Airbnb Doesn’t Delete Confidential User Data

VRBO

I wanted to unsubscribe from Airbnb emails but they have no unsubscribe function as required under Australian law (Spam Act 2003). To unsubscribe, Airbnb’s terms state only to “send us an email” to terminate the agreement. An email was sent as requested with the subject and body “cancel my account” for two accounts (i.e. Germany and Australia).

For the first account, Airbnb advised me with three reply emails sent from a third party (zendesk.com) that the requested account was cancelled. I conducted a test five days later to confirm the cancellation had failed. Access was granted to the cancelled account on login with the last password. Confidential account and profile information including my date of birth and phone number were still accessible, able to be updated, and obviously still held by Airbnb.

Airbnb refused to cancel my second account unless a “government ID” was provided, in spite of the request being sent from the same email address used to login. Airbnb was advised that the email reply was indistinguishable from a “phishing” scam. Airbnb was asked to state what legal authority Airbnb relied on to demand a government ID from me to cancel my account.

Airbnb simply continued to demand proof of identity to cancel the account without stating the legal authority for their demand other than suggesting it was merely an Airbnb policy. After replying to all further Airbnb responses with automatic resending of the original “cancel my account” request, Airbnb finally advised that the account had been cancelled but the data would not be deleted due to my failure to provide ID.

Airbnb has demonstrated their: failure to provide an unsubscribe facility as required by the Australian Spam Act 2003; failure to terminate (AKA “cancel my account”) the agreement while claiming to have done so; failure to give physical effect to the termination of the agreement granting Airbnb the right to hold confidential personal information necessary for service delivery by not deleting that information on termination.

The above evidence shows blatant breaches of Airbnb’s own policy, the Australian Spam Act 2003, and the German GDPR, which proves Airbnb’s intention not to protect consumer information.

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Need Support after Getting Robbed of over $2000 by Airbnb

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I have been a host in Kobe, Japan for several years with Airbnb and as a Superhost, I had many satisfied guests and enjoyed very decent reviews. Around mid-January this year, Airbnb sent me a notice to do a verification of my account, threatening to block payouts if I did not complete it before February 4th.

I immediately sought out help from Airbnb support staff who walked me through the entire process and helped me fill in the form until the support staff himself was 100% satisfied that everything was in perfect order. He also confirmed clearly that any payout would not be blocked as the verification process was successful.

Below is proof of that chat where he congratulated me and confirmed that the payouts would not be blocked at all. I received a booking for 220,000 Japanese yen for check-in on February 11 and check-out on February 27th (a 17-day booking) with a specified payout date to me for February 13th. Today is February 17th and the nightmare I am facing is already four days into the process of dealing with the most incompetent so-called case managers and support staff.

The experience I am having in trying to collect my money is abusive, and nothing short of real torture as they are all behaving like thugs sitting on my money illegally and giving me the royal run around while whistling Sweet Dixie. No host should ever have to be subjected to this kind of torture I am facing just to try and collect what is rightfully due to me.

This kind of behavior from Airbnb usually comes as a prelude to bankruptcy. I am alerting all hosts to please be cautious because the tactics Airbnb are using here to rob me of my money are nothing short of gangster ones. I have no idea when I will see my money, I have no idea when my nightmare for chasing for my payout will stop, and I have no idea of what options I have.

I am reaching out to all the hosts reading this to please share your experiences with me if it can help me get what is due to me from these thugs. The guest from this payout is still staying in my property and Airbnb is threatening that if I use the option I suggest, i.e. ask the guest to cancel her reservation with Airbnb and demand a refund as I will waive all cancellation fees, to pay me directly, then they will penalize me for trying to deal directly with the guest and bypassing them.

The guest is still staying in the property until February 27th. I do have time to seek some sort of agreement with her but I don’t want to do anything to pay a hefty price later. Any advice on this matter would be highly appreciated. I just want to warn all hosts now and in the future to be totally aware of these gangster tactics by Airbnb to sit on your money whenever they feel like it, as if they have a right to take your funds. This is tantamount to stealing. Please be careful not to get trapped as I have been.

Right now I don’t know what more torture I have to endure from these thugs and their team of the most incompetent staff on the planet. I keep banging my head against the wall trying to recover my money from them. Any advice or helpful comments would be highly appreciated.

VRBO

Airbnb and Identity Theft: Think About your Data

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We’ve done business with Airbnb in the past and it was okay. This time around, our email address had changed, so we had to come in ‘new.’ That meant we had to go through the process of setting up a new Airbnb account, and boy, has that process changed.

First we were asked to give them a phone number so they could send us a code to proceed. I don’t like giving out my phone number, but okay. They called, I got the code, entered it, and continued. Next they wanted front and back photos of a government-issued ID with my photo, and specifically asked for a driver’s license of a passport.

Think about how much information about you is on either of those documents: they get your full name, date of birth, address, license or passport number, photo and your signature. A hacker’s dream. I instead entered pictures of two of my dogs (they later came back and said those were insufficient).

They let me continue at that point and now asked for a new picture of me using my computer camera (don’t have one) or an app they will send to my cell phone. At this point I quit and complained to their so-called ‘help’ site (never got an answer).

If this happens to you, no matter how good that rental looks, stop and think about all the personal information you’d be giving to Airbnb. No site is immune from hacking. Airbnb can claim they’ll protect your information, but that’s baloney. They don’t care about your private information or they wouldn’t ask for it. Asking for it also shows that Airbnb simply doesn’t trust you. They assume from square one that you’re trying to screw them somehow even though they will have your credit card to assure payment.

Other rental sites, like HomeAway, have rentals at comparable prices in the area you want to rent. I’ve been renting all over the world for forty years (well before Airbnb existed). These other companies don’t ask for the detail of information that Airbnb does. At least not yet.

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Somebody in Airbnb Development should be Fired

I am three days into a four-month trip to Peru. This is with three reservations via Airbnb of one, one, and two months. For whatever reason (I entered a wrong password, am trying to sign-in from Peru, am using my new laptop) the Airbnb site is asking in a pop-up to send me a verification code.

It offers just two options: in a text message to my phone or in a call to my phone. My phone does not work in Peru so I have no way to receive the verification code. I have called the toll-free number a couple times now. The wait time has been short and the person on the other end appears to be trying to be helpful but today I was told it was given to a case worker and there were none available. BS?

I suggested there was a bug in the website in that it was only showing those two unworkable options. She said there was no bug. BS? I suggested that if that was by design that a traveler was required to carry a US-working phone with them when traveling (and there was no way for the help center to intervene) then that was a very bad design and that designer should be fired.

Everybody I’ve talked to in the help center seems to agree this is stupid but nobody can do anything about it. Airbnb needs to get some better developers.

Airbnb Hosts Cannot Request Government Issued Photo ID?

I have been a Superhost for more than three years. I recently started to require all guests to provide a digital copy (picture via Airbnb message thread or text message) of their government-issued photo ID before check-in details are sent to them. This is for our security as hosts in case anything happens, and we need to file a small claim or lawsuit to recover for damages, fees, etc.

The requirement is disclosed in the house rules. We, as hosts, know Airbnb does not honor their one million dollar host guarantee. I called Airbnb to assist with reaching out to a particular guest who was having issues with sending their ID. The first Airbnb rep claimed that it is against their terms and conditions for guests to provide this information to the host. I told the Airbnb rep she was incorrect because I’ve done this for months and a prior Airbnb rep assisted me with this same situation for another reservation.

Long story short, I called a total of six times and four Airbnb reps says it was against their terms and conditions. Meanwhile, two said the request was alright if it was disclosed in the house rules. I requested to speak with an Airbnb case manager, and the four Airbnb reps who made the false claims about the terms and conditions would not transfer me to a case manager.

If it is true Airbnb does not allow hosts to obtain a government-issued photo ID from the guests, even when it is disclosed in the house rules, hosts have no security if anything serious arises. I would love to hear thoughts from other hosts and guests.

Feeling Like A Freak, Felt Discriminated

I’ve never been able to use Airbnb. The first time I installed the app I was asked for a picture, driver’s license and credit card. I submitted everything, but I never received an approval nor an email, nothing. Since this was some months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico (2017) and we were surviving with the Google Loons, I thought that it was the lack of a good internet connection and forgot about it.

A year ago, November 2018, I wanted a place for a surfing trip. To my surprise all my information was in the Airbnb account: my ID checked, my profile with a picture, my Amex approved as payment method, all cool. When I tried to reserve something, I wasn’t able to do because my credit card needed to be checked (again) and since I wanted a place for the next day (swells don’t wait) I forgot about Airbnb.

In the last couple of weeks (October 2019) I started looking for places to stay during a surfing competition. All my information was there on my profile, and when I tried to reserve a place I wasn’t able to. The message from Airbnb was that my card needed to be verified. I agreed for some debits to be made to my credit card to confirm.

I had been a front desk and reservations agent for Hilton and Hyatt. This was kind of a strange procedure, but I decided to wait for the approval. I started receiving emails, text messages, and messages in the account inbox on the Airbnb app, all messages pressuring me to reserve, the property owner greeted me, but guess what?

I wasn’t able to reserve anything. Now they were asking for a picture of my credit card statement. “No way,” I said to myself. I kept receiving messages from them the whole night.

The next morning I had notices to reserve because I had a pre-approval from the owner while they verified my Amex. I tried to book, and once again I wasn’t able because they needed a picture of a recent credit card statement. Nervously to the maximum extreme, I took the picture and sent it.

A couple of hours later I received an email message through the app and a text message to hurry and book because I had been approved and verified and the property was being held for me for a couple hours more. But as you can imagine already, I wasn’t able to book. Now the nightmare begins.

I decide to review all the messages before contacting the help center and all the messages on the app were gone. My credit card information, gone. I wrote the help center and when they answered hours later it seemed that they thought I was hallucinating or something. They told me they were transferring the situation to customer service (the chat with him was customer service).

I explained the situation over and over to different customer service representatives who contacted me. My main concern was what happened to the information I was providing them. Had I been scammed? Was this procedure normal each time that you tried to book? They wrote me back each time: “Enter your credit card information on your account and wait for it to be verified.”

I couldn’t believe it. Were they morons? I breathed and breathed each time I answered back to be polite and well mannered and to restrain myself from saying what I just said. I even asked if I was talking to a computer. I wrote that I wanted to communicate with a supervisor. I was feeling very angry because I thought he was making fun of me for being a middle-aged Hispanic woman.

I was completely ignored now. I told them I would report them to Consumer Affairs. I was feeling like a freak. I couldn’t believed what happened. Was I overreacting? I took screenshots of this last conversation before they disappeared again.

Looking for their corporate information and willing to even write a classic certified letter, I found this blog. Now I know I’m not a freak. Airbnb customer service is the most inefficient, disrespectful and inconsiderate that I’ve ever seen.

Initial Signup Nightmare, Mistaken Identity

In September 2019 I completed all of the required signup processes (including a copy of my driver’s license). I booked my first stay in an Airbnb property an was promptly contacted to setup linen service and cleaning service. All good… yeah, right.

Three to four days later, I received an email stating my reservation had been cancelled. I promptly attempted to log into the site to get any details of why the reservation was cancelled only to find my account had been suspended. I emailed the customer support team and the only information they would provide was that my claim was under review.

At this point, I was done with Airbnb. I made my reservations through the exact same rental company that was involved in my Airbnb effort and moved on. I enjoyed my four-day weekend at a different property.

Fast forward to October 23rd (over a month since my customer support claim/ticket was submitted). I received an email that I could dispute the finding of their consumer report. What?

I logged into the site they provided. It seems that I was linked to a guy in Arkansas with a laundry list of misdemeanor and felony convictions (same first and last name, same birthday, but different state and race). Remember I provided my driver’s license during signup? Anyway, I’m not using their service. I sent an email to Brian Chesky, but doubt I will get a response. We have better options.

Stay at Airbnb Once, Shame on You. Twice, Shame on Me.

I booked a room in London for myself and my boyfriend for one night because we were going to look at a gallery or museum and I also had an appointment. I paid online and turned up in Pimlico where we were meant to stay. I rang the host and then rang a few times after but there was no reply at all.

We walked a long way; my partner has a very painful knee and I had an injury. We walked to a block of flats and not only was it a long walk from the tube but also a long walk inside an estate that looked the same for hundreds of blocks. No map in sight. We walked and asked, asked and walked, and a woman we met who lived there was even a bit outraged on our behalf.

I tried to ring Airbnb many times but there was a wait and also in some parts of London there was no signal. Hours went by and it was very hot weather. We had to buy a cold drink and snack in a cafe and still had no room for the night.

Airbnb was very unhelpful and suggested I pay for another room. I protested that I did not have the funds for that but that also there was no signal at times for the phone (not the internet, which I have data for ). The very relaxed rep did not seem able to get any contact from the host I had paid.

After walking round the estate for a long time we realised we would have to find another room for the night and we had to stay due to an appointment I had. After many calls with Airbnb, in which I tried to get a refund, I managed to get them to agree to give me enough to get another room, but it was nearly evening by then.

We found a room that seemed nice online and went there. It looked okay, a bit scruffy for the price, but the bed looked clean enough. We went out for the evening nearby and slept there. The next morning there was no breakfast which had been advertised as part of the price nor was there any light in the bathroom then or the night before. This made things difficult of course.

The woman who owned the flat was okay but did not bother with us at all: really and clearly just wanted the money. Her boyfriend was not clothed in the sitting room where they were sleeping. I did not write a review of the awful experiences on Airbnb because I forgot. I wish I had.

The second host had the cheek to message me on the site and tell me I was lucky to have gotten a room and that I should be grateful. I was disgusted with the whole process but was given a voucher for a few pounds to put towards another room. I know some people have great experiences, e.g. my daughter abroad somewhere, but if this is the standard in London… what a rip off.

I am trying to book a room with my voucher now but have found out that guests need to verify their identity nowadays on the site by sending a copy of an official document such as passport or driving license to the host using a link that has not worked for me. Customer service has rung me back twice to try to help but the woman on the phone was laughing at what I told her.

It’s not inspiring but hopefully I can get somewhere better this time (if I can work out how to send the document and I need to send a ‘selfie’. A nice little – I mean big – earner for some hosts who just provide a bed or mattress and not much else sometimes it seems. Good luck out there.

Airbnb Cancelled all Upcoming Reservations and Didn’t Tell Me

All my reservations were cancelled by Airbnb this morning. A guest who is a bride who booked for her groomsmen contacted me first. She was not happy or calm, but kind. My account is locked and under review, and a phone call revealed “it has already been escalated as Urgent to the Trust Team.” Does urgent mean I should expect a call or email in 24 to 48 hours?

What happened? They won’t tell me what they are investigating but before I was locked out completely here were the error messages I received: we notice you are logging in from a new device (not true, but I updated my cell carrier data settings in preparation for travel to prevent roaming charges).

They also asked me to verify my personal information; my birthdate was listed as 2007. Likely their software prevents 12-year-olds from hosting. I changed and corrected it, but am certain it was never listed that way. With Airbnb’s secret number in hand I called, but am in the urgent purgatory for 24-48 hours. I did get a case number, but that’s it.

Privacy Data Rights, or Lack Thereof, with Airbnb

This is not a guest or host or neighbor story, but those are the only categories. In July 2019, I opened an Airbnb account. Airbnb’s unprofessional and disorganized conduct led me to cancel my account within about 24 hours of opening it. Airbnb’s response was that it was permitted to continue to maintain and use my data, even if my account was closed.

I asked Airbnb to show me the contract language that allowed that. Airbnb failed and refused to do so. After a long message thread over several days, Airbnb referred me to their “Airbnb Community” department. He said he would follow the privacy protection laws, but only if I would send additional private data, to “verify” my identity. Airbnb claimed it did not copy my personal information, but has refused to tell me whether, and to whom, Airbnb has already shared or uploaded my personal information.

Furthermore, my research indicates that in order to verify anyone’s identity in compliance with the law, a company need only verify my email address. I’ve asked Airbnb to refer me to the authority on which it relies to demand even more personal data before erasing my personal data, and it has wholly failed to respond.

This is only a summary of the details. I have reported this to the FTC, the California BBB, the GDPR in the EU (I am a US and Canadian citizen with residency in Italy), Complaintsboard.com, and to a writer for The Washington Post. If anyone has any suggestions on any other agencies who would be interested in this problem, please post them.