I need your opinion. I rented an apartment in Madrid for a month and had a real shady experience with the host. In my six Airbnb years, I’ve never experienced such a host. Until today, I don’t know if my privacy has been violated and if I’ve been recorded (video/audio?) by two installed cameras, overlooking the apartment. Two cameras that weren’t listed anywhere or mentioned to me anytime. The host claims that these were “only” moving detectors and “not on”, however, until today, I have no proof that this is true. The tenant before wrote a similar review, talking about privacy violations. One camera overlooks the bed and the kitchen is covered (but audio?), the other camera has an unmistakable “uncovered” lense, overlooking the study and sofa area. Being a solo traveling girl, I feel horrible about this situation, and the uncertainty of not knowing what/if I have been recorded in any way, leaves me insecure, scared, and humiliated. Of course, my parents outraged. Besides, the host was also watching my private WhatsApp stories, threatened me with a lawyer, claiming I would have damaged his reputation as I reported the case to Airbnb and damaged the apartment (blinds), which just all adds more.
Now, this host wrote me such a bad review trying to harm me with false claims saying that I'm a liar, manipulative, malicious, and harmful. That I would have ripped all the curtains and left the toilet and kitchen sink full of paper and collapsed even though I took many photos and videos when leaving the apartment to prove that I left the apartment spotlessly clean. He also accused me that I had the intention of getting a free stay and all these kinds of things as I wanted to get a refund.
Airbnb doesn't help with anything, said they cannot do anything which I don't understand why. Is it really ok to have cameras installed inside a studio (1 room) without mentioning any cameras? I thought it goes against Airbnb rules. As well as calling someone a liar, etc. Is that really ok? I'm really irritated about this all as I thought it goes against Airbnb rules.
@Fabienne425 I'm sorry you encountered this. Cameras need to be disclosed in the listing information, which guests should read through completely so they don't miss anything.
Outdoor cameras are quite common in Airbnbs, to monitor whether extra people are going in and out, and also for the guest's security should there be an intruder.
And sometimes, in a hostel-type listing, with several unrelated guests sharing a home, there may be cameras in common areas like living room and kitchen.
But cameras are definitely not allowed in private areas like bedrooms or bathrooms and in a home which is rented to one guest or group only, indoor cameras are very disrespectful of guests's privacy.
This sounds like a very rude host, but I am unclear as to what resolution you were seeking from Airbnb? Did you expect a full refund even though you continued to stay? If so, that is unreasonable. If a guest finds something unacceptable, they need to cancel the remainder of the stay, let Airbnb know why, and leave. Then you would be refunded for the cancelled nights.
I also don't understand how the host was able to see your "private" Whatsapp.
Airbnb may very well have contacted and warned the host about the cameras, but they won't share that information with guests.
Hi Sarah, man thanks for your thoughts.
I made screenshots and videos of the entire listing every corner. Nothing at all was mentioned.
When I saw the first camera (because I double-checked his reviews on Airbnb), I contacted Airbnb right away. But then, I saw the host's reply to the previous tenants' review feeling violated in his privacy, saying it is only a moving detector, and it was off.
This camera was overlooking the entire room/studio (bed, kitchen, sofa, study). I thought because of his answer nothing was recorded and it is ok for him to have such a camera (even it wasn't mentioned anywhere) but then, 3 days before my stay has ended, I saw a second camera with a lens, pointing to the study and sofa. So, I really didn't understand what was going on and as the host was watching my Whatsapp stories (private status updates), I felt very uncomfortable.
And now, he leaves totally false claims, calls me names, speaks about a character just because and what I did even I have proof that nothing of it is true. But however, Airbnb doesn't help me even though this host violated clearly two policies.
The resolution I was seeking from Airbnb that I get a refund as all the time I stayed in the apartment, I didn't know they were cameras, and based on their own terms, how I understand, I get a refund.
The other help I was expecting from Airbnb that they remove such an untrue false review (i send them a bunch of photos with proof) plus name-calling, saying I'm a liar, a malicious character, etc. I guess the host wrote that only as he was so upset that I reported the cameras to Airbnb.
@Fabienne425 Thanks for explaining what you were seeking.
While I agree that this host is handling his camera issue very wrongly, and that you have good reason to be upset, that isn't a reason to expect to be refunded, even though you didn't realize some of the cameras were there until the end of your stay. You stayed the whole time, using the utilities, the sheets and towels and whatever else was provided and were resident in the space, so the cameras are not grounds for a refund.
Reasons for refunds are if the place is dirty or not as described and you cancel and leave right after arriving, if the appliances aren't working properly, or there is no water, or electricity, or no internet connection when one was promised. In other words, what you paid for wasn't provided.
If you had just reported the issue to Airbnb, instead of using it to demand a refund, Airbnb might have suspended the host's listing pending investigation, because they do take undisclosed cameras and invasion if guest privacy quite seriously.
As far as the review goes, it's almost impossible to get Airbnb to remove lying reviews, whether they are written by hosts or guests, even with photo documentation. Hosts have had to live with reviews full of lies, claiming the place was filthy, and even though the host has 100 reviews saying it was super clean, Airbnb won't remove the review.
Don't worry about that review. Your response makes your side of things clear, and luckily you have several other reviews, all of which attest to the fact that you have been a great guest. Future hosts will see that review as an outlier and disregard it. As a host myself, seeing a review like that would make me go look at the host's profile, where I would see that he has had complaints before, and also that he is ungracious and defensive about accepting criticism and guest complaints.
You have done everything you can do-reported the cameras to Airbnb and left an honest review to warn other guests.
I would suggest you now put this bad experience out of your mind and move on. You have obviously had good Airbnb stays before and I'm sure you'll have many more in the future. Hosts also get some horrible, disrepectful guests- these things happen sometimes. Luckily they are the minority, not the majority of Airbnb experiences.
Thank you for your thoughts again. I have not contacted Airbnb for the refund but only to report the cameras at first. I didn't even know that I can get a refund but then, Airbnb mentioned that they will refund me for the last 3 days when I found the cameras and moved out. What makes me (and my family) really upset is that Airbnb obviously protects the host who clearly violated their own Airbnb terms regarding cameras overlooking the entire studio, like the bed, sofa, study, kitchen, dressing area without mentioning it anywhere at any time. Until today, I don't know, did he record me, video, audio, what/when..? Telling all this to Airbnb, Airbnb prefers to let me in uncertainty while protecting such a shady host instead of helping a guest. Why Airbnb doesn't let me know what/if he recorded me when in their own terms this violates the guest's privacy? However, we started to talk now to our family lawyer as this is just unacceptable and illegal from a legal point of view. With the bad review, I can somehow live as of the reasons you said. I also think that Karma saw that. Thank you so much for answering this conversation.
@Fabienne425 Let me start by saying that it was absolutely not right that the host had internal cameras in the home that weren't disclosed. I looked at the listing and saw no mention of any video surveillance, which Airbnb really insists on disclosing. I also saw that you weren't the only guest to mention the bedroom camera recently - another one had a similar complaint. Putting a guest's intimate space under a camera without their consent is a massive violation of the trust that inspired you to book this home, which must have seemed totally fine because it had a lot of great reviews. Behavior like what you describe would be devastating to everyone who has worked hard to show the world that home-sharing is not just for perverts and creeps.
If you're concerned about the impact of this one host's review on your profile, I'd like to put your mind at ease - any reasonable host will take into consideration your response, and your many excellent prior reviews, and put that all into perspective to make an educated decision. And since you've posted an honest review of your experience too, that means that anyone considering this listing will have a fair warning about what could be a very unpleasant surprise. On the rare occasions that Airbnb removes a review, it tends to also remove the reciprocal review, and it would be a shame if your detailed account was struck from the record, because it's exactly what's needed to protect other women from the experience you've had.
FYI, when complaints of undisclosed cameras make their way through the food chain of outsourced service workers and up to someone actually in Airbnb, they tend to result in suspension of the listing. So I suspect that this will be the eventual result of your case, but it could take a few weeks because Airbnb is trying to run a complex operation with a skeleton crew. In the meantime, I hope you've been able to relocate to somewhere that you feel safe. Generally Airbnb only promises to refund the nights that you didn't use at the bad accommodation, but if you have a good travel insurance you might be able to make a claim for the extra cost of relocation.
@Andrew0 Thank you so much, Andrew, for writing this response. I understand what you mean and indeed, it eases my mind about the review, of course also reading Sarah's response. What just stays is that feeling of uncertainty not knowing what he recorded and Airbnb not taking any actions. I also saw that even now, the host doesn't list the cameras properly. I hope that Airbnb does something like that what you wrote in your last paragraph. Although I feel, because this guy is a super host and only had good reviews before mine and the other guest before me, they might not do anything, as he brings them a lot of money. I do have travel insurance, but I have no strength anymore to deal with that case any longer. It was never about money but about the violation of my privacy. I know my family won't accept this, so they've decided to take legal actions against this host. Thank you for being so kind to respond to my post.