Hosts beware of “Mediation” – you have no say

We have been hosting with Airbnb for a couple of years. Our reviews were only 5 stars, with great feedback from guests. When people had problems or issues, we are always quick to react and resolve problems. We had the misfortune of hosting a couple of jerks who stayed in our rental apartment but treated it like a hotel. They reserved for 2 people for 3 weeks. They told us some extra family was coming after they arrived and asked us to bring around some more sheets and towels – we were miffed that we were not told beforehand but did so, and didn’t want to rock the boat. They told us 3 others were coming but in fact 6 others arrived for a total of 8 in an apartment with 1 toilet that sleeps 6 as advertised.
The extra people arrived on Friday, and on Sunday night we got a call saying the toilet was slow and had been since Friday. We asked if the toilet still flushed or was completely stopped up. We were told that no, it still went down but sometimes the water rose, but did not overflow. And we wondered why we were not told about it earlier – while businesses that do plumbing services were open !! We explained that on Sunday night, Father’s day in France for a non-emergency it was unlikely we could find anyone to come around that night (we knew it was in fact impossible unless an emergency as the very first thing the services as in France is whether the toilet is overflowing or blocked – if the answer is no, they send someone the next day). We said we’d call around and let them know more as soon as we had finished our dinner (we’d literally just sat down to dinner with our other Airbnb guest in our home). Before we were done with dinner, we received a text Airbnb message saying they’d resolved the issue by pouring hot water down the toilet and that it was “fine”. We called and told them we’d stop by the next morning to check on things.
We did stop by. To us the toilet was still slow though they said it was OK. They also said, oh and don’t worry about the hot water, it’s working again. We then realised they’d written in the middle of the night to complain about no hot water. We’d explained to them on arrival that the hot water heater was connected to the cheap rate electrics and that it operated only when that was on, hence to plan showers around this – which they did. They said they’d only run out when washing dishes after midnight. They were evasive when we asked how many showers they took – one said 5 showers and 1 bath, the other said 2 showers that were less than 5 minutes (we asked the couple separately). We explained that the hot water heater was working properly and they were using too much hot water during the day when the hot water heater was off – and also that for the number of people in the flat it was likely too much. We gave them instructions for how to set the switch to override to the hot water heater so that it could run during the day as well. For the slow toilet, we arranged with our neighbour to use the toilet of his office, which was in the hallway (the office was empty) as the service that we needed to use to clean the drains was unable to come immediately (they need to send a truck with a high pressure hose, as our old plumbing could not be fixed with a normal “snake” as there is a bend in the pipes that is less than 90 degrees so it won’t run). We told them to use the alternate toilet if the existing one developed more of a problem than slowness. They kept saying they thought this issue was caused by the building in front of ours, as they’d seen “workmen” there and a bad smell. We never in 4 visits were able to smell this supposed bad smell, and we also brought out the building manager of the other building. During the next 2 days we visited 4 times to investigate this “smell” which was not in our apartment, but they said in the hallway. The other building manager spoke to them and explained that no work had been done in that building and we tested all the pipes, and we assured them we simply had to wait a day for the drain clearing service to come out. They sent us a demand for a 50% refund for every day they’d experienced and would experience a “loss of service” starting with the day BEFORE they reported the issue to us. Their note contained a veiled threat to take further action against us if we did not agree to this. We refused on the grounds that they never had lost any service and in fact even had access to a 2nd toilet now. After this they called Airbnb and lied to their customer service. The “mediation” of Airbnb never spoke to us. They decided to allow the client to leave early and take away our rental fee for the unused days. We were able to get payment in the form of credit for some of the extra guests, but Airbnb refused to honour their rental contract. The drain clearing service came on Weds and cleared the drains but they’d left that AM and then they left a horrid review on Airbnb, claiming that there had been sewage flowing in the apartment, that we’d never called a plumber and many other lies such as claiming we had told them to use the public toilets as an alternate toilet and that they were without a working toilet in the apartment for 96 hours and were “forced” to leave it. Despite the fact that I sent in videos showing the toilet still functioning and flushing when they left and testimony from the other building manager also attesting to the toilet functioning as well as to the 2nd toilet they had access to, and despite the letters in the Airbnb system that clearly showed they were lying, the review was allowed on the site in the name of “free speech”. Additionally we were lied to and manipulated by the Customer Service – they briefly took down the review – and the minute we returned the security deposit of the guests, they put the bad review back up without notifying us and allowing even further lies now about our mental health on it ! We took down our listing as Airbnb refused to take down the libel. Disgusted with their customer service – and the “mediation” which is simply dictatorship.

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