After going through the worst Level 5 Covid Lockdown globally, South Africa moved into Level 1 recently and we received our first much needed and appreciated request from an Airbnb guest that later turned out a competitive host, requesting to make payment outside of the platform.
We find it difficult to comprehend that there are members existing within the Airbnb community that attempt to transact outside of the platform, for should we all agree to this circumvention of the platform, then surely there will not be an Airbnb platform to list on.
In the meantime, we just regained our Super Host status and my husband had to depart on urgent business leaving me home alone.
Airbnb Policy re ‘Transactions outside of the platform’ was pointed out to this 5 star rated guest / competitive host and the booking was confirmed resulting in us having to reluctantly accept the reservation that we unfortunately pe-approve after viewing his 5 star guest profile without noticing the 1 star negative Hosting profile.
My husband at the time having communication problems in a rural area in the Eastern Cape insisted that this same guest was hosted on a previous occasion, but the guest profusely denied this.
The booking ended up as our worst hosting experience ever with our property hi-jacked by this guest / host and his unannounced and unpaid for boyfriend locking themselves inside our Residence and causing extensive damage while abusing substances and getting heavily intoxicated on a daily basis, this all against our House rules. With me fast approaching the 70’s and being home alone, locked out of my own residence with 2 abusive guests inside was extremely traumatic to say the least.
We did not contact Airbnb to cancel at the time in fear of losing our recently acquired super host status and after 4 dreadful days the guest departed and we subsequently received a text book case of an outlying and bogus review with lovely false content and a 1 star rating that devastated our listing once again leaving us with zero bookings for the last 3 weeks and with definite signs of a slow recovery on the cards prior to the booking.
On my husbands return he pointed out the guest’s now completely revised Profile when comparing with the 2017 / 2018 versions on the system and this complete with an all new obscured profile photo. My spouse even traced the previous attempt by this same guest / host to circumvent Airbnb policy when once again requesting to make payment outside of the platform, this obviously being this guest / host’s modus operandi.
So now we are left with extensive damage to our furniture and fixtures, a phobia to host again after the Residence was hi-jacked and a devastating untrue and bogus review complying with Airbnb Content Policy making it virtually impossible to get removed
What makes this really absurd is where it all comes from; a 5 Star guest being a 1 star competitive Host with a fake profile that apparently resides in Roodepoort with an Eastern Cape address that is a professional Ballet dancer working from home and insisting on free Wi-Fi that we do not list as an amenity.How and why a professional ballet dancer work from home while insisting on free Wi-Fi remains an absolute mystery especially with listing content stating and we quote: “ Campbell's Boarding House is not suited and do not consent to guest’s working or studying from home during a stay, kindly refer to the platform for more suitable venues without a daytime curfew in place” and Not included Unavailable: Air conditioning, Unavailable: Wifi also in our House Rules: FREE WI FI: • As per listing content do we not offer a general Free Wi-Fi Service.
The cherry on top.....We actually expected this promised damaging review from the guest as we were unable to afford an additional data bundle at the time, this after the guest depleted our monthly budget for data that we do not usually offer as per listing content, we then got threatened with a negative review should we not comply with his demands for more data that we could ill afford, this is nothing but extorsion, so unfair!
@Peta7 I would contact Airbnb and see if they will remove the review as 'irrelevant' since your listing already states that there is no wifi, so the guests long rant about no wifi is irrelevant to any other potential guests, that seems your best option. You will want to find the Airbnb language about irrelevant reviews and repeat it back in verbal and written form to customer service. Good luck.
@Mark116 your input is much appreciated, we believe the Competitor host issue coupled with the Relevance aspect and the attempted Extortion for additional data we needn’t have supplied should be considered in this instance and not just the Content Policy. We also believe guests simply follow the Content policy guidelines to make a review stick and this was confirmed by the Airbnb agent during our initial communique. We subsequently managed to get the agent to listen to our plight and the case is still open with the last message received being an out of office notice, so we are holding thumbs.
@Peta7 Whenever possible, speak over chat with Airbnb, so you can include links to relevant policy. CS agents rarely know Airbnb policy. Keep the chat simple and stick to one issue. In this case I might suggest keeping it simple by staying on the relevancy track. Just provide the policy link, and keep repeating the relevancy portion of it. Good luck!
And for future reference: when responding to guest reviews, remember the guest probably won't ever see the response. Your response is for the benefit of other future prospective guests and should be professional and reassuring.
@Lisa723 we thank you for your much needed encouraging words and will certainly follow your link and highly esteemed advice. We realized our responding message to the review was not ideally presented just after posting it and will endeavour not to be emotional in future. Perhaps one should rather respond a day later and not immediately after reading a promised bogus review with blatant intent?
I think you have 30 days to respond to a review (someone correct me if I'm wrong, please), so If you need to wait a week to calm down before writing one, then do that, there's no screaming rush.
And never shy away from getting horrible guests booted out just to avoid a bad review or as you said, losing Superhost status. That approach doesn't work, as you found out- the guest writes a bad review and tanks your ratings regardless. Get them out ASAP before they have a chance to trash your place and cause you other grief.
@Peta7 You have one thing going for you which is obvious - you are very well-spoken, easy to detect by your diction. The only thing that could cancel that advantage in life is when we get emotional, but you know this already, I see. Good luck.
P.S. I noticed a $10/$13 night fee, I have no clue of the economic value level in South Africa, but do keep in mind that price is very instrumental in getting a better clientele in this hosting business.
The forum should allow an additional grade and we suggest a lvl 10+ for all contributors on our post. The sensible guidance from all are more appreciated than you will ever know. We now also realize that the long absence from this forum due to Covid lockdown has impacted more severely than we want to believe and appreciate the importance of active participation now more than ever before. We thank you all for your highly esteemed input which we will certainly follow and keep close to heart for the future however bleak it seems at present. So here is a BIG Thank you to all! We are still awaiting word from the Agent due to the time difference and will advise on outcome as soon as available.
As promised herewith our feedback in a nutshell: During a lengthy chat spanning over 2 days we followed advice, the links for the Review and for Dispute Moderation for Reviews was copied into the thread on a few occasions and the Relevance aspect was focused on to lodge the dispute. After many words and opinions regarding the Review Policy was thrown around, and with us insisting that it is not only just the Content policy that comes to play, the following decision was reached and we quote:
Note: The actual review explicitly states, and again we quote:
In conclusion, this is a lovely space and fairly affordable but the wifi situation is the only thing that made me write to you but I am certain yo will do better.
Then the cherry on top: the following message was received with much exasperation right near the end of the lengthy thread and around 22:00 on the second day and again we quote:
We believe, except for the numbering, most content in the above appears to be in contradiction to the following:
IN SOUTH AFRICA THE LOCALS HAVE A VERY SIGNIFICANT SAYING AND AGAIN WE QUOTE…..EISH!
Unfortunately, we were advised against publishing the actual thread by the case manager which we believe would have brought much relief to all suffering from Covid fatigue.
@Peta7 To quote another poster on this forum “I do despair” of Airbnb CS at times. That entire review was all about the WIFI and nothing else.
“I don’t think I quite understand.” Sounds about right for a CS. I suspect “After many words and opinions...... that it is not only just the Content policy that comes to play” contributed to that. CS reps are outsourced and really have very little to no understanding of the workings of Airbnb. It’s easy for them to get overwhelmed and just put forth whatever answer they feel seems to suit the situation in order to get something off their plate, even if they’re wrong (and it’s more often than not an answer that isn’t going to require action of some sort on their end).
If you are motivated enough, you might have to just keep trying, until you reach someone who gets it.
@Colleen253 We totally agree and although we attempted to keep com’s simple we believe interpretation ability and insight was lacking all round, this now making sense after enlightenment re CS Reps. At one stage we believed that we may be communicating with a Chat Bot.
Considering our way forward while lacking procedure for appeal; should we contest this finding or start afresh? We are certainly not ready for submission.