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Answers to some common Contact Us Questions

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The following are some of the most common questions we see in the Contact Us (CUQ) group. Even if your question isn't answered here, we hope you'll find the information useful!



Please do NOT change any information on this page, unless you are a member of the Contact Us Team. If you have a question, please Ask Here. This is an information resource and not a place to ask questions or to make commentary. All changes to this page are tracked.


Contents

Languages

My language is missing from your list of languages - how do I get it added?

Please send a note to Contact Us, selecting Translation issues, with a link to a resource like Wikipedia that provides detailed information about the missing language you'd like to see included. Since we'll find ISO-639 code of this requested language, we'll be able to add it to our database.

Vouching

Another member just vouched for me. Why can't I vouch for my friends?

The vouching system was started from scratch after the big CS crash in 2006. The new system, designed to strengthen the integrity of CouchSurfing vouching and to draw attention to the seriousness of vouching, was developed at the CouchSurfing Collective in Montreal. The first CouchSurfers to be vouched for were the Administrators of CouchSurfing, who then vouched for their trustworthy friends. In the new system, you need three vouches before you yourself can start vouching for others. This is a security measure to preserve the integrity of vouching.

More information on vouching can be found here.


Verification

Please read this entire section as it may answer many of your questions and save you time.

New verification layout/flow (Please read!)

Please NOTE: As of 16June2009, we are changing the layout/flow of the verification process. We are no longer using the padlock, but are now showing your current verification status at the top right of your profile. This also affects how you appear in CouchSearches and group posts. Please read the News Item before contacting us. We may experience a few bugs for the next week or two. If you experience a bug, please try again in a day or three. If it's still not working, please be sure to read the Current Known Issues before contacting us. If your issue is not addressed there, please let us know.

You will now see the following on profiles, including yours:

File:name_and_location_unverified.jpg - Not Verified (formerly "Level 0")

File:identity_checked_location_pending.jpg - Identity Checked via Payment. Address not yet verified. (formerly "Level 2")

File:identity_checked_location_verified.jpg - Identity Checked via Payment. Address Verified with Postcard Mailed to Address on profile. (formerly "Level 3")


We appreciate your patience as we improve our processes! Please pardon our dust!

Where did my yellow/green padlock go? I lost my verification status!

I paid to be verified and had a yellow/green padlock ... Now it's not there? What happened to it?

Please read the section above for more information.

You will no longer see the padlock. You will now see the following on profiles, including yours:

File:name_and_location_unverified.jpg - Not Verified (formerly "Level 0")

File:identity_checked_location_pending.jpg - Identity Checked via Payment. Address not yet verified. (formerly "Level 2")

File:identity_checked_location_verified.jpg - Identity Checked via Payment. Address Verified with Postcard Mailed to Address on profile. (formerly "Level 3")

Verification payment issues

Paying for membership

I thought CouchSurfing was free! Why should I pay to join? I was never told people have to pay to be a member ...

CouchSurfing IS free. You are always welcome to use the site for free. Verification is an optional security feature that you are welcome to use or not, as you see fit. The money from the verification process is used for:

  • Safety issues
  • Developing new features for travelers and hosts
  • Organizing the many volunteers who give so much of their time to improve CouchSurfing for others

The payment amount is based upon your country of residence. For those who can't afford the suggested payment amount, we do offer verification scholarships. You will be offered this during the verification process.

If you can't afford to get verified, or do not have a credit/debit card (as explained in the next section) no problem! We welcome you to continue using the site for free for as long as you like!

What payment methods do you accept for verification?

I do not have a credit card or debit card issued in my name. How can I pay my verification fee?

At this time, the only payment methods that we can accept for verification are a Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express credit card, or a debit card with a VISA or MasterCard logo, issued in your name. Pre-paid cards will not work. Additionally, MAESTRO cards, VISA Electron, and cards that do not support the Address Verification System (AVS) will not work.

The card must be in your name, as we verify that the name on the profile matches the name on the credit card. That means that you cannot use the credit card of your parents, friends or others.

While we are working on accepting other methods, the safety of our members is our top priority and our methods must allow our safety features to work.

If you do not have a credit card/debit card that will work, you can continue using our system absolutely free of charge. We have many successful surfers at every level of verification. We are working on ways of enabling more verified members through other methods as soon as possible.

Can I use PayPal for Verification?

Unfortunately, at this time we are unable to accept PayPal for verification purposes.

Credit card charged even though you say it was declined

I attempted to make the payment, but your system says my card was declined. I looked on-line/called my bank, and it appears my card was charged.

Credit card charges are a two-step process. You can view your current charges/verification attempts by logging into your profile and checking this page. If you do not see one attempt marked "Approved," then no charges have been deducted from your account and given to CouchSurfing. This is how it works:

First, the system attempts authorization on your card that checks to see that you have the funds required to make the transaction. If you do, these funds are placed on temporary hold. If you look online or call your bank, these funds will be shown as pending. Pending = temporary hold.

Second, our credit card processor checks the billing address you entered during the verification process against the address on file with your bank. You may see this as an AVS (Address Verification System) error. If the address does not match, and shows as AVS-N or AVS-_, then the address you entered during the verification process could not be matched against the bank's information and the transaction is voided and not processed.

If everything is OK, then the transaction is approved, and the funds on hold or pending are transferred to CouchSurfing International. If the transaction is voided, then these funds are released back to your account in accordance with your bank's policies, generally within 24 to 72 hours. We have absolutely no control over this process.

Verification postcards/verification code issues

How will I receive the verification code?

I'm verified... How will I receive the verification code?

Full verification verifies that the physical address on your profile is one that you have access to. To do this, we mail you a postcard via the postal services.

How long will it take to receive my verification postcard/code?

Once the postcard has been mailed, please give the postcard time to reach you.

For US and Canadian addresses, please allow 7-10 mailing days
For Europe and Oceania, please allow 3-4 weeks
For Mexico, Central and South America, please allow 2 weeks but it can take up to 3 months
For Asia, SE Asia, India, Africa, and all other addresses, please allow 3-8 weeks

Please be sure to give the postcard plenty of time to reach you (see above), but please be patient. Unfortunately, we have no control over the postal services. We promise to get it to you as soon as we can. :)

If it's been much longer than the time specified above, we can send you a new postcard. To do this, please request a new postcard by visiting this page, clicking on "Edit information" (next to your name field), then "Save information" (even if you made no changes) and you will be sent a new postcard with a new verification code as soon as possible.

Can you email me my verification code?

Full verification is to verify a physical address. To do so, we mail you a postcard via the postal services. For this reason, we cannot send you the code by email. Emailing you the verification code would only verify that your email address is valid, which was done when you registered for CouchSurfing.

Where is my verification code?

I paid to be verified. Where's my code?

First, please check your current verification status. To do this, be sure you are logged in, then click on the Verification History under General Information on your profile and check the dates. If your status does not say it has been mailed, it will typically be mailed within 2 weeks of your payment. If your status is "Send verification letter/postcard" and it's been over 3 weeks, there may have been a slight bug. In either case, simply update this page (click on "Edit saved information", then "Save") and we will send you a new verification code!

Verification postcards are typically mailed out weekly from the US.

I lost my verification postcard ...

I received my verification postcard and lost it. How do I get another one?

To have another verification code sent to you, please update this page and you will be sent a new verification code! Be sure to click "Edit saved information" and simply Save the current information.

I need you to send me another verification postcard...

To have another verification postcard/code sent to you, please update this page and we will send you a new verification code! Be sure to click "Edit saved information" and simply Save the current information.

It's taking forever to receive my code... Help!

I paid towards getting verified a long, long time ago - why haven't I received my verification postcard/code?

Verification postcards are usually mailed out weekly from the United States. As noted above, the length of time it takes to receive your postcard varies depending on where you live.

Due to the number of postcards we mail out, we cannot vary our processes, and we almost have it fully automated, with very little human interaction. This is a good thing, since we have a very small, dedicated volunteer team that assists with verification issues.

All verification postcards/codes are mailed out through the postal services. Unfortunately, we have no control over the postal services. We do not have any control over the postal services in the US, the postal services in any other country, nor the postal carrier that delivers your mail to your door.

Furthermore, many members simply throw away the postcard thinking that it is just advertising or junk mail. And sometimes members simply enter their address incorrectly, leave off apartment numbers, street numbers or use incorrect postal codes.

It may help to talk with your local postal carrier for advice on receiving postcards from the US.

But we will continue mailing out postcards to you until you receive yours. If enough time has lapsed (see the timing section above), simply update this page and you will be sent a new verification code! And we ask that you keep your eyes out for a postcard to come in the mail. Be sure to click "Edit information" and simply Save the current information.

Issues with name fields

My profile name does not exactly match the name on my credit card.

To get verified on CouchSurfing, it is important that the name listed in your profile match the name shown on your credit card. If your profile lists your name as "Joe Smith" while your credit card shows it as "Joe David Smith," this is normally fine for verification purposes. As long as the fields "Real first name" and "Last name" on this page can be reasonably matched to your credit card, the process should work. However, if you need to unlock your name and change it, please access this page of the verification process.

We are a couple/roommates/several people and want to get verified.

We're married but have separate names on our credit cards, or we are roommates, or we live together with different credit cards, etc. How do we complete verification?

To get verified on CouchSurfing, it is important that the "First name" field and "Last name" field listed in your profile match the name shown on one of your credit cards. If your profile lists your name as "Joe Smith" while your credit card shows it as "Joe David Smith," this is normally fine for verification purposes. As long as the fields "Real first name" and "Last name" on this page can be reasonably matched to your credit card, the process should work. However, if you need to change your name, please access this page of the verification process.

We suggest that, if the card is in one of your names, then you use that name for the "Real first name" and "Last name" fields, then use both names in the "First name" field. You may then choose, in your privacy settings, to hide your name and show only your user name. You may also consider changing your "user name" to something that reflects both of you. You can change your "User Name" field once every 3 months. If it's been less than that, then you will need to use the Contact Us page and choose the category Username issues.

How do I change my name?

I've changed my name (due to marriage, divorce, etc.) and want to change my name on my profile.

The method to change your name depends on your current verification level. First, check your current verification level. To do this, make sure you are logged in, then look at the top right-hand side of your profile and check your current status.

If you are verified at File:name_and_location_unverified.jpg, simply visit this page and click "Edit Saved Information" (by your name).

If you are verified at File:identity_checked_location_pending.jpg or File:identity_checked_location_verified.jpg, we will need to unlock your profile back to File:name_and_location_unverified.jpg. To do this, please Contact Us and select the Verification category. Please state that you need your profile unlocked to level 0 to change your name and confirm that you understand that you will need to make a token payment with a credit card issued in your new name. Once we've notified you that it's been unlocked, you can then change your "Real first name" and "Last name" fields on this page. Once you've completed this, complete verification step 1 again.

You then make a small payment with a credit card that shows your new name. Once you have done this, contact us again and we will upgrade you back to File:identity_checked_location_pending.jpg. You will then be mailed a new postcard to return to File:identity_checked_location_verified.jpg.

Hiding your Real Name

I don't want other members to see my real name. What can I do?

No problem! Just edit your privacy preferences accordingly. To do this, visit this page and set "Hide name" to Yes.

Address fields

My billing address is different from my home address

My credit card bills are sent to my office/parents/second home and not to where I live. What should I do to get verified?

Verification is a two-step process. The credit card information verifies that your name on your CouchSurfing account matches the name on your credit card, which has been verified by your issuing bank. Our credit card processor checks the information you enter on the authorization form against the information the bank has on record for you.

The second part of the process checks the address you enter on your profile - presumably where you will host - and verifies that you live where you say you live by sending you a post card to that address. On your profile, you can enter the address that your mail carrier will recognize so he/she will be able to deliver your post card to you. This address need not match your credit card billing address.

How do I change my address?

I locked in my name and address to be verified, but now I've moved. How can I change my address?

That depends on your verification level. Please look at your profile and see your current verification status in the upper right-hand corner.

  • For "Name and Location Unverified"
If your profile notes "Name and Location Unverified" and you need to change your address, just visit this page and follow the easy and clear instructions.
  • For "Verification Process Started - Take the Next Step!"
If your profile notes "Verification Process Started - Take the Next Step!" and you need to change your address, just visit this page and click on "Edit information" in order to edit your information.
  • For level "Identity Checked" and/or "Location Verified"
If you are verified to "Identity Checked" and/or "Location Verified" and need to change your address, just visit this page and click on "Edit saved information" in order to edit your information. You do NOT have to pay the verification fee again!

How do I list multiple addresses? I have more than one address....

I live several months in this city/country, and several months in another city/country. How can I list 2/3/4 addresses where I'd love to host?

At this time, you are only able to list one address at a time. You can change it whenever you change locations. If you are verified, there is no additional payment required for changing your address. Please see How do I change my address? in this section for information on changing your address.

The system keeps telling me that I must be logged in.

I'm attempting to become verified, but the system keeps telling me I must be logged in, and I am!

Our Tech Team is aware of this issue. This usually has to do with your browser not accepting our cookies. Once you set your browser to allow cookies from us, you should be able to stay logged in with no problem.

This solution works for most of our members. If it doesn't work for you, some members have reported success by using a different browser, a different computer or just trying it again later. We're sorry we do not have a more definite answer for you.

Your profile

Membername issues

Changing your membername

I want to change my membername to something more suitable/fun/friendly/colorful. How can I do this?

First, check that your desired new membername is not already in use by typing it into the address bar (for example: http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/NEWMEMBERNAME). If a profile comes up, that membername is taken. If you get an error page, that name is available!

Now edit your profile to change your membername - and keep in mind that you can do this only once every three months.

Hiding your real name

I don't want other members to see my real name. What can I do?

No problem! Just edit your privacy preferences accordingly. To do this, visit this page and set "Hide name" to Yes.


Age/birthdate issues

Incorrect age on your profile

My profile doesn't show my correct age, even though I entered my birthdate correctly. How can I fix this?

The birthday/age calculator is highly subject to strange behavior. Sometimes it changes your age ahead of your birthday, sometimes it doesn't change it at all. It can usually be "tricked" into showing your correct age by going to your edit profile section and changing your year of birth to something else entirely, saving it, then repeating this process to change it back to the correct year. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Hiding your age

I don't want my age to show on my profile at all! I selected "Nobody" for "Who should see your birthday?", but it still shows my age. What do I have to do to hide it?

This setting hides your birthday. It is not possible to hide your age (apart from "disguising" it by entering the wrong year of birth). Of course many members would like an option to hide their age as well as their birthday, but it is an integral part of the CouchSearch function, as some members only feel comfortable staying with people in a certain age range. Nevertheless, it has been requested that this option be modified to allow members to search by age while still giving anyone who wants it the option to hide their age from their profile. This may or may not be implemented sometime in the future.


Adding friends

How do I add friends to my profile?

To add another CouchSurfing member (whether someone you've met through CouchSurfing or someone you've known for years) to your list of friends, just go to that member's profile and click on the button "+ Add to my friends". On the next page, read the instructions carefully and fill in the requested information. When you click on "Save connection information," that member will receive an automated notification that you have requested a friend link. As soon as the member approves your request, they will be added to your list of friends!

Here is some more information about creating connections on CouchSurfing.


How do I find people who I know are already CouchSurfers?

Searching for specific people is no different than searching for a couch. Just go to the search page and try out the available options! You can search for people by name (preferably first OR last, but not both, since that function doesn't yet work quite like it should), location, age, gender, etc. Just keep some things in mind:

  • If the person has a very common name, such as Smith or Jones or Bob, or lives in a large city (with more than 300 members), you will have to do your best to also narrow down other parameters, such as age and gender, to get (far) fewer than 300 results for you to sift through.
  • Members may choose to hide their real name, or to "tweak" their age, or perhaps the person you are looking for is female but has created a joint profile with her boyfriend or roommate, so has the gender "several people".
  • Members may choose to hide their profile from non-members, so make sure you are logged in when you perform a search.
  • Due to privacy concerns, we do not allow members to search by email addresses. Many members have expressed concern that certain people may be able to find them through this route, and thus our Leadership Team has decided that this option will not be available to the general membership.

So if you know someone who you know is a member of CouchSurfing, the easiest way to find them is to simply ask them to send you a direct link to their profile, or at the very least, to tell you their member.name, which you can then plug into the URL like this: http://www.couchsurfing.org/people/member.name (just replace "member.name" with their actual member name).

Changing your couch availability

I want to change my couch availability from "Traveling" to "Yes" but it won't save this setting. What am I doing wrong?

The Couch description page includes a required section about sleeping arrangements (two radio buttons and an explanation field). You MUST answer these questions in order to update any other information on this page.

Photos

Why am I required to upload a photo to my profile?

Well, you don't HAVE to post a photo, but we would love it if you did! Plus your profile won't be considered complete without one. Here's why:

The strength of our system depends on members being as open and up-front with other members as possible. If you fill out your profile fully, and post even just one or two pictures of yourself, people will be more likely to host you or want to be hosted by you - because they will be able to figure out (especially from what you say in your profile) if you're someone they might get along with. If you don't have any digital pictures of yourself, that's OK - you can upload one later when you do get one. For now, maybe you have another photo, perhaps of a place you've visited, that you could post in the meantime?

So, no, you don't have to post a photo, but we certainly encourage you to do so, and we definitely encourage you to fill out your profile in as much detail as you can (and are comfortable with!).


I already uploaded a photo - why doesn't it show up on my profile or in the search results?

Generally, you simply need to edit the photo and click on "set as main photo". However, there are sometimes some minor issues with the image server. If you have already clicked on "set as main photo" and it still doesn't appear, please go have a nice cup of tea while you wait for the server hiccup to pass.


Creating a new profile after deleting an old one

I deleted my old profile and want to create a new one, but now the site won't accept my email address

It is against CouchSurfing's Terms of Use to create more than one profile. We'd rather you just use the same account than create a new one, as this will allow you to keep all your friend links, references and vouch status, if applicable. It's easier for everyone involved. To have your deleted account reinstated, just send a request to Contact Us!

Messages

Deleting system messages

How can I completely remove my sent/received/deleted messages from the system?

You can move messages from your Inbox to your Deleted messages folder. However, messages in your Sent and Deleted messages folders are retained permanently for safety reasons. If a member were to delete a message fully from our system, and then have a complaint against another member, we would not be able to assist them if it their interaction cannot be proven through our system. This is because we're unable to use MSN conversations, SMS, or off-site emails as any evidence in a dispute. We mark this clearly on every message sent through CS, as well as mentioning it in our Terms of Use, so that members are aware of this.


Reply % issues

My reply % is incorrect.

I forgot to reply to a CouchRequest and my reply% decreased, what can I do?

This figure is calculated automatically by the CouchSurfing website and cannot be changed manually. It is based solely on the couch requests (not regular system messages) you receive and reply to through the CouchSurfing website.

The calculation is based on the last 25 requests you received, following that rule:

  • If you reply before the arrival date, everything is good
  • If you reply after the arrival date, your % will decrease
  • A CouchRequest expires 7 days after the departure date. When it expires, it goes to the "Past Requests" folder and cannot be answered anymore.
  • Last minute CouchRequests (less than seven days notice) do not affect the %.

You can check your past request folder here.

The system won't let me reply to a request and it's affecting my reply %!

I recently received a couch request but I couldn't open it due to a system error/the member deleted their profile before I could reply. Now it's affecting my reply percentage! What can I do?

Normally the system will take broken messages and deleted profiles into account and adjust your reply percentage accordingly. Recently, however, there has been a problem with this function. As mentioned above, this figure is calculated automatically and cannot be changed manually, so there is nothing to do but wait. The Tech Team IS aware of the issue and your patience is greatly appreciated.


Sending mass messages

How can I send a message to everyone in ...?

We prefer that members send individual emails and couch requests on CouchSurfing, as that maintains the level of personal interaction that we are hoping to foster through this project. It may take longer, but you're bound to get better results!

The sole way we currently support mass emailing between members is when a CouchSurfer wants to set up a meeting/event. Here's how you do that:

  1. Create an event on the Events page (see Meeting HOWTO for more instructions if you need them).
  2. You can now send messages to the members who turn up in the results of your ten most recent CouchSearches, as well as to any group(s) that you are a member of.
  3. Sit back and wait for the Event Message Approvers to approve your event invitation.


Groups

Leaving a group

How can I leave a group I joined?

To leave a group, simply go to the main page of the group you want to leave and click on the button "Leave this Group" under Group Options (near the bottom center). That's it! Or you can follow the illustrated explanation on How_to_leave_a_group.

However, if your reason for leaving is because you are receiving too many messages from that group, please see the next section!


Group communications settings

I'm getting way too many messages from the group I just joined. My inbox is overflowing! How do I stop them??

You can easily change your group communication settings (or disable them altogether) by going to your group communication settings page

If you set communications to

  • Instant = You will get an email each time someone posts a new message
  • Daily = You will get one email per day from that group - that should already help a lot for active groups!
  • Weekly = You will get just one email per week from that group
  • None = You will not receive any emails from that group in your personal inbox, but you are still a member of the group (and can post to it, too)


Media

Do you have a collection of articles that have previously been written about CouchSurfing?

We sure do! Check out the press page!


How can I get in touch with one of your members about conducting an interview/writing a story on CouchSurfing.org?

Please contact one of our media coordinators through [email protected] - they can answer any questions you might have. Alternatively, feel free to send a proposal to [email protected], and one of our media coordinators will get back to you.

For further information, please see the Media FAQ.


Other questions

Getting started

I'm new here! How do I start "surfing"?

Let's say you plan to spend a few days in Paris. You click on CouchSearch and enter the relevant information, such as the country (France) and the city (Paris). Then click on 'List surfers on next page' and up to 300 members will show up. Look through some profiles until you find someone who looks interesting to you and who you think you'd get along with well.

In each profile, there is a button labeled 'CouchSurf with XYZ' above the main photo. Click on it and write a nice message to this person asking if you can surf their couch. Provide as much information as you can - like your arrival and departure date, how many people you're traveling with, and maybe even the reason why you chose this particular member. Click on 'Send' and wait for their reply. That's it! :-) Easy, isn't it?

Just keep in mind that people in big cities like Paris, London, New York, etc. sometimes get flooded by requests. So you will increase your chances of getting a couch by having a completely filled out profile that tells a lot about you and includes photos (preferably some that clearly show other members who they can expect to see on their doorstep). Some (though certainly not all) members also prefer to host only members who have at least started the verification process.


Can families participate, too, or is this site just for solo travelers?

CouchSurfing is open to EVERYONE! And there are a lot of members (and families) who are happy to host families. Please visit the Family Welcome Group to get an idea of what's possible.

You can also find more information on the Family CouchSurfing wiki page.


It seems this community is aimed primarily at the younger crowd - do you have many members in their 40s/50s/60s/older? I'd love to join, but I'm not sure I'd fit in. Is there an age limit?

CouchSurfing is open to members of ALL ages, backgrounds, education levels, locations and virtually any other demography you can imagine. The only exception is that, for legal/liability reasons, we do not allow members under the age of 18. While the majority of our members are indeed under 30 years of age, we still have plenty of members in their 50s and above. We even have a Global Ambassador who is 72 years old! We deeply appreciate the participation of the older generations, as they bring some balance to this very young community.

Please take a look at our statistics, and then perhaps check out the CS for all ages group. At the bottom of that page, you can choose the subgroup for your age bracket and, when you have a profile, start meeting other young-at-heart CouchSurfers!

Learning more

I'm just trying to find out more about CouchSurfing before I start contacting members ... can you point me to some more general information?

There is a LOT of information available in many different places between the CouchSurfing website and the CouchSurfing wiki. It can certainly be overwhelming for new members! But don't be afraid to just browse through the site - getting *lost* in it is the best way to learn!

However, if what you're looking for is a more focused direction, the following pages offer some good information, tips and other FAQs about CouchSurfing.

CouchSurfing Guide

CouchSurfing Cheat Sheet

How to Write a Couch Request

Safety for Surfers

How to be a Good Guest

Safety for Hosts

How to be a Good Host

Other Frequently Asked Questions

CouchSurfing Terms of Use

CouchSurfing Guidelines


Finally, if you're looking for a quicker answer, or haven't found the answer to your question anywhere else, please submit your detailed inquiry to Contact Us and we'll do our best to help you!


Other useful links

How to customize your profile

CouchSurfing icons

What do all those different icons mean that I see on members' profiles?"

We're glad you asked! Here is a handy key to identifying them, organized according to the profile section they are found in.

  • Personal Designations
  • Verification Designations
  • Community Designations
  • Friends
Personal tools