I'm a vacation rental owner who was listed on Airbnb for all of three months. I agree with you that Airbnb is totally inappropriate in its business dealings. I was unaware that guests are charged up to 12 % of their rental rate as a fee to Airbnb. I did know that I was charged a percentage, which goes to Airbnb. The owners have no control over what the guests are charged...in fact, the owners are not even paid until some time after the guests have actually stayed at, and departed from, the rental home. In the several months I was listed on Airbnb, I received only one reservation, and it was two days after the guests' departure before my account was credited with the rental monies. Airbnb is collecting huge amounts of interest on the funds guests have paid, sometimes months before their actual vacation.
Overall, I found Airbnb to be a most difficult company to work with, with their website being virtually impossible to navigate, and always had an underlying suspicion that they were incredibly unethical. As an owner, Airbnb requires that I provide them with my checking account information, so the rental fees collected by Airbnb can eventually be applied to that account. There is no other option that I know of. I received a notice from my bank that I had four "insufficient fund" checks, at a charge of $35 each. I went to the bank, and, after looking at the printout provided of my account's recent transactions, I discovered that Aibnb had helped themselves to $300 from my account...they had no right to debit my account at all, only to deposit and credit.
I spent a full day trying to resolve this situation...hours waiting in a cue to speak to a human being...hours... and, with no resolution to the problem at all, Airbnb removed my listing and blocked my access to them via phone and email. So, I guess my money is gone for good.
I would never recommend Airbnb for your vacation plans...there are so many more venues, Homeaway, VRBO, etc., that charge a guest nothing and the owners pay a nominal annual fee for the listing. And, guests and owners are allowed to have direct contact via phone and then in emails! None of the internet rental sites have any legal involvement with the owners, yet, Airbnb certainly controls the purse strings for all involved! I think you can trust most owners...we're basically honest, decent folks, just trying to make ends meet with the rentals. We want you to be happy guests...you're guests in our homes!!! Makes sense we wouldn't want you to be angry!!!