Dear hosts around the world,
Three weeks ago I had a guest who fully confirmed to book at my place. This guest acknowledged all the necessary details, cancellation policies and house rules just like every other guest does before staying. Keep in mind that airbnb has a strict 24-48 hour cancellation policy and I also CLEARLY stated it in my house rules and on the listing website. This was also a very busy summer weekend, so I take this policy very seriously. Just after only an HOUR he responded with the following:
"Hi , I am sorry I will need to cancel this as I realized my daughters passport has expired"
"So won’t be able to cross the border"
So he wanted to cancel the booking, which violates Airbnb's strict cancellation policy, as it was well within 24 hours.
At that time I didn't know what to do because I've never had been in this situation, but my first reaction is to do nothing and just follow airbnb's clear terms. So I did not respond to this guest. However after a few minutes he requested a complete FULL REFUND. Now, I understand things can happen for guests. But if he asked for partial refund or just simply understood that he was making it difficult for me and apologized I would have given him the refund. He even knew and verified the cancellation policy before booking with me. However I felt that his statement was just an excuse.
Then one of the airbnb case managers immediately gave me a phone call. I assume that this guest was appealing to airbnb about this case. They tried to negotiate with me about the refund and said if I could just be empathetic and give him the full refund as his situation was an "accident" and do this guest a favor. Then I said this was a very simple case to deal with.
First - He completely violated my cancellation policy, and on a fully booked summer, with no seems of him doing anything wrong.
Second - I have the ability to either accept or deny his request, as the case violated the policies.
So the case manager investigated and agreed with me, and no amount was refunded to this guest. Case closed.
Nope. A few days later this guest posted a 1 star review on my listing, and commented on my unethical behavior in my business, as revenge for not getting his refund. How immature! His behavior of leaving the review without even staying at my place violated airbnb's terms and policies. So I contacted airbnb customer service again about this review. Once again, after finding evidence of violating review policies, which is "all reviews must be fair, honest, and relevant to your travel and experiences." They removed his 1 star review from my listing. Case closed.
Nope. A week later a new case manager contacted me about this situation once again. I assume this guest just kept appealing to airbnb to keep his 1 star review on my listing. The case manager said everything my previous colleagues made was incorrect and the review should be posted. WHAT? To put it to perspective, here is the case manager's unbelievable exact words/response:
"You have been great at hosting as per my complete review of your account. One of the best hosts Airbnb have and can rely on. A small act of kindness and generosity towards your guest will be appreciated by Airbnb and the guest. I'm not forcing you to provide the refund but just a request. If you decide not to provide the refund to the guest I assure you that we will respect your cancellation policy. Airbnb always go beyond and provide great experience and service to our users and the hosts are the one who do make a difference by going an extra mile for their guests. Trust me a small act of kindness from you will help you a lot in the future. This is just a request we as Airbnb are making and would really appreciate if you can accept it."
So this case manager basically wanted me to give the refund to this guest as an act of kindness, to resolve the problem. What kind of BS is this? This is the guest's problem, not mine. His refund problem should NOT be affiliated with my listing reviews. What this case manager responded with is unprofessional and rude; it seems like they'd rather not help me. I tried contacting airbnb again after this; some phone calls exceed 2 hours. Even though I present these absolute clear facts and evidence they seem to be ignoring me, to the point where the customer service won't even mention their own names to stay anonymous. Recently when I tried getting the customer service's attention they give me the same line:
"Thanks for reaching out to us regarding this issue. I've forwarded your inquiry to a member of my team who can better assist you. They'll be getting in touch with you soon."
So I am stuck at this point where posting a community conversation might help. This 1 star review removed me from the "superhost status," and seems to be having a negative impact on my listing. If you have any tips to handle this please help me! I am seeking a more ethical and truthful solution to this.
Furthermore. to the airbnb customer service team, please read what you wrote to me, again:
"Reviews are the backbone of Airbnb’s community. In order to maintain this structure, we have guidelines in place that ensure that all reviews are fair, honest, and relevant to your travel and experiences."
The customer service team is literally contradicting themselves with this statement.
The review was not fair and honest. This guest did not even followed the policies that were CLEARLY set up by airbnb and he is still allowed to post random malicious reviews?
Why are hosts and guests expected to give reviews when it has no integrity and not based on actual experiences or the truth, which contradicts your team's statements?
@Echo7 When Airbnb customer service evaluate a review, they are based on the Content Policy listed in the following link
There are tons of posts related unfair and retaliatory reviews in this community. Indeed, as some experience hostslike @Ian-And-Anne-Marie0 pointed out, any written words published in the public should not violate Airbnb Terms of Service. ToS 5.8 should be the one to be followed by review too. In reality, Airbnb does not do that. I am not sure where you find "all reviews must be fair, honest, and relevant to your travel and experiences".
It is interesting to see that Airbnb removed the review the first time and then put it back again. This is the first time I heard about it. When Airbnb could revert the removed review, you may try to appeal and to have the review removed again.
Yes it is interesting. I already appealed to have the review removed several times but the problem is that they keep ignoring me and transfer me to another case manager. Do you know any ways of contacting them directly or to the supervisor?
I am so sorry to hear this.
@Laura could you possibly assist Echo. Based on Echo’s reported experience this seems to be an issue regarding the review
-being not a true reflection the « represents the users experience » how could someone comment on « cleanliness » or « check in » per day if it never happened as the guest in question was a no show
- this review is also an indirect example of « extortion » as the refund was not provided and guest in question reacted with a retaliatory review.
As a host one of my main concerns is the amount of pressure put on us despite running a micro business and being expected to return funds which could potentially be covered by guest’s travel insurance or Airbnb even- particularly when considering that both types have better cash flows , the later is even a 30+ billion USD Company.
Furthermore, when not returned guests are allowed to write retaliatory reviews bringing down our overall associated stats and thereby affecting our listing positioning- and ultimately our likeliness to achieve a sale conversion.
Looking forward to both your reply and consideration.
Thank you for agreeing with my points and strengthening my points regarding the review policies. How can one write a review regarding cleanliness or check in when they haven’t even visited the place? It’s ridiculous.
When guests make malicious retaliating reviews they bring down overall stats which like you said, which will impact the business in a negative way, causing potential future guests to lose interest. In this case the super host status which attracts guests.
At this point there’s not much a host can do... I tried twitter approach as the above suggestions, and it does not seem to be working. Their help contact hasn’t respond to me in like 2 weeks.
How can I solve this when I can’t even reach the customer service? I have a feeling I’ve been blocked? Any potential solutions would help.
And thanks for the support.
@Echo7 That's terrible. I feel your pain. We none of us should be punished for a guest's mistake. I myself recently refunded a polite guest who cancelled because of bad weather. She COULD have still travelled & had a miserable 2 days up the mountains, getting soaked, or doing something boring in the valley but chose not to..... I sympathised & refunded, (she said I could keep the money.) But MY CHOICE, MY DECISION, if I want to stick to the cancellation policy, I should be allowed to!
Yes this is very important. First of all the guest has to be polite; like your guest, and has to most importantly, be cooperative and have common sense. In my opinion his excuse made no sense to me, as he immediately canceled after fully confirming. And everyone knows a family travelling shouldn't be checking their documents last minute prior to departure.
I had a frequent guest cancel on me after he asked me what time my place would be cleaned and I messaged him and told him that I would need to ask my housekeeper. He booked it after he knew my place was not cleaned from the person who had just checked out, and he was willing to wait a few hours after normal check in time before without a problem, but this time he told me he wanted a refund and I let him know he would need to contact customer support because I had a strict cancellation policy and he said he wanted to cancel after he confirmed the night. I am pretty sure that he was honestly using my place to have affairs, but when I wasn’t able to accommodate him with a place fast enough, he had them contact me. He only got about 30% of his money back cause I explained to support what happened and I let them know that my housekeeper was on her way to clean it just for him. They charged him the cleaning fee and they normally don’t when they cancel I believe. I never saw a review, or if he did, it wasn’t negative. So I really lucked out there! He was booking my place a few times every other week and he hasn’t booked since.
Yes, you got lucky. Since I had this malicious review effected my rate, I even lost my super host. After that, I had 10 visits and all gave me 5 star, but still didn’t work. Airbnb system and customer service support, what can I say, I give up .
Totally agree. In this situation, I would probably have offered to let the guest reschedule to another date. This was the guest doesn't lose any money, but neither do you.
Thats not true. The host loses that weekend booking. If the guest never made a booking then perhaps someone else would have booked.
As soon as a guest makes a reservation request they take your property off the market for the short term rental public. The opportunity to reach potential guests is diminished as soon as that request is received, be it 24, 48 hours or two weeks.
When a guest diminishes your earning potential why shouldn't they pay for their mistake and your possible misfortune?
Airbnb in my 10 year experience has always favored the guest.
Yes, you got a retaliatory review because of a problem the guest caused.
Your contract was agreed via Airbnb based on the T&C's, your House Rules and your cancellation policy. The only people here not adhering to the contract is Airbnb.
The alternative approach to obtaining a resolution is to reach out to Airbnb publicly on Twitter stating that Airbnb are not upholding their own T&C's and you want a resolution. Airbnb are illegally holding hosts to ransom over this and they only pass you around different CS departments in order to wear your resolve.
Retaliatory review thread:
Thanks for the suggestion. I will try the twitter approach, and it is surprising to hear so many people have the same problem in your community thread.
I had a retaliatory review once. Guests stated that everything was perfect two days into a four-day stay, and then on day three started complaining about literally everything and demanded a full refund. I told them I would be happy to refund the last night if they chose to leave, which they didn't, because, you know they had already spent all of $24 on a beach umbrella and frying pan. They then requested a $200 refund and gave me a poor review in all categories. In the end, Air BnB supported me and I didn't give them back a dime (not sure if AirBnB did or not...) but I was likewise sorely disappointed in the way AirBnB handled this. These guests were clearly just looking for a free vacation and AirBnB made me feel like the guilty party despite my overall 4.9 rating. My rating subsequently fell to 4.8 and it will take me another 14 reviews to dig myself out of that whole. I am contemplating switching to VBRO for next summer. Does anyone have experience with that? Any better? Worse?
On another related topic, how about a guest that gives you five star reviews in ALL the subcategories, doesn't offer a single complaint or area for improvement, and then gives a four star review overall which is where it really counts? The only thing I can think might have been a problem is that their 13 YO daughter commented in my guest book that she didn't like the furnishings, weren't "modern" enough for her tastes. Doesn't Air BnB monitor for inconsistent reviews such as this?