Yes, this is a long story, but it’s very salacious and I want all other hosts to learn from my awful experience with Airbnb and a scamming, thieving guest.
The short version:
Airbnb has been totally complicit in facilitating a prostitute renting my home (obviously for her sex work activities), causing damage, stealing all my house keys (including spares for every door and window lock in the house), not to mention completely undermining the security of my home, my subsequent guests and myself. I STILL HAVEN’T BEEN PAID for the booking and have received no help or explanation from Airbnb regarding any of the issues documented herein.
The full version:
5 nights ago I received a same day Instant Book from a male Airbnb user who had just signed up to the site, had ID verified but no reviews. The minute Airbnb processed the booking, I started to receive text messages from a female who said the booking was for her boyfriend who was arriving shortly from interstate, even though the user who made the reservation purported to be from a US location.
As I was away, I sent details about obtaining the keys to the ‘boyfriend’ using Airbnb’s messaging system as I wasn’t comfortable texting these details direct to the female texter. By this stage she’d referred to herself by two different names, which triggered my initial concern.
The man who booked the reservation never responded to a single message, ever, but the texting lady said he was passing the info on to her, which appeared to be substantiated as she acted on all the instructions I sent through Airbnb (and obtained my home address from Airbnb).
3 days into the reservation, I noticed the payment notification email hadn’t come though, which has never happened in the 75+ reservations I’ve hosted in the past. To this day, it still says ‘pending’ in my Airbnb account, even though since this disaster booking, I’ve taken a subsequent reservation for which I’ve been paid.
Given the uncleared payment, I called Airbnb and after a 25 minute wait, I was told the payment had been referred to Airbnb’s Trust and Safety team, who I was not allowed to speak with. The support person was also unable to obtain any information from Trust and Safety. I was not told why the pending payment was with Trust and Safety, nor was I notified until I made this call, that there was a payment issue or security concern with the guest WHO WAS ALREADY IN MY HOUSE!
I was told to expect a call back from Airbnb, which never happened.
Throughout the 4 night stay neither the lady who had been texting me, nor the male booker responded to a single message. On the morning of check out, nearly an hour after the repeatedly published and disseminated check out time, she requested a 2 hour check out extension, which I politely denied as incoming guests were checking in later that afternoon and my cleaner was already booked in.
When my cleaner arrived at my home, it was full of rubbish, roughly over 15 bags full in the end (far more than could be produced by the 3 guests the reservation was for). The house reeked of cigarettes (against the rules published on the site and in the printed house manual) and there is a large cigarette burn in my carpet. Then my cleaner discovered that the front door keys had been stolen, along with ALL my spare keys which were well hidden in a personal area of the house. Spare keys for every single door and window lock for my entire home were gone.
This is obviously poses many major security issues for my home and possessions, my guests and myself.
Of course, neither the male booker nor the female texter responded to messages or phone calls after they’d left the house (the guy who booked never responded to any form of communication). So I googled her phone number and quickly discovered I’d been texting and had just hosted a prostitute (who uses a third name online). She openly and aggressively advertises her prostitution services and fees (in disgusting detail) all over the internet and Twitter, openly publishing pornographic images and video of herself. She also advertises that she can perform sex work from any ‘selected residence’.
The number associated with the booker goes to a voicemail message bank. A completely different person’s name is heard on their voicemail message, which is clearly not the name of the Airbnb user who made the booking.
When I rang Airbnb and informed them of the damage, theft and identity issues, I was told to expect a call back, which again never happened. I’ve subsequently called the company 6 times and have spent nearly 5 hours on the phone to them (including hold time). I’m continually told they ‘understand’ and that they can’t tell me a date to expect any form of resolution regarding the payment, or why it was sent to Trust and Safety in the first place.
The payment for this booking is still pending 5 days after check in and during my last support call to a higher level support staff (the only Airbnb employee I spoke to from America), he attempted to release the funds to me, which he said he was unable to for reasons that were not apparent to him. He was also unable to find out or disclose why the issue was being handled by Trust and Support, how long the issue would take to investigate or when they would be able to elucidate in any way on any of the above issues.
At no stage have I received a phone call or message from Airbnb. Only total stonewalling, indifference and complete lack of pro-activity in rectifying these extremely concerning issues. I was even hung up on during one phone call by an attitudinal Airbnb support staffer, which I found appalling.
My subsequent guests have had to deal with excess rubbish out the front of my house while it was awaiting collection. I also had to arrange the locksmith and my assistant to attend the house to change the locks during their stay (and for guests to be given the updated keys).
Thus far I’ve been paying out of my own pocket to deal with this issue. Over $600 has been spent replacing locks, removing excess rubbish and for the extra cleaning required. My carpet may cost even more than this to replace. I’ve spent over 10 hours trying to rectify this issue so far.
The only logical and implicitly obvious conclusions I can make around this issue are:
- My home was rented to a prostitute who illegally used my house for her sex work.
- The booking was made using fake or stolen ID (‘verified’ by Airbnb) either by the prostitute, one of her clients or her manager (re: pimp)
- The booking was ‘paid for’ using a compromised or stolen credit card, also processed by Airbnb to the extent that they confirmed the booking and released my address to the person who made the reservation.
- Airbnb has demonstrated a complete lack of care for my security and that of my home and subsequent guests.
- Airbnb didn’t notify me there was a security issue with this guest and their payment even while they were in my house. This was despite the fact the payment was pending for 3 days prior to my initial call.
- Airbnb has been as entirely evasive and totally untransparent in not informing me of any issues relating to how they allowed this booking to occur, given the highly dubious credentials of the person who booked.
If Airbnb monitor this forum, the original ticket number (concerning the pending payment, but prior to the issue of theft/damage) is [redacted]. As Airbnb have left me in the dark, I’m currently organising legal advice and a press release to journalists who have covered the more unsavoury aspect of Airbnb in past articles in national newspapers. I have blocked my calendar for all dates after my last reservation.
Thank you for providing this forum and support network. If anyone can offer any legal or hosting advice, or share their similar debacles, I would be greatly indebted.
[edit: ticket number removed]