Sorry for the long text...
I should have noticed the signs when the guest booked my humble place for 5 days (I rent 3 rooms in the same place with shared kitchen/bathroom/living room). In his first message he said "Dear Rene', I am a neuroscientist visiting Montreal". Then I went to check his profile and he described himself as a Research Scientist (PhD) and Multi-lingual (10+ languages). I have to be honest, I thought "Why isn't this guy booking in a hotel or Airbnb Plus?". But fine, maybe I'm pre-judging the guy, his other 7 host reviews seemed very good to me, anyway I have instant booking so I couldn't cancel if I wanted. In that same message he says he's allergic to smoke and asks: "I hope there are no smoking neighbours?". I sympathized with him and tried to assure no smoke smells were left from previous guests, although smoking is not allowed inside of the house, but we never know, right?
Fine, he arrived I showed him his room and gave him a tour in the house. I said I live upstairs and he could contact me if he needed anything. Few minutes later, he sends me a message "is there an electric kettle for boiling water?", I told him I didn't have one, showed him other options to boil water and told him I'd buy one in the next time, which I did (all stores where closed at that time). Next day, he sends another message "the water flow in the bathroom washbasin is very very Low. Is it possible to check and improve the water flow?". I apologized to him and mentioned that I had planed to do a bathroom renovation to improve that flow, but for the moment I couldn't do anything, it takes about 5 seconds to fill a 100ml cup. I had 100 other guests in this house and 3 other living at that very same moment and they were absolutely fine with the water pressure, I even got a 5 star review from one of them who stayed 3 days in another room at the same time as this guy (the other two are still there) and many others before. One day later I found out that he had closed the hot water valve below the washbasin, possibly trying to solve the issue himself, when other guests mentioned there was no hot water there. I opened it again and everything was back normal.
He seemed OK after that, asked for more stuff in the kitchen which I pointed him where to find. He used well the kitchen, stayed late hours watching TV with his tiny short in the living room (that was mentioned by other guests). Overall looked like he was enjoying his stay. In his last day he asked to check out few hours later than the allowed and I happily agreed as I didn't have any guest booked for his room in that day. I personally went to talk to him to check how was his trip, if he had enjoyed Montreal (which he did not) and socialize once again. Everything seemed fine. I even thought in giving him 5 stars.
Three days after he left, Catherine from Airbnb (Case Manager from Trip Department) contacted me saying the guest had opened a case about some amenity issues:
1. Very low water flow
2. Washing machine was broken - never mentioned by the guest. I have a note on top of the machine asking guests to contact me if they want to use it so I can help them to use my personal washer, many others already used and were glad.
I explained her the whole situation, showed her pictures, asked her to contact other guests and send investigators to my home to see for themselves all to take a fair decision. I also asked her what the guest was trying to achieve with this opened case? Did he want to close my listing until the water is by his desire? Did he ask for refund? She told me he did not ask for refund, but she explained him he would be eligible to get one, "The guest have the right to know the Guest Refund Policy as it is part of the terms and conditions we have with Airbnb just like the Hosting Standards".
I asked which exactly hosting standard I was failing to accomplish, she said "this would fall under amenity (basic needs of the guest). Water should be available and operational." If it wasn't available and operational all other guests would have complained (specially the ones living there at the same time). Why the guest stayed the 5 days?
Anyway, she decided the guest should be refunded 30% of the nightly rate for the inconvenience and "the guest was more than wiling to resolve this issue" (of course). Airbnb is paying half of it and I'm paying the other half. I just can hope if he writes a review he writes a honest one.
I knew there were many guests out there asking refunds for many different reasons, but I was naive to think that would never happen to me.
@René137 Yes, it could happen to any of us. I've been very lucky to have only nice, respectful guests who never complain and certainly not manufacture reasons to claim a refund, but I'm not under any illusions that this couldn't happen.
As to the low water flow in the bathroom sink- this is something really elementary, which you may already have looked at, so don't take offense at my suggestion, because I've met many people who never thought to check. Faucets usually have a small screen in them that can be seen if you unscrew the end of the faucet- that screen often gets plugged up with debris after a time- little bits of stuff in the water or mineral deposits. Cleaning the screen or removing it entirely is sometimes all that's needed to solve the water flow problem. Same with washing machines- they have a little screen in the end of the hose where it attaches to the machine- they need to be cleaned from time to time.
I don't get offended at all, I'm open to suggestions.
I already tried that and I'm afraid that might not be that simple, I wish it was. Unfortunately this is an old house and the washbasin was already like that when I bought it. Anyway, thank you for pointing out, I appreciate you trying to help.
@René137 This is the classic case of you, the host, doing everything you can to please a guest and getting screwed. He was already full of red flags before he demanded a kettle. Have people really forgotten that you can actually boil water in a pan? There is not really any necessity of a kettle specific to boil water for tea. Good grief.
I would also say your mistake was to acknowledge the water flow as 'low'. Any time a host acknowledges any type of fault or apologizes airbnb will use that as evidence against you. Better to say 'oh, I'm not aware of any problems, no one has ever mentioned a water flow problem before'. I can understand someone being upset for a low pressure shower, that makes showering unpleasant, but lower water in the sink? Who cares??? All you are doing is washing your face/hands.
Live and learn.
You nailed it :) That acknowledgment indeed was used against me, but even though I wouldn't like to have to lie.
So, now I have added this my listing description "Other things to note", so at least if ever someone complains again about this until I indeed fix it, I'm covered.
But, of course I'd watch for future guests asking unreasonable stuff. Live and learn
I'm with @Mark116
You have to play hard ball with this clueless Airbnb CSR.
"For some reason, guest had shut down the valve..."
We can't be responsible for guest sabotage.
The point is we must be professional. We can't admit to any defect or human fraility. It's little old us against the Big Corporation (Airbnb). It's not a fair fight, so we must play dirty.
I totally agree. The face basin is used to wash hands and your face. How much pressure do you need? I get the impression that this guy was out to be dishonest from the start and deliberately shut off the water valve to validate his complaint. If it was such a deal breaker why stay the full 5 nights? Sound like a con-artist to me. (qualifications are probably fake as well).
@René137 Old water hoses plugged up, or old, corroded shut-off valves or the faucet set itself needing to be replaced are the only other things I can think of if it's only a problem in the one sink. Anything beyond that would indeed be a much harder problem to identify and solve.
yeah, unfortunately to not even cheap to check, it requires a lot of breaking to check pipes and I couldn't host during that period.
I'd do that eventually, but not during the guest stay as maybe he wanted.
There some solutions to try before breaking, a plummer knows them all (like emptying the water pipes and put air pressure on them from the end (where the crane is).
I had a similar problem, the water flow was very low and decreasing over the years. In my case the water pipe runs inside the house in a very small space between the end (top) of the stairs and a beam. Due to heavy pressure forces (on the stairs, "sagging" of the house) the pipe got more and more closed through the years. Such problems can only be located / repaired when there are no guests, as i had to take the water supply off and you never know how long it will take. In my case i had to open the top stair step (so stairs were unsafe and could not be used by guests) and it took 3 days in total to be back in "normal operation" !
20/20 hindsight. I would have asked the CS to define the required flow rate and asked for a link to this documentation. In the US, there is an actual regulation for *maximum* flow rates for a domestic property and you can test it yourself quite easily. There are no regulations that the flow rate can not be less to save water. In fact, that is the theory behind water saver faucets. I might have asked the CS person when AirBNB decided not to worry about the environment and water usage. [Yes, I might have been a bit snarky; and very polite while being snarky.]
This article is a fairly simple one to follow, if you wish to test your own flow rates:
Thanks @Susan151 for the article.
In fact, I did ask where I could find where in the Airbnb standard talks about the water flow. But she said this generically falls under the basic amenities. So they can use that pretext to anything, like the type of TV provided, the speed of your internet...
Despite all my arguments, they have ruled in favor of the guest.