I prefer to not even recollect the awful experience with a past guest, but I’ll try (above all mine is a criticism against Airbnb). Basically the guy started complaining from day one. He seemed to be bent on finding any hidden cracks and obscure issues – a truly nasty character who refused to provide the time he was arriving and then dared to complain he had to wait in his review (like it was someone else’s fault?). However, that was only the start. After three weeks I was left with two broken appliances (cooker and washing machine) and for the very first time I decided to use Airbnb’s Resolution Centre (after having about ten guests and very positive reviews).
The documentation they requested was nearly impossible to provide. The appliances had been there for nearly 20 years (but Airbnb wanted the receipts). Secondly, I wasn’t in the property and most of the documentation requested was out of reach; I was miles away from any “useful” documentation, but I posted the bill from the technician and the receipt for the new washing machine. The technician was paid the day my nasty guest left, as he didn’t notify me of the issue (the cleaners found out) and I had to fix the problem for a new guest arriving the next day. So I had to order a new washing machine just the day after receiving confirmation the old one was properly broken.
The other problem – the gas cooker – we discovered later on (remember: I wasn’t there and couldn’t verify these issues on the spot) that there was no cooking involved. The guy took some pictures of the burned knobs but no picture of any meal he made? A burned chicken? Or any dish ready to enter the oven? Nothing whatsoever. The cooker oven (electrical) was then turned on and left unattended for how many hours? Days? That’s a very good recipe to burn any cooker! It’s called inappropriate use or negligence, but the guy clearly omitted this fundamental detail (of course, I’m not there) and blamed me for being irresponsible for not providing an extinguisher and access to the gas canister and assembly.
Now, I’ve been a guest in certain properties advertised on Airbnb and I can assure you none had facilities which are common in hotels (would you paint an escape route in your house?). So basically the guy wanted the professional approach of an hotel at a fifth of the price. In my opinion we have a typical opportunist who deliberately stays in Airbnb properties (many like mine) where he knows there is no extinguisher to be found and he knows there is no escape route marked on the wall, then deliberately uses these issues as weapons whenever he files a complaint with Airbnb.
So the company is a lame duck; they can’t see this guy for what he is and boot him out of the system. Let’s face it: Airbnb can’t check all these properties and can’t compete with hotels in terms of a professional approach to guests (in general, certain hotels lack that too). This is the root of the problem. When first approached, Airbnb staff seem reasonable; they promise you a full investigation. The truth is that they don’t really want nor need to find out. I’ve received two calls from their headquarters in California during the period of the investigation. The phone rang only once and as I tried to answer, they hung up (so they can safely say, “look we tried to contact you but you didn’t answer the phone”?)
Their task is simple, to discourage complaints and break down any attempts at compensation: you start complaining and they put you under immense stress. It reminds me of the origins of eBay – does anyone remember the reviews? On paper you might have the advantage but Airbnb has the perfect solution: they encourage your opponent to escalate the matter (even without any evidence) and they too are allowed to ask for compensation for issues which were never ever mentioned during the whole stay. For example, my guest never complained about the Internet or noisy neighbours but all of a sudden these and other issues were presented and the guy is encouraged to request the full amount he paid back into his pocket? What kind of mind game is Airbnb playing here? This is the cheapest trick, the kind kids do in kindergarten. The guy shouldn’t be credible (not if there was no previous complaint), so how can Airbnb fall for it? They aren’t failing to investigate, they are just at the mercy of nasty guests like mine. Enough of Airbnb.