I just spent 1/2 an hour trying to help a guest book through the site. Meanwhile I was on hold with Airbnb trying to get help. When I finally got through to them they took one look and said, "Hmmmm, how can I tell you this without giving you information about the guest's account.....They are not going to be able to book with you or anyone on Airbnb. We are protecting you."
Here's the back story:
We have a 1 day advance notice for bookings setting. We got an inquiry saying they wanted to book for one night, tonight, but the site was saying "find another place." I got back to her right away and said we were open and I would let her book, but, I also said that in this new Covid-19 world and shelter in place, I needed to know why she was traveling. She said she came here with her boyfriend for a mother's day visit. Seemed a little odd that they were waiting until 5:30pm to find a place but maybe it was spur of the moment. So I said OK.
She tried to make the booking but messaged me back and said she was getting the same message. I changed my advance notice setting so she could book the same day and she tried again and got the same message. She said she would try from her boyfriend's account. Same message. So I sent him a "special offer." Then on my calendar it said his name and "awaiting verification." I messaged her with that info and she said on her end it just said "1 item pending."
So I said, let's cancel his booking and try again from her account. I removed his pre-approval and she tried again from her side. But got the same message. Then finally Airbnb answered and told me it was a no go.
About half way through the messaging with her she said "we are exhausted and ready to chill. Can we just pay cash." I responded " I understand, but just hang in there I am trying to get Airbnb support on the line." She said OK and we kept trying to book through the site. After about the 4th failed attempt, I said "I can't even do cash because I cannot send you my information through the site because they will block it." I wasn't thrilled about doing that anyway, but did not say so.
Finally, when I got the Airbnb help person on the line and they explained to me that something was up, I said thank you so much. It would have been nice if there were some alert or warning through the site so I knew. I messaged the guest back and said "I'm sorry but Airbnb says you need to call them. I can't do anything from my end. Good luck." And she replied "Ok I'm calling now. Please don't rent it to anyone else."
Odd? Or obvious scam?
@Jillian136 There is obviously something about this guest that Airbnb well knew, but they don't release that kind of information. I'd say they either trashed someone's house having a party (and lying about their intentions) or they have been reported for theft, booking with stolen or invalid credit cards, or some other totally unacceptable behavior. Airbnb doesn't prevent reservations for just breaking house rules for smoking inside, or leaving a messy house behind them. It has to be something quite egregious.
To me, this request has red flags all over it. I wouldn't have worked so hard to try to sort it out with her, myself. As you say, it's suspicious that she waited until 5:30 to book a place for that night to visit her mother for Mother's Day. On top of that, she completely ignored your 1 day advance notice and tried to pressure you into accepting. And then that notice that was preventing her from booking.
Did she have any reviews? New user? She could have deleted an old account because of bad reviews or being banned, and got caught out having created a new, clean account.
I'd say you dodged a bullet. Maybe several.
Thanks- yes you are probably right. Glad we dodged it and ultimately we are glad that Airbnb did not allow the booking.But since there was no red flag coming from Airbnb I thought it was a hiccup in their system.
We are brand new hosts and really wanting to get those bookings. But you are right. If people ask to pay cash we should just say "done." They had no reviews but it was not a new profile. But it was weird that Airbnb would block her from booking but not block her from making inquiries. Isn't it? If someone had done something so egregious how are they allowed to have an Airbnb account?
I'm not being flippant or trying to start a fight here. I am really just asking, since we are new to the scene.
@Jillian136 Sometimes when a guest shows that they've had an account for awhile (not new), but there are no reviews, it's because their previous hosts declined to review them. Some hosts can't bring themselves to write a bad review, so they either just post somethng like "Nice guests" (which doesn't help future hosts one bit) or they don't leave a review at all. And some hosts are under the erroneous impression that if they don't submit a review, that the guest's review won't be published. So if they had a bad guest and suspect the guest will trash them in the review, they don't submit one. But all reviews are published, no matter whether both parties write one or not.
But that's not always the case- I've had several guests who had had an account for several years, yet had no reviews. If I see that, I'll ask in a friendly way-"So, XX, I was just curious- I see you've been a member for a couple of years, but don't have any reviews. What's up with that?" For me, those all turned out to be totally innocent- one had joined for a trip that never panned out and had never had a chance to get away for another trip, one said she'd had a couple of stays, but the hosts failed to review, and one said she likes to armchair travel, and had had many stays, but under her husband's account. Her booking with me was the first time she'd taken a holiday on her own. In all those cases, the guests had really good communication skills, and volunteered info about themselves and the purpose of their trip, so I didn't feel the least bit wary, and they all turned out to be lovely guests.
Be aware that scammers who want to party will look for new listings, as they figure the host is green and doesn't know how to vet guests well. There's all sorts of blogs and such where scammer guests exchange their scamming techniques and how to get a free stay. . So you'll have to be especially on guard for awhile until you get a few reviews under your belt and a little more experienced. This forum is a good place to come if you have doubts about a booking, or how to word a review. And you can really learn a lot here. For instance, do a search for threads on "Red Flags" and just read over posts here every few days or so to see what different issues hosts deal with and how they handled it, sometimes well, and sometimes badly.
It's hard to figure out how Airbnb's algorithms work. Like why she'd be prevented from booking, but could send an Inquiry. They do have an algorithm that prevents guests under 25 from booking a last-minute one-nighter, because that's the most common scenario for party animals. That's a fairly recent addition to their platform- since the Orinda and a Toronto "party house" shootings. That may be what happened here. But hosts have had that same thing come up, and the guest was booking for a week, and not last minute, so it's almost impossible to really figure it out.
As for accepting cash, you can get booted off the platform for that. Doesn't mean hosts don't sometimes do it, but not for the original booking itself. I've done it once or twice if a really nice guest just wanted to stay for an extra day or two, and they'd already been here for a week or more, so I could tell they weren't scammers. Not to try to go around airbnb, but just so we didn't have to waste time going online and dealing with it. Once a guest's bookd dates have come to an end, whatever arrangements you make with guests is your business. Just be aware that you won't be supported by Airbnb in any way if something bad happens if the guest doesn't actually have a valid booking through them anymore.
The other thing is that on my end it just says they inquired but could not book because some of those days were taken. So if I change my settings it is confusing if they still cannot book.
I had the same couple times too. Or sometimes the guests place a booking but haven't completed the payment yet, but text me that they paid and I should send them my address.
They were definitely trying to book a party house: one night only, last minute booking, two people attempting to book, cash offer, plausible reason that doesn’t really make sense after the fact (why not stay with his mom ?). Being in Richmond, CA, please read up on the Orinda party house, you might have dodged a real bullet.
Thanks guys! Your responses are most appreciated! This is very helpful information to have. It's funny because I always assume people are trying to scam me and my husband never does so I went with his feeling about it!