Airbnb Nightmare Nearly Leaves us Stranded Abroad

My recent experience with Airbnb has been nothing short of a nightmare. It all started when I was booking accommodations in San Diego, California through Airbnb from London, where I live. I was about to make a payment when I accidentally clicked on the Paypal button and immediately received conformation of my booking. As I hadn’t used Paypal for over a year and had since changed my payment details, I straight away contacted Airbnb and explained the mixup to the customer service officer.

I needed to give her my new card details so she could take a payment. She assured me she would sort it out and confirmed that although the reservation had been confirmed, no money had been taken from the Paypal account; the full amount would be taken from the card I had just given her. I then emailed the host in San Diego and again explained what had happened and that everything should be okay as Airbnb had my new payment details.

I heard nothing from Airbnb until the morning of September 25th while I was in Colorado and was due to fly from there to San Diego. I received a text from Airbnb to say that my account had been blocked and the reservation cancelled. I then spent hours on my mobile phone trying to contact someone at Airbnb to resolve the issue. When I did get through, I got someone who was unable to assist me. However, I was told that someone would call me back. As we were on a late flight and arriving in San Diego around midnight, I was keen to resolve the problem before boarding our flight. I didn’t want to be lost and without accommodation in a foreign country in the early hours of the morning.

I never heard back from Airbnb and had persisted trying to contact them by phone and email throughout the day without any luck. Just as we were due to board our flight, I then received a message from our host to say that we would not be able to stay as the reservation had been cancelled. Luckily my son was able sort everything out through his Airbnb account and secured the accommodation for us. At some point during the same day I had received a couple of messages from Airbnb saying I needed to update my account but it was impossible to do so as Airbnb had blocked my account. I was unable to proceed beyond the first page, which of course meant I couldn’t update my account.

Some days later I received a message from a friend in London who said that it appeared Airbnb had taken money from her son’s account for the same amount that we had paid for our accommodation. Remember that the accommodation had now been paid for by my son. The only connection with her son’s account was last year when he had book accommodation for myself and the above friend. Airbnb had no authorisation to take the money and it was later refunded through Paypal.

When I returned home to the UK I tried to contact Airbnb to make a complaint. I spent nearly an hour talking to someone who refused to put me through to a manager because the payment details on their system was different to the details they had; it was unbelievably frustrating. I would still like to make a complaint regarding the treatment received from Airbnb but it seems that Airbnb does not have a listed complaints procedure. Had it not been for my son coming to the rescue at the final hour, I do believe that me and my friend, both females, would have arrived in San Diego very late at night with nowhere to stay. Never again will I book accommodation through Airbnb.

Three Types of Airbnb SCAMS

One of the most common and heartbreaking stories we hear at Airbnb Hell is about scammers. Newbies to the website think they’re paying a legitimate host for their dream vacation, when in fact they’re getting a room in a flophouse, or nothing at all.  What are some of the scams we’ve heard about?

 

Bait and Switch

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Airbnb guests book what appears to be an amazing property at a more than reasonable price, only to be told on arrival or just when it’s too late to look for alternative accommodations that the house in the pictures isn’t available due to an “Airbnb glitch”, but what luck! The host has a comparable property at a different address.

News flash: the first listing never existed. It was all a lure to get you to pay and then force you to accept a worse deal because you’re now desperate and in an unfamiliar city. The biggest giveaway here is a lack of reviews, and a price too good for the quality.

 

Paying by Wire Transfer

NEVER, never pay for an Airbnb reservation by clicking on an email link – no matter how authentic it may look – or a wire transfer directly from your bank. Airbnb is slow to crack down on fake listings like these brazenly telling guests to click on a link in their profile to book; the more clever ones wait until you make a legitimate booking or inquiry through Airbnb, then send you a fake email with Airbnb logos with payment instructions. In the end, Airbnb may continue to list the scammers but – as far as we’ve heard – has never refunded anyone.

 

Lying About Vermin

Scams on Airbnb can affect hosts as easily as guests, and this particular one is why Airbnb Hell got started in the first place. A seemingly normal guest makes a booking, is friendly in his communications, and arrives without incident. Near the end of his stay, he abruptly leaves, files a complaint with Airbnb claiming there were cockroaches, rats, or some other vermin on the property, and expects a 50% refund.

These scammers usually book longer stays so they can maximize their ill-gotten refund. They might even bring bugs onto the property so they can doctor photos. Airbnb policy hasn’t changed much to protect hosts from these types of lies.

Unauthorized Credit Charge Out of Nowhere from Airbnb

Never leave your credit card saved on the Airbnb app or website. My card was fraudulently charged for over $200 but promptly credited back, as shown on my statement. I did not even log in to the website or app for more than eight months. I lost out on more than $10 due to currency exchange differences. Airbnb refused to credit me back, and refused to say why my card was charged without authorization. It took them more than two weeks to even reply to me. My bank can’t do anything because Airbnb returned the amount they scammed from me. My big question is how can Airbnb charge a credit card without approval or authorization? This amounts to a scam and should be considered criminal. I thought my case was isolated, but a quick search on Google turned up similar stories.

Airbnb Wants to Know Everything About You

I have already purchased tickets for flights but have had so much trouble trying just to pay for my two-week accommodation. I’m new to Airbnb, and have felt nearly buried under the formulaic questions and instructions. I am not that computer savvy but wish to make all my payments on my desktop account. When it comes to numerous instructions for identity verification and security, Airbnb keeps referring me to download their app onto my Android phone. I have told them numerous times I don’t trust to have personal details on my phone – only on my desktop, which has better security. Instead I just keep going around in circles with them. I have also told them how intrusive and extensive their requests for personal information are. Airbnb doesn’t even supply a telephone contact number so as to speak with a human being. Now I’m concerned if I cancel my accommodation reservation I’ll lose money. All I wanted was to book and pay with PayPal, which doesn’t seem like an option anymore. They keep sending me emails, but when I go into those it’s the same old story: connect with Google on your mobile device. As I have had serious health issues I haven’t been able to have a vacation for years. Trying to do a business transaction with this company has caused me frustration. My last request to them was for someone to phone me, and not text. I’m still waiting.

Airbnb Built on Institutionalized Fraud

Airbnb takes the full payment amount from guests when bookings are made. Then they keep the money for however many days, weeks, or months before the guests actually arrive and are supposed to pay the host as follows: “Airbnb releases your payout about 24 hours after your guest’s scheduled check-in.” What actually happens is that Airbnb sends an email to the host at the point when they should pay and suggests that the bank will take time to pay. This is a total lie. In New Zealand, payments are processed very quickly. The banks may sit on interbank payments for up to one day and do not process interbank payments on weekends and public holidays, but they do not just sit on the money for days as Airbnb suggests. What is actually going on is that Airbnb sits on millions of dollars of guests’ and hosts’ money for days. Meanwhile the guest has checked out and often even left the country before the host is paid. This is just another way that Airbnb is screwing the market. Remember, Airbnb does not have any property. In fact, they have nothing except an APP which causes frustration in communications, so they can keep the guests and hosts at arm’s length until they have got their money. I would strongly suggest that guests instead find a property outside of Airbnb, especially if it is a hotel or guest house and they can check the price directly. When there is no commission to Airbnb, hosts can often offer a better price. If you pay money out to a host who owns a hotel or guest house that has been in business for some time, you at least know where they are; they have a physical location. Whereas you struggle to even get Airbnb on the phone in some random foreign country. Best wishes from a host still waiting to get paid.

New Year’s Cancellation: Three Red Flags

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!!!!”