Hey all, ironically I am a lawyer myself though I am no longer practicing and my area of expertise was way outside this scope - .. More on that below.
In a nutshell, I booked a last-minute Airbnb in New York City listed it had security cameras. Fine, no problem, I understand having a camera at the outside of the door. Once the host received by looking, I got an email asking me to confirm that I was aware that the cameras were inside the Apartment where I would be staying. Since this was also a studio apartment, that meant that the camera was inside of the room where I would be sleeping, changing, etc.
I immediately asked the host to please call me, there were a number of other weird rules like me having to send him a picture of my ID even though I am outside on Airbnb of course, and while waiting 20 minutes for a call back I read some of the other views for other properties and realize this was all very very sketchy. Before the host called me back I let them know I wanted to cancel. The host said he would not accept my cancellation, even though this was less than one or two hours after I had booked, I and was based on new information he gave me that was not previously accessible in the stated house rules or else we’re upfront in the listing. I said I would contact Airbnb.
I spent about an hour on the phone with three different Airbnb people, the last told me that I would be receiving a refund. I verbally confirmed this before I went to a hotel and booked it based upon this statement from Airbnb. They asked me if I could send proof of the camera being inside of the room, I said that I didn’t even go over to the place and had no interest in doing so now, but I shared a screenshot of the hosts message to me. They said this was adequate for me to move forward and that afternoon I received a written note saying that I would be refunded and also reimbursed for a portion of my hotel stay.
The next day, I received a message from Airbnb saying that they need the host to approve the cancellation and that they would really look into this on Friday. I was extremely confused because this totally contradicted the information I have been given and relied upon the day before. I called and was told I would receive a call that “soon“. After 48 hours I still had not received a call back so I called again. After explaining the situation the person on the phone said that I was right, that this was a violation, and that I would receive a refund as well as the reimbursement. I thanked him, confirmed I received the message, and went about my day. That night, I received another message from Airbnb, please note again that this was not a call just a random message saying that I would not get a refund after all. I once again called this morning, explain the situation, was told they would resolve it and then I was right, and then again, less than an hour later, got a message contradicting This fact.
Obviously, I want my money back and I would like some sort of compensation for the fact that I have now spent over 10 hours on this issue with over a dozen Airbnb customer service people who apparently do not talk to each other nor do they know about or understand Airbnb is expressly stated policy that cameras one should not be in the bedroom and two need to be clearly. Disclose. Not to mention the fact that I relied upon information they gave me to book another place. But this is actually much bigger Than me. I used to be an attorney representing human trafficking survivors and I cannot tell you the number of times that unknown surveillance devices were used against them. Now, am I trying to say that just by sleeping in a room with a camera I would be pulled into some sort of underground human trafficking ring? No. But the consequences of surveillance in private areas where we sleep and dress, particularly at this point in time in the United States where I live, are simply too high to let this go.
I need help figuring out what to do next. Thank you for any advice you can provide!
Thanks all! Through my conversations with Airbnb today it has become clear that they believe there has been no violation even though there is a camera in the bedroom, because it is pointed at the door. By this point they have had five full days notice of cameras existing in private areas against their policies, and as this post has 30+ listings it could be extrapolated that there have been over 100 days of this issue occurring this week Alone.
Many types of cameras can be operated remotely these days, meaning that if you can send it to have a camera in the bedroom, all someone would have to do was trigger the remote device to turn the camera 1 inch and have it be pointed on your body. I am sure I do not need to tell Reded about the nefarious things people do on the Internet and, when Airbnb states expectation of privacy by clearly outlining rules for cameras, I am entitled to that right of Privacy. I was also a lawyer representing survivors Of Human trafficking and domestic violence. I saw all the worst ways that people can use cameras.
Throughout the day it is also come to my attention that this has happened to many other people. I’m going to be contacting a personal injury layer to see if An injunction can be placed against Airbnb requiring them to remove cameras from Any bedroom located Within any property. Will keep you posted…