Please can somebody help with this? I was wrongly removed from Airbnb and suffered a lot of serious incidents, I can't get through to anybody from Airbnb in the management team, although the hundreds of Airbnb support assistants can see that I was victim to some very serious incidents... it has broken me. I was left on the street after a dangerous incident in Alexandria, waiting for airbnb to call me (they never did). I was tired and very afraid desperately trying to search for somewhere to stay.
Urgent attention required: Appeal against the chronic error of permanent account suspension
Senior personnel of Airbnb,
I plead with somebody to read this urgent letter detailing chronic events, xenophobia, sexual harassment and fraud and to be able to actually speak to someone about it.
I write to you deeply exhausted and in immense pain at the chronic incidents and errors I have experienced whilst using Airbnb in the Arab Republic of Egypt.
I am a British Citizen and I was sent to Egypt last year to distribute COVID-19 molecular diagnostic test kits and equipment on behalf of genetic testing companies in South Korea.
I arrived in Egypt and the scamming began immediately when I landed. I was coerced by an official-looking gentleman to buy a fake visa from a fake visa counter (UK and US Governments warn citizens of this scam).
For the most part of my early stay, I stayed in 5-star hotels in Cairo to commence work.
I used a couple of Airbnb’s in Cairo also which were not exactly fantastic or smooth experiences, but the Egyptian host was lovely and very kind and was worldly enough to understand the problems foreigners experience in Egypt.
Throughout my stay in Cairo, I was aggressively harassed, sexually assaulted on the street a number of times and my credit card got cloned in an ATM at an official bank. To say it was a nightmare would be an understatement.
During my time in Cairo, the UK entered a full lockdown and things around the world became very uncertain. This caused me immense stress and depression. There were also no flights available back to the UK or South Korea.
I had a couple of meetings with a biotech company in Alexandria and had to quickly move there.
I and my colleague doctor in Seoul began searching for apartments to rent in Alexandria as all of the hotels were fully booked and accommodation was very limited in Alexandria.
The options on Airbnb were very limited, with either terrible reviews, scams or suspicious-looking listings.
My doctor colleague found one room in an apartment and suggested I stayed there one night, as I was sitting on the street with my suitcase, tired and stressed.
I messaged the host and informed him of my intention to book and then booked the room for 3-4th of October 2020.
Little did I know it was going to turn into a shocking and deeply uncomfortable stay.
At first, I couldn’t locate the building, after calling the host a multitude of times, he decided to come down and actually greet me at the door.
The elevator was out of order so I dragged my suitcase up 19 flights of stairs.
I arrived into the apartment and the host: his name is Alaa began questioning me of where I had been and why I was in Egypt.
I politely told him I was very tired and stressed and would like to sleep in the room. He told me to wait, I waited 3 hours on the sofa.
I had a call from my MD in Korea to ask if I was okay, Suddenly I noticed a hostile change of behavior from the host.
He demanded to see my passport and said that if I had any connections with China, Korea, or Asia I could not stay in the property… He told me that these Asians were killing all of the worlds.
I tried to explain to him I am a scientist trying to distribute essential covid-19 related equipment to Egypt and he still kept demanding to see my passport.
I defused the situation and said it was in the bottom of my suitcase and that I will show him later.. I went to the room and quickly began texting my colleagues in London and Seoul telling them I was in a bad situation…. When I looked at the listing I saw a very terrible description unmoderated by Airbnb (I will enclose the shocking picture) saying that anyone that has been in China or near China he will check the passport and refuse booking including God Bless China…?
I told the host that I needed to go out to get some food (I actually needed to get some privacy to tell my colleagues that I am in a dangerous situation) – he informed me that he would not be giving me a key and that if I wanted to come back I would need to call him, I told him this is not how Airbnb works and he said he would not give me a key until he checked I had not been in Asia…
I decided to walk out and call my colleague in Korea, they told me to leave urgently in the middle of the night when he was sleeping…
I called him to inform him I am wanting to come into sleep… he told me to wait 30 minutes… 30 minutes turned into 2.5 hours and he let me come up to the apartment.
I made an excuse that I was tired and needed to sleep… I went to the room and prayed deeply that I would be okay.
Around 20 minutes later, he came to my room and began knocking aggressively… shouting that he required me to sit with him and that I needed to show my passport to prove I hadn’t been in Asia (I have entry stamps in my passport from many Asian countries including South Korea).
The aggressive banging on the door continued for hours. I got so tired and lost it, I picked up my case and told him I was leaving… the front door was locked, I was so frightened but luckily he just opened the door and let me leave.
It was early hours in the morning… I dragged my suitcase to the seafront and sat alone tired, quickly contacting my colleagues in London and Seoul.
I needed to stay in Alexandria but couldn’t find anywhere to stay…
Desperately searching through very dodgy-looking Airbnb listings in Alexandria, we found a small studio apartment for rent for a few days.
It was all we could find so I booked it for 4/10/2020-8/10/2020, I waited around later that day to check-in and contacted the host through Airbnb.
I couldn’t read Arabic but the host’s name was: السرايا and the listing was named: Hussin Suliman 302
I arrived at the property and an Egyptian gentleman greeted me at the gate, the elevator again was broken (very common throughout Egypt) and I took my case upstairs which seemed to resemble something between Hogwarts magical staircases half-constructed and a waste-fill site.
Upon entering the property he began aggressively requesting my passport (sound’s familiar), I told him Airbnb has a copy of my national ID and that he should request it from them… he demanded my passport as he told me he needed to take it to a police station to verify me? (god knows?).
I was livid, I had had enough… he was shouting at me and screaming and all I wanted to do was sleep and cry in the place I had paid for…. I gave in and gave him my passport.
I called Airbnb about the problems I was experiencing and spoke to a nice person based in the Philippines, they apologized and told me they would get someone in a higher department to call me back… this never happened.
He came back and gave me the passport… I told him I needed to shower, he informed me there was no hot water and that he would send someone in the morning to turn it on… by this point I was a nervous wreck and exhausted…. I told him whatever… I went to sit on the bed and as soon as I sat on the bed I fell through it…. He laughed hysterically and I cried even more…. I lifted the mattress and saw that there were no slats on the bed, the mattress had just been placed over it to hide it or make it look like a bed?
I looked up at him and told him ‘you are scamming me’ – he patted me on the shoulder, smiled, and said “Yes - Welcome to Egypt, my friend”.
I broke down crying and I think he felt sorry for me…. He helped me drag the mattress on the floor and I made him promise he would send people to make a bed and the hot water tomorrow.
After agreeing that he was scamming me and shouting at me aggressively telling me that if I informed Airbnb he would call the Egyptian police on me… I think he began to feel sorry for my pain and he brought me an Arabic coffee.
I slept at the property on the mattress that was on the floor. I began desperately searching for a suitable place to locate to, myself and my colleagues found one property bedroom flat to rent in Alexandria for a month. I contacted the host and asked if the property was available, he responded that it was available and I confirmed that I would like to book it. I asked about the property in more detail (given the negative experiences I was having with Airbnb in Egypt) then he suddenly thought it was appropriate to mention that although it is listed and priced as an entire flat, it actually is just one small room inside an apartment… my nerves were fraying, I explained to him that he cannot do this on Airbnb, it is an incorrect listing against Airbnb rules and an obvious, outright scam. I was crying and in deep desperation… I told him that I would report him to Airbnb and then he said something in which I responded that he was an Egyptian scammer and fraud… shockingly, he told me that he would report me!? I tried to explain that he was the one committing fraud and scamming through Airbnb.
I contacted Airbnb through chat and begged for someone to call me urgently as I was in a terrible situation and needed to explain the problems I was having with Airbnb in Egypt…. Nobody called me as promised by the Airbnb chat assistant.
I was afraid to contact Airbnb because the hosts had said that if I approached Airbnb they would just make another account and report me to the Egyptian police?? I could not understand the psychology in this place.
The next day the host came to fix the problems and make a bed for me and apologized for the problems I was experiencing in Egypt. (I will enclose the picture).
To my absolute dismay; I tried to log on to my Airbnb account and received a message saying that I had been permanently removed from Airbnb and that the decision was final… I, my colleagues and Egyptian friends could not believe it…. I wanted to die.
You must understand, I am not racist or prejudice against Egyptians… I have Egyptian friends that accept and complain that many Egyptians scam and mistreat foreign visitors, I have worked and lived in over 90 countries including Arab nations…. Simply what I meant was that the gentleman was Egyptian, a scammer, and a fraud using Airbnb as a platform for his deception and crime.
I contacted Airbnb support and frantically explained to 3 members of staff based in the Philippines about my experience. Your staff members were shocked and apologized and accepted that Airbnb had made an error. They told me they would get somebody from senior relations to contact me but given the covid situation, it could take some time…. Those calls never materialized.
I spent countless calls and chats to Airbnb, desperately trying to make them see that they had made a chronic error, I had experienced racial discrimination, scams, and that this Egyptian host was about to scam me.
Each time I had sympathetic Airbnb support team staff apologize on behalf of Airbnb and tell me that someone from the account suspension team would contact me.
That call never materialized.
I decided enough was enough and to cancel my stay in Alexandria and the meetings with the biotech companies and decided to move back to Cairo to stay in a hotel… I was physically, emotionally, and mentally depleted.
I returned to Cairo and booked into a 5-star hotel. I wanted to leave Egypt but there were still no flights to the UK or to Korea.
I contacted Airbnb a million times and tried to explain what I had been through, each time sympathetic Airbnb support teams would whole-hearted apologize for the mistake and tell me they would get someone from the senior team that deals with suspensions to contact me and they just never did.
After a couple of weeks of stressful communications with Airbnb, I got through to a lady based in the Philippines from support and explained the entire debacle situation again. They again apologized and told me that I could open a new account and continue to use Airbnb.
I was stuck in Egypt, I could not leave Egypt as there were still no flights and the UK was on a full lockdown.
I wanted to find somewhere where I could hide low and wait for things to calm down and take care of the mental stress I had experienced whilst trying to work in Egypt.
I chose Luxor on a map, away from the chaos and constant aggressive harassment of Cairo, and proceeded to book an Airbnb for a month to work online remotely, hoping for a smoother and less crazy experience.
On my new Airbnb account, I and my colleagues found a dome villa hosted by Abdol Nasser on Airbnb and proceeded to book and pay. Check-in: Friday 13th, 2020 checkout: Sunday 13th December. £388GBP.
I explained to him that I intended to book the place for somewhere to work online for a month, he confirmed it has WI-FI and invited me to book.
Little did I know that Luxor is famed for being the harassment capital of the entire world (Please google it).
I was told the property was located on the West Bank of the River Nile so crossed the Nile to meet the host.
He took me to the property and there were 4-5 people hurriedly working in the villa doing construction work.
The villa was not in a habitable state but the host Abdol promised me he would fix everything and get the shower and Wi-Fi working.
Contrary to the picture, there was no constructed bed (what is it with Airbnb’s in Egypt not having beds? I couldn’t understand)
He assured me that he would fix all the problems the next day.
Before contacting Airbnb, I gave him plenty of time to fix everything, running water to the property, a bed, wifi, etc.
I waited a few days in which workers came in and out of the property on a daily basis… the cleaner would bring his children and I awoke to them running around inside the villa I had booked, each morning.
The host’s brother would wait for me each evening outside the villa in the dark alley next to the property and try to push me inside the bush telling me he would rape me… I had to aggressively fight against sexual harassment for the entirety of my stay. I would have random men wait outside my Airbnb property, climb over the fence and knock at the door and aggressively try and touch me sexually or force themselves into the Airbnb.
It was hell.
I befriended an Egyptian man from the Special Forces in Cairo, I called him to tell him what I should do and that I needed urgent help. He spoke to some local connections in the police in Luxor, I met with them a few times but they seemed uninterested by the fact that I was nearly getting raped each day outside of my Airbnb rental.
It was HORRIFIC.
I contacted Airbnb through chat as I didn’t feel safe and desperately wanted to leave… I needed urgent help. I informed the host I was going to leave and contact Airbnb, he turned up with his entourage of Egyptian friends. I diplomatically tried to speak to him, this didn’t work, then I told him that he had scammed me and that the property was unsuitable and unsafe due to the constant sexual harassment…. He smiled and said ‘This is Egypt my friend’.
He warned me that If I contacted Airbnb to report the problem that he would just make another profile (I saw that he had many profiles due to being banned and other guests reporting about the scams and harassment, I found 3 other profiles which Europeans and Americans had experienced similar experiences and wrote negative reviews) and that he would make dangerous trouble for me in Luxor.
It was a horrifying and painful experience, one that gives me great and deep pain in writing and re-living to you.
I contacted the British Embassy in Cairo and they advised me to quickly leave Luxor.
I left the property and begged my colleagues to get me out of Egypt… they found and booked me a flight to Seoul.
The cherry on the icing was; I stayed in a 5-star hotel in Cairo before my departure to Seoul. I and my team of specialists uncovered that the Central Government Lab of Egypt scammed me by conducting a hoax PCR test and forced me to travel through international borders with fraudulent documents (I am a specialist in this field and from a scientific background working with specialists advising world governments in this crisis).
I now write to you from Seoul, South Korea and have put off writing this for sometime as Egypt is a place I would not like to remember and the experience has caused me immense pain, depression and near suicide to think about.
As you can see and all 30+ of your staff I have spoken to about this incident can also see, I have experienced horrific and chronic failings at the hands of Airbnb.
I have a good character, I am not racist, I just do not accept being scammed or sexually harassed whilst using Airbnb anywhere in the world.
I have used Airbnb in many countries in the world and have never had a problem, generally very positive and delightful experiences.
If you look at Airbnb listings in Egypt, you will see 99% of them were given negative reviews for either being a scam or due to harassment/safety issues.
I needed to use Airbnb here in Korea for a trip with my Korean colleagues, I proceeded to book and got a notification (again) saying I was banned for life….the decision was final without a chance to appeal or speak to anyone. I called Airbnb (for the hundred million-eth time) and the same thing, I frantically explain the situation, the kind sympathetic representative sounds shocked, apologizes on behalf of Airbnb… promises to escalate my complaint and someone executive will call me back…. Nobody ever does, I receive a generic email saying I am banned for life. The final decision with no chance to speak to anyone or appeal.
I just receive generic emails saying ‘after a review’ (there was never any review, I have not even been able to speak to a human in months) I was banned for saying ‘you are an Egyptian scammer and fraud’… no chance of a reply, no contact, no call, no appeal.
The entire incident has caused me deep mental and emotional pain, I have been let down by Airbnb’s lack of support and terrible communication and have contemplated suicide. Writing this causes painful flashbacks of the horrors that happened to me using Airbnb in Egypt.
My Egyptian friends, family, colleagues, and the many, many, many staff I have lamented to at Airbnb can all clearly see that I was banned in error.
I would like to put Egypt behind me, now I am in Korea, and next month I will travel to the USA and I want to continue to use Airbnb throughout my life.
It has brought me to tears to even write this email and detail in words some of what happened to me whilst using Airbnb in Egypt.
It causes me deep distress to know that Airbnb has incorrectly banned the wrong person.
I have not been able to contact anyone from Airbnb, nobody has called me…. As you can read yourselves, it has been horrific.
I kindly request that you take my statement seriously, unban my account and I would appreciate a phone call from someone from a senior department.
I have photos and all documentary evidence to show you and will enclose it within this email.
I also have a few videos but they are too large to enclose within an email – is there an alternative way to send this to you?