Airbnb Scam and bed and breakfast
July is the peak season for Vancouver. Last weekend in particular was a super busy one with at least three festival so Vancouver Traveller bed and breakfast was full. Not only was the B&B fully booked, I fielded dozens of phone calls for the July 7 night from people desperate for a room for the night. At close to 11 pm, Saturday, July 11, it was all peace and quiet in the bed and breakfast. All guests have returned I was already in my pajama and nodding off when I heard the doorbell ring. I frowned and my heart sank as I wasn’t expecting anyone and doorbell so late at night only bods bad news.
I opened the front door and to my dismay, a woman was staying at the door with a luggage to check-in!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, I mentally screamed. My heart palpitated like a rocket and my usually healthy blood pressure was shooting to the moon. The woman said that she booked a room through airbnb. I did my best to stay calm when my mind was racing at light speed to come up with a solution when there was none.
I ran to the basement to look at the reservation book, hoping to see her name somewhere and somehow, find a solution within those pages. Needless to say, it was a waste of time because I could not wave a magic wand and create a vacant room in the B&B from thin air. I went up to the living room and profusely apologized for missing her reservation and said that somehow I would solve the problem…now sure how, but somehow I would.
After what seems like a century, I looked at her airbnb reservation on her cell phone and sure enough, there was the B&B address - 2159 W. 21st Avenue - all neatly spelled out. I swore vehemently in my mind (F*!!). I was going into a depression and a rage at the same time. I was kicking myself over and over for making such a horrifying mistake.
Then I noticed the description was “Spacious Studio”. My heart skipped a beat. Then I saw the picture of the ‘spacious studio" was a Versailles-worthy, extremely ornate bathroom with gold leafed fixtures and mirrors. My blood pressure came down to earth. Then I saw the price of the listing - $39.95 a night. I realized then that I didn’t screw up. I didn’t have to wake up my other sister or my neighbour to beg for a room. I was so relieved that the Hallelujah chorus was playing in my head. My heart was once again beating at a normal pace.
Although relieved, I didn’t know what was happening until my nephew said that it is an airbnb scam. I called airbnb and after making me jumping through ropes, twice, the second agent pronounced that I wasn’t responsible for the reservation and that I did not have to provide accommodation to the poor woman. And that was it. There as no offer of investigation or reassurance of preventing it from happening or taking down the bogus listing. Maybe they would do it but the agent’s tone was that the matter was closed and it was a good resolution.
I emphasized that as a bed and breakfast, I could not afford to have strangers showing up in the middle of the night and waking up sleeping guests (and the family). Furthermore, I certainly did not want the bed and breakfast address to be used by bonus listings. It was only then the airbnb agent said that she would pass on the issue to a specialized team. No, I could not reach them directly by phone or by email. No, she didn’t know how long it would take. No, she didn’t know if I would be reached by phone or by email. No, she didn’t know what to expect next except that someone would contact me somehow within the next 24-48 hours.
The bright side of the incident was that the poor woman came with her brother so I knew she was with family. If she had come by herself, I would have offered the living sofa as we wouldn’t have the heart to turn a single woman away in the the middle of night in one of the busiest weekends in Vancouver.
My bed never felt so warm and cozy after I went back to it after almost an hour of excitement so I was looking forward to blissful slumber. But no…..I started thinking about missing emails or mixing up reservations that I tossed and turned the night away.
The beautiful, sunny Sunday morning was used to comb through all the emails to double check the reservations. I was tremendously relieved that all was well in the reservation book and all the names were noted in the right rooms. It was time well spent.
As mentioned The incident happened on July 7 and I called airbnb the very same night. I get a message in the airbnb inbox on July 13 - almost a week instead of couple days. But not too bad as I expected and generally accept that kind of timing for a large organization. The content, however, has much room to improve.
Message from airbnb:
“Thanks for reaching out to us on this issue.
I’ve forwarded your inquiry to a member of my team who can better assist you. They’ll be getting in touch with you soon.”
Now, why am I not surprised??