Airbnb is a pretty awesome way to get yourself some great accommodations while travelling for a decent price. And although there are plenty of stories about nightmare guests on the platform, it turns out there are some weirdos who rent out their rooms as well.
Something that Dougie Hamilton discovered with his girlfriend, Taryn Vernoy when the two were on vacation. They booked a "lovely apartment" in Toronto and were having a great time.
That was, until, Dougie probably suffered the same feeling that hits the most paranoid among us whenever we're in a strange location: How crazy would it be if someone was watching me right now?
It's a silly thought, of course. Why would anyone go out of their way to watch me? What are they gonna do, set up spy cameras in their place? Well, it's not like a reputable business would risk being sued by customers and getting shut down for pulling such a blatantly illegal and creepy move.
But here's the thing: Airbnbs, as convenient and awesome as they are, are mostly run by sole proprietors and individuals. Individuals who are vetted and who must register with the platform. Individuals who hand over their personal details and if they're caught doing anything shady will be reported by their customers, of course.
But if someone's crazy enough to want to spy on the guests that are staying in their apartments, then they're probably crazy enough to not care about the repercussions if they got caught.
Which is exactly what Dougie learned when he decided to investigate his "silly thought" further and found that an oddly placed alarm clock wasn't an alarm clock at all.
He wrote about the entire experience on Facebook and how he ultimately came to his scary discovery.
Hey everyone, prepare to have your minds Blown!!! If you use Airbnb, then you’ll definitely want to read this and possibly stop using them. Bare with me as I take you on a journey! This tale of tales has it all! Even dragons and I promise it has a worthwhile ending!
Taryn and I booked a one-night stay in a lovely apartment in the centre of Toronto for last night (Thur. 06th). We had a crazy busy day around the city and finally were able to get to the Airbnb and relax...or so we thought! (Sinister sounds).
Taryn went to get coffee and I lay on the couch.
(Fade to black)- side story:
I saw a video on FB a couple weeks ago that popped up and was basically, the progression of cameras and the things you can get now with tiny cameras in them these days. It showed pens, teddy bears eyes, clocks, buttons, etc. wasn’t anything special but of course I watched it!
Chapter 2 — Back to the action:
I was laying on the couch and this digital clock is facing into the living area and open plan bedroom (no doors)! Left with my thoughts, that video pops into my head, “imagine if it was the spy camera in the clock”. It was in my head for 5-10 mins and the internal turmoil was tense... “check it!” / “don’t be daft” / “Do I want to be the crazy guy that checks a digital clock for cameras now” / “of course you do!”. Just as my brain concludes it’s final decision, which was “f--king do it!”, Taryn comes back in with her coffee and starts asking me something and I’m ignoring her as I am now holding the clock, looking at it from every angle thinking they could hear our every word. What is she says the nuke codes?!
Dougie finally decided to put the alarm clock in his hands and start playing around with the device. It wasn't until he unplugged it and then removed the faceplate that he noticed it easily came off, to reveal something inside that confirmed his worst fears.
She basically sits on me like “why are you ignoring me”, I shoosh her (never a good idea but I am on the verge of what could be the biggest discovery of all time or the demise of my mental state. So there is a lot on the line).
Final chapter- Khaleesi!
Just as she’s about to lose her s--t as she starts looking at me like you look at a crazy person, after all, I am staring intently at a digital clock. I unplug it and I slide the front face off of the clock and....
A camera stared Dougie right back in the face when he slid the plate back. From where it was positioned in the living room, it was a clear vantage point that captured pretty much everything that goes on in it.
Suffice it to say, Dougie and his girlfriend were freaked out. Three simple words pretty much encapsulated the horror they felt when they realized they were being spied on.
No. F--king. Way!
Feel free to share this for others!
After posting the story his Facebook page, people suggested he contact the company and warn them that one of their hosts was doing some shady stuff and potentially violating the privacy and safety of their guests.
Others were concerned that Dougie would go out of his way to "warn" people about staying in Airbnbs, and that it was unfair to generalize about all hosts doing shady stuff like this.
Some people weren't that concerned about being recorded in their Airbnbs, however, and actually felt bad for whoever decided to take the time to look at the undercover footage captured of them.
As comforting as it is to toss this aside as an isolated incident, however, there have been a few other reports of individuals finding motion-detecting cameras in the Airbnb properties they stay in.
To the app's credit, however, they do have a stellar customer service track record and are swift to ban hosts who are found guilty of installing these devices in their rentals. They've even explicitly stated that it's a violation of their service's rules if a user has any hidden cameras or recording devices in their guest spaces.
So how do you avoid being spied on? Well, it's probably best you just take a page out of Dougie's book and be a little extra vigilant. Maybe inspect any smoke detectors that look out of place or teddy bears staring at you while you sleep. Or quickly cut the circuit breakers on and off if you can when you get to your rental spot. Which doesn't help if the gadgets are battery powered, but it's at least convenient and might help you deal with your paranoia a little better.