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How does airbnb.com work?

I have read several times other posters mentioning airbnb.com. So, I decided to give it a try. I found an apt. in Paris that I love. I have not yet booked.
How does this all work? Do I pay via credit card to airbnb? Are they acting as an intermediary between the owner and the renter?
I read the cancellation policy on the apt. So, if in the event I had to cancel, does airbnb refund my money via my credit card?
Thank you, more experienced travelers.

Posted by
3336 posts

Airbnb is just a listing service. You make arrangements directly with the property owner via airbnb's messaging service. Each property owner has their own policies so read carefully what the cancellation protocol is. Credit card payments are processed through airbnb. Refunds are outlined somewhere in their policies. We've used airbnb many times and never had a problem. Just make sure to communicate thoroughly with the individual property owner so there are no surprises. How to pick up the key. Is there parking. What is the cleaning fee, if any. Is there a charge for more than two people and if so, how much. How do I return the keys at the end of my stay. If you're staying in a private room in a home see if there are curfews you need to adhere to. Is there tax on top of the rental rate that you will be expected to pay.
All this is usually clearly outlined on their page but just make sure to ask about whatever isn't covered.
I personally think airbnb is a great way to go! You're dealing with a local person who knows the ins and outs of the area you'll be staying in - it's a huge advantage over a cold, impersonal hotel!
Good luck!

Posted by
3689 posts

I just booked my first AirBNB lodging yesterday. The hardest part of it was signing up with AirBNB and getting "verified" that I was who I said I was.

I used my credit card to book. If something gets messed up, I assume that I will get money refunded to my credit card consistent with the "strict" policy of my rental. You need to read the cancellation policy very carefully to see the rules about exactly what you can expect to get back if you cancel. If you have any questions, email or call AirBNB.

Buried on the How to Travel page is this: https://www.airbnb.com/help/policies/cancellationsandrefunds. Eventually you can get to a place to send an email or maybe call them. I think the number is 1-855-424-7262 since it is the last one on my phone and I did complete the transaction yesterday.

About the verification:

I had already been emailing back and forth with the owner of the apartment I wanted. I put in all the information I needed to rent it. Then I couldn't get verified. I was in a Catch-22 situation. I had to be verified within 12 hours to get the apartment, but the email I sent about issues I was having with that said to expect an answer within 48 hours.

There was a number to call (the one above I think) but supposedly only if it was an "emergency." My frustration reached emergency status pretty quickly, so I called. Although I was told the wait would be 5 minutes, someone was on the phone to help me within 1 minute.

They wanted 3 ways to verify my identity online. My issue was that I am retired and not on Linked-In, so I couldn't be verified that way. And I have no way to do a video for them -- yes they wanted a video uploaded. My Facebook page did not have enough activity (I've been on less than a year) to verify me by itself. They did add my Facebook picture to my profile. Note: they want a picture of your face, not your dog or some other non-you picture you might have for your picture, so if you use something else, you will have to upload a separate photo of you.

It turned out that the real live person could verify me by looking at a blog I have done on my travels since 2009. That was not an option offered for online verification. She did that while talking to me, I got verified and I'm now considered a real person by AirBNB. Supposedly I won't have to go through this again if I choose to rent through them.

During the process, I was wondering if it was worth the hassle, but I can understand the need for verification of both the owner and the renter these days, so for now I will say that it is.

Posted by
38 posts

Thanks Lo
I have been wondering about the process and you cleared it up for me. I haven't ever gotten on the site more than to look around at listings. I would have the same problem as you, as I have only had a facebook acct for less than a year, and I got a new computer-last one DIED on me, and I can't figure out how to upload pictures so I don't even have a picture on my facebook. I am not on linkedin either...good to know. Thanks again!

Posted by
8781 posts

I've used Airbnb for the first time this year and booked 2 places through them. I don't remember having all that hassle getting approved. That may have been an unusual circumstance.

I haven't stayed in my rentals yet, but I did make sure I only chose places that had multiple reviews.

Posted by
11289 posts

The big advantage of Airbnb is that while they charge your card at the time of booking, the owner doesn't get your money for 24 hours after the check-in date. That means that if there's any problem with the apartment, you can register a complaint and the money won't go to the owner while it is being investigated. This is a strong incentive for the owners to keep their listings honest and their properties in working order.

However, refunds for other reasons besides the listing not being as promised (such as your voluntary cancellation) are another matter. You have to check the refund policy of each listing.

Posted by
380 posts

Thank you so much for all this information. I didn't quite understand that verification column on the left side of the screen. I'll have to look into that.

Posted by
33 posts

i have used it in the uk twice lately and while both actual places were very good, i wouldn't do it again for the first night of an international trip. i had just arrived in london, had all my bags, and the nice thing about a hotel is it's a fixed place. there are staff. you can take a taxi there. you're not depending upon someone you've never met to meet you at a specific place and time or be homeless and have to go find something. my phone had issues, it took me a while to get texting working, and i had to get ahold of this guy, not knowing if he was getting my texts, etc,
get a real hotel the first night.
then you could move to an airbnb place for the remainder. too stressful first night in new country. that's my opinion. :)

Posted by
161 posts

I spent quite some time getting acquainted with Air BnB before booking, learning the ropes so to speak. I booked two apartments-- one in Amsterdam on a canal, and one in Venice, also on a canal, for one week each, and I talked both owners down from the proposed price. What I read on the Air website is that if an alternate price is agreed upon, but cleaning fee is 'included' in the cost. This is actually quite a good deal, because otherwise, this is an added on fee, in addition to the fee you are paying Air for the service of doing business. We were completely satisfied with the arrangements and the accommodations were stellar!

Posted by
27761 posts

One thing that tends to be overlooked by users of airbnb is the legality of the transaction.

For example, in London there are many properties available through airbnb for short term lets. There's only one problem. Short term lets without planning permission in London are illegal. The law may change, but at the moment you are breaking the law by taking an airbnb property in most cases, and in most cases so is the landlord. Airbnb don't care, they say the contract is between you and the landlord and they don't have anything to do with it.

Will you get caught? Probably not. Will you get prosecuted? Probably not. But it is good to know which side of the law you are on, particularly if you are normally a law abiding citizen.

This, by the way, is the case in many cities.

I'm sure that eventually the brown stuff will hit the rotary impeller and somebody's trip will be ruined.