This ended fairly well, but not without a huge fight with Airbnb about their catch-22 policy. Here’s how we dealt with it:
We rented our entire million-dollar waterfront home to a family of four and relatives. It turned out it was one family that sublet the rest of the rooms to other “families”. They felt they did not have to supervise anyone for four days.
Literally 350 lbs of garbage was taken out of the house to the dump. There was $3000+ in damages, including from children peeing in beds and leaving it without stripping the sheets off. There was broken furniture from when they moved it all to create a huge playpen in the recreation room for all their children, so they could leave them unattended, resulting in sh*t on the carpet, crayon on the walls, and the pool table used as a baby diaper changing station.
In talking to the guest about payment for the extra damages, they posted a dead mouse photo and complained about how upset they were to have to find this. The photo was of a dead mouse up against a wall that does not exist in my home. I just found out on this site that it is a common tactic to get an instant rebate from Airbnb.
We felt we should review the guest so that other hosts would be wary. They reviewed us very badly and complained about how rude we were, how terrible our property was, and that they had done no damage at all. It would be funny but Airbnb refused to remove the obviously fake review: “We don’t make judgments on the validity of reviews. We let the public forum decide who to believe.”
Now we’re were going to be stuck with the last review as the first thing renters would see the next season. This had to go.
How to get your claim paid fast: we collected all the evidence of damages, got estimates on repairs, and had some receipts for replacement items. We submitted our claim to Airbnb.
If you have a claim be sure to wrap it up in a bow. Take one page for each item – don’t lump it all on one page – shoot and include photos, or screenshots from websites showing replacement items and the cost. Itemize each page and include a spreadsheet showing items and totals with a grand total on a cover page. There are insurance people who have to do this so if you do their job for them they will rubber stamp it, take a percentage off for “depreciation”, and cut you a cheque right away. It worked for us.
Remember the depreciation so be sure to get good estimates or online shop for the best replacement without cheaping out on the price. You could replace it at Walmart, but why not Best Buy instead? PDF that document and email it to them.
I had to argue this one up four levels of customer service to finally get a resolution. Remember that the first customer service person has no power to solve your problem. They seem to be trained to simply spit out the policy, even if that policy makes no sense. In our case, I needed the bad review expunged because it was a lie.
My catch-22 argument was that while “[Airbnb] make[s] no judgement on truthfulness of reviews,” they had made a judgement because their resolutions department had decided that I was telling the truth and the guest had damaged our place so they paid me. They couldn’t pay my claim and say they couldn’t make a judgement on truth. Do not stop complaining. Do not believe that the person you are talking to is the ultimate authority. These people all have a boss – demand to speak to their supervisor.
It took me almost two months to get high enough and I had a very good logical argument for the removal. They finally took it off saying, “upon review we have determined that the review was malicious in defense of damage they had caused”.
I consider myself a very good Superhost and have also been to many wonderful Airbnb rentals without incident for the last two years. I’m pretty certain that, as a host, justice was not done. I’m sure that Airbnb did not chase after the guest for the damages money they paid out, nor did they take advantage of the $2000 damage “deposit” I have in my listing (which if you’ve ever been a guest you know it never gets posted to your credit card).
The guest probably got a refund for the fake mouse photo. So this guest has never been punished for their bad behaviour and will probably do this to another host. How is that protecting your business, Airbnb? Hell, I’m even worried that they will try to rent again under a different name or person in the group, e.g. “Hey, Bob, it’s your turn to book”. They had such a fabulous unsupervised stay the last time, why not do it again?