Is Airbnb Safe? We Analyzed 1021 Horror Stories to Find Out (2017)

Published November 30, 2017 by Asher Fergusson

As a result of our study: We’ve discovered multiple dangerous loopholes in the Airbnb platform

Here’s the deal:

This past September, my wife and I experienced two consecutive Airbnb nightmares that left us and our 10-month-old son on the street in Europe frightened, vulnerable and with nowhere to go.

When we got home we had to ask: Is Airbnb safe?

In the process of analyzing over 1000 Airbnb horror stories, we’ve uncovered what’s most likely to go wrong.

We also found:

Airbnb has multiple dangerous loopholes and scams that are going unchecked. This affects everyone using Airbnb including guests staying in the USA.


We quickly realized how important it is for us to inform fellow travelers of these possible dangerous scenarios. We’ve also included safety tips on how to avoid Airbnb nightmares. We hope you will take the time to read this article and share with your family and friends before they travel this holiday season.
 

Click below or scroll to learn more
 
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1021 Airbnb horror stories

As part of our research, we analyzed a total of 1021 Airbnb horror stories from: 3rd-party review sites, major news outlets and via directly submitted stories shared by top travel bloggers.

You might be wondering:

What’s the worst that could happen while staying at an Airbnb?…

In the US and other major countries, Airbnb doesn’t require any ID other than an email address and phone number, therefore, anyone could be your host. They don’t even require real names or profile photos.

This means you could end up staying with a convicted felon, a registered sex offender, a thief, or a conniving scam artist.

hidden camera at airbnb

Longboat Key Police released this image of a couple taken with a hidden camera at an Airbnb in Florida.
Click here to watch the ABC News video ➜

It only takes 10 minutes to become a host. No background checks (unless they have the real name and date of birth of the host). No proper screening either. Additionally, listing addresses are not verified meaning the property may not even exist and it may not be legal either.

Whereas, as a guest, you may be required to have government ID and can be booted from the platform at any time, without warning, and without a valid reason. When this happens, the decision is final and usually can’t even be appealed if it’s an error.

This isn’t surprising:

Considering an Airbnb co-founder said, “This company is first and foremost about the hosts, not the guests.”

Additionally, Airbnb is a mega for-profit business (worth $31 billion) and the fewer restrictions they put on hosts, the more money they make. It’s that simple.

The worst Airbnb guest horror stories

Below are a few examples of the worst Airbnb guest horror stories reported by major news outlets:

In the aftermath of such events:

Airbnb representatives often say things like, “We are outraged at the reports of what happened; as soon as we were made aware, we permanently banned this individual.” (Source 1) (Source 2) (Source 3)

The truth is:

THIS IS TOTAL, UTTER BS!

If a “bad” host is “permanently banned” from Airbnb, they can just go ahead and create a new account under a different name. They can even use the same listing photos from before!

This is how a scamming host tricked us, and here I’ve provided a video which proves he’s continuing to do it to others with two new accounts after Airbnb “permanently” deleted the two accounts I reported to them.

In the video, I also took a few minutes and found the same thing going on in London and New York!

It is simply too easy to create a host account even after being “permanently banned” by Airbnb.

An article published on Business Insider talks about the exact same thing happening in 2014 where a “permanently banned” host gets back on almost immediately, yet it’s still going in 2017!?

Airbnb, where’s your QUALITY CONTROL?!

Research Study Results

To ensure that this research was as accurate as it could be, I enlisted the help of Sheana Ahlqvist, PhD who is an expert in user research, survey design, and usability testing. She had us do a “reliability assessment” and guided the whole process of conducting the study. If you’d like to learn more about our research, HERE is a link to our study methods, results and recommendations. You’re free to use this research with a link to this page as the source.

Examples of common Airbnb complaints:

Click below to expand examples of full stories shared by top travel blogs, major news outlets, reports on 3rd-party online review sites and from Airbnb Hell.

Unsafe and/or Unacceptable Conditions


9 common examples found in our study:

 

Click to expand: 51 other UNSAFE AND/OR UNACCEPTABLE Airbnb Horror Stories

17 horror stories shared by top travel bloggers:

 

34 horror stories shared around the web:








 

Host Cancels Stay


7 common examples found in our study:

5. Often a cancelled stay is actually a scam where the host has multiple listings at different prices and cancels the lower price
6. Guests lose a lot of money
7. Some hosts cancel for legit reasons such as family emergencies
 

 

Airbnb Scams


8 common examples found in our study:

 

 

Not as Described


9 common examples found in our study:

 

 

Customer Service Problems


9 common examples found in our study:

 

Click to expand: 81 other CUSTOMER SERVICE Airbnb Horror Stories

 

Fake Listing and/or Fake Reviews


6 common examples found in our study:

1. Duplicate listings with different addresses
2. Airbnb modifies, censors or deletes a review
3. Host blackmails guest for a good review
4. Fake listing photos and/or address
5. Illegal listing that causes problems for guest
6. Fake reviews by friends or family of host
 

 
Please share with your family and friends before they travel this holiday season.
 

Yo Airbnb, can you
please answer these questions?

Dear Airbnb,

Here are 8 questions I have for you, and I’m sure many others would like to know the answers to:

1) Why do you only require email & phone verification to become a host?
It’s way too easy for scamming hosts to create multiple accounts. Again, here is my video proof of one example in Paris. I have documented 4 different Airbnb accounts of his which were created within 6 weeks, all using the same listing photos!

In this video I also show examples in London and New York of multiple accounts listing the same property. It took me less than ten minutes to find just these few examples, which leads me to believe that your site is full of such scams.

Even the Russian mafia are using Airbnb for money-laundering schemes! It’s just too easy to become a host…

2) Why don’t you require hosts to have government ID, use real names, pass proper background checks, and have host profile photos match the photo on government ID?
Surely this would help prevent so many nightmares if you didn’t allow nefarious hosts and criminals to get on the website in the first place? Additionally, it would make it harder for scammers to continually abuse the website.

This video from CBC Canada they say, “We asked Airbnb why it’s not mandatory to provide identification?”


Airbnb said, “Not everyone has a driver’s license or a passport and we want everyone to be able to use the site.” And yet we know that these documents are required for guests, so why not for hosts?

This sounds like a clever money grab to me. The easier you make it for hosts to sign up, the more money you make… And the more you expose all of your guests to very real risks. Excellent business practices? We think not.

3) Why doesn’t your platform have photo recognition software built in to detect multiple listings with the exact same photos?

I have read your article, “What we’re doing to prevent fake listing scams”.

In it, you say that you are:

“Leveraging machine learning technology. To detect fake listings before they ever go live on the platform, our technology evaluates each listing against hundreds of risk signals such as host reputation, template messaging, duplicate photos and other discrepancies — using data learnings from millions of listings. When we predict a high likelihood that a listing is fake, we automatically block it from appearing on Airbnb or, in other cases, delay the listing from going live while we conduct additional reviews.”

After watching the above video, can you really claim that your “machine learning technology” is actually doing anything productive or protective?

In the same article, you also say:

“The good news is, fake listings are rare. All you need to do to protect yourself is to stay on the Airbnb platform throughout the entire process — from booking, to communicating, to payment. When you’re on the Airbnb platform, you can rest assured that your account and personal information are protected and your payment is secure.”

If I can find multiple examples of fake listings in Paris, London and New York in under 10 minutes, I would be willing to bet that there are literally 10s of thousands of fake listings plaguing your website and scamming your guests. And as soon as you delete the listing they’ll just create a new one using the same pictures!

Furthermore, a scammer doesn’t need you to transact off of the website before your trip to be successful at scamming you: the one that got us in Paris lured us up 6 flights of stairs and then demanded cash upon arrival. He said he had a problem with his bank getting the money from Airbnb and so he cancelled our reservation to demand cash up-front. He waited until we’d moved all of our bags in to tell us this.


Lastly, if a criminal wanted to use your website to lure people to their house (or someone else’s house) they wouldn’t have to put any focus on money – once you were in their space they could pretty much do whatever they wanted with you…

4) Why don’t you require hosts to verify their property address and also do random spot-checks to ensure that listings are actually legit?

If Google can send postcards (with a pin number) to businesses wanting to be listed in Google Maps, why can’t you send postcards to new hosts so that they have to prove their address is real. This way, when you “permanently ban” a host you can blacklist the address so that the same host can’t simply list the address next door and get right back on the platform like the scammer in Paris did to us.

Additionally, if hosts had the chance of being randomly checked on, it’s likely that they would all be “better behaved”. This is especially important for listings that are new and don’t have a perfect 5-star rating.

5) Why don’t you require hosts to list the square footage/meters of their accommodation?
 
The photos on the website are more often than not very deceiving so why not require hosts to share the actual square footage/meters of the property.

Additionally, you could require all hosts to have a floor plan (like pictured) with measurements of each wall to make it clear how big or small a place really is. I know many good superhosts include it already and it’s so helpful!


6) Why do you treat your customers so poorly?

My above study of over 1000 bad Airbnb experiences reveals overwhelmingly that your customer service simply isn’t good enough. It’s incredibly disorganized and frustrating – my wife and I have literally spent more than 30 hours on the phone and writing emails back and forth.

Below, I theorize 3 reasons why Airbnb customer service is so terrible.

7) Why do you put your customers out on the street if your listing is not safe?
This happened to us in Paris (pictured). Our place was completely and unbearably moldy. Then after calling Airbnb they told us we have to find a new place ourselves. So I was left on the street with my wife and our 10-month-old son to try to find new accommodation.

Do you know how difficult baby travel is let alone having terrible customer service? If you had helped us at that point I probably wouldn’t be writing this article, and I would continue to use Airbnb.

Instead, this nightmare experience means you’ve lost us as customers. How much does that cost in the long-run?


8) Why is your review system so broken?

I know you have tried to improve your review system over time and I’m glad you’ve finally agreed to allow guests to write reviews even if they cancel or leave early.

In my experience, major problems still exist. For example, in September we stayed at a beautiful place in Sardinia, Italy and our host was wonderful. She was so helpful and nice that we left a glowing 5-star review. However, what we should have done was leave a 4-star review because the bed was horrible. We did let her know about the bed privately but not publicly because we had built a personal relationship with her and didn’t want to leave a bad review. That means that the pressure of the personal (good or bad) relationship between guests and hosts affects the legitimacy and accuracy of ratings.

This is still a BIG problem.Back to top
 
 
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Is Airbnb safe?

To be totally honest:

After doing over 150hrs of research and finding out that anyone can become a host and list a property that may or may not be real, there is no way to be sure an Airbnb listing is safe.

Even after your arrival:

If you deem your accommodation not safe or not up to your expectations, it will be difficult to get any support from customer service and next to impossible to get a refund unless you have photo evidence, and even then it’s not likely that getting a refund will be easy. Many reviewers shared that they’d provided multiple pictures to Airbnb Customer Experience, and their claims were still denied.

In my experience and that of many reviewers, even if your claim does get approved it will take weeks of going back and forth with a highly disorganized customer service team and when they do refund it will likely only be a partial refund. The common complaints (and this is what happened to us) are that they withhold the cleaning fee and Airbnb service fee even if you didn’t stay at the place!

To summarize, here are 16 reasons why using Airbnb is NOT safe and is more like playing a game of Russian Roulette with your vacation:

  1. Reviews are not trustworthy and are usually biased
  2. Pictures often do not match the reality
  3. Written descriptions often do not match the reality either
  4. Anyone can become a host with just an email and phone number
  5. Your host could be a convicted felon, a registered sex-offender, a thief, or a scammer
  6. “Permanently banned” hosts can get back onto the platform immediately
  7. Few (if any) background checks are done on hosts, and only if they’ve provided the correct name and date of birth AND live in the US
  8. Addresses are never verified
  9. No one checks to see if a property is legal, safe, or meets any quality standards
  10. If you deem your accommodation unsafe, you are left on the street to fend for yourself
  11. Customer service is highly incompetent and disorganized
  12. Fake listings plague the Airbnb website
  13. Fake Airbnb websites are scamming people
  14. The mobile app and desktop website are littered with bugs
  15. There are many reports of widespread racism
  16. Hidden cameras could be in any room


I am sure there are many more reasons why Airbnb is not safe but this gives you a good idea.
 
Please share with your family and friends before they travel this holiday season.

 Back to top
 
 
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54 Airbnb safety tips:
How to avoid nightmares in 2017

If you’re still interested in using Airbnb after reading the horror stories then please follow these tips below to minimize nightmare experiences.

These suggestions are based on my experience using Airbnb since 2012 and the collective experience of over 50 travel bloggers with a combined total of over 1200 Airbnb stays all over the world!

Any savvy Airbnb traveler would consider the following:


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Use the REVIEWS to your advantage

1) Never book a place with zero reviews. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult for legitimately good new hosts to get started on the platform but it’s the safest way to avoid scams. We’ve learned this the hard way.

2) If a place has less than 5 stars don’t stay there. Airbnb has an unreliable review system that makes it such that most people will only leave less than 5-stars when they have a horrible experience. Therefore a place with a 4.5-star average is likely to have had guests with bad experiences.

3) In busy tourist areas, only go for places with over 50 reviews. If you want to be sure the reviews are legit, from real travelers, then only stay with a lot of reviews. The more the better.

4) In less popular areas, only go for places with over 25 reviews. Since remote areas are likely to have fewer visitors than big cities then a minimum of 25 reviews should be okay. Again, the more the better.

5) Make sure the reviews are from real travelers, not friends or family of the host. If you do decide to take a gamble and stay at place with only a handful of reviews then try to snoop through the reviews and get a feeling for if they are from real travelers or not. Click on the reviewers profile and see that they have stayed at many Airbnbs, not just the one you’re looking at.

6) Carefully read all reviews, especially the 10 most recent reviews. Like any business, things can go downhill over time. Reading the 10 or more most recent reviews will give you a sense of the current state of affairs. If you want to do full due diligence then read every single review posted.

7) Look out for any kind of negative reviews and read them carefully. Since the Airbnb review system makes it difficult to be critical, people often dance around the problem so if there is something negative, it usually was really bad.

8) Read between the lines with anything that isn’t ideal. Look for any source of red flags e.g. “it was a bit small” or “the drapes haven’t been cleaned in years”. Anything like this is a sign of a bigger problem with the place being extremely small or unclean.

9) Repeated references to something tells you a lot about that pro or con. If a certain issue, good or bad, keeps coming up in the reviews then it will be certainly true. And it will likely be a bigger problem or a bigger perk than the individual review described.

10) Don’t trust a place simply because it has a 5-star average. I know this might contradict an earlier tip, but you have to take all of the tips into account. For example, if a place has a 5-star average but when you communicate with the host they’re not responsive then that could point to a big problem later on.

11) If cleanliness (or any detail) is important to you, look for those references in the reviews. The reviews are your only chance of finding a third-party verification of something so read carefully. It’s time-consuming, I know!

Top travel bloggers share their tips on REVIEWS
“I do not treat the property like a hotel booking site, but more like a paid version of Couchsurfing. I look at reviews very closely, and rarely book anything with fewer than 10 positive reviews.”
~ Margherita from The Crowded Planet
“Personally, we don’t book anything that has less than 25 reviews. A higher number of reviews lets the renter know the host has been doing the Airbnb game for a while and knows how it works.”
~ Scott & Hayley from International Hot Dish
“Some properties have heaps of glowing reviews and you can tell it’s good quality. If reviews are mixed or short, the property may be adequate, or it could be a complete dud.”
~ Shandos from Travelnuity
“The biggest thing we look at before booking an Airbnb is the reviews. If there aren’t any, we won’t book it. It’s as simple as that. Reviews are more important than photos.”
~ Katie & Ben from Two Wandering Soles
“Read the reviews by other people, knowing that some reviews will have been written by the friends of the owners. Make sure that the property is located close to good transport. Read the rules carefully.”
~ Paula & Gordon from Contented Traveller
“Deep dive into the reviews, Google search the property as hosts often use multiple rental services so you can see those reviews too. Ask many questions. Follow up on weird reviews to understand more.”
~ Suzanne from Phila Travel Girl

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Only stay with the best HOSTS

12) Wherever possible, only use superhosts. According to the Airbnb website, superhosts are experienced, respond quickly, have at least 80% 5-star reviews and rarely cancel reservations. They are your best bet for a good experience. Note: there is filter you can turn on so that you only see superhosts.

13) Only stay with hosts who have verified government ID. I suggest only staying with hosts who have provided government ID because it gives an added layer of proof that you’re dealing with a real person.

14) Look for hosts who have been guests and read their reviews. If you click on a host’s profile you can see their “reviews from guests” but if you keep scrolling you can see their “reviews from hosts” too. This allows you to get a sense of the host’s true nature from both perspectives. If they don’t have any “reviews from hosts” then that could be red flag.

15) Don’t stay with a host who has more than one or two properties. When a host has a lot of listings then you know this is their main business and it takes the personal home feeling out of your stay. We unfortunately had a disastrous stay with a superhost in Paris who had 62 listings. There has even been research showing that service quality declines when a host manages too many listings.

16) Carefully read replies that hosts give to negative reviews. You can learn a lot about a host by seeing how they deal with negative feedback. If they are accusatory and not proving they tried to fix the problem in a logical way, then stay away from those hosts.

17) See how the host communicates (e.g look for responsiveness, friendliness and clarity). The speed at which you get a response from a host is very important to prove that when you’re staying at their place they will hopefully maintain the same responsiveness.

18) Always ask your host to explain anything that you’re unsure of. Inevitably there will be something that isn’t clear from the description. For example, my wife is allergic to cats so she always checks to see if there has previously been a cat at the property. Another example might be asking what specific utensils does the kitchen have.

19) If you’re a single woman, it may be best to go with a female host. This is particularly true if you are renting a private room within a house hosted by a single male. There have been a number of reports where male hosts ask the female guest to share their bed!

20) If a host demands cash on arrival, simply say, “no!” and leave no matter what. As soon as you transact off the platform, Airbnb can’t protect you if anything goes wrong. Typically these people are scammers and the place is likely to have a lot of unforeseen problems too.

21) Make sure you have the host’s phone number before arrival. This is important to have in case of emergencies or simply for directions to give the taxi driver, who may not speak English if you’re abroad.

22) Be clear about who is going to stay at (or visit) the property and get the hosts approval. It is the courteous thing to do and will minimize the chances of upsetting the host. Additionally, if you have documented proof that you got permission to have your friends visit then the host can’t write you a bad review or claim to Airbnb that you broke the rules.

23) Airbnb has had countless bad cases of discrimination. Therefore, if you have any reason to believe that you could be discriminated against such as if you’re LGBTQ, then make sure your host is okay with your stay (it is horrible I that even have to write this 🙁 ).

Top travel bloggers share their tips on HOSTS
We only stay with hosts that don’t have more than two or three listings. Hosts with too many listings are more mechanical and somehow their places tend to feel like hotels instead of homes.
~ Abby from The Winged Fork
“It’s always good to read if hosts have been very nice to their guests. If that’s the case, then you can rest assured that the hosts will be helpful and friendly and they actually care about your Airbnb experience.”
~ Nina from Things Nomads Do
“I highly recommend contacting the host to make sure it’s legit and to go over details. If you find the place suspicious, don’t risk it and go with something else. Keep in mind, the only free cheese is in the mousetrap.”
~ Daniil from Russian Blogger
“It’s super important to talk to the host prior to booking, I always confirm little things like do you have a blowdryer, is there a working elevator, if not can you help with my luggage etc – communication is key!”
~ Carolina from CRH Collective
“The main problem about Airbnb is that it lacks the ability to search for LGBTQ friendly options. One tip we give is to message the host before booking and get a feel of what they’re like first. We always do this so as to ensure we are confident they are happy to host a gay couple.”
~ Stefan & Sebastien from Nomadic Boys
“One thing I always do is to contact the hosts before booking in order to get some conversation from them. That way you’ll get a notion of things like their preferred language to communicate, their actual availability (some kept their AirBnB profile up but are not currently hosting).”
~ Daniel from Nobody Stopped Me

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Don’t get deceived by the PHOTOS

scammers place in paris

This is a listing photo from a horrible place we got scammed at in Paris. Looks pretty good, right?

24) Study all the photos carefully. Try to orient yourself in each room and piece together the photos so that you can get a feeling of the place in every respect. A picture is worth a 1000 words and can give a lot of clues to the quality of the property.

25) Be skeptical of gorgeous, professional wide-angle photos. It’s amazing how clever photography can warp your expectations of the property. Sure, there are times that the wide-angle photos are fine but more often than not they make the place look much bigger and better than reality.

26) Low-quality photos taken by the host are more trustworthy than professional shots. Even though the low quality photos may not do the place justice, they are much more likely to tell the real story than professional magazine-style shots.

27) If the cover photo does not include the property in the picture, watch out. In my experience, this usually means the place is trying to hide something and so they’re covering this up by giving you a nice photo of the local beach etc. If they are showing you the view then the property should be part of the photo.

28) Don’t book if any photos of key rooms are missing. If you don’t see a kitchen, bathroom or even a bedroom that you should be seeing then that’s an immediate red flag that those rooms a dingy and not worth showing.

Top travel bloggers share their tips on PHOTOS
“The first impression plays a very important role. So the photos need to be in a way that it gets my attention. Then I only look for rentals of the complete apartment, as I don’t want to share a place and pay for that.”
~ Melvin from Travel Dudes
“Never book a place that doesn’t have photos of every room. If photos of important rooms are missing, odds are that room looks horrible and won’t be nice – don’t book such a place unless you’re okay with that.”
~ Sheralyn from Paradise Found in Maui
“The photos of the apartments should be clear and visually appealing. If there are pictures from multiple angles of the bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom; then usually there is nothing to hide.”
~ Anna from Anna Sherchand
“Don’t book an apartment with no reviews! Read all the reviews very carefully, take a look at the photos, and ask the host if you are unclear about anything before booking.”
~ Jessica Independent Travel Cats

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Read DESCRIPTIONS and amenities thoroughly

amenities airbnb
29) Carefully read the descriptions. The descriptions on Airbnb are the place where a host can share key benefits and features of their accommodation. You can often learn a lot, but of course the host can easily write anything they want. You can cross-reference the description to the reviews and see if you find any discrepancies.

30) Make sure all facilities that you need are listed. For example, if you want a kitchen, washer/dryer and Internet then you’ll obviously want to see those facilities shown in the amenities section. If there is any confusion, message the host to clarify.

31) Double-check that the location is where you want to stay. With any kind of real estate, location is a very important factor for deciding where to stay. Sometimes it can be unclear where the property is in relation to the attractions you want. To get a sense of the neighborhood you can use Google Maps Street View for a virtual walk around.

32) Look for the size of the space in square feet (if it’s not listed, request it). Since the wide-angle photos can be very deceiving it’s important know the true size of your place. Square footage is helpful in knowing how big a place is compared to your own home. A floor plan with measurements of each wall is particularly helpful in understanding the layout and size of the accommodation. In fact, I think Airbnb should require this!

Top travel bloggers share their tips on DESCRIPTIONS
“Read the fine print of the descriptions. This is where you need to be very detail oriented. Carefully look at the following: How many bedrooms? What type of beds are in each room? What floor is it on? Is there a washing machine? Is there WiFi? etc”
~ Tamara from We 3 Travel
“Narrow down your search. Do you want a private room? An entire place to yourself? Or a room in a shared house? If you’re traveling with a group of friends or as a couple, you might want your own space, but it could be just as fun to get a shared space.”
~ Oksana & Max from Drink Tea & Travel
“Pay attention to number of baths (not recommended is more than 2-3persons/bath), and type of beds which could be couches, air mattresses, floor mattresses, etc, apart from regular beds.”
~ Meg & Nik from With a Suitcase
“Firstly, read the house rules and evaluate how much effort the person has put into writing them. I find the more specific and detailed the information is, the less of a chance you get any unpleasant surprises.”
~ Evelina from Eva Milano
“If you use Airbnb, you’ll usually have access to a kitchen, which can also save you money. Though you should read the hosts guidelines on use of their kitchen, like whether or not you’re allowed to cook your own meals.”
~ Alex from Wanderlust Marriage
“Inquire about the room – does it have windows, natural light, anything broken, etc. If you want to get a good sleep, and a healthy sleep is of utmost importance when you are travelling, you need to be in a quiet place.”
~ Svet from Svetoslav Dimitrov

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Learn how to use the WEBSITE properly


33) Keep your profile up to date with your current phone number and email address. It’s very important to keep your info current and also to be sure that you can access both that phone number and email while abroad in a foreign country. If Airbnb customer support needs to verify your account then they’ll need you to know these details. If you signed up with Facebook a long time ago and have since updated your email address then Airbnb won’t have synced and you could be in trouble.

34) Use the filters such as price, location, and facilities as a starting point. The Airbnb website has a lot of helpful filters that can allow you save time getting exactly what you want to see. Also use the map on the right hand side of the website to pinpoint the location you want so that you only see listings in the neighborhood you require.

35) After filtering the search results, favor the listings near the top of the results. Airbnb’s algorithm ranks properties based on their quality and popularity. These accommodations are much more likely to be winners than the ones at the bottom of the page with few reviews and limited numbers of previous tenants.

36) Wherever possible, avoid using their Mobile App because it’s full of bugs. I hope pray they’re working to fix these bugs but as of September 2017, there are countless error messages that happen on the app. I even had a top customer service rep tell me to only make changes to my profile on the desktop because it might not work properly on the app! This is quite alarming considering that when you’re traveling you likely won’t have access to a desktop computer. Even their website says to request a refund after cancellations you have to do it “from a computer” not their app.

Top travel bloggers share their tips using the WEBSITE
“To find a place that suits you, make sure to use the filters to your advantage! I usually do a basic search for location and dates first, then filter by room type (no shared rooms for me!) and price. I also go into the “more filters” section and select “wireless internet” as an option.”
~ Craig & Linda from Indie Travel Podcast
“Listen to your intuition and if it tells you it’s not the right place, then find another one. Also make sure you have all the necessary information about yourself filled in your profile, too. For example, me as a solo female travel blogger and a non-smoker, I check for fast wifi, safe location & easy to walk everywhere.”
~ Alex from Crazy Sexy Fun Traveler
“If you want a unique place, use this URL (www.airbnb.com
/s/homes?type=treehouse
) and replace the last word with the type of place you’re looking for. Here are some examples: boat, cabin, castle, cave, island, lighthouse, tipi, train, treehouse, yurt etc!”
~ Michaela from Travel Intense
“Always use the “superhost” filter because all you want is an attentive host. Also, if you are a woman and a first time user of Airbnb, I recommend choosing to stay with women hosts.”
~ Diah from Mi Nombre Rany

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Have set criteria before making a BOOKING

37) To get reduced rates try booking monthly or weekly. Many listings will offer discounts on their nightly rates if you stay a minimum of 1 week and often a bigger discount if you stay 1 month. This can be a helpful saving if you’re planning to be in one location for an extended period.

38) Book at least 6 weeks in advance. This is really important to be able to find suitable accommodation that meets the strict guidelines explained on this article. For example, superhost listings with the most 5-star reviews, lowest prices and best locations will get booked first. Then as your travel dates get closer and closer the quality of listings will drop significantly and you’ll be left with sketchy or scamming hosts.

39) Do not book last-minute unless the place has a ton of 5-star reviews and passes all other tests listed above. As mentioned, it is rare to find a great place last minute (unless there was a cancellation) because all the best properties get booked out weeks in advance. If you need accommodation last minute I recommend you find a suitable hotel and avoid Airbnb.

40) Do not do instant bookings, communicate the with host before making a booking. Instant bookings open up higher chances of being disappointed because you didn’t confirm an important detail with the host. It sounds good in principle but in my experience, it’s not worth the risk.

41) Trust your instincts and don’t book if it doesn’t feel right. You can glean a lot from the all the info you’re given e.g. the photos, descriptions, reviews, host profile, and interaction with the host. If you even remotely sense a red flag at any point in the process then simply move on and find a place that doesn’t raise any red flags at all.

42) Before booking, cross-reference the Airbnb pricing, location, and facilities with a comparable hotel. Because accommodation is usually the most expensive part of planning a trip it is important to shop around. Often Airbnb has the best prices but it’s not always the case.

43) Book an entire place to ensure privacy and comfort. If you don’t want to stay with a stranger or if you simply want the full luxury of having a place all to yourself, this is the way to go. Keep in mind that bookings that must be shared with other guests or with the host(s) open up a whole world of unhappy possibilities – you may bet paired with insufferable roommates and your trip will be ruined.

44) Make a short list of places you want to stay and then select the best one based on all of your criteria and all of the tips we shared. I know this is a long list of tips so the process will likely take hours, but it’s the best way to minimize disappointments when you get there.

Top travel bloggers share their tips on BOOKINGS
“If using the instant booking service, always contact the host to ensure that they are there and responsive. Only use the AirBnB system for payment and communication, as this will help if any problems arise.”
~ Laurence from Finding the Universe
“I have never made an Airbnb booking because for me, every time I have looked, there is a better deal with less hassle and more services if I book directly with a guest house or other booking agency like Agoda.”
~ Tiff from Vagabond Way
“Here are the steps I take to make a booking: Preset your preferred language and currency. Enter the location and the dates you are looking for. On room type select private room or entire apartment. I prefer private room when traveling alone. Click on the ‘more filters’ box. A window opens up with a list of features. Set your price range. Choose your ‘must-have’ amenities. Then click on ‘show listings’.”
~ Michela from Rocky Travel
“If you know that the day you check out you have a lot of time before going to the airport, you should check before booking if you are allowed to check out late or leave your luggage at the Airbnb to go exploring. Unlike a hotel, most Airbnb’s are strict on checkout policy and will not allow you to leave your bags which can lead to you having to haul your luggage around your last day of sightseeing.”
~ Rachel from Hippie in Heels
“Be careful because some of the bookings are immediate and some of them send you to a contact form where you’ll message the host first. Can be confusing and once you book a place it isn’t always granted you’ll get a full refund.”
~ Aaron from Yogi Aaron
“Communication is definitely key! If possible check out the rental before you commit. But also use hosts that have good reviews and ratings to improve the possibility of a good stay.”
~ Crystal from Gnomad Family

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Expect terrible CUSTOMER SERVICE


45) If something goes wrong, expect to be on the street, homeless and left to fend for yourself in finding new last-minute accommodation. This happened to my wife, 10-month-old son and I in Paris. It was horrible. The only thing they did for us was suggest other Airbnbs we should stay at which included a place hosted by the same scammer we were leaving!!

46) Contact Airbnb support number asap if absolutely anything goes wrong. Their US number is +1 855 424 7262. It doesn’t matter how big or small the problem is, contact them as soon as possible. If you don’t call them within 24 hours of arriving at the property you won’t get a refund, plain and simple.

47) Document anything that goes wrong with photo evidence for help with getting a refund. Airbnb’s guest refund policy states 3 reasons you can cancel your listing to get a refund. These include: not being able to access the property, the property is misrepresented, it is unclean, unsafe or has an animal. They require photo evidence to be able to issue a refund. Expect a long, drawn-out process with a lot of time communicating and you will likely only get a partial refund – like we did!

48) Only communicate the problems you’re experience with the host via the Airbnb message system. You should also be in touch with the host if a problem is something that they can fix. By using their message system you’ll have a record of all communication with the host so that the Airbnb customer service team can review it if there is a dispute.

49) Expect to deal with a disorganized team that will take hours of your time. If you are applying for a refund, it will likely take weeks and weeks to get one and when it does come it will likely only be a partial refund!

Top travel bloggers share their tips on CUSTOMER SERVICE
“Customer support didn’t do much to the homeowner and his account, even though he sabotages all of his guests reviews. But they did remove his negative review from our page. My advice, If the listing doesn’t match what you thought you were paying for, complain!!”
~ Kelly from Lost and Bound For
“Contact the host before booking to confirm what the purpose of your stay is and that the accommodation is suitable e.g. includes access to a full kitchen for a long stay, has fast wifi for people working online. The messages will act as a record if you need to dispute anything in the future.”
~ Chantell from Adoration 4 Adventure
“If the host is rude or insulting in their messages, always get customer support involved. Never send messages outside the Airbnb platform or customer support won’t have a record of your communications and won’t be able to help you.”
~ Rachel from Grateful Gypsies
“Be very careful and call their customer service as soon as you realize there’s a problem, while you’re still there. That way they should be forced to at least offer you another nearby house.”
~ Dany from Travelling Dany

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Miscellaneous tips


50) You almost always get what you pay for, especially in expensive cities like Paris. It’s important to shop around and find what the going rates are for your accommodation needs. Pay particular attention to the prices of places with a lot of 5-star reviews and that are managed by superhosts.
51) If a listing looks too good to be true then it most likely is. This is especially true for any place that has less than a 5-star average with only a few reviews. The legitimate best places will most likely be priced accordingly and have a ton of 5-star reviews.

52) If you want to travel with a pet, Airbnb is typically a better option than hotels. In the “house rules” filter you can select “pets allowed” which will filter all the properties that allow pets. Note that hosts generally think of a dog when they say pets are allowed. As always, communicate with you host beforehand to see what they’re okay with.

53) If Internet speed is important, ask the host for proof in advance. You ask for the “upload and download” speeds via a screenshot they provide after using http://www.speedtest.net/. If the speed isn’t satisfactory then you can see if they would boost their plan while you stay. This especially makes sense if you’re renting for a month or more and want to get some work done.

Top travel bloggers share their MISCELLANEOUS tips
“Sometimes you’ll endure deplorable conditions if there’s a good wifi signal and you’ve got work to do. Always be wary of Airbnb’s that don’t have a consistent track record of good reviews.”
~ John from Roaming Around the World
“Our biggest tip is to do not communicate outside the app or website and if you have a phone conversation, send a message to the owner summarizing the issues discussed in the phone call.”
~ Cath & Ian from Possess the World
“If a boutique hotel or hostel is listed on AirBnB, then chances are it’s listed elsewhere. Whenever I find one, I do a search for it on TripAdvisor, Booking.com, and Agoda just to read the reviews. The more reviewers chiming in on a place, then the more confident I am with the decision.”
~ JB & Renée from Will Fly For Food
“Based on the experiences we’ve had, Airbnb is certainly not our first choice for accommodation options when traveling. There are some destinations that seem to work better than others. E.g, Iceland has a strong Airbnb presence and, in our experience, everything is spot on as advertised. No weirdos!”
~ Roma from Roaming Required
“In my 11 years of full-time travel, you might be surprised to learn I’ve only used AirBnB a couple of times. This is because I specialize in getting free accommodation around the world – through house-sitting, volunteering, living on boats, and more.”
~ Nora from The Professional Hobo
“I guess with Airbnb there is no sure shot way to ensure a good experience – just like with Couchsurfing, it can be a hit or a miss. No matter how careful and thorough you are.”
~ Jo from Wander With Jo
 

A bonus tip

54) If any of this scares you or is overwhelming, simply don’t use Airbnb in the first place. Instead, stay at the nicest hotel you can afford that has good reviews on your favorite review site to be sure of an awesome vacation!


For more tips on staying safe while traveling, check out our popular packing lists below:

Back to top
 
 
 
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SECTION 4

One last rant: why I think
Airbnb’s customer service is so bad

Before I get started, you might be wondering, “what is Airbnb’s phone number?” since they don’t show it easily on their website or app. We’ve found the best toll-free phone number for calling Airbnb Customer Service is +1-855-424-7262.

Here’s the thing:

After spending over 160 hours writing this article, I’ve come to the following conclusions:

1) Since the beginning, the founder of Airbnb didn’t think customer service was important.

This is an excerpt from The Upstarts by Brad Stone:

…Chesky had subscribed to the purist’s view of online marketplaces: Users were supposed to police one another by rating their experiences. Untrustworthy actors would be drummed off the platform by bad reviews, rejected by the web’s natural immune system. It was a libertarian view of the internet and had the whiff of Silicon Valley snake oil. The prospect of a negative review is of little use after a serious breach of etiquette —or a criminal act. But because of their shared faith in the power of self-policing marketplaces, Chesky and his colleagues hadn’t made serious investments in customer service or customer safety. The fact that Blecharczyk, as well as the company’s controller, Stanley Kong, had been put in charge of customer service at a company now with over 130 employees while the other founders looked for an executive to run the department was telling. “We viewed ourselves as a product and technology company, and customer support didn’t feel like product and tech,” Chesky says. (Source)

WTF. Really!?…

2) Quality customer service is expensive and requires a lot of training and employee freedom.

In 2016, Airbnb was #1 on Glassdoor but now in 2017 they’ve already slipped to #35. The employee reviews mention things like “growing pains,” “little transparency,” and “little room to advance.” In my experience, the customer service team is simply not organized enough or empowered enough to give good service. I also bet there is a high turnover of employees in customer service because it’s a very stressful job dealing with so many ruined vacations.

Here is a quote from an Airbnb “Customer Experience Specialist” located in Portland:

“If you are joining Airbnb, get any job except in Customer Experience. This job is truly draining — prepare to get screamed at by rich entitled people from all over the world. There is no room to move up in the company if you work in Portland. However, if you are in San Francisco, or in any other department, the opportunities are much better. Management does not understand the difficulties that customer experience faces.

3) They are trying to ramp up profitability before an IPO.

To date, over $4.3 billion has been invested in Airbnb. This money has come from investors in Silicon Valley and on Wall Street and in order to keep the investors happy Airbnb needs to maximize profitability before their rumored IPO (Initial Public Offering). Everyone knows that for a successful IPO, “investors want to see a clear path to near-term profitability”. Skift recently wrote an eye-opening and in-depth article, “Airbnb’s road to an IPO”.

Here is a quote from another Airbnb “Customer Experience Specialist”:

“I started working here because I really believed in what Airbnb stands for and the service it is providing to the world, but it turns out that “belonging” is just their overt mission. In actually, Airbnb is like every other mega cooperation – focused on making more and more money for billionaires…”

Below I go into more detail on the first point:

Here is a recent interview from October 23rd, 2017 with Brian Chesky (Airbnb founder) with Fortune.

Interviewer asks:
“You’ve also had your share of controversy and you’ve run into all sorts of challenges whether it’s safety incidents, legal pushback or discrimination. What of those has been hardest for you?”

Brian Chesky replies:
“Well I think that the first one one was by far the hardest. The first big, big crisis or challenge we had.

We didn’t have robust 24/7 customer support, we didn’t have a trust and safety team, we didn’t remove very many users and then a woman’s apartment got trashed and it was a huge wake up call.


It told me that though our thesis was our community is an immune system, people didn’t want to wait for the immune system to kick in. That we had a responsibility to prevent these bad things from happening. It completely changed our model. Now we’re pretty hands on in managing the marketplace.”

When Chesky says “immune system” I believe he means that when Airbnb users go out and stay at bad listings they will then write bad reviews that will inform future travelers.

Are you kidding me, Mr. Chesky?!!

You’re expecting us travelers to spend thousands of dollars on a trip and then have our vacation ruined so that we can be part of your “immune system” in order for you to make more money at our expense?

This logic is ridiculous. I can see how an “immune system” works on websites like Facebook or YouTube where inappropriate content gets flagged by users. But the stakes are low there since we’re separated from “bad people” by our computer screens.

With Airbnb it’s completely different. Accommodation is the most important base need for successful travel and usually costs $1000s. An “immune system” in this case is just not good enough.

How do we know we’re not going to be staying with a convicted felon or sex-offender when you allow anyone to become a host? How do we know the place we’re renting is even legal? And after years of Chesky’s “immune system” being up and running, we’re still seeing hundreds of problems with false, deleted, censored, and untrustworthy reviews plus dangerous stays and hosts, so the immune system is obviously not working.

It is apparent that Chesky has had this idealistic view from day one. He didn’t think customer support was that important because the users would self govern. This is total BS considering the fact that it wasn’t until August 2017 that they allowed reviews to be shared even if someone cancelled their stay or left early.

Does Airbnb censor negative reviews?

Chesky wants an “immune system” created by user reviews, yet Airbnb has been known to censor negative reviews!

A number of travel bloggers reported directly to me that they have had times when their bad reviews were deleted by Airbnb. This is also commonly reported in online in forums and on the review sites we used in our study.

For example, here is what travel blogger, Jeremy from Travel Freak said:

“I wrote a review about my bad experience…which was promptly deleted from the Airbnb website just days later, and the entire trip had been removed from my history altogether. It was like my whole trip had just been deleted from their system. Like it never happened.”

Here is another example posted online by c k.

“We wrote a bad review of the place citing roaches, overall dated and dirty, no smoke alarm etc. I put some positive things in the review too. I was called a couple days after writing the review saying I had violated Airbnb policies… and my review was rejected… Airbnb made it impossible for me to put an honest review online.”

The obvious reason for this censorship is to keep the ratings high so that people will still stay at bad or average listings so that Airbnb will keep getting it’s fees and maximizing profitability.

More opinions on Airbnb’s customer service from travel bloggers

“Our bad experiences have always been because of AirBNB’s absolutely terrible customer service. Our AirBNB experience can be summed up as: It’s great when everything goes well, if things go wrong, AirBNB will never help you out and you are on your own. This can be varying levels of scary depending on which country you are in and what your situation at the moment looks like.”
~ Ashray & Zara from Backpack Me


“It took 3 days to get anyone at AirBnB to help me recover my hacked account. I called. I emailed. I tweeted. I tweeted several more times. I could NOT be more disappointed by their customer service while my credit cards were at risk. Completely unacceptable!”
 
~ Lia from Practical Wanderlust


“I think Airbnb has suffered the typical tech conundrum: growing faster than it’s ready for. It needs to have dedicated community managers for every major market to help out with on-the-ground issues, and it needs to up its customer service game—or at least, bring back the level from (circa) 2014 when it was at the top of its game.”
~ Kristin from Camels and Chocolate


“Customer service was nonexistent on this trip. No response until we returned stateside, and then just an apology that the listing was not as described. Customer service with Airbnb will either make or break their business when issues such as this arise. Renters should always be able to find support and an easy and quick method of contact to resolve issues.”
~ Amy from The Gypsy Mamas


“I only got a fraction of the amount I paid. Airbnb customer support has really bad refund policies that favor the hosts and don’t protect the tenant.”
 
 
~ Adonis from Always WanderlustBack to top
 
 
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SECTION 5

Conclusion

The concept of Airbnb is wonderful, don’t get me wrong.

I’ve had some great experiences using the platform starting with a magical trip to Bodrum, Turkey in 2012 (pictured). The only thing that went wrong on that trip is the host wanted $250 compensation for damages that we didn’t cause…

The real problem is:

When a platform grows so big and the company doesn’t do enough to protect its users then the dishonest and scamming people of the world flock to partake in the action.

Airbnb has become a scammers paradise.

Until they:

  1. Clean up their website to prevent the “bad players”
  2. Fix the review system
  3. Offer real solutions to guests who have a cancelled stay
  4. Actually help guests find new accommodation when their original booking goes wrong
  5. Fix the countless bugs in the mobile app and main website
  6. Offer amazing customer service

I’m never using Airbnb again. It’s simply not worth the risk anymore.

By the way:

I’ve still not received my full refund from the moldy place in Paris that we were only in for 20 mins. Last I heard on Nov. 13th from an extremely rude customer service lady named Melissa was that Mark was going to call me back in 1 hr…

After 30 hrs of emails and phone calls with this horrible company, I’ve finally given up trying. I suspect this is exactly what they want…

A final thought:

I’m sorry to say but if something goes wrong with your next Airbnb stay, you’re f*cked! 🙁

UPDATE December 11th: Airbnb's official response to my research (CLICK TO EXPAND)

Below is the official response Airbnb gave to an article published in the http://www.independent.co.uk/ after seeing my article and research:

Airbnb said it takes safety seriously and accused Mr Fergusson of making false claims because his blog is is partly funded by TripAdvisor.

“It’s no surprise that someone who makes money from our competitors is smearing our community and making false claims about us, our hosts and our guests.

“There have been more than 260 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are extremely rare but when they do arise, we work hard to make things right.

“Plain and simple, the stats they cite aren’t statistically significant, nor are they accurate, and the claims are misrepresented and flat-out false.

“Building a safe and trusted community is our number one priority and the most important thing we do.”

Here is my response to Airbnb:

“I have no interest in promoting TripAdvisor over Airbnb and have zero affiliation with them apart from a handful of affiliate links which I have now removed. I made a total of $38.51 from TripAdvisor in the past 2 years which is completely negligible. (Video Proof)

“I conducted my research and wrote my article because I truly want to see Airbnb succeed, but our findings indicate they are not doing a good enough job keeping up with their massive growth. I uncovered multiple dangerous loopholes and scams that are going unchecked and I want to bring awareness to these issues.

“Furthermore, it is highly evident how poor Airbnb’s customer service is since they’re not acknowledging or apologizing for what happened to my family and I in Paris this past September. This is sad considering we’ve been loyal customers since 2012.

“Additionally, Airbnb failed to address the fact that the scammer who got us is still on their website scamming other people even after they shut down his two previous accounts. We still haven’t received full refunds from our trip after spending 30 hours (spread over months) on the phone and writing emails with their disorganized and rude customer support team.

“Lastly, in my video, I provide video proof of scams and loopholes that are widespread and they’re not addressing any of these serious safety issues either.”

Comments?

What’s your experience with Airbnb? Write your comments below.

If you’ve got an experience you’d like to share please do so in the comments section below. It can be a good, average or bad experience, whatever it is, I want to hear about it.

Note: Any spam or excessive profanities will be deleted. Keep it cool.
 

107 Comments on “Is Airbnb Safe? We Analyzed 1021 Horror Stories to Find Out (2017)

  1. Great article! Very thorough and interesting to read the guests’ perspective. I’ve been an Airbnb host since 2013. In fact, you guys stayed with me a few years ago before your beautiful boy was born! A lot has changed in Airbnb over the years and I’ve been disappointed myself. It’s great that Airbnb, once a small start-up company has gained popularity and become more mainstream, but with that arises some problems.

    I agree with one of your bloggers that said the company grew too fast for their customer service to keep up (and if they never valued the customer to begin with, they didn’t stand a chance). Even from the host’s end, their once prompt and knowledgeable customer service, is now pitiful. I reached out for help the other day and was connected with a fellow Superhost. She was kind enough but I was a more experienced host than she was and here she was trying to address my concerns with no access to my account, my history or even a view of my listings. She wasn’t even an employee of Airbnb! I’m all for hosts helping hosts but she wasn’t qualified to assist me at all. Wtf? Of course I asked to be connected with somebody else but I was met with stock, generic responses, poor grammar, links to FAQ pages and disingenuous apologies.

    In regards to listing placement, the best listings aren’t always listed first. This was my complaint to Airbnb. I’m an experienced Superhost with 5 star reviews, quality photos, excellent response time and a location in high demand. Yet listings with less time behind the wheel, poor reviews, lesser quality photos and weak overall appeal are placing far before mine. Furthermore, in a search of Costa Mesa (my city) with no filters in an incognito window, an apartment 15 mi away in Laguna Beach pops up first. Albeit it’s a beautiful apartment, but no where near Costa Mesa. It was almost like a sponsored ad. My lovely customer service rep (eye roll) denied it even when I sent a screen shot of my search results.

    Airbnb keeps their algorithm for listing placement close to their chest but I’m beginning to wonder if they have one at all. I used to almost always come up on the first page but I’m sometimes scrolling 7-8 pages to find my listing that I’ve worked really hard at perfecting.

    Lastly, with the increased popularity of Airbnb, the quality of guests has decreased significantly as well. I used to brag that I never had any problems-nothing major anyway. Back when only the cool people knew about Airbnb and only adventurous, open minded, free spirits used it, I had amazing guests, like you guys! But more and more lately, I’m getting disgusting, disrespectful, rude, uncommunicative, and sometimes straight up sleazy guests. Guests aren’t even reading the Listing Description or House Manual anymore that I took the time and thoughtfulness to write to ensure my guests know exactly what to expect. Consequently, I have guests asking redundant questions, not knowing how to get the key from the lockbox, or getting surprised when they check in and find out they don’t have the whole house to themselves or that I have dogs etc. I even have pictures of Kilo and Nellie in my photos!

    Business has been slower than ever but if I decrease my prices to attract more guests, I end up with scum bags. If I raise it, I can’t compete. I can’t help but wonder after reading your article if I’m even competing with real listings. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be hosting with Airbnb but I’m hoping that information like you’ve provided here spurs some much needed change.

    Thank you for sharing your findings and I’m sorry you had such a terrible experience in Paris. I always tell people to book with Superhosts but even that isn’t fool proof. I welcome you guys to come back and stay in my home any time! I’d love to say that I will restore your faith in Airbnb but I can’t. But I can assure you that not ALL hosts are terrible. Happy travels!! Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your perspective as a host, Jessika! And sorry you’ve had trouble with Airbnb customer service too.

      We’ve been using Airbnb since 2012 and have had some great experiences including at your place in Costa Mesa!

      Although, this last experience was so bad that we had to investigate. 82% of the people who had a problem with Airbnb in our study said that customer service was a problem and 57% of those people said Airbnb customer service was their primary complaint. That says a lot!

  2. Guys – an excellent article and so thorough – nice one 🙂 We’ve generally had a very positive experience with Airbnb although it’s not without faults of course.

  3. Great effort putting together such a detailed and comprehensive listing, Asher! And thanks for including my tip!

    Really sorry about your terrible experience and that Airbnb customer service didn’t step up to the plate to make it right. Airbnb’s customer service is a mixed bag, but when it’s bad it’s really bad, like in your case. And for you to go through this effort is telling of that.

    Hopefully through articles like these, Airbnb will step up its efforts to continue to improve its service for the safety and comfort of everyone. Best wishes and happy travels!

    • Thank you Alex!

      Yeah, I really want to see Airbnb succeed but with the way they’ve treated us and so many other travelers who put their trust and they dollars in them it’s just not acceptable. And the fact they allow anyone (fake or real) to be a host is just ridiculous.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  4. This is incredible Asher. Thank you for inviting us to be a part of it. Thankfully, we haven’t had a negative experience with AirBnB but this article opened my eyes to a lot of things I just wasn’t aware of. I had no idea it was so easy for people to become a host. That is shocking and unacceptable. The guest’s safety should be of the utmost importance.

    We’re going on a trip tomorrow and we’ll be staying at an AirBnB. I’m pretty confident about the place we chose since it’s a hostel, but I will go back to the listing now and look more closely at the reviews just in case.

    Again, congratulations on writing such a comprehensive and helpful article. I hope it goes viral so many travelers learn from it.

    • Thanks JB!

      Your tips are great. I’m you’ll be fine at the hostel. And I think if someone followed all the tips shared in this article then the chances of a problem stay would be greatly reduced.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  5. This is a great article, Asher! very informative and it definitely opened my eyes to the wider issues with Airbnb. Thankfully, I never really had a bad experience myself, but I will definitely be even more careful when choosing a place to stay via Airbnb in the future.
    Thanks again for the mention as well!

    • Hi Nina,

      Thanks for adding your tips!

      Yes, we just don’t want Airbnb nightmares happening to other travelers so hopefully people will learn how to stay safe as a result of reading our article.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  6. This happened to me and my bestfriend in Germany as well. The lady messaged us the day before asking when we where coming we told her 11Am. Check in wasn’t until 3, but when we arrived in Stuttgart she wasn’t answering her phone, we called from 4 different phones no answer, we decided to wait until 3, and finally she answered and said “I don’t know anything” and hung up on me, then texts me and says she has no reservation for Jessica. She wouldn’t pick up her phone after that or text back, 6 hours being stranded we decided to call air b&b to see if they could get ahold of our host, they did and the lady tells them they wanna cancel… why couldn’t she tell us that the night before when she texted us asking when we where coming. Air b&b told us we had to find our own hotel… now as you said, it’s not easy finding a hotel last minute with a budget… we ended up staying at what we thought was going to be a hotel but turned out to be a dirty hostel still costing us 240 euro for the night.. air b&b has told us we will get a refund within 2 weeks but I’m not holding my breath on it… literally we where stuck on the streets and it wasn’t there problem. So so so horrible how someone can do that to someone when they’re not even from that country 🙁

    • Hi Jessica,

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience and I’m so sorry it happened to you too!!

      The way Airbnb customer service can treat people is just not acceptable. And then they make it so difficult to get a refund it’s a joke. We have literally spent 30 hours over 2.5 months going back and forth with them on the phone and via email and still haven’t received full refunds for the first moldy place we ended up at in Paris. It’s really unbelievable and will be their downfall if they don’t clean up their act.

      My advice is to get on the phone and ask for a supervisor. It might not do anything but it’s the best chance you have at getting a decision made.

      All the best,

      Asher.

  7. Are you reading this, Airbnb? This is a sobering wake up call. Please take note – we love using your service but need you to love us back 🙂

    Well done, Asher!

    • Seriously! If they want long term success they need to look after their customers. If they had of looked after us in Paris we wouldn’t be writing this article…

  8. Hey Asher,

    this post rocks! Seriously, you’ve covered every possible aspect of booking with AirBnB and you’ve left no question unanswered. Great job and hopefully it will result in real measures and improvements in the system.

    Have a great weekend!

    Cheers 🙂

  9. Thanks for bringing up some pertinent issues. We’ve had a few dud stays, but I’ve also had similar experiences staying at budget hotels, so am happy to cautiously continue using Airbnb. And like you highlighted in one of your tips – Airbnbs are still usually a better option if you’re travelling with a pet, like I am. (Especially as hotels rarely inform you of pet-related rules until you arrive, and charge you for the privilege!)

    • Thanks for sharing your experience with me Shandos!

      The pet perks with Airbnb are to be noted but as one Redditor pointed out to me, you have to communicate clearly with the host what kind of pet you’re bringing and if it’s not a dog, you may have some trouble.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  10. While we generally have had the best experiences with Airbnb, there have been some hiccoughs as this article shows. Thanks for including us, and the moral to the story is due diligence when selecting your airbnb accomodation

    • Thanks Paula,

      Yes, with anything online, you always have to be careful! And as Airbnb grows it will be more and more important to follow all the safety tips we laid out in the article.

      Best,

      Asher.

  11. This year was our first time using Airbnb when we went to Corsica. The third property ended up being a gite, really quite nice and way bigger than the studio apartment we were expecting. But it was a gite and therefore devoid of home comforts – even toilet rolls! The village shop would not open until the next day. Fortunately the owner was still ‘on the premises’ and we were supplied with toilet rolls from her sister’s gite next door! Fortunately it was a clean and tidy property in a lovely position on the coast.
    One other property on this trip had a cat that wasn’t mentioned in the description!! He was a discreet cat until he wanted to be fed!

    • Thanks for sharing Gill! I recommend bring some travel toilet paper whenever you go overseas because you never know when you’ll need it! 🙂

  12. I’m a newish airbnb user with 4 stays and 2 more coming up. We’ve been lucky but I think three things need changing. One is the payment system- the host should’nt be paid until the guest has checked out and all has been as expected. Two is that vetting of hosts and places should be done by airbnb- basically they do little to earn their big fees. Three, descriptions need improvement- size and surroundings are important. I appreciate your taking the time to write a thorough article and will follow your recommendations as well as seeking other alternatives. However my one experience with Craigslist made airbnb look fantastic!

  13. Hey Asher,

    This post is awesome! I know you been working on this for awhile and good to see the outcome. You’ve covered every possible aspect of booking with Airbnb and have left no question unanswered. I look forward to reading more from you! 🙂

  14. Asher, what a stupendous article you have compiled here. It’s more of a book, actually.

    I was very surprised to read some of these horrific stories as my experience was not so abhorrent.

    Thank you very much for the graphics and the in-depth research and analysis. A masterpiece!

  15. Excellent article Asher and Lyric. I hope so many people are able to access your article before booking their air BNB. You thoroughly did your research. I only used an Airbnb once in New York City. There were a few hiccups. A few of the pictures posted were not correct. The kitchen was not the kitchen posted The person that met us did not show us how to access the wireless properly. We had to wait hours until the host contacted us with all of the correct information for accessing the wireless.
    The pull out bed was not the one posted either. It was dirty when we opened it and mechanically constructed that one could not sleep on it. Etc, etc, etc.
    We negotiated with the host for some reimbursement for the inconveniences and we were fortunate to receive some reimbursement.
    I now have your article for future reference and will tell friends to read it before booking one in the future.

    • Sorry to hear you had some trouble, Beverly. I believe if you follow all my tips the chances of something going wrong would be less than 1%. But like any accommodation it’s always a possibility.

      All the best,

      Asher.

  16. Wow Asher what a comprehensive piece. This must’ve taken months to collate and put together. So many stats, anecdotes and cold facts! I do believe my one bad experience wont trump my 10 good ones but yes one needs to know how safe… or unsafe this platform is for travelers.

    • Thanks Jo, yes it was a big project but I am glad I did it. I really try to share my travel experiences and to help other travelers stay safe!

      Thanks for your contribution to the article.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  17. I am pretty certain there’s a factual error right at the start of this article (useful as it is) – AirBnB almost definitely needs verification from hosts as well. I know for a fact because I set up an AirBnB profile for a small boutique guest house a while ago, and we had to upload all kinds of documents to complete the process. Not sure if this is different for different regions/countries, but find it hard to believe they will let people host without verified IDs.

    Having said that, like anything else, AirBnB has its issues – before you rent/book, best to look at all the reviews and spot inconsistencies. If you have major dependencies (like traveling with a family), it’s advised to keep your options limited to hosts that have plenty of reviews and a reputation at stake. Great piece nonetheless – thanks 🙂

    • Hi Sanket,

      Yes, it appears there are certain countries that do require host ID verification for Airbnb but it’s not the case in the US, Canada, UK, France and Australia as far as I know. It seems Airbnb only requires it if the local government has forced them to do it. Otherwise they try to make it as easy as possible to become a host so that they can have no barriers to entry.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  18. I’ve stayed in dozens of airbnb places in Europe, the US and Canada. I don’t doubt that problems (even serious abuses) do exist. I love the fact that I can stay in an private home and feel like I live in the neighbor instead of a hotel. I will continue to use airbnb. With one exception (which was just fine) I’ve always checked “entire home” on the filter selection.

  19. This is a well thought out and researched article. It would be sad to leave it at this! Could I offer an idea to the community: if negative reviews are being deleted, if scams are happening and Airbnb looks the other way, if hosts are telling lies and faking their descriptions and using duplicate photos how about someone making a web page for collecting negative reviews and real addresses of bad places before they can be deleted from Airbnb?? It could be organized by country. It could be called AVOID THIS HOST or AIRBNBs FROM HELL or whatever. If someone had a horrible experience, they would, of course, write it up on the Airbnb site, but they could also add the host name, address, etc to this other site, along with a report on what the bad experience was exactly and the result from the Airbnb customer service. If word got out and this other site became well known, people could check this site first to make sure they were reserving to a safe place.

    All these kinds of problems are Airbnb’s fault. They could easily be more proactive to protect guests while still protecting hosts. But hosts have to be good people too. Vetting hosts throughly is important for their business model. Good hosts makes for good business, if you ask me. It is ridiculous if a host cancels suddenly and the guest only gets a portion of their fee back. This would cause law suits in the hotel business!

    Right now, guests who have had a bad time and a horrible experience who blog only have their own blog to note their complaints. Their voices are small and limited. Guests who don’t blog have no voice. Guests who have had horrible experiences need to band together to be heard. I think it is time someone did this, made a place for GUESTS TO BE HEARD.

  20. Really excellent piece of work. I have been to many airbnb’s and haven’t had any really negative experiences. I think your initial advice is really important — I always spend hours looking over the options, checking for inconsistencies, multiple listings by one person, problems cited in reviews, and any other red flags. Then I always contact the host and have multiple exchanges. If I feel they are not attentive, are evasive, or don’t answer my questions satisfactorily I won’t book with them. Nevertheless it’s obvious more scammers are trying to take advantage of loopholes in this system and if airbnb management doesn’t take control they will lose massive numbers of customers.

    • Thanks Ken,

      Yes, I have also had many nice experiences with Airbnb but since they’ve grown so much things seem to be getting wildly out of hand.

      Best,

      Asher.

  21. I’d like to add my own horror story. Last year we vacationed in Florida. On our drive along the gulf cost to Atlantic cost we booked a B&B in Miami through Airbnb. When we arrived at the address nobody was home and there was no note left for us. We waited on the drive way for over an hour and finally give up. We had to visit three places to find a hotel room at much high cost, plus extra distance to travel. Our plan for night tour of Miami was wiped out. When complaining to Airbnb they offered us no compensation, just a credit which we could not use. Next time I’ll look somewhere else than Airbnb. They are unreliable to say the least.

  22. Thank you so much for taking the time to publish so much travel info. I found your blog about traveling in India back in January when I was planning my trip. I’d never been outside the US before, and so many of your tips were spot on and made my trip more awesome, (also more understandable when I accidentally found myself in a Sufi shrine and had no idea what people were saying to me. LOL) Thanks for all the AirBnB tips. I’ll definitely keep this bookmarked for my next trip.

  23. Thank you for taking the time to research and share your experience with AirBnB, it’s much appreciated from us, fellow travelers! To be honest, we have never stayed in an AirBnB despite the positive reviews I’ve heard first hand from friends. The entire idea and what could go wrong was/is just too odd and risky for us and we’re not picky or luxury travelers. I’m glad there is some data and guidelines to refer to if we ever do decide to try. I generally stick with Booking.com or TripAdvisor. I’m sorry you had such an awful experience, karma will come back around!

  24. Asher, Shocking! I’ve had good experiences with Airbnb in Europe, Asia, and the USA. BUT only because I ruthlessly study the reviews, as you recommend. The most telling part of this whole episode is Airbnb’s rude and arrogant response to your post. It would be so simple of them to reimburse you in some small way for your problems, but they are clueless about basic customer relations. Shame on them for responding like assholes, when it would be so easy to keep you as satisfied customers. I would immediately reject any listings that replied as Airbnb did to you. They are their own worst enemy. Maybe this will help them to improve.

    • Thanks Doug!

      Yeah, they are obviously clueless with PR. It’s so funny they accused me of “smearing their community” because I make money from TripAdvisor. As I showed in the video response, I have made a total of $38.51 in 2 years!! And subsequently I’ve removed all links to TripAdvisor because I don’t give a flying fig about them.

      And the fact that they didn’t address any of the scams and loopholes I reveal tells me that they care more about profits than the safety of their guests.

      All the best,

      Asher.

  25. This honestly just sound like it’s written by somebody who has an axe to grind based on a one-off personal experience.

    What’s worse, you base your entire study on hearsay i.e. 3rd party sites, bloggers … and focussed on the horror stories – which, granted, generates much more traffic than a regular “hey, it’s rare that something will go wrong” blog post.

    Question to you: what’s the likelihood in percentage of finding yourself in a “horror story” vs. simply having a pleasant stay?

    • Hi Tia,

      If you read the full article you will see that as a result of our own two consecutive Airbnb nightmares we found that there are a number of dangerous loopholes and scams that are going unchecked. In my video, I show the same scammer who got us in Paris using four different Airbnb accounts in 6 weeks all using the exact same listing photos. When Airbnb deletes his account he simply creates a new one under and different name and email.

      3rd party sites are actually the best source of unbiased reviews since Airbnb has been known to censor and modify reviews on its platform. And it wasn’t until August this year that they even allowed reviews to be posted from guests who left their stay early due to a problem!

      To you answer your question: According to two different Airbnb customer service reps, the number of problem stays is between 3% and 7%. This year, Airbnb has reported over 120 million stays so that is at least 3 million ruined trips many of which could be prevented if Airbnb had stricter policies for becoming a host.

      Lastly, I truly want to see Airbnb succeed but through our research, it is clear they are not doing enough to protect their guests and so I wrote this article to bring awareness to these issues.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  26. A very nice article, you worked so hard and it was very helpful! Thank you for your tips, so far I had mostly good experiences with Airbnb, I’ve stayed in 3 places in Ireland with awesome people that I’d recommend to anyone, but as you wrote, the fourth let me book the room even if she wasn’t in town and couldn’t be there to allow me in, so I lost my money. Aside from that bad episode, and thankfully it was just one night so I didn’t lose much money, I’m glad I had the chance to try this experience, but from now on I’ll sure be even more careful. Thanks!

    • Thank you Anna! 🙂

      Yes, definitely be careful and follow my safety tips to minimize the chances of having a problem with the Airbnb platform.

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  27. A great post that is extremely detailed. Well done!

    I’ve never been tempted to use Airbnb, and above is the reason why, as I prefer a whole house/ apartment / hotel room / to myself, operated by professional staff. Moreover, I think you stated a most important point, always deal with the host using the Airbnb communication profile.

    I prefer booking.com but sometimes even there, I get contacted by a few unscrupulous hosts who want me to send them a deposit privately. I immediately cancel the booking! I’ve also had people trying to contact me privately. Even calling me at home in Germany. Funny how this also took place from private homes / apartments in France…! I cancelled the reservation immediately, as danger bells began to ring.

    As a travel /lifestyle blogger, I travel a lot during peak season, and even one wrong experience could ruin a weekend or holiday break, and I just can’t risk it so no Airbnb for me, no matter how cheap!

    • Hi Victoria,

      With Airbnb I’ve almost always only had an entire place.

      Yeah, it’s a shame that this world is full of scammers everywhere!!

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  28. We made the mistake of booking a 6 week stay at an Airbnb in Perth without viewing it, when we were forced out of our house by our landlord. It was the peak of summer. The room was so tiny we could not walk around in the room. We had to climb over our suitcases. The owner did not want the air conditioner turned on because of the cost. It was over 100 degrees. It was making me sick in the tiny hot room. When we tried to leave after 3 weeks, Airbandb wanted us to pay more due to the shorter stay. We cancelled our credit card, so Airbandb threatened to sue us and chased us for a long time. Luckily we left the country. What a nasty organisation.

  29. As a listed South Australian tourism hosted bed & breakfast in the Adelaide Hills, we can only say that the advent of Airbnb has been very bad for our listed business as we cannot compete with cheap-rate rooms in this area. Our hosted bed & breakfast has for many years paid full commercial insurance, is inspected by the local Council for fire safety, smoke alarms and health regulations. We are GST registered and have an ABN number and have NEVER had any problematic guests in the past 25 years I have been running and servicing a hosted bed and breakfast, and whilst we understand that everyone wants a “cheap” room, in the end both the Airbnb host and the guests get what they pay for and unfortunately this can result in damage to property and possibly life. Our local Council is now clamping down on whole houses being run as Airbnb as this contravenes development regulations. If you are reading this and are considering paying for a cheap night or nights in an Airbnb anywhere, can I suggest that you look again and give your business to a registered tourism provider and not an unregulated room provider. Beware.

    • Thanks for your perspective Helen – it’s really fascinating how impactful Airbnb has become to so many local real estate markets.

      All the best,

      Asher.

  30. A good article, I got a lot from it. The only criticism I had was the recommendation to avoid hosts with multiple listings.
    I am an Airbnb host in Melbourne, Australia, with 17 listings. Yes, I have systems, staff and treat this like a business because I chose to start an accommodation business to get a better return on my properties other than the market rent, and at the same time create a self-employment lifestyle that I have always dreamed of – and it has been very successful (finally I can decide what time I will get out of bed!).
    Having said that, I tick all the boxes of what you suggest to look for, except that I have multiple listings. I am a Super Host – and have been for many years, almost 300 reviews with an average rating of 4.9 stars, 100% acceptance rate (I have never cancelled on a guest, and having multiple properties assists with this because when something does go wrong with a property, I have the flexibility of moving them to a similar property, or even an upgrade to a better one, fortunately all my properties are within 3 blocks of each other so the location will always be similar, and are high-end, relatively new properties therefore maintenance is rarely an issue), and a response time of within an hour! When I need to talk to Airbnb CS they can’t believe it is possible for someone to maintain these stats with so many properties. I tell them it is, but it takes significant dedication and commitment. You message me at 3am in the morning, I will probably respond to you within 10 minutes! I personally meet to check-in every one of my guests (no lock boxes on the side of the building) also offer my guests all my local tips. I am well connected with what’s on in the area and keep abreast of all the new bars and restaurants. In short, I am a wealth of local knowledge and am prepared to offer as much time and advice as necessary to ensure my guests have a great experience. As such, and maybe unfortunately, in the reviews from my guests, rarely do they talk about the space, but their relationship with me and the newfound friendship. I guess if the reviews speak so highly of the host then that in it’s own right provides a degree of confidence that all will be good and if something was to go astray then the host is likely to do everything they can to fix the situation/experience (but I wish they would speak more of the space).
    But yes, even as a host, I can say my experiences with Airbnb CS have been troubling and tiring at times. I noted an increase with my angst when they opened the call center in the Philippines – the staff promise the world, say everything you want to hear, but not follow through. From my Asian experiences, this is very much the Filipino culture. I have learnt to call very early hours of the morning (around 2am) to get the Europe or US call centre where you tend to get operators who ‘get it’.
    So in short, great article, but I disagree with your suggestion to avoid hosts with multiple listings. I feel there are more benefits with such hosts, on the condition they meet your other criteria of review scores, Super Host etc… The main benefit being that when something does go wrong with one of their properties, then they have other stock to call upon.

    • Hi Tony,

      Like with anything there are always exceptions. You sound like a great host.

      In my experience and those of many of the travel bloggers who contributed to the article, we’ve found hosts who have many listings especially more than 5 to 10 less likely to be personal and more likely to just be all business.

      The first place we got to in Paris that was completely moldy was with a Superhost who had over 60 listings. The moldy property had a 4.5-star average with over forty reviews. We never met that host because she just sent one of her employees and then when things went bad she was not helpful.

      It’s a shame these “bad” hosts give the good guys a bad name.

      Asher.

  31. Hey Asher!
    Wow – this is such an in depth article about AirBnB. Thank you so much for including our input as well. I am so sorry for you or anyone else who experienced such stressful times. I have yet to still find a comparable booking that was better priced for me, but when I do, I will make sure to take all these things into account.
    Thanks again!
    Tiff

  32. Such a long article with so many details. It’s really unprofessional from AirBnb to delete negative comments and experiences, they sould not do it :/ Thankfully, I’ve never had a bad experience, just good ones 🙂

  33. Great article, and very well written!
    As far as never using Airbnb, I agree to skip using their platform – but not all together. Search for listings you like, but then Google search the name of the place or do an image search to see if they have a direct website. If an owner has gone to the trouble to build a direct website and or Facebook page, etc. – It’s a good sign he’s not a scam. No scammer is going to take the time to build an extensive website and other web profiles for a fake listing. Then you can call him and have an old fashioned talk to feel him out. You’ll know after a few minutes just by listening to them describe their place. Then you can book direct and save the additional 12% fees tacked on by sites like Airbnb or VRBO. #bookdirect and never go back to hidden booking systems like Airbnb again.

    • Thanks Andrew!

      That’s an interesting strategy. I guess it would probably only work with Bed and Breakfast or Boutique Hotel type of places? I mean the average Airbnb host probably doesn’t have their own website?

      If Airbnb prevented the scammers and criminals getting on the platform and actually had good customer service then the 12% would be worth paying for in my opinion but the way it currently is, it’s a joke.

      Thanks for your input!

      Cheers,

      Asher.

  34. Hi Asher
    Dealing with a current airbnb issue.

    1 Booked with a guy (I am an older female) – first mistake. he greeted me in his dressing gown
    2 I came late in the evening and was told that it was a one bedroom unit and the host would sleep on the couch – second mistake. When i went to the bathroom during the night he was asleep naked on the couch
    3 the bathroom was very dirty and the bench tops and tables looked like they had not beeen wiped down for ages – third mistake. I asked him to clean but he said the last person who stayed didnt complain so why should I? Then I got a very offensive text telling me to “shut ur fucken mouth and get a life…”. I immediately left after that to find a hotel.

    That didnt stop the text messages and I received some more about how he is a superhost and airbnb think the world of him and he knows what he is doing.

    I did some searching and found he had multiple sites for the same room and there was a worse complaint on one of the other sites. I have hosted myself and stayed at quite a lot of airbnb places but I think the type of guest and the type of host seems to have slipped.

    Not sure what the answer is – even superhost status has no meaning if there are fake sites to hide bad reviews

  35. Wow, glad I found no this site. I didn’t know where I could “get the word out” regarding my daughter’s horrible Airbnb experience last week while on spring break.
    I did a lot of research so I could get the best rental for my 19-year-old daughter and her three friends. They were in South Beach Miami & the place and security of this unit were superb. Do I was pleased.
    The unit also connected to the neighboring Cleveland hotel, so they had privileges there, which were nice.

    Their last night there, however, the girls decided to stay in because it had been a long week of fun & they all had very early flights the next morning.
    It was a Fri night so most kids would’ve been out at 10pm…

    While in the room, in bed, my daughter “thought” she saw someone come into the unit, like they had a key or something. They turned on the light and began rummaging through things.
    She was horrified, but still unsure as to exactly what was occurring, so she stayed put & fluffed it off as “…nah…couldn’t be..,.”, and went back to sleep.
    Now, I don’t know if the assailant saw my daughter and decided to flee, but let’s face it, this person could easily have gone in and raped or killed the girls seeing that they were THERE while he decided to rob them! I mean if this person was brazen enough to enter their small unit while the girls were there, someone like that is brazen enough to do more than just rob them!

    Ok, so the next morning, my daughter said to the other girls, “Hey you guys, I think we were robbed last night”.
    They thought she was crazy… until one by one, they started realizing cell phones, wallets, IDs, money, computers, designer purses, passports, etc, were missing!

    They only had a half hour before the taxi came to take them to the airport, but the Miami Dade police did come by & take a report.
    Since then, 9 days come bring, I have been nonstop working with the owner of this rental, and not only does he take absolutely zero responsibility, he and other people involved in the unit are actually calling the girls liars, saying it never happened!

    I’m waiting to get my security deposit back and then I’m going to ream this guy and all the review pages where he has his unit listed.

    That was my first experience with an Airbnb, and it will be my last. I’ve heard enough stories to realize is not worth saving money to go through all of this .
    I will only stay in reputable hotels…period!

  36. Guys, I think, you do need a final tip- and that is, when you’re doing, searching, reading, tensioning with so many things what you’re basically doing is selling your time for Airbnb to save few bucks. If you do have time for that, and you really want to swap your time for saving few bucks while you might be someone who can earn much more money spending those precious time doing other things, then, Airbnb is not your platform.
    This is for someone, who have plenty of times to spare but little things to earn utilizing those hours are highly recommended to use Airbnb.

  37. Thanks for the site – it was a real help to me during our horrible experience. We were kicked out of an NYC Airbnb at New Year with hours to find alternative accommodation – for asking a simple question of the host about a problem he had caused with the apartment. He had in fact found other people who would pay more and even texted us to tell us this after we had been forced to leave … naturally we let Airbnb know. We got a full refund and also compensation – although the compensation took more effort.

    Airbnb said this experience is rare, this seems to be their default response to things going really badly wrong. This guy was a ‘super host’. His listing is now gone.

    Airbnb’s libertarian approach means that its the guests and hosts who pay. Whilst Airbnb likes to promote a happy, cool vibe, its hosts are also under immense pressure to ‘perform’ and if they don’t get five star reviews all round, Airbnb sends them emails warning them they are slipping – the ones who write on the Airbnb Community Centre boards sound very stressed out.

    We had had two great Air experiences before this experience and I would use it again. However it’s no longer my first thought when looking for accommodation – because when things go wrong, they seem to go really wrong, in a way that a hotel or holiday cottage holiday usually just doesn’t. I like low drama on my holidays.

    Thanks for a great site Asher with a lot of useful information.

  38. Thanks for this article! Super complete. I will share a small personal “bad” experience I had recently with Airbnb. Me and my family had a big trip ahead scheduled for April and since we enjoy to plan things ahead, we bought our airplane tickets 6 months in advance. Comparing how much you could save hotel vs airbnb, I convinced my mom to give Airbnb a try, to which she agreed. I tried to narrow down my search as much as I could, a found a seemingly lovely apartment 2 blocks away from the heart of Hollywood Boulevard. The photos looked good, price was very reasonable, all comments were positive…so we proceeded to book.

    My trip was supposed to be only for 3 people, but a 4th one was added and I messaged our host, asking him how much extra would be for another person. He gave me a number, to which I replied “should I send the payment your way through airbnb or cash?”, and he said “cash”.

    I like to keep a track of my plans, so I kept checking this Airbnb for some reason…and became very worried to read some very new reviews about how awful and dangerous this place was: an apartment filled with 15 bunkbeds and black sheets serving as “walls”, there even was a comment that said how this was probably violating security standards of fire hazardous and civil protection. There was no room for your luggage and personal belongings, and anyone could take your stuff, some people even wrote about how they decided to leave because how awful it was, there was even one that said the address the guy gives you, is not the real deal, but a property right next to it. “But what about all those nice comments?” I thought to myself. I clicked on all the profiles of the folks who left a nice review and it’s weird how the only comment they ever left, was the one on this dude’s profile and viceversa, then checked the profiles of everyone who had left a bad review, not only do they all looked legit, but this “host” had taken his sweet time to write awful reviews about them “disgusting person, I wouldn’t trust them”, “very rude girl, I would never host her again”.

    I became super scared of all those reviews, so naturally I rushed to get in touch with Airbnb customer service, who were great at helping me out. As this guy had a strict cancellation policy, and I chose to divide my payment into 2, I was afraid I’d lose half my money. I told the lady from customer support, that there were some very recent bad reviews on my airbnb and I no longer wanted to stay there as I feared for my safety. She, very kindly, told me that, usually it wasn’t enough of a reason to call off a booking properly, but since she had accessed my account and noticed that this guy had asked me for cash, they’d automatically cancel the booking and I’d be getting a full refund. The guy asked me book again, but I didn’t of course!

    We then found a lovely room inside a beautiful house and were hosted by a very sweet marriage who made sure our stay was very enjoyable, although we did have a bit of a hard time sharing one single bathroom and shower with over 9 other guests lol…other than that, Airbnb isn’t all too bad! However, if my budget isn0t too tight, I’d choose hotels over Airbnb, any day!

  39. Airbnb in a known brothel?!?

    I planned a trip to Hong Kong. I chose a room that claimed I could leave my luggage early and even store it after my checkout. When I received no response from the host after repeated attempts, I contacted Airbnb. They asked the host who said I could leave the luggage in the hallway because of the CCTV cameras. Please look at the above picture with the bicycle. Would you leave your luggage in a foreign country on the seventh floor of an unlocked and utterly filthy building?

    Each time I took the elevator up, it was always with five or ten young men. They always went to the top floor. I asked them what was up there. They shyly explained that they went up and looked for doors with welcome signs. They rang the bell and paid 500 Hong Kong dollars for thirty minutes of sex! I could not believe my ears! Every floor in the building, including the one I stayed on for the Airbnb, was a brothel open all of the time! The only exception was the one door for the Airbnb. Sounds like a porno movie could constantly be heard.

    The room itself had scrapes and holes in all of the walls. The medicine cabinet is a good example of the cleanliness as seen in the picture. A shampoo bottle from another hotel was a quarter full and the toilet paper was in the bedroom. I had to use a sound machine to cover up the noise of the scratching in the walls from the rodents. All of this was told to Airbnb. Once all of the information was given to them, they immediately closed the case without letting me know and without any resolution whatsoever. I contacted them again and their response was they are not responsible for what the neighbors of the Airbnb are doing. Airbnb is culpable because it is written in previous reviews that it is a brothel, which I read after the fact. I am a super host with Airbnb and use their services dozens of times per year. I use it for both their Experiences and for nightly lodging. It is shameful and incorrigible that they are unwilling to rectify this situation and at the very least reimburse me for the horrible experience. What if I had been a family with a small child staying there? What if I had left my luggage as they told me to and somebody had taken it? Who would’ve been liable for that? I will still use their services, but now with a bitter taste in my mouth with this constant reminder of what Airbnb finds acceptable.

  40. Hi Everyone,

    I’m sorry to hear about all these new Airbnb horror stories that keep on happening! Thanks for sharing.

    If you have any trouble getting refunds from Airbnb you can always try contacting your credit card company to help do a chargeback.

    Cheers,

    Asher.

  41. I booked a room in Clearwater, Fl. for a month with the most evil, manipulative and dishonest woman I have meet in my life. I do not recommend this room to anybody, it was a nightmare!
    The air conditioning didn’t work right, my room in the afternoon was so hot that I have to stay out, the ceiling fan didn’t work the glass lamp felt off, so I couldn’t even used it, she was expecting to get a new roof during my stay, and move me to a room in her house as her convenience, another problem. She knew of all this but did not tell at the time of my booking. The ceiling in the bedroom was all damage, with open holes it was disgusting. the door didn’t close properly, so anybody could get in or out of my bedroom with out my permission, she couldn’t care less about my concerns, one day I came back to my bedroom the door was open and the smell of fish was so strong that even my clean shirts smell bad. Lara didn’t have the delicacy of closing my bedroom door when She was cooking.
    From the first day I got there I told her my concern about the heat in the bedroom, she told me that the air conditioning was off, and added that the cleaning lady left it off and that was the reason for the bedroom to be so hot, another lie. Day after day, she manipulated the air conditioning, one day was okay, and the next was off, really a hot room.The worst things was her intrusive and imposing behavior, she kept inviting me to drink beer, and I kept telling her that I don’t drink, but she ignored my words, also every day She kept inviting me out, dancing and other activities, I told her not thank you, but she would not stop pressuring me, i started to feel intimidating by her abusive behavior. Another concern, she has a compulsive obsessives control issue, everywhere you look was a little piece of paper telling you what you can do or not do in the house, there were paper posts all over the house, which make you feel like you are in a war camp, so many rules, also she told me things that i was not interested to hear, bad mouthing all the guests that gave her bad reviews in the past, she is always the victim. The garden was a mass, there was not way any body can seat and relax at that patio, chairs that didn’t work, unbelievable! She even told me to be careful with the rats, and the coyotes. How can you live or enjoy a whole months in a place like this. At the time i didn’t know i could call airbnb and make a complaint, and I am sure many new Airbnb users had similar experiences like me. I tried to seat and read in the living room when my bedroom was too hot , but it was not a very cozy place, the whole house was full of things and boxes, that the hostess sale on line, she was also trying to sale me a bicycle. I even hurt my need one night I needed to go to the kitchen with the same byke she was trying to sale me, she left it next to the kitchen, and she keep bringing the idea of how nice will be for me to have a bicycle. Horrible!
    After seven day of broken promises, Lara didn’t fix anything and kept her abusive behavior, i dint know what else could i do, i was in her house. I told her again about the air conditioning, i was so tired of this situation and I decided to leave. she begged me not to call or report her to Airbnb and “promised” to pay me back the other Three weeks I wouldn’t stayed. I believed her, I thought there was a bit of decency in this woman, I even felt sorry for her. a few hours later somebody from Airbnb call me and promised to resolved the situation, I was surprised because I didnt reported Her. The hostess called them, she went her manipulative ways and called Airbnb and told them that I decided to leave. She knew that i was new in this kind of situation and took advantage of the opportunity. Airbnb told me that with out any pictures, written complaint or any prove the couldn’t help me. I payed $1,250.00 for a whole month or rental and stayed only one week. The hostess never pay me back the money she promised, she is a scam artist, now I know better. Too late!
    I just hope that my terrible experience with this airbnb Hostess prevent other decent people like me from been used and robbed.

  42. Thanks for sharing your experience is a pleasure to read. Would you be interested in a guest post in my blog? I use it as diary for keep me motivated for managing my AirBnB

  43. Had I read this before booking 🙁 This should be printed in every magazine, inflight magazine and news paper across the world! Thank you for explaining Airbnb 101. Sorry for your troubled travels. I just returned from a long awaited get away from hell. Not Clean, like not in the past year 🙁 pee on the toilet seat. Dirty sinks, BROWN WELL WATER. If you travel to northern Michigan, ask if the host has well water. It might even smell like rotten eggs! Joy! I feel like I was cheated. Time I can never get back and horrible memories when we were supposed to be building happy family memories.

  44. Thank you for such a great article Asher. I found you yesterday while searching if others had a horrible experience with Airbnb like we have had. I had used Airbnb twice before and had great places but this one that was booked in Montreal was a horrible reality of what can go wrong and certainly opened up my eyes. I am sharing that people should read your article before booking with Airbnb. I always do my diligence to ensure that I am booking with a reputable person/company but even that at times is not good enough. Here is what my husband & I encountered this past weekend.

    My husband and myself just had a horrible experience renting a place in Montreal Quebec through AirBNB . The pictures were lovely and the Host was a SuperHost meaning he had great reviews and verified by AirBNB. We found out from a person we had met that works at an AirBNB office that someone could not have all those reviews since 2015. This was a scam artist that hacked into the system and is continuing to hack in as AirBNB keeps sending him or whoever money. We called the Host from the airport when we arrived in Montreal June 6th as arranged (as I had sent him arrival time previously through AirBNB) with the number AirBNB gave us and it went into some strange language recording. I tried texting the host who went by the name of Stephane but no response as this was his supposed cell number. I sent him a message through AirBNB. No response. We arrived at the location and the place was not as depicted in the pictures on AirBNB. It was in an old rundown building. The host said he would meet us there. Just buzz 1905. He may operate this place remotely which is scary in itself. When we arrived and pushed the code we were not buzzed in. Someone else was going in the front door to the building and let us in. We went up to the 19th floor and when the elevator opened it was a dingy hallway. The door was open. Anyone could have gone in there. We looked inside and it was filthy. Old bed linens and towels that were not clean. Dirty floors and walls. Dingy sheets on the windows for curtains. No balcony with a view. The balcony was a railing looking at the back buildings and next to nothing view of downtown Montreal. Plus you could not step on to the so called balcony as it was falling apart with all broken concrete. Bright construction lights for lights. No art on the wall as depicted in the pictures on AirBNB by an artist. I’ve looked now after this incident and this host got quite a few images for his listing from Google Images. We were scared as this place did not look safe and there was no key. lock or instructions at all. We actually feared for our lives. I called the host and again he never picked up just a voicemail in some strange language and it wasn’t French, English or Spanish as stated in AirBNB. Thank goodness the person that picked us up at the airport came up and was able to witness what we had walked into. We had paid AirBNB $1,733.05 for 5 days for this place. We immediately went back down into the lobby and called AirBNB to tell them of our problem, as if there was a problem you had to call AirBNB within 24 hours. A woman who was a tenant (and saw how frantic we were) informed us that these apartments were not to be rented on AirBNB but someone was doing it and we were not the first ones to be scammed. The person who was on the first call in Customer Support at AirBNB by the name of Joseph ( he gave me his last name but not sure I could print it in here and not sure if that was his real name he was giving me as all other other Customer Support people went by first name and last initial only) assured us that we would be refunded 100% of what we paid. Joseph had also told me that the cancellation was in effect immediately as we were not staying at all in the place. He was going to call me right back. He never did. Then I got a series of communications from AirBNB Customer Support over the next few days saying my issue was being escalated but seeing I didn’t get pictures, they probably could not get me the money back as the host had a 100% non refundable cancellation fee. My concern was our safety and calling AirBNB, not getting pictures. Besides, even people that have sent pictures to AirBNB don’t get their money back as the host has to agree to a refund. This host hides behind a non refundable cancellation fee as he knows this place is a dump but you cannot see it until you arrive. Plus he goes by the name on AirBNB as The Greatest. He does not put a profile picture up of himself. Now in hindsight this should have been a warning sign but we thought with all his over 300 reviews and being verified by AirBNB as a SuperHost we were protected. I trusted AirBNB had done their homework on this fellow. Later after much investigation into the system of AirBNB, you as the Consumer are not protected at all. Plus they will not give you the money back. They want you to do your own fighting with the Host. Why do they put that they will not release the money to the Host until after 24 hours of your arrival in the event there is a problem. They knew we had a problem immediately with the misrepresentation by the host and they still released the money to him. We were frantic as there were no accommodations in Montreal as it was Grand Prix weekend and everything was taken up. That is what we had come to town for. Our trip was ruined. We had booked this trip April 20 2018.

    The so called Stephane had left a few messages for me through AirBNB when he knew we had discovered how deplorable the place was that I should not expect the Fairmount and just look at his reviews (which I believe are fake) and he stated he also left water and soda on the table just like a hotel. He said he would be at the place in 15 minutes ( we waited in the Lobby) but the mystery man never showed up. We made a few contacts and they were calling family members and friends to see if they knew of a place we could stay. We had to basically live out of our suitcases for 5 days as different people put us up each day. We are business owners and never in all of our travels have we encountered such a devastating experience. We barely slept at all in those 5 days with worry and the knowledge we were frauded. Plus AirBNB Customer Support is a badly broken system as there really is no Customer Support that will work for the Customer/Guest. You get one Customer Support message that they are escalating your issue and another Customer Manager will respond shortly. Their shift ended so someone new comes on the next shift and the same message. They just waste your time until you discover that, and bring it to their attention that they are not doing anything for you but wasting your time. I even had a Customer Support person tell me to go back to the original place. It was a roof over our heads as our reservation was still open as I hadn’t cancelled which shocked me as Joseph the original person I spoke with assured me it was cancelled right away. I had to go cancel it again on Friday, 2 days after our arrival. We could have been robbed or even worse, bodily harm but the Customer Support person tells us to go back to the original place and put ourselves in possible danger. There is no way we were going to do that. Then you get a message that this Customer Support Issue has now been closed and you cannot respond any further.

    My last ditch effort was going to the link that Customer Support previously sent me, just before they closed my case, to request a refund from the host in the Resolution Centre. They said the most I could ask for from him was $1,458.88 as AirBNB took the rest for their fees which I suppose they won’t re-imburse. I just tried that this morning and filled out the form for $1,458.88 and just before you go to send, the amount that comes up is you are requesting $1.45 back from your host. I kept trying to go back. I typed the right amount but AirBNB populated in only $1.45. This whole thing is a scam by the looks of it to me. I looked online on AirBNB and the place we had rented from The Greatest was called “The Magic” Dream Downtown Flat. I see “The Magic” is no longer on there or it could be listed in another location, but this person has a listing called “The Splendid”. Same place, same host, and the map shown is the same map we had for “The Magic” on AirBNB. Apparently these scammers just close down one listing and put up another with a different name as AirBNB does not monitor them. It is still the same listing. I see The Greatest goes by the name of Lyle as well as Stephane. He may have other listings under other names. These untrustworthy people have found a way to hack into the system. I wanted to take the time to write this in the hopes of helping others from being deceived by this person and beware of the scammers in the system. We will never use AirBNB again.

  45. Great article Mr Ferguson!!!. I whole heartedly agree with all your statements since I have experienced similar frustration. I will be writing about it in a blog or travel article and I will be referencing Mr Ferguson’s thoroughly researched work.

    Airbnb has to do better but I am not sure they will until their corporate culture changes or they start feeling it in the wallet.

  46. I also agree with Mr. Ferguson points. I too will be referencing this article in my blog.
    I would like to mention another important fact about Airbnb’s review system. I believe Airbnb is deceptive in the posting of the host reviews, in that 1. It does not post the most current reviews first. 2. Reviews are intermingled with no filter capabilities, so that you will find them randomly dispersed with no consideration of sequence by year etc… Naturally, Airbnb uses this tactic to benefit themselves. A current negative review might discourage someone from making a reservation. So take the time to read the all reviews. Look for current reviews.
    Airbnb, in my opinion is quickly changing its platform to accomodate hosts who are using the site as an addendum to an already established business or as site to list their multiple dwellings. Yet, the host who are now essentially operating as hotels are not being held to the same standard because Airbnb’s only goal is their bottom line. Although, they reel most people in with their false statements about “Community.”

  47. Thank you Asher for your really interesting article. I just wish that I had read it earlier.
    I am so amazed that after so many people have had problems with Airbnb that they are not cleaning up their act, and they don’t seem to be at all interested in their clients or their problems that have been caused by them!

    I had a really bad experience with Airbnb last week when I went on their official website and found a villa in Majorca. I opened up the post and was able to see all the photos, reviews, etc. I then checked the red ’email host’ button on their site and wrote to the host, who duly replied through what appeared to be the official Airbnb platform. After a couple of days of communicating via email, I was sent the invoice which looked exactly like the Airbnb one. I paid it and thought all was sorted. Two days later, I received another invoice and this started to ring alarm bells. I contacted the Airbnb customer service and they said that they would get their Trust and Safety people to look into the case and offer assistance. I did hear from them within 24 hours, but assistance was definitely missing! I was told that if I’d paid outside of their secure platform by bank transfer, they would be unable to offer compensation. After further correspondence with them they have now said that this is their final decision for my case and that this will be their final email about it. So now I have no further recourse. I’d be grateful for any ideas you might have. But not looking good at all!

    A couple of points to make here: 1) I found the house listing on their official (secure) website; 2) I went through all the proper procedures for Airbnb bookings (no phone calls and no private emails); 3) Invoice appeared to be generated by their site. How can Airbnb say that they have no responsibility when their site is not secure and they do not have any measures in place to ensure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen? Also, how was I supposed to know that I was not on their secure platform when everything seemed genuine?

    I find it quite insulting that Airbnb constantly uses the word ‘rare’ when it describes scams on their site, bogus hosts, horrible accomodation and people’s bad experiences. It seems to me that it’s becoming all too common.

    • It is VERY common.

      I live in Portland and my property taxes alone are 1000 a month so it has helped me stay here but I am done after this last time. Leaving.

  48. This article is so true and accurate. I am experiencing a nightmare as a host. Feces coated everything so I had to dump all mattresses etc. and an heirloom quilt. Crazy guy. Destroyed cabinetry. Guy totall lied about his identity: he is a scamming, mentally ill drifter who fouled my home. And Air b and B has done all in their power to not help, not pay. They didn’t even charge the guy for the two nights in my house prior to me dragging his vomit and feces covered arse out. At that point, like I cared about a review! They use reviews like a hammar and I am done.

  49. I wanted to let folks know it is not just travelers, but hosts too who get screwed by scary, awful guests. I am blown away by how horrible this has been for me and doubt I would have even been able to reach Air B and B if not for the fact that I am a Superhost (so I make them more money I guess.) I bend over backward to make a great experience for people and this guy who fouled my home, wrecked and stole my belongings, lied as to his identity and is allowed to get away with it is shocking.

  50. My husband & I will be traveling to Europe for 3 weeks next month. I’m glad I bumped into this blog in the 1 st place. Frankly I was gonna go for Airbnb (first timer) but I think I have to reconsider & go back to Agoda & Traveloka as well. Thanks a lot for sharing a thtough & detailed report

    • I hope you are having a fabulous trip – NOT using Airbnb – now or ever!!

  51. When renting an appartment full of mold (like I just did), there should be a way to let the “internet-community” know that this particular property at this particular address is full of mold.
    Mold seems to be a common issue, and there is no way to see this problem on the pictures.
    The best way I’ve found so far is to document the horror with a video on Youtube showing full address and location of the property, and the mold etc.
    It sucks to know that a property will still be rented out, and new people will still loose their money on this (Cefalu, Sicily, Italy)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYNGx_1tZu0

  52. Tried superhost first in Florence, most of the electrical appliences could not be used due to missing adaptors. Some lights did not work and so called superhost did not put right until our last evening. Washing dropped into garden but he claimed he did not know how to access it so had to leave that behind.
    Second try this week in,Norwich UK, all five star reviews. My wife could not go and it was her account we booked on. Hosts husband refused speak to me and was hostile. After leaving a partly negative review the host complained about turning up on my own, not being told why I was visiting and having no id. She had ample chances to bring all this up at the time.

  53. I called their Corporate office for their side of the story. First representative claimed he never saw negative videos and comments and tried to give me a lame excuse that they were handling “it”. I asked for a Supervisor 3x and the third time threatened to “trash them” online if he didn’t get someone. The Supervisor was an “idiot”. He stated “we can’t do anything about the past and let’s just move forward. He actually compared it with me “murdering” someone and not being able to go back and correct it. I immediately cancelled 3 booking I had made for Paris, Florence, and Zurich. Not worth the risk.

  54. You forgot to mention their false refund claim; you don’t get “all” your money back unless you cancel within 48 hours of booking and only 3 times a year. They don’t refund your “service fee” at anytime after 48 hours. I’m just cancelling the charge on my credit card and telling them to go pound salt. Let them sue me.

    This is a seriously bad company…..stay away from them as they don’t care about you, the customer.

  55. We used Airbnb for the first and last time last week. We arrived to find ourselves at what was advertised as a “private waterfront cottage’ with a 100 foot steep climb down to a very small dock – none of which is clear on the host’s website. In the House Rules, he states “many steps” down to the dock – does not mention it is approximately 1200 steps. Dangerous, steep and unsuitable for seniors or anyone with physical limitations. In addition, I had called ahead to find out how close the nearest neighbours were and was told 200 ft by the host. He did not mention that his own residence is attached to our “private cottage”. This was an extremely small (500 square feet) place that had tiny, rattan chairs to sit in, not a comfortable chair or sofa in sight and a tiny 3′ x 3′ table. When we complained, he was rude, condescending and dismissive. We left after one night and were refunded $210 out of $947 we paid up front for 6 nights. Dealing with customer service was a nightmare, as many Airbnb customers already know. Too long to go into all the ins and outs of that here. Finally, our negative review was not posted, but the host’s negative review of our reactions to his misleading site were certainly posted! All of his reviews are 5 stars – glowing and super enthusiastic about what a great guy/place/stay!! I guess any negative reviews are filed under G. We will be posting our video of the walk down to the dock and back, which took my husband a full 4 minutes of climbing. Luckily he doesn’t have a heart condition…

  56. Fantastic article! Only wish we had read it before booking our first Airbnb in Southern Shores N.C. Our so called “Super Host” greeted us like we were refuse that had just blown in off the street. Made us so uncomfortable and feeling so unwelcome to be there that we left. Think he was maybe drunk, otherwise just a wack-job. Called Airbnb about a refund…..what a joke! Told us they have to respect their host and would need proof that he acted that way, otherwise no refund! First and last chance for Airbnb for us….never again!

  57. I am a multi host with Airbnb and operate in Palm Cove Qld as a fully qualified Real Estate Agent. I recently had 2 bookings. One in Palm Cove and the other in Sanur Bali. Both payouts were due very close together. When no payment was received I checked my account only to find that somebody had hacked the airbnb page and added their detail as the Default Payout Party. Total monies lost – just under $2000 of which $1500 belongs to my clients and which I have to honour. I immedately contacted airbnb after changing my default details and password. I was told that the airbnb computer system was secure and that they had no idea how this could have happened. I was told my case was being referred to their Trust & Safety team to investigate, and that I would be contacted very shortly. Well over a week later, and almost daily calls by myself to airbnb, I am yet to get a call back from anybody, despite promise after promise to do so, and oh of course we so sorry this has happened. I have asked to speak to the Trust & Safety team to see what they are doing about my money. I am told today, get this – Oh the trust & safety team work in the back offices and they don’t have phones. Well I kid you not, I nearly wet my pants I was laughing so much.
    Now if that were not bad enough, here is stage 2 of Airbnb at its best.
    I was invited to join airbnb’s Plus programme where they send a party to your nominated property to inspect and do a photo shoot. This according to Airbnb will elevate your listing to a preferred status whereby potential guests will be convinced to book your property because you are a trusted host whose property has been inspected by their professional team. I put forward the 2 properties Airbnb had chosen from my portfolio, a date was set for each property, and here are airbnb’s requirements.
    Schedule your home visit
    Choose a date and time for an Airbnb partner to visit your home in person. The visit will take 1-3 hours and includes an inspection and photoshoot. You or someone who maintains your property should be there the entire time.

    Well you know what’s coming next don’t you. Yes of course, airbnb did not turn up to either property to either pre arranged time and date, and I had to pay my staff for sitting on their backsides watching TV waiting for airbnb to turn up.

    So once again I have to contact airbnb to get a credit for $236 which they charged for these 2 non visits. But then again, they are oh so solly for what has happened. We will arrange a credit for you. Now I know you are going to ask. Well did they credit you? You already know the answer. Of course not. Please go away and stop bothering us is the impression you get when you ring and get put on hold time after time after time. Todays call was on hold for 14 minutes. I am sure they were just hoping I would go away. They are like Insurance companies who receive a claim, and adopt the declined declined declined response, until they realize you mean business.

    Today I have reached the end of my tether. I have been told that the Trust and Safety Team do not have phones and when I requested to speak to a Public Relations Officer, I was told airbnb do not have one. I just got the old smoke up the ass blurb from robots, and the round robin treatment of ” well we cannot do anything from here as we are a call centre”. So I asked to be directed to a phone number to speak to somebody who can actually act with responsibility. Oh I am so solly, we cannot give out other numbers as we are only a “call centre.

    Time to go public and tell the news media. I know they just love this juicy type of story to get stuck into airbnb.

    I am not afraid to give my name, phone number and email address.

    Allan Prince – Palm Cove Real Estate – +61435907197 allan.liene@gmail.com

  58. Airbnb is just an agent, not the host. Blame is not on them. It is on the host.

  59. I’ve been both a host and guest with Airbnb, and while I’m late to the conversation by like a year, I’d like to post my thoughts anyway:
    1. 3-7% of stays are negative. That might be millions of stays, but these numbers are well below the number of horrifying stays at hotels, especially some of the worst hotels. Dirty hotels also post beautiful pictures. I’ve had far better stays in Airbnb homes than in some hotels.
    2. A lot of your advice would actually cause someone to end up in a crappy Airbnb. That might be the reason your own trips are going wrong:
    a. Choosing a host with many spaces and tons of reviews? You are definitely choosing an absentee host or scammer, not someone hosting out of their own home.
    b. Asking the host to agree to you having friends over is a huge red flag. We get a lot of party people. A good host will not book you.
    c. The star system. I hate to break it to you, but scam-artists have affected other hosts as well. They come in as “guests” to trash your place and your reputation. If they can’t get you to stop hosting by trashing your home they’ll do it by leaving fake horrible reviews with lies about your property. Examples:
    -two girls rented my home, sprayed bug repellant all over themselves in the room, left wet towels all over the floor, I asked if they wanted me to come in and clean but they refused, and nearly set my kitchen on fire. They left a 1 star review saying my place was dirty, I told them to sleep on the couch, and tons of other lies. Their 1 star rating dropped the overall rating of my unit. I no longer host locals for this reason. They are usually hosts trying to trash my place.
    -A “couple” rented my place and used it like a brothel, walking around half naked and leaving dirty clothes and condoms and tissues with fluids. There was some kind of white powder on the table which I still pray was sugar or something when I had to ask them to leave.
    -A “family” rented our full home. It turned out to be a group of 8 MEN whose “wives had decided to stay somewhere else” YEAH RIGHT. They peed on the beds, defecated in my basement, left booze bottles all over the place, broke the beds and my couch, and guess what? Airbnb never paid me back either. So, who do you think loses more money? You losing your $150, or me losing $15,000 worth of furniture?
    d. You should absolutely stay with hosts who respond to negative feedback with something other than a robotic answer. Hosts are people, not not responders. If someone is a horrible guest, and we say so, it doesn’t make us bad people. A certain type of traveller likes to cause damage and then complain about it so they don’t get blamed for it. We had guests who leave water all over the bathroom floor and then complain that we don’t have a hook closer to the tub. We’ve had guests leave the bathroom a disgusting mess and then leave a review saying the bathroom was messy. We’ve had a guest leave her crap all over our bathroom including her fake hairpiece and fake teeth! And then complain that we “went into the room without permission” because we gathered up her junk out of the shared bathroom and put it in the guest room. And we’ve not responded like robots. We’ve said “the guest left her things in the bathroom and they needed to be removed” or “the guests child drew all over the walls so the complaint about crayon on the walls is innacurate” If the host responds “reasonably” to horrible feedback, it’s becauase the review is TRUE. Any person who is being openly lied about will get angry.

    3. Hosts don’t have to provide ID because they have to provide an address. Once you have the address, you can look up the name of the owner. Any criminal charges or anything like that against the homeowner, any criminal acts near the address, any scam reports will come up in a simple google search. Just google the address. It’s easy. An Airbnb being run by someone other than the homeowner or renter is illegal.

    4. The host takes the bigger risk. Your worst case scenario is needing to find another place. Mine is needing to replace every stick of furniture in my house, or getting robbed (AGAIN)

    5. Hosts with too many reviews and listings are business owners. You saw what happened when you chose to stay with such hosts but encourage people reading this to make the same one? No. Poor choice. Stay with hosts who have less reviews. They are usually people whose listing is often blocked as they do this in their spare time.

    6. Why, after all of your research, didn’t you advise people to look at all the photos as you did and look for duplicate listings?

    7. “Duplicate” hosts on the same listing are just a feature of Airbnb. You can name anyone who lives with you as a co-host and people can then book the property through any of its hosts.

    8. Listing at multiple prices isn’t fraud. It’s a good business practice. Cancelling guests is. You should have explained that better. For example:

    A. I have 2 rooms at my place which I let separately or I rent the full floor as a 2-room space. When the 2 room space is rented I BLOCK the dates for the other 2 listings so nobody can take them. If one room is rented I block the 2 room suite. Some hosts do the same thing but with multiple prices. That is totally fine and a good business practice.

    B. If a host rented out the same room twice and cancelled the person paying the lower price right away then blocked the dates for that room, it would be annoying but not fraud.

    C. If a host rented out the same room twice, waited until both guests arrived and then cancelled one of them that would be fraud.

    The first 2 cases aren’t fraud or even particularly wrong because the guest doesn’t lose anything. They cab book another place or standard hotel,

    The host also doesn’t gain anything. We don’t get paid until the day AFTER the guest arrives. So we don’t get paid unless you stay. We’re only able to cancel onsite if you break the rules or do something unsafe.

    9. You shouldn’t book a place with terrible photos. They are usually terrible in person. You shouldn’t book a place with real estate photos. They are usually taken while the house was staged to be sold and innacurate of current condition.

    10. If you don’t know how people live in an area or region, stay in a hotel the first time you go there. My area is a beach town with high humidity. The paint literally peels off the walls and there’s nothing we can do about the moisture. Many major cities have pest issues that are hard to control. Some places like South America have lizards. These are things hosts really can’t control.

    11. Not everyone knows how to draw a floor plan. I certainly don’t. I’m a host, not an architect. If someone asked for my square footage I’d have to honestly say I don’t know

  60. We recently stayed in an Airbnb in Madison, Wisconson. It was a shared room in a “Charming home” on the second floor. It was a lake view property blocks away from Willy street with the location nothing short of excellent. All this place had to offer, was its location and we chose it due to the 5-star reviews (71 at the time) and that he had a statement in there about his wife recently selling her boutique hotel. This led me to believe they knew how to be hosts, silly me. Nothing about our visit was charming. Due to the lake view and it being October, I had asked if he had a fire pit available for us to use. He replied, past guests didn’t clean up the pit so he had to remove it, but we can easily set ablaze near the lake. Once we arrived he walked us through the place and walked us outback to view the lake. I looked all over for a location to build a fire or wood and neither was to be found. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it so we simply moved on. Our room included 2 water bottles for our 2 night stay, when we asked for more we where told he had run out. If you wanted coffee you would have to emty his perculator sitting on the stove, clean it and make coffee. While the window in our room would provide lake view, we couldn’t see out them because they were so filthy. Once we finnaly left and put up a 3 star review…..”The location was excellent and Steve was very nice. The room and its accommodations were very utilitarian. The coffee maker and Fridge in the room were nowhere to be found” is when thing went terribly wrong. He replied to my review stating that he was disappointed in the poor review and had reported toAirbnb that I had a pornographic image of a woman’s private area as a profile image. While he booked us in his home any way he was offended about the image. I immediately contacted Airbnb about this publicly viewable response and it took almost a week for them to take down his reply to my review. I would call multiple times a day and also send messages via their app to no avail. I just kept being told my case manager was either working on it or was out for the day. When I had asked for a refund, not so much for our crappy stay but how infuriated I was that they let his reply be publicly viewed for almost a week, they were willing to offer me a $100 off my next booking. When I rejected their offer and asked for a supervisor I was told one would contact me. I have been waiting 48 hours and still haven’t heard a peep. I will never be using Airbnb again.never due to their awful customer service.

  61. This is my most recent experience. I tried to post this review, but airB&B took it down. I will call customer service tomorrow. If they deprive me this freedom of speech, I will never use it again.

    This is the WORST airb&b experience we have had.

    The five of us (Grandfather celebrating his 80th birthday, two adults, and two young grandchildren) just left a gorgeous airB&B with an extremely gracious host (Sandy), and finished a day in HI. We started fixing dinner at our new airB&B place (Bill near Waipi’o valley in Hawaii), stir frying the ultra-fresh vegs we got from farmer’s market. However, our cooked food tasted strange. We figured out that the oil we used was stale. I have no problems if the host Bill did not provide any oil. But providing stale oil??? We had to throw away the food we just cooked. We were not happy, but we acknowledge that this is partly our fault since we should have checked the oil before we used it.

    But this was just the beginning of the drama. Since the advertisement included washer and drier, we wanted to do laundry after our showers and a hot (and rainy) day outside. We looked for laundry detergent, but could not find any. We thought that we missed it somehow, so my sister called Bill. He said that he did not provide detergent for fear of allergy. My sister said “Alright, thank you.” and hung up. Of course, her tone was not the happiest in the world, as any reasonable reader would appreciate.

    A minute later, Bill called us and said that we were rude and asked us to get out of his property immediately. I did not believe that he had the right to do so, so I called AirB&B.
    AirB&B told us – Yes, the host has the right to kick out guests at any minute (unlike in landlord-tenant laws where a landlord will be punished gravely for violating a lease). And if we do not leave, we are trespassers.

    Now, we were talking about Friday at 8:30pm. So, we frantically looked for a place, and could not find any at below $300/night. I reduced the number of people to 4, and there we found Daniel’s place. I explained to Daniel that we have five people, and he said that he could make it work. He had not cleaned the place at that moment, but worried that we would not be able to find anything nearby at this hour of the day, he said that he would start doing the cleaning. The rain was pouring, and we packed up and left for Daniel’s place. When we arrived, it was already 11pm. Daniel was there waiting for us.

    I cannot think of a more poignant contrast between the best (Sandy and Daniel) and the worst.

  62. I had a horrible experience with AirB&B. Booking an Airbnb with a Paris Superhost was my first experience at booking an Air&B, and consequently will be my only experience, booking anything through Airbnb.

    My trip was schedule and then Hurricane Irma hit (the largest hurricane to hit the state of Florida in history). The superhost told me to reschedule but I had to contact her off Airbnb. (I later learned this was so she could still collect my payment and AirB&B would still get their kickback). She let me reschedule and then on the day I was supposed to fly out, she told me she double booked and that I would have to stay at a different location, for which she refused to disclose details. I later learned she double booked so she could get an extra payment and that is why she told me to email her personally. It’s a smart scam but I think anyone reading this should be warned. When I said no to being displaced in a foreign country without details, she made up vague details after-the-fact about a location while in the same breath personally insulting me as a human being because I refused to let her displace me to an unknown location without notice.

    The worst part of this entire experience is that I reported this situation to Airbnb immediately who refused to act and stand up for me, the guest, because they receive a 3 percent kickback from the host. They said it’s because Nina already got paid last year (even though I canceled and never checked in). In essence, Airbnb not only condoned but also propagated this scam by being complicit in the hosts unethical and scamming behavior. The host learned the best way to navigate this site to make sure she gets paid whether or not you get the services you paid for. Is there anywhere else I can post this to? I want to warn as many people as I can and raise awareness.

  63. A continuation from a previous post:
    After host Bill kicked us out after we asked him where we could find laundry detergent, we posted an honest review. Bill called and complained. Airbnb promptly deleted our negative review. They said that “We also don’t allow reviews to mention any details or actions taken by Airbnb, including investigations or mediations in our Resolution Center. As such, it is our responsibility to remove your review from Bill’s profile. As of this correspondence, it has been taken down.”

    I offered to delete the part on Airbnb, but Airbnb refused to re-post the review due to “business considerations”. No wonder even bad hosts could get very high rating if bad reviews were promptly deleted! Mysteriously, when we searched for “cancelation” in Bill’s reviews, we saw that Bill had canceled other guests’ stays before guests arrived, but we did not see the cancelation of our stay!

    Airb&b’s data manipulation is unethical.

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