Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

Level 7
1,813 Views

We recently had a very stressful and upsetting experience with 2 guests who violated our House Rules and was only "resolved" when we called the police.  How Airbnb did NOT support us during and after the incident which led to a revenge review suggests that little has changed and it is all PR when the new policy on "biased reviews" was introduced last year post Orinda.

 

@Stephanie you should take note since any host who would take the time to read this would likely also come to the conclusion we as hosts are unfairly treated and punished twice by these guests who manipulate the review system.

 

We are experienced Superhosts and have a flat in a terrace house (where there are other flats).  We took a booking in Feb by "P" and "A".  During the booking process, we asked them to review and accept our House Rules, which we ask every guest.  In fact, P messaged us they accept our Rules AND highlighted one we specifically mentioned--"no external guests".

 

We received praise for our flat and travel tips until one evening during the middle of their stay when we were alerted P and A had arranged for two unauthorised visitors to enter our building and presumably our flat--the former was confirmed via outside security camera, the existence of which is noted clearly on our listing, and which was only reviewed after we were contacted by building management regarding the violation. We immediately reached out to P with several Airbnb messages and tried to call P but we were ignored.

 

We went to our building to speak to them via the building intercom and calmly and politely reminded them of our clearly listed House Rules and request the visitors to leave. P came outside and began raising his voice, rudely and arrogantly saying that he could have anyone inside he wanted to, because “we paid for it”.  He was very aggressive--we calmly asked him to lower his voice so as to NOT disturb our neighbours--and began to physically and verbally threaten us, asserting he would make us pay in our review.  The 4 of them left the house shortly.    ***Much of this was captured on video.***

 

Later the same night we were alerted that P again had unauthorised visitors inside our home, which was confirmed on the external building security camera. From that point P refused to communicate in any way. We contacted Airbnb CS, advised them of the situation and requested they get in touch with P.  We had to go through one escalation, retell our story even after we asked them to read the message thread and send them frame shots (rather than the entire video), were told they need time to review it.  The CS Manager ended up taking off for the night--as we discovered when we called CS 90 minutes later to check if any action was taken.  So we had to begin a second round of escalation, put on hold, send videos, told they needed to review it, etc.

 

The next morning we began a third round of calls with CS which prompted CS to finally take action--P continued to ignore all messages, phone calls, etc.  At this point Airbnb CS cancelled his booking for repeatedly violating House Rules in having unauthorised guests and for subsequently ignoring all attempts at communication.  P did finally write us back once, stating that he refused to leave our home unless Airbnb found him alternative accomodation. Despite being given multiple extensions and a final departure deadline of 1.30pm, P and A had still not left the property by 3pm, and refused to answer any messages, phone calls, or even answer our home intercom as I personally stood at the front door, afraid for my personal safety to go inside my own home. We were forced to call the police to assist in ensuring P and A left our home, which they finally did only after police arrived at 3:30pm.

 

But the nightmare was not over for us.  P carried out his threat a few days later and submitted a revenge review (1-star).  His review included a number of factual errors--he claimed we never contacted him before he heard from us on the intercom (we have an Airbnb message trail to disprove that), that we were angry and aggressive towards him (we have on video we asked him to lower his voice and he was the aggressor) and his two guests were a niece and her friend (we have no definitive proof, but our video showed they didn't know each other until that night and F and A used fake names to introduce themselves to the ladies at the building front door.  Neither women mentioned once they are relatives during F's angry rants).

 

It's also somewhat irrelevant what their relations or nature of the interactions were--he basically admitted he had unauthorised guests. P also wrote it was his human rights to have conversations with the women.  He also claimed Airbnb CS sent him a message to APOLOGISE for the unpleasant experience for HIM (apparently CS did in fact do this BLINDLY ignoring the messages, etc...as we later found out!!!).

 

We immediately called Airbnb after P's review was posted and went over our case, again with Airbnb message trail and video evidence.  Despite clear evidence of falsehood in P's review, our video, Airbnb CS cancelling their booking (so someone at CS was convinced there was enough grounds to do this), Airbnb after their review denied our request to have the revenge review and the 1-star rating removed.

 

This leads to the following observations...

 

The "biased review" policy is just PR.  Our case is as clear cut as it gets--when the guests actually said they were going to write a revenge review!  What further proof do we need?  Airbnb has sided with unscrupulous guests whom they kicked out by cancelling the booking.   Oh wait, we got the police to move them while Airbnb did nothing.

 

It doesn't matter whether it's 2 unauthorised guest, 20 or 200...it's the principle.  You would think after Orinda, Airbnb would actually take these violations seriously instead of allowing us hosts to be punished TWICE.  What further proof do we need? 

 

If unscrupulous guests can violate Rules and explicitly threaten hosts with no consequences whilst we get punished losing our Superhost status, one asks what foundational trust is left?

 

Thank you for reading this.

72 Replies

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jo-and-Ivan0  I hope you are well.

 

Sorry to hear about your experience, it sounds awful.

 

Did you manage to have the review taken down by Airbnb in the end?

 

Paul.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

Level 7

Thanks @Paul1255 ...sadly if you read till the end of my long rambling message, Airbnb refused to exclude their 1-point review.

 

We don't care about their review comments--we're happy to leave for other guests we don't care for House Rules violation and guests extorting us.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jo-and-Ivan0

I read all of your post- it was when I clicked through your profile I couldn't see a negative review, so I got my hopes up that you had it removed.

 

Then I found it linked to the listing admin profile.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

Level 7

Well @Paul1255 we have had plenty of good reviews up till this one!  

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

I'd say you're being a little modest there @Jo-and-Ivan0  :))

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
Miami, FL
Level 2

I had a similar experience with a guest that caused damages and a huge party during Covid that had to be reported. Airbnb customer support told me that I don't need to write a review because none of use will be able to share the review, and before you know it I get the revenge review from my guest. I didn't even get a chance to review the guest and was lied to by airbnb customer service. 

 

The reviewed the revenge review, this is 2 star compared to my all 5 star reviews and decided it was fair. How did they decide that and how was I advised not to leave a review when the guest did, that will all remain a mystery. I provided evidence that the review was not accurate and full of lies to revenge, but they want me to share that publicly, when some of this stuff is private messages and pictures that can't be shared. Airbnb is definitely losing my trust there, extremely disappointed 

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
Revesby, Australia
Level 6

@Jo-and-Ivan0I don't know man.... I read a lot of bad reviews and responds from host, majority I can tell clearly who fault it is but this one isn't. As a third party perspective it is a situation he said/she said and I don't know who to believe here.

For example, that house is the same price for 1 to 4 people anyways.  Sure they didn't let you know about extra guests, which seem like they just pick up the 2 woman at a bar or something that night (I obviously don't know for sure). But why escalate it that far to get police involve and they did paid for amount of 4 people, embarrassing a man in front of a woman he try to impress and probably a bit drunk isn't a wise thing to do.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

Level 7

I'd appreciate your perspective @Ocean50  but you may have missed the part about their physically intimidating and threatening us?

 

He said/she said hmmmm...perhaps.  That's a nice way to dismiss the security camera video recording their confronting when we asked nicely for the visitors to go--at no point did they mention one of the women is a niece.  It was something they wrote to cover their arse.

 

For security reasons, we clearly stated we don't allow external visitors beyond booked guests.  It's quite black and white.

 

Airbnb CS decided to cancel their booking, so after that point it's trespassing as they refused to leave.  Until the police showed up, they were happy to stay there.  Read what you will about Airbnb host protection, but after their booking is cancelled, they are no longer guests and whatever damage they choose to wreck is no longer covered.

 

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
Revesby, Australia
Level 6

@Jo-and-Ivan0Ok I see where you are coming from, and I agree it is within your right to do all of that.

But the guy seem like he just try to impress someone, then this situation comes up so he is overacted. Once the police arrive and he got kicked out, it is unrealistic at that point for him to not hold a grudge against you. I am sure if you and him talk the next day instead it will be a totally different result, he would probably be apologizing. And he didn't damage your house which tell me he isn't too horrible of a guest.

I don't know but confronting him that day to me is a bad idea, should do it the next day.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Ocean50 @Jo-and-Ivan0  I think that Ocean has a point. Many guests assume that if the price is the same for for 4 people as for one, that it's okay to have 4. That you say no unregistered guests of course means they shouldn't have more people without adding them to the reservation, but unless there's some party going on with scores of people, and they aren't disturbing the neighbors, sitting on it overnight and addressing the situation in the morning could have prevented it from escalating. 

I'm not saying these were good guests- obviously no one should behave in a threatening, aggressive manner, but you might not have been the target of his aggression if you'd addressed it calmly in the morning.

I had a female guest in my home-share who stumbled home drunk with a guy her first night at my place at 3AM. They were loud, and woke me up, then proceeded to keep me awake with loud sexual escapades, and I only host solo travelers, it's not even like I allow 2 guests in the room. I lay there wondering how to handle it, then decided it wouldn't be a good idea to bang on the door and make a scene at 3AM. When I got up the next morning, they were already out, but I immediately texted her, telling her what she had done wasn't cool, that she woke me up, that it wasn't to happen again,  and that she had booked for one guest, which is all I accept. She apologized and nothing like that happened again for the rest of her 5 day booking. We never spoke of it again, there were no hard feelings, and we got along fine for the rest of her stay.

I'm sure if I had confronted them in the middle of the night, things would have gone quite differently.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

Level 7

Thanks @Sarah977 .  In my aim to shorten my still very long opening post, I didn't mention during the booking, we actually asked them if they really only have 2 booked guests (P and A) in total.  This went on with a couple of messages when they wrote back they understood the rules including "no smoking...no external visitors".

 

Our flat is not a suburban house like @Ocean50 's places.  It's a flat in a terrace house where there are other neighbours in the building.  To maintain a quiet environment for the neighbours and for security reasons, we have our Rules and have been very clear.  We are not seeking for them to pay us more.

 

I mention security--I could be wrong but Airbnb's less than dependable host protection does have some "out" clauses for them.  If damages are done by unbooked guests, they do not have to pay.  

 

Once you open up your flat to external visitors / unbooked guests, what sort of security do you have left?

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

@Jo-and-Ivan0  Thanks for clarifying. So they might have actually been lying from the beginning and they siad they agreed to house rues that they didn't follow, apart from having the girls over.

With these guests, I imagine they had every intention of letting the girls stay too, so were indeed lying when you asked about the numbers, but with other guests, it could just be a matter of them deciding to invite others over without that having been part of the plan. Like the guest I mentioned who brought the guy home. She had friends staying in town at another place, met up with them for drinks, then as those things happen, brought one of them home for the night. I don't think it was pre-planned.

Perhaps you already do, but when you question guests during the booking procedure about the number of guests, it might be a good idea to also remind them that any unregistered guests will be required to leave and could result in a cancellation of their booking.

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

Level 7

@Sarah977  indeed, whether they were intentionally lying (during the booking) or simply chose to ignore the rules once they started their stay, it doesn't matter.  We tried to reach out to let them know it's against our Rules and spoke with them very calmly and P became aggressive--all this captured on video.  

 

We are pretty clear on our Rules before/during any booking.  We have had grandparents enquiring our place mentioning they're here to visit their kids and a new grandchild.  We highlighted the Rules and subsequently suggested they don't go ahead with the booking if they intend to bring visitors in.

 

We don't just arbitrarily apply our House Rules only to guests who bring a "niece" into our flat.

 

And to be clear, we did NOT cancel their booking.  Airbnb CS made that decision as part of their "resolution".

 

 

Re: Calling BS on the "biased review" (revenge review) policy

in
Kendal, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Jo-and-Ivan0 

we actually asked them if they really only have 2 booked guests (P and A) in total. 

 

You clearly did state that. Your guests did acknowledge your "no external guests" rule.

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