In order to allow our son to stay with us in New York, we foolishly responded to an Airbnb posting describing a quiet, modern, spacious and well-appointed apartment. We were due to move in early in the evening after returning from New Year’s in Boston. Perhaps the first clue was a request not to tell other apartment owners that we were paying guests. When we arrived we found a dark, old, ground floor apartment, on the street. We could hear people talking outside and traffic noise. There was a stupefying smell of bleach, mould in the bathroom, and a living area dominated by a fridge with no extra room. The flooring was old and dirty, the blinds were broken, and there was a general sense of disrepair. We stayed long enough to survey the disaster and then checked back into a hotel in which we had previously stayed. We immediately reported our concerns to the host who simply denied everything. We reported the issues along with photographs to Airbnb. Despite numerous phone calls we had little response until today when our case manager informed us that our request for a refund had been denied. So we are $4,500 out of pocket with nowhere to go. This appalling organisation needs to be stopped immediately.
My nightmare began when my fiancé and I decided to rent a place for a short stay in New York City to do some Thanksgiving shopping before returning home. I was obviously misled by the price ($55) and the attractive title: “Historic Harlem walk up.” First of all, the room is not located in the artsy, bohemian, historical, Columbia University area of Harlem, but on 7th St and 5th Ave, which we have come to learn is basically one of the blocks of “Dominicans Don’t Play,” a Latino mafia, as we were told when the police came after we reported a brawl at the entry hallway at 2:00 AM. When the officers left, they recommended we tried to find a hotel somewhere else: “You’re here at your own risk.”
The building is located between liquor stores packed with Haitians gambling with dice at the entrance. The morning we left we had to literally give two dollars to a homeless sleeping in front of the door, or else… Why did we end up there? Well, as people can see in the listing, the picture and description give the impression the room has enough light and space for two. I should have read the reviews first. The space you’re renting is not a room; it’s a locked closet with no ventilation, smells like weed and sometimes gas at night, and it comes with its own door to a bedroom where pretty much anyone else can enter and invade your space. That space, of course, is not even where the landlady lives, which by New York law is illegal to rent.
Let me warn you about the landlady. She goes by several aliases in Airbnb. She’s one of a kind. As soon as you see her, you can tell she’s up to something. She made totally inappropriate comments to my wife, and was moody all the time. Forget about the Airbnb commercials where the local host is warmly welcomed. Her face suggested she hadn’t slept in a week and gave a creepy air to the place. I was so happy when we left. This host definitely has a language barrier and does not speak proper English or Spanish (I speak both), however she replied to my review that I was the one to blame, despite the fact I am fluent in both languages.
Things to remember: Avoid Airbnb, and if in New York, avoid this listing. I have flagged her profile, but of course Airbnb does not care as long as people keep flowing in. I also warn families and couples not to rent to her because something fishy is going on in that building.
Beware of this Airbnb host. I am sharing my experience so that no one else books a strict policy booking with this host and loses their money. I accepted a lower priced invitation (1200 USD) to sleep in this hosts living room for the month of January. She encouraged me to book and pay immediately since there were other interested parties. I did. Unfortunately, two days later, a family emergency arose and I realized I would have to cancel the stay. I immediately contacted the host so that she could rebook with the other interested parties and reimburse me. This is when I discovered that she had imposed a strict cancellation policy on the booking. I did not even know such a policy existed since, in my experience, normal and fair business practices are flexible bookings. The strict policy means that no matter what, you do not get any money back. Family illness, death, force majeure… it doesn’t matter. The host declined to pay back the 1200 or any part thereof, even though she had ample time to find someone else; I was not due to arrive for a few days. As a landlord, if a tenant’s plans change, I try to reimburse what I can. I would not keep a full month’s rent when there’s the possibility of finding a new tenant. I find that such an extreme position shows a lack of class and character. I have always had positive Airbnb experiences but the fact that they even allow such a policy makes no sense to me. There are hosts offering real private rooms (not living rooms) at similar rates and they offer flexible bookings. Most people are reasonable. Things happen in life. Unless you are prepared to throw away money on services not received I would not risk a strict booking with this host or any other hosts on Airbnb. Flexible bookings are another matter, but make sure you check.
This past week, I had an amazing experience in New York City with some amazing people. Now that we’re back home, I wanted to voice my displeasure about a service that I tried for the first time, and ended up losing a lot of money. I’ve heard a lot of people talk about great experiences they’ve had using Airbnb as an alternative option to getting a hotel, and when planning this trip, we decided we would give it a shot as well. I downloaded the app. We found something that seemed like a great deal, all of us checked it out to make sure we were comfortable with it, and I proceeded to go through what I thought was the process to schedule the Airbnb because, again, I had never used the service or the app before. We were excited about our trip. Everything was scheduled, the person answered all of my questions, I sent the payment, and we were good to go. About 4-5 days before our trip, I tried contacting that person again because I wanted to let them know what time we were arriving so we could meet up and get the keys for the place. After not hearing anything back, I continued to try and contact them with no success.
During our layover on our way there, we finally realized that we had probably been scammed, and I was finally able to get ahold of a customer service representative at Airbnb. They took my information and started an incident report for me. I sent them all communications I’d had with this “host”, along with their “contract”, and a link to his original posting, which of course had since been removed. Airbnb escalated the report to try and help me out, but determined that because everything was handled through 3rd party companies, there was nothing they could do for us (everything listed for the 3rd party companies was found while I was using their app). Airbnb has continued to send me surveys asking how my service was. I was brutally honest, but I also felt the need to say something on social media so that others don’t fall for the same scam. I’m glad we were able to find other accommodations, and you’d better believe we didn’t let it ruin our trip. However, we are still out a large amount of money, no thanks to customer service at Airbnb. Hopefully this helps anyone looking to use the service in the future.
My family and I planned an overnight visit to NYC on Christmas Day in 2016. We found an Airbnb listing for an “Amazing & Modern” apartment in Times Square for our stay. The first red flag was that the payment was in One Vanilla prepaid cards. The second red flag was the security deposit: how does one get his security deposit back when the payment is a prepaid card? The final red flag was that we could not find the apartment when we did additional searches on Airbnb. We could not find any support on Airbnb so we opted to cancel the reservation as we did not want to be without a place to stay on Christmas Day in NYC. After a day or so, my wife sent a nice email staying that due to some concerns we would not be staying at the “Amazing & Modern” apartment. The response from the person we were in contact with via email wrote back to my wife: “Thanks for wasting my time.” My wife responded with an email that she wrote: “Ditto.” To which the response from the person we were dealing with was, and I quote: “I shit on your mother’s grave you faggot!!!!”
This was my first experience with Airbnb, traveling with my sisters and daughter to New York City. We thought renting an Airbnb so everyone could have their own rooms would be a great idea. The host would not give us the exact address until three days prior to our stay, yet her refund policy was strict: no refund for a cancellation within seven days of a stay. The reviews on this Airbnb were all positive and there was no mention of noise from a water bottle distributor under the apartment windows… until two months prior to my stay. I have stayed in many cities (none using Airbnb) and know that they can be noisy, but all four of us felt like we were sleeping on the streets that night. To top it off, the water bottle distributor began operations at 4:00 AM, with fork lifts going forward and backwards (including beeping) from then throughout the morning. No one in my party received more than a few hours of sleep that night. So as not to ruin our entire vacation we contacted the host and said we could not stay because of the noise, which was not mentioned anywhere in her post. The host would not negotiate any refund whatsoever. In order to save our vacation and get some sleep we were forced to vacate and move to a hotel for the remaining three nights of our New York trip. My next step was to contact Airbnb. They took my comments and I sent some photos of the window air conditioner that had openings to the outdoors and the street view of the water bottling company next door. After a brief review of the situation, Airbnb denied my request for three nights’ reimbursement. In a hotel one has the ability to change rooms if one isn’t satisfactory. There is no such option with an Airbnb. I will never use Airbnb again.
After this experience, I contacted Airbnb by telephone. I sent them documents, data and evidences of the scam I experienced through the company. I still noticed that there were ads on Airbnb pages that follow the same strategy to persuade customers to book on behalf of the corporation.
On Saturday, November 12th, I logged in to Airbnb to search for an apartment. When I booked one, I received an email telling me that they were not able to verify my payment method (which was true because I had not yet updated my profile on their system) and they advised me that if I did not do it within 48 hours the account would be suspended and I could not book an apartment through them. They informed to me to verify the method of payment, and I had to send them my full name, address, expiration date, and the last four digits of my debit card. I also added a statement from my bank with sensitive data like my account number.
Someone sent me emails at the same moment I visited Airbnb and they also asked me about verifying my account. It sounded true. In addition, I had not still updated the method of payment on the application. On the other hand, searching Airbnb, I saw an apartment in New York for January 4-7, 2017, near Central Park and Times Square. The apartment, whose host was called Tammy (attached picture), was interested in us and we read the information given that they only accept bookings through WhatsApp, at the number indicated on the Airbnb website. This was something that initially did not seem dubious because we had heard that Airbnb was a very safe and reliable company, according to friends and acquaintances. When I contacted the host by WhatsApp, she told me that she would send me a pre-approval email with all what I had to do (attached image). There, I could read about how to send money (Western Union) and where I had to forward the payment confirmation by email to Tammy (firstname.lastname@example.org) and to Airbnb (email@example.com; same domain as the website, something that made me trust the email). On Tuesday, November 15th, at 7:45 AM, I sent the transfer and exchanged messages through WhatsApp with the host. Obviously, it was a scam.
I’m absolutely disgusted by your service and lack of concern for your customers. Before I start in on you, I’d like to start by explaining my situation, solely for the entertainment of the readers. Last week, I found out that I was a victim of fraud through Airbnb. Two of my friends and I decided to book an apartment in New York City, to spend four days of our Thanksgiving break there. The apartment we found seemed amazing: great location, cheap price, and just perfect for three international college students. The host of the apartment had listed his contact number on the website and it said to contact that number in order to book the apartment. We tried reserving it on the Airbnb website itself, but for some reason it wasn’t happening. We were scared that if we waited too long, the apartment would no longer be available; therefore we decided to contact the number that was listed.
We messaged the number, got in touch with the host, and reserved the apartment. He asked us to do the payment through Western Union, which is generally a credible way to wire money, and so a week later we made a $700 payment ($300 for the apartment for three nights + $400 as a security deposit). We received confirmation emails from Airbnb as well and believed that everything was confirmed. The payment was made to someone called Michael Harrison. The next day, the host reached out me and asked me to make another payment of $600; he said it was some sort of tax fee and that is when I realized something sketchy was happening.
I contacted Airbnb immediately and then found out that the apartment listing was invalid and the apartment doesn’t even exist in real life. I contacted Western Union after this, but the receiver had already collected the money. We tried resolving the issue with the host, but he blocked my number and the only way to resolve the problem was through Airbnb. I contacted your customer service number at least 15 times. Your staff was extremely unhelpful and didn’t seem to take my situation seriously. I waited about three days after calling and finally decided to send an email. I sent three emails and did not receive any response. After calling a few more times and finally tweeting, you decided to respond to my emails. You were not willing to compensate us for the cost or provide us with accommodation. Our transport has already been arranged, but unfortunately we will not be able to go on this long awaited trip, since we have nowhere to stay and already lost $700.
If the apartment listing was invalid and non existent, it shouldn’t have been available on the website in the first place. It is so misleading to your customers. More than anything, your staff didn’t seem to take our concerns seriously, considering our trip is next week. They were rude, unhelpful and extremely unapologetic about the incident. Being a frequent user of Airbnb, I was completely put off. I’ve never had such a disastrous experience before. They were not willing to compensate us for new accommodations or refund at least the security deposit ($400). I have nothing more to say, except that I am never using Airbnb again. I’ve tried everything in my power to resolve the issue with you, but you were unsympathetic and indifferent to this situation. Losing $700 is no joke. I’m disappointed at your lack of concern and overall approach to this whole situation. Your staff is unhelpful and not willing to do anything to help me. Being such a well known, world-renowned company, this is absolutely appalling.
I am just sharing a very bad experience with Airbnb that I had a couple of nights ago. I booked for a friend who is out of the country with a host in Hamilton Heights, New York. First of all, her listing says that it is a quiet and spacious place. The sleeping area was just part of the living room, with a couch, separated by a curtain. The day after my friend arrived, the host’s mother slept in the living room, snoring all night, and making my friend very uncomfortable. The room didn’t have any blinds so my friend needed to sleep with pillows to cover herself from the light. In addition, she asked my friend not to speak one night at 9:00 PM when she received a call, because her mother was sleeping in the living room. Apart from that, the host’s boyfriend was living in her room. So in a very small apartment there were four people.
The third night, my friend went out to smoke a cigarette and when she returned (around 12:00 AM) the door was locked from the inside. She tried to enter, but she couldn’t open the door. After that she knocked on the door without any answer from the inside. She knocked several times. She was able to call me from outside, because she is from a foreign country and didn’t have internet. So she called me through Facebook. I heard how she knocked on the door without any response. She spent the night in my home, but she was very scared without any money, ID, clothes, and unable to speak the language.
The next morning I went back with her, and there was the host, telling me “that she should have rung the bell, and that they didn’t hear the door because they used earplugs.” Of course, my friend took her things and we ran from that kind of host. I then called Airbnb customer service and I requested a refund. They only refunded me one night, and I lost $430 dollars, which covered the rest of the stay. She said that my guest should have read the lock instructions (she never saw any lock instructions, nor this is explained on the listing). Also the customer representative said that my friend should have rung the bell. What is the difference between a bell and knocking on the door at 1:00 AM in a small apartment? It makes no sense.
I was treated badly. I feel robbed and disappointed with this company. This host charged me $40/night for this horrific experience. I will never book through Airbnb again.
I recently booked two nights through Airbnb for the Manhattan area in New York. I was very excited to find such a great deal for the area. It turns out it was too good to be true. Within minutes of me booking, my “host” contacted me via text to request an additional security deposit of $500. This amount was not included on the additional costs page and was not included in the total that I had already been charged. I cancelled because I didn’t feel comfortable. This all happened within maybe 20 minutes. Now I cannot get my “service fee” back and there is no direct customer service phone, or email. I am extremely disappointed and upset that I just lost money because I was scammed. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?