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SOS--Airbnb host accused me of damage

I urgently need your wisdom with regards to the following matter. Thank you in advance.

I checked out of my Airbnb on Fri (Jun 7). On Jun 10, the host claimed that I caused some marks on her unpolished concrete dining table and showed me some photos of them. Upon check-in, I noticed some marks on it, but did not pay much attention to them.

Now, I don't know what to do. I have had a perfect rental record with over 10 excellent reviews and never caused any damage. I am worried that this host could ruin my superior review history.

Also, I am afraid that this could be a set-up or trap by the host. Upon check-in, she showed me a broken patio door and claimed that the previous tenants damaged it. In addition, before I made payments to her (via Airbnb), she promised that she would change the bed from a full size bed to a queen size bed. This did not happen. My husband and I had to be squeezed while sleeping.

I did write a review on her mentioning the above facts. However, I am guessing that this host is retaliating against me because of this negative review. By the way, the very first guest review written in April on her was even more adverse. Now Airbnb wants me to cover the almost 600 EUR "damage", which I found absurd.

What is your advice to me? Thank you very much.

Posted by
3249 posts

I’m sorry this is happening.
Firstly, if you have your credit card details on file with Airbnb, cancel and or take them off the site immediately while you figure this out.
You don’t want any charges before the matter is resolved.
Let us know what the end result is.
Best of luck.

Posted by
16932 posts

This is unfortunate.

Just to clarify—-did she make this accusation after you wrote your negative review? That would indeed be suspicious.

Posted by
23472 posts

But expecting a change out of the bed -- isn't that a little unreasonable.? It is not like you keep a spare queen size mattress in the closet.

Posted by
1594 posts

S J, thank you for your reply. I tried to follow your advice and remove the card, but Airbnb won't let me.

Lola, thank you also for your reply. She raised the issue before she saw my review on her. In her review on me, she claimed that the matter was "professionally handled by Airbnb." I don't know what exactly this means. But immediately before I posted my review on her, I called Airbnb and was assured that there was no charge on my account. Then, I posted my review. She or Airbnb or both must have changed her/their mind. She has motivation to revenge and make extra profits, while Airbnb has motivation to offload the liability to me.

There is no way for me to tell if those damages were crayon marks or not. Airbnb does not seem to be interested in verifying.

Posted by
7026 posts

You can always cancel the card or say it's lost. Actually, you could just put a freeze on it. Most cards allow you do that on the website.

Posted by
16932 posts

You saw these marks when you checked in, but they seem insignificant so you did not document them with a photo, correct? Do they look different in the photo you saw, to your best recollection? And are they actually crayon marks? Did you have small children with you? Are crayon marks so hard to remove from concrete that it will cost $600?

These are all points you can raise with AirBnB to dispute the charge. You might also mention the damage she claimed was caused by a prior tenant/guest, but was not repaired. Did she charge that guest for the damaged door?

At a minimum, the host should be required to provide a written estimate of the repair cost before anything is charged to you.

See if you can “freeze” the card instead of canceling it outright. They carry different implications with respect to your intentions and “good faith” in resolving this.

I am assuming this host is not a designated “Superhost”.

Posted by
10364 posts

I hate platform apartment rentals. Sigh. Got that off my chest
Barkinpark— rooting for you. Fingers crossed. Sorry no help to offer, just thoughts.

Posted by
1594 posts

I did not have children; the guests were just me and my hubby. I don't know what marks those were, but I know that I did not make them. This host seems to be framing me and gaming the system for extra profits.

About the bed--months before check-in, I asked the host about the bed. She promised to change the full bed into a queen by the time I arrived. However, nothing was changed in actuality. So, this host was deceptive to begin with.

Posted by
467 posts

Unless you close your credit card account completely, Air BnB will still be able to charge your card. I know this because my son and his girlfriend plugged his credit card number (he was an authorized user on my account) into a bunch of apps and kept chargning things.
I called Chase several times to say "the old number is still working" when I saw new charges, and they issued new cards and new numbers, but the old number that was already set up to autocharge (like Uber Eats, Amazon, Google Play store, etc.,) still worked. I wound up having to cash in all my Chase points and then completely close my account. Reporting it stolen doesn't work either. The card number will still work where it's already set up to be charged.

Posted by
1594 posts

Thank you everybody for your time and encouragement.

markcw, there was no documentation showing why the charge was so high.

To me, it seems like a scam, and Airbnb is enabling it.

Posted by
301 posts

Did Airbnb present you with a dated and written estimate of the repairs from a reputable furniture refinisher, or did the scammer just come up with an absurd amount on her own. Was the location occupied by someone else between June 7th and June 10th? Why did it take them 3 days to make a claim, and not contact you immediately?

I would not cancel your credit card. If Airbnb charges you, you can dispute the charge through your credit company that the charge was unauthorized and unmerited.

I think the least of your concerns is your Airbnb "superior review history". I only stay in hotels, but I would think Airbnb needs you as a customer, more than you need them. This rental has a history of claiming damage, while you have an excellent record. Furthermore, you have options of where you can stay in the future, other than Airbnb. I would also make it clear that you will go on Social Media (Twitter & Instagram) and travel sites (you already have!) to discuss this scam, and that you will warn others against this location and your bad experience with Airbnb. Airbnb has had bad publicity lately for gouging customers with high prices, so the last thing they need is more bad publicity.

Posted by
538 posts

Is this a new host? How many stars and reviews did it have? If it's a relatively new host or listing, you might point out to Airbnb that you have an excellent score with impeccable comments as opposed to that person. You could also point out the messages between you and the host stating that they'd change out the bed, and this was not done. Maybe this will give more credence to your side of the story.

I've been using Airbnb for years and only had one issue (it was a last minute rental with a lower score than I normally rent). Airbnb worked with me to ensure I got a full refund and that I was able to find another place to stay.

I'm sorry you are faced with this situation.

Posted by
11494 posts

You might check out this site https://www.elliott.org/ for advice. They also have executive contacts at Airbnb, advice on how to make a successful claim (don't threaten, be professional, etc.) and they also take on advocacy cases. Christopher has been particularly vocal about Airbnb hosts and hotels making unsubstantiated claims against customers. If you cannot resolve, bring it to their attention.

Posted by
1808 posts

Sounds like AirBnB is acting like Enterprise Rent-A-Car where you need to go through every spot of the apartment upon arrival and photograph everything as you arrive.

If it has not hit your credit card I would just ignore the host's claims. If it hits your credit card, file a chargeback dispute with the credit card company and demand the host to send you a photo dated the day of your arrival showing the table unmarked. It works both ways. They have to show the table was damage free prior to your rental. Otherwise, you could claim it was like that when you arrived. Without dated photographs it is a he said, she said situation. Why is it the host is believed and not the customer?

Tell AirBnB there are other alternatives and since you have been an excellent renter, either they believe you or you will take you business elsewhere. Just another issue AirBnB seems to carry as a burden of operation. AirBnb isn't the only game in town anymore.

Good luck.

Posted by
431 posts

"The card number will still work where it's already set up to be charged."

Certainly not the case with my bank. My card was damaged and the bank replaced it, and I then had to update the new card number with my various subscriptions. I forgot one, and when the charge was made to the old card, the bank rejected it. Same deal when the old card expires and a card with a new expiry date and CVV is issued.

Posted by
932 posts

By the way, the very first guest review written in April on her was even more adverse. Now Airbnb wants me to cover the almost 600 EUR "damage", which I found absurd.

You ignored 2 red flags at your own peril. When I did use AirBnB, I would have never rented from an owner with that kind of comment in their listing. I was extremely picky about who I rented from. Red flag #2 - her "first" review was posted only 2 months ago? I never rented from someone who did not have an extensive history of good comments, much less would I have rented from an owner with a negative first comment.

Perhaps my advice is too late for the OP, but to anyone else reading the thread: Never again use AirBnB. There is way too much potential for this kind of accusatory nonsense / damage assessment, and it goes on a lot.

I quit AirBnB years ago, never looked back, don't miss it one bit. I have never in my life been "accused" by a hotel of damaging a room.

.

Posted by
594 posts

It seems like you shouldn’t write a review of an Airbnb until the owner has rated you. That way you could be honest in your review? Airbnb’s seem to be a liability these days. No fun and I’m so sorry.

Posted by
16932 posts

Jojo, let’s not blame the victim. You give good advice about renting from AirBnB, but it is too late to help the OP.

If the $600 does get charged to your credit card, you can dispute it as unauthorized, which means you owe nothing until the dispute is resolved. But the dispute is with AirBnB, not with the host, and AirBnB will just respond that you authorized a charge for damage when you booked the place. So it is AirBnB you have to convince.

Contacting the Elliot Advocacy group is a good suggestion. They may or may not intervene, but at least they will give you contacts to the higher levels at AirBnB, so you can “escalate” your claim. When you do, be very careful not to use inflammatory language with words like scam, or fraud. Just state in objective terms what you stated here: there was minor damage to the concrete table when you arrived, but you did not document it because you thought it was inconsequential; there were no children who marked the table with crayons, etc., and the charge of $600 to repair a concrete table seem excessive and has not been supported by any documentation. Be consistent and objective, but be firm.

Airbnb does not want to be seen as supporting this kind of shenanigans by owners, but you have to get to the higher levels to actually get to someone who cares. It wouldn’t hurt to mention your stellar track record with previous AirBnB rentals when you get to that level.

Posted by
16932 posts

Elliott is no miracle worker, you will get a form letter response— and that’s it, no information, no follow up, no resolution. This board should stop recommending him.

This was not my experience, so I will continue to suggest contacting them where it seems appropriate.

In my one and only experience with them, they provided a focused and helpful response on how to resolve my months-long dispute with British Airways regarding reimbursement under EC 261 for a downgrade in class. BA repeatedly denied my initial application and my subsequent appeals. Elliott did not personally go to bat for us, but they provided clear instructions on how next to proceed, together with a list of names and email addresses of executives in the company who were in charge of such matters. I chose the Vice President of Customer Relations, US Office, and sent a concise statement of my claim and the history of repeated denials.

Two days latter the requested reimbursement was posted to my credit card account. Yes, there was no personal response from the BA executive, no apology for the delay, and no follow-up from the Elliott team, but I did achieve the resolution I requested.

Posted by
932 posts

Jojo, let’s not blame the victim. You give good advice about renting from AirBnB, but it is too late to help the OP.

Calling the OP a "victim" is a bit of a stretch without more information. She admits noticing the marks on the table surface after checking in, but not taking a photo or mentioning it to the owner. Surely in hindsight she realizes that was a mistake.

When I rent a car, I thoroughly examine the car, take pics of all damage (exterior and interior, like carpet stains or fabric tears), and I advise anyone to be sure to look at the roof and the undercarriage, and I present that evidence at the rental counter before driving away, ask for it to be noted in the system, on my paperwork, etc. Upon return, I point out the same issues. Well, I do the same "check for damage / missing amenities / missing or broken kitchen items" in any hotel room. I have rented/leased many houses in my life, and I always did a detailed "move in" inspection report (in my professional life, I was a real estate appraiser, so I came by this attention to detail naturally). When I check into a hotel room, the first thing I do is check the room, particularly A/C or heat, and I make sure the plumbing works - hot water, toilet flushes properly, etc. The beauty of a hotel is that I can go down to the front desk and speak to a an onsite manager about any damage or other problems in the room - good luck finding an actual person when your rent an AirBnB or other platform property.

I quit AirBnB years ago (pre pandemic), especially got tired of the "legality" issues that cropped up in many European cities like Paris in the last 8 or so years, the exorbitant extra fees especially on short term stays, and the misrepresentations of the property condition in their listing and photos, and the pandemic era uptick in shenanigans (like no onsite or physically available property rep for problems, lockouts) that I have read about but not experienced keeps me from using them or any other "platform property rental" outfit. By the way, I recently looked at renting an apartment for a month in Paris (not during the Olympics, for later in the year) on one of the other platform sites, but they charged 2 months rent as a security deposit, and there is no way I would agree to that.

If the advice I have given is "good" as you say, maybe others reading this thread will benefit, even if this advice is not particularly helpful to the OP. I wish the OP well, hope this gets resolved satisfactorily for her, but when you rent a car, or a property, and you have agreed to the terms of the rental by using their platform or rental agreement, protect yourself as much as possible with a thorough inspection, take photos, etc. At least when you rent a vehicle, you can buy "zero deductible" insurance or get similar coverage through a CC, but renting real estate is riskier for the renter when it comes to disputes about the condition of the property at the end of the stay.

Posted by
11494 posts

Elliott is no miracle worker, you will get a form letter response— and that’s it, no information, no follow up, no resolution. This board should stop recommending him.

Like Lola, I have found them helpful. Lots of resources for solving your own problems and they are always asking for escalation opportunities although they cannot take them all. The form, I believe, helps them wade through the appeals and also encourages self-help.

That sounds really frustrating. I'd start by calmly explaining everything to Airbnb. Tell them about the marks you noticed when you checked in and that you've never had any issues with your previous rentals. Your history of good reviews should definitely work in your favor here.

Mention the unfulfilled promise about the bed size and the broken patio door she blamed on previous guests. It kind of sounds like the host might have a pattern of blaming guests for stuff that was already there.

If you have any photos from your stay, especially from the beginning, that would be super helpful. If not, just be as detailed as possible in your explanation. It’s great you left an honest review; that adds credibility to your story.

Posted by
3249 posts

The channel with Brian and Carrie that Tammy linked to has a list that you can bring, to check everything when you arrive in a vacation rental.
Of course, sometimes you never even see an owner or host, so photos are better for “insurance”.

Posted by
1594 posts

Once again, thank you for all your advice. I am typing this message hours after being discharged from the ER, due to food poisoning in Barcelona. (I will warn you about this place in a separate review.)

Some new developments about this case, which once again shows that this host is a professional scammer.

I filed a counter claim against her about (1) the wrong bed size and (2) the broken patio door.

(1) Bed -- she claimed that she bought the bigger bed but had delivery issues. She said she has documentation to prove this. However, my view is that, it does not matter what excuse the retailer or manufacturer has, she is responsible for this. I booked her back in early April, after confirming with her that the new bed would be delivered before my stay. There should have been enough time for this delivery. Nor did she inform me that the bed size had not been changed.

(2) Patio door -- she lied outright by claiming that, at check-in, she offered me to repair it on the following day. This is untrue. She did not offer anything.

I was stunned by this blatant lying. I see that she has now pulled her listing, but fortunately, I could still see the latest version of it in the "My Trips" section. I saved a copy of it.

By the way, the Resolutions agent from Airbnb was not sympathetic to my situation. I am not sure if this was still a robot or a non-US person (judging from her standard of English). This is very different from dealing with a US insurance adjuster.

Thank you everybody for your time and help.

Posted by
1594 posts

Let me report the latest news about my case. I did file a counter claim against (asking for a full refund) the host for the misstated bed size and the broken patio door. However, because Airbnb's T&Cs stipulate that discoveries must be reported to the host or Airbnb within 72 hours, the host did not have to pay me. Yet, Airbnb paid me $300 to settle it. I could have negotiated for more, but am too simply exhausted and ill (food poisoning) to deal with this.

Thank you everybody for your time and advice.

P.S. if anybody wants to know which listing it is, please private message me. It's in Copenhagen.

Posted by
18843 posts

So you didn't have to pay for the damage in dispute, and you got refunded the cost of a night or two or three? Sounds like your efforts paid off.

Posted by
1594 posts

Initially, the external adjuster asked me for 600Eur, but then dropped the demand to 150 Euro, after I asked for receipts. They never got the receipts or estimates to show me. At the very end, once I filed my counter claim, the host's demand was deemed ineligible.

However, I lost so much time in dealing with this drama.

Lesson learned.

Posted by
2017 posts

OP-

Don't feel bad, Barcelona was the only European city where I got food poisoning but it was my own fault. I went to Girona and was so hungry I stopped at this obviously touristy place that only had one other couple being served. And I got the seafood paella which looked really bad but I still ate it. Cue 18 hours sitting in my hotel bathroom being unable to move away from the toilet. Barcelona is beautiful but watch out for the food.

I hope you get your AirBnB straightened out.