Scammed out of my Pension in Airbnb Nightmare

I am retired, and I have six children who live abroad so I don’t get to see them that often. We planned a family vacation in September, and since we are a big family, I looked for a listing that could accommodate us all. I found the perfect listing on Airbnb – a nice house in the city, a verified host – so I booked it for three nights.

After a few days, I realized we would need an additional night, so I asked the host to add one more night. She told me we would need to cancel the reservation and do the process again, and that she would send me a new invoice through Airbnb. I received this invoice, from “Airbnb” (rooms@airbnb.com) instructing me to send payment to Airbnb Holdings.

Once the payment was done, I got a confirmation from Airbnb stating “pack your bags, you’re going to Germany” – the text you see in the regular emails with links to the Airbnb website, policy, etc. In other words, I got an Airbnb email from an Airbnb address, and because I was sure Airbnb is building “a trusted community”, I did not doubt for a second that something could be wrong.

The day before the trip, as the host wasn’t answering my emails, I called Airbnb, who told me it was a scam, and there was no booking. However, the listing was still online, on the Airbnb website, waiting for people like myself to fall for it. I had to find a last minute booking (at twice the price) to accommodate all my family, because we were all on our way from all over the place, with nowhere to stay. Airbnb declined responsibility for scams they advertise, even though we paid for the service. They did not do the simple verification steps to check that the listings actually exist (not that complicated – just ask the host to send an invoice or official paper with the address). You had one job, Airbnb.

I lost a lot of my pension money, not counting the stress, frustration, sadness of being robbed when you feel secure on such a well known website. Airbnb refuses to refund anything, not even the fees they took for the reservation, which is the minimum they could do in that situation. The truth is, I am sad and disappointed that Airbnb takes so little responsibility towards the community they claim to be building. It’s easy to take fees on our transactions, to encourage us to open our doors and trust their users, and then they disappear when something goes wrong.

Airbnb’s Policy of Holding Payment is Driving away Hosts

I have been a new host with Airbnb since January. My first booking for late July-early August was confirmed in March. After the first guest checked out on August 5th, I waited a week for my payout. When it didn’t show up in my bank account, despite my successfully establishing a payout method, I attempted to contact airbnb and discovered how nearly impossible that it is. Somehow, way back in August, two months ago, a link appeared on their website asking if I wanted a call back, which I did. As soon as I entered my phone number, the phone rang almost instantly.

The first explanation I got was that there was a problem with my payout method but that quickly changed to my payout would be released on September 11th. I protested that there was no reason to hold my payment and that the date was completely arbitrary. It also happened to be the check-out date of my second Airbnb rental. Both rentals went very well and my condo received glowing reviews from both sets of tenants.

It is now October and my payout of $2,795 is still sitting with Airbnb and showing up as “pending” on my transaction page. I can no longer find that link for a callback or any means of contacting these bastards. I will not rent any more with them until they pay me, which I have begun to believe they never will. Is it possible that Airbnb is a giant scam, holding onto selected hosts’ money over time and assuming that by the time of discovery, they will have gotten away with it? I cannot figure out what is going on but this is a dishonest business and I have no recourse but to take some legal action, possibly through small claims court. Airbnb stinks.

Airbnb Scam to Withhold Money from Hosts

We had a guest book for one night. Then they extended it for another three. Then we got an email from Airbnb saying the payment had failed and they wouldn’t be liable for the money. I called Airbnb and asked what to do: should I kick the guest out of the property? They said they were trying to sort it out and not to worry; I wouldn’t be out of pocket. This was verbal; I should have realised it was part of a scam.

It’s now six weeks later, I’ve had ten calls adding up to an hour and around ten emails. Everytime Airbnb just says someone will look into it. They have at least one night’s money and have never responded with any information other than saying they are looking into it. There’s no end in sight. I guess they’re just waiting for me to give up as they have already pocketed the cash. Airbnb are the scammers here as I could have kicked the tenant out or taken cash directly.

The Pros and Cons of Using Airbnb in Other Countries

Airbnb may have started in San Francisco to fill the needs of visiting business travelers as guests and vacationing homeowners as hosts, but obviously it’s become something much, much more… and not all good. Plenty of guests swear by the platform for all their vacations, domestic and international, but if something should go wrong, where would that leave them? Here are some of the factors to consider when you book an Airbnb in another country.

Pros:
– Even if you’re renting an entire house or apartment, an Airbnb is a window into another culture abroad: how homes are decorated, what foods people eat, how they cook, where they live.
– You can have that “at home” feeling instead of the sterile cookie-cutter environment of a hotel room or a crowded hostel.
– Airbnb properties can be cheaper than hotels, and don’t always conform to peak season prices.

Cons:
– Checking in and meeting the host is difficult if you don’t plan ahead by getting a local SIM card or arranging a place to meet.
– Your host may not speak your language. Though this isn’t always a problem if the Airbnb is pristine and in working order, if something goes wrong, you’re going to have a hard time explaining it.
– Should there be a major problem with the property or the host, it’s a little daunting to just walk out the door into a foreign country without a backup plan.
– It’s harder to report a scam or fake listing for some of the reasons above. Airbnb scams in NYC have been so successful with international guests because they’re unfamiliar with the area, may not be able to stay in touch with Airbnb – calling online instead of by phone – and can’t always arrange replacement accommodation on short notice.
– Though there are plenty of Airbnb properties near tourist attractions and accessible by public transportation, these are people’s homes; they’re scattered across the countryside, suburbia, and the city and don’t always make it easy for travelers to get in and out.

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.

Fraudulent Listing in Moscow Leaves Guest at Hotel

At the end of July 2017, I rented a room for two nights with Airbnb in Moscow, Russia. I sent text messages to the host of the apartment a couple of times asking him about his apartment number. Not getting any answers led me to believe there was an international communications problem.

When I got there, I called him many times but still got no answer. I went to the address which was centrally located and like many other apartment buildings in Moscow, it had security personal at the entrance. I asked the security guy about this listing and he answered me that the building had eight apartments. He had never seen the host in the picture I provided nor did he know any resident who rented an apartment in that building. He also contacted his partner who worked the same shift but he got a negative answer as well. That was about 3:30 in the afternoon.

I tried to contact Airbnb but I was unsuccessful. They had no help nor support from the website. I tried until around midnight by browsing with my luggage from one restaurant to another with no luck. I spent that night in a nearby hotel, paying around $100. The next day, after many hours of trying to rent a different apartment, I gave up and changed my return ticket to the earliest date, which happened to be on August 21st. That date was almost ten days earlier than my originally planned return date of September 2nd.

After changing my ticket, I rented a different place with Airbnb after many hours where I could spend the time enjoying my vacation. The place that I rented was not centrally located. Finally I contacted Airbnb, and told them that the listing was fraudulent. Because of that fraudulent listing, my entire trip was derailed and I was very much depressed.

When I returned to the states, I contacted Airbnb and spoke with a person at customer service who sent me an email earlier, presenting herself as a help/support department manager and promising to compensate me $300. According to her, this was the maximum amount that Airbnb could pay. I asked her whether this conversation was being recorded and she responded that it was. After speaking with her back and forth, she promised to compensate me with $400 plus my refund of $81 for a rental. I received an email today from a representative at Airbnb, stating that their company will not compensate me the amount that had been promised. I don’t like companies that don’t understand how to calculate their costs and benefits. In my case, if I don’t rent with Airbnb for three or four times, they lose me as a costumer and the amount that they had to compensate me.

Paying for a Host’s Remodel, Damage Present Before

Last month we rented a large family home for our family of four adults and two infants. The host left us a code to the door, and we welcomed ourselves into their beautiful home. The basement had a family room, which we enjoyed every day. The floor was laminate, and right away we noticed a small area (two boards) that looked to have had some minor water damage. We didn’t think much about it since it was like that upon our arrival.

One week later and 15 minutes after our 11:00 AM departure we received a note from the host stating that we had caused water damage to his basement. My husband’s response was that nothing had occurred in the home and that the small area was blistered when we arrived. The host made two attempts to have us pay for the damage; we explained in simple terms the floor was like that when we arrived and that we weren’t taking responsibility.

The following day the host informed us that he was filling an insurance claim with Airbnb. Two days later we received an email from the resolution center stating that the host wanted $6,000 to replace the entire 750 sq ft floor. Should we not respond in 72 hours our credit card would be charged. Our family didn’t do anything wrong, and this host (a Superhost) is trying to extort us for an entire remodel. We’re not sure what to do. We are crafting an email in response to the resolution center, but should we seek legal advice first? It’s not a few hundred dollars to replace a floor board; it’s an entire basement. We didn’t take pictures because we didn’t even know it was a problem. I do understand that hosts need to be protected, but I see nothing on the Airbnb website about guest protection. The hosts we rented from have been doing this as a business for years and have hundreds of excellent reviews. I do feel that our family is being taken advantage of.

Host Extorted Money for Confirmed Reservation During Eclipse

Last week, we wrote a review for a host who made us to pay more money for our confirmed booking (a month after we had paid in full) because of the high demand for booking her location during the August 21st eclipse. She claimed there was a booking glitch and she intended to have Instant Booking charge us more. When we booked, there were other options, but at that point (a month before the eclipse) there was nothing left. We couldn’t afford what she was asking, and were worried she or Airbnb would cancel our booking if we complained, as has happened to other guests on forums where hosts claim a “booking glitch”. This would have left us high and dry with our small children. We offered to pay her $500 instead of $1700, which she accepted.

After our stay, I wrote a review detailing the experience, but I have yet to see it posted on her site. Do you know how long it takes to for a review to show up for a host? It has been a week since I submitted it, and I hadn’t received any messages that anything was wrong with it. I’m worried the host will get Airbnb to not post it. They will be able to see it is accurate; all our communication was done over Airbnb messages, including her request to “adjust the price” and her explanation that she decided to adjust the price due to demand. Ultimately, I’d like to see the host respond to our review with a refund of the money we paid under duress, and to agree to post surge-pricing dates on her site in the future, and address future website booking glitches within 24 hours and with Airbnb rather than putting pressure on guests.

A Few Stained Carpets and a Hidden Guest with Your Stay?

It was a cold, miserable day in April 2017. My husband and I hadn’t been on a vacation where we stayed in one spot longer than two nights for years. We did do a stay at an Airbnb in the Okanagan, in British Columbia, Canada, last year, and it was amazing. We decided to try again, only for a longer time and on a lake. We perused Airbnb until we found the perfect spot. The pictures blew me away, it was exactly what we were looking for, and the reviews were all raving. What could possible go wrong, right? You know the old saying: “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is?”

Well, it was. This was the most money per night we have ever spent on a room, at $189/night, and we were so looking forward to it. For months, we dreamed about how relaxing it was going to be. Then we got there. We walked in, and the carpets were deplorable. This was a pet friendly suite, which I was totally fine with, being both a cat and dog owner. We left our dog behind, as she did not meet the height restriction imposed by this stay, which was fine; it would be a more relaxing vacation without her. I had no idea – someone correct me if I’m wrong – but when a place is pet friendly, does that equate to “please bring your canine friend, and make sure it isn’t house trained, and kindly have it piss and defecate anywhere on the carpet it pleases, as many times as possible, so that everyone who comes after will know it was here”?

That’s what the carpets looked like here. It was absolutely disgusting. I took a video and uploaded it to youtube. It really was worse in person, but you can clearly see all the stains in the video. As if that wasn’t enough, the listing said it was for a two-bedroom basement walkout. Perfect, I thought: we’ll have two beds to sleep on, I can see if my sister and her husband can come down from Vancouver for a night or two (out of the five nights we paid for, at an additional cost of $15/night if she stayed), and if she didn’t come, maybe I can starfish on that second bed a night or two, really stretch out and sleep alone. We stepped in, looked around, and tried the second bedroom door off the bathroom (a cheater ensuite). It was blocked from the other side; we couldn’t get in. The door didn’t lock though – it was just something against the door.

We didn’t think twice about it; I didn’t invite my sister and her husband down that first night anyway, thinking maybe they were still cleaning it (wanting to give them the benefit of the doubt). I was wrong. We woke up the next day, sharing the bathroom, brushing our teeth, etc. and we heard coughing from the other side of the door. What? Are you kidding me? There was someone in there, and obviously slept in there, because the coughing continued for at least half an hour before I texted the host and asked to talk to him.

He came down and explained it was his kid in there, that we didn’t ‘need’ the second bedroom, so his child from out of town would be using the room. Really? Gross. The door doesn’t lock, nor did the door to the main house that the suite shared. So I could be taking a shower, and dude could just say ‘oops’, and walk in on me? Let me be clear: the ad was for a two-bedroom basement walkout. Not once did he contact me and tell me we would be sharing the suite, nor that the second bedroom would not be available to me, nor that he would be lowering my rental rate. Not once. He had months to let me know this.

I told him I wasn’t happy about this lack of privacy (what if we wanted to get freaky with it in that second bedroom? None of his business since we paid for it). What if we wanted to get freaky at all, anywhere in that suite? We had to worry about his kid listening and hearing everything? Gross. Just gross. Well guess what? He texted me later and his solution to this was to put a different kid down there; she was ‘quieter’. Great, thanks. That solved everything (dripping with sarcasm).

After two nights, he texted me to tell me there was no longer anyone staying in that room, but we still couldn’t get in. We never even saw what it looked like. I waited, and stewed, and decided to leave an honest review, as follows:

“Rod and Penny are the loveliest of people, and their dog Dusty is adorable. The location is great, beautiful views, lovely patio and hot tub. I am leaving an honest review, because I feel like it’s the only way Airbnb can work for everyone. I was disappointed with the state of the carpets (pet stained – had anyone else mentioned the dirty carpets in their review, we may have cancelled). Being a pet friendly rental should not equal filthy carpets. And I am not a neat freak by any stretch – I just like it clean. Was also not happy at not getting the two-bedroom suite as advertised, with no advanced notice that we were not getting the full suite that we paid $200/night for. After two nights, Rod did tell us no one was staying in that second bedroom anymore (I had told him I was upset about it), but we still did not have access to it; it was blocked shut. That being said, Rod was concerned about our happiness while there, but there was nothing he could do to improve the situation. The damage was already done.”

Airbnb did a good job of responding to my request for money back; I will give them that. They didn’t get me what I asked for, but I got one night’s rent back, plus an additional $50. However, here’s the kicker: my honest review does not show up on his listing. My question is this: how many other people commented about the filthy carpets? If I had seen one complaint about cleanliness, I would have cancelled. When he came down to speak about it, he said how shocked he was, how no one had ever complained about it before, and how he had the carpets cleaned every three weeks.

In our correspondence about a refund, he told me I could have checked out. Right. In the middle of tourist season, I could have checked out, only gotten half my money back, and found a place to stay? I don’t think so. This guy was arrogant to deal with when it came to the refund. He only puts the good reviews up, and he knows his place is filthy. He has the location and pictures on his side, and will continue to scam people. Shame on Airbnb for not making a site where all reviews get posted. I paid my money to stay there, so I should be able to review it for all potential guests to see. I will never use Airbnb again.

Scammed For Over £1500 On Fake Spain Listing

I decided to use Airbnb for the first time recently, in order to book a villa in Spain for my family. Having never used Airbnb before, I contacted the host, put in my bank details and ‘requested to book’. The host wanted to speak on the phone, so I gave them my number. We spoke on WhatsApp, albeit in Spanish, with myself consulting translators. I was then sent a series of official looking emails, from what I assumed was Airbnb (the links even took me to the brand’s social media accounts). I was instructed to make a payment into a bank account in Valencia. Again, to a first time customer, without fraud even entering my mind, I made the payment. Weeks later, the day before we were due to fly, I couldn’t contact the ‘host’ and their profile had been removed from the site. After a few panicky phone calls to Airbnb customer service, it became apparent that I had been scammed. We were due to fly in less than 12 hours, and Airbnb cheerfully shirked all responsibility in this matter, even asking politely if there was ‘anything else they could help with?’ Weeks later, I have been emailing them and calling them with barely any response. They seem to be impossible to contact, and they are getting away with assisting fraudsters on their platform.