How Airbnb Scams Hosts — Waiting for a Test Case in Court

I called Airbnb today with a simple question. They have dodged and squirmed and promised to have a manager call me, but they have essentially gone into hiding.

When I signed up as a host (I’m an excellent host) I was told that I was in control of the settings that would control who could book. I set my settings to things like: must have reviews, must be verified. Then there are rules, which I was also told I was in control of. I can’t have children or pets in this building (no child gates on windows — this is NYC) so I set criteria like that as well.

I was also told that I could choose when to host, so I set my calendar accordingly. I use my apartment part time, so I am literally unable to host when I block dates. Then with all of my settings in place, I chose to let the people who fit all of my criteria auto book because customers like that and it makes things easier.

The problem is this. I have a wonderful business going with my great guests who can auto book, but I am constantly being interrupted by Airbnb with “requests” for bookings. These requests don’t meet the criteria, but Airbnb doesn’t tell you that, and they don’t tell you what criteria they don’t meet; you have to take the time to look through everything.

They send me “requests” for people with babies, and dogs, who have no reviews and on days that I am booked. Then they tell you that you are able to decline, but they will penalize you by locking your calendar for the days that you didn’t accept the guest who wasn’t qualified. So all someone has to do to shut me down for two weeks is send a “request” that I can’t fulfill and they can do that. I’ve asked them to stop sending me these requests that I am unable to fill, but they refuse.

Here is my question: is this actionable? Has anyone done a test case in court? Can they tell you that you have a choice but then lock you out of your business if you don’t take whoever comes along? If I take Joe with his ferrets and he burns down my building, is he a client of Airbnb because they in fact were the ones who made it impossible for me not to take him? Anyone?

I don’t want some five-part solution where I have to get around this BS by checking a series of boxes to get out of taking these people. I don’t want to get requests that I’ve already set my settings to show that I can’t and won’t take. Here is the truth: if they weren’t so shady in trying to force you to take these people, and then try to penalize and ruin your business if you don’t do it, I would be happy to see if I could accommodate some of them. But not now.

Airbnb Hosts Turn ‘Karen’ Over Guest Complaints

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I recently stayed at an apartment in NYC for a getaway for a few days. Initially the host came across as very helpful and responsive and was easy to communicate with. Unlike any other Airbnb that I have stayed at, this host used a security app called Latch as a keyless entry system to his apartment and that system sent the guest a log in email. I never received the email from Latch nor did I receive one from the host (sometimes technology fails us — no big deal).

When we arrived at the apartment at 10:00 PM and downloaded the app to attempt to log in, we were unable to check in because we never got the confirmation log in. Being that we’ve never used this type of entry we assumed we would be able to access the building if we downloaded the app which wasn’t the case. We contacted the host to let him know that we could not get in to which he and his wife went full on “Karen mode” and attacked us about not getting the email.

When we asked if someone could come let us in — seeing as a host is responsible for helping guests if they have a problem checking in — we were told it wasn’t an option and it was a huge ordeal to get someone down to the building to unlock the door. Finally after arguing with the host and his wife over something so ridiculous they finally helped us get the app to work and we were able to come and go without any problems.

You’d think this would be the end of the issue, right? I mean having someone attack you over not receiving an email is an unpleasant check in experience and just absolutely stupid. Well, it got worse.

We finished our trip and left the apartment cleaner than when we arrived (knowing that the host flipped out over an email we most certainly made sure everything was immaculate as to not piss him off again). I reviewed the place as I would any other place I stayed at and left an accurate and unbiased review and recommended the place to anyone who would be interested in staying there.

The host responded to the review in the public comment section slightly passive aggressive but civil. However, he then private messaged me and went on a “Karen war path” for leaving him a three-star review. I have attached the screenshots of our message thread that shows the messages I sent him when we could not get in as well as the war path he decided to go on when he didn’t like my review of his place (also attached is the review and his public response).

Now I know this isn’t as awful a horror story as some of the other posts on here but it’s just utterly absurd that the situation turned into what it did. No one deserves to be berated over an email or a review. I would like to save someone else the headache of this host so I am posting this story here. Everyone loves a good “Karen” story and this definitely fits the bill. My only regret is that I did not voice record our conversation for your listening pleasure.

Loopholes Enabling Unethical Airbnb Host to Bait and Switch

I booked a long-term stay for a two-bedroom apartment in NYC on Airbnb for two people. When I was doing the search, it showed the same price for one, two, or more guests in the same apartment. The confirmation came back for one person somehow, so I immediately (less than ten minutes from booking) corrected that in the app and received another confirmation for two people.

I was looking into the address details of the booking I just paid $3,500 for. Surprisingly it still only showed the street name without any other details. So I contacted the host — appeared to be some company instead of an individual host — who insisted that because the reservation showed only one person (who is rich enough to book a two-bedroom apartment for just one person in NYC?), they wanted to charge me more than $1,000 for it.

I looked back into the app, which in fact, still showed the same price for even three or four people. They claimed that it was a system error. At that point, I believed them, and allowed them to cancel so I could rebook. There were plenty other properties around that did not cost more than what they originally charged plus $1,000. This was within 20 minutes of booking.

I contacted Airbnb support. They said that on their end I was confirmed for two people and the price was right. So I let them handle it. The operator also said if I felt uncomfortable with the host, I could cancel for free within 48 hours. The next day, Airbnb support called me, informed me that the host insisted on extra charges even though it was advertised with two people with the price I already paid. And if I cancelled, they could only offer a $150 coupon to book again on Airbnb. They just pocketed $3250 dollars.

The host claimed it was an error with Airbnb, but they refused to accept the full refund cancellation request. Instead they intend to just keep my money or ask for even more. This is all within 24 hours of booking. So, Airbnb leaves me with two choices: either pay $1,000 above the market rate to accept the booking, or lose $3,000 more to cancel. That is the place where Airbnb want their customers to be.

Airbnb Host Accuses Guest of Having COVID

I was staying at an Airbnb location in New York City at the height of the pandemic in April 2020. Fifty three days into a 60-day stay, the host contacted Airbnb and accused me of having COVID-19. I had no symptoms and have since tested negative with the swab nasal test and the antibody test.

Just after 9:00 AM on a Friday I received a text from Airbnb that the host accused me of exposing her to coronavirus and I had to leave within 90 minutes. Not only was my reservation cancelled but Express Booking was disabled and I was told that I would have to call and get permission to stay with another Airbnb host.

I refused to leave and the host called the police three times, but first she changed the locks. Just before calling the police for the third time, she began throwing my personal possessions onto the street. While all of this was going on Airbnb was threatening penalties, although they did not specify how much.

Airbnb refused to refund a subsequent reservation at another location and only refunded a fraction of the pro-rated charges for the first reservation. Ultimately, I did use my second Airbnb reservation at my next stop without a problem. Airbnb did apologize, but this situation was so over the top and the pandemic is still raging I would warn all guests.

Also during the three police visits, nine officers were dispatched. It was very intense with the officers. I am not exaggerating when I say I could have been killed, but thanks to connections I had I was able to get through to the commanding officer of the precinct to give him the facts directly.

The host is still being investigated. The owner of the property is being investigated. The police were investigated and my complaint was found substantiated and is now awaiting departmental trials. Finally several agencies are involved in investigating Airbnb at the state and federal level.

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Terrible Host with no way to Contact Airbnb

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Airbnb hosts accused us bringing extra people and that is not true. We booked for 12 and there were 11 of us. Proof is attached. I’m writing on behalf of members of KC Nippon and myself. I was a world karate champion. We travel a lot and use Airbnb very often. We never had a bad experience like the one in NYC.

I came to NYC for a competition with ten kids. The apartment was not ready when we arrived: the house was dirty and some workers were putting on a bathroom door that was completely missing. The other door was broken and some of the furniture as well.

After two nights, the toilet broke and all the sewage was coming back up. We contacted the super and she promised to fix it. That was very risky for the kids’ health and we had to close that bathroom. We couldn’t use it for the rest of our stay. That caused a lot of delays in our program and a lot of complaints from kids’ parents.

When we complained about it, the host sent threatening SMS messages (see attached photo). She also came the day that we were leaving to check everything, and when we complained she start to be very rude and was yelling at the kids. She is listed as a real estate agent and I’m not even sure can she legally rent apartments on Airbnb in New York State.

When we came back we saw a very impolite message: the agency wanted us to pay them extra money. We booked and pay in advance for 12 persons, but there were only 11 of us. We will not pay anything extra.

At this moment we would like to request a refund for our expenses. The kids’ health was in danger (considering coronavirus and all the unsanitary conditions). My personal opinion is that Airbnb should protect their users from hosts like this.

Birthday at New York Airbnb Gone Wrong

I got about five friends together for my birthday at a park in upstate New York, then it started raining. I found an Airbnb that seemed large enough for my friends and since none of us were from the town we just wanted a place to chill and wait out the rain for an hour or two. For $125 it was fine.

We arrived and brought up our coolers. Not even five minutes after we arrived, we got a knock on the door and this tall man counted us out. There were six of us and I said six on the reservation. He left and was very rude.

Then about ten minutes after that I got a call from Airbnb saying I was breaking the rules with having too many people and having alcohol in the apartment. We were all obviously over 21 and there was no rule against having alcohol.

At this point I was very annoyed. Luckily I had “I Love Lucy” on DVD and brought that into the room. We were all on the couch watching it. We didn’t even finish an episode when we got another knock on the door with a different woman bursting into the room, and saying that we unplugged their camera in the living room.

Now we knew we were being filmed in the apartment and decided to leave within 45 minutes. I’m starting to think they did it on purpose to take my money and get us out asap.

Airbnb Experience Completely Ruined our NYC Stay

After confirming my stay with the Airbnb host, she messaged me asking if it was okay to stay in the occupancy during our visit. She sold it by saying that her place was two units that were joined and that her side was remote and isolated, that we would only be sharing the living and kitchen area, and that she was barely home anyway.

When we arrived, physically looked at the space, and spoke to her, the exact opposite was true. The pull out couch was right outside her bedroom door, next to her desk which she said she’d be using. The bathroom she assigned us was literally in the kitchen. The room she assigned us was smaller than a broom closet, while hers was huge with a private bath. There was absolutely zero possibility for privacy. She misled us in order to stay while making money off her unit.

Unfortunately, being a nice guy, I agreed based on her description. Airbnb said there was nothing I could do, since I didn’t record our encounter. I’m not a PI; I’m on vacation and don”t even know the legality of recording her or her private space. I told her the situation she just put me in was undoable. With no other option I had to leave and rent a hotel room. This experience completely ruined our NYC stay.

Cancelled after Four Minutes with Moderate Refund Policy

I booked an apartment in New York. I made sure there was a moderate refund policy. I immediately realized I had mixed up the dates and within the space of about four minutes, I cancelled the reservation (sending an apology and explanation to the host).

Now, this was a bit of a last-minute thing and the booking was for two days in the future (I actually had meant to book the day after, hence the mix up). I only received the cleaning fee back. No other refund was given. My request for a refund via the site was ignored. I called their customer service, who extremely patronizingly ‘explained’ to me that I hadn’t read the rules properly and I should be more careful in future to read the rules.

The rule listed is: “Free cancellation for 48 hours. After that, cancel up to 5 days before check-in and get a full refund minus the service fee.” I’m aware that I booked leaving only two days before checking in, but I’m pretty sure that the words “after that” signify that there are no strings attached so long as it is within 48 hours. Surely the “5 days” part of the rules only apply after 48 hours?

Host Rented the Apartment During our Stay

We are three girls and one boy from San Francisco, traveling to NYC this past weekend. The Airbnb nightmare in NYC resulted in two intrusions in the middle of the night that ended up with the police escorting the host out. Airbnb support “apologized for the inconvenience” and this guy is still renting on the platform.

The first red flag was that the host never gave us the address to the apartment after asking numerous times until right before our plane was going to take off. We had to call Airbnb support and we were not sure if we would have a place to stay that night. He called us after Airbnb support was involved and the first thing he said was “I am EXTREMELY BUSY”. Finally we got the address. He acknowledged his tone in the text.

The second red flag was after we saw how dirty, and not true to the description the apartment was (expectation vs reality here), the host cancelled the posting. We had to find the original images using a website cache. We called Airbnb support and they gave us a refund and a 60-dollar coupon to rebook a room. Since it was 5:00 PM on the last night we were staying in NYC, we confirmed with them if we could stay another night. They said yes, and that they would take care of the payout to the host.

On our last night, shit started going down. At around 11:30 PM a girl walked in with suitcases and keys. We were all shocked. She said she got the keys from a mutual friend and thought she could stay here. We were dumbfounded and said we are here for another night. She left after that. After that we were scared of another guest intrusion, so we propped a chair against the door.

At 12:09 AM we were awoken with loud banging and kicking on the door. An angry man’s voice shouted: “Get out of my fucking apartment! Open the fucking door!” on repeat. We cracked open the door. It waas our host and his girlfriend. He threatened us that he would get into the apartment “either nicely or not nicely.”

One of my friends (a licensed lawyer in NY), asked if we could have a civil discussion. He said yes, and we let him inside. He ordered us to sit down. He had a large duffel bag with him that made a huge thud when he let it down. I called 911 at the start of the break-in but I didn’t have pants on so I stayed in the room, only coming out after the 911 call ended and I found a pair of pants from one of my friend’s on the floor.

During the confrontation, he was very agitated and smoking the entire time. Apparently the large hole in the kitchen only happened Saturday morning (we arrived Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM) and he just didn’t have time to take care of it. That’s some fast acting mold. He was very upset that he was “not getting a dime from us staying here,” plus he got fined on top of our stay.

He demanded to be paid either from Airbnb or us, right there right now. He called Airbnb support there, and demanded to talk to “the highest level staffed personnel there.” I don’t think they listened to him. He later hung up. He calmed down a bit after seeing the messages we showed him saying we are staying according to instructions and Airbnb will pay.

He threatened to call the cops. I told them not to worry; I already did. His girlfriend was trying to de-escalate the situation after this. It seemed like it was not the first time she had seen this happened. He works from 9:00 to 5:00 so that’s why he missed all the calls. However, he did not miss the phone call at midnight from the new tenant telling him we were in there.

We interrupted his $200 dinner with his girlfriend (I thought he worked from 9:00 to 5:00? Who is eating a fancy dinner at midnight?) He avoided questions on why the apartment was so dirty. The cleaning fee was $100 – what was that spent on?

The police then rang the doorbell. Thank you NYPD; you guys are the best. They arrived so fast. The host and his girlfriend left and never came back. The policeman came up and told us he would make sure he didn’t come back and the policeman would walk them out. He told us to barricade the door again in case they came back.

Two of my girlfriends suggested we book and move to another room and I said I would not let him win. We all slept there that night although not very well. This whole time, the host never bothered to respond to Airbnb support, or our messages, or reached out to us to let us know about the new tenant, or the fact that he was coming to kick down the door with a heavy duffel bag. He left it at our apartment and we did not look inside.

What was really surprising was Airbnb’s response. They just apologized for “the inconvenience” and told us to leave feedback on their website. This guy is still out there renting to people. What baffled me was this apartment had 100+ great reviews and the host said he has been renting for six years.

Airbnb asked us what else we wanted after the refund. We don’t care about the money. We don’t want any more people falling for his fake pictures and this crazy guy breaking into your apartment at night. Our full booking was only around $360 a night, so we care more about taking this guy off the platform than the actual refund.

Cancelled our booking within 24 hours of check in

We booked an Airbnb months ago in NYC, very close to where my husband was to be a groomsman in a wedding. With less than 24 hours to check-in, we received a cancellation notice without any explanation from the host. After a frantic, stressful search, we found another property on HomeAway (a competitor). When we called Airbnb, they basically shrugged their shoulders, gave us a refund, offered us a $60 credit if we booked within the next month… and deleted all of our communication with the host.

What is that about? We wanted to write a negative review of the host to keep people away from them, but Airbnb would not allow us to. It makes me wonder if this is common practice by Airbnb in order to limit the number of negative reviews to keep people using the site. We won’t use them again.