I am breaking my silence as I feel it is my official duty to warn people about Airbnb. Plus I needed a really good reason to blog again. Tatahh here it is.
Last year I booked a brilliant house on the Amalfi coast via Airbnb. Everything worked out perfectly. We were in love with the huge house and the vast gardens. We even had a private beach, which was not that private after all. But hey, who cares?
Following this perfect experience we wanted to rent a house again this year. Being a little late in April, our house on the Amalfi coast naturally was fully booked, so we opted for a very nice object on the Cote d’Azure. I was over the moon and so were my friends. The next day I got a message that the house had been cancelled. I was so very sad, you have no idea. But I didn’t want to give up, so I searched the platform for days and booked another house. Again, it got cancelled right after my booking. Being really annoyed, as both houses where obviously fraud I contacted Airbnb, which called me the next day. I asked them if the third house I chose was also fraud, as I was tired of booking houses and blocking my credit cards with so much money and ending up being a fraud victim. I asked the Airbnb person to check the account as the tenant had only been listed since May and had no reviews, which always looks a bit dodgy. But the person on the phone assured me, that all was fine, I could book, no worries. So we all took a week off and where so happy we found this nice property. Counting down 2 months. Only 2 weeks before the departure I received my money back. Again. I knew what that meant. FRAUD. Again. I contacted Airbnb again to verify, why nobody actually bothered to investigate fraud on the plattform as I have heard so many horror stories from my friends, even losing a lot of money and arriving at garages which where supposed to be €10.000 a week holiday homes in St.Tropez. The guy on the phone was very unfriendly and told me I should be happy that he called at all. So this was it, 2 weeks before departure it was impossibe to find a home for 8 people. So the holiday was called off and everybody had to book seperate trips. I am going to the South of France next week where I booked a hotel via booking.com. The old schoool way. Perhaps I will not forget to Instagram it.
I was wondering why they actually don’t care about the problem as it seems to be easy to eliminate: they would only have to ask the tenants for passport copies to verify their identities and a matching certificate of residence. Easy. After thinking about this problem for days I came up with a an answer: topline growth. I guess they make so much money with a quick turnover, that for them it makes more sense to fool people than to clean the platform as this would mean significantly less turnover.
When my friend met the COO in San Francisco last month, he told him what has happened to me and he answered: “Really in the South of France? Usually we only have this problem in Asia.” Well I guess that does not sound like a concerned answer of somebody who should be responsible for fixing this problem. Good luck with you bookings.
The most common fraud practice:
The tennant offers a great house for a realistic but good price. You would get in touch and he would say, sorry just fully booked, but I have another property of my friend, send you a link which leads to a page which looks exactly like Airbnb but is missing a letter. You don’t even realize that you are not on Airbnb anymore and that your booking doesn’t happen in a safe environment. Your bank wire will be gone.
2. You book a house which simply does not exist. Good luck looking for a free hotel room in high season.
3. They offer you to pay outside of Airbnb minus the commission. A tempting offer which never goes well.
4. If a house is reported fraud and your booking gets cancelled, Airbnb does not cover any caused damages as higher hotel rates or booked flights. Or anything. They simply don’t care.