Yesterday, I began hosting on Airbnb after a year and a half hiatus. My first booking, a couple came to my place and all seem well. It was well scrubbed and totally clean so I felt proud of the space. After the guests had been there about an hour, I got a call from Airbnb saying they wanted to cancel because my place was not clean. I was at work and also shocked, so I just told Airbnb to give them their money back. Where I work is in my bookstore attached to the Airbnb space, but not once did the guests come down to ask me to deal with what they considered their issues.Airbnb canceled the reservation and the guests, still never coming to me or saying anything, left. When I was able to deal with it I saw what they had done. There was never an issue of cleanliness, but they had taken some normal wear and tear and made pictures of it. It’s an old house and they took a picture of a small crack in the plaster.Another picture was of a knot hole in the wood as if it were dirty. Still another picture was a stain the size of a quarter on the rug magnified to look like it was the size of a fist and another of a bit of discoloration on the stainless steel Bosch dishwasher. I can take the rug out, but the place is more comfortable with it and a sane person wouldn’t be bothered by such a small inconsequential stain. But I really can’t afford to replace the dishwasher that is less than three years old and works great. But that is what Airbnb suggested that I do. I feel so hurt and confused by all this. Before that, I have over 100 reviews with five star for everything including cleanliness. But I feel that Airbnb did not take that into consideration and just sided with the guest and charged me an extra hundred dollars as a penalty.
@Shannon233 What a disappointing experience. I would fight the penalty for sure: that seems absolutely ridiculous to me. I would put together a list of explanations for the pictures, such as what you've given here, and collect your own pictures (for example, a pic of the stain with a measuring tape beside it, a better pic showing that it's a knot in the wood and not dirt, etc.) and send it to Airbnb and ask them to reconsider the penalty.
I would also tell Airbnb that they violated their own policies when dealing with this guest: if the guest has a problem on check-in, policy states that the first step should be to contact the host to ask for help. What if I need to cancel because of a problem with the listing or host? - Airbnb Help Center
If that doesn't work, try contacting them through social media.
Thank you so much for your helpful reply! I will follow your suggestions. Nothing much to lose at this point. The Airbnb person just basically said she felt my pain but couldn’t do anything about it. It means a lot that you replied.
@Shannon233 Yeah, that's ridiculous. You should always have the opportunity to recify the issue before the guest gets a refund or any penalties are levied - again, that's what thei Airbnb policy states.
I hope this never happens to you again, but if it does, I would ask to speak with the guest before agreeing to a refund.
Thank you Alexandra the thing has now been resolved in my favor. Without your encouragement I don’t know that I would’ve been able to find somebody to listen to me. Thank you so much
@Shannon233 your guests know how to play on Airbnb and get a refund. To avoid such situations I always had a flexible cancelation policy and whoever wanted to cancel I agreed. Yes, I've lost some money but I avoided such games. I am not suggesting you should do the same, I am just saying what I do. My logic is - I am better without unhappy guests.
Oh I totally agree, and I would’ve happily given them their money back. I wanted them to go if they weren’t happy. You’re right. What I have a problem with is the slander when I have a very clean place and their dishonesty about that.
As a follow up, however. I spoke with a wonderful person, Vipresh, on Airbnb this morning, and he saw my point that I had over 100 5 star for cleanliness reviews and these people had no reviews so he went to bat for me and the penalty has been removed and they even gave me the money back for the stay. About that part I am ambivalent because I don’t like to take money I haven’t earned, plus I’m a little afraid of these people because I don’t think they’re honest or good. I am conflicted about whether to get in touch with them and offer them their money back. I just wanted the vindication that my place is not dirty at all.
@Shannon233 Sorry you had these scammers. You say you got penalized, so this must have gone down as a host cancellation. If such a situation ever happens again, make sure the guest cancels, not you. If you get a message saying the guest wants to cancel, for you to accept or decline, always decline, because if you accept, that is registered as a host cancellation, complete with penalties. You can always authorize a refund later.
And I would suggest you get rid of the rug with the stain, even though it's small and replace it with another if possible. Many people equate old with dirty. There's nothing you can do about the structure itself, it will never look new and modern, but anything stained can give people the impression that it's not clean.
Don't get in touch with them! You've done everything necessary, @Shannon233 . It is possible the money didn't even come from them -- that Airbnb covered it. Don't give those guests any ideas about taking even more from you than they already have. By that I mean they have taken your time, your peace of mind, those days off the calendar, etc., with their spiteful game. They don't need an extra refund as a reward.
Thank you so much to all of you who gave me input. As a follow-up, it turns out the scam was they wanted me to pay them an extra hundred dollars because they said my place was not clean. Do people really go to that much trouble for $100? Airbnb denied them because they could see that my place is clean. One scary part (among several) of all this is, if I hadn’t had over 100 reviews of five stars, I’m not sure if I would’ve been believed . The initial person the bad guests called, believed them and was going to make me pay them. It was only my good fortune to find Vipresh who turned the situation around
@Shannon233 I'm so glad it worked out for you, and yes, it seems many guests these days will go to extraordinary and incredibly vile lengths to get a free stay. They will lie about being bitten by bedbugs, they will bring dead cockroaches with them in a baggie, put them on the bed or the kitchen counter, snap a photo and demand a refund, claiming the place was infested.
There are actually online blogs where guests trade these sort of "tips" to scam a free stay.
You really have to vet guests well these days before accepting their bookings. Read their reviews, read the reviews they have left for past hosts, message back and forth with them to get a sense of them and if you get a red flag intuition, don't accept. Don't use Instant Book.
It's not that Airbnb reps "believe" the guests, it's that most of the reps just want to close a case quickly without putting any time or effort in, and the Airbnb unspoken policy is to pander to guests.
I looked at your listing, expecting to see something old-looking from the way you described it, but it actually looks quite modern and sweet. And clean! You've done a nice job with it, I'd certainly stay there.
Thank you for sharing, Sarah. Yikes! and yet that’s what these people did. They put dirt where there was none and then took a picture of it. Hard to believe people could be that way to other people. Thank you so much for the heads up and sharing, I know I’ve been lucky with my guest so far until these people came.
It did feel like the initial person who dealt with the case and, at first I was told could only be the person I dealt with, just wanted to be done with it and go home.
I am debating whether to leave these people a review or not. She lives close by,which, I guess, should’ve been a heads up .....why would they want to spend a week 10 minutes from where they live? but she made it sound like they were going to have a romantic getaway. But the fact that she lives close by makes me nervous in the sense of retaliation. Yet I I would like to warn future host of these scammers
Thanks for the sweet words about the the space. This week I needed it thank you
@Shannon233 While I dislike "coded" reviews, i.e. where the host doesn't really give any valuable information, I can understand that with a local booking from a bad guest, the review can be problematic. In that case, what you can do is mark the guests 1* across the board (guests can't see the star ratings they are given) and leave a coded review such as "Guests stayed 1 night" (or however long they stayed) or "Locals. Stayed 1 night". That would say to most hosts that you had nothing good to say about the guests but for some reason didn't want to go into detail. And to the guest, it doesn't look like a bad review. Certainly nothing for them to retaliate over.
Hosts who don't use Instant Book also aren't privy to view guests'star ratings, but at least the Instant Book hosts can see them, and I think 1* ratings prevent guests from IBing anyway.
Yeah, don't take bokings from locals unless you have a way to check out their story or they have a page full of glowing reviews. They are reportedly almost always bad news. The only legitimate reasons I can think of for locals to book is if their own home is undergoing renos or repairs that make it impossible to stay there, or maybe they live in a small apartment and have a roommate and have family coming to town they want to spend time with.
I do have a friend in Canada who also hosts a suite in her home, who books a motorhome on the beach close by
once or twice a year, just to relax outside her own busy household. She can forget about her to-do lists, walk the beach with her dogs, read a book with no distractions, sleep with the sound of the waves. The hosts know her now, she's a repeat guest for them.