17th Nov 2017
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Kaye’s Airbnb horror show
Author: Kaye Fallick
Kaye’s Airbnb horror show

London hotels are notoriously expensive, and we needed accommodation for our family for three days. I was told Airbnb was the answer.

We soon found the perfect apartment in Notting Hill Gate (Hello Hugh!). The images showed a stylish, white and beige apartment with high ceilings and trendy furnishings. What could be easier? Goodbye hotels and hello Airbnb from now on, I thought.

But that was then and this is now.

So what went so horribly wrong? And why would I actively discourage others from using this accommodation site?

First up, the registration process took me 45 minutes. Seriously, I could take out a mortgage in less time.

During this tedious information gathering process (my theory is they want my data in order to bombard me with advertising at some later date) I was asked for a reference image (but needed to download the bloody app to enable the software to do this). Next, I needed to scan and upload the front and back of my driver’s licence. Seriously? Why did I need to supply this? No other site requires it – not my bank, my broker or my airline.

Anyway, having uploaded that, I then had to pay with my credit card, which I did. Within a few minutes, my confirmation email arrived. At last, I could tick that box – London accommodation was sorted.

Sadly, this sense of achievement was short-lived, as six hours later I received a cancellation notice on this booking with no reason why, and a chirpy note that my AUD $1,100 (yes $1,100) would be refunded in five working days.

What was going on here? Airbnb took my money within a nanosecond of the booking, but needed a week (including weekend) to send it back, despite the fact that it was them who cancelled this booking, without warning or reason. So I no longer had the funds to book something else.

Because I was so angry, I contacted the owner of the apartment directly. Guess what – it was available, so there was no logical or defensible reason why this booking was cancelled.

Several long days later, the money was refunded. My revenge was to rebook the apartment directly, thus saving on the Airbnb commission fee.

But that is not the point. No matter how good an apartment looks, I will never trust Airbnb again.

What about you? It seems most people have far better experiences than this – so was I simply unlucky?

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    COMMENTS

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    Rosret
    18th Nov 2017
    8:20am
    "Next, I needed to scan and upload the front and back of my driver’s licence. Seriously? Why did I need to supply this? No other site requires it – not my bank, my broker or my airline."

    Ouch - your alarm bells should have been ringing.
    They have too much info on you now, I would be ringing your bank and see how you can protect that credit card.
    PS The bank and broker do require all that info - enough to prove your identity. This is far more serious than your $1100.

    You need to:

    Clear all your attachments off your computer in your sent email files.

    Delete any scanned identity items or saved passwords off your computer.

    Notify the bank so they can monitor any loans or transactions created in your name.

    Pay for a credit detail check for at least this year.

    Scanning the back and front of your drivers licence means they intend to copy it. Notify the RMS. https://secure.rms.nsw.gov.au/contact-us/. They may be able to stop someone creating a passport in your name or flying incognito.

    Notify the British police and the Australian SCAM watch.
    https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/report-a-scam and www.scamwatch.uk

    Please don't be complacent that this was just an annoyance because what they do next could be far worse than a delay in booking and fund return.
    Anne Ozzie
    23rd Jun 2018
    3:13pm
    Totally agree Rosret. This looks like major identity theft in progress
    MICK
    18th Nov 2017
    10:00am
    Your experience is not unique Kaye.
    We have never had accommodation cancelled but we book directly to avoid the hefty administration charges. Same deal with VRBO.
    Our bad experience came when we rented a room. Not all but about half the room rentals in a functioning house were horrid as the resident family really only wanted people who showed up 8 pm and left 8 am and that is not what the offer was. We ended up putting up with bad behaviour, rudeness and being totally ignored to the point of not even being offered basic information. It was truly horrid. To be honest other rentals of this type were wonderful but as in all human interactions you need to be lucky enough to meet with the right people.
    What we learned from our Airbnb experiences: avoid room rentals and only ever rent an apartment. That always worked well and it is the only way to go.
    I guess you have recovered from your wounds. Us too. Now we know what to avoid in future.
    Yin and yang probably an apt description. Happy travelling.
    Rae
    18th Nov 2017
    11:32am
    I'd much prefer the central location and facilities of a good hotel.

    If you book in a timely way through your travel agent I've found the prices to be close to Airb&b for a better located stay.

    London is a pain at the best of times. It is always expensive and poky unless you spend a fortune. Heathrow is a nightmare in my opinion.

    The last few years I've found the UK experience more and more desperate. Sad really. London was a fine city to visit once.
    Nan Norma
    18th Nov 2017
    11:18am
    This happened only a few weeks ago. My son and family went to NSW and were referred to an Airbnd. $200 a night for him, his partner and four young children. When they arrived late in the evening the 'proprietor' wanted $200 per night PLUS $50 per person, including the six month old hungry baby. Too late to start searching for another place they took it.
    It was one room with a loft bed. The owner made it quite clear they were not to make an noise as she lived under and she wanted them out early in the morning. The next night they stayed in a lovely hotel for $250. My son said never had he been so ripped off. Lesson, don't assume Airbnb is cheaper.
    Rae
    18th Nov 2017
    11:40am
    True. I've not found it cheaper than a good hotel. Staying a few nights lowers the cost. You don't have to cook or catch transport if you locate well.

    A good concierge can save on tickets as well and their advice saves time and money as far as I've experienced.

    We stayed at Margret River a couple of weekends ago and the Airb&b apartment was lovely at $300 a night. The courtyard and surrounds were filthy though and a waste disposal unit woke me at 5 am on the Sunday right outside the bedroom window.

    As we were out all day and only slept there it was poor value.

    A pub or hotel/motel would have been cheaper. Normally on the road I hesitate to pay more than around $120 a night and have had very few bad experiences.
    MICK
    18th Nov 2017
    11:43am
    Not sure how that works as you pay when you book. Having said that you have security if you book and pay the Airbnb service fee and I suspect your son dealt directly with the landlord.
    I would not accepting extortion and would have another Airbnb or gone to a hotel.
    ALWAYS READ THE REVIEWS CAREFULLY and avoid any rental where people complain about the landlord's integrity.
    MICK
    18th Nov 2017
    11:46am
    Did you read the raves Rae? We work on the principle if there is even one bad review we avoid. Has not kept us from 2 bad experiences but this was because of owners who wanted a bet each way and who were unsuited to what they were doing.
    Hotel? An arm and a leg for 1 night rules these out. Maybe the hotel industry will start converting to self contained to get a falling clientelle.
    Pub? Careful as some rock through the night and travellers need a decent night's sleep rather than party central in your room.
    Tukkaman
    18th Nov 2017
    2:23pm
    I have used Air BnB probably 25 times with only a minor hiccup on key collection in Porto.....but no drama if u get all the info.
    BUT u must do due diligence.....read carefully as many will have extra folk other than twos at an extra price (possibly to cover extra linen)
    BUT the owner does not get paid by Air BnB until 24 hours after arrival......so its up to you to get the complaint in and they hold the payment until resolution.
    you are usually only limited by your capacity to understand the principles......like any transaction.
    Rodger
    18th Nov 2017
    7:14pm
    My wife and I have been extremely happy with AirBNB for many years.
    In Paris, London and other parts of England, a number of locations in Athens, on the Greek islands of Santorini and Mykinos, many locations through Australia - Sydney, Melbourne, costals stays in Queensland and we have never had problems and are continuing to use AirBNB as an option.
    We've had some really bad experiences with public transport, traditional hotels, restaurants and so on and we would never advocate that hotels, restaurants, buses or trains or whatever should be avoided. So far as giving information - we all had to jump through hoops and give personal information just to register with this site.
    I will continue to use and recommend AirBNB as an option, sometimes over traditional hotels. Sometimes AirBNB's are in better locations, sometimes they cheaper but it is always at my discretion as to whether I will choose that option.
    Please do your homework with whatever you do and be as informed as you can be about your holidays. if you decide to try AirBNB remember to go through the feedback about the location and the hosts - read it and avoid the ones with bad feedback. If you do have a problem, especially before your stay, contact AirBNB as they have an interest in keeping their name good even when a few hosts may try to sully that reputation.
    Sue L
    19th Nov 2017
    1:19pm
    I have had nothing but good experiences from AirBNB both in Australia, France, Italy and Croatia. I thinhk maybe you were just unlucky maybe someone hacked your account?


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