Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Lisbon, Portugal
Level 1
14,199 Views

Hi all. I have an unexpected challenge.

 

My partner and I are "superhosts" in Lisbon, Portugal. We rent one room in our own home - that is, a private bedroom and bathroom in an apartment that is shared with us (and our dog). We've had many guests, all excellent reviews and no complaints. Until today!

 

A couple who were booked in our guest room for three nights have stayed just one and are checking out early. Early-to-bed and early-to-rise types, they are complaining of noises at night and demand a refund. She insists that she is a very sound sleeper but was utterly disturbed for two full hours, from midnight until 2:00 a.m. She says that they pay for a good night's sleep, and they are not getting it, and therefore they want their money back.

 

It's true that my partner and I arrived home around 1:00 last night after a concert, but this is not at all uncommon for us. In fact, it's not at all uncommon for Portuguese culture in general, which is - like Spain - highly noctournal. But we're always extremely careful to be quiet and considerate of our guests and, as I said, we've never had anyone complain or make any mention of it. We are very sensitive to it, such that we even provide new earplugs to all guests when they check in, just in case!

 

Our guests obviously understood that they were renting a room in a shared house, and this means that the hosts will be present and moving around, living our lives. This is not a hotel, nor is it a private apartment. We feel entirely certain that we have not done anything out of line, inappropriate or unacceptable and I do not feel that a refund is in order. 

 

Does Airbnb policy obligate us to refund the guests' money?

 

Any suggestions regarding how to deal with their inevitable bad review?

 

Thanks!

 

31 Replies

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

As them to cancel the reservation with AirBnB - and then take it up in the resolution centre. Sounds like they are being unreasonable.

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Palma, Spain
Level 10

@Joanna13
@Gerry-And-Rashid0

 

I agree with Gerry and Rashid here. 

 

If they want to move out, have THEM cancel their stay, and contact the resolution center immediately reporting that the guests have been raising issues, and want refund, etc. 

 

Be prepared to write a public reply to their possibly negative review. Point out the shared nature of your listing, its actual location in Lisboa, etc. Do not grow personal but feel free to point out that you operate under the conditions of reasonable expectations. Whereas you do everything within your power to secure the comfort of your guests, the listing which seems to be fairly accuartely presented makes it impossible for the guests to expect total silence at night!

 

If you find this information helpful, consider clicking the Thumbs-Up icon near lower right. Thanks!

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Chapel Hill, NC
Level 1

To err on the side of generosity is always in order in these situations.   Despite keeping late hours as  a host and despite this being noted on your profile, I would allow the guests to cancel without penalty,  on your part.  I would, however, let them initiate the cancellation w/ airbnb.  So, you loose a little bit of money, but you gain sooo much more--goodwill, good reviews, and most importantly peace of mind while maintaining generous hospitality.  Peace.

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Chapel Hill, NC
Level 1

Having said all of this, you will not need to accept another requested stay with them in the future. 

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
United States
Level 5

I don't think guests unreasonable expectations should be catered to or rewarded, as soon, a culture would grow up around Airbnb where all negative people and shysters have to do is threaten a bad review or complain about something nebulous to stay for free. I personally do not find the good will of bad customers a plus. Anyone who stays in an Iberian city will have nightly noise. If they don't want noise, they should go to a highly insulated hotel and get an interior room. Not all guests choose wisely where they stay. My take on this is about the long game. It is crucial for hosts who want to do this long term in their own homes without burning out and having to quit to have a keep strong boundaries rather than getting used to rolling over every time the guest is unreasonable.

 

A bad review is not such a bad thing! If it is balanced by many good ones. Potential guests can see your (preferably polite, professional and non-personal) explanation of what happened. In this case, simply stating that as your profile states, you do live there and Lisboa is a nocturnal city. So and so were very nice, but perhaps in a busy lively place like Lisboa, a quiet hotel might have been the best choice...or something to that effect.

 

Your potential guests will be able to see how many people love it there. And other noisephobes will know to go somewhere else, thus saving you future problems.

 

good luck!

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Montreal, Canada
Level 10

I get that you can't do much about where you live and it's a nocturnal culture, but on the other hand, making guests comfortable is wise too. I live on a busy street and my rental condo, which is one floor below me, also faces that street. By 6 AM, the noise from traffic, especially big trucks coming right off a nearby highway, is noticeable. 

 

I can't sleep if there is too much noise or ambient light. So knowing this about myself, and knowing I'm probably not alone, I have installed three layers of curtains on the downstairs windows and a film that absorbs noise. Curtains are great for absorbing noise and they're not expensive. I stayed in a house this past Christmas that had three other guests and was also in a nocturnal culture. I did sleep poorly (although not every night) because I heard so much noise from the other guests, who weren't being noisy, they were just doing their thing and coming and going as guests do. But I did think that the host could have profited from putting a curtain over each door--as in put a curtain rod above each bedroom door, inside each room, with a sweeping curtain that the guest could close when they wanted to sleep. It would be cheap and would probably muffle a lot of little noises as well as the light coming from under and around the door.  

 

I wouldn't give this couple a refund--they should have factored in that they were sharing space--but I wouldn't dismiss their complaints out of hand either. I know how completely ratty I feel when I miss a night's sleep and doing so while on holiday really doesn't sound like a good time. 

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Level 10

One thing that is never, ever missing in my luggage is earplugs!!!!

From saving me from obnoxiously loud kids or grownups, bawling babies on the plane to getting sleep in hotels with thin walls - they have been my saviors!!

Usually have a pair accessible in every piece of luggage, so always one on hand. Like when a guy starts snoring behind me on the plane and my hand luggage is in the container above me and my aisle neighbor is sleeping.... LOL

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Los Angeles, CA
Level 1

I agree with this comment.  I had a very unreasonable guest who looked for any reason to stay in my home (despite me offering a full refund if they left) and demanded half their money back.  She made all kinds of false claims, and submitted photos (which airbnb did not share with me) and Airbnb gave them back 20% of their rental fees!!  Additionally, they did not post my review of them warning other hosts about this type of extortion.  

Does anyone know if there is a way to have the decision of a trip advisor overruled or at leave reviewed??  

 

Has anyone else had this problem?  

 

I have humdreds of 5 star reviews both before and immediately after this guest.  One of their complaints was dirty carpets, but I provided a receipt from a carpet cleaner 6 weeks prior to their stay.  

 

I'm thinking after this experience, I will be using VRBO instead of airbnb and I have 6 listings.  Big mistake for Airbnb.

 

 

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
New York, NY
Level 10

Be careful. I just started listed on Airbnb after years of advertising on Homeaway/VRBO exclusively.   They are becomming more and more like Airbnb.  I found I need to use both to book up my unit and maximize my occupancy.   They each have their stenghts but and they do in fact tend to complement each other to some repect as the host. However, month by month HA/VRBO is shifting more and more to the guest centric model that Airbnb has.  

 

I miss the days of 3-5 years ago where this idea of short term rentals was more of an underground movement and not mainstream.  IAs this short term market explodes and gets more visibility all teh issues with taxation, insurance, not to mention the before mentioned shift form a Host Centric market (where services made money off of listing fees) to a Guest centric market where the revenue is in guest fees and financial managment (making money of the money they hold from pay in full and payout). 

 

It will continue to be very dynamic and we as hosts will need to stay on top of things much more actively than the past.    

 

Andrew

Andrew - see community help guides for many great FAQ

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Salem, MA
Level 3

so much yes to this

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
New Jersey, United States
Level 2

In this case, it sounds like the guest may have been unreasonable so I partially agree.  But as a veteran airBNB guest I must agree that erring on the side of generosity is a great move in most cases.

 

I am currently in a horrible noise situation myself that I never encountered in all of my bookings.  I'm okay with some night time noise because I have advanced noise masking technology (Bose sleep buds).  Before I booked I made it very clear that I will be using the space for working from home.

After I arrived, I found out that I only get water pressure 3 times a day...which I was willing to compromise and accept.  But the worst is that the windows are not sealed and the busy intersection has honking & sirens going off all day, preventing me from getting any work done because it physically hurts my ears to wear earplugs 24 hours a day (and an unreasonable expectation.  

 

I know that I can get better prices on rent if I book outside of airbnb, so as a consumer it is valuable enough to me to pay extra for hosts to err on the side of generosity and for AirBNB 's help in rectifying/refunding serious issues.  This is an especially reasonable expectation for superhosts and for long-term stays.   So, if a host neglects to clarify that there's daytime noise that makes remote work impossible (i.e. Zoom calls, constant distractions)...then the host is just asking for trouble imo.

I figure I'd share my experience because AirBNB is evolving into more long term stays and changing.  What works for a travel vacation may not work for a remote worker.  The best hosts ensure that the place is a good fit.

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Level 10

I beg to differ. People like these will write a bad review regardless of your generosity. Don't give in to them. Too bad too sad. Stop catering to these losers. 

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Kraków, Poland
Level 10

@Emma94

 

 

You tell them Girl, best laugh I've had this week!

 

Regards

Cormac

 

ECK III

ECK VIII

Re: Unreasonable guest complaint and refund request?

in
Salem, MA
Level 3

I just had to do an unfair refund, but yes worth it for my good name. I am starting to think there are some guests that know if they complain they can stay for free. In my case my guest filed a complaint at 5:00 am! so I had one hour to respond but I was asleep till 6:30 am which is when I get up to starting baking for my included breakfasts! sneaky stuff it felt like.

Join the conversation