Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Odemira, Portugal
Level 10
18,081 Views

Hi everybody,

 

I have been hosting for 4 years now. When I started, my apartment was advised in 3 sites, but over time I gave up of 2 of them and stayed with Airbnb. Meanwhile the growth of Airbnb was enormous and the quality of the guests is decreasing, at least this is my feeling. Nevertheless I've been recommending Airbnb to everybody, until the following happened to me:

 

I had a family of guests – a young couple with their one year son – who stayed in my apartment for 40 days. I was first contacted by her but did not accept immediately, so they used a different profile and used the instant booking. I accept instant booking only from recommended guests, that was their case, and they are also hosts. So I thought it would be OK. I personally welcome them (despite their more than one day late arrival) and did the usual tour of the house. I was available during all their stay, they did not complaint about anything. On their last day the key was delivered to my daughter with a smile but without allowing her entrance (you will next understand why). All of it can be easily checked on our correspondence by Airbnb system.

 

But when I entered the apartment after their departure, I found used baby's diapers in my kitchen and food sticked on the walls. The bath tub looked like it was last time cleaned in the time of Discoveries, there was an area full of objects usually placed elsewhere (piles of chairs, cleaning products, heaters, toys). My water vacuum cleaner misused (without water), all the beds were used, all the closets for bed linen and towels were in a mess.

 

They wrote their review immediately, but I was completely pissed of and delayed mine until last moment. I had more to think about, like preparing the place for the next guest – a mother and her 14 years daughter -, who stayed for 6 days. It was an extra effort, but of course the place was spotless as always when they arrived. This guest wrote a 5 stars review and I did the same for her.

I wrote my reviews for both guests on the same day. I was naive enough to give to the couple a positive review, low rate, but still positive, considering that they had water my plants and they were hosts as well. Then I was taken by surprise and knew about their's review: Overall 1, Cleanliness 1, Accuracy 4, Value 3, Communication 5, Arrival 5, Location 4. On their public comment they seriously accuse me of unthinkable things, like danger of fire, clutter, lack of cleanliness, and there is more writing in their private comments to Airbnb.

 

So now I had a very negative review as first comment appearing to future guests. And the good review from the second guest was not appearing in my public page, only in my private dashboard. Then I called Airbnb centre in Lisbon, I was puzzled and wanted to know what could happen next. I was told that there was nothing to worry about, my average overall rate is still 4,5, even after a 1 star review; and the other issue maybe was something with my browser.

Soon after I had a third guest who also rated me 5 stars, his comment is public - but the second one is still disappeared.

 

Unfortunately there was more to come. Recently I received an e-mail from a case manager at Airbnb. It seems that, after looking over some documentation submitted by my guests, they are entitled to a partial refund of $1,854 or €1,571 (approximately the amount I got for one entire month), and this amount will be deducted from my future reservations. All based on my violation of Host standards policy!

 

From this point on, all I got from Airbnb was automated replies to my questions. According to the contract that we both – host and guest - have signed with Airbnb, unless I was mistaken for the past 4 years, if something was not according to guests expectations, they should have told me. I would in first place correct the situation, or if that correction was still not acceptable for them, they could cancel the reservation and stay somewhere else. Or we could adjust a lower price for the stay. To Airbnb it does not matter. It does not matter either the fact that they exposed their baby to danger (according to them) for 40 days. Or that there is another review from the next guest, written BEFORE their's review was public, and that this second review is hidden as part of my punishment. It does not matter either that I want to know what I am accused of, what kind of evidence was produced and when was it produced, in order to prevent future issues with other guests. Nothing matters. There is a decision, and it will stick. There is nothing I can do, except maybe cancel my 2 coming reservations (which will barely cover half of that amount), leave Airbnb for ever and start from the beginning somewhere else.

 

This can happen. Just forget about my case and suppose there is a long time host who helped the growth of the Airbnb community. This host has a license from local authorities, pays his duties and taxes, and he is average overall very well rated. Out of nowhere comes a guest that produces fake evidence and ruins it all? And Airbnb supports this guest and does not ear a word from the host? I do not think it is fair. I think that Airbnb is about guest and host, about sharing experiences, not only about money, not only about getting satisfied guests no matter what.

367 Replies

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

Level 10

@Helena74    Contact Airbnb by phone or twitter.    This is called 'the easy way to get Airbnb to make your host pay for your vacation'.   I have seen other posts where guests have gotten a free (or much discounted) vacation by staying somewhere and complaining after the fact (airbnb did not involve the host and sided with the guest), they know if they complain early or mid-way the apparent failure can be addressed and or the host can find them elsewhere, which would mean they would not get a free vacation  - it is incredible that Airbnb allow this.   If I were you I would be very persistent and keep calling Airbnb, I would also ask them why a guest is essentially given a free vacation when nothing negative was ever bought to your attention during their stay and ask them (or the guests) to explain why the guests stayed if the listing was apparently so unlivable and awful?

 

p.s. It also goes against Airbnb policy that states a complaint by the guest must be made within 24 hours of arrival or the issue occurring.

 

p.p.s. For future I would message the guest after check in and ask them if they were settled in and needed anything etc. Keep in contact with them via the message board so you can prove whether or not there were issues.

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Odemira, Portugal
Level 10

Thanks for answering, Ange.

Somehow I feel better now, after realizing that there are other hosts suffering from this kind of guests... only in my case it was a free 32 days vacation!

Before I did not mention all the details (it would be very long). But I called Airbnb 3 times. First time in Portugal (I was told there was nothing to worry about). After the e-mail from the manager, I called the USA centre (guests were americans), the guy said there is already a decision, nothing can be done, and he advised mediation trough Airbnb system, nothing else. And later I called again the Lisbon centre; this time I was told that ... since there is already a decision, nothing can be done..., except that the hidden good review perhaps could appear... but I am still waiting.

I keep receiving automated mails asking for my agreement, and I always reply. If I fail to answer, the case will be closed forever and I will lose all the way.

 

P. S. Sure, I learned my lesson to the future! But Airbnb can still check our message board... I did not contact them after check-in, but they did not complaint either, and there are messages about delivering the key.

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

Level 10

@Helena74   I once had a ruling against me and I refused to accept it so I called Airbnb many, many times I think 8 times or more sometimes twice a day - eventually they reversed it.  If Airbnb have already given the money back to the guests it might be tougher, but if it were me I would still persist. 

Judging from your post about what happened in my opinion it is wrong that the guests are awarded a free vacation at your expense. 

  1. They could have left, why didn't they? 
  2. They could have contacted Airbnb and asked to be rehoused - why didn't they"
  3. They could have brought up the alleged issues and given you a chance to rectify them - why didn't they? 
  4. Airbnb could have contacted you to get your side of the story - why didn't they?

They are Airbnb hosts so they would have known that all these avenues of resolve were possible. This kind of duplicitous behavior would raise serious alarm bells for me if I were Airbnb.  Best to guard against it for the future by keeping in regular contact and checking in with guests to make sure they know they can bring up issues and they will be addressed professionally and immediately.  If they don't then they only have themselves to blame and should not be rewarded.

btw: You can always flag their profile.

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Como, CO
Level 10

I do not rent long term and am becoming more and more convinced that the way ABB handles long term booking is not suitable. I am familiar with the usual long term rental methods and they are very different.

 

@Ange2 put it best, I think your only option is to make a fuss.

David

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Odemira, Portugal
Level 10

Lets face it: Airbnb can afford the refund to unhappy guests and can afford the subsequent loss of respective hosts. Fresh hosts are arriving every day, there is no need of keeping old and unhappy hosts. It matters to each one of us, it is peanuts for Airbnb. 

 

Ange and David, thanks a lot for your inputs to this issue. With your help I know what to do next: yes, the only option is to make a fuss, but alone I am not going anywhere. I will search all conversations and give my thumbs up to every significant statement. Should more people do the same, maybe Airbnb will change its one-sided policy and prevent future free vacations payed by hosts!

 

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
New York, NY
Level 4

Helena,

The most important thing is for you to look at the evidence that the guests have against you.

Also, it's all your fault that you even got a bad review- you were not tuned into your guests enough.  You can always tell by body language if someone is unhappy with your rooms.  If people are a little too quiet, angry or sad faces.  The minute you see this in a guest- just tell them that you don't feel that they are happy with your room, so they need to find a new place to stay, and give them a full refund.  Do this on the first day that they come to stay with you- this prevents them from writing a bad review of you, and they get happy, because they get all their money back.  Why bother to keep miserable guests ?    Good luck, Deborah

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Nashville, TN
Level 10

@Deborah103@Helena74 

"Its all your fault you got a bad review".

This kind of sanctimonious comment does not belong on this forum.  Did you even read all of Helen's post? 

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Como, CO
Level 10

@Amy38

 

My jaw dropped with the full refund, 

 

Most people are fine, not sure where the logic of rewarding those who are not comes from.

David

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
New York, NY
Level 4

You're giving a full refund on the first day that they arrive at your home, once you see that they are not happy with your home.  This way they can't give you a bad review, because they have not stayed the night.  In the meanwhile, you can get another guest for the canceled reservation.  The guest is the one who cancels the reservation.  Deborah

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Atlanta, GA
Level 1

Deborah,

I'm a new host and you mention that giving a full refund the first day to an unhappy guest would keep them from writing a bad review? Is that true through airbnb or is that just hoping that they'll be nice about it?

 

My first guests came and it was pouring rain. They messaged me and said they were there. I look out and don't see anyone, run around outside in the rain and finally see their car (I knew they had a BMW) heading back to the main road. I run after them and finally caught up with them because too many cars kept them from turning onto the main road. I know now that they had tried to leave and I'm sure it's because of the neighborhood (which I explained is transitional, but we're incredibly central and have a fully fenced artist community, in which the unit is). They reluctantly followed me and then said they'll go to dinner and come back.

 

Half an hour later they called and said they wouldn't be back. I told them that I'll give them a refund. They were my first guests and I didn't want to create problems.

 

Anyway, there's a review from them hiding, that will likely show up tomorrow, as it'll be 14 days. They got their money back, so, I sort of thought that they couldn't write a review, but they obviously did......So......

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Boston, MA
Level 3

I had a guest check in (and she was a super host in CO).  she started complaining about everthing immediately (we have fantastic reviews and 3 properties).  I could tell she was irrational and unstable so I asked airbnb to help get her out after she said "I'm calling the police to walk through here when I leave and verify that I didn't do any damage."  I found this comment to be very odd and unsettling.  They found her another place and I gave her a refund.  We found evidence of her passive agressiveness, she dipped all of the throw pillows in sand and placed them back neatly on the beds etc.  

I asked airbnb if they were able to block a review because of the situation.  Well they did not and fortunately her review reflected her crazy so I'm not sure reasonable people will believe it especially with hundreds of positive reviews that contradict everything she said.  I'm taking it as par for the course when dealing with thousands of people over the last 3 years.  I think in order to have a fully honest system they have to allow freedom of speech.  We've had very positive experiences other than her....hard to believe she's  host.

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Cape Town, South Africa
Level 2

Yes it can be hard. We are not hoteliers and so criticism of our homes can be personal and hurtful.

Sometimes the guest has issues that have nothing to do with the host or the property and yet the guest feels he is in a position of power and gets satisfaction from being nasty.

Think of all the really good people who have appreciated your service and accept that there will be the occasional one who had an unhappy childhood.

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Tampa, FL
Level 10

Michaela
Level 1in Atlanta, GA

I am so sorry to hear about your misfortune. I have had wonderful long-term guests; some for one month and another for two. You may want to note on settings the duration of your stays.....for example, I have mine set from 2-3 days to 30-31 days. If the guest is happpy and you are happy with the guest she/he can request to extend if they choose to stay an additional 30 days. People usuaslly know within a few days to a week if they want to stay longer. I have guests who stay a few days and then extend to a couple weeks or for as long as the room is available; mostly business travelers and/or consultants.

Re: Bad review from a long-term guest, followed by refund, and there is nothing a host can do?

in
Memphis, TN
Level 1

How does this prevent them from writing a bad review....?

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