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Latest Airbnb guest scam

Having been a host for several years we have just experienced our first scam. Seems any guest can turn off your internet router. Take pictures of their computer not working and then at the end of their visit break or otherwise make the wifi not work by pushing the buttons… Air BNB will automatically take 25 percent off the entire visit or $50 per day out of the host account. There are no questions asked and nothing the hosts can do to get the moneys back.

We are not sure how to avoid this in the future…any recommendations??

Thanks

John

Don’t let them have access to the router! If they have access to the router they can open ports to come into your network at a later time, install keyboard capture software, change the settings and password making it impossible for future guests to access the network… Lock it up!

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How do I do that? Build a metal box around it? They could still go downstairs and turn off the electricity to make it not work for their pictures of their computer.
This is our vacation rental do I have to build metal boxes around everything in the house???

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Sorry to hear your guest did this and Air went along with it.

It’s difficult to be helpful without knowing the entire story. Did this guest stay for quite a length of time? Air’s policy is that the guest is to report issues within 24 hours. I do know Air often ignores their own policies, but did Air say why the guest was not required to report the issue upon discovery?

The guest is also supposed to contact the host first. Did Air say why the guest didn’t need to do that?

And did Air say why you are not entitled to give your side of the story?

You don’t have a locked room for supplies? If not, consider one of those thermostat lock boxes like this.

Certainly in the future, you could insist that they submit a photo of the router lights to prove that they haven’t just unplugged it. Even AirBNB couldn’t object to this, could they?

And, I hate to think that this is the type of scam that AirBNB will fall for for very long.

https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/827/what-should-i-consider-when-offering-internet-access-to-guests

This is all I can find… did AirBNB refer to a policy that justifies this charge?

Yes thanks for that advise. However this is not a business for us. This is our family place we rent out when were not using it. We are not computer “teck” and we would have to hire an IT person to drive up the mountain and do these things…as you can imagine that would probably cost more than the rental.
All I can think is remove all amenities from the list? But who would want to stay there then?
John

What should I consider when offering Internet access to guests?

If you add internet or wireless internet as an amenity, your listing will appear when people search or filter for places with internet.

It may be useful to tell guests that if they use your network, they agree to use it only for legal purposes and they promise not to use it for illegal uploading, downloading, or other illegal activities.

We encourage hosts to use wi-fi safety best practices:

Create an encrypted (ex: WPA2) guest network, and only share that password with guests after they’ve confirmed their reservation
Store your router and modem in a secure, locked location in your home that guests can’t access
Create strong passwords for your router and modem, and change them often
Routinely check your router and modem for software updates

Yes I did notice that our electricity and gas bill tripled one month. I checked the days and somehow all the utilities were 5 times usual…I never did figure out why that happened. A friend said maybe they were entertaining outside and forgot to shut the door. Prime season is during the snow.
Even locking the thermostat wouldn’t keep the windows and doors shut.
John

I’m not going to rent a place with no wi-fi. You need to put the router/modem in a locked location or box. Or put in something in your rules about guests contacting you immediately if the wi-fi goes out so you can come look at it. That will deter them from lying about it because they won’t want you coming out to look.

The guest is very experienced. On a side note they left the place in great shape. They just know the game and play it for discounts I guess. I am sure Airbnb won’t allow us to post on their review what really happened. So other hosts will never know the scam.

I will say that securing your router is not that difficult. Like most things “teck” the sequence of steps is the most important thing. There are great instructions available both on manufacturer websites and on miscellaneous websites.

The next time you are at the house, I would be happy to walk you through setting up your router so that you don’t have the defaults which is really risky if you are sharing your house, business or not. [Without proper set up, I could sit in your driveway with my computer and break into your network.] Set up, with the assumed moments of frustration on your part, takes about 15 minutes. If you need to make a cocktail during the setup period, might take 25. :slight_smile:

PM me when you are at the house, if you would like some assistance.

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The guests know that we are far away and cannot go up the mountain just to fix their Wi Fi. this guest is experienced apparently knows the game far better than me. Because the Frontier technician that went out to fix the system said its easy to change the “switch” and cannot be fixed remotely or by anybody but a teck. He said simply pushing some buttons will inactivate the wi fi which requires a teck visit. A visit from us to repair the router would have been useless.

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Yes, that’s clear. Sorry I was not. I meant it as a threat that would possibly deter a scammer. Acting like you are as smart as the guest, even if you aren’t, might work and can’t hurt. If someone actually called you to come fix it, you could make an excuse. You could just have that in your rules to protect yourself.

Sorry this happened to you but thanks for warning other off site hosts to whom this might happen.

I put my VR on Airbnb last year after many years of being only on HomeAway and VRBO. I always use a signed contract. I altered my contract to fit in with Airbnb’s different listing model. In my pre-arrival instructions I also tell them that if they have a problem to call me and I will try to help them.
This is my WiFi clause.

WiFi: High speed wireless Internet is provided as a convenience only and is not integral to the agreement. No refund of rents shall be given for outages, content, lack of content, speed, access problems, lack of knowledge of use, or personal preferences with regard to Internet service. No illegal or excessive downloading.

I’ve had a few guests call with access problems and so far I have been able to walk them through it. I wonder if your ISP would be able to tell if there was internet activity during the dates of the stay and how much activity there was.

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When you get manipulative guests like that, I dont think there is any recourse, until ABB gets smarter.
I have 6 tv’s in my rental…one in each bedroom, one in the great room, and one in the kitchen.
One tv, the one in the great room ( for some unknown reason) ceased working last week. Of course I could call Wow/knology for a repair or on phone consult had I known the tv had an issue.
Guests reported it to ABB after departure in personal feedback and as a criticism.
Although guests did not ask me for a refund…I got a warning from ABB about lack of advertised amenities … I called ABB CS to discuss the situation.
Here is the scary part… since I included the TV in my description ( who would not? ) …then if it was not working…then my house lacked an advertised amenity and therefore the guest was entitled to a refund.
Scary Huh? …doesnt every tv or internet fail at some point for everyone ?
I rent with protective covenents and caution, knowing that ABB will not necessarily be my advocate in case of trouble…real, imagined, or caused.

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I’m in a hotel in Prague right now and the WiFi is on and off spotty even though it’s a promised amenity. Do you think the front desk would laugh at me if I went down and demanded even one penny off the room rate?
Honestly the airbnb culture has created and enabled such a bunch of entitled guests. It’s not a perfect world. Why should guests get rewarded for little things going awry?

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Well, customer service has created a monster.

The problem is that the current system rewards difficult guests for bad behaviour.
If a guest complains, they get freebies, discounts, refunds, etc etc etc.

It is not just AirBnB, it is everywhere, in almost any business. People are rewarded for bad behaviour.

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True.

Generally, I tend to tell people if they behave badly, and the result is, they get angry at me. Now why would Airbnb want guests who are angry at them? That is a dilemma which is difficult to solve.

Unfortunately, though Air wants you to think otherwise, this is not really the case. There really isn’t any such thing as a what I’ll call a casual rental. If you’re going to have strangers alone in your house, in order to keep your property as safe as possible, have happy guests who leave you great feedback and expect to keep their money, you need to do an astonishing amount of preparation.

  • Set up a guest network and put your router behind a lock.
  • Clean the space guests will have access to within an inch of it’s life.
  • If guests will have kitchen access, provide a good selection of decent looking pots and pans, dishes and glassware and utensils, making sure cupboards are cleared of personal items and are neat and orderly. Empty out and clean fridge, freezer and pantry.
  • Provide bedrooms with comfortable beds, decent and good looking linens and towels, adequate furniture, heating and cooling, and good lighting.
  • Clean out half of dresser and closet space for guest items and expect anything you leave in drawers or closets or vanities will be rifled through.
  • Remove as much clutter and as many personal items as possible throughout the house.
  • Create an instruction manual with everything from how to use everything in the house, what to do, who to call if something goes wrong to how to get around town, to where to shop, eat and more.

The list goes on.

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Yes, the front desk would laugh at you because it is not a norm and internet is not as important in America. The views, location and city [Prague] compensate it. I mean if I am vacationing in Rome or visiting Paris, there is no internet in the hotel…? So what. I means serious…You got nothing going other than the little or big bangalow private room you got and the internet connection. That is most critical and important - Internet Connection. I offer a guarantee to my guest for 100% Up Time on 50 Mega Bit per second connection from TimeWarner. If it fails in any time of the day during the stay, I give 100% money back or they can stay for FREE till the internet is back ON.

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