Policy Threatens Airbnb IPO

Imagine requesting service from a criminal, writing your travel itinerary and sending money to them all before finding that the place you may share for six days on a hard-earned vacation abroad doesn’t exist. It’s not exactly what Airbnb, the technology company filing a $30 billion valuation for its IPO that will compete with hospitality stocks like Marriott International Inc this December, promotes. Airbnb claims to be “[c]reating a world where anyone can truly belong [and that] requires a foundation of trust.”

Billions of dollars in financial lifelines thrown to Airbnb since 2019 have vanished into air. To close these losses after Corona-virus the company laid off 2,000 employees but claims it’s still worth $30 billion ahead of its December IPO.

Airbnb doesn’t advertise it’s requesting you trust criminals so they can belong in the world of finance! But Church uses Airbnb to book vacation and remote work stays for contributors. And Thursday, September 24th Church requested accommodation from Airbnb. That Friday afternoon a host replied their listing wasn’t available, despite showing vacancy. Scrambling to find a place to visit on Saturday, Church turned to Airbnb’s Instant Book feature, sent payment, and received a receipt for its second reservation. But the paid reservation didn’t list a street address. And, after speaking over the phone, this host agreed to text an address to meet at their 10 am check-in time. Then they didn’t!

At 10 am this host’s phone was disconnected. If a room to check into isn’t present then Airbnb ISN’T in the business of providing accommodation. But Airbnb said there must be “extenuating circumstances” in order to cancel and make a third reservation!

Misrepresented listings are against Airbnb policy and a shadowy contact who fails to provide a physical location makes it a fake one but Airbnb wouldn’t immediately cancel the accommodation and it’s still advertised today. Equally unusual for a host to charge for electricity, another Airbnb offering electric heat provided a budget of 100 units during winter months, spelled out in pictures below. Usage was 120 units after 28 days but the host forgave their budget in writing yet still charged for 40 units! And after writing guests are afforded 230 units for long-term stays of 70 days, this host also tried charging $8 on top of a $781.93 bill while $1.45 was ultimately due. This host attacked guests showing how many units their meter was over 4178 (3948 + 230) a third time and attached a nasty review to their profile, despite contacting Airbnb about the host’s erroneous charges to which the company didn’t respond.

Total electric overages were less than $1.50 of a nearly $782 bill paid in advance yet Airbnb wouldn’t stop their host from threatening eviction before any extra charges were due.

In a period of about one week, after another reservation was confirmed, payment got sent, and a receipt was issued by Airbnb, the listing didn’t provide a street address and its host didn’t respond on the platform. The host didn’t respond to a message sent directly to the number they provided to Airbnb either. And, an hour before a published check-in time, they also didn’t answer their telephone.

Airbnb has an option on its app to “Start check-in” regardless of your location. That feature provided a new phone number for this listing but help answered they “don’t speak English,” requesting an SMS. They replied “call” to that SMS and, during the third phone call placed, claimed to be contacting the host. Then almost 4 hours after check-in someone claiming the host’s name called back to say they don’t have an Airbnb! Otherwise, despite having paid, no one responded to messages requesting a location to check-in. In one case a company representative responded it can’t provide refunds for these listings because “payment processing is too efficient.”

Airbnb doesn’t earn money, does nothing like require addresses to assure service quality, and will owe judgements for lawsuits from guests who become stranded on vacations and experience losses after being stranded.

It’s involvement providing accommodation rivals Craigslist‘s yet Airbnb claims $30 billion in value ahead of its IPO in December.