**Editor’s note: this post has been updated to reflect the rising global tide to impeach Airbnb. Keep sending us your Airbnb horror stories.**
Oh Airbnb, you little devil you. Here—just in time for Halloween!—we compiled 13 or so terrifying things you didn’t know about the ‘home sharing’ (is that what they call it?) company. Which is to travel what a termite is to your house. (We don’t mean Buda.)
Airbnb — oh can we say SCAirbnb maybe just for Halloween, please? — is not about fostering connections (neither is strange Facebook, for that matter) or enriching the traveler’s experience. It’s (1) about enriching one shady company’s fake socially-conscious chief executives and greedy shareholders.
Rather than strengthening communities, Airbnb (2) guts them from the inside out by incentivizing the commercialization of residential property. Airbnb may argue they are in compliance with zoning laws, because corporation.
They say most great (as in large, not actually great) American companies begin with a lie and Airbnb is certainly no exception to that. Check out this quite ripping subterfuge in the company’s original pitchdeck to investors:
Yeah, there is a definitely a problem with that — and it’s one that Airbnb manufactured out of thin air. “Hotels leave you disconnected from the city and its culture.” Really? Tell that to the Ritz Paris, or the Dorchester in London or the Cipriani in Venice or…you get the idea. Because hotels actually are part and parcel of a city (or a country, or a countryside) and its culture. Often they form such an intrinsic part of a city’s culture that they are if not the only, then certainly a major reason for wanting to go there in the first place.
Moreover, most users of Airbnb never actually see their phantom “hosts” (3) which is pretty much the polar opposite of what a “b&b” experience is actually supposed to be about. Airnbnb’s main selling proposition is in most cases, sad to say, based on lie. This company trades on chronic and well-documented misrepresentation.
Airbnb requires its customers to pay for their lodging up front and in advance, without giving them a chance to inspect their home stay selection first. Because there is simply (3) no way for every photo or review of a property to be verified as truly accurately representational of a place, Airbnb’s commandeering of the transaction process amounts to a potentially untold number of advertising false goods, or if you will, (4) institutionalized bait and switch.
Airbnb has so far mostly (5) eluded the regulatory scrutiny to which any normal large U.S. company would be subject – it is unclear what monies have found their way to which folks in America’s state assemblies to scare off such overdue regulation, but it is reasonable to assume that a fair number of public servants may have been on the receiving end of lobbyists’ efforts. Has anybody bothered to ask?
If upon checking in to an Airbnb you find that, contrary to what was described in the listing the place is a roach motel, you (6) will not be entitled to a refund. This is because the reservation will already be deemed to have started—even if you don’t step inside the place that you can judge to be a pesthole from the doorway (roaches the size of small cats darting across the floor are usually a pretty clear indication that a place is, as the current American President might put it, a shithole)—contrary to the possibly doctored photos that sold you on the place.
Just as Facebook pledges to “connect people” while systematically nuking actual biological human interaction, diabolical Airbnb strips the core hospitality experience down to a commercially explicit transaction.
Security concerns, too! Well where should we start (7) with this one—the reviews that cite the physical danger to which guests have been subjected at some Airbnb properties with really creepy proprietors, (8) Airbnb’s gross inaction—tantamount to negligence— with respect to the same, or perhaps both?
How about the time (9) one Airbnb owner on some nutty island somewhere didn’t like it when we complained about the roaches (which were surprisingly not pictured in the listing!) and then tried to lock us inside? Well hey, his listing is still up, because you know you can totally believe Airbnb when they tell ya they’re all about fostering community.
Did we mention how Airbnb is (10) destroying the centers of great cities like Barcelona and Amsterdam like some kind of Silicon Valley vampire squid, making them roundly unaffordable for locals? We didn’t, because it’s already been pretty widely documented. And possibly the reason your kids are stuck out in Red Hook instead of hipstering it up gentrified Billyburg.
I guess we’re already up to 12 terrifying things, but hey who’s counting? Oh right, Airbnb is counting all the cash they’re prying from your wallet (13) in the form of those dastardly and artifically inflated “fees” that (in case you had reason to doubt) are mainly bogus.
The utter lack of accountability, the free pass that Airbnb is given to decimate communities day after day, is truly frightful.
So Happy Halloween, Airbnb! Oh and you, traveler, please keep your travel out of the phantom zone of fake community connectivity, and maybe get a room.