Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Copenhagen, Denmark
Level 1
1,222 Views

Ive been quiet on this issue, until now. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with these fees.
I’ve been using Air B n B for years now. I’ve stayed in places from Skagen in Denmark, to a Church in Yakima, Washington, to a Sea Divers shop in Crescent City, California and a few more. I’m pretty seasoned in the ways of Air b n b, and I’ve even turned my friends on to this site, I love it so much! 

 

I’ve enjoyed every property, and the hosts have been absolutely wonderful!
But I’m very concerned and a little disappointed with what Air B n B is turning into, with regards to letting property management companies tack on fees, and increasing their own fees.

 

I understand that hosts may charge what they see fit, but these fees are getting ridiculous!!   Mostly, it’s the fact that the advertised price NEVER reflects the actual out of pocket cost by quite a lot.

 

This is infuriating to folks who are trying to help out the little guy by renting their places, but are being forced to find other places because of the sticker shock.

I’d much rather give my money to a neighbor than to big business.

 

In the beginning, I thought it was a spectacular deal, especially in Europe where hotels aren’t very cheap. 
But lately I’ve noticed hidden or ‘non advertised’  fees are taking up to, or greater than, the original amount posted per night. 

For example, my stay in Denmark was $100 a night for 7 nights, after the cleaning fee, a service fee, taxes, and in the fine print an ‘electricity and water use fee’ which means I’ll also be charged for the utilities AFTER my trip. 
$700 turned into $1300. This was in the fine print, hidden in pages of rules from a property management company that was renting out homes for the owners. Why are they not required to state upfront that there’s additional fees?? Why do I have to find out a month later when the bill comes due? I could’ve stayed at a decent hotel for less. 
That defeats the purpose of why this site was started. 

Now I’m booking in Wyoming for 2 nights, at the advertised $150 a night, which is $300 total. 
With a $50 cleaning fee, a $50 service fee, and an ‘occupancy tax’ of $50, the ACTUAL price is $450!! That’s like an automatic 50% added on! 
50%!! WTH Air B n B?? 
How did we get from $300 to $450??? 

This is very deceiving, and fraudulent  (I’m no expert). I want to be clear, I have no issue with what the hosts want to charge. What I have issue with is that the advertised price should reflect the total amount. 

So guess what? Sadly,  I ended up going to Booking and booked a cabin with AC, a kitchenette, private bath, WiFi, and all the goodies, I was looking for at a hotel for $95 a night. And guess what? The final cost was...

$95 a night. 
Please clean this mess up soon! The hidden fees, the management companies, the advertised prices. I would really hate for this great idea of homeowners renting their places, to price itself out of business. 

 

31 Replies

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Brooke291  Personally, I would just steer clear of all those property managed listings. Like you, I'd rather give my business to the little guy, the hands-on hosts managing their own listings who actually care about providing a good experience, being upfront about their charges, and it's not all exclusively about the money. 

 

But yes, Airbnb is very encouraging of these property managed listings, because the large portfolios of listings most of them have bring in tons of service fees. So they let these big guys do things that us small guys aren't allowed to do.

 

 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Redmond, OR
Level 10

Question for you Sarah977~ does Airbnb send out the same Host Review thing to Guests who stayed in those managed listings? Are both review questionnaires worded the same as ours? Can you show us an example? 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Susan990  I have no idea. It never occured to me there would be a different review form. I doubt it. It's not like those types of listings all have 5* ratings or positive written reviews. I've never travelled as a guest, so I couldn't post any examples.

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Zagreb, Croatia
Level 10

@Brooke291  when you search you have to enter the dates and the number of people in your group. Then, in the search results you will see the exact price PER NIGHT.  Then you just have to multiply it by the nights you need to book

Here is the example of the search for 2 nights stay

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Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Brooke291  Hosts can't do anything about "Occupancy Taxes".   They are levied by the jurisdiction in which the Airbnb resides. They have been added over time, as local jurisdictions have started catching onto the idea that Airbnb can make them tax money - they may not have been there when folks first started travelling with Airbnb. 

 

In large part, the push for Occupancy Taxes has been by the hotel industry, trying to "level the playing field" between STRs and hotels.  These taxes don't go to the hosts - in most cases, they are collected by Airbnb, and go directly to the jurisdiction that levied the tax. 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Brooke291 Is what @Branka-and-Silvia0 true in the USA? I know it is in the European Union and the UK but suspect this is a legal requirement in these jurisdictions. Even here it doesn't deal with any hidden extras the big hosts may choose to add.

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Charleston, SC
Level 10

@Brooke291 

 

Airbnb collects the occupancy tax when booking and pays the local, county and state directly. Host have no option on this, unless they are some kind of agency and opt out but still are responsible. 

 

Ours right now is 14% .. 

 

Some are much higher and keep going up. One of the beach towns is like 30% or something. I think ours even jumped up 3% this year and schools and such are taking their cut. 

 

Airbnb service fee is also 14% I believe. They also change host a fee. 

 

So with $200 rate this is an approximate break down.. 

 

14% occupancy tax =   $50  

 

14% service fee  = $50 

 

I think host have always charged cleaning fee = $50 

 

So that would be your $150 in fees. 

 

I wasn't aware of this hidden fee for water and electricity. That isn't an option with mine.

 

The main point here is that Airbnb collects the majority of fees, service and occupancy taxes, and local municipalities will only keep increasing them. Its an easy target for them. 

 

These would also mostly be legal STR. If you aren't paying local taxes, its contributing to all the negative aspects of STR. Please keep us updated on your cheap Booking.com place. 

 

If Airbnb changes to including the cleaning fee or capping it to 10% it likely won't change the nightly price. 

 

There are plenty of less expensive listings but probably don't have the best ratings. Try to book way in advance. Also host slashed their rates for the past year by over 50%, and now they are back to where it was pre pandamic, or in some cases higher because of demand. I kept mine the same throughout. 

 

If there are radical changes I'll just list somewhere else. After stying with a host you could inquire about direct book next time. I don't have any experience with that, but could lower some of the service fees. Host will still have to pay taxes. BTW just social security tax is 15% on federal income. Good luck with your Booking.com trip. 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Alberta, Canada
Level 10

@Brooke291 Just stay away from the big property management listings. Then search as @Branka-and-Silvia0 directed, with dates. 

 

‘Hidden’ fees, such as the extra charge for utilities, are one thing, but typical fees such as service fee and taxes are always displayed before you book, if you search properly, and are displayed separately, for transparency, among other reasons. There is nothing deceiving or fraudulent in these fees. 

The service fee is Airbnb’s fee for running the platform. I’m not so sure it’s been steadily increasing. Occupancy taxes are just as @ Michelle53 explained. The cleaning fee is host dictated and is there whether it’s hidden in the nightly rate or listed separately. The latter is more favorable for the guest.

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Oregon City, OR
Level 10

@Brooke291 @John5097 @Mike-And-Jane0 @Michelle53 @Branka-and-Silvia0 

 

I believe the complaint is not about the fees per se but that they don't appear in the nightly rate, right?

 

It is now true that in the US when you search with dates and guest count you should see Airbnb service fees and cleaning fees included in the nightly rate and displayed in the total. But otherwise, Airbnb will display only the lowest available nightly rate, which is indeed misleading and frustrating for both guests and hosts. And even with dates local occupancy taxes are not included, and I'm not sure about other fees that property management listings can add like community fees and linen fees. IMO the complaint is entirely justified.

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Lisa723  The algorithm used to calculate the pricing only knows about fees that have been pre-defined e.g. room rate, cleaning fee.     It isn't going to know about items which have been added as part of the listing text e.g. pet fees, utility charges and the like. 

 

For that, the guest has to actually read the listing. 

 

Calculation of taxes is tremendously complicated. Even vendors with complex shopping cart systems can't always give an exact rate for the taxes until check-out, when the ship from- and ship to- addresses are known. 

 

Of course one has to input dates and number of guests to get a more exact price - folks have variable pricing based on day of the week, or holidays, or seasonality, discounts and additional guest fees, which simply mousing over a room rate can't know. 

 

All that mousing over the basic room charge can tell anyone is which listings charge a similar basic rate, more or less, to get a very basic feel for budget, and then drilling down would be the next step. 

 

 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Oregon City, OR
Level 10

@Michelle53 

 

Without dates, Vrbo displays average available nightly rates, not lowest. Airbnb should do the same.

 

"Professional hosts" can add the following fees. These are the ones that I was referring to. Of course pet fees and other fees only appearing in listing text cannot be included. Another frustration is that this is ever necessary, because Airbnb offers no way to create custom fees.

 

 
Linens fee
Not set
 
 
Edit
 
Resort fee
Not set
 
 
Edit
 
Management fee
Not set
 
 
Edit
 
Community fee
Not set
 
 
Edit
 
 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Lisa723  Custom fees would certainly be helpful if defined up front - no question there. It would take the mystery out of the small print.

 

Of course, it would also be nice to know who the "Professional Hosts" are. What is the definition of a "Professional Host" on VRBO? 

 

The only thing I would take issue with is that even a host with one listing, who wouldn't consider themselves to be a "Professional host", might want to add a custom fee like a pet fee. 

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Oregon City, OR
Level 10

@Michelle53 did you mean "what is the definition of a professional host on Airbnb?"

 

https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/2499/how-can-i-use-professional-hosting-tools

 

At one time there was a lower limit on the number of listings you had to have to use these, but it doesn't appear that this is still true.

Re: Fees and hidden charges are becoming an issue

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Lisa723   You wrote  "VRBO displays average available nightly rates, Airbnb should do the same. Professional hosts can add the following." so I assumed that the fees you listed were VRBO fees relating to professional hosts. 

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