I stayed at a listing in Brooklyn. The room in the informal “hotel”-style accommodation (i.e. a house with a digital lock and multiple rooms) had bed bugs. I was removed from the property, Airbnb (after I was forced to fight aggressively with their customer service representatives, who lied to me about reimbursement) paid for a hotel for three nights, and I left a very honest review articulating exactly what happened.
The review was posted two days ago, and it was removed today, presumably at the prompting of the host who did not want a review mentioning bed bugs on their listing page. Lest I be accused of bringing the bed bugs to the listing, let me say that I found the bugs – a lot of them – on the second night after the host said that her “cleaner” accidentally cleaned my room, instead of another room in the house. One of the bed bugs – a large adult – came crawling out of the “clean” duvet/sheets that night.
On the whole, the three-star review was more than fair in terms of positivity (I said the listing was clean, the bed was comfortable, the house was quiet, and that guests might want to stay there again after the bed bug problem is fixed), but I did detail the bed bug experience in the middle of the review. Well, lo and behold, a day after posting the review, I get a message from an Airbnb “case manager” stating:
“Good morning! My name is CASE MANAGER and I am a Case Manager with Airbnb. I hope this message finds you well and that you’re having a great day! I am contacting you today about your review for your reservation with HOST. It has come to our attention that your review for HOST is in violation of our content policy. For your reference, you can learn more about our review guidelines in our Help Center.
Reviews are the backbone of Airbnb’s community. In order to maintain this structure, we have guidelines in place that ensure that all reviews are fair, honest, and relevant to your trips. We also don’t allow reviews to mention any actions taken by Airbnb, including investigations or mediations in our Resolution Center. As such, it is our responsibility to remove your review from HOST’s profile. As of this correspondence, it has been taken down.”
Let me be crystal clear: my review did not mention the resolution or mediation at all, other than saying “Airbnb told me to leave for a hotel.” When I called to question the review’s removal, I was told it was because of my sentence about the hotel. This is absurd, because I didn’t say Airbnb paid for the hotel or describe the mediation process. Regardless, how an accommodation provider responds to a problem is an essential thing to mention in a review. I was also told it was removed because “mentioning bed bugs would hurt the host’s future listings.”
Isn’t this the whole point of leaving honest reviews? To allow guests to make up their own minds about staying somewhere based on past experience?
If hosts are going to be allowed to get around critical reviews with such ease, guests should have zero faith in Airbnb. Why do guests even waste their time writing honest reviews when hosts can so easily find an inexperienced “case manager” to take any slightly negative review down from their listing? This is positively absurd. What should I have done instead? Left vague language about vermin, cleanliness, and then had the review removed for not being based in facts because it would have been so ambiguous? Now, a future guest may suffer from bed bugs, or other incompetence, at this listing, simply because Airbnb can’t competently execute its model.