You'll never want to use AirBnB again after reading Vice's investigation into all the scams run on travelers

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Still using AirBnB [hosting & booking], never had an issue ever with any booking. Still hosting our bedroom as well, never had a bad experience either. Wish I could dog pile with the Vice findings, but no can do…


I’m glad your experience differs (and so does mine); it supports what I believe (and hope), that the decent people vastly outnumber the jerks, and that even many of the jerks are part-timers whom you can hope to catch on a good day.

I know (at least some of) the risks. I like my odds, as far as I can see.

Stories like these, though, are good cautionary tales, and often entertaining as hell.


I read their previous article about bait and switch on AirBnB, but recently made my first booking anyway. Hopefully it goes well.

Really, every marketplace under the sun is prone to scams. Scammers gonna scam. I’d like to see more action (and information about that action) from companies like AirBnB. But I also recognize that stopping one type of fraud simply means con artists and thieves will move on to the next.


It’s only value, we live in a “buyer beware” universe, as a traveler [world & states] the AirBnB platform has preformed way beyond the hotel / motel experiences, which BTW never miss a chance to up-charge the shit out’a you. I’m happy that Vice is out there, but I make my decisions based on my experiences…


Haven’t been scammed yet, but have seen some seriously fishy postings - rooms with gorgeous views of the ocean but on the map are nowhere near it or clearly behind a high-rise that would block any such views, stuff like that.

But I’ve been moving away from AirBnB because the add-on fees have gotten so high that it’s cheaper to stay in a hotel a lot of times, anyway. And it seems like a positive effect of AirBnB is that a more and more hotels are starting to have better kitchens again. That’s the main reason why I look to sites like AirBnB, because I hate staying in a place that forces me to eat out for every meal because I don’t even have a small fridge in my room that I can use for breakfast and lunch stuff.


I’ve used Airbnb many times, and have used them as a host when our apartment was free for a few months before construction (long story). My personal experiences as a host and as a “guest” have been mostly, but not universally positive.

Having said that, I realized recently that we usually underestimate the risks we take when we use Airbnb (especially as a host, but also as a guest). At this point, I will use Airbnb (as a guest) when:

  1. I want to stay in a particular neighborhood or location that doesn’t have many lodging options
  2. I want to visit a place and take advantage of a local person’s knowledge and opinions
  3. My trip (and lodging accommodations) are not critical to my experience. In other words, I will book an Airbnb only if I can easily adjust my lodging plans should something go wrong.

That third caveat is especially important. If I’m travelling on business (where my rest is critical) or to a country where I am not conversant with the language, I will only use a hotel (or other regulated lodging service, like a hostel), where I can be reduce the likelihood of being in a bad situation. It’s one thing to be in Atlanta and suddenly need to adjust your lodging plans because of a screw up (or a scammer). It’s a completely different situation to be in Prague and need to figure things out there.

In the meantime, here’s Adam Ruins Everything, on Airbnbs:


Potential cons and scams aside; I used AirBnB once years ago, and that singular negative experience was enough to make me decide not to patronize the service ever again.


I’ve heard VRBO is supposed to be better about this problem, but for all I know, it’s just a branch of airbnb.

Anyone else know if it’s better at weeding out scammers and such?


I’ve almost used AirBnB twice but both times the amount saved didn’t offset the uncertainty enough to be worth it.


There are bad actors that try to take advantage of any retail system, including hospitality. And it sucks that AirBnB doesn’t seem to be taking the scammers all that seriously. And I’ll probably get accused of blaming the victim, but…if you’re using a platform that has payment built-in, presumably as a safety feature, who on earth would think it’s a good idea to arrange outside payment? You can’t renegotiate the price of an Uber with the driver, because everything happens through the app. If some random person with an Uber sticker in their window pulled up to a cab stand and offered to drive me somewhere, I’d be crazy to just hop in. Use the service as it is intended, which does have a bunch of built-in safety features, or just book a normal hotel room.

Presumably they offer a discount, which for budget-minded ABnB guests, they might consider it worth the risk?

Even when done in a normal non-scammy way AirBnB can be a menace. It poses security risks for buildings, gets a parade of people abusing the property treating a residence as a hotel.

If you don’t live in a single family residence, hosting AirBnB in your apartment/condo/co-op is likely to be illegal or violate rules of the building and is being dickish to one’s neighbors.


I just had an obvious scam attempted on Lyft a couple days ago. I booked from the airport and got a text message from someone giving their car info and saying they were having “connectivity problems” and to contact them via text message. Meanwhile I had a different car booked through the app. I assume the scamming driver took the ride to get my location and phone number, canceled, and tried to pick me up outside the app so he could scam me or avoid the company’s cut.

I’ve hosted and rented for four years and had one issue with each, both of which were only marginal problems. Meanwhile I just stayed in an international chain hotel for a business trip and had a $30 “resort fee” added without being told what it cost or if I could decline it (I couldn’t). I was at the hotel all of nine hours so had no reason to use anything the resort fee provided. My company eats it which I’m sure they also count on but this kind of scam is far more common than a single digit or less percentage of Airbnb hosts acting badly.

As a VRBO and AirBnB Host, I can tell you that VRBO/HomeAway does nothing “better” to verify either Hosts or Guests.

Also they are not a “branch” of AirBnB, they are a direct competitor that is owned by Expedia.

For Hosts, they don’t verify if they actually own or have legal access to the property (same with AirBnB). They don’t require any safety inspections, the only thing really different is they don’t allow “shared” listings. So you can’t just get a “room”, only whole homes/apartments etc.

For Guests, VRBO does not even verify a Guest email address or phone number. As a Host I get lots of scam Inquiries that I don’t get on AirBnB.


This is a common problem with may online services. Anyone who has contracted service with an online service should be able to leave a “negative” or less than positive review, without fear of retribution, even if the service is cancelled.

Everyone has to right to know how business is being conducted so they can make intelligent decisions. Anyone wanting to do business online should be held responsible for their business practices.

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Have had good and bad experiences on the Airbnb platform. The majority of experiences have been positive.

However, the “bait and switch” scam – where the host claims that there is some issue with what you booked and tries to put you up some place that is much worse (or nowhere near the location) last-minute – is common. Obviously substandard cleanliness (unchanged sheets, dirty towels, etc) with a quick promise to fix it and then going quiet hoping to run out the clock, get their payment, and disappear, also is common. Have experienced both of these. In our case, Airbnb did eventually resolve the issues, but the company was opaque and slow. The whole experience was unpleasant and wasted a lot of time.

In general, would suggest Airbnb (or VBRO) is worth considering for a one-month stay (where a hotel is too expensive, but a short-term lease may not be available), or when you want something larger than a hotel room for a family, or for something unusual (like a houseboat), but it isn’t worth it as an individual or a couple for a short stay of a few days or a week. Hotels often are the same price or cheaper for a few days and provide much better security and service.

If a hotel isn’t your ideal option, do some searching. You often can find corporate apartments from legitimate companies and book directly through their websites for the same price or less than Airbnb, as well. Do your homework and read reviews of other prospective companies, too. :airplane:


it seems like a positive effect of AirBnB is that a more and more hotels are starting to have better kitchens again. That’s the main reason why I look to sites like AirBnB, because I hate staying in a place that forces me to eat out for every meal because I don’t even have a small fridge in my room that I can use for breakfast and lunch stuff.

Absolutely. It does seem that hotels have gotten better about providing at least basic food prep in rooms as well as a greater range of options without having to go straight for a luxury suite for a family stay.


Agreed. Airbnb is a better option for a city that you know well – perhaps your second or third trip – where you want to stay somewhere a little less traveled and you have solid options if the Airbnb goes wrong.

One good thing to do with Airbnb also is to pull up a city that you are familiar with – say where you live – and you will probably be able to use that local knowledge to spot listings that likely are fraudulent. Keep that in mind when you are then evaluating listings in a less familiar area.