Airbnb ‘Staff’ Tried to Commit Fraud Around Situation in Ukraine

I wanted to send a host in the Ukraine money by booking a room (obviously I wasn’t going to stay). For some reason it wouldn’t go through due to an issue, so I contacted Airbnb Live Chat.

I was speaking to a representative when I received a call from them. Now I’m generally suspicious but they were able to tell me the other host’s name and the exact amount I wanted to transfer: basically they had access to the system. They explained that there was a problem with the other host’s account which was why I couldn’t send the money easily. However, I could do it with the assistance of Airbnb. It sounded a little strange and I insisted I wouldn’t do it over the phone, that there must be a financial transaction trail and then he said he would send the request through PayPal from Airbnb.

I logged into PayPal and saw that it was a personal account request and nothing to do with Airbnb, so I said “This isn’t right; I don’t think so” and hung up. I tried to log back in at that point to discover my account no longer existed, completely wiped from Airbnb’s system.

It’s been almost two weeks now. The problem is still not resolved. Airbnb customer help is basically nonexistent. I have been hosting since 2016 (a Superhost with all 5-star reviews) and as recently as the middle of February had someone staying. I have provided reference codes of those stays in order to help them “find” my account which I was able to access from my email but still have had no success.

Either their system has been hacked or they have some very unscrupulous people working for them and they do not do any kind of background checks. I no longer want to even host with this company after this experience as the trust factor has vanished. The client care is completely nonexistent. Most chats through Facebook and the live chat have been with bots. The general public needs to be warned, especially as people are handing over their financial information for bookings.

Someone from the same number called again today pretending to be Airbnb with a baby crying in the background — definitely not a call center. Airbnb has lost my business for good.

Dominican Republic Property Not as Advertised for Anniversary

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Here’s my first and last experience with Airbnb. My wife, a friend and I rented a condo in April 2021 after reading positive reviews. This was to be a long-term stay for January, February, and March in Juan Dolio, the Dominican Republic.

Our friend arrived on Jan. 1. He called me after arrival and said the place was a dump but he was somewhat vague even saying he was not in the right condo unit. I was now worried. At that moment our hosts showed up; I could hear them in the background laughing. The following day I called my friend and asked what happened. He said he was still in the same unit and it was still a dump. I was still in Canada but flying out later that afternoon with my wife.

I called the host and told her my concerns and said I was thinking of canceling our flights. She assured me everything was fine and if there were any problems they would be rectified. On this assurance we decided to go. We told the host we would not be arriving at the condo till after midnight. She said this would be no problem as the reception is open 24 hours and they would register us and she would leave a key with them.

We arrived as said after midnight, registered and asked for the key. No key was left. We went up to the 12th floor and proceeded to try and wake our friend which took some time. By now exhausted from the travel, we decided to go to bed and face things afresh in the morning. The bedding and pillows smelt musty.

We awoke in the morning, and our fears were confirmed. It was a dump: filthy walls, cobwebs, cupboards falling off the hinges, rusted out washer and dryer, broken dishwasher not attached to the cupboard, all three showers broken, filthy stained couches, soiled mattress with what looked like urine and blood stains, patio furniture covered with blankets to hide the stains. This place was just plain worn out. It slept up to ten people and we believed it was a Party Palace where it was rented and trashed. We paid $4,300 CDN for the month of January expecting a luxury rental condo, not this dump.

We asked our next door neighbours to come take a look and they agreed it was disgusting and a health hazard. I am not a toxicologist but there appeared to be mold on the walls and furniture. It was definitely not COVID compliant. Our neighbours took us next door to have a look at their place; it was night and day in comparison.

I called the host to complain. She sent up the maintenance guy. I refused him entry and told her it was unfixable and she needed to come over. She said she would be there later then late afternoon cancelled, saying she would come the next day. I didn’t know it then but I was being played. If she came the next day the 24 hours to report to Airbnb would have expired.

The following day she showed up. I showed her the pictures on my iPad and she said it would be fixed. I told her it was beyond fixing , and she said she would move us. This was on Jan. 4. It was left this way on the understanding we would be moved to be notified later.

That day we went to the beach to try and relax. The beach area and surrounding grounds were amazing and beautiful, just what we anticipated. We returned to the condo around 3:30 PM to be met with a crew of six and the host in the condo without our permission. Two painters, two maintenance guys, two cleaners and the host were replacing showers and the washer and dryer, painting, cleaning, taking away part of the couch in all this chaos, and more the next day.

While it was good they acted quickly we were on vacation; nobody needs to go through this nonsense. They also painted over these black mouldy walls I still believe were a health hazard. The stained mattress was still in place, and there was a broken dishwasher and cupboards.

We got in touch with Airbnb. I spoke with 11 agents getting absolutely nowhere. We had sleepless nights from a bar directly below our tower that blasted music until 3:30 AM. Dogs were barking, chickens crowing, and cars racing and backfiring loud exhaust. After being passed on from agent to agent and specifically asking them the question over and over with no response and being told over and over “my shift is about to end, I will pass this on to the next available agent.”

We had our couch returned after being gone for 11 days. Each time we asked about the couch we were told by the host it was still drying after being cleaned — it was 30 degrees C. This was on Jan. 15, an unforgettable day in our lives. We decided on that day, we would stay until Jan. 31 having paid $4,300 Cdn and move on to new accommodation, thereby terminating our rental agreement due to no contact with the host or Airbnb to rectify our disgusting rental unit.

At first the host was okay with this, then she went ballistic with over 50 threatening texts telling us we were to vacate the premises by 11:00 AM the following day giving us 20 hours to pack and find other accommodation, she said cleaners would be at the condo at 11:00 AM and it had already been rented out the same day.

I contacted Airbnb with numerous emails telling them we were being evicted and this was an emergency situation. We needed help, and nobody replied. This day was to be unforgettable as our host also knew this as I had told her and she had recommended a nice restaurant for us to celebrate our “50th Golden
Wedding Anniversary.” I was fuming; I am in my early 70s and my wife will soon be 80. To evict an elderly couple with 20 hours’ notice to find other accommodation in the Dominican Republic on the weekend is reprehensible. Needless to say, our anniversary was ruined.

On the good side, I was able to secure accommodation through a local realtor team who really came through and found us a nice two bedroom. It was the same location in a different tower. Had we dealt with this exceptionally good team, we probably would have stayed but we returned back to Canada on Jan. 22. Airbnb rewarded our host with $4,300 and gave us a $24 refund.

That is why l will never use Airbnb again. I now tell all my friends and acquaintances to be beware. Thanks for reading.

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Reasons to Stop Using Airbnb in the Future

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I booked a trip to Montreal for February of next year to get out of my city and celebrate my graduation. The Airbnb I selected did have a strict cancellation policy which wasn’t an issue at the time because I had no intentions of cancelling. However, very shortly after booking the COVID situation in Montreal became dire with the whole city declaring a state of emergency. This week, Quebec reported nearly 10,000 cases. Montreal is on a complete shut down and will likely have similar strict measures in place come February. I decided it was best to cancel my trip early instead of waiting and having to do so last minute.

I contacted the host, whose profile says “response time one hour”. He did not reply to any of my messages. I contacted Airbnb customer service, which was of no help. They took a patronizing, condescending tone with me and constantly reiterated the “policies” by which their hands were tied. Airbnb does not protect customers in the case of COVID-related travel bans, closures, etc. Thus, even if I wanted for an official travel ban to be enacted, I still would not get my money back. My best option was to request a refund from the host. I did this and the host declined, citing this ‘policy’. Airbnb will not issue any credit to my account either. I have effectively lost my deposit.

Firstly, I do not think it is ethical or socially responsible for Airbnb to allow such policies in a pandemic. Obviously we’re all tired of this and want to get out and travel. However, there should be measures in place to protect customers in the event of unforeseen circumstances. I am aware the host has a strict cancellation policy, but this is an exceptional circumstance and I was at least providing him enough notice to find another guest.

I have accepted that I have two options: I can go through with my trip (or try to) or cancel now. I did not anticipate things would get so bad so fast and I do not want to risk traveling in February when COVID is likely to still be ravaging Montreal. I have decided to wait until the very last day to cancel my reservation, in hopes that it lessens the chance the host can find a new guest. I am also deleting my Airbnb account immediately after and will be boycotting the service going forward. When I think about it, I’m not saving that much money compared to a hotel. Maybe hotels will cost more, but I also won’t have to pay a cleaning fee and be responsible for cleaning the place lest I get tacked with additional fees and a bad review.

People like this host make the world a worse place to live in. Airbnb’s treatment of their customers is beyond poor. I refuse to give any more of my money to this platform. I always knew it was unethical, but I compartmentalized what I knew because part of me did like what Airbnb had to offer. The reality is, Airbnb is contributing to rising rental prices and housing scarcity.

If you’re on the fence about Airbnb or questioning whether you should boycott it, let this be a sign. At the end of the day, once they have your money, they couldn’t care less about you as a person. Customer service is not a priority once you’ve already paid them because absolutely nothing is forcing them to deliver. Put it this way: if a hotel has your money and for some reason you can’t travel due to unforeseen circumstances, they aren’t going to waive some draconian policy in your face and talk to you like you’re stupid. They will refund you or compensate you in some other way. A hotel isn’t going to charge you more money for not cleaning your room or subject you to a rating system that serves to encourage guests to ignore obvious problems with the unit and accept subpar service.

 

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Lost $1000 to Avoid Sleeping in Filthy Airbnb

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Once you click “book” on Airbnb, your money is gone. Misrepresentation and filth are not enough to get your money back. I booked what was represented as a beautiful waterfront home where I could work for a week. I booked just a couple days in advance.

Upon arrival, it was a rundown cabin, part of a rundown crowded campground. On top of that, the place was filthy with sticky residue on the appliances, light switches and mystery drippings on the walls. The bathroom was disgusting with a moldy shower curtain and orange slick grime that’s hard to see in the pictures. The grounds were a mess with cars, debris and junk.

I texted the owner via the app immediately (because all communications had been through the app). I said the place was not at all what was represented and that I was leaving immediately. She did not respond. I immediately contacted Airbnb via the app as well and they did not respond either.

The next day Airbnb got back to me to say they had to ask the host for the refund. I never heard from the host. Surprise: the host declined. I suggested a 50% refund to settle, which was generous in my opinion. Airbnb said I needed to go back and take pictures (a two-hour drive). I made the trip back to the property and took pictures of a clearly moldy shower curtain, sticky surfaces and junky grounds. The host noticed that I was returning to take pictures, so the property was actually an improvement compared to the views on my original arrival.

Airbnb said the host refused the refund because I didn’t speak to her in person. When did that become a requirement? Then they told me they could not refund the money because I didn’t take the pictures that first day and never explained why they sent me back there. I gave up and posted a negative review on Yelp and cancelled my Airbnb account. I lost over $1,000 to avoid staying in filth. I will never use Airbnb again and frankly think this sort of thing needs to be better regulated.

Months later, a person I suspect to be a friend of the owner tried to comment on my Yelp review but that was rejected. The post was just a bunch of name calling. Now more than nine months later, the owner apparently did some research to find out my profession (attorney) and posted a response to my Yelp review trying to deflect from the photos of the grossness and reality of the junky grounds. I never mentioned my profession.

Another guest recently posted more photos on Yelp of the disgusting level of filth complete with another moldy shower, exploded food left by others in the microwave and more. Airbnb has yet to hold this property owner accountable despite pictures. Even the more positive Yelp reviews from guests expecting a campground experience note the need for better maintenance.

The stalking behavior by the owner in digging around to find out about my profession so many months later is disturbing on a whole different level. And there is yet another Yelp review describing how the host cussed out their group when they complained about the mess.

What does it take for Airbnb to hold a host accountable? I read an article about a Boy Scout troop that booked a place in Florida. When they contacted Airbnb to report that two different listings were using the same information, Airbnb protected the hosts. The Boy Scout troop showed up to literally no place to stay and it made the news. Apparently you need a news story to hold hosts accountable if they are making money for Airbnb.

Don’t trust Airbnb for reviews. When I tried to post my review on Airbnb, it mysteriously went into the cosmos. When the world settles down a little bit, I think we need to look to our legislators and consumer protection laws to make some changes. In the meantime, I suggest using VRBO and VACASA. They cost a little more but they also have higher standards in my experience. Take lots of pictures upon arrival in case you need documentation for any reason and let karma take care of the rest.

MIA Host, Double Booked Room, and Guest Climbs Through Window

After hours of the host being unresponsive, another resident of the unit let me in the apartment, then broke into the room through the window AC to let me in (this guest does work for the host). The room was double booked. When the other guest arrived he was belligerent and said he’d call the cops on the host (and presumably also me). All the host ever said was “can I call you back later?” via text message.

I had to extricate myself from the situation and get a very expensive hotel room at the last minute. Airbnb’s phone support agent did not help me with this but simply gave me a $128 coupon, which was borderline offensive; the refund itself might take three weeks to arrive. This host also has a long history of plain awful and unsafe behavior and they still allow them on their platform.

I’ve used Airbnb for many years. This year alone I’ve spent $12,000 on the platform, but I’ve had enough. I will stop using Airbnb because of this incident (other than during my confirmed, upcoming reservations which I can no longer cancel, unfortunately).

Airbnb Censored My Negative Review on Facebook

On July 18, I booked a property in Ventnor City, NJ. I was offered and accepted the payment plan when I made the reservation. However, my credit card was charged the full amount of the rental rather than 50% then and the remainder due according to the plan.

I contacted Airbnb within 12 hours of having made the reservation when I saw my Visa card had been charged the full amount of the rental. Since that time I have been communicating with Airbnb’s associates to try to get the then pending charge cancelled and rebilled. The reply has been:

“Upon checking, yes you are correct. You have a point and you are totally correct, Right now, I can not give you details on why those things happened. You should get the partial payment plan, but we are also wondering how come you were charged in full. The system is designed that way if your profile and reservation details qualify for that payment plan, that option will show up. Usually if you are on the payment page, you will see that first. Looking on the details, our reservation is done already, and we don’t have a way to rectify it anymore. With this, thank you for your understanding and patience on the matter.”

Airbnb told me, “your satisfaction is our number one priority.” However, that seems to be a joke. This is the second time I’ve been royally wronged by Airbnb. The first time was when I made a reservation in London, which was cancelled by the host 24 hours before my arrival because he was evicted for illegally renting his condo. I got zero assistance from any Airbnb Support Ambassadors in finding another rental on such short notice. I had to cancel my flight at the last minute which cost me big bucks.

Concerning this reservation, I asked why Airbnb couldn’t just cancel the charge with my Visa card and reissue the charge, based on the payment plan? Airbnb refused to do so. Any other merchant in the U.S. knows how to do that type of transaction. It just seems Airbnb is continuing to hide behind policy and procedure and continue to ignore what’s in the best interest and satisfaction of its clients.

Airbnb’s latest response has been that it took note of everything and would forward this to the proper department to improve its process. After having admitted that its system messed up in charging me the full rental amount immediately, the only thing Airbnb plans to do is to try to do better in the future. The platform seems to have no intention of trying to reconcile the mismanaged charge on my credit card.

That’s extremely disappointing and I plan to refrain from ever booking a reservation with Airbnb again. There are many other booking agencies available who actually take the satisfaction of their clients seriously. My advice to future Airbnb clients is: buyer beware. If Airbnb messes up your reservation or mischarges it, they’ll do nothing but say that policy does not allow them to do anything for you.

Unfortunately, my Facebook post on the Airbnb Facebook page was removed when people started replying they would never use Airbnb again. I reposted the same message, and again, Airbnb intervened and removed the post saying my situation would be reviewed again for possible action. That was now two weeks ago and all the Ambassadors seem to have taken a vacation.

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Airbnb Made Me Feel Homeless — Never Again

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This is my story. Without many guests because of the pandemic I decided to use the coupon Airbnb sent me for being a Superhost for two years in a row, and booked a stay in the Canary Islands which I paid for with this coupon.

My host sent me a warm message saying he was expecting me, which I answered. After landing in Gran Canaria last, still in the airport I checked the app for the address but the host cancelled and I wasn’t notified at all. Quickly I sent a message to the host but there was no answer. I took a bus to the center of Gran Canaria where I landed in a square. I found a restaurant with wifi from where I sent another desperate message to the host but yet got no answer at all.

I felt bad. I was alone and didn’t know any one there. I picked my backpack and went back to the square. From under a tree I called Airbnb and explained what happened. Someone apologized and told me they would call me back with another place for me. I waited… half an hour… an hour… an hour and a half… but nobody called me.

I called Airbnb again and again received another apology from another person, but without a solution. After two hours of feeling homeless, restless, known to none, I talked with a taxi driver who talked to another taxi driver who finally got a room for me in a family house, from where I am writing now. I was very lucky for landing in the morning, otherwise I could have stay in the square the whole night.

Already in the room, I wrote about this experience to Airbnb. Again someone apologized but that was all. I wasn’t even offered a refund for the coupon. I was ready to come back home and host again. Which I will do, but not through Airbnb. I will not even use Airbnb as a guest. Never again.

Host Left a Bad Review Because Kitchen… Smelled like Cooked Food

Let me start by saying I have OCD and am generally kinda fussy about other people’s space, so I clean pretty much everything before I leave wherever I’m a guest, whether it’s a hotel room or a friend’s house or an Airbnb. I’m a total rule follower (I admit it) and my goal for wherever I stay is to essentially cause as little bother as possible. So all of my Airbnb reviews have been stellar, with one exception.

I stayed at a cabin in a fairly rural area with my wife for a long weekend. The day we checked out, I got up and made breakfast, then cleaned up, packed, and left. The trip was completely uneventful, and I left a positive review. The host left me a lengthy negative review because she went into the cabin right after we checked out and found a problem: she smelled cooked food in the kitchen area.

It was a tiny, one-room place where the windows didn’t open, and even if they had, it was January. Also, there was no vent system on the stove. Everything was put back where it belonged, we followed all the rules, the dishes were clean and put away, the pots and pans and utensils were all clean and put away, I took the trash and recycling out, and even cleaned the stove, countertops, etc. But none of that bested the part where it still faintly smelled like scrambled eggs and bacon (it wasn’t even smelly or unusual food, or something that permeated even the entire cabin — just the kitchen area, by her own admission).

The review went on and on about how offensive it was that I had left the air dirty, I guess? I actually contacted Airbnb, just because this was my first negative review and I was fairly baffled. The customer service rep was audibly suppressing laughter and finally said (this is not a direct quote): “You didn’t do anything wrong, but also we can’t take the review down because there’s nothing false in it.”

I don’t disagree with this — nobody broke any rules, it’s just petty, and hopefully that CSR at least came away from it with a funny story. I’m probably never going to use Airbnb again for other reasons — just because nothing bad has happened to me doesn’t mean I’m going to ignore what happens to other people — but if I did, I hope future hosts look at my reviews and get a good giggle out of the only negative being “the air smelled kinda like food in the kitchen, an hour or so after somebody cooked.”

Anyway, I just wanted to share a story where no one’s life got ruined and nobody got scammed out of a ton of money. Turns out you can do everything technically correct and your host can still get salty because you didn’t clean the air.

A side note: my parents gave me a fairly androgynous name that a lot of English-speaking people assume is male, especially online, so it’s possible she didn’t realize she was renting to a lesbian couple until we showed up. But I don’t want to assume it was ‘homophobe looks for things to be mean about’; that’s just the only thing we could think of that might’ve made her weird towards us specifically, as she had been completely normal and friendly until she saw us in person.

Airbnb Host Cancellation Leaves Guests with Few Options

I am so frustrated with this platform I am ready to be tied up and it seems a lot of other guests (and hosts) are as well. I was a big fan of Airbnb until a recent host cancellation soured it all.

I had used Airbnb in several countries in Europe and around the U.S and never had a major problem. I had always studied the properties, read all  the reviews, asked hosts pertinent questions (to gauge their competence) and finally figured out where they were actually located (the Airbnb map location is generally not accurate) so I could see them on Google Street view.

As I say, most of my experiences were good. Some exceeded expectations, a few did not meet standards, and some you have to accept based on their value-based location. However, I had never experienced a host cancelling on me. I had not even considered what the consequences would be and it was definitely not good for me on the particular trip I was taking.

I had to totally change my travel plans. Okay, s— happens as they say, but this is where this particular mode of vacation rental booking falls flat on its face. It is, after all, just a website, a platform where hosts can rent their properties on a global scale and likewise guests have unlimited possibilities of places to rent. However, there is an issue when there is literally no customer service.

For my cancellation, I was given a two-word explanation why the host had cancelled at the last minute along with several computer generated emails telling me what I could do. I was told I would receive a full refund (which I have not received yet but have no reason to believe they will renege on that) and also a measly $80 gift certificate if I re-booked on Airbnb.

The problem is I was screwed. There were no other properties available at such short notice. Airbnb customer service is practically nonexistent. All they care about is taking your money, literally months in advance in most cases. I had to completely change my travel plans and ended up booking somewhere else through VRBO.

In the future, I am not sure I will ever use this platform again and even if I do I am going to ask every host under what circumstances they would cancel my reservation. These hosts need to have some kind of backup plan in the event something happens to them or something changes, not just simply cancel. It may seem easy for them as there are little or no consequences, but for the guest this can cause huge issues.

Airbnb doesn’t give a hoot and they damn well should. While this kind of vacation renting may seem like a great idea (I certainly thought so) it does have its limitations. Hosts have had all sorts of problems with bad guests and vice versa and Airbnb apparently could not give a damn. They have your money. The only way they will get the message is if folks stop using them and they start losing money. It will be a bunch of computer geeks shutting down a platform and starting something else the next day.

Such is internet business. It’s great until something goes wrong. The smart ones sort it out for their customers. Airbnb does not.

Strong Arm Robbery, Never Stepped Foot in Airbnb

I made an Airbnb reservation a couple days in advance in Oakland for a work-related stay that the host was aware of. I cancelled within the 48-hour timeframe due to a job termination. The stay was for Sept. 21 to Oct. 19 for $1281.27. I waited the 15-day grace period for my refund and it never arrived.

I wrote to the host inquiring where my refund was and she never responded. I never stepped foot in her home and she pocketed my $1281.27. I am a single mother with four kids that are still dependent on me. The Airbnb help center was of no help — they do not hold their hosts accountable.

I would never recommend Airbnb to friends or family; it’s been a terrible experience. Unfortunately common courtesy and hospitality are not in this host’s nature.