to this conversation.

“You (Airbnb, Inc.) are breaking term 2.4, and you are demanding I break 7.2.3, 8.3.1 and 14.1 of the Airbnb terms and conditions. If you think this is not the case a two-minute phone call to the Dutch authorities will clear this up for you. Therefore I once again politely ask you to stop blocking my payments and resolve the issue. For further details you can read my previous conversation with the help center. I already know my previous conversation is forwarded to someone who is ‘supposed to know’ what to do with it. I do not feel its my responsibility to teach you the law and that I should wait for an x amount of time before you make a two-minute phone call and then (if the stars and moon are correctly aligned) unblock my payments. I am following the Airbnb terms and conditions and I expect the same from Airbnb.

I have no decent response from your side. I have guests running up costs at the moment and you are blocking payment for their costs. Are you going to arrange other accommodations for these guests? I can not let them stay for free. I will forward our correspondence to the Dutch DPA tomorrow morning (because you are forcing me to send my BSN, which is prohibited by law). I would rather resolve the problem with Airbnb but I am a mere mortal who has bills to pay. I hope to hear from you (soon).”

Again, customer service closed the conversation without a reply.

“You (Airbnb, Inc) are breaking the terms and conditions (and the local laws) and refusing to pay me. My previous conversations about this have been forwarded to someone that apparently can help me. However, if I don’t get a reply, I am going to send away my guests tomorrow because of your total lack of cooperation. I will inform them this evening about this.”

Thanks for your message — Airbnb Support will reply as soon as a specialist becomes available.

“So Airbnb support will reply? Please don’t close this conversation without a reply like you did last time.”

Driver’s License Photo Looks Different Than I Do Today

I only wanted to make some reservations for our first family vacation to Hawaii this coming June. I was so excited. I made the first reservation with no problem – a fabulous little condo in Maui for a week. We also needed some accommodations for the Big Island, so I proceeded. When I clicked to book them, I was told that I needed to submit a photo of my driver’s license and then a selfie to verify my identification. Sounded reasonable.

It’s not an exaggeration when I say that I must have submitted those photos 17 times – I lost count. My license photo was taken either years ago – I’m pushing 50 now and have aged… well, normally, but I’ve aged. I had a significantly different hair style and color back then, in addition to the age difference. No matter how many times I took that selfie using different lighting, taking my glasses off (even though it made it so that I couldn’t see the phone), putting my hair up, leaving it down, smiling, not smiling – oh my goodness. I could not get it to match my license.

My reservations were cancelled and my money was refunded. So, I found the customer service number (no small feat) and called. I spoke with a polite and helpful rep, but his ultimate answer to my concern was that I needed another driver’s license. Well, no kidding. It happens to be up for renewal this year and of course that will happen. Even if I could get to DMV today, there’s no way it will be in my hands for two to four weeks, and time is of the essence in making these reservations.

The rep told me that he couldn’t get a person to look at the difference between the two photos, that it was all done by algorithm. He is going to escalate the issue, but I don’t have a lot of confidence at this point. Keep in mind that I get through airport security with this identification. The photo doesn’t look dissimilar; it just may take a second glance. Honestly, what does a person have to do to give Airbnb money? I’ve already started looking at other sites, such as VRBO, but I was really happy with the selections that we made with Airbnb. I am so frustrated and discouraged.

First-Time Airbnber Realizes Customer Support Doesn’t Care

Last week we decided to use Airbnb due to the size of our group and the need to have our dogs go with us. After I tried contacting potential hosts who never bothered to reply, We finally found a great host in Miami, accommodating and flexible.

On to sign up and verification. I went through the process as required, submitted everything via their app, even more than once for the ID after I received a message saying that it was a blurry pic. I paid, got back a confirmation and I said to my family, “That was easy!”

…not so fast. After about thirty minutes I got a refund to my card. I called, and they could not tell me why, but said they would look into it. The agent said I couldn’t reserve anything until the verification process was complete. Why did the system allow me to? I waited for verification with the clock ticking, and… nothing.

I called Airbnb and a representative answered after a +25 minute wait. I explained multiple times what I was trying to accomplish, that the reservation had been made and I was waiting for verification. The phone connection was bad and not easy to understand. Once he understood what was going on, he said “I will put you on hold and reach out to the verification group.” He asked for a contact number and promised to call me back if we got disconnected.

As feared, I got disconnected. I waited almost an hour for a call back. After a long wait, nothing. The clock was ticking and I feared the potential loss of my reservation. I called again: long wait, same terrible connection. I explained to Airbnb the exact same things I had already said plus the connection issue and the additional hour – now taking over 2.5 hours to wait for verification. The answer to this was that I needed to wait for the first representative to call me back because the resolution is in their hands.

So I did. I hung up and waited for another 45 minutes. This went on for the next three hours after calling back, getting disconnected multiple times, and so on. Everyone had the same answer: nobody wanted or could escalate the matter; I simply had to wait for that first representative. No one could tell me what the issue was or how long their resolution time was supposed to be. What if his shift ended? Or went on break? Or worse, just did not care?

Over 3 hours late, and I still had not heard back. In the meantime I received a message from tech support that “someone will be calling me in about 10~15 minutes”… I was not about to hold my breath for that one. I had already lost confidence.

During this time I had communicated several times with the host explaining the nightmare. He kindly said to not worry, he would wait. I continued waiting for that call back, so I called back. Another wait, another explanation, and again – I have to wait until the original representative resolves it, from whom I still have not heard. Wait, call again… another wait, another voice.

Then I was told that the picture I had submitted was blurry and they could not tell who I am, which is really not true; it was perfect clear. I was told to resubmit. This was fine with me, except there was no way to do it. When I tried to resubmit, on the app or the website, the system said “OK you are all set” because I had already done this step. I explained this to the agent who did not have an answer or solution. No escalation, no other person to talk to… simply wait for that first guy. What kind of policy is this?

After I called back in the fifth hour, the representative was a bit more helpful, suggesting to try to make the reservation again because sometimes it works. I tried, but was not so lucky. I was told that I could not reserve anything because I was missing a step. I’m so tired and pissed at this point, ready to give up.

After almost six hours of this, I was finally verified using the last picture. I was able to finally pay again and got another confirmation. I waited before calling victory just in case. Finally the host contacted me a said he got the reservation also. I only hung in there because the host was accommodating and the place was what we needed. Over six hours of an Airbnb nightmare to verify and reserve. That’s it. There may be some bits of missing details, but that’s the core of the issue.

First Impressions and Last Attempts at Airbnb

Airbnb may be a good alternative to higher-priced traditional motels and hotels, but for me the first attempts to “sign-up and in” were an unresolved nightmare. The website is set up and caters to only mobile device users. Trying to do business with them from a Mac desktop? Good luck!

My reservation was originally cancelled by a New York City “host” who blamed it on the city “cracking down” on unlicensed short-term rentals. I’m still awaiting my deposit refund. I returned to the Airbnb site to search and rebook elsewhere. I found two nice rentals that fit my needs and budget. After multiple attempts to “upgrade” my “security” profile (they wanted more IDs uploaded than the TSA requires at airports) I was still unable to get through their cumbersome process. I reluctantly cancelled the reservation requests and located and booked a traditional motel, using Expedia. It took only five minutes. Good bye and good luck to Airbnb.