Is Airbnb A Scam?


airbnb scamWhat is Airbnb? Airbnb is the way to find places to stay for either a one night, a weekend, a week or even a month.

These rooms are not in some Hotel or Guest House but are actual spare rooms in real people’s homes. They can also be on a boat, an igloo, lighthouse or even a castle! It’s basically a way of making some rental income from your spare room or rooms.

How does it work?

People register and list what room or rooms they have available for specific dates then people searching for accommodation can search the listings via any computer, phone or tablet to see what is available.

The number of locations available around the world is enormous, and places can be empty or can still have the host there as well. At the end of the stay both parties get to leave a review on the website of what they thought.

What potential problems are there?

The Airbnb website has a very nicely made video with a young lady talking about the benefits of using Airbnb to list your accommodation that you have available. As much as this seems like a really good idea, I do wonder what checks are done on the people that are renting, if any are done at all.

Several horror stories have appeared on the web outlining horrific details of what has happened to unsuspecting people who trust their house and belongings to complete strangers. Storing your passport, credit card and jewelry in a locked cupboard may appear to be sufficient, but I would have at least thought a safe would have been a better bet.

One question that springs to mind is…

Would you trust a complete stranger to stay in your property?

Somehow I don’t think so, but some have and paid dearly for the consequences. Having holiday homes and letting these out to complete strangers is one thing, but definitely not your own home.

Unless Airbnb can guarantee that all clients who are going to stay in your property are properly vetted then I definitely wouldn’t agree to this. Admittedly not everyone is a completely untrustworthy person but unfortunately they do exist and due diligence should be taken.

My conclusion…

What seems to be a very good idea in some ways does for me raise several points:

~ Do take proper care of your belongings.
~ Store or remove expensive items.
~ Make sure you are properly insured or have the appropriate cover.

Overall I do like the concept, being able to stay in some unusual places and meeting different people, but there are clearly some potential issues that should be considered.

Back to the original question…

Is Airbnb a Scam?

I wouldn’t say that it is a scam, but I would advise that precautions are taken to ensure that no unnecessary damage apart from the occasional accidental was done to your home.

From an earning point of view, these points have to be considered if you regard it as an opportunity that will earn you an extra income.

As much as I would like to believe that everyone of your visitors are going to be well behaved and extremely nice, there are obviously going to be times when this isn’t the case!

~ Neil
WFHW Team



40 Comments on Is Airbnb A Scam?

  1. I wished I had read the above before I was dupe by the slick adds on Airbnb’s website. The flat in London, England, Vintage Charm Near Big Ben is filthy, no hangers, we never did meet our host. I spent hours on my ipad looking for a hotel room. I was actually feeling sick, I couldn’t eat in the place to save my soul. Cereal and fruit were provided, and even if I could eat, there was no place to sit and eat…no table, no chairs. In my opinion, Airbnb do not check authenticity of photos and creative writing rental spaces.

    • Really sorry to hear about your experiences with Airbnb, Dot, and thanks for sharing with us.

      Best wishes,

      Marcus
      WFHW

  2. Bronwyn McAsey // April 7, 2014 at 11:56 pm // Reply

    Just came across the website and comments. I know its a bit later on but I just want to say that as airbnb hosts and guests we have had nothing but good experiences and so have our guests based on their lovely reviews and comments. Like everything in life you can have good or bad experiences, unfortunately you usually only hear about the bad ones. My tips: as a guest do due diligence, check out your host and the reviews they have received before booking; if you are concerned only book with a host that has had consistently good reviews; only communicate via the airbnb website so there is always a record of your communications. As a host the same principals applies. We always get a copy of a passport and drivers licence as part of the verification process and make it quite clear upfront about our expectations of our guests i.e. no excessive noise, abide by body corporate rules etc. We love airbnb and think its a great win win option for everyone. Guests get to meet local people with local knowledge and insights which gives them a more enriched stay. Plus they have a homely space to come back to after their adventures during the day rather than an anonymous hotel room. Hosts get to meet interesting people from around the word while making a bit of extra money for the things that matter i.e. their own travel. Unlike a hotel the host can review the guests as well as the guest reviewing the host. We find this keeps everyone on their best behaviour. Please don’t let the vocal minority put you off from what could be an amazing experience.

    • Hi Bronwyn,

      Thanks for the excellent overview of your Airbnb experience.

      You are absolutely right…due diligence is key here, for both hosts and visitors. If this is applied when using the service then the chances of a good experience increases drastically, and from your own experiences it sounds like that is the case.

      Congrats on making the service work well for you, and I hope this continues to be the case going forward.

      Best wishes,

      Marcus
      WFHW

  3. Daniel Eddinger // November 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm // Reply

    Hi, I’d like to put in a positive word for Airbnb. Readers would do well to note that nearly all of the negative experiences were caused by individual property owners, clients, or scammers. As an online service company available for use by anyone with an internet connection, Airbnb is vulnerable to misrepresentation & all-out criminals. As both a traveler & host, I can tell you that there’s definitely some not-so-great listings on their site. However, there’re also many, many that are represented pretty honestly. For us, our limited negative experiences could have easily been avoided had we more closely read the available feedback from earlier customers. Oops. Won’t make that mistake again. The feedback must be taken with a grain of salt, since peoples’ opinions & concerns vary widely – but it is far better than nothing at all, or only positive advertising, which is what you have for any hotel you ever stayed in. I say try Airbnb. You might be pleasantly surprised! And no, I don’t work for them or get any payment for saying this stuff.

    • Thanks for sharing your excellent opinions Daniel, they make a lot of sense and will hopefully be of some benefit to our visitors.

      Best wishes,

      Marcus – WFHW Founder

  4. DO NOT USE AIRBNB. I recently went on their website to book an apartment in Holland, I searched through airbnb website and found something suitable with the dates I requested. I then proceeded the only way you can, to press on the book it now button. It then asked for my credit card details etc. which i provided and coming to the end of the procedure airbnb states that credit card details are on a retainer and that if the booking is not completed by the owner of the property that you will not be charged.

    2 hours later i receive a message of the owner of the apartment that it is not available and that it is declined. I didn’t think much of it and the next day I proceeded in the same way to search for a property. I found one, gave all my details yet again and waited for this all illusive reply as to the acceptance of the owner of the property.

    In the meantime i receive a text message from my bank that 2 large sums of money had been taken out of my account. I am baffled, I contacted airbnb with great difficulty, searching through their website to find human contact and say ‘ he where the hell did my money go?’ I have no apartment to show for it, and also property nr. 2 was declined by the owner.

    The response was this:
    Hello Sam,
    Thank you for contacting Airbnb. My name is Elijah, and it is my pleasure to assist you today.
    Our records show that the authorization of $466 to your Visa was voided on October 15, 2013.
    When a security deposit is released or when a reservation request is retracted, declined, or expired, Airbnb voids any authorization that was made on your card. While authorization voids happen instantly on our end, it may take your bank or credit card company longer to process the transaction. The authorization may have been deleted from the account entirely, as it was never a real charge. For more details you can follow this link: http://www.airbnb.com/help/question/313

    If you are experiencing a delay, please contact your bank or credit card company about this issue to see if they can track it down. Provide the processor authorization code, which is 87****, and advise them you are inquiring about an authorization and not a refunded charge. By providing this information to your bank or credit card company, they can expedite this process and grant you access to your funds again.

    I hope you have a great day, and my sincerest apologies for any inconvenience caused by the voided authorization.
    Kind regards,
    Elijah E

    SO, as it turns out it is my banks fault for taking the money out of my account in the first place, and it is also my banks fault that it took ALMOST 2 weeks to have the money refunded.

    DO NOT USE AIRBNB, I had to go on holiday with very low funds in my account as I had to book a hotel through another website for my stay.
    All the best,
    Sammy

    • Hi Sammy

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us. We sorry to hear that Airbnb did not work for you but are glad to hear that you received your money back.

      All the best,

      Terri
      WFHW

  5. lisa oconnell // August 21, 2013 at 12:25 pm // Reply

    COMPLETE SCAMMERS..RIP OFF COMPANY..DO NOT USE! MY DAGHTER AND 6 OF HER FRIENDS RECENTLY BOOKED AND PAID FOR AN APARTMENT IN NEW YORK FOR 10 NIGHTS. UPON ARRIVAL YESTERDAY THERE WAS NO SUCH APARTMENT AND THE PERSON THEY SENT THE PAYMENT TOO IS A THIEF! THEY HAVE SPENT THE NIGHT SITTING IN MCDONALDS AS THEY HAD SPENT ALL THEIR MONEY ON THIS ACCOMMODATION AND CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY FOR ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION. I AM DISGUSTED WITH THIS RIDICULOUS COMPANY. DO NOT USE AIRBNB EVER!!!!!!!! 7 19 YEAR OLD GIRLS HANGING ROUND THE STREETS BECAUSE THIS COMPANY STOLE ALL THEIR MONEY. TERRIBLE DISGUSTING RIP OFF COMPANY!!!!!!!! i WILL BE SUING THEM!

    • We are very sorry to hear about this Lisa.

      We wish you well in your attempts to get some answers from Airbnb, and ask that you pop back and let us know how things work out.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story, and our best wishes go to your daughter and her friends.

      Marcus
      WFHW Team

    • All great information! I just started as a Host and am having a great experience. I will check back in when a little time has past. You are welcome to check me out in Folsom, CA Amazing Loft:) Liv

      • Thanks for the comments Liv, and let us know how things go for you with Airbnb!

        Best wishes,

        Marcus
        WFHW Founder

    • Beth Ireland // April 13, 2014 at 3:33 pm // Reply

      Air bnb has been a wonderful addition to my home. I have met so many people and really never had a bad expieerience. As a host I can check reviews from other people hosting. I can also have a conversation with the person to get an idea of who they are. I have people who stay over and over when in Boston and have started to develope an interesting community. I keep my really valuable things locked up anyway. The money I have made has allowed me to do repairs on the house. It has been a win-win for me.

      • Hi Beth,

        It’s great to hear that the Airbnb service is working well for you, and I hope this continues in the future.

        Best wishes,

        Marcus
        WFHW

  6. Rented a flat in Paris through airbnb. Upon arrival with my children it took several hours before the host would answer her phone or send someone over with the key. As if this were not bad enough, the place was not what was advertised! It was dirty, filthy, water damaged and cramped, with a pull out couch instead of a bed.
    To add insult to injury the woman who let us in pointed to some left over cereal/ butter, left over milk/ juice and liquor as our breakfast! I had to scramble to find a hotel, with four of us it was a nightmare not knowing our way around. I have contacted airbnb( who claims they verify their photos) showing them my pictures of what the place really looks like, but I still see the false advertisement on their Paris for rent site! We were scammed and I am now trying to get this rectified so others don’t! Our cost was 250 euros a night and terrible time in Paris for which we had saved several years to take our family!

    • Hi Judy,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience with Airbnb, which wasn’t a good one!
      I hope this will be rectified as soon as possible for you.

      All the best

      Neil
      WFHW Team

  7. Airbnb cannot be trusted. I have tried few times and have failed to get a better place, deal or genuine place to stay as shown in pretty pictures and doubtful reviews. Please do not use this site. Period.

  8. I can write from personal experience that the host guarantee is empty. I had an incident involving a guest who broke my AC thermostat and repairs cost $360..an insignificant amount for a claim…
    Airbnb refused to pay the difference after the 100 security deposit after a mediation period that determined the guest should only pay $160 and not the full amount. Here’s my response:
    “Hi Craig,

    I hope this message finds you well. Thank you for your Host Guarantee submission. Unfortunately, at this time a final decision has been made regarding the security deposit payout for reservation XWFDXH.

    We understand this is not the outcome you were seeking. However, as a third party we are required to make the fairest decision possible for both host and guest with the documentation presented.

    All the best,

    Julie ”

    As I said, its a small amount of money for a legitamate claim. Obviously, I am discontinuing this Airbnb venture..

    • Hi Craig,

      Thank you very much for your comment.
      I can understand why? you are discontinuing your service with them because a Guarantee is exactly that!
      But in Airnb’s case it isn’t!

      All the best

      Neil
      WFHW

  9. I have recently visted the airbnb site out of curiousity. We have a spare bedroom that we could perhaps rent out. I thought the idea seemed good. But after reading these comments I am not so sure now.

    • Hi Kim,

      Thank you for your comment.
      You do have to be carerful though when doing something like this.

      All the best

      Neil
      WFHW

    • Hi Kim,
      I just wanted to let you know that not all Airbnb is bad, there’s a huge good side, too :)

      When I read this article it made me wonder a bit why we rent out apartment out, both the entire place and a single room, but we’ve done it for years now and never had a problem at all. Every guest was really nice and took excellent care of everything

      Cheers!

      Victoria

      • Hi Victoria,

        Thank you for your comment.
        It’s good to hear that you haven’t had a problem and long may that continue.

        Cheers

        Neil
        WFHW

  10. I will never use airbnb to stay in any
    Property for accommodation.I rather
    go to private hotel for safety and well
    manage hotels,property host are not
    Trained to do the job in running hotel
    like business,there are more inexpensive
    hotel than airbnb sponsored property
    You will be surprise when airbnb take
    your security deposit to pay the host
    to buy a new door knobs to replaced
    the old and cheap one they have,when
    airbnb ruled that I broked the door handle.
    when the host complained.your security
    deposit and credit card is not safe to be in the
    Hands of airbnb.I believe that airbnb
    is a scam.

  11. We have been hosting since May and all was going nicely, but we recently discovered an expensive item of jewellery had gone missing. It was hidden in a box under clothes and we were left quite shocked that someone would go into our room and take it, look us in the eyes at check-out knowing they had taken it, after welcoming them into our home.

    Airbnb host guarantee doesn’t cover anything like this (no cash, cards, jewellery, expensive electronics etc), although the wording on the trust and safety page is “your property is covered for loss or damage due to theft or vandalism caused by an Airbnb guest for up to $1,000,000.”

    We will think twice about using such services again.

    • Hi Jonny,

      I am very sorry that this has happened to you and damaged the trust that you gave this person in staying at your property.

      Neil
      WFHW

  12. Well we rent our place through AirBnB and so far we are very satisfied with them, of course we are very careful before booking them here a few tips:
    – We do not accept any guest without receiving a copy of their passports before their arrival, which is sent by email just after the booking is accepted.
    – We ask for a high security deposit which is always returned to the guest, that way only serious guest will contact us.
    – If the guest is not verified, or do not have a valid phone number we simply refuse the booking.
    – And follow your instinct if you feel that the guesting is asking too many weird questions again refuse the booking.

    marcus

    • Great tips Marcus, thank you for taking the time.

      We are pleased to hear that things are working out well for you with AirBnB, and we hope things continue in the same way.

      Best wishes,

      Marcus
      WFHW

  13. I have hosted several times and have never let a guest down. Airbnb cannot vet as neither can hotels who books and who hosts! People lie! I agree that you have to be careful, but even B&Bs get stuff stolen or anti social guests. How do they know whether the guest is dangerous? I met a terrible man who I clearly saw was mad at a luxury B&B once, I left early losing my money but with a child I was taking no risk. Yes I do worry when not there or possible risk later but I do check my guests and you can insist on further checks, honest people understand that!
    Whoever raised the costs can’t do so. Sorry to say but once they cancelled and then asked for more you should have smelled the coffee and reported it. No point staying with someone you don’t like; after all its their home, so read the reviews and make sure you leave one that’s honest too. My reviews are fab so hence more decent guests book. Airbnb have cleaned up their act and respond pretty quick!

    • Hi Lou,

      It’s good to hear from someone who is a host and you are quite right in what you say.

      Here on WFHW we decided to review this site after hearing of so many complaints. But I do know that things can break down, they shouldn’t when another company is involved, but unfortunately it does happen.

      Thanks for taking the time…we appreciate it :)

      All the best,

      Neil
      WFHW Team

  14. I rented from Airbnb and was told that if I cancelled that I would lose my deposit (50% of the total booking price). I agreed and booked anyway. The owner contacted me later and said that the rate went up. I reluctantly re-booked at the higher price and again got a confirmation. Later the owner contacted me again and again asked for more money. I declined because I still had some time left to find another place. If they would have waited a little longer I may have been forced to pay the higher price again. There are no penalties to the owners for cancelling if they can get more money from someone else. I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND THIS SITE. YOU MAY FIND YOURSELF WITHOUT A PLACE TO STAY.

    • Hi Al,
      This does not sound good at all, hiking the price each time to get more money.
      Thank you for your comment and identifying another problem.

      Cheers

      Neil
      WFHW

  15. Heni Herewini // July 30, 2012 at 10:43 am // Reply

    We have hosted and i always search out the people first before i accept.The upside is that you dont get paid till after the first night and i guess like Laura above you can find yourself in a sticky situation ie. No accomodation and hopefully she got in touch with Airbnb. So its not the site thats unreliable its the people.Be interesting to know if that lady is still a host??

    • Great point Heni. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. Glad to hear you’ve had success with Airbnb.

      All the best,
      Terri
      WFHW

  16. I would not trust airbnb. There are no safeguards for the renters. I rented an apartment in London. The inside of the apartment looked nice enough, but the renters are not required to show pictures of the outside of the building. WHen I got to the apartment, it was in an area that was dubious at best, the doors to the apartment building were opened and there was bird poop on the landing as well as garbage outside the door to the apartment.

    I never got into the apartment because the woman who owned the apartment wasn’t there as she said that she would be.

    • Thanks Laura, and we are sorry to hear that you had a negative experience through Airbnb.

      Thanks also for highlighting potential pitfalls within their system…it’s great advice that will help our visitors when considering Airbnb.

      Best wishes,

      Marcus
      WFHW

  17. For the health and safety of both the homeowners-as well as the guests…please remember that these people answer to no one. There are laws in place for a reason.

    Legal hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts are governed for your safety. The price looks great at first- don’t sell yourself short for a few dollars

    • Work From Home Watchdog // May 2, 2012 at 12:30 am // Reply

      Very good point Sue. In the event that things turn out negatively as a home owner you have very little if any recourse.

      Terri
      WFHW Team

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