Tennessee Family Go Through Terrifying Ordeal At Cancun Airport After Rental Dispute
An American mother has left Tulum shocked after she claims to have been scammed out of thousands of dollars by an Airbnb host. The complicated case ended with the woman’s family being detained by military police at the Cancun Airport
In a series of videos now gone viral on TikTok, Elizabeth Alvarez explains that she had planned a trip to Tulum for her daughter’s 13th birthday, seeking out an Airbnb with a pool for the family to enjoy in a different area from the typical hotels in the region. She traveled with her other two children and her father to Tulum and had booked a villa.
Prior to the trip, communication with the Airbnb host had been stellar. He offered her plenty of advice on day trips, bike rentals, and other aspects of her trip to make her stay as pleasant as possible. Although she didn’t disclose the amount, she mentioned that it cost “thousands” of dollars.
She claims she did a thorough check of the property online before the trip and that the reviews were all excellent, going as far as to check that each reviewer was a real person with other activity on the app. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, and the host was mentioned multiple times as being wonderful.
Upon arrival the host informed her of multiple house rules that were not listed online, Airbnbs typically share any pertinent information about the property in the listing to ensure no one is surprised. For example, some hosts do not allow any outside guests on the property and, prior to the company’s blanket party ban, some hosts would state whether larger gatherings were allowed or not. Although the house rules were not major, things like only being able to run the AC for two hours a day while her eighty-two-year-old father was in the house were a frustration.
The problems began when the host approached her directly, both in person and using WhatsApp, claiming that Airbnb had taken 56% of the payment for taxes and other fees. He offered to take a few hundred dollars off the price if she canceled the reservation and paid in cash.
A back and forth between the two ensued for several hours, where Miss Alvarez checked with Airbnb and found that she would not receive a refund if she canceled. Whatsapp messages between the two show the host offering lies to tell Airbnb that would allow them to receive a refund including that her father struggled with the stairs and that previous guests had Covid.
Miss Alvarez grew increasingly uncomfortable and was not happy to move forward with the plan. However, when she felt that the discussion was over, the host felt that she had previously agreed and took it into his own hands. When she woke the next morning, Miss Alvarez was shocked to see that the reservation had been canceled and she was receiving a full refund.
Feeling unsettled that he had moved forward without permission and that she now had no legal protection, she quickly moved her family out of the property and into a hotel in the town.
At this point, the host grew angry and began to message with veiled threats, suggesting that “Tulum was small” and that she had been reported to the authorities, even suggesting that her passport had been flagged. She reported all of the information to Airbnb but received no apparent assistance at that point.
The family went on with their vacation, enjoying their new hotel, but were terrified to find the military police waiting for them upon their arrival at the Cancun International Airport. Miss Alvarez was separated from her children and father and forced to pay the host using cash app Venmo and Paypal.
According to Miss Alvarez, the amount she ended up paying the host was more than the original amount she had paid him over Airbnb, although this has not been verified. After paying, she was reunited with her daughter and father and allowed to leave the country.
Since leaving, the head of safety at Airbnb had been in touch with Miss Alvarez, stating that the host had been removed from the app and that he would be handling the investigation personally.
Those using Airbnb for any stay, in Quintana Roo or elsewhere, should take Miss Alvarez’s experience as a cautionary tale. Always keep communication inside the Airbnb app and don’t take any solicitation to pay in cash The second any business is conducted outside of Airbnb’s official channels, any protections you have as a customer are lost.
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