NC Airbnb property threatened $10,000 fee for negative review

A Statesville man who was planning a vacation says he backed out when he saw one of rules for the Airbnb he had rented.

Alan Price, his wife, and their dog Lincoln were off to the mountains.

Price went on Airbnb and found an interesting rental called the Blue Ridge Bus.

“It was like a really cool, old, renovated motorhome. So, we thought it would be a great way to check it out,” Price said. Plus, the host was a “superhost,” which, according to Airbnb, means “highly-rated, experienced, reliable, and responsive.”

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Price booked the rental, but on the way there, something made him read the host’s rules more carefully and he noticed No. 16: “Guest may not leave a negative review in online (digital) forums if the guest has violated this rental agreement. Guest agrees to pay Homeowner a $10,000 penalty should guest violate this rental agreement and then post a negative review on any online (digital) forum.”

“We’re going to charge you $10,000 if you potentially tell the truth? And you wonder what kind of person would write that in, and what ramifications you’re going to have,” Price said.

Price thought it left too much room for interpretation, didn’t want to risk it, and canceled. “There really wasn’t a way where I could 100% ensure I could stay within the house rules,” he said.

But it was gnawing at him. “You just reach the point where you can’t turn away. It’s a hard thing to accept,” he said. “It just seemed to undermine the principles that initially made me really love the Airbnb experience.”

Price contacted Airbnb and Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. Stoogenke checked with the company, and it said that the host’s rule violated Airbnb’s rules, specifically the rule involving “extortion.” The company said it would contact the host right away and a few hours later, that rule no longer appeared on the website.

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Stoogenke noticed the host owns five other properties. None of those had the rule either when he checked on Thursday.

As for the host’s side of the story, Action 9 tried contacting her several ways, but she did not respond in time for this report.

Stoogenke says always read the fine print no matter who you book reservations with. If you think an Airbnb host is breaking the company’s rules, you can report it here.

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