Here is a sad case that represents the wonders and ugliness of the sharing economy, like Airbnb. An Airbnb host in Amsterdam, Holland dropped two cargo containers on pavements of the city, published them as tourist apartments at Airbnb, and waited for bookings to come in. The first guests who arrived in one of the containers in early May 2019, instantly turned away when they realized a dirty bare-bones cargo container on the street side would be their home away from home for the next night.
The host had titled the listing “Clean Home in Amsterdam next to station”. He asked 134 euros per night. The description said “Clean, fresh, and of course the best location. Enjoy this unique home on a few minutes walking to Amsterdam station.” A football match that half of Europe was following was in town, and accommodation was hard to find. No wonder that someone booked the place.
The reality was something else. As Ben Speller announced it: “Behold! The shittiest accommodation Airbnb has to offer”.
Dutch news service AT5 reported that the containers didn’t have permission to be where they were, and published a photo where one of the container is taken away by city workers.
This is not the first and it will not be the last time when a host tries to make some quick money by providing misleading information with a Airbnb (Booking.com has exactly the same problem) listing. In some countries, this could be investigated as a fraud, whereas some countries haven’t yet decided if Airbnb is a travel business or a digital service.
A couple of years ago, we stayed a night in a container at a camp site in Norway (here is a travel guide if you are interested in the far north Europe). The camp site container was clean and fitted with proper bathroom and kitchen, still leaving enough space for two beds and a table. It was perfect for us. The key thing was that we could look in and around the container before we paid a dime for the stay.
So here is the ugly and nasty problem of the sharing economy and tourist apartments: no one verifies the homes and houses the hosts are renting at Airbnb, Booking.com, or other online booking services. A traveler must trust the photographs and description the host has provided. Customer reviews, as is now widely recognized, can easily be bought and sold for little money.
It may take some time, but the missing and misleading information for a holiday rental will be reported by many visitors who feel they have been cheated. Eventually, the online booking service will do something about it, but the pressure must be intense before they take action against a host.
No matter what the booking service, like Airbnb does afterwards is, of course, too late. Travelers have been misled and left without a place to stay. Airbnb or another booking service won’t certainly come to the rescue when you are standing next to a dirty container on a street in Amsterdam with your luggage.
Via The Next Web.