Ok, here's my vent, after we just got another 1 star review based on "They gave us the wrong address (despite the fact that the system sends you the address on your booking confirmation and it clearly, and demonstrably was not wrong, and it's all your fault). Airbnb, of-course, quoted me their review guidelines, and refused to remove it. It's not fake news, it's a fake review! 🙂
So, here it is: IS anyone else annoyed with Airbnb's policy of "washing their hands" clean and refusing to help in clear cut cases where guests leave frivolous/fake/irrelevant reviews. Their policy now states that they will not step in and "mediate reviews for fairness or content". Is it just me or does this sound like a joke to anyone else? Basically people can say whatever they want in the review, even blatant lies about the place without any evidence, and Airbnb will do nothing! Please, share your views even if you don't agree.
A little bit of background about our situation, to give you a perspective. We own a duplex in south Florida, in a nice location within a mile of the beach. It's a quiet, working class neighborhood. We're not really walking distance from local attractions, and our neighborhood is not a tourist destination, but our apartments are newly remodeled, we have plenty of parking, they are quiet, and we clean and manage them ourselves so we always guarantee a great level of service and cleanliness. Everything is cleaned top to bottom regardless of how clean it was left by previous guests. All the tourist spots are like 2 miles down the road, so we're a great budget place -- we are priced below average for our area, due to the fact we are not right in the center of the tourist area of town. However, the rest of the service, amenities and cleanliness are above average even when compared to the 'touristy' places. People often tell us they are impressed with the amenities, condition, and attention for the price. We are being realistic about ourselves, and expect guests to be realistic in their expectations as well. And when they're not, I need Airbnb to back up the hard work I do as a host.
So, back to the reviews, I'm not necessarily talking about really complicated situations where there are a lot of factors at play, blame in both the host and guest, etc. I'm talking about average, clear situations where Airbnb will not back me up as a host in their review system even though the guest is CLEARLY misunderstood, or failed to read our description, or just a "Karen". It happens all the time. People are just looking to pay next to nothing, and completely ignore to read your house rules, expectations, descriptions etc. We have extremely clear rules and descriptions, and we message all guests prior to booking with a condensed list, just to make sure they have seen it. However, in reality, the majority of people just see a low price, flip 2-3 photos, and book without any more reading, questions, etc. Examples include people who claim the wrong address was sent to them, when it is clearly listed on the reservation documentation (we're not in a gated community, weird place; i'm not asking you to park on the dark side of the moon!). People who complain about the size/location of the apartment, despite the fact that it is provided to them prior to booking as well as all square footage. People who, after seeing pictures of the bedrooms from all angles, ask where are the bedroom TVs. People who break the rules, but then complain about issues which arose as a result of said breaking of rules. People who complain about the decor or style, despite having 30+ exact photos of the unit down to the color of the towels and bed-sheets. People who do not read the house rules, and then complain about things that are clearly outlined as important factors. People who complain about things that were specifically, personally discussed with them in messages prior to booking, and told clearly not to book if they expect such and such. People who throw parties and then complain there was inadequate parking (What!?). Cheap people looking for discounts on an already discounted place, and then making up accusations about your unit which they cannot back up with photos, so they can get their money back. Has anyone else encountered these issues?
Airbnb's policy is to shrug it off and do nothing, and appease you by saying "A few bad reviews won't hurt you in the long run if you're really running a good place". They said to me "We're counting on people just doing the right thing and not lying."
Are you kidding me, Airbnb, or are you just that naive!? I can just about hear Gordon Ramsey's voice in my head: WHAT warped fantasy world are you living in, Airbnb? It must be nice up in your heads with Peter Pan and the Easter Bunny, but we're talking about real life here! The majority of our 'guests' are not 'eclectic, young, traveling professionals looking for new experiences.' The majority are budget travelers for whom even motels are too expensive, looking to cram the maximum number of people for the lowest price and knowing they won't be able to get away with it in traditional hotels. Or locals who, for unknown and usually 'their-fault' reasons can't find regular rentals. I understand that Airbnb believes they're some sort of hippie commune of super friendly and educated people sharing life experiences in unique, mountain lodges while sipping wine with the host, and although there are those, the majority of your average Joes are nothing but! The luxury places or those who don't really 'need the money' may be ok declining half the reservations until they find that perfect shining star, but those of us trying to eek out a living out of this have no such luxuries. And we need help from Airbnb to keep it up!
Most of these guests are nice at heart, but we regularly have scammers who try to get the entire cost of the place refunded. We get parties all the time. Virtually nobody respects our maximum occupancy, no smoking, or pet rules. People smoke pot in virtually all the reservations. These are a mixed bag of new guests without reviews, and guests with little, but positive reviews. I am not sure if anyone at Airbnb has actually done the math, but for every review below 5 stars, you have to get at least the next 10 reviews 5 stars A+++ job to keep super host status. That might be fine when you're renting sporadically, with long reservations, to few, carefully curated guests. But for most of us this is a job, and we aim for 100% turnover, while maintaining the highest standards we possibly can. So a good overall way to think about it is that Airbnb needs to realize some people are running their places as an optimized business, and the rules change when you cater to the lowest common denominator. It's not a problem, but the Airbnb review system makes it a problem. So yes, most definitely the few bad apples will spoil the entire bunch in our case, and I don't feel that Airbnb cares enough to keep us happy, productive, and making them money. Advice such as raising our prices, curating guests more closely, etc, are not possible, since we are a BUSINESS. We purchased this building and we must make money on it in order to pay the mortgage and ourselves. We are priced fairly for what we offer. I don't mind dealing with difficult guests. That's what you have to do when you are running a business open to the public -- it's a cost of doing business. What I am asking is for Airbnb to have my back when that "Karen" does walk in, and when it happens more often than you'd think.
I mean, how much more plainly can they possibly say "We don't want to spend the time and effort to protect our hosts, because it would require us to invest more time and money into training staff, as well as opening the door to additional potential liability. We also don't want to anger the guests, whom we get the bulk of our money from. Hosts are disposable and cost us nothing, so the easiest thing is to just do nothing"
Any thoughts? Fun stories? Venting? Let's get enough people talking about this so that Airbnb actually feels some pressure to do something about it. I thought after the Covid19 situation they reaffirmed their support of mom and pop hosts and vowed to be fairer and what not. I don't see it.
It would be a topic for a whole different conversation, but what can they do to force people to be more fair in their reviews? Maybe coach them on the fact that if it's not a 5 it might as well be a 1? Maybe just keep it as simple as 'do you recommend this place, yes or no' that's it? Maybe let hosts delete x amount of bad reviews per year? What do you all think?
@Robert1165, 'I understand that Airbnb believes they're some sort of hippie commune of super friendly and educated people sharing life experiences in unique, mountain lodges while sipping wine with the host'. Hahaha, what a perfect description! How nice would it be if it were thus. And I really believe it used to be more like this, certainly in my experience of hosting, but sadly no longer. I have also seen a general decline in the quality of guests over the past four years of hosting - they no longer want the 'local' experience, oh no, they want the Ritz at backpacker prices. My listing is literally less than what you'd pay at the scungy backpackers down the road (which is filthy, with thin, stained mattresses, wire spring beds, peeling paint and mouldy ceilings, etc., plus you have to bring your own bedding/towels, plus share a dorm with 20 other snoring and/or drunk people who may or may not be having sex), but still, the pressure I now feel to offer 5-star accommodation - the cleaning I do! And the comfortable room with good-quality organic bamboo bedding and towels. And yet still they find things to complain about - 'the tea towels are a bit old and need replacing', 'there's no TV in the bedroom', 'we couldn't sit in the lounge' (the last two clearly stated in my listing). It's so frustrating isn't it? Sadly, what was once a brilliant idea has been ruined by the 'Karens' of the world.
So, what can Airbnb do? I'm not sure, but taking the side of hosts would be good start. There was a recent post in which the host ended up actually having an unfair review removed, so that was heartening to see. I definitely agree with simplifying the review process. Airbnb is not faultless here - like any business, it wants to grow, but it has now become so big that the original spirit is lost somewhere in the billions of dollars of profit. Maybe Airbnb needs to educate guests better about what to expect, go back to its roots and stress the 'stay with a local' message. I'm feeling a bit weighed down by the pressure and am beginning to look to other similar platforms that are more in line with my values. However, Airbnb has definitely got the monopoly on the market, so if we want to continue in the STR business, we're pretty much slaves to them for the time being.
I will admit that I could only read to the fourth paragraph, but I think that I understand the gist of your post. Try raising your rates to see if attract your desired type of clientele. If you still get self-centered guests, at least you will get paid better for having to deal with them.
I too did not have the attention span to read all the way through but I hope Airbnb will come up with a system of stopping some obvious review issues:
While I have been on the receiving end of what I perceive to be a lot of unfair reviews lately, I understand it is impractical for them to attempt to remove and revisit every single review that makes a host unhappy.
I did read the lot. Heartfelt and completely heard and understood. My feeling is that there are two big problems with the model. Far the more serious is the one where Airbnb IS prepared to interfere: they'll take the host's money and give it to the guest, block his calendar, even delist him. Reviews are the other problem. Our desire to please and be praised has us doing ridiculous things considering the prices we charge, cleaning for hours, providing top notch amenities and thoughtful gifts, etc. The guests have become accustomed to extraordinary value, and the nastier ones have even learnt that it is possible to pressure some into partial refunds, extras etc. I feel that if we are going to continue on this platform (which I may not do) we will have to harden ourselves to lower ratings. Over the medium to longer term, lower ratings may become the norm and guests just have to read with more discrimination.
Also @Robert1165 I have just looked at the most recent reviews on your first place, average rating 4.83, and they are all really good. If any guest writes an unfair review, just reply with a very short, factual refutation. Readers will get it.
I too find that Air B&B's policy is to wash their hands of any problems, and don't give me any other recourse than to sue. I am on the other side, as a very frustrated client. Not a Karen here, just a grieving Mother. Although Air B&B took my money in two invoices (a very large amount), I can't even leave a reference because the host deleted my stay.
We agreed to rent an Air B&B in Saskatoon during the trial of my daughter’s murderer. We contacted the landlord to see if she would waive her cancellation policy for our stay, as Court dates easily change. She agreed to this, and I have it in writing. We would not book her house otherwise, as Court dates change often, and we did not want to lose this amount of money. We stayed for one week, and the court dates did change, and she helped us to change the dates of our booking to reflect the new dates. The court dates changed again, and she helped us by booking two additional dates to that booking, which she requested payment of $700.00 to be etransferred to her.
Shortly before our stay, she phoned to say that they had electrical problems in the house that we had booked, and that there was damage to the home, and that we would not be able to stay there. I requested a refund so that we could find another appropriate place for our large group. She wanted us to stay in two separate apartments that she could provide, which were not acceptable to us. She refunded the $700.00 that had been etransferred, but refused to refund the rest of the money, saying that she has a strict cancellation policy. I contacted Air B&B, but they refuse to help, because the dates were cancelled. WE did not cancel them. She had cancelled them due to damage to the house.
I thought that Air B&B would have better policies. They are no help at all! If anyone wants to know who NOT to book through, let me know. Also, if anyone knows how to find an address of a host, let me know how I can find it, so I can have the papers served to her.
First of all, I'm so sorry for your loss. What a tragedy.
Secondly, something sounds really off here- if the host cancelled the reservation, for whatever reason, and no matter what the cancellation policy is, you should get a full refund.
What you need to know is that Airbnb customer service has been atrocious lately. Ill-trained, outsourced reps are giving out incorrect information and making decisions which contravene policy. You need to pursue this with Airbnb. Try contacting them on their Twitter account, said to get the best results. Keep it simple- no need to go into all the date alterations- the host cancelled the reservation so you are due a full refund, full stop.
The address of the listing should have been on your original booking confirmation.
@Robert1165- I will confess I didn't read your whole post - just a little too long LOL. At any rate, I just had my first guest in 2.5 years leave 3 stars because they said my address was incorrect. My cabin is across the field from my residence and goes by the same address as my home. I am careful to explain to guests that the address they are given will bring them to my house. When this guest arrived, I asked if she had any issues in finding me and she said no, came right to the house. She never said anything else about it. Then she leaves 3 stars for incorrect address which left me flummoxed! I'm not even bothering to discuss it with Airbnb - it's pointless.
@Robert1165 Great post and so well-written and lively it was easy for me to read to the end (not usually the case around here lol). Of course I wish you could raise your rates because bargain-hunters and cheapskates are often the culprits. But if you can't you can't - we don't run your business or know your market.
One idea that many hosts keep returning to is the ability to take out one outlier review a year - that 3, 2, or 1 that drags everything down. Another is that any guest who's asked to pay for damages shouldn't be able to review, because so often those guests write revenge reviews.
Your ratings are strong and as @Ute42 reminds us all often, the star ratings don't matter in searches and you'll get booked regardless.
@Robert1165 , unfortunately for you, a Fake review turns into Fake news cause people believe nearly everything they read on the internet or out of the talking heads on the Tele. Its the only thing JQCustomer can judge us by right or wrong, its gospel unless we can get it to go away. The few disputes I have had have been managed via my refusal to give up when I was being dinked over and at least once a little help from one of @Lizzie 's angels intervening on our behalf. Patience on this with a good measure of persistence could be the recipe for an amicable solution. If that doesnt work, an appropriate one liner in your final response and the knowledge that customers that care will read those reviews as a book not a single point of reference, the actual good news will outweigh the Fake news every time and I suspect you long list of awesome reviews will ensure the few dorks have little or no effect.
Also, one last thing, and with all due respect , I don't get the "Karen" thing! Your not the first person I've heard use it but I know many Karens and none that fit any particular profile (including my sister who is like nobody else Ive ever met regardless of name). If your feeling its a logical extension of stereotypes whacking like Barney The Purple Dino, Ken and Barbie or GI Joe, its nothing like that to most of us or for folks who just happen to have the joke name of the day and don't deserve the same black eye as the person trying to stereotype with a less than accurate reference. Dolls and costumes are plastic and branded more heavily than a Steer in Texas. Those Brands are worthy targets of our anger and often off color comedy because most create stereotypes that are unacceptable sooner or later to somebpdy or many (keeping in mind they actually are fictional creations of "Artists"). Karen characterization's of JQ Guest could be as offensive to people named Karen as Lawn Jockeys and Black Face humor are to all of us that arent registered products built on a fabricated narrative that may not be as timeless as our names on a Social Security Card and birth certificate. When your not within an audience that is of any "Like Minding", (like here, I really dont think there is a stereotype that could do justice to our diverse and sometimes Motley Crew) there are definitely creative ways to describe typical human idiot styles without whacking the atypical ones with the same baseball bat, please consider them if you could, have an awesome day, JR
'Karen' - It's a 'thing', @Melodie-And-John0!
I'll admit, I found it offensive the first time I read of it on an American website (not this one.) But then I googled, & discovered it has become a standard term for a certain stereotype, & suddenly I saw it for what it was, and not a vicious, personal attack on any or every Karen.....