Have ever you noticed how the entire Airbnb system is rigged to prevent hosts from being able to recover damages caused by guests?
I recently had a guest who completely trashed my place and caused damage to property (ripped a custom made blackout roller shade and damaged multiple new linens and towels - we are talking bodily fluids, feces and blood - they were tossed).
She checked out at 11 am and I sent her all the photos and the message that I’ll be looking to get quotes to replace or repair the window blind and towels/sheets and that also there will be additional cleaning charges. This was all documented in message history. The guest immediately blocked me without saying anything.
My check in time is 4 pm and I had another guest staying the night. I checked him in later at 8 pm. The next day I submitted the claim once I had the invoices from my cleaner and also once I had the quote from the blinds installer who installed the blinds in the condo. The guest paid me 1.23 cents (nice trolling) for a 700+ claim.
It got escalated to Airbnb through the resolution center. Airbnb say I’m not eligible for host guarantee because “there’s confusion as to which guest caused the damage as you didn’t submit the claim before your next guest checked in”
Real genuine Question - what was I supposed to do? Should I have made up random numbers and submitted made up quotes? It’s impossible to get a quote and invoices instantaneously when you have another check in and your priority is to clean up to your 5 star standards (we had to call in another cleaner and next guests check in was moved to 8 pm). Should I have canceled my next guest’s booking so that I did NOT have anyone staying so that I can actually in practice submit a request once I have all the quotes and invoices? I feel like I have no choice here but next time to cancel my next guests booking - but then I’ll have an automatic negative review for cancelation.
Regarding reviews - ever had a guest who stayed at a killer price but then trashed your place and then refused to pay and then left you 1 star feedback? How many of you feel scared to ask for your costs because you know you’ll be punished with a 1 star review and also you’ll be refused compensation and then Airbnb will decline to apply your damage deposit (why do we even set these damage deposits???) so you feel like it’s a lose-lose? They are supposed to be our partners but they aren’t. I really expected better standards especially now that they are publicly traded but I feel like we take all the risks, lately get barely any profit while they rake it in.
Nina, trying to claim guest damage or poor behavior from Airbnb is not impossible.....but it is the next thing to it! Ever since I have been active here, complaints like yours are a weekly, sometimes daily, occurrence. The decision makers within Airbnb are acutely aware of the situation, they have been continually told now for 5 years, and the strategy they have adopted is an actuarial one. They will honour just enough claims to prevent a legal challenge to their Host Protection Scheme and Security Deposit structure under their TOS, but the Resolution centre has been instructed to find a way to dishonor hosts claims with ludicrous explanations like....."Although you submitted verifiable photos promptly your damage claim did not fit with required claim criteria and we therefore cannot accept it"! You are simply banging your head against a brick wall.
They are not trying to minimise the claim, they are outright rejecting it no matter how much legitimacy is put with it!
These are not unfortunate oversights by the company or lapses in protocol, glitches, they are direct and conscious decisions approved at the highest levels! Support personnel don't get to interpret rules as they go, they have a specific framework they must adhere to......Try to ask for the most basic of help from phone support, they will almost always handball the problem on to a supervisor who is never on hand or available, the premise being that the problem becomes someone elses, not theirs and will disappear.
To host with Airbnb also requires hosts to work within a hosting framework.
1/.....Make sure you are legally entitled to host.
2/....Insure yourself against any damage or liability claims. Don't expect Airbnb to cover you.
3/....Raise you nightly amount by a few dollars to cover minor damage that will happen from time to time.
4/....Try to work out a strategy to help you only accept low risk reservations. Look for the danger triggers.
5/....Take precautions to minimise the risk of damage, Put ornaments where they can't be knocked. Provide low cost easy to replace accessories.
6/....Remember, what you do to address the current guest will have a big influence on your future bookings. You have to assess how much making a 'song and dance' is worth!
7/....Don't rely on a claim through the company against a guest. Good guests do the right thing, bad guests never except responsibility. It's quick and easy to shut-off a payment method and if Airbnb can't get it, you surely are not going to.
8/....Don't expect support from Airbnb, if you get it regard it as a bonus, a win. If you expect it you will probably be disappointed and much further out of pocket.
9/.....Don't review guests who create damage, If you don't antagonise them or give them reason to resent you, even if they have done the wrong thing, they may leave you a good/reasonable review which will show up on your page. You will at least salvage something!
10/....When the review window has closed, message the guest both in the message stream and via sms to their phone with a statement saying how disappointed you were in the guests behaviour. State that damage has been documented, filed and reported and you have requested Airbnb's closure of the guests account as a safeguard to other Airbnb users.
Many hosts say that not reviewing a bad guest is doing the entire community a dis-service and a few years ago that was true but, over the past 2 years Airbnb have become very much more guest centric and a guest can apply to have a review removed for no other reason than....they didn't like it. A bad review is worthless if future hosts can't see it. By reporting them with evidence of damage it is more likely the guest will suffer and not get the opportunity to do the same to another host!
It may not work but, in most instances it does, the guest has nowhere to retreat too and the act of reporting them at least precludes them from Instant booking in the future.
And then Nina, get on with the business of hosting!
All the best for the new year!
Thank you for such a thoughtful response Rob! I really appreciate it. Regarding the reviews, airbnb removed my review for a guest who didn’t return the condo garage door opener upon check out (200 dollar replacement through management) because I had no proof they took it. Right now I have a one star review on my wall that knocked down my rating from a guest who trashed my place of which I have proof and also in this review there’s a ton of irrelevant comments regarding circumstances outside my control and comments like “she was rude” (assumptions of ones character) and even though the review violates their policy it stands while they removed mine for a guest where it didn’t violate anything - their own policy says they don’t moderate for truth - yet here we are - for guests they remove them if the guest says “where’s the proof” while for hosts we get no compensation and poor untruthful reviews stay even where they also contain irrelevant commentary and are clearly biased (example- 1 star rating for “value” because “the host was rude” - rude being letting them know there might be extra cleaning charges. Airbnb thinks it’s relevant to the value assessment - they paid 65/night for a new luxury 2 bed 2 bath condo in the city where underground parking alone is 20-30/night but apparently “because host was rude” is relevant to the value assessment.
I can’t believe this is how we get treated even when the company went public. I also can’t believe anyone is buying their stock. Seeing how 2020 went for me I’ll be going to direct market at my earliest opportunity. This isn’t worth it
As I said above Nina, you antagonise a guest at your peril. If they have even a hint that you were not happy with them as a guest they will lash out at you in the review process and they will get away with it, as you have found out! Where as you the poor host is left to suffer the consequences for ever more.
The only way you can strike back at them Nina is to bunker down, wait until the 14 day review window has closed, you can then flag them, report to Airbnb what they have done, you can then say anything you like to them through the message stream where there is a record of it, you can involve police if you want to, there is no way they can any longer hurt you publicly through Airbnb. They will of course submit a claim to Airbnb for a refund once you have flagged them but, as you have contacted Airbnb first with documented evidence, that claim would be less likely to succeed!
It's absolutely bloody appalling that we have to protect ourselves from guest vandals like this but I am, afraid, that's the way it is. Airbnb are very much fare weather friends! We are the lovely backbone of the company when nothing goes wrong.....we are conversely, complete trash to be abandoned if we upset the guest/Airbnb relationship balance!
It never used to be like this Nina but it is the reality of hosting now.
As I said Nina, my views on this are not popular in this hosting community, that is evidenced by the fact that my first post to you did not get any support whatsoever, not one up-vote, but Nina, my first duty is to myself, my wife, my property and my business. If am faced with 2 choices....
1/....Call out the guest immediately, lodge a claim which will be refused, have my review of the guest removed and suffer a bad review from them......was it worth it?
2/....Say nothing to the guest, put the damage right, get a reasonable review from them, then flag them so they potentially can't hurt others ....and get on with hosting.
You make up your mind which is the best option! Good luck Nina.
Wow It's shocking what Airbnb has become! And I agree 100%, even though they need the hosts to advertise our properties they are always on the guest side no matter what!
I didn't have to charge a lot of damages from guests during 7 years with Airbnb. Last month I submitted damages, after the worst guest that I had in 7 years trashed my house, with pictures of everything and of course the guest doesn't want to pay and from the $210.00 that I charged Airbnb want to pay me $37 under the Host Guarantee! WTH So why we have the guest deposit for damages if when we needed the guest says no and its done??? I'm so outrageous with this and I'm escalating as this is a disrespect with hosts!!!
Yep. and also such bad faith dealing - first declining to pay because the guest declines to pay and "decision is final". then after pleading and pleading they re-review but decide they will only cover half of the costs.... And this is nearly two months after the fact. Lots of stonewalling and not responding. I can't believe anyone is buying their stock...
I am disappointed as well in airbnb. I am a baby host. I really want to know at this point if we do this for fun or for money?
The claims resolution process is rigged.
@Robin4 Thanks for the advice. I so needed this guidance. Now that I got some good reviews, I raised my price and I am making a disappointment-proof, low cost approach, to decorating my house. I went overboard and now am biting the dust. Am hesitant about charging deposit. What are your thoughts? I was going to allow pets but having so many difficulties with humans, I hesitate to see how much worse this could get with pets in the mix.
I wonder, could it help to make an inventory that guests sign at checking? Sorta how you go rent a car, You mark areas where you spot pre-existing damages, you check how many plates, linens, etc.. are in the home. Could that work? Someone walked with one of my bowls from a $50 shatter-proof set. Airbnb wants to reimburse me $2!!! Like what do I do now, buy a random bowl from Ikea? How appealing is a mismatched dinner set.
When I started hosting Val a very wise person said to me..."Don't put anything out there you are not prepared to lose"!
You have to realise Val, to you, it's your turf, you can walk through your place blindfolded....to guests everything is strange, nothing is where their logic tells them it should be! They move furniture around, they don't put stuff away where they should, they break things because they are suddenly in a new environment where they have to think about and concentrate on what they are doing every second......nothing is just a reflex action like it is in their own space.
The other consideration is, the guest is paying you good money to have the use of what you offer and their mindset is, breakages are the collateral damage that goes with hosting....hosts should expect it and allow for it in their price.
If you hit the guest with a signed checklist before they have got through the front door, you will alienate them and they will be more critical of what you offer. Same with 'post-it' notes stuck all over the place! Guest don't want to be told what to do and what not to do all the time, they have paid their money and they want to enjoy themselves.
My listing cottage is an old converted garage Val, there are a few cracks here and there, the paintwork needs a touch up in spots, the place smells a bit moldy because there is a library of old books, the crockery and glassware is Ikea, or the cheapest I can find ! If a guest wants to cane me because this is not the Ritz, there is a list here as long as your arm.
But I do offer a great bed, a decent hot shower, an extensive cheese plate on arrival and hospitality. I make up for the physical shortcomings in the property by providing the nicest experience I can. And in the main I get great guests and five star reviews.
Don't set yourself up with expensive hardware that your going to worry about all the time, Val, a Pizza tastes just the same whether it's from a cardboard box or fine Royal Doulton china.
Look at your property through the eyes of a guest, because they as sure as hell are not going to look at it through the eyes of a host. Make it homely, comfortable, but first and foremost make it functional!
@Robin4 I never considered things through that lense. The aggravation it would have saved me had I started with your very very wise advice. I set really high expectations when I should have just gone with the flow. The guests indeed paid to have an experience when they book a home rather then a hotel. I understood that my task was to make my home comfortable and hospitable but I did not realize that I needed to stop controlling every aspect of their experience in my home. And in fact, it's not even my home anymore.
Robin, your cheese platter gave me an idea for first impression. You're a genius!
Try to stay away from "sets" of anything. Buy dishes and bedding that can be easily bought by the piece is something gets broken or ruined or disappears. No, you don't buy a "random" bowl from Ikea- you buy Ikea dishes, or something similar, that can be bought by the piece and is always available, so if you need to replace a couple of plates, you can buy ones that match what you already have.
My dishes aren't "matched" at all- they are inexpensive solid color plates, bowls and mugs, in red, orange, yellow, and turquoise. When I see a piece in a store I like, I buy it if I need more or anticipate that I will soon. Because they are all solid colors, it looks purposeful, not like some hodgepodge of patterns. That colorful stuff might not go with your decor, but that's just an example of how you can furnish a place without spending a lot of money or wringing your hands if someone breaks something or walks off with it.
You asked if we're doing this for fun or money. From my own experience and judging from the many host posts I've read over the years, the hosts who don't burn out or get super frustrated or angry are those who do it for both- they enjoy hosting and meeting guests from all over, and they get the benefit of earning money while doing it.
@Sarah977 , here comes a much needed visit to Ikea :-). Gonna ditch the perfectionista and do it the easy way. Feels like I have been obsessing over the wrong things.
I got nice beds. I know a friend who is pretty happy doing Airbnb on both fronts. She only got air mattresses. So yes, gonna consider a better approach. Thank you.
There are certain areas you can't skimp Val and the bed is one of those. If the guest gets a great nights sleep they will forgive you for just about anything else.
My guest bed is especially made, it is Queen bed, but it is 8 Ft long and it has 6 electric motors in it, so the guest can set it up to whatever their requirements are......
They get 6 pillows plus a few cushions to choose from and almost all of them comment on it either personally or in their review....it's an absolute winner.
This is my other feature.....
It doesn't cost me a fortune, I have a trade arrangement with the manageress of the local major supermarket and when cheeses get within a week of their best before or use by date I get them for no more than 50c per cheese. I can turn on a $30.00 cheese plate for less than $1.00 and the guests love it.
You have to get yourself a gimmick!
These are the important things Val, not the opulence of the surroundings. In the bed photo, I made that bed headboard and base out of bits of scrap timber and the side tables are just old wooden seats I got for nothing with the seat back cut off and fixed to bases I made.
The cost was minuscule, probably less than $30 all up, but it achieves the desired effect.....guests love it!