Airbnb Account Confirmation: An Exercise in Frustration

Tripping

Using Airbnb has been an exercise in frustration from the very beginning. Just signing up with them involved multiple headaches: confirm this, give us this ID, confirm that, wait for two deposits to arrive in the bank (I don’t remember if the deposits ever arrived). Finally my account was set up with them, so now I could book, right?

Today I tried to book my third Airbnb trip, and what do you know: “We have to confirm your account, so we’ll deposit two small amounts in your account. They should arrive immediately, but it may take two or three days.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this website supposed to provide service to travelers? If I need to book a room and have to wait 2-3 days (or longer, or forever) to confirm my account (which has already been confirmed) before I can book a room, what’s the point? By the time my confirmed account is again confirmed, what if the room is no longer available? Seriously, the concept of people renting out rooms in the homes is great, but Airbnb’s execution is awful.

For a company valued at over $30 billion, can they really not find an efficient and effective way to let their customers book when they need to without running into roadblocks (server error, confirmation messages, etc)? Maybe have customers enter their password – wow, what a concept – to confirm who they are, or the last four digits of their credit card number. Do you really need to confirm an account that’s already been confirmed, or see my bank statement (the other option, which is even more intrusive)?

When I tried to contact the company about this, I got sent into an endless loop. After hitting the “Contact Us” button, it took me to my last booking, as though that must be my problem. Is there really not a customer service team member that I can contact? You’d think for the 15% commission Airbnb takes from the hosts and customers (which is robbery, by the way), they would be able to hire a customer service team that could be available to personally address customer issues. I don’t know who is making the big bucks at the top, but I’m fed up with the “server errors,” confirmation messages, and very poor customer “service” this company provides. If you’re going to charge such high commissions to both hosts and users, could you at least provide a system that is effective, efficient, and consistently functional, and a little customer “service” when it isn’t?

Tripping

Active Guest Reservation and No Payment from Airbnb

I have been a pretty happy host on Airbnb the last three years up until now. I had a three-month trip to Europe planned and found a last minute three-month reservation request. The dates were perfect. I met the lady in person with her teenage son and her dog. I was pretty happy to hand off my keys to a family that was really appreciative at the time and left for Europe in peace. She confirmed the reservation and moved in.

Three weeks later she called me in tears saying she had her identity stolen, needed to move out in 48 hours, and requested her money back. By the way, it was $2,700/month for my NYC pad in a prime location. I really needed this money to pay my rent while I was not staying in NYC. I told her I have a strict policy in place so she took it to the support team. They also basically said she needs to pay. This angered the guest, so she started cussing at me, knocking on my neighbors doors saying she needs to find the landlord. She kept saying she doesn’t want to be involved in illegal activities and wants to talk to my landlord. It was so much unnecessary drama. Most importantly I was so scared for my personal stuff.

Finally the guest checked out early after creating a lot of stress and just problems, playing games with me on where she will leave the keys, and just being rude and disrespectful. I told Airbnb I was so uncomfortable with this guest and this situation. They said not to worry and I will get a partial payment if she was to cancel. The crazy lady moved out (thank god), but she never cancelled the reservation. It kept going as an active reservation.

When next month rent’s was due I should have gotten either the partial amount or the full amount since her reservation is still active but all that Airbnb did was email me saying they cannot collect payment and if the guest doesn’t pay; they are not responsible. I really didn’t expect this to happen but I’m happy the crazy lady is out of the apartment and my stuff is safe. Any advice on how I can collect one month of rent that is still active on my Airbnb account?

Airbnb Wants to Collect All Your Private Information

I will never use Airbnb again. They try to collect all your personal and private information, and there is no guarantee that you will get the booked apartment. Yes, hotels and apartments from sites like Booking.com are not as cheap as those on Airbnb but you are not treated like a criminal.

Yesterday, my husband and I found cheap flights to Malaga and decided to spend some days in the South of Spain. So, we bought plane tickets and booked an apartment on Airbnb in Malaga. We paid the total amount in advance. Today we received an SMS from the host telling us that the reservation had been cancelled because he forgot to update his Airbnb account. On November 1st, his apartment was not available.

We chose another apartment. When we started to reserve it, a message appeared asking to upload a copy of an ID. My husband uploaded a photo of his driver’s licence but it was not enough. The next message asked him to take a selfie. Airbnb insisted he take selfie with their mobile App but we ignored this recommendation because we didn’t want to have any spyware or malware in our mobile phones. My husband took a selfie using the webcam on his desktop.

In less than an hour we received a new message from Airbnb asking to upload one more selfie because the uploaded selfie was not clear enough. The uploaded selfie was more than clear. What games are they playing? Why do they want to collect all your private data? We agree that for security reasons Airbnb may ask for some information but… it’s too much. First of all, we also live in Spain. We paid with a Spanish credit card. We have Spanish mobile phones. We don’t use Proxy, TOR, or VPN when making reservations. Why are we so suspicious? Can’t they find us on Facebook?

Sorry, Airbnb, but we are not stupid and don’t want to expose our private lives, friends, and photos to the whole world. We don’t want to install their app. They already have enough information. They have our names and surnames. They have our credit card number, that is saved on their servers. They have our mobile phone number (in Spain there are no anonymous mobile phone numbers). Even all prepaid SIM card users must identify themselves when buying one. They have our email address. They have our IP address. Is this not enough? A copy of our driver’s licence… okay… is this still not enough? A selfie? Okay. Still not enough…? Another selfie? Now we are waiting for new messages from Airbnb. What will they ask for next? A nude photo? Childhood photos? All family member photos? Bank account information?

Airbnb Does Not Care if Criminals Want to Rent your House

Airbnb is a giant scam. Beware. Their customer service sucks (both as a host and as a guest). But that is only the tip of their iceberg. Hosts (especially) should use VRBO or other vacation rental resources, and travelers and guests are advised to do likewise. Airbnb claims to verify their renting guests, and puts many hurdles in the way of hosts trying to require potential guests to fully identify themselves. Only owners or hosts who own fleabag properties would allow any Joe Schmoe to take possession of their property without providing full ID – SSN, Drivers License, DOB, full name, mailing address, etc. – and permission to run a credit check. Maybe that is why so many Airbnb properties are fleabags.

We have properties worth over $1 Million with valuable furnishings and artwork and there’s no way are we going to give the keys to someone Airbnb will not let us verify. I am a realtor and attorney, and I can tell you horror stories when owners do not fully vet guests themselves.

We recently tried to check on one “verified” guest, only to find that their cell phone was really someone else’s (same first name, but different last name and no idea who the “guest” was). No other information Airbnb gave us access to checked out either. We tried several ways of contacting the booking guest but only got one reply – through Airbnb’s anonymous contact email, which was clearly written by a non-native English speaker (even though their name was listed as “John Smith”; I am using a pseudonym here, do not want to implicate anyone directly).

I am guessing they were Eastern Bloc scammers who had cased our Airbnb listing through the pictures, booked for a weekend, and planned to simply rob the entire place during their stay. When I called Airbnb to report my reasons for thinking this was a scam and cancelling the reservation, they penalized me and said I was being unreasonable in the information I was requesting from the guest even though my listing clearly stated what I require prior to a stay.

VRBO has no problem with me getting full verification and ID from guests. Airbnb claims they have a $1 million dollar insurance policy on each rental. When the bandits steal all my valuables, I then get to argue with a third party insurer who has no relationship or loyalty to me (only to Airbnb, their real client), prove my losses to their satisfaction, and hope that I am ultimately made whole (of course, after paying out of pocket for six to twelve months to refurnish the property, not to mention trying to replace irreplaceable artworks, which I enjoy sharing with my otherwise respectable, and fully vetted, guests).

Any legitimate business model would give paramount importance to securing the person and property of the owners and hosts. Any hotel around the world will make you show authorized IDs (passport, credit card, etc.) for every guest before renting you a room. Only Airbnb thinks it can bully owners (increasingly sleazy slumlords and fly-by-night “re-renters” who have no real connection to the properties or neighborhoods they have on offer) into rolling the dice on any jackass who can present a credit card with a limit equal to a few nights’ rent. They then might steal or cause damages worth 5, 10 or 100 times that amount.

Airbnb can Block your Account Whenever it Chooses

On April 24th, 2017, I was sharing a message with a host to book a reservation for Japan. The host had my reservation from April 25-29. However, Airbnb did not allow me to make my reservation for some reason, then blocked my ID so that I could not log in. I was embarrassed to call customer service directly, and I did not receive the answer to a question that I posted on Twitter and through several emails over two days (see picture). There is no obligation to respond to the deletion of my Airbnb account or even the prevention of deletion under the terms and conditions. The company still has my passport image, my name, phone number, and my credit card number. I am extremely unhappy and afraid of revealing personal information. I am still not going to use the company and I will not be able to hear their answer. It is irresponsible to say that there is no obligation to notify someone without informing him of the reason for deleting his account. It looks like Airbnb has no legal responsibility.

Hacked After Concerns About Identity Theft

I used Airbnb once and was pretty satisfied with it. Shortly thereafter, Airbnb required that users upload two forms of government-issued ID. With seemingly every large online business being hacked every other month, I simply won’t do that. My credit card has fraud protection, but should Airbnb be hacked and my bloody passport stolen, I think I’m fairly screwed.

I decided to cancel the account. When you try to go to account settings, you’re blocked until you upload your ID. Airbnb, of course, lists no way to actually contact anyone at the company, so I put it off. Like a fool, I forgot about it. Now someone in Poland has accessed my account. I was able to reset my password, but when I finally dug around on the web to find a phone number for Airbnb, courtesy of Airbnb Hell, they said they can’t help me access my account until I give them the credit card number I used to pay for my one trip. I can’t access my account to see which one it was, and I don’t have it on me – because both of my credit card numbers had to be changed after retailers at which they were used were hacked. I left some negative feedback on the site briefly spelling this out. I did actually get an email from Airbnb letting me know that I could cancel my account by going to my account settings. Helpful…

Fraud from Stolen Credit Card Number on Airbnb

Last year, I booked a room on Airbnb. Everything went okay for the reservation and stay. Last week, I wanted to book a room again with Airbnb before and after a tour in Europe. I sent an email to the host to check the availability for August 2017 but to my big surprise, the room was automatically booked as Airbnb had kept my credit card information in their files. All I wanted was to check the availability, as the website was not posting a calendar like the last time. A refund from Airbnb was made for both transactions the same day as the host understood what I initially wanted to do.

A week later, I received a phone call on my voicemail at home from a well-known USA airline company (we live in Canada) to check if I had booked flights in Las Vegas to New York for $900 that morning. I spent more than two hours trying to reach the airline’s customer service (the booking number of the flight was left on my voicemail) and getting my credit card company to cancel the card. I was lucky that the airline cancelled the transaction for those who were trying to use my credit card and the scammers were not allowed to board the flight. I also found out from my credit card company that while having a good time in Las Vegas, the scammers had also tried to make a purchase for $3000 before booking the flights but the transaction did not go through because it was over the limit.

I will never use Again again. Please share this information on social media before other innocent victims fall prey to those leeches. My computer is protected with top of the line anti-virus software, so someone on the Airbnb side has connections to steal my credit card information.

Identity and Credit Card Information Stolen Through Airbnb

After renting an Airbnb in December, I received an email stating that my email address had been changed and to notify customer service if we did not make that change. We emailed them and didn’t receive a return call or message. We contacted them again after attempting to log on to our account (we could not access our own account to shut it down and still cannot to this day). There was no return call or email. About four days later, I received a random call telling me that if I needed additional towels, to please let them know. I then waited for over thirty minutes for a customer service representative over the phone. She confirmed that my account had been changed and that a rental in Brooklyn was active. $867 had been charged to the credit card linked to my account.

I felt great after speaking to her; she assured me that I would receive a call within four hours from the Trust and Safety Department to gather the details for the investigation. She also told me that she “placed a hold” on my account so that no additional charges could be made. Three weeks later after many phone calls, emails, wasted time on hold and additional charges on my credit card, and I have never received one single call or email from the Trust and Security Department. I continued to receive calls about my “stay” and even received a direct email from the Brooklyn host telling me that she gave me a five-star rating. Airbnb did not even notify the host that she had a renter that had stolen all of my information and was using my name and credit card. I received requests in the middle of the night for codes to be entered to change additional information on my account, which I’m assuming was the same person that originally stole my information. Airbnb was notified of all of these events and has never done anything to investigate or help us in this situation. It’s absolutely unbelievable that a company can function in this manner and stay afloat.