We are fairly new to Airbnb and we are finding the guests we are getting through far less respectful of the property with more damage and breakages than we have had to cope with guests from our other site, which we have been using for over 4 years. Initally I have not given anything but a favourable review but some guests left a couple of days ago and didn't tell us they had broken the toilet flush button. When we found it at 12pm we were frantic as we had guests due at 2pm. Cut a long story short I reviewed them and gave them an overall favourable review but said we'd had to grade them less than 5 for not communicating with us about the toilet. One irate guest phones less than half an hour later and leaves a very angry message. Very unhappy we hadn't contacted them they never leave a place with anything broken etc etc. What would I have achieved by ringing her? The toilet was fine when they arrived and broken when they left and they didn't tell us, it's cut and dried. This guest has stated she will complain to Airbnb and I'm wondering in other hosts' experience will Airbnb challenge us for not contacting the guest first before writing the review? Our experience shows us those people who want to let you know about damage and breakage will do so willingly. Those you have to contact, never say "oh yes, sorry we forgot to tell you" or "yes we broke it" they always say it was ok when they left. So where do you go from there, because if you continue to challenge them you are more or less saying they are lying to you....although it seems guests usually level this at us by inference and this guest today actually said I was a liar.
@Anita And Bruce it is a tough situation for the host whenever you have to deal with something like this.
While there is no way to avoid the risk of unpleasantness, this kind of event highlights the advantage of a short, strictly factual, and newspaper-like review from the host. While a guest can take offense at any review, it is harder to argue that a strictly factual review is true. To wit:
"After (guest names) stay, we discovered that the button on the toilet flush system was broken off. The button was not broken before their check-in. No other people were in the unit after (guest names) and before our discovery of the broken button. "
Saying something like that is short, factual, and does not level any accusations at anyone. It just reports what happened. You don't have to talk about how disappointed you were, how you had to rush, what the guest should have done, etc.
Future hosts will know what you found. The guest will find slightly less material to be offended about.
The facts as stated are hard to dispute.
I hope the guest does not cause you any further unpleasantness!
Thanks Matthew, i will try and be even more to the point. Ipraised them for their tideness and how well the cottage looked after they had brought a 6 month old puppy and stated I would recommend them and were happy to host them again but i did say we had some level of angst getting the property ready for the next guests as they had not communicated to us the toilet breakage and that was the reaons why I'd given them less than a 5 star rating for communication.
It's very hard being civil with some of these people, when they do stuff and hide it , in the hopes you wont find it until some other unsuspecting guests arrives!!! The toilet flush button had been snapped off then rested against the peg in the mechanism and pushed slightly in so it wouldn't fall out of the apeture there would be no way they didn't know about it. Very annoying. We aren't used to all of this as guests coming through Holiday Lettings (part of Trip Advisor) seem far more respectful and prepared to pay more.
I think you stated the solution yourself. Raise your prices. People who want everything cheap don't care about your property. People who pay good money respect your property. Not a 100% correlation, but generally true. Charge more and worry less. And ignore the pressure from AirBnB to reduce your prices all the time. I don't know what the devil they are comparing to, but their price tips belong on the garbage tip.
Well, now there is nothing you can do, except for hearing the guest scream and shout!
You could have said you did not like that they did not tell you about the issue in a private message.
Moreover, you will never know if when they left, the toilet flush button was still working.
Toilet flush button can stop working by continued use. Probably it was not fault of the guest.
If it was broken before they leave, probably the bathroom should be smelling and the toilet would not be empity.
Thanks Jose, you are right we could have messaged them. In the past we have done this and guests always deny any knowledge. In our experience if guests wish to tell us they will do so before leaving and if we have to ask after they have left they will deny any knowledge. It seems to work like that!! It wasn't the toilet itself which was broken, but the button to activate the flush has been snapped off so the water system itself wasn't affected you just had no way to flush the toilets. We agreewith you toilets can spring leaks and cisterns devlop faults but push buttons can't snap off by themselves it's just not possible.
@Anita And Bruce you have the ability to report & then block any guest from the message thread. I would do so for these guests. Her reply to you moreso than your review of her would make me not want to host her.
She has said she is going to reply to us by email to follow up the answer machine message and to be honest i would like that email on the system with an opportunity to reply before i bloke her, so Airbnb can then at least see both sides of the argument. Although having read through some of the threads on here tonight it doesn't sound as if they support hosts greatly. I have reported it though and i will block once she puts into writing what was said on the phone. Or do you think i should just block her now?
@Anita And BruceJust like to add, that toilet flush buttons are notoriously touchy and prone to fail; they break, slip, twist, unhook, you name it. Addedly, It was plausible they didn't even realize it was 'broken' or who knows when it may have happened. In fact, the same thing just happened to each of our new toilets in the last 2 weeks, the guest didn't say anything, they flushed manually by pulling the chain. They are easy to fix, in fact after 100 years they remain incredibly simple in design.
For that reason, I would never have even mentioned it because -it could go over like a bomb shell and that is exactly what happened with your guests. They sound like great guests otherwise. Some things are just not worth it to bring up.
Thank Fred, we'll keep this in mind for future regarding the flush button, but the actual button had been snapped off the peg which then activates the flush and with the button snapped off the rest of the mechanism was in bits because as you probably know the 2 buttons for economy flush and longer flush sit together in the housing one of the buttons having a small notch which holds the mechansim in place against the spring. Bruce was cleaning the toilet as he touched the button it all fell out of the housing in bits. He felt it had been carefully placed in the housing to try and hide the fact it had been broken.
I do believe that really, it is just that this event is a 'can of worm' type of situation from the outset because no matter what you do, the guest may get on the defensive.
Is it fair for hosts to have to play such games with guests? No. Should they have said something and be up front and warned you? Of course. Are the guests dead wrong overall if they hid it, which appears they did? Of course they are. If the fact is that they hid it, already shows they are sneaky.
Should hosts sometimes be pragmatic and weight the 'cost' of making issues of the 'smaller things' and sometimes best to look the other way? Absolutely.
There lies the frustration in hosting - dealing with humans!
This is a situation which would have been best handled "off stage" in a private conversation with the guest. I read their review of you and your review of them. I also read their rebuttle to your review. How unfortunate it went this far. Things do break and sometimes they break without one's knowledge. The guests were very favorable about their stay. Your detailed review about your disappointment serves to negate the good feelings they originally had. It doesn't serve you well either.
Expect the unexpected and rise to the challenges that hosting brings. It's best to check out the condition of the place as soon as you can after guests leave so you will have more time to discover anything out of the ordinary and prepare for the next guests. Also, get on a first name basis with a great plumber who can quickly get you out of this kind of jam. Those push button flush mechanisms can be tricky to use and to repair.
There certainly is value in talking with guests before writing a review. It gives you a chance to find out if they know anything that will help clarify what occurred. Whether they knowlingly or unknowingly broke the flush mechanism, you still would need to deal with it. But some parts just wear out.
Thanks Marcia and Jim, I hear what you are saying and I like your expression "rise to the challenge" because that's what it is feeling like since we have moved on to Airbnb. We have sustained very little loss or damage for 4 years and I think we are just exasperated at what is happening to our property and our things since coming onto Airbnb. Historically we have always gone back to customers if we have had something damaged but we find if people want to say sorry they will do so during their stay or as they are leaving. Without fail anyone we have contacted regarding breakages and loss after they have left will deny any knowledge. We only have a 4 hour window between guests and as we are operating thus far at about 96% occupancy on Airbnb it's not a lot of time to put things right unfortunately as guests arrive back to back. We are very happy with the service we get through our bank for emergency cover and finding local trademen in Weardale who will drop everything is easier said than done. It's a very rural area with a high demand on the few trademen we have working the valley but I will do some reasearch and see if I can put a list together of local trademen in various profesions who we can call on in an emergency. Thank you for your advice I think I might start a thread asking about what peoples expectations are on the levels of damage to expect, this interests me as we have suffered so little until coming onto Airbnb and now it's definitely occuring on a weekly basis.
Thank you for being open and sharing your experiences. I am in the process of setting up a listing on AirBNB since competitor now takes such a big cut of my "profits," but when you have a tight turnaround between guests, it definitely gives one pause before choosing AirBNB.