Monday, October 11, 2021
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Is Airbnb Secure? New Report Exposes Scams, Bug Infestations And Extra

In accordance with a scathing new report that analyzed Twitter complaints, loads can go fallacious if you’re staying at an…

By Staff , in Vacation Rentals , at October 11, 2021

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In accordance with a scathing new report that analyzed Twitter complaints, loads can go fallacious if you’re staying at an Airbnb. Asher Fergusson, a knowledge scientist who runs a journey security web site, just lately partnered with researchers on the John Jay School of Felony Justice and the College of Colorado Faculty of Public Affairs in Colorado Springs to create a report on the issues that company are most certainly to run into after they keep at an Airbnb. Fergusson’s web site has beforehand analyzed matters starting from probably the most harmful locations for girls vacationers to probably the most harmful locations for homosexual vacationers to the worst locations to boost a household.

The Airbnb undertaking acquired funding from ASIS Worldwide (the world’s largest membership group for safety administration professionals) and through a grant from John Jay School. Over the course of two.5 years, the groups used machine studying and pure language processing strategies to research Twitter information ensuing from visitor complaints. “Our primary aim when beginning out with this analysis was to seek out out what’s most certainly to go fallacious for Airbnb company,” Fergusson tells Forbes Girls.

And it wasn’t only a few Airbnb complaints. The groups analyzed a big dataset of 127,183 Tweets posted between January 1, 2015 and September 20, 2020 that contained visitor complaints about issues they’d encountered with an Airbnb keep, then broke them down utilizing a mixture of human coding, machine studying and pure language processing strategies.

The report documented most of the circumstances that numerous company have skilled, from the irritating to the downright harmful (learn on for some examples). “We discovered hundreds of instances of account hacking with trip {dollars} being stolen through fraudulent bookings in addition to many different scams,” says Fergusson. “Then there have been police interventions, bodily hurt, threats, bug infestations, invasions of privateness through hidden cameras, long-term unfavorable well being impacts after the shopper checked out of the Airbnb and a lot extra. Even in 2021, the quantity of unlawful, unsafe or pretend listings on the platform is staggering—greater than any of us in all probability understand.”

The report additionally compiled greater than 500 examples of photographic proof of unsafe circumstances, together with bug infestations, rodents, pests, mould, bodily fluids, rotting meals and different ugly or unsafe issues. In complete, the report discovered that 72.2% of Airbnb issues associated to customer support issues, from restricted assist in emergencies to unreachable or impolite service. The subsequent commonest drawback: scams, which accounted for 22.3% of complaints—from pretend listings to hacked accounts. Following that (10.4%) was the host canceling the keep. Subsequent up: 6.1% have been unsafe circumstances, from pest infestations to hidden cameras. And three.7% of complaints documented discrimination, from racial discrimination to LGBTQ+ discrimination.

Fergusson says he was impressed to do the research after his household’s personal unhealthy Airbnb expertise in 2017 after they skilled two back-to-back nightmares that left them stranded on the streets of Paris with their 10-month-old child. “We had nowhere to remain and Airbnb assist tried to ‘assist us’ by suggesting a brand new place hosted by the identical scammer who had simply taken benefit of us,” says Fergusson. “That have opened our eyes to the various flaws and loopholes on the Airbnb platform.”

In publishing the report, Fergusson says he felt it was necessary that Airbnb customers know what they’re getting themselves into when utilizing the platform. “Numerous Airbnb visitor complaints we reviewed on Twitter instructed that the corporate is excellent at circumventing accountability,” says Fergusson. “Their customer support will typically go silent or cite some obscure, confusingly worded phrases of service when company rightfully request refunds for companies not rendered. It’s necessary for customers to know renting an Airbnb will not be the identical as reserving a resort.”

Fergusson factors out that inns are extremely regulated whereas short-term leases have little oversight in most cities all over the world. “For instance, respected resort chains should not more likely to be scamming individuals en masse or routinely canceling a reservation just a few hours earlier than the visitor arrives,” says Fergusson. “It will be laborious to discover a resort and not using a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide detector—however with an Airbnb, these listings with lacking facilities could be pretty simple to seek out. Tragically, simply final week, a Californian couple and their child have been discovered lifeless in an Airbnb seemingly due to a fuel leak.”

One other huge distinction between an Airbnb and a resort: When you have got a disappointing resort expertise, you have got anyone to help with a speedy decision. “You possibly can speak to the entrance desk, you may speak to a supervisor, you would depart a scathing evaluation on-line through a third-party evaluation web site,” says Fergusson. “Conversely, with Airbnb, our analysis has uncovered that you probably have a nasty expertise there’s no particular person to complain to in real-time since there isn’t any ‘entrance desk.’”

In truth, customer support was a giant challenge that the report revealed. “In accordance with the outcomes of our research, in numerous cases, Airbnb is dropping the ball with regards to customer support,’” says Fergusson. “As mirrored by so many buyer complaints, Airbnb is relying closely on bots and AI expertise, obfuscating necessary info, and outsourcing to name facilities. We’ve learn limitless complaints that their techniques put on individuals down so badly that company are seemingly to surrender earlier than they ever obtain a refund.”

One other challenge: censoring of evaluations. “Airbnb has very strict evaluation tips that permit them to censor evaluations for varied causes together with ‘circumstances completely outdoors of one other’s management,’” says Fergusson. “This implies earlier essential evaluations might not ever make it onto the platform. For instance, we have been contacted by a younger lady who had been sexually assaulted in entrance of her Airbnb constructing. She claimed her evaluation expressing that exact Airbnb was in a harmful neighborhood was taken down as a result of it fell underneath ‘circumstances completely outdoors of one other’s management.’ It’s laborious to not discover these accounts alarming.”

Within the report, the researchers discovered many points that pertained to girls’s security. “Girls appear to typically be disproportionately focused. We noticed a mess of examples of harassment, assault, illegal video recording and poorly secured listings that affected girls’s security,’” says Fergusson. “Since Airbnb has traditionally not vetted all their hosts and even verified all their listings, there’s room for unscrupulous people to make the most of the platform and probably trigger hurt or discomfort to girls vacationers. For that reason, if you happen to’re a solo feminine traveler, we advocate further warning if you happen to plan to make use of Airbnb.”

Whereas the report centered on Airbnb, Fergusson says that the issues should not restricted to that model and may very well be consultant of your complete brief time period trip rental trade. “We solely reviewed Tweets that pertained to Airbnb. Nevertheless, I consider there are a lot of unlucky points on all short-term rental platforms,” says Fergusson.

So what does Airbnb say about all this? In a current article written by Bloomberg, the corporate said that fewer than 0.1% of stays had resulted in a reported security challenge. However Fergusson has points with phrasing of this assertion, which he finds is simply too opaque. “Are these solely circumstances the place company bear bodily hurt or worse? And this doesn’t even start to seize the entire very costly, irritating and upsetting points that aren’t security considerations, just like the frequent complaints we [identified],” he says. Plus, if you happen to break down the numbers, 0.1% of 200 million stays a 12 months involves 200,000 issues of safety per 12 months.

There are methods to guard your self if you happen to’re staying at an Airbnb or a trip rental property. “Our largest tip is to deal with the evaluations like a thriller novel. Learn each evaluation between the traces since most individuals will dance across the unfavorable expertise they might have had, after which cloak it in some flowery compliments,” says Fergusson, who factors out that sociologists have written about this phenomenon in a paper titled, “If almost all Airbnb evaluations are constructive, does that make them meaningless?”

Another recommendation that Fergusson outlined in his report:

• By no means e book a spot with zero evaluations.

• Solely keep at locations with a 4.85-star evaluation common or larger

• Do not forget that the overwhelming majority of evaluations will appear constructive even when the visitor was sad.

• Don’t simply have a look at your listings evaluations, have a look at your host’s total evaluations.

• Solely stick with hosts who’ve supplied verified authorities ID

• Keep away from hosts who’ve greater than a few properties listed, aka skilled Airbnb landlords.

• Talk together with your host earlier than your keep.

• Doc something that goes fallacious with photograph and video proof for assist with getting a refund.

Under is a breakdown of the foremost three criticism matters that the report revealed, with extra detailed descriptions of every associated Airbnb drawback. On Fergusson’s web site, you may see examples embedded instantly from Twitter.

1. Scams (28,325 cases or 22.27% of all visitor complaints)

  • A number of listings of the identical property (11,652 cases or 9.16% all visitor complaints)
  • Property not as described (7,286 cases or 5.73% of all visitor complaints)
  • Account hacked/ fraudulent expenses (5,872 cases or 4.62% of all visitor complaints)
  • Pretend listings and/or evaluations (899 or 0.71% of all visitor complaints)
  • Different rip-off or fraud (2,616 or 2.06% of all visitor complaints)

2. Unsafe Circumstances (7,719 cases or 6.07% of all visitor complaints)

  • Infestations/ unsanitary/ unhealthy (4,305 or 3.38% of all visitor complaints)
  • Critical security considerations (1,274 or 1.00% of all visitor complaints)
  • Obnoxious host and/or surroundings (1,160 or 0.91% of all visitor complaints)
  • Unsafe or damaged facilities (581 or 0.46% of all visitor complaints)
  • Hidden cameras (251 or 0.20% of all visitor complaints)
  • Theft (149 or 0.12% of all visitor complaints)

3. Discrimination (4,851 or 3.81% of all visitor complaints)

  • Incapacity (2,891 or 2.27% of all visitor complaints)
  • Race (1,051 or 0.83% of all visitor complaints)
  • LGBTQ+ (153 or 0.12% of all visitor complaints)
  • Different varieties of discrimination (756 or 0.59% of all visitor complaints)

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