Airbnb Not Allowing Some Guests to Book?

VRBO

A guest who is trying to book my listing is getting the following message from Airbnb when she reaches the stage of entering credit card information in the booking process:

“Choose another place to stay. Airbnb prevents reservations for entire homes when a pattern of factors (like location or reservation time) suggests the booking may be unsafe. This restriction is not related to the coronavirus. For resources on coronavirus, see airbnb.com/covid. Please try a hotel room instead.”

My listing is not unsafe. It is perfectly clean and safe. I called Airbnb Support and they told me that this is some issue with the guest’s account. But then, the guest’s co-staying guest tried booking my listing using their Airbnb account and their credit card. The Airbnb system responded with the exact same message.

I’m not sure I really believe that this is a problem with the guest’s account. Is anyone else experiencing this phenomenon? If so, please share any information with me that you can.

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Not Impressed with Airbnb Experiences Overall

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I stayed in a few Airbnbs over the world in 2016. I decided to try Airbnb because I wanted the experience of living as a local would. I wanted the experience of getting to know the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting on an authentic level.

I wanted to stay in places that had some character and didn’t look like generic corporate beige. I wanted to stay in residential neighborhoods rather than in the middle of a tourist trap. More importantly, I wanted to save money on staying in hotels/motels and also on food by being able to have access to a kitchen and prepare my own meals. These are all things Airbnb advertised at the time and I was very interested in being able to travel that way.

The first thing that I was struck by when deciding to rent an Airbnb was how expensive they were, even in comparison to local motel rates; many were the same and some even more. The second thing that I was struck by was how inaccurate the descriptions were on the majority of the listings. The third thing that I was struck by was that many of these listings were places other people lived most of the time but were just renting out when they were not there, and were not designed with the guest’s comfort and enjoyment in mind.

The first place I stayed at was in the U.S. and it consisted of a bedroom in a house with half a bathroom. Again, the price was about the same as a local motel. The washer and dryer didn’t work, the floor was chipped and cracked and the window screen was broken. The floor was stained and dirty. It wasn’t like I had access to the entire house — just the room. The owner was not available most of the time and didn’t answer or address any of my needs the entire time, even though they got paid.

The second place I stayed was a room in another house. The lady who owned it was actually super nice. I went to an ecstatic dance event with her and we had a great time. She had children and one of her kids was in camp, so I was staying in her son’s room. Again, she was a lovely woman but it was weird sleeping in a kid’s room with kid’s sheets. It was clear she was a struggling single mom who was trying to make some money for her mortgage, so I felt like overall it was something I didn’t have a problem with. However, I wouldn’t ever stay there again.

The third place I stayed in was in Denmark. That was the only Airbnb where I had access to the entire apartment that was clean, orderly, and as described on the listing. The owner was helpful in helping me rent a bike. The price was also reasonable and I was able to actually save money with food because all the kitchen equipment actually worked. That was the only place that I would ever stay again.

The last place was in Germany and that was the last time I ever rented an Airbnb. The description was completely inaccurate; the apartment was located way on the other side of town. I had to walk two miles to with my luggage. The owner met me and he seemed nice. He gave me the key and talked about the town for a few minutes before he left.

The apartment didn’t have much working in the kitchen and not even a working microwave. The bathroom was filthy, with a piece of dirty duct tape on the floor holding it all together. The sheets I’m pretty sure had not been washed and the only appliance that worked was the TV.

The day that I left I got locked into the building and wasn’t able to leave since I had given him back the key. I knocked on some random apartment for someone to let me out. After that experience, I checked the local hotel and motel rates in the city itself and found that they were comparable and in some cases even less than what the Airbnb host was charging.

For the same price, you can get a hotel room with clean sheets, clean towels, a clean bathroom, a safe, and someone to clean your room. A hotel will generally be up to standards and have good customer service, but this is not the case with Airbnb.

You just get the feeling that many of these Airbnb hosts are far more interested in making additional income to pay their bills than they are in providing a valuable, guest and customer service oriented, hospitable experience. They aren’t obligated like hotels are to abide by certain hospitality industry standards. They aren’t even obligated to abide by certain safety codes and are not subject to inspection.

According to some of the reviews I have read on this website, many Airbnb listings are not even required to actually exist. Many of them are fake or are dishonest in their listing description.

I’m posting this because everyone talks about how great Airbnb is, but that has not been my experience overall. You really are not saving any money and you’re really taking a gamble on whether or not the place you are renting from even exists. If it does, will it be up to code, or is it a fire trap? Is it going to be clean? Will your host cancel your reservation right before you arrive? Is the host an ex-con, a rapist or murderer? Of course, this can go for the guests too.

Airbnb has some potential but it needs much more oversight. The listings should be subject to certain local laws to ensure they are complying with safety standards. They should be subject to inspections and paying fees to local governments so that they do not displace local residents.

As it is practiced today, it is a bad idea and really should be banned. Many people can’t access affordable housing and it is largely due to Airbnb being turned into short term rentals which can charge a higher rate. Guests coming in and out of the neighborhoods are not required to register their status if they are ex-convicts or sex offenders.

Is it really worth any of the savings if you don’t know if your valuables will be safe or if the host is safe? If the kitchen equipment doesn’t work, and you have to dine out anyway? Are you really “living as a local” if the place you are renting is on the other side of town?

In short, think about it before renting an Airbnb. Is it really worth the risk? Maybe have a back up plan like a hotel booked which has a 24-hour cancellation policy just in case. Or just stay in the hotel and forget Airbnb.

VRBO

Host Tries to Charge Guest $6,000 for Fake Damages

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Last November I was traveling with a friend from Tennessee to Delaware. We stopped several places along the way and our first stop was actually in Alabama. We got there and the Airbnb was difficult to find and seemed like it was in a sketchy area. Once we found the place, it wasn’t so bad.

The next morning we wanted to do a load of laundry and there had been a washer and dryer listed for usage. Well, in order to use the washer, I had to get the host’s stuff out and load it into the dryer. I thought I was being helpful anyway.

After a few minutes, my friend and I smelled something burning. I went over there and sure enough there was something wrong with the cord. We were not told that this was the case, but I had to make sure to unplug the dryer. I had to move the dryer to make sure I could unplug it which was difficult since it was hot to the touch.

We opened windows and the door. We even called 911 to get the fire department out even though there wasn’t a fire just yet. We knew we needed to leave, but needed to make sure nothing happened. We stayed until the smoke cleared, but from a distance so we wouldn’t inhale the fumes. We also called the host and told her exactly what happened and she was cordial and okay with us when we were on the phone and thanked us for letting her know.

That night I got a call from the host screaming at me for ruining her stuff and that I had caused significant damage. I let her know it was due to her error in not letting us know the dryer had faulty wiring, but she insisted that it was on us. She went ahead and complained to Airbnb and said we did that as well as stole some stuff. We are not thieves.

We got a call from Airbnb letting us know the complaints and we let them know the real issue. They told us, “Yeah, it is a little ridiculous what she’s saying and it’s way more than could happen in one night.” So they said that we would be okay and that they would eliminate this complaint.

About three days later I got an email trying to charge me $6,000 for the damages. I called about it and once again they apologized and said they would remove the charges. However, a few days later I got an email saying that my account had been disabled due to not following the terms and conditions in accordance with Airbnb policy.

I have since tried and tried to talk to Airbnb and ask why my account was disabled, but they keep emailing me and letting me know to reply to with my Airbnb inbox, which I cannot use since they disabled my account.

VRBO

Airbnb Nightmare you Wouldn’t Wish on Anyone

We booked three weeks with what on first meeting appeared to be a friendly South African immigrant couple in Allandale, Governors Bay in New Zealand. When we arrived, we were disappointed to see that the kitchen and bathroom were filthy, and the mattress badly stained. For $83 a night, it should have at least been clean.

While I was out for a drive the next day, I was told by one of their neighbours that the hosts are illegally subletting the downstairs unit without the owners’ permission and expressed concerns for anyone staying with this couple. They didn’t go into detail. That was our first warning.

Within 48 hours, one of the hosts had entered our downstairs unit twice without our permission while we were out. Despite us telling them we were on a working holiday and needed a secure space in which to lock away my husband’s laptop and work files, they told us they wouldn’t be locking the upstairs area they rented (which had internal access to our unit), so our possessions were not safe while we were out.

She then made numerous demands for us to mind and socialise her unruly and poorly trained 50-kg dog, and feed her chickens, none of which we should have to do in an Airbnb but we complied with everything the host asked for out of the kindness of our heart.

Our petite dog was hurt by her dog two days in a row while they were out and so we placed her in a kennel to keep her safe. The host gave us no peace from one day to the next. She repeatedly trapped my husband on the way to and from his car to make conversation when her husband was not around.

When on the third day I explained to her that my husband works 40-50 hours a week, that we were exhausted, and I asked her for much needed space and privacy, she became repeatedly vindictive. She started sending texts to us via the Airbnb site making false allegations with an attempt to have us kicked out and lose our payment for the two remaining weeks.

She then involved her husband and together they constantly harassed us until we no longer felt safe and went to stay elsewhere for three days for some peace and quiet. Numerous calls and texts followed from them both.

We told them that we were leaving and that we would be back to collect our belongings. Her husband then told us we were not permitted to return to retrieve our belongs and threatened us. We had no choice but to call the police, who came to the property and kept them away from us while we gathered our things to leave.

We would never recommend anyone stay here. It was exhausting and we felt very unsafe with this couple living above us, and are very relieved to have made it out of there in one piece.

Cured Photos, Airbnb Says Everything is Within Policy

We had to escape from an Airbnb apartment. It was not as described, with photos only showing the best parts of it.

Most importantly, it was unsafe. The neighboring building was a dump and abandoned apparently; the picture of the entrance did not show this. I have proof of how it looks in reality and can send it. It is unsafe.

We couldn’t get into the apartment because the path to it was completely covered with ice. There were literally no steps; it had not been cleaned for weeks. We have taken pictures of this. I fell and almost ended up on the road with cars. The icy path opened directly to the busy road and there were no pathways.

The bed was yellowed and very old. We could not even think of sleeping on it. The toilet was clean but smelled of urine — filthy and not hygienic. The other small bedroom had the window shut from the outside. This Airbnb was nothing like the sunshine in the pictures.

Threatening Behavior, Locked out by Host

My partner and I stayed at an Airbnb in Palm Springs on Monday, February 17th. The room was booked for that night and the following night.

Upon arrival, the front gate was open, as the majority of the facility was under construction, something that was not disclosed when we booked the place. The door code provided to us in an email and also reiterated in text message for the door to our room did not work.

We toiled with the door for a while and after becoming frustrated, a maintenance person came over, tried the code we were provided, and could not gain access. He then used a different code to let us in. He apologized profusely, introduced himself, and said he would reset the lock and send an email with the new code. He also said we could reach out to him if we needed anything.

Once inside we tried to take a nap, but the loud construction in the unit above and the surrounding units was too disturbing. There seemed to be renovations happening in most of the rooms, as doors to most of the units were open and construction workers were coming and going throughout the property… not exactly the relaxing environment we were paying a premium for.

I made a mental note that I would not be lounging by the pool in my bathing suit the next day as I’d been planning. After waiting several hours for the code that never came, we called the number provided in the welcome email, and texting the number that had been given to us “if we needed anything at all.”

After calling several times and waiting on hold, we were given a new code which worked on the door to our room when we tested it. We left for dinner, a reservation for which we were late due to the delay in getting the code.

Upon returning, we could not gain access to the property’s main gate with the code provided to us in the original email. We both tried many times to input the code we were given for the gate but it did not work.

We again called the number and were told by the same woman who had reset our door code earlier that she could see us in the security camera and to input a code she gave us, which was the same code we’d received in email. She watched us as we tried that code over and over again. When it did not work, she put us on hold for over 15 minutes.

We were standing outside without coats, freezing in the pitch black for this entire experience. This was around 8:30 PM and sunset was at 5:30 PM that night. It was our first trip to Palm Springs and had no idea how safe this neighborhood was at night. We were on hold for so long my partner tried calling the customer service number from her phone, which went unanswered.

Eventually, another guest arrived and put a code in which opened the gate and we followed them into the property. The new code, provided to us before we left for dinner, worked on our room door and we went inside.

We were still on the phone with the customer service woman, who was rudely asking us to repeat back to her the code we had been using that didn’t work — which was the exact code she had been telling us on the phone. I’m unsure as to why she wanted us to repeat it back to her. She clearly was accusing us of putting the wrong four-digit code into a lock. This was not user error.

She also told us to go to the room of the other guests we followed in, knock on their door, and ask them what code they had put into the gate. That sounded like a great way to get the police called or get shot in the middle of the night. Not to mention anxiety-producing for them to have two strangers knock on their door in the middle of the night to work out logistical nonsense that the property managers couldn’t figure out.

Well within our rights and on the basis of sanity, we did not go knock on their door. As we were having this conversation with her, we got a knock on the door. It was the same maintenance worker who let us into our room earlier upon our arrival earlier in the day when the code wouldn’t work.

When I answered the door he was profusely apologizing both for us being locked out when we arrived and for us being locked out when we came back from dinner. As we were listening to him, another man who did not identify himself and was dressed in track pants and t-shirt came out of nowhere in a very aggressive way and started demanding that I, a female, leave our room and go with him to the front gate of the property to show him the code we had tried to use that wasn’t working.

I explained that I intended to check out of the facility as soon as possible and I would not be needing to leave and come back to the site, therefore I was no longer in need of a working code for the front gate. He screamed at me that I was being uncooperative and I would not be getting a refund for not staying there the next night unless I went outside with him and showed him the code I was trying to put into the gate.

I explained again that I intended to leave the property first thing in the morning and would not be returning so I was not in need of a working code for the front gate. At one point, the maintenance worker put his hand on this man’s shoulder to hold him back and calm him down because he was acting so aggressive and uncontrollable.

At this point, I realized I didn’t know who the man was and asked him – “who is this guy?” – to which the man shouted “I’m the manager of this place!”

Prior to this, and although he had been standing at my door yelling for over five minutes, he did not introduce himself, offer any identification, nor did he appear dressed in any manner that a professional employee would. He literally ran up on us in the dark and started angrily demanding we follow him out in to the dark to put the code into the outer gate.

We refused. We did not know who this person was, it was dark, we are female, his behavior was volatile, and we were on vacation and not obligated to spend our time solving logistical nonsense because the locks don’t work.

The situation escalated, with the man yelling at us for being “uncooperative” and telling us we would not be helped or refunded any amount of money unless we went with him to try the code. He was so angry and out of control that the other man had his hand on him to calm him down and, presumably, prevent him from crossing any lines and assaulting me or my partner.

At that point I felt unsafe and threatened, was done wasting my time and vacation listening to his nonsense, and closed the door. I tried to call Airbnb several times and each time was sent an auto-generated message that I had to click which I was told would advance me to customer service. Each time I tried this I was hung up on and had to call back.

Finally, after multiple attempts to reach someone I called the neighborhood complaint line and finally connected to a real person. I explained the situation to the woman who answered, and she said she needed to transfer me to customer service. I was then transferred to a man whom I told all the same information and explained that I felt unsafe at the property and wanted assistance finding a new place to stay for the night and the following night.

He told me he was going to call the property manager and call me back within 30 minutes. I reiterated that I would hear from him in 30 minutes and he confirmed I would. I’m sure you’re not surprised to hear I did not receive a call back from the man that night or the following morning. We ended up sleeping with my girlfriend’s pepper spray out and woke up with every noise we heard.

I called Airbnb again the next morning at 8:00 AM, as we were leaving for good — a day earlier than we planned. We booked another place to stay because we were so upset and felt threatened to continue to there.

My call that morning was my eighth call to Airbnb regarding this matter. I was transferred to customer service who told me she would reach out to the property manager and call me back within an hour, but in the meantime she would message me on the Airbnb app so I had her contact information.

She called me back about twenty minutes later to ask if I knew the man’s name who was threatening me and I confirmed I did not because he did not introduce himself. She told me I would hear back from her within an hour and, unsurprisingly, I did not.

I followed up on the Airbnb message at 5:30 that night, ten hours after I had spoken to her and received no response. I then followed up again the next day and didn’t receive a response for multiple hours. I finally connected with a man telling me he was a manger with Airbnb who told me to send him my receipt for the night I had to book at a different location and he would start processing a refund for the time there and the cost to stay at the new location. He then didn’t respond for two days.

When I followed up, he said he had been out of town and was still waiting to hear back from the property on my refund. I do not understand why Airbnb needed to consult them about my refund. There is no disputing I was locked out of my room and locked out of the facility twice. There is no disputing that I was screamed at and physically threatened by a man who worked for them who purported to be the manager.

What more does Airbnb need to give me a refund? Is this a customer service experience they are comfortable with?

I got so tired of the onus of following up being on me that I called my bank and explained the issue to them. They were horrified and refunded my money and told me they would deal with Airbnb.

Every time I relay this story to someone I am aghast as are they with not only how the property treated me but how Airbnb was difficult to reach, slow to respond and seemed unconcerned that this situation had occurred.

Can you imagine if this was your vacation? How would you feel being treated like this and having to spend a tremendous amount of time and energy trying to get your money back?

I would like Airbnb to explain to me, since their reaction and follow up indicate they think this situation was acceptable: what you would have done if this happened to you? What would you suggest your family or friends do if it happened to them? There are plenty of other hospitality options these days and because of that, customer service has never been more important.

Here is my ultimate question: is the experience I had on my vacation while staying in an Airbnb acceptable? Is the customer service experience I outlined above acceptable?

If this is acceptable per the tenants of Airbnb’s corporate customer service and experience policies, then Airbnb will no longer be getting any of my business, and I will be sure to let my network of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues know their stance. If this is not acceptable, please explain to me what I should have done differently.

Airbnb Guest from Hell Blackmails Host to Not Pay Damages

I was a host for five years and didn’t have a singe issue with tenants, but still, a guest from hell arrived to rent a room in my beautiful apartment. He violated all the rules of my home immediately. He smoked cigarettes and then weed day and night. He slammed the doors 24/7. He was extremely dirty and the apartment had a horrible smell.

Then he claimed he had a medical prescription to smoke weed. He informed me that he arrived in my city to see a psychiatrist, as he was ‘crazy’. He showed me other medicine he was taking. The man was very tall and huge, triple my size, and he was screaming and shouting. He was throwing his things against the wall.

I thought I was in a horror movie. I was absolutely terrified and scared for my life as a single female being in the house with him. I contacted Airbnb and they told me that they were cancelling this reservation. However, they couldn’t “reach” the tenant and it was I who had to inform him, evict him, and to involve police. They washed their hands of it, leaving me by myself with an aggressive man who was threatening me and refusing to leave.

That was not the end of it. Airbnb sent me two emails informing me about their Million Dollar Guarantee, probably expecting me to claim a lot (fortunately, nothing was damaged). At the same time, in a third email Airbnb immediately accused me – instead of apologizing for their total lack of help to evict this tenant from hell – by issuing me a warning that my email to the customer service was discriminating.

Just to clarity, in my email I simply asked them how they ensured the safety of hosts because people who have mental issues of such proportions get on the platform. What policy is there in place to protect the hosts? Apparently hosts cannot ask valid questions like that, or they are shut down immediately as it is deemed “discrimination” by Airbnb. They even sent me a link to anti-discrimination policy.

What a scam. They lie in all their communications. They abuse and effectively blackmail hosts – preemptively – to ensure no claims for damages are filed, and so they don’t pay. When I asked what action they did take against the tenant, they didn’t give me any details; as per their policy, it’s an “internal” matter. They do what they want and how they want, as long as these guests from hell pay them commissions.

Airbnb really scams hosts because they provide no guarantees for safety and security for our homes. Even if Airbnb covertly turns our homes effectively into asylums for mentally ill people, it’s okay because Airbnb can still make some money off it. They don’t care about hosts, just use and abuse us to make commissions. I really can’t wait till they file for IPO as then all their scams and abuses will explode right in their face, and the market will punish their abuse immediately. Airbnb won’t be able to avoid class action lawsuits at that point.

Mental Health: Airbnb Doesn’t Put your Safety First

This is a long post with a very disturbing video and story.

My husband and I arrived to an Airbnb host’s free backyard cottage on Thursday, January 23rd Around 9:20 PM. All went as planned as far as going in the backyard and finding the key in the shed behind the main house just as the owner’s form message instructed. The accommodations were exactly as described, very clean and very cute.

At 8:00 AM the next morning, a woman came to our door and began to rattle it very hard in an attempt to get in. We told her several times that we were in there and she responded with, “ha ha ha ha ha ha” and then screamed, “YOU SCARED ME!” We again said we were in there and she began to yell at us: “Don’t stress, don’t stress.”

She then returned to the main house. A few minutes later I heard a very disturbing and very loud scream from the house. Shortly after the young woman came outside wearing a dress and a towel wrapped around her shoulders/head. She had a hammer and a wicker cylinder shaped basket of some sort.

She then began to hammer the basket very loudly and aggressively on the concrete patio located less than ten feet from where we staying. At one point she took a break and she turned around as if she were looking at the neighbor’s house and gave them the finger. It was at this point I told my husband that we were not staying here another night and that we were leaving ASAP.

We quickly packed our things and took them to the car parked in front of the main house. As we put our luggage in the trunk we saw the curtains move in the front window. Suddenly, the woman in the house threw her face against the glass and started shrieking violently and making pain-filled faces. She was yelling inaudible things through the glass.

She then opened the screen-less window and it was clear that we were not dealing with a mentally healthy person. She told me that I smelled bad because I smelled like lanolin. There were several other odd things said and many disturbing screams.

I then got my phone and made a video and asked if she was okay. She defensively and calmly said she was fine and I asked if she was the host. She replied with, “F$%k no, she doesn’t live here but I bet she didn’t tell you that she had a mentally ill daughter.”

She then let out another super disturbing scream, horror movie style. I turned off my camera and she continued to flip us off and scream viciously as we pulled out of the driveway.

We never provoked her. We never spoke with her other than when she was trying to force herself into our locked room and when I took the video. We were just grateful that she didn’t display this behavior in the night and we didn’t have have time to properly respond.

Our biggest concern was our safety and hers. We contacted her mother via private message. The host responded quickly and wrote, “She has been stable for a week but apparently is not any longer.” According to a standard issue form message to her guests, the host is a traveling musician and is always looking for gigs in other people’s homes.

The host gave us our money back and Airbnb, while initially unresponsive to my urgent email, did handle things very smoothly and efficiently once I called them. The company canceled our reservation and refunded our $280 in record time.

During our phone call I asked if this woman would still be allowed to host. Airbnb, who is privy to all of this information, including the DMs with the host, told us that they would go over the rules and regulations with the host. Her cottage has been pre-booked for months of January, February and March for many weeks.

As of 7:00 PM CST on January 27, 2020, this property is still booked with previous reservations and and is still accepting new ones; because Airbnb canceled our reservation and refunded our money, company policy has revoked our privilege to post a review. This also explains why 168 people have given this property a 95% positive review.

Watch the video to the end.

Posted by Dana Moxie Minetos on Monday, January 27, 2020

Waking up to a Stranger in my Airbnb Room

I booked a place with Airbnb last night. It was a pretty neat place, nice and cozy. I had planned to go out but it was raining and cold. I was tired, so I decided to stay in. I watched lots of movies. It was pretty cool. Then I went to sleep.

I’ve been dealing with an itch due to dermatitis, so it was better for me to be naked after applying some anti-itch lotion. In the morning, I was woken up by the sound of snoring. I was like: what is that sound? How loud are the neighbours? I remember that there was this creepy video I watched online where a guy who claimed his house was haunted said he heard noises of someone snoring next to his bed, but I was like… nah… most likely the neighbours.

I tried to ignore it, but was trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. It sounded like it was coming from a wall where there was no room, so that was strange. Then I opened my eyes.

There was no ghost next to me, but there was a mass at the foot of my bed; some guy was sleeping there. Some random Korean dude… snoring at the foot of the bed… I was like wtf? So I woke him up and was like… what are you doing in my room? Get the f%$# out!

He’s like “Oh, it’s a double room. I thought it was booked for two people?”

I was like wtf? I didn’t even make sense. It was just a single room with a single bed. So I told him to get out. I couldn’t believe this… I was ready to leave. He called the host and gave me the phone. It turned out the host gave us both the same instructions to go to the same room. I promptly requested a refund.