Airbnb scam

Old Jan 10th, 2016, 10:15 PM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 9,279
I think your theory makes more sense, Nukesafe. Sometimes I think designers of websites do it to entertain themselves, for the most part, and convenience to users is secondary. On second thought, not sometimes.
MmePerdu is online now  
Old Jan 11th, 2016, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 1,817
No matter who you rent from, you need to do some research to verify the identity of the owner - for your own protection.
It's easy to do this using social media, checking addresses and phone numbers (use reverse lookup), etc. Most people who advertise vacation rentals are using FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

It is important to get the exact address before you commit, so you can check to see if you like the building and the neighborhood. If the owner won't divulge this information, at least ask for the nearest cross streets, before you proceed. Don't just fall in love with a cute apartment, and don't rely on reviews, which may or may not be genuine. Make a list of questions and ask the owner directly.

I do not ever recommend paying cash (partial or full amount) - either in advance or on arrival. If something goes wrong after you accept the keys, you will have no recourse, and could lose your investment. If someone accepts only cash, the apartment is illegal, and should be avoided for a number or reasons.

FlipKey is owned by TripAdvisor, which offers a payment protection plan, but it is not foolproof. If you can pay the entire amount by credit card, you should check to see if the bank which issued your card offers protection in the event you are not satisfied with the apartment. You might also seriously investigate trip insurance, and read the fine print to see if it covers what you need.

Since this is your first time renting in a foreign country, you would be wise to make certain that your host will provide some support. You will be given a brief tour of the apartment, and some places provide a brief list of tourist information, but after that, you will be left to figure out everything else on your own - including a city where not many people may speak your language.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2016, 04:08 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522
Thanks fuzzbucket.

The host I've been communicating with (the one with the great apartment and over 50 positive traveler reviews) has given me the link to her listing.

I can't tell if she is just being really nice and accommodating....or if she's just way too eager to rent to me.

But the option does provide CC payment protection.

On the other hand, the owner of the apartment I'm most interested has also contacted me and answered a few questions -- this particular listing doesn't require a cash security deposit and the entire payment is made securely by CC through the website.

That might be the deciding factor for me - don't like the idea of handing over cash. And, my bank account/ATM limit is something like USD 400 per day. That limits the amount I can withdraw and uses up my limit for the day. I'm not sure I can withdraw enough cash in one day to cover the balance on these apartments.

Judy_Rosa is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2016, 04:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 48,118
Have you asked your bank to increase your limit, if only for this trip?
StCirq is online now  
Old Jan 11th, 2016, 06:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 2,585
Or get an Amex card - mine has no limit.
Or get several cars in several banks - I do so, so that between my wife and myself we have something like 6 cc and 7-8 debitcards.

Sometimes it comes handy.
Whathello is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2016, 12:51 PM
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 1,817
Many places don't accept AX, though your chances online are better.

I do not recommend giving cash for a security deposit. If the owner won't accept a credit card or personal check (which is destroyed at the end of your visit) for this, I would look elsewhere. There is no guarantee that you'll ever see the cash again. It's not wise to hand over cash unless you can afford to lose it.

You should ask your bank to increase your withdrawal limit for the duration of your trip - most will agree. Make certain to give your travel dates and locations so there won't be a chance they'll reject transactions as fraudulent.

Also, make certain to keep abreast of the exchange rate when withdrawing cash. If your limit is 400 USD, you might not be able to withdraw 400 EU, if your bank is extremely strict about this. I momentarily forgot about this when I was in London, recently - thought my cards weren't working, but it was just my brain...asked for a smaller amount, and everything was fine.

Banks in France don't charge transaction fees, but your bank at home might do so. To avoid heavy charges, you should always withdraw the maximum permitted and keep it in a safe place. A money belt or neck pouch is an excellent idea for keeping extra cash. Just take out enough to use during the day, and refill your wallet as needed.

You can also purchase foreign currency at most banks, for a small service fee. I always recommend arriving with enough money so you can get to your lodging and have some left over if you get hungry - 200 EU should do it, and it's a small price to pay for having one less thing to worry about. You can look for a quiet ATM once you get settled - they are everywhere.

Many people claim that apartments are more secure than hotel rooms, but this is not always the case. Don't leave important papers, tickets, gadgets or cash lying around when you leave, always close the windows, and make certain you understand how to lock the door properly. Even though the building is protected by security code(s), it is possible for people to access the interior of the building as well as rental apartments.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Old Jan 11th, 2016, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522
I wouldn't want that many accounts at different banks! The option allows me to pay for the rental through their site as does the site so I'm going to go with one or the other.

Thanks everyone!
Judy_Rosa is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 03:24 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522

I was able to narrow down my choices between 2 apartments, one through Airbnb and the other through FlipKey.

Both apartments are similar (2 bed, 2 bath) and in a great location: Campo de'Fiori.

The deciding factor was this:

The host of the apartment through FlipKey started contacting me directly and was really pushy about convincing me to pay her the entire balance in cash upon arrival. When I said I didn't want to do that, she started venting about how she needs to pay for her listing on FlipKey and that the reason FlipKey wanted ME to use their payment service was so that they can make money off me with a service fee. She then directed me to her listing on that she claimed had more flexible terms. For HER.

HUH? thanks.

By contrast, the Airbnb host was very nice, answered all my questions promptly, and was the literal opposite of PUSHY. And, Airbnb charged my credit card (I'm OK that they already charged my CC) so I don't need to worry about bring a ton of cash with me to pay the balance upon check in (there is still a cash security deposit due, which is returned at check out upon inspection).

And they will hold onto my money until after I've checked in and am satisfied with the rental.

SOLD!! to the lady with the funny hat (ME)!
Judy_Rosa is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 05:10 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 5,696
Is a cash security deposit required for an airbnb rental? Why not a security deposit on your cc?
Tulips is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 06:16 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,527
AirBnB takes the full amount from your CC when you book (one way they make money - they get the interest). They don't release the money to the host until after you've checked in and decided to stay.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 06:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 48,448
I have rented a few air bnb places , no security dep at all.
So perhaps the reason for not putting that on cc is that it is the landlord not the company that collects that part.
jubilada is online now  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 06:45 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,527
I've never paid a security deposit on an AirBnB rental either. Nor had an inspection before checking out - the host can post a review of YOU. In fact, if the host wanted a payment outside the AirBnB system I wouldn't rent from them.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
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Hosts have the option of a security deposit in the listing. Many don't have one, I don't have one, but some do. It would be as a hold against your credit card but not an actual charge unless there's a claim by the owner.

Here's what it says on the Airbnb site:

"Security deposits help cover accidents that occur during a reservation, like spilled wine on the rug, a broken window, or an unreturned key. Hosts must add a security deposit to their listing before a reservation is booked. Security deposits can't be handled off-site in cash, as off-site payments are a violation of our terms.

When a reservation is accepted, the security deposit details and guest's payment information is stored. No charges or authorizations will be made to the guest's payment method unless the host needs to make a claim. A host has 48 hours after the checkout date to make a claim on the security deposit."

So, according to Airbnb's rules, any cash changing hands outside the safety of the site, including a cash security deposit, is a no no. She should have the requirement in the "prices" section of the listing and not collect cash from her guests, as that's the whole point of paying through the site, safety for guests and their money. I'm not suggesting you cancel, cash deposits have been the norm in Europe, but it is, shall we say, an aberration.

Here's a random example in a house listing:

Cleaning Fee: $65
Security Deposit: $500
Weekly discount: 8%
Monthly discount: 20%
Cancellation: Strict
MmePerdu is online now  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 09:37 AM
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 9,279
It's occurred to me that maybe she does have a security deposit noted in the "prices" section of the listing and simply doesn't know that Airbnb has it as a reserve on your card and that it isn't her job to collect & hold it. If you see it in the listing, as above, then she should not also ask for the cash on arrival. She's already covered. In any case, asking for it violates the host terms she's agreed to. You might have a chat before arrival, unless it isn't important to you, which I also understand.
MmePerdu is online now  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 01:14 PM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522
I didn't discuss the security deposit with my host. It was totally an assumption on my part that I would need to provide a cash deposit at check in.

Guess I should have read the small print!

I'm glad that Airbnb will handle the security deposit as well. And the hold will stay until after I check out which is fine with me.

The host doesn't usually show up at check out? Who do I give the keys to?
Judy_Rosa is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 01:18 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 25,527
"Who do I give the keys to?"

Depends. Mostly I have left them in the apartment. Have also put them in the host's mailbox. I have not always met my host on arrival, either, one time I picked up the keys from a left luggage locker at the Oslo train station.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 01:19 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 27,867
You usually just leave the keys on a table inside the apartment and leave. Most apartments have a double lock; so that just closing the door will lock it [doorknob]; the other lock [deadbolt] isn't locked. Owner/manager will come by later and get in with their key.
DebitNM is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2016, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 48,448
Every house or apt I have rented through vrbo, home away, Or Airbnb, probably 25 total has asked to leave the keys in the house or apt.

Judy_rosa, if a security deposit is required it would not be in the fine print but in the basic info about fees.
jubilada is online now  
Old Jan 14th, 2016, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Aug 2012
Posts: 522
There is definitely a security deposit required for this apartment, I was just under the impression that I would need to give the host the security deposit in cash.

I'm glad it'll be taken care of as a hold on my CC.
Judy_Rosa is offline  
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