What would you do?
There appears to be an undisclosed security video camera in the living room / bedroom area of my current Airbnb-- hard to be sure is active or no, but integrated with the house security camera.
I am likely to cover with tape, to start.
@Helen427 There's a housekeeper, you can be sure she knows the washing machine doesn't work.
And there are plenty of countries in the world where there really aren't any Building or Electrical Acts or inspectors. When I built my house in Mexico, the only thing the building dept. was interested in when they sent an inspector out was that the square footage matched what I had paid for when I got my permits. There were no electrical inspections, no plumbing inspections, no safety inspections. You can't look at everything through a first world lens.
And from Kenneth's posts over time, I gather he's done a huge amount of renovations himself- if he says the washing machine plug situation was an electrocution waiting to happen, I've no doubt it was. Bathrooms in many countries are "wet rooms"- it's all concrete and tile construction, there's no door or curtain on the shower stall- having a washing machine plugged in in the midst of that is indeed dangerous. It has nothing to do with what is legal or not.
It is very different in New Zealand and places like Australia, UK etc where we still have wooden materials used in bathrooms and it's well within the law.
It's only in recent years people have used more tiles like they do in Mexico and parts of Europe, Asia.
Yes I agree some places don't have such regulations, however other places are very bureaucratic
@Helen427 My point was that it doesn't make much sense to advise another poster that something is probably fine, based on regulations in your own country, when he can see with his own eyes that it's a dangerous situation.
@Sarah977 : full tiled wet bath / no separate shower "bath is the shower" where the water accumulates on the floor. My warning was while trying to get the washer to work after my colleague has showered -- nice shock from the side of the washer, which is designed to be an in-wall unit and thus not encased / shielded nor grounded where it is.
240V is quite potentially dangerous and I probably got lucky there.
If I remember correctly, you had other issues with airbnb rentals in the past. So I wonder do you travel very often or you book very cheap properties?
As far as I know, security cameras are allowed in common areas ( outside, hallways, kitchen, living room ... but not in a bedroom and bathroom. If it is a studio than of course it shouldn't be in the living/sleeping room.
@Branka-and-Silvia0 : as I note above, I am on the road more than 1/4th time and use ABBs whenever possible (it has become difficult to get some colleagues to use ABB).
Booking last-minute dwindles options and in-my-experience may lead to issues. OTOH, if I look at listings in any number of popular cities worldwide, I quickly find listings that have various frauds that I've encountered in the past -- for instance, listing a living room with sofa which must be walked-through improperly as a bedroom, with deceptive pictures, is very common in some cities.
In this case, the host is simply new. They have two reviews which may have been short stays.
They list what is a quite beautiful property with large grounds without providing pictures of what their property is-- I'd immediately fix that if I were them, focusing on the sheer beauty of the property with pictures. I'd get the address right; I can't imagine why they did that, may be dodgy (they didn't want guests to google and see a small gate in a fence), but there was no reason to do that-- proper presentation would make it clear, this is a properly with *grounds* in an urban area without many such properties.
They have two cameras, no doubt installed by their security company. They may have forgotten about them or not even understand the software to view the video and/or have problems using a site such as Airbnb. However, the security company sign on the side of the house proudly declares that video is being recorded! The cameras face the bed in the bedroom and the bed in the separate living room. One can never be sure, and no one wants to discover such coverage in the middle of the night--
I regularly stay with hosts who have hundreds of reviews and hosts who have very few reviews. I'd say that problems are rare either way, but certainly there are more problems with inexperienced hosts.
I could try to put those problems into categories:
either host does not understand some aspect of ABB, and/or ABB presentation in local language is very poor
host is actively trying to bend rules (be deceptive) or do something odd in their own interest
host has not done this before, and skips something (shampoo? did I call the appliance repairman? oh heck, I have to head to the airport, bye!) or hasn't tested something with actual guests.
A very new host is always a toss-up, but usually OK: booking a few nights before in Paris two months ago, the new host's boyfriend left the key under the doormat before heading to Morocco-- the building custodian noticed and took the key-- two hours aside, it isn't the first time I've needed to break in to an apartment in Paris-- they did a number of other things wrong (oh, that bed we pictured in the second room? It's in the cave-- just because you booked a 2BR for two, we didn't think you might be work collegues, not sleeping together, and you'd need both bedrooms).
Ah. The joys! In this case, the guy I'm travelling with is big and has a sleeping disorder which causes him to toss and turn. One of the legs of the bed last night, seems to be missing a screw or four and fell off. The host appeared to be about 5'6" and 60kg if that-- the bed frame is probably not something an experienced host would use, probably someone knew those screws were gone, but it never was an issue before.
So is this new host just in need of mentoring or someone who won't improve, out for a quick buck?
It strikes me that I stated using ABB nearly a decade ago, and when I did, a hotel out in Heidelberg's Pflaffengruende was 200E and the center, closer to 400E. Today many of the center hotels have to offer 100E and there are ABB options all over the scale.
Most of the new hosts I've encounter were genuine people, and while they had fewer problems-- this one was really about the cameras, the rest of the stuff are not things I'd bring here without that-- they were trying, the money meant a lot to them, and they were capable of change, great graciousness, and learning. Working through a few minor problems is part of the experience.
I'll also pause to note that the ABB site is often terrible in other, minor, and for instance East-Asian languages (which use page layouts for information, quite different from Western norms). This makes it hard for new hosts who are limited to these languages, to absorb ABB's rules and policies, much less customs and ways of doing things.
In particular, I've had a lot of problems with commercial operations using another person, usually a young "attractive" female fact that may not exist, as a front. Such operations can be hard to detect (exploitation of young woman or picture thereof aside; I've seen some operations with hundreds of reviews and no ID verification!) and sometimes seem to have quite mobby "entrepreneurs" behind them.
Here, the guy isn't here and his housekeeper is responding to messages-- she doesn't seem to want to come over, maybe she's not able to. Essentially there is a missing host, which is a problem and is a problem when you're listing a property for the first time which may have some issues.
Running away on vacation for one of your first stays is obviously not the best of moves-- in my experience, when I find that it's almost always a failure for new hosts. You're absent; something wrong happens; people are unsatisfied because they're in an unfamiliar environment and have no help.
ABB today, of course, IMHO, is terribly poor about onboarding new hosts-- that really should be fixed, they should do much more to send orienting messages such "don't go on vacation for your third guest!," but I don't have high expectations of the current ABB administration.
Otherwise-- shall I head on to a description of the Eastern European host next week, who wants guest to put passport, DOB, address, etc "enough information to take out a large loan" to be entered into a random, unsecure website "or I won't give you keys?"
(Ugh. 15+ reviews, most positive; one person mentioned they had a problem with the online service but it wasn't clear; place otherwise looked pretty nice and would have been my preference for location ... host seemed to get a wake-up call from the first negative review but no reform of practice, and, if an actual person and not a shill, has probably now sent me a nasty message.)
The shill accounts / questionable commercial operations masquerading as individual hosts, is also something ABB seems to be responding poorly/slowly to, though they now have separate categories-- again, many hosts, especially outside English-primary areas, seem to ignore or intentionally ignore these options.
uh @Kenneth12 you have very rich experience with ABB, you could write a blog... or Instagram, that's IN today hehe :)
Btw, I don't know which easter EU country you plan to visit but here in Croatia, all hosts are obligated to register their guests. I don't ask my guests for ID in advance ( except if some members of the group arrive later) but they have to show me their ID at arrival and I either take a photo of it ( it's quicker for a large group) or just write down all their information: Name, date, and country of birth, country of residence, nationality, gender, and ID or passport number. Their home address is not required anymore (but it used to be)
@Branka-and-Silvia0 : this was really a "first red flag" "and there's another red flag" oh "there's another situation.
As in say France, I've never had a host in the locale ask for such, and only commercial entities are actually required to do so. Host advertized and represented themselves a single person listing their apartment-- by the end, I'm not sure they even existed! as it became clear they used a key drop service etc etc.
There are locales that are different and require hosts to collect and relay such information.
Upon booking, an email suddenly came from "Airbnb User" branded as "HappyBNB" (name changed) asking for enough info to open a bank / credit account. First and second red flag?
Text messages followed, and two hours later, a "reminder" email to enter info ASAP. A bit much?
Look a bit harder, the group operating the server asking for info has 40 properties or so... which must mean, multiple accounts that aren't revealed/evident. 3rd flag, at least, or was that 4th?
Further replies from "host" are wonkier... a call to ABB results in "never put such personal info into a website, they need to disclose that they use a booking service and are a commercial renter [yadda yadda]"
Next (would have been another red flag) it looks like they made the server that collects information themselves, and just say that they are using service X by saying in the emails "go to service X's site;" actual links are to their server on a different domain.
Maybe there was another red flag... or two... at that point, I'm not comfortable at all with this situation: I want a real local host, not some vague entity using a front picture while operating a bunch of tourist flats that don't look at all like the photos...
... on the ID collection issue, I wouldn't send any such information via WhatsApp (much less, Lord, WeChat). Airbnb messaging is theoretically pretty secure, but is it really a place to put a passport image much less more private info-- keep in mind EU data protection regulations?
Most hosts I've known subject to ID collection and reporting regulations take a form of ID at check-in; heck, even in China, which is kinda an odd place, they grab that at check-in and put it into a government system, rather than keep it laying around; but a paper copy is a bit less scary and likely less likely to proliferate into the wrong hands, than an electronic copy sitting on some weird group's DIY server.
@Kenneth12 Uh, yes there are definitely too many red flags. I've seen a post about the biggest Airbnb hosts with a few hundred properties, and yes, they are agencies, using Shutterstock photos as a host profile pic and most of them were fraudulent. After some time Airbnb delisted them but the very next day they opened new profiles and go on.
We personally meet our guests at arrival and we ask our guests for their personal info in advance ONLY if they are members of the group but intend to arrive later then others. If the guest doesn't like it, he can make a photocopy of his document and give it to the first group who will give it to me at arrival.
As I am off-site host it is inconvenient for me and for them if I have to go to the property twice just to see their passports.
But hosts who allow self-check-in have to ask their guests to send them a pic of their IDs in advance via email/text message / Airbnb message or Whatsapp, otherwise, self-check-in wouldn't be possible.
I've had *a few* ABB stays (what I'll say next might explain why...) and actually didn't enjoy any of them. Dishonest photos, sketchy setup, outright unsafe house, grimy linens, ancient appliances...
I think booking an ABB (with or without reviews!) is always a gamble and it always needs a back up plan handy and the ability to think quickly (unplug unsafe appliances, travel with your own electrical tape, my goodness).
But, for the WWYD question: it seems like all you can do is make the best of it or decide it isn't worth it and bail out. Then the next question becomes where and how do you create a paper trail: bad stars, bad reveiw text, both, complain only to ABB, complain only to Host. I have a hard time torching fellow Hosts in the review system, but it stinks to get stuck with someone else's problems when you're traveling.
Good luck! and please update; it's an ABB soap opera
@Kelly149 : I've had a few with those problems (alas), but generally positive experiences. But the negatives do stand out and ABB's inability/unwillingness to try to enforce consistency, means that many people will not use ABB due to the "bad apple" risk.
Fortunately electrical tape is part of my standard gear --
-- as for the soap opera, evidently the guy is renting the property and his landlord controls the video system; or so he says. Kinda changes the evaluation calculus a little...