Airbnb cracked the lists of Ukraine. Some donors don’t like it

After two weeks Russia invaded Ukraine, Gregory Offner was looking for ways to help from his home in Philadelphia. He scrolled through Twitter and saw people posting Airbnbs receipts they had booked in Ukraine, to get paid directly into Ukrainian bank accounts. Offner was an inspiration. He picked an apartment in Kharkiv, a hard-hit northeastern city, and booked four nights, for a total of $214. He left a note stating that he was not actually coming to stay – this was humanitarian aid.

The host replied the next day. “Thank you very much for your kind support, it means a lot to us now,” he wrote, adding that he would donate the money to the Ukrainian military. But Offner’s payment never arrived. The next day, Airbnb canceled the reservation and refunded it. “I received an email that the person hosting or using an Airbnb account in Ukraine” could no longer receive funds “from Airbnb,” Ofner says. “Like, what does that even mean?”

This meant – although the platform did not pass this on to Offner directly – that Airbnb suspected the host was not legitimate. “We identified a handful of hosts who did not support this effort in the spirit intended,” says Ben Britt, Airbnb’s global trust communications lead. After donation bookings began arriving, some hosts created “fake listings” for apartments in Ukraine that didn’t even exist. In some cases, they may not live in Ukraine at all. This goes against Airbnb’s policy on fake listings, even if those listings are for fundraising purposes. After Offner booked his stay, his Airbnb host directed him to so many such listings in Kyiv that he said he might use some help from benefactors like Offner. All listings created this month.

So far, people book Over 434,000 nights In cities such as Kyiv, Odessa and Lviv to show solidarity with the Ukrainians. These bookings have raised more than $15 million in aid, according to Airbnb. (The company, which usually takes about 20 percent of every booking, has waived its fees in Ukraine.) But in the rush to bring money to Ukrainians from abroad, some “guests”‘ bookings were canceled without much explanation, leaving them confused and Uneasy about Airbnb’s use of such contributions.

In mid-March, Airbnb stopped allowing new hosts to create listings in Ukraine entirely, in an effort to reduce scams that also prevent actual Ukrainians from receiving money through the platform. The company also said it was “closely evaluating” all listing activities in Ukraine, and had taken measures to detect fraud. Besides donating directly to Ukrainian Airbnb hosts, Brett noted that people can also donate to, which has committed to providing free short-term housing for 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine.

Enforcement efforts and the accompanying lack of transparency have caused confusion. Kevin Quinn booked seven different Airbnb companies in Ukraine earlier this month when he heard about the donation effort. to each one send a personal note; Most of the hosts wrote to express their gratitude. By the end of the week, Airbnb had canceled three of his reservations. The company only wrote that the hosts “are no longer able to receive funds.” Conor Martin booked a five-night stay in Kyiv; The company refunded his money on the last day he booked. He says he is upset by bad messages from Airbnb about why the goodwill gesture was rejected. “A horrific move by them,” he says.

Sybil Knox has booked two Airbnbs in Ukraine — a central Kyiv loft, and a modern bedroom with whirlpool — and the company has canceled both. It received no explanation as to why, and says that neither of the hosts appeared to have any red flags: they were “identity verified” by Airbnbs, and they joined the platform in 2013 and 2019, respectively. One of the apartments I booked had 125 reviews, with a 4.92 star rating; The other one has 33 reviews and 4.67 reviews. When WIRED explained Airbnb’s policy against hosts creating new listings in the midst of a crisis, Knox had mixed feelings. She said that bad actors can certainly take advantage of people of good will in a crisis, and she wanted to know that her money goes to a real Ukrainian. On the other hand, “people in stressful situations think of ways to be creative to direct more money to their cause,” she says. “This campaign was limited to those who were already Airbnb providers. Other people couldn’t ride.”

Both guests and hosts who canceled their reservations say Airbnb’s policies around donation stays have not been clearly communicated. After Airbnb refunded Offner, the host sent him via WhatsApp complaining that his account had been banned without explanation. He wrote, “I’ve tried contacting Airbnb’s support team and they haven’t been able to provide any definitive answer.” “As a result of this ban, all reservations have been halted and donations can no longer be received through the Airbnb system.” Since the money never reached him, he asked Offner to send a direct payment using WayForPay, a type of Ukrainian PayPal.

Airbnb cracked the lists of Ukraine. Some donors don’t like it

Source link Airbnb cracked the lists of Ukraine. Some donors don’t like it

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