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Airbnb

Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
45 posts
1 review
Airbnb

Are they having problems with their log in?

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
4 posts
10 reviews
1. Re: Airbnb

Folks.... if you are renting from airbnb site please be ware.

We rent an apt on "22 Carrer De Tapioles, Brcelona, Catalunya 08004" in May for 2 days. The 2nd day, someone "magically" went inside the apt and took everything away from us. This was a disaster trip. Please stay away from this street. The landlord later told us there was other building also had the same issue a month before.

Here is the ad for the address on the web

Gorgeous appartment in BCN center

Calle de Tapioles Apartamento muy céntrico

Barcelona, Cataluña 08004

Spain

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
1 post
4 reviews
2. Re: Airbnb

I support the warning - be aware of the risks in using airbnb to organise your holiday. I recently booked a property in London using airbnb but was cheerfully advised a couple of weeks later that the host was fraudulent, that I had no booking and that the $2000 paid would not be reimbursed. Compounding the issue was the response from the 'Trust and Safety' team at airbnb - instead of addressing the issues, for the most part I received automated emails asking for my feedback about the service and referring me to FAQs to address my concerns. I am sure that there are happy customers but my experience is such that I will not use them again and think it is important that others are aware of the risks, both in their security systems and their approach to managing issues and the customer experience. I am out of pocket over $2000 and have nothing to show for my investment other than a nasty lingering taste in the mouth...

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
28 posts
1 review
3. Re: Airbnb

@Rosie, why didn't they refund your money, if you don't mind me asking? When you use airbnb you pay through the website and the host doesn't get the money until you arrive. Even if airbnb won't refund you right away your credit card should have some kind of fraud protection.

I'm using airbnb for the first time this year and am definitely going to keep an eye on my belongings in case of break ins but ultimately, this site seems more reliable than others as the host doesn't get paid until you check in, and you can't transfer money to a bank account or use western union, which would guarantee you lose your money if the host turns out to be a fraud.

London, United...
Level Contributor
16 posts
225 reviews
4. Re: Airbnb

I would urge people to look VERY carefully at the terms and conditions and the cancellation policy of the accommodation offered before booking.

I recently booked an apartment in NYC. However, when I came to cancel the booking because of a change of plan, I realised that my host used the "strict" cancellation policy, which meant I only get 50% refund. The service charge levied by Airbnb, which amounted to over £70, was also not refunded. Rarely have I had to pay such stiff cancellation charges with hotels or other similar operators to Airbnb.

I'm not saying not to use the company, but be informed. The phrase caveat emptor has never been more pertinent...!

Dallas,TX
Level Contributor
43 posts
12 reviews
5. Re: Airbnb

GENERAL POST ABOUT AIRBNB: WARNING! (this is very long but may be worth your time)

My particular experience has been getting London lodgings, but I think my experience is applicable to ANYONE thinking about using Airbnb as a service anywhere. I love Trip Advisor, contribute to it and value input from other TA contributors, so in the interest of goodwill, I am sharing my experience as a cautionary tale. I hope the few minutes spent reading this will save you hours of time - and possibly money - that might get wasted.

This post also includes experience with HomeAway, VRBO, FlipKey, and vacation rental agencies particular to London.

Summary First (then supporting evidence):

1. AirBnB does NOT properly screen their hosts, so scam artists abound. (But not every host is a fraud. We have a lovely lady who is working with our arrangement.)

2. Their customer service just... isn't.

3. They charge significant extra fees. Do your homework.

4. Read ALL of their warnings and fine print. They basically absolve themselves of any responsibility, so watch your butt.

5. It's up to YOU to vet the host. Do this by asking lots of questions BEFORE making a commitment/paying. If they are legit, they'll stay with you or tell you to stop bothering them. If they are a fraud, they'll just evaporate and move on to easier prey.

"WHAT DO I WATCH OUT FOR?"

1. If it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. If other listings in that area of similar size/quality are more expensive, that is likely a red flag.

2. Search their profile on Airbnb. Do not assume that is actually them. It's the internet, after all. It could be ANYONE's picture. The more they have in their profile the better. Look for

- other listings they may have

- reviews... that's a biggie. If others have used them they are probably legit.

- the longer they have listed with Airbnb the more likely they are to be legit.

- if the property photos say "BnB verified" NOT just "airbnb", then that is probably an actual place that they list

3. ONLY communicate thru the site. Once/if you make a booking, try connecting w/ them visually on Facebook, Skype, etc. or at least w a phone call.

4. If you can stand to stay on hold forever with the most obnoxious soundtrack EVER, you can call the AIRBB phone numbers (listed here for your convenience because they make it REALLY tedious to find on the website...ergo they are not really interested in customer service. These are for the Untied States, they have other contact numbers or other countries: 415-800-5959 or 855-424-7262.)

5. If you talk to a live person at AirBnB, ask them to look up that host and view their record... see anything fishy?

6. If you proceed with the booking (you will put in a credit card #) and the host tells you to wire money, STOP!!!!! FRAUD!!

Still gonna try Airbnb now? OK, then. Many have had a great experience, but here is mine... the evidence for the stuff I just told you. You can scroll down for some general tips dealing w/ Homeaway, Flip Key, etc.

AIRBNB EXPERIENCE:

Saw a property we'd looked at before, but not seriously considered b/c of price. When other options fell through, I resumed our search and this one re-appeared. Still at top end of our budget, but we were getting worried we might not get anything, so we booked it. Two emails followed within minutes of the booking. Both came from Airbnb with all legit logo, etc. - one email was an auto-generated receipt and the other a contact from the host. The host said to check my email with important payment info. Email (again, w Airbnb logo and email address) said host did not accept current form of payment (a credit card) and to wire to a bank account. Gave all transfer info to a ***bank in Greece*** WHAT?! Massive warning bells went off in my head. Understand, I had never booked with Airbnb before, but this just seemed fishy. I immediately sent an email (replied directly using host's personal email) back to host stating my confusion, copied the receipt into email - said I was happy to pay them but they needed to clarify what was going where. All this happened in the morning. Our group was so happy that, after many ups and downs house hunting, we finally found something everyone could agree on. Unknown to the group, I DID NOT proceed w wire transfer but waited for communication. That evening, I checked my email: RESERVATION CANCELLED. I never did get a reply from the host but DID get a note from AIRBNB saying that the company had cancelled my request because they deemed the host fraudulent. Pro: AirBnb tried to protect me. Con: Too late! Should have vetted host properly to start with. Had I proceeded with the wire transfer, I would have gotten swindled and Airbnb would have washed their hands of the mess citing the fine print on the website. Our hopes now dashed... back to yet *another search*... more time lost! Oh - and that stellar customer service? Because we were inconvenienced by the cancellation, Airbnb graciously KEPT the $2000+ dollars we'd put into the fraud booking to apply to our *next* booking or they'd refund it if we just bailed. AND, to soften the blow, this multi-billion-dollar company that charges huge fees just for using their website would generously grant us a $53 dollar credit. That does not even cover the cleaning fee they charge you.

As soon as I got the cancellation notice I searched for a phone number to talk to a REAL PERSON at Airbnb. After that interminable wait I warned you about earlier, I spoke to Heather in Seattle who seemed very sympathetic. She apologized for the wait and said they *had gotten several calls from clients in the same boat*. Oh great. Talking with her revealed how they screen hosts (just a photo and contact info until there is an actual booking and then supposedly they investigate further). She told me she'd try to help me find similar properties (like I hadn't already been looking for weeks?) but with reliable hosts.

I NEVER heard from her.

Meanwhile, having combed every possible booking source, we had only a couple of decent options left and I pursued those. Although reluctant to continue with Airbnb, our best choice listed with them, so we had to stick with it. This host has been a very helpful, is a real person and (we hope) will yield a satisfactory solution for everyone.

But wait... it gets better...

While I was communicating with our Now Legit Host, I noticed a listing pop up on Airbnb - a lovely property with all our needs AND a great price. What? How did I miss this earlier? Now as cautious as a cat on the edge of a bathtub, I checked out the host profile - he (a he? maybe not?) had JUST listed the property and was a new host on Airbnb. No way was I going to seriously pursue this no matter how much money I might save my group. But I was curious... So I sent him an email. He replied with lots of details including a great discount he'd give me *if I booked that day* and he needed to hear from me *as soon as possible*. Hm. Here was part of my reply:

"If you are willing, can you post through this site some pictures of today's newspaper (or whichever day you can do this) so the dateline is visible, along with your handsome face in some of the rooms displayed on the website?

One thing I know for sure: making a decision today isn't possible. I am house hunting for a group and they don't make decisions quickly. They would also want to know:

-if more than one key is available (as we will be on different schedules)

-if you will greet us to let us in and be available for questions/needs if they arise during our stay

-what "flexible" means for your cancellation policy

I understand if all this is too inconvenient for you, but we have other options so I am not in a hurry and need to proceed carefully."

By asking for more pictures OF HIM, IN THE PLACE, WITH CURRENT MEDIA, I was pinning him to authenticity. He also mentioned that he listed "on several other sites". I checked all the biggies out of curiosity... Homeaway, VRBO and FlipKey. He wasn't on any of them.

Two things happened:

1. The listing evaporated off the Airbnb site almost immediately.

2. I never heard anything from the host again.

So what do you think? Yeah... me, too. A crook.

So, in just ONE person's experience (mine), TWO fraudulent hosts came thru Airbnb. I cannot begin to count the hours wasted... I was also almost scammed by a London real estate agent during this process but that is a whole different story. Mind you, I am not stupid or careless. I am a college-educated, middle-aged person with a variety of travel experience.

OTHER SITES... TIPS:

Homeaway... does not update their calendar quickly, so if you are really keen on a property, do not waste time and hopes using the email "contact host". Just call the number on the website. A person will check their records while you are on the phone and give you up-to-date info. No other insight on host reliability, but use the info above to ask intelligent questions from the HomeAway person/HomeAway contact and see what happens.

FlipKey... linked with TripAdvisor. I had fairly decent response from hosts, but b/c their properties were not as good a fit, did not pursue. I would have more confidence, though, in a FlipKey host because they will be exposed to the whole Trip Advisor community if they are not legit. I think that would deter swindlers from using FlipKey in the first place.

I DO WISH, though, that Trip Advisor would create more search filters for large urban areas like London. Because they don't have tighter geographic filters or a standardized zip code for hosts, I got so many "suggestions" from their automated finder that they were useless. I couldn't waste that much time trying to find where the property was and our needs were very location-specific.

VRBO... wish I could have used them because you get direct access to the owner from the get-go AND they don't charge ridiculous fees. Would suggest same vetting requirements (current photos) or maybe FaceTime with host inside the property? Previous reviews will also really help.

So that's my story. If you've gotten this far, you've spent several minutes reading. I hope this is helpful. I know people have had great experiences with Airbnb. I don't think it will serve the group well if that is you and you just want to chime in to defend Airbnb. The purpose of this post is to provide another side to the story that cannot be done elsewhere.

Happy hunting...

Edited: 1:13 pm, March 10, 2014
Lincoln, NH
Level Contributor
2,056 posts
9 reviews
6. Re: Airbnb

Well, this is a most entertaining -- and mostly accurate post.

I would beg all readers though to understand if I cannot post a picture of myself in my home holding today's paper. There are two reasons -- first, I happen to live rather far from my home, and second, much of the time, I actually have guests in the house who might be puzzled by me taking a selfie with the newspaper while they're having breakfast. :) Oh, and on HomeAway, at least, photos have to be approved, so they do not go live same day.

I do, however admire the poster's ingenuity!

I would add that places like AirBnB get a commission on a sale. A scam artist spends nothing to get a listing on the site. Homeaway currently charges several hundred dollars up rfont to post an ad, so scam artists are less likely to buy an ad on hopes of snagging an unsuspecting guest.

But the best advice the OP gives -- is know your owner. And legitimate owners will be happy to take extra steps to make sure guests are comfortable with the transaction.

LMM

Dallas,TX
Level Contributor
43 posts
12 reviews
7. Re: Airbnb

Thanks for the helpful information about Homeaway charging for a listing. I did not know that and, as you said,it discourages scammers which helps travelers have greater confidence with whom they book. So... good to know. And as to the selfies - nothing ventured, nothing gained. If the host cannot provide extra proof due to geography or whatever, all they have to do is say so or offer an alternative. Just sayin...

Level Contributor
57 posts
179 reviews
8. Re: Airbnb

Hi thanks so much for your input. We have used aiebnb only once with so so results. I would like to find something to complement our main source booking.com but I do not like the customer service here. I have tried repeatedly to get in touch with them. No response. You just verified this thanks. Think we will pass

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
117 posts
243 reviews
9. Re: Airbnb

Here's my story about an attempt to book with Airbnb in Paris. Because I do not participate in social media sites, i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn or Gmail, or blog, or have a computer with a video camera (and only a phone that makes phone calls), I did not "quality" to book with them, even though they require payment upfront. They require a video if you do not have a web site. The irony, of course, is that everyone I know fakes some of the info on their Facebook pages or puts up photos that are 10 years old. So, even with my 114 reviews on TripAdvisor, and my Global Entry pass, and the offer to scan my driver's license or passport, they turned me down. 4 different customer service agents. Oh, and the host was more than willing to take me, but couldn't get around the Airbnb social media requirements. What a ridiculous company.

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
270 posts
85 reviews
10. Re: Airbnb

to the OP yes it was broken during that time.

to the STRING

while i recognize there are risks involved, and debacles, i have to say its the minority.

i have used airbnb 37 times in 7 countries and have a total of 40 bookings (3 upcoming) only ONCE encountered a bum host (not even a scam) who didn't have a clean enough apt despite asking direct questions about cleanliness through the vetting process. and i partially blame myself because he had a 50% response rate for inquiries and laissez faire response time--which basically means he doesn't take his listing seriously--but i liked the space and location so i proceeded against my gut. and when i got there, the bathroom was filthy. so i was up and out.

CHECK IN REVERSAL

i promptly took photos, "checked out" and called airbnbn. my coupon voucher (from another user error-me) wasn't forfeited and my refund was promptly processed. and i'm ahead $300 in value for another stay which will more than pay for a few weekend trips as i can book a (private) room (shared common space) for about 65/night even in ny boroughs (queens and brooklyn). renting a whole private apt is about 2.5 times that in the area

CUSTOMER SERVICE

they immediately found hotel options, left the choice to me, and put me up (direct bill--to them) at a hotel for 2 nights at 4x the cost of a cost of my booked debacle. customer service is by no means easy to get a hold of, in fact it was a nightmare, 30-40 min hold times, but once you do you get the ball rolling. and they are swiftly working on their guest service model. i DID spend WAY too much time coordinating an alternative listing solution (for the remainder of my stay) with them because of the all downstream issues the host listing checkout caused, including a another user error (me) about dates when i booked the backup listing. they honored that foul up too (3rd user foul up--trouble happens in 3s, right. never an booking issue for my first 35 stays). BUT when they delivered me back to a zero balance and gave me $100 credit voucher for a next stay, i told them in no way shape or form was $100 enough. i asked for $300 coupon for my time and got it.

ODDS

none of that is something anyone one wants to deal with. but they made good. and in law of odds, 1 botched listing/stay out of 37 is way better than hotels if you ask me. when you pay upfront and check into a hotel and don't like it, you can typically kiss you money goodbye, when you book through the hotel OR a third party "agent".

BOOKING PROCESS

yes,the guest does have to vet, which can be part of the fun for some travelers or of absolutely no interest to others.

and they they just changed the interface for host cancellation policies (3 levels) so where it was once easy to see in the booking details, it now really jumps out at you.

and of course let the buyer beware.

the fine print is and Ts and Cs are NEVER NOT important.

HOLDS AND CHARGES

"Whether the reservation is two days or two months away, we hold the payment until 24 hours after check-in before giving it to the host. This secure payment system gives both parties time to make sure that everything is as expected."

VERIFICATIONS

no one is required to post a video, even if you don't use social media. (i use it but i didn't want users connecting to my personal business so i never provided SM links to my profile--perhaps i was grandfathered in). and while i would never doubt or attempt to contradict another poster, there is online (if you like), including email and offline ID (gov issued) and phone verification along with references and reviews (for existing users) and for new users:

"We realize many people don't use online networks like Google, Facebook or LinkedIn, and we're working hard to accommodate them. If you don’t have a Google, Facebook or LinkedIn account, you can verify your online ID by creating a short video profile that only our Trust and Safety team can view."

ALL FOR EVERYONE'S PROTECTION--unfortunately, we can't have it both ways complain about verification and then complain about scams or trust, safety, and security.

and of course there are the legality issues for non-home non-building owner (aka apt dweller/renter/leasor) listings.

but overall, it work, the majority of the time and it works well.

i think the majority if the issue are a result of a start-up that has grown beyond its capacity and infrastructure, of which they are addressing. they really truly did try to make good on that debacle and succeeded. and perhaps slightly generational (both disparity and commonalities between silent gen, baby boomers, gen XYZ and millenials) and which i do believe airbnb is trying to account for. and they should because a HUGE majority of the traveling population is our seniors who have well-earned their rights for equal access and treatment. (i work in HR)

that's not to say there aren't scammers and scams out there but i felt compelled to share my 36 out of 37 (soon to be 40) positive experiences. feel free to read them here https://www.airbnb.com/users/show/923843