When an Airbnb Host is not an Airbnb Host

About two weeks ago we were paid a visit by a gentleman knocking on our door asking for “Richard”. My wife answered and told him there was no “Richard at this address”. The man seemed confused. He was sure he had the correct address and rechecked his Airbnb app. His intentions were to stay at our home for three nights.

“Sorry, we don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He then showed us photos of our house. Surprise, surprise… we had all been scammed. Whoever had set up the fictitious Airbnb account had swiped photos of our home off of VRBO and populated them into the made-up account. Fortunately, the potential lodger had a daughter in town and was going to flop on her couch.

He did call “Richard” on the supplied phone number but the person on the other line hung up abruptly. We obviously encouraged him to call Airbnb to straighten things out. We also notified Airbnb. Unfortunately, it fell on deaf ears.

We thankfully got some of the information from the poor guy who was left stranded: his confirmation number, etc. We decided to research the information we saw online. The host’s photo had been swiped off a site for cochlear implants, and the cell number belonged to a guy in upstate Wisconsin.

We blocked our caller ID and spoke with him. He said he had been getting calls for the last couple of days and stopped answering the phone. I was sort of surprised that he picked up our call. My wife still thinks he may have been the perpetrator but he sounded somewhat surprised.

Meanwhile, the associates at Airbnb kept telling us someone would call us back… crickets, nada, zip. We called again the next day and the next day after that. No returned calls. All we ever heard was that they would mark our ticket as “URGENT” and call us back… yeah, right.

We also tried contacting Airbnb via their website. There was some back and forth which ended up as a short thread that was eventually moved to email. Once it got moved, the Airbnb contact names would change with every explanation.

A couple of days went by and lo and behold what do you think happened? That’s right, we got another visitor, a couple actually. They too had been bamboozled by this scam but did they get a call from Airbnb with a heads-up? Apparently not.

We continued our calls for the next several days. I also CC’d two Airbnb executives in my emails along with the various associates they assigned to us. Still, no courtesy call or explanation. They’re up for an IPO I hear. I wish them luck. With this type of non-customer service, I will not be indulging in any of their stock. I also canceled my Airbnb account. Has this happened to any other poor souls out there?

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14 Comments

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  7. Airbnb owes lodging to the person scammed, and it needs to find the scammer. Their obligation to you is last, after satisfying its fiduciary responsibility to those with which they have a contract. You’re not out anything, ultimately, except an awkward moment at your front door. Yes, it’s terrible to be scammed, yes, I agree that they owe you an explanation. But they can’t do anything until they figure out what happened, and fix it, which will then make it right for you.

    • Shelley G. I have kids, and people knocked on my door in the middle of the night wondering why we weren’t answering the door. It was a scary moment. This was caused because Airbnb has a lax system. On top of that, they refuse to accept fault. Screw the fiduciary responsibility. All I’m asking is HOW DID IT HAPPEN AND WHAT AARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? A little professional courtesy would go a long way.
      I’m guessing you are here trolling on behalf of Airbnb since I have seen other posts from you defending this inconsiderate company.

  8. I WISH I were hired. I need the money as I’m traveling through Europe on a shoestring budget. I’m on my 8th Air BnB now. The past 7 were great, with two being perfect – places I would live long term. Alas, my 8th is a catastrophe and Air BnB wouldn’t move me. BTW, my comments are not negative; I’m being realistic.

  9. You really don’t like any negative comments about airbnb. How much do you have invested in them, Brian Pan? Or perhaps you were hired to counter negative criticism.

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