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.

Abandoned: Non-Existent Airbnb in New York City

Upon arriving in New York, we caught a cab and gave the driver the address of the Airbnb we booked. He pulled up to a parking lot and said, “this is it”. We got out and went up and down the street trying to find the address. It was non-existent; there was no such address. It was rush hour, 85+ degrees and we had gotten up at 4:00 AM. Needless to say, we were frantic.

I called Airbnb and could not get through. After dialing continuously for over 30 minutes and being put on hold for over 15 minutes, I finally got someone on the line. She was very nice and promptly gave us a credit on this booking. Then we had to find a hotel, which, obviously, was a lot more expensive. This is the chance you take when you use Airbnb, so just beware. Will I book with them again? Probably, but I will really read the reviews. This particular apartment had a lot of reviews – believe it or not – so here again, beware. Airbnb is a crap shoot for everything to work out. We had booked in Barcelona and nothing went wrong.

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.

Worst Customer Experience, Fake Airbnb Fees

I booked an Airbnb about a month in advance of my trip to San Sebastian, Spain. I had a few messages with the host and felt good about the booking (good location, all good reviews). My last comment to the host was that I had to arrive late: about 10:30 PM due to traveling all day from another city in Spain. I sent this 24 days in advance, yet four days before my trip he replied saying that he will have to collect a 40 euro “late check-in fee” at the door.

I immediately contacted Airbnb to voice my concerns and to find out if this was something he had the right to do. This “late check-in fee” was nowhere on his listing. After three phone calls and a lot of being put on hold, customer service at Airbnb said the host is not allowed to charge an extra fee that’s not clearly on the listing for all to see. They said they would reach out to him right away to “resolve” this as they did not want to cancel the booking without hearing his side of the story.

I called Airbnb for three consecutive days begging for some sort of answer up to the point that I had passed the cut off for cancelling without a penalty and no one could help. Finally I had to beg and plea the night before my trip to escalate to a case manager. She attempted to assist, but literally said she was hamstrung and they do not issue refunds or reimbursements – ever – without at least letting the host respond. Since it was past the cancellation period, she said there was nothing she could do now that they should have reached out to the host sooner. She also said they could issue a coupon for a future stay, but that the max they could ever issue is $200 USD. I don’t know if any of this is true, but it sounded like complete BS to me.

I called my credit card company. They said I was not the first to dispute an Airbnb charge, that it’s not a problem, and they would take care of me. How dare Airbnb take the side of the host. He had three weeks to reply to me and towards the end I bet he was dodging the calls and emails from Airbnb. Airbnb needs to get their act together.

Foreign Phone Number Only Contact for Airbnb Host?

Please don’t book any rooms or apartments listed by this host. I had made a reservation through Airbnb for a one-night stay on June 23rd, 2017 at a studio apartment listed in Boston. An amount of Rs.5708 was paid for the stay upfront and the reservation was confirmed by the said host. As per the details provided to me through email by Airbnb, check-in could be done anytime after 8:00 AM.

I reached the address at around 6:00 PM. To my surprise, the building at the address was an office and there were no apartments. I tried all possible means to reach Airbnb and the host to provide the correct address of apartment. The phone number provided by the host was a Vietnam number and was unreachable or temporarily out of service. I used the messaging platform provided by Airbnb to contact her at periodic intervals; however, nothing developed. I had also written emails to the address provided by Airbnb. No response was received from the host, even on that medium.

I tried reaching Airbnb Customer Care, however they kept me indefinitely on hold and I was not able to speak with any of its Customer Care Agents. In fact on one occasion, they kept me on hold for twenty minutes and I was still not able to connect with any Airbnb Customer Service Agent. This incident was also brought to the notice of Airbnb through emails. The following response was received from Airbnb:

I’m sorry to hear that you have had difficulty with host responsiveness. We urge our hosts to keep their calendars up to date and respond to all inquiries and requests. Although we do our best to encourage all of our hosts to stay active, some hosts may not be as responsive as we would want them to be. I will be forwarding this to our trip team. I hope this helps but if you have any more questions, please let us know.

It may be noted from the aforementioned communication from Airbnb that even its team members had failed to get in touch with this host. Please note this was the last communication I received from Airbnb on the matter. Because of the Airbnb host, who had failed to provide details of the correct location and access related details, a situation had arisen where I had to spend the night on the side of the road or the lobby of this office building.

As no details of the apartment had been received, I had to make last minute arrangements for an alternative stay. I could not have waited the whole night on the road expecting communication from Airbnb or its host. No such communication from them even happened in the end. The last minute arrangements cost me an additional $215. Airbnb and its hosts are in the business of servicing clients by providing arrangements for guests to stay. Once a stay-related request of a client like me is confirmed from the side of Airbnb’s host after receipt of payment, it becomes a contractual agreement on the host’s part and the part of Airbnb that has to be fulfilled.

I was surprised to see that a host at a US property had a Vietnam mobile number listed and Airbnb displayed it as a verified number. Furthermore, this number was actually out of service and thus there was no way to speak with her. Even Airbnb employees were not able to reach her. Thus, as a result of poor management and insensitive behavior of Airbnb towards me (i.e. their client), including insensitive and irresponsible behavior on the part of Airbnb’s host, I was forced to look and make alternate arrangements. This had cost me $215 in addition to the amount I already paid to the host.

As Airbnb and its host had failed to fulfill the said commitment, I have sent numerous emails to Airbnb and the host to refund INR 5708 that was charged to me, compensate me $210 that I had to pay for making alternate arrangements for the night as a result of the failure on the part of the host and Airbnb, and $1000 for the mental agony and torture I have undergone. I have not received any response from them to date. I would suggest potential Airbnb users avoid making any booking with this host and in fact, avoid Airbnb as it does not provide any help in situations when it is most needed. Airbnb and its hosts can leave you stranded in a foreign land without shelter, and as a result spoil your holiday by gifting you the worst mental agony.

Oh Brother! Extortion and Intimidation in Toronto

Traveling is stressful enough as it is, especially when you are coming from a week of business travel in Europe, to a quick vacation stop in Toronto, before returning home. However, when you throw extortion by your Airnnb host into the mix, it elevates the stress to a whole new level.

Let’s set the scene: I (female) was meeting up with my male friend in Toronto for an event. We wanted to stay in the city and found this listing that appeared to be decent enough. The inside of the house looked charming, with a view of the CN Tower. It was titled the “420 Cottage” and was described as 420 friendly. This was not something we were interested in, but it was located in a great area and for a decent price. We decided to book the property.

Upon arrival on a Friday night, the property looked rundown, with the small front “lawn” a jungle of clearly neglected waist-high weeds. The listing didn’t include a picture of the front of the property, only the inside and view looking towards the city… for good reason I suppose. We got into the property without any issues, and Friday night went smoothly enough, if you could ignore the overly potent stench of marijuana emanating throughout the walls of the unit and the faucet handle that wasn’t even attached.

Upon exploring the unit, we noted that there was a locked door leading to a downstairs unit, which we did not have access to. We also noted some information about parking guidelines and local things to do posted on the fridge and left on the table. Saturday morning I woke up at around 7:15 AM and noted that it sounded as though somebody was entering the property. It sounded as though they spent a couple minutes in the kitchen area, near where the door to the downstairs unit was located, and then left, locking the door behind them. Assuming it was the host, we did not think much of it.

We left for our event at around 8:00 AM, locking the door behind us. At this point, it should be noted that there are two locks on the door: a bolted lock and a lock on the doorknob. I did my due diligence as a renter and locked both locks, from the outside of the house. We returned to the property at around 4:30 PM and were unable to gain access. The bolted lock would unlock, but the lock on the doorknob did not. We texted the host, who stated that we didn’t follow the rules, which clearly stated that the knob lock should not be locked as it cannot be opened with the key provided. However, given that the lock cannot be unlocked with the key provided, one would assume it cannot be locked with said key, which means we should not have been able to lock the door.

In addition, there were no house rules posted inside the home; if there were, they were not clearly visible, and the only rules noted on the Airbnb listing were: “No parties or events. Not safe or suitable for children (0-12 years). No parties are permitted in the house, but there is plenty to do nearby.” There were also no notes posted near the door or the lock, indicating to renters that the lock would permanently lock you out of the property. The host noted that she was out of town and unable to help, which was not previously disclosed to us, but that she would have her brother come let us into the property at 8:00 PM.

At this point, it was an inconvenience to not have access to the property, but we didn’t have another option. At around 8:15 PM we returned to the property and were able to get inside by only unlocking the bolt lock. We showered and headed out to dinner. This time when locking the door, we locked only the bolt lock and were very careful not to adjust the lock on the nob, as instructed. When we returned from dinner, just before 11:00 PM, we found that the nob lock was once again locked. Knowing that this was not our doing, we once again texted the host indicating that we had been locked out, explaining that per her instructions we did not touch the nob lock. Her response was: “That’s awful that the door locked again. A locksmith is $150. My brother says he will come for $100. I am in Windsor and cannot help you.”

With all of our belongings inside the house, including passports, laptops, and luggage, it was very clear at this point that we were being extorted. Knowing that the brother had access to the property and the host was out of town, we speculated that it may have been him who entered the property in the morning and that he had deliberately locked us out of the property later in the day. After stating that this request was unreasonable, I tried calling Airbnb to get advice on how to handle the situation and was placed on hold. Simultaneously, my friend was on the phone with the host (the booking was in his name) trying to figure out what to do. He was told by the host that “if the knob lock is off by even a millimeter, the door will be locked,” which is not how locks work and indicates that she was aware this lock was problematic and failed to correct the problem or disclose the information to her guests.

My friend indicated that we didn’t have that much cash on our persons, to which she stated that she more or less has to bribe her brother to help. Out of desperation, my friend agreed to pay $80, all the while I was still on hold with Airbnb. We were told that the brother will arrive in 25 minutes. For my safety, I take my friend’s belongings, besides the $80 and his cell phone, and wait in our car down the road. About 15 minutes later the brother showed up while I was waiting in the car, about 45 minutes after being placed on hold with Airbnb.

I finally got in touch with somebody who refused to help me, since I was not the individual who made the reservation. Despite being able to confirm the name and dates, and stating that I was not looking to file a claim as my friend will do that later, I was just looking for guidance on how to handle a situation in which I feel unsafe and taken advantage of, I was turned away. Immediately after hanging up with Airbnb, I got a text message from my friend stating that I should come retrieve my belongings, as he did not feel safe enough to continue our stay. He told me that when the brother arrived to unlock the door, prior to giving access he stated: “I am an opportunist – I will take the money now.”

I entered the property and grabbed my belongings, loaded up the car, and we left to spend the night in a hotel. At this point, my friend called Airbnb and began filing a complaint. Similarly to myself, he was placed on hold for about 45 minutes before getting in touch with a person. He explained what happened and was told to hold again while he was being transferred to a manager. Over 20 minutes later, he got on the phone with a manager, who offered virtually no assistance. She stated that we can be refunded for one night, since we exited the property, but that nothing else will be done since “there is no documentation and it is he said/she said.”

Despite indicating that we have text messages documenting the case of extortion, that the host was aware of the issues with this lock and failed to correct or disclose them, and that we felt extremely unsafe in the situation, we were told nothing would be done. By the time we were finished with the calls, having accomplished very little, it was nearly 2:30 AM.

The next day, we were refunded $171 of the $409 we paid for the rental, which is hardly enough compensation for what we went through. I have since filed a police report and we are continuing to pursue the issues with Airbnb, who remain utterly useless. Never would I have expected to be extorted by an Airbnb host; never again will I be using their company, and I will encourage everyone I speak with to not use them. There was obvious negligence on the part of the host to disclose important information regarding the use of the property, including both information about her being out of town during our stay and the known issues with the locks. Given that she was out of town, an additional local contact should have been provided, or some form of emergency contact information. Maintenance of the property to provide a suitable unit for renters was clearly neglected.

The host and her brother locked our belongings in the property and used it to get additional money from us. Then, the negligence of Airbnb to provide any form of assistance when a guest who is using their services (although not the owner of the reservation) is placed in an unsafe situation, is horribly irresponsible. If I had been traveling alone, as a female who was not local to the country, who does not carry cash on them when traveling, I would have been in an even worse situation with limited options and been left even more vulnerable. When traveling, I try to screen my hosts and ensure they are somebody I would feel comfortable interacting with. Had I been aware that I would have to deal with the host’s brother, I would have changed my choice of accommodations.

Lastly, Airbnb’s inability to rectify the situation with my friend, the reservation holder, is appalling. The fact that Airbnb is claiming that we do not have any ground to stand on with these claims and stating that our concerns are irrelevant, is a testament to their unprofessional business practices and lack of concern for their customers. The fact that I was extorted and felt so unsafe that I needed to file a police report in the hopes that it would prevent other people from going through a similar situation speaks volumes to the severity of the situation. Airbnb’s failure to identify this severity and keep their customers safe is an indication that they are an unprofessional company and should not be doing business.