Hi guys! I've been a host for a little over a year now with 2 different homes I Airbnb. I had the most frustrating thing happen to me last night and was wanting to see what your opinion is on this situation.
I had some guests book one night at my place. They arrived around 10 pm and messaged me around 10:15 pm saying "I found some bugs in the bed, so I will be staying at a hotel. What's the best way to work out a refund?"
I'm asleep at this point and was woken up by a call 5 minutes later where they informed me of the same thing their message said. I promptly offered them a new set of linens for the bed (we've never had issues with bugs in the bed but it is summer and we did just have our kitchen exterminated because bugs were getting in-- so it's plausible that some migrated). They declined and said they were going to a hotel and wanted a refund.
I reached out to the guests the next morning (actually awake enough to have some semblance of a conversation this time) and asked what the bugs looked like, how many, etc. They told me they found little black marks on the sheet (we have white sheets but there are these little black dots that look like someone marked it with a sharpie in one of the corners that I just can't get out --I'm actually pretty sure they are ash/burn marks-- but don't want to throw away an entire sheet set because of this, especially when the whole sheet is spotless white other than a few tiny black marks). They then found one hair (hair tends to stick to these sheets in the dryer--I make sure to lint roll them when I put them on the bed to avoid hairs--because eww--but obviously sometimes they get caught in folds or just get missed--not saying that's ok, it just happens). This one hair caused them to investigate at which point they found a pencil tip-sized bug between the fitted sheet and mattress protector.
Now, the point of this is not to debate whether I should get a 5-star cleaning review--I shouldn't and can completely understand and empathize with why I would not. I do my best and work tirelessly to keep this place in tip-top shape and I get a "sparkling clean review" 9 out of 10 times but occasionally things happen--as much as I would love to achieve perfection, it has eluded me haha
The question I have is--is it really fair for them to demand a full refund when the only issues they had were the ones mentioned and I offered to give them a different set of sheets (even though the ones they had were clean, it was more about making them feel at ease). It seems to me in a situation like this, the guest should leave a less than a 5-star review but not entirely leave and demand a refund. If this were how people operated, that would mean that if anything were off just a bit, people could just storm out and demand refunds leaving our calendars booked out with $0 in payments. There are definitely situations where the host is in the wrong and a refund is completely understandable and expected--(such as pipes breaking, bug infestations etc.) but this is a situation where I feel I provided a solution, it wasn't a bug infestation, there was one bug and the place was spotless and adorable (according to them) other than the above mentioned.
What are your thoughts?
I absolutely do not think they require reasonable grounds to shut me down. Like I said above, I don't think they are a good platform and definitely do not operate fairly.
I appreciate your advice, I did ask for it and am taking everyone's thoughts into consideration, the above was not a devaluation of your suggestion, more so my view on what you were saying. Just as much as I asked for advice, your response also means that you are open to some discussion as well.
I'm totally with you @Rachel1619 !
How dare these people try & shut any host down over a little harmless bug?! - Such arrogant, precious, entitled behaviour! - Airbnb once had the slogan 'Live like a local!' - Well, not all locals have top of the range bed linens looking brand new! I use stained sheets! I use cream sheets with white bleach marks where I've got stains out hygienically .... I've got sheets with old make up on, which have been washed 100 times since..... I can't afford to throw out linen that still has wear in it. Live like a local, not a 5* hotel! (But then I have £20-30 rooms, - if you let a high end place with high prices, you want linens to match...)
@Rachel1619 While it may seem crazy and unfair, refunding them is by far the easiest (and the right thing) to do. As @Helen350 said, these guests aren't trying to scam you - they would have stayed a few nights first if this was the case. To many people, one hair and one bug would not be a big deal (It wouldn't bother me, especially being a silverfish, which are common here). But to these guests it was a big enough deal to pack up again and move to a hotel late at night. Overly fussy? Probably. But do they deserve a refund? Yes, I believe so. Sometimes it happens and you just have to cop it on the chin. It's really not worth the hassle for one night. Also, if you don't refund them you can be sure of a bad review, but if you do, hopefully they won't review you at all.
@Rachel1619 Here's the thing- if the guests contact Airbnb and say there were bugs in the bed, all Airbnb is going to hear is "bedbugs" even though it was a silverfish. You know what they do when they get a bedbug report? They suspend your listing immediately pending an "investigation". They will cancel all current reservations and you won't be paid for them. They will require you to have the place inspected by a licensed exterminator and submit a report. This could take weeks to resolve itself in Airbnb land.
Your protests and outrage won't make a bit of difference.
Of course it would be grossly unfair, but there have been many reports on this forum of this happening to hosts.
So that's why it might just be better to let this one go and sacrifice a night's rent.
@Rachel1619 Airbnb definitely can shut down your listing if the guest complains and sends pictures. You will get guests like this again and many travellers check sheets, mattress covers and mattresses for any sign of bed bugs! I mean who can blame them for checking, I do it myself sometimes! Black dots staining the sheets and finding a teeny bug would send me packing. I’ve invested in mattress encasements and never use stained bedding. I use white sheets either cotton blend or 100% cotton and there is almost no stain I can’t get out if I keep at it (although it puts some wear on the sheets). I’m not saying every host needs to do this, but I’m 100% sure the encasement protects the mattress and prevents bed bugs if any hitch hikers come with a guest. Not to mention the guests that do check will be impressed with the extra measures and cleanliness and that’s got to count for something in reviews! Bite the bullet on this one and issue the refund and hopefully learn from this negative experience.
I have to agree with the hosts who are telling you to give the guests the refund--and who seem to be in the majority, by far. One thing I learned from years of working in the hospitality business is that there are some people with extremely fastidious standards when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. These are the same kind of people who will return a glass of wine in a restaurant because there was a tiny soap spot on the glass. You can criticise them for being overly picky, but they are paying the money and have the right to expect a certain standard of cleanliness.
In this case, it was a bug and a hair in the sheets, which would both be flags to us. I don't know if we'd cancel the reservation at that time of night or not, but as I have no idea of how a silverfish differs from a bedbug, this would certainly get our attention--and if we stayed, then we would most certainly knock off a few points in the cleanliness category.
The way I see it--and others have stated the same--it's only one night, and you seem to have learned a lot from what happened. So, eat the minor loss in income and chalk it to experience. It may seem to be a bitter pill to swallow at first, but trust me, you'll be a better host in future because of it.
@Rachel1619 I'm sorry this happened, but I think you should take it as a lesson learned. Your first mistake was not removing those sheets from the property. I understand that sheets cost money, but what might be acceptable to you (particularly since you know what caused the little black dots), is really not acceptable to have on the bed for guests. That's what opened the door to their interpretation as to the cleanliness of your property. I'm not particularly picky or germaphobic, but I would have been grossed out too, between a bug, a a hair, and then the little black dots. Your guests sound like nice people, not scammers. And the bed is a particularly sensitive area. Had they found a bug on a closet shelf or something, it might not have been an issue.
You should absolutely grant these folks a refund, apologize, and thank them for their understanding.
I always keep in mind that the "loss" of money issued as a refund for something like this, can pay off exponentially by not generating a bad review, which can affect future bookings in a big way.
It would be a major PITA in most instances to arrive, get yourself ready for bed and then track down a hotel and move yourselves to a new place. Seems like a lot of trouble to go thru for a “scam”.
refund, apologize profusely & then amp up the care given to the bed. No stains, no bugs, no hairs...
maybe these people are difficult, maybe they aren’t, but this isn’t a hill I’d try to take a stand on.