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.

Scammed in Lima: Abandoned by Airbnb

I booked a one-month reservation in Lima, Peru, and paid over $1,250 for a listing that purported to be a luxury apartment in an upscale neighborhood. Upon my arrival, it was a lower income neighborhood and clearly not the type of place you would feel comfortable walking around at night.

Upon my arrival to the apartment I thought I had the wrong apartment number as I overheard several people inside. I also observed a large bag of trash outside of the front door. I rang the doorbell and was met by two women with the dress profiles of streetwalkers, and some unknown male, all who were inside of the apartment drinking beer. I could immediately smell marijuana in the air. I also noticed a stained carpet and sofa, in addition to a stove with the remnants of grease along with a nearby unconsumed line of cocaine.

I immediately walked back toward the door and made my exit. I had a beer can thrown at me as I made my way to the elevator and down the long shoddy corridor toward the exit. While I waited for an Uber, the three individuals made a hasty effort to leave the property. One unknown women began firing off an assortment of profanity laced insults, in addition to telling me I should “go and die.”

I have now been stranded in a hotel for the past three nights with no material support or compensation from Airbnb. My account has been deactivated. Airbnb is a scam company that should be avoided at all costs. Brain Chesky and his rich friends are nothing more than white collared corporate scumbags and criminals hiding behind their corporate lawyers, or SFLAW located in San Francisco, while they enrich themselves at the expense of the victims that get defrauded every year by using this sham and disgustingly corrupt and incompetent short-term rental service. Beware of Airbnb.

Held Hostage and Extorted on an Airbnb Boat Rental

We booked a sail boat on Airbnb with the promise of sailing. The listing was named “Sail the Eagon” and promised a trip to different beaches. We booked two nights.

Once we sailed into the ocean the host asked me for an extra €200. What for? He stopped the boat and explained the €400 I paid was for accommodation only (a four-star hotel in Kas was €70 a night) and sailing cost extra. That was why he kept asking if we would be staying more nights. From there he went on about how he is in trouble financially and needed the money. I didn’t like him being this strict when asking for either money or agreeing to book an extra night so he could pay some of his debts.

He made it pretty clear we would not be sailing back unless he got the €200 extra that he asked for as Airbnb wouldn’t pay him for a few weeks. I eventually gave him the €200 so we could be taken back (it was me, my wife, and two-year-old child he was blackmailing), where we left immediately despite the days booked and paid for and stayed in the €70 four-star hotel in town instead.

I contacted Airbnb the next day. First they said the host has agreed to refund the €200 of the €600 if I removed my bad review. I then said I would rather lose the money so others are warned. A week later they emailed me to say my review has been removed for violating guidelines I can’t get them to point out. Anything to protect their scamming money mules. Airbnb could not care less about the customers. It looks like the hosts are their priority as this is where they get their “fee” from.

Airbnb Hosts in Spokane Were Scammers

The story I am about to tell is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I traveled 2500 miles and thought I found a perfect Airbnb. Upon meeting the host and his wife I felt good about the decision to pay upfront and thought the place was beautiful — this was only a first impression, though.

I went about my business and upon returning home I noticed my curtains were opened. I then quickly checked my belongings only to find a few prescription pills missing and then a credit card. I decided to hold off and sleep on it before making any accusations. Much to my surprise, the host told me he had to ask a young women to move out early because she was smoking. I said I have never smoked and hadn’t smelt anything although her room was directly across from mine.

Near the end of the week I was trying to reach out to the host and he was not responding. I received a response indicating I needed to look at my Airbnb message board and found a message telling me to “revert.” I didn’t know what that meant so I messaged back inquiring and was told I had violated the host’s smoking policy…. but I don’t smoke.

Then I received a message from the host that said if I initiated a cancellation then he wouldn’t wouldn’t have to and doing so would get me refunded for the days I didn’t use. I immediately called Airbnb and they said quite the contrary: it is the host that has to initiate cancellations and if their reasons are baseless and unproven you get your unused days refunded. So basically the host was baiting me with falsehoods so that I would initiate a cancellation and be liable for his losses.

There is a point when you know that a person is trying to run a scam. I eventually was able to get my refund but wanted to also let everybody planning to visit Spoken to stay away from hosts like this one.

Airbnb Fraud Lets Unsuspecting Guests Access Our Home

My husband and I own a house out of state that has been vacant and on the market for over a year. The other night our neighbors contacted us to notify us there were multiple cars and motorcycles parked in our driveway with a party going on inside. After an investigation by the police, we found out our house had been listed on Airbnb by a host. We have never rented our home nor given any individual permission to list our home for rent.

There were pictures attached to the Airbnb posting from Zillow as well as cell phone pictures taken from outside our home looking through windows/glass doors to the inside as well as pictures taken from inside of our home. The renters showed the police their rental confirmation. The police were relatively uninterested because they said this happens all the time, that fake listings are put up and people show up and can’t get in. But in this case, these people had been given instructions to access our home.

We have contacted Airbnb through several methods and been told that this will be addressed by the appropriate team. We’ve asked the call center operator to speak with a supervisor and she hung up. Three days later and Airbnb still hasn’t taken down the listing or returned our phone calls. There is clearly no sense of urgency on the part of Airbnb in assisting us with finding the person who is still out there who knows how to access our home.

No Key? Just Open the Door with a Knife!

I booked a whole apartment for a COVID-safe stay for work at the beginning of 2021. The host told me to contact her through her private telephone number so all communication was done through Whatsapp messages (she refused to pick up her phone and didn’t answer her Airbnb messages until I’d Whatsapped her).

I arrived at the address and the key wasn’t there (but three other useless keys were). She refused to believe that I was using the keys properly until I showed her a video of me trying to open the door. She then sent a cleaning lady who couldn’t open the door with the keys either. Then the cleaning lady borrowed a butter knife from someone in the other apartment and tried to force open the door, telling me that this has happened before.

I messaged the host (who still would not answer her phone even though she was calling the cleaning lady) and she said go to Airbnb for a refund. Airbnb said there was no aggravation to the case, and that I wasn’t entitled to a refund even though their website clearly states guests should be refunded when there is no access to the listing. The case went into mediation and the host said it wasn’t that alarming.

This is so ridiculous, I can’t believe it. It’s such a scam. Do not go to this listing. The host also refuses to let my review go up by not reviewing me in return (How could she? I have never stepped foot into the apartment).

 

Airbnb is a Scam and Supports Thieves

I have to share my nightmare story with Airbnb supporting theft via their site via a man in Santa Cruz, Tenerife. One evening a couple of weeks ago, we booked a place via Airbnb. A few minutes after we called to check in, we were told we needed to pay €30 extra for a late check in. This cash requirement late at night seemed dodgy and we immediately cancelled the booking.

Surprise, surprise: the host had a ‘no cancellation refund’ policy. In the meantime, I contacted the host to explain that we had booked for three days and it was a mistake. The host agreed to repay some small part of the amount I paid. I paid £143 and he agreed to repay €125 minus taxes; all in all, a big amount lost for nothing.

Then he kept making excuses that I should ask for the money back via Airbnb, which was the first thing I did. He kept claiming he could not see the request, which was clearly a lie. Then I realized that he kept leading me on so I didn’t have the time to write a bad review. Instead, I cut my losses and wrote a very expensive bad review for the host.

Airbnb has been on his side not compensating me in any shape or form. Therefore, the host, with Airbnb’s blessing and full support, stole £143 from my account. Please beware of these thieves. I was also a host on Airbnb. Needless to say, they have lost me with this support for thieves.

Beware of these scammers; do not book their place. Use Booking.com — what you see is what you get with no hidden fees and theft of money from accounts with lack of service provision.

Fraudulent Post on Airbnb… No Resolution Obviously

I reserved this apartment in Switzerland from a posting on the Airbnb site, and had contact with the host a few times. All seemed well until I made a payment through an external link (though the Airbnb posting indicated this was the way to go), which turned out to be fraudulent (as well as the posting). The address I was given once I made the payment (which is customary practice) did not exist but it was too late at that point anyway.

Over 1200 euros later, I reached out to Airbnb and — surprise — they couldn’t help me and were quick to deny any responsibility to do anything even if the ad was on their website with all the Airbnb logos. I proceeded to file a police report and contest the transaction, but they all say it’s Airbnb’s responsibility — which it is. We all know that Airbnb has the absolute worst customer service on god’s green earth, so I guess I’ll be boycotting them from now on. It’s just too bad they just dismiss clients like that without any recourse.

Airbnb Complicit with Hosts on Bait and Switch Fraud

These are the facts regarding two identical occurrences over a 10-month period where Airbnb was complicit with hosts in a fraudulent bait and switch business practice. The first instance cost me $2,000, and the second instance cost me an additional $600. If you are a lawyer reading this and are interested in a lawsuit against Airbnb, class action or otherwise, please contact me.

I’ve spent hours upon hours communicating with the overseas customer support center. On the first occurrence Airbnb admitted to their wrongdoing. On the second, no admission. I have pages upon pages of these communications and the lackluster efforts of Airbnb customer support.

First I made a booking and sent payment to Airbnb. A receipt of the transaction was provided to me. Then the host cancelled with no explanation given. Eventually a refund of payment was issued by Airbnb. Immediately after the cancellation, for the exact time period of the booking, the host raised rates, and was allowed by Airbnb to book new guests at the raised rates.

I was told by Airbnb customer support to find a new Airbnb to book, as there was “nothing they can do.” Airbnb and the host both financially profit more from the new bookings at the higher rates, after my cancellation. Per Airbnb’s policy regarding host cancellations per the company’s website, the following actions did not occur.

A. The host’s calendar will become blocked and they won’t be able to accept another reservation for the same dates of the cancelled reservation.

B. If the host cancels before the day of check-in, an automated review will be posted to your listing’s profile. These reviews cannot be removed.

C. “Superhost” status was maintained, although neither listing met the 1% cancellation rate threshold at the time.

D. In neither instance was an Instabook used, which gives the host wiggle room to avoid penalty under an “uncomfortable with reservation” loophole.

So to summarize, Airbnb and the host both benefitted financially at my expense due to the host’s post-cancellation rate increases for the same exact time period. To me, this is a clear cut bait and switch fraudulent business practice. It was communicated to me but Airbnb customer support found another Airbnb reservation, the host’s “Superhost” status was not revoked, and in my opinion this is a complete fraud of a designation. The automated message in the host’s reviews detailing the cancellation was never posted to warn future guests of the risk they are taking with a particular host. So the reviews you read are not inclusive of cancellations, and in my opinion, fraudulent.

Scammer Stayed 24 Nights but only Paid for One

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A guest booked a 30-day stay and claimed to Airbnb that he moved out after one night but actually ended up staying 24 nights. Airbnb mishandled the situation and now refuse to correct their mistake.

We are in one of the ten largest cities in the US. The place is very economic ($400/month, average monthly rent for a 1-bedroom-apartment here is $1350). It’s a shared room (3-4 people per bedroom, 10 people in the apartment) and he complained about cleanliness issues within 24 hours.

I do month-to-month rentals and usually have 100 guests at the same time across several location. Over 1000 guests in the last five years. 80% of our ratings are five stars, 90% are four or five stars. Nobody else in the apartment complained about the cleanliness issue. The guest didn’t have a single review.

Airbnb didn’t reach out to me until 14 days after move-in. I pointed out to Airbnb that the guest still lives there. 20 days after move-in they made the decision to refund him all the money besides the first night, because he told them that he moved out, even though he didn’t move out.

I have been chasing them ever since, telling them that he still lives there but they didn’t do anything about it. Everyone saw him and other Airbnb guests also confirmed to Airbnb that he lives there. They slow-walked the case and never asked me for any photo or video evidence that he still lives there.

After he moved out (after 24 days when an Airbnb rep called him and urged him to move out) they suddenly asked me to provide photo evidence that he actually lived there. Now they won’t issue his payout because they say that without video or photo evidence they cannot issue it.

Airbnb made a wrong decision regarding the cleanliness issue given that there were 20 other Airbnb guests living at this location (spread across multiple units) on the same day as the guest but none of them had any complaints. Furthermore, when they first reached out I told them that the guest still lives there and it took them almost a week to come to a decision. When they made their decision, they forgot that he actually still lives there. Now they don’t acknowledge that mistake.

I have attached the four pictures that were presented as evidence by the guest that there was a cleanliness issue. Those are the only pictures that Airbnb showed him. I would like to take them to arbitration and I am seeking an experienced attorney to represent me. Here is a detailed complaint that I sent to Airbnb.

I am challenging the decision that there was a cleanliness issue. This decision by Airbnb was wrong and is the reason there is a dispute in the first place. There was no cleanliness issue. Here is a list of all the Airbnb guests that stayed at this location on March 9 (the day of move-in); none of these people reported an issue. That’s 20 happy Airbnb guests vs. this guy, who doesn’t have a single Airbnb review.

I included the booking code so you can look up the address. The pictures you sent don’t show any cleanliness issues:

1st picture: burned stove counter. There are ten people living in the apartment and most are cooking. Sometimes they will burn a stove top burner and sometimes they don’t clean up right away. Once a week our cleaners come to make sure everything is spotless. It cannot be 100% clean in a shared room environment. You can expect that at a entire place at move-in but not in a shared space.

2nd picture: dirty toilet seat. There are three bathrooms in each apartment. Ten people use those bathrooms and so they get dirty. Once a week they are cleaned spotless but during the week one toilet can be a bit more dirty. There are two other ones where it’s not like that. Again, this is normal in a place where ten people live together and cleaners come once a week.

3rd picture: a kitchen table that’s not 100% clean when ten people live in an apartment to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner there. This is normal,

4th picture: a vegetable outside the fridge. There are ten people living there and they are cooking. When you cook sometimes a vegetable falls on the floor. That’s how every kitchen everywhere looks. I am sure that vegetable was picked up minutes after the picture was taken.

We have been around for over five years and have a great system to make sure people that share a space can live in a clean and healthy environment. We encourage all our guests to clean after themselves and have professional cleaners coming once a week to do the heavy lifting. There is absolutely no cleanliness issue and it was a wrong decision by Airbnb.

Whatever case manager made this decision didn’t look at the satisfaction of other guests staying there nor the fact that this is a shared environment. We are proud of the cleanliness we provide and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. Neither Airbnb, nor Brian Chesky, nor the guest would be able to provide a cleaner environment in an affordable shared room setting like this one.

The guest moved in on March 9 and it wasn’t until March 22 that I received a message from Airbnb. That’s 14 days after move-in. I wrote back immediately that I didn’t agree to a refund and that as of March 19 he was living in the unit. Airbnb did not ask for video evidence then.

On March 24, Airbnb sent photos (16 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence. On March 25, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (17 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence). On March 26, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (18 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence). On March 27, Airbnb said they would follow up the next day (19 days since move-in, no question about video or photo evidence).

On March 28, Airbnb made the decision to refund the guest and there was no word about the fact that he still lives there. No question about video evidence or camera. Airbnb also said that they would not get back to me for three days. It seems that Airbnb just gave the refund at the last minute before the work week was over without double checking if the guest still lives there or not. This is negligence on Airbnb’s part and the reason there is a dispute now.

On March 30 (22 days since he moved-in), I pointed out that the guest still lives there. On April 3, there were no questions asked about video or photo evidence. Someone from the safety team contacted me and then called the guest. Only then did he move out. At no point was video or photo evidence requested.