Airbnb Guest Review Lies that Damage Hosts’ Reputation

Recently we had a very strong summer of bookings at our coastal house. All of our reviews were very positive — even those who had minor issues provided positive feedback — until the last booking. The guest stated our property was not worth the price and that we charged $100 a night higher than what she paid. She also suggested we didn’t provide wifi which we are very transparent about in our listing, given it is a remote coastal property.

In trying to address this with Airbnb, where we believe a guest has breached their review guidelines, they simply dismissed our concerns of a review that presented misleading and incorrect information that damages our ability to book the house. I can only assume that a guest can make up whatever lies they want with no accountability from their position. I have requested my concern be escalated beyond the community helpers or whoever actually works for Airbnb and sent higher where it will be considered beyond the sugarcoated script quoting inaction that accompanies Airbnb’s generally response. If anyone here has had any success in having a review taken down which was just blatant lies, please let me know how.

Airbnb Host Will Not Allow Us to Reschedule

My family and I booked a home for five days in Sedona, Arizona through Airbnb. We were so excited to go and learned, after our booking, that our sons, who serve in the United States Army, could not travel due to COVID restrictions. We asked Airbnb to reschedule our date (they were very nice) but the policy, as they explained eventually — six emails and three calls later — states that the host ultimately decides if you can reschedule your trip or not. He would not allow us to reschedule our trip under any circumstances and thus we are out $2,800.

It amazes me that we were not informed of this policy prior to our booking and that we were told, due to COVID, we would be able to reschedule if needed. Ten of us are out of a family vacation, one that we were really looking forward to. Disappointed to say the least.

Airbnb Review Rejected After Negative Experience

I found out the hard way that Airbnb does not post negative reviews. I had a horrible experience in Almaden California where my coworker and I had an Airbnb for two weeks.

The place had roaches. There were noisy construction workers that got up at 4:00 AM and tromped on wooden floors waking us every morning. There were disgusting cigarette butts, construction materials and litter outside the unit – all these items were not reflected in the photos.

The host was also hostile. Not only did she not respond to problems but she refused to do anything about them or even communicate. It was a horrible experience and when I posted the information it never appeared on Airbnb. This is fraud and highly unfair to potential guests.

Guest from Hell Bringing Unknown Guests in

I have had some fabulous trips with Airbnb as a guest, and I’ve been a host for around three years. With all of the guests that I have had, there have been some pretty good guests that I have had the pleasure of hosting in my units. I tend to answer inquiries very quickly and answer any and all questions and try to help out the person that is looking to book. Generally this all goes well.

Then there was the ‘guest from hell’. This guest booked for four nights stating they were coming into town on a work training program and since my place was very close (walking distance of less than one minute to their workplace), this would be a great fit. He booked for four nights, with one guest and gave me an approximate time of arrival.

I responded with my usual friendly ‘welcome’ email that details: my phone number; how to get into the building; where to park (if necessary); transportation phone numbers from the airport should he require a taxi; stating that I will be there on his arrival to check him in, give him a set of keys, show him around and answer any questions he may have; go over the rules of no smoking/no parties/no additional guests; state that if there are any issues to please contact me and I will do my best to resolve them. This was a ‘standard’ email communication that I send to every booking, following the same procedures for every booking assures that I am covering just about every aspect of the booking itself.

The guest arrived at a reasonable hour. We went over the ‘rules’ again (just for clarification) and everything seemed fine. I let the guest know that someone does come in and out of the unit on a daily basis to clean, replenish towels, and change linens as necessary. Should he wish to not have this service, it wasn’t a problem; it could wait until the end of the stay if he should wish.

The first two nights are great: there were no problems. The guest came in and out of the unit and availed himself of the kitchen and cleaned up. The bathroom was cleaned after use so everything looked good.

The third night was when the problems began. I personally went to the unit to replenish the towels and remove any trash and make sure that the unit was clean for the guest. Before I entered, I texted the guest that I would be coming to do this, and I also knocked on the door before I entered the unit. There was no answer of either text or the door itself when I knocked, so I entered the unit to take care of the replenishment and take care of any trash removal.

Lo and behold, I entered the bedroom (of which the door was wide open to the hallway) to find a strange person asleep/passed out on the bed (not in the bed – on the bed). I immediately called the guest that was registered and asked, “What is going on? Who is the person that is in the unit?”

The guest stated that his ‘friend’ was drunk, and had nowhere to stay. He let him stay at my place and was taking a hotel room for the night. I informed the guest that under no circumstances were unregistered guests allowed in the units and that this ‘friend’ had to leave.

As I walked further into the bedroom where this strange person was passed out, there was an incredible stench coming from the room. As I cornered around the bed, there it was, where this ‘friend’ had vomited all over the floor and rugs. I left the room to attend to the bathroom, in which it appeared as though this ‘friend’ had been there also, as there was vomit on the toilet, in the shower/bathtub, on the floor and in the sink. It was completely disgusting.

I called the guest again, and said, “You need to come and take this person out of here.” The guest refused. I called the police, and told them the situation, saying “I have an unregistered person in my unit that has apparently been dropped off by my registered guest and I need this person removed from my premises.” The police complied and came to my unit.

Airbnb does not have coverage for unregistered guests and this is what I had relayed to this guest from hell. The police waited with me as we waited for this guest to return, eventually showing up at 1:35 AM and proceeded to lie to the police. He said that I had ‘okayed’ the guest being there and that he had offered me an additional $100 to let his friend stay there.

He did offer the additional $100 for the friend, but I just wanted him out of there. I did not take any money from this guest. The police and I packed up all of the belongings of the registered guest, and they escorted him off the premises after retrieving the keys to my unit from him.

I called Airbnb to state what happened, as this guest wanted all of his money refunded. Airbnb did not refund his money to him as his communications through Airbnb showed that he breached the contract by bringing in another guest.

The review I got from this jerk was absolutely scathing. He complained that he couldn’t bring in a ‘friend’, that my place was not up to standard, that it was nothing like it was advertised, that I had ripped him off, had charged him all sorts of other fees on top of the rental, and that I had thrown him out ‘for no apparent reason’.

I’ve had some wonderful guests, and since my places were photographed by Airbnb sanctioned photographers, they knew that I was telling the truth. I have never taken anyone else on that does not host or doesn’t have reviews from other hosts, as I never want to face that issue ever again.

Airbnb didn’t want to pay for the damages (I have a very high deposit just for cases like this) and after sending Airbnb the pictures of my place with all the damage to it, and the cleanup cost receipts from a deep-cleaning company, they eventually paid.

I lost other bookings because I had to cancel them due to this ‘guest from hell’. I’ve never had a bad experience at any of the places I have stayed though, but I did notice that this ‘guest from hell’ that I had. Three other hosts put up bad reviews about him after he left my place. Choose wisely and carefully who you let into your units, as you never know.

Sick of Airbnb Deleting Negative Reviews

Airbnb is so afraid of losing revenue that it is, as others have noted, deleting negative reviews. I stayed in an Airbnb in Atlanta that operated more as a rooming house and had a refrigerator full of old food that smelled so bad I would run in the kitchen to microwave coffee and then run back out.

In my review, I talked about the neighborhood (fine), the room (also fine), the other guests (fine), and the gross smell emanating from the kitchen (not fine). Then I learned that Airbnb took down the review because it didn’t meet their “Content Guidelines”.

Does it get any more absurd than that? The reason I had this awful experience is because Airbnb is censoring reviews that might have alerted me to the situation. They don’t care if you walk into filth. They just want to keep their numbers up. I’m really getting sick of dealing with this company.

Harassed after a Stay at an Airbnb Hostel

My first experience was so bad and eye opening that I refuse to use Airbnb again. I was heading to Toronto for a wedding and needed a room for the night. I knew I’d just need a place to sleep so I found an inexpensive room. I can’t remember what I paid, but it was around $45.

The way it was written, it sounded like it was an in-law suite. I figured they probably meant it was just a single room with a shared kitchen but the description was badly written.

When I pulled up, it was one of the largest houses I’d ever seen. I knocked and several Chinese people answered the door. I’m an ESL teacher specializing in Chinese education and it’s Toronto; I wasn’t put off by this… until I found out none of them were the owner. They said I needed to call the host and they gave me his number.

He appeared a minute or two after I called. He started giving me a tour, asking what room I’d like. I noticed very quickly there were like ten people living here and room for probably twenty – all Chinese. He appeared to be running a hostel. As he was giving me the tour, it was clear he had no idea why I was there. I explained again that I was there for Airbnb.

“Oh!” He says. Gone goes the offer of big rooms upstairs. He led me to a small room in the basement. It was relatively clean, just a little dingy. I got ready and then left for the wedding. When I got home after midnight, the residents were in the kitchen and super loud. I debated just abandoning it and driving home at 2:00 AM tired, but didn’t.

I got home and the host starting texting asking I leave a review. He left me a nice review; I didn’t return the favor. I left an unfavorable review explaining it was a hostel with loud residents and a host who doesn’t know who is coming and going.

He then proceeded to text my personal phone, harassing me about it, saying I was an idiot for thinking I would get an in-law suite for that price; I should have known there would be other people, etc. At this point I blocked him and contacted Airbnb. He was apparently “talked to”, and I was told to block him. No offer of compensation, which is fine because I said outright I wouldn’t be returning.

Beware Hosting on Airbnb: One Negative Review

To potential Airbnb hosts: beware of Airbnb. I’ve had it. The rating system is a complete joke. I’ve had a number of great reviews from people that love my two units, but I just had someone give me a one-star review because the dishwasher wasn’t working (took one minute to unclog) and a light bulb in the hall was out.

Clearly the man was in distress as he was visiting Philly to get his wife medical treatment, and he said he had never stayed at an Airbnb before. When he was clearly unhappy, I offered him a full refund, including cleaning fees. He took the refund and blasted my apartment, lying through his teeth about the apartment, and the neighborhood, stuff that is just total nonsense, and easily disproved.

This cost me almost $400 for the stay, but then my listing was put on hold for five days because it dropped below 4.2 stars. In his review, this guy said the “neighborhood is dirty”, which honestly, I’m not even sure what that means. The property is exactly one mile from UPenn on a main drag, in University City in West Philly. If he wanted an apartment in Center City, he would have paid double what I charge for mine.

Anyway, I contacted Airbnb to see if they would consider removing the review, knowing that the robots that work for them would stick to the script. Honestly, somebody should tell the management that the people who answer the phone are not helpful at all, ever. I really think they are automatons. They follow a formula/script whenever you call in, taking calls from a call center somewhere outside of the US, and they never stray from the set procedures for their precious review system.

If someone doesn’t post something universally offensive, no matter how preposterous, they will not change a guest review. Airbnb pretty much always sides with the guest. It’s a very lopsided review system. Again, this guy had never stayed at an Airbnb before. He may never again. I’ve invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into this property and have given Airbnb so much, and they don’t care about me.

Well, I’ve had it. I’m going to try out the competition, and I hear good things about them. I could bring so many more properties online with this company, but will I? Airbnb now offers me $700 now to refer hosts, but they don’t seem to value me as a host.

Hookers right outside the door of my Airbnb

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I rented a place. I was there for just a few minutes before contacting the host and telling him we need to talk. There were hookers outside the door and the people upstairs sounded like they were a stomp dance group. The host told me if I went on my app and just hit cancel he would return all the money if I left. I canceled and left as fast as I could. He lied and kept well over two nights’ worth of payment when I was there for five minutes total.

I opened a case about it and when I started asking how he was getting away with this, the conversation quickly ended. I left an honest review about “hooker hell” and it was pulled down because of the “refund motive”. So now other people, possibly with their child or children like I was, are being put in a bad situation. I have asked repeatedly for a link for my honest review and have been ignored.

Guests can Extort because Airbnb doesn’t Enforce its Policies

The Airbnb Extortion Policy prohibits “guests threatening to use reviews or ratings in an attempt to force a host to provide refunds.” However, Airbnb doesn’t appear serious about enforcing this policy, so guests can happily extort hosts to provide refunds for any frivolous concocted reason. Hosts have little recourse because the guest can always state their frivolous reason as their “personal experience” in their review and leave a one-star review in retaliation if their unreasonable demands are not met.

Here is what happened in my case. The guest knew at check-in that there was another concurrent guest’s dog on the property in the shared apartment listing but she claims she did not know that at the time of booking and that my not telling her that explicitly was unacceptable. She knew within moments of check-in that there was a dog locked in the other guest’s private space.

I offered to have the dog moved to a downstairs room on a different floor and she simply said “It’s fine. I just feel bad for the [locked up] dog.” It remained locked on a room on her floor. At nearly midnight of her last night’s stay, she messaged saying she was unhappy because of the dog’s crying (probably wanting to be taken out) and that she was allergic to dogs (surprise).

I immediately apologized and sought to address the situation but within moments of my response, she sent me another message saying she moved to a hotel and asked me to refund that last night’s stay with what was clearly a veiled threat, “I am keenly aware of review issues and I have no intention of leaving a bad review… I have left and moved to a hotel. I realize it is late and you cannot book someone for this night. However, I would appreciate a refund of tonight’s fee.”

I politely reminded her that her booking was on a strict cancellation policy, so I could not refund her. She went to write several long messages about why she deserved to be refunded, threatened escalating it to Airbnb or a credit card chargeback, tried all the escalations, and lost because her case had no merit. She retaliated by leaving a one-star review as was clearly implicit in her earlier threatening message (quoted above).

Airbnb seemingly considers her review to not violate its Content Policy because it allows a guest to state whatever they want as their “personal experience” and doesn’t seem to care to stand by its extortion policy. A guest can simply blackmail hosts by asking them for refunds on frivolous grounds, and even if they don’t explicitly threaten a bad review like in my case, the host knows the implicit threat exists.

There is little the host can do about a bad review. A guest could literally say, “I felt cheated because the place’s location felt like it was on the moon, so the listed location felt inaccurate” and leave a one-star review and Airbnb won’t do anything about it.

A reasonable customer service rep might help get it removed but that is rare and their policy is such that it explicitly allows guests to report obviously verifiable lies as their personal experience (as long as it doesn’t violate other parts of the Content Policy, like no discrimination, hate speech, etc.). Seems like a poorly worded Content Policy or at least a poorly enforced one.