Airbnb Customer Disservice Leads to Threats

I actually have never had any problems with Airbnb. I’ve been a host for a couple of years, and thus far, I’ve had great guests, and great experiences. I just had a guest who wrecked something so I mentioned it in the review. She was shocked and went above and beyond to remedy the situation (her husband had used our white towels to clean his muddy shoes, but she ordered a new towel set from Amazon and had it sent to us).

Because she did this, I wanted to go and either delete the review or mention that she fixed the problem… just to be fair. So this is all great, but then I landed on a customer service guy who was the antithesis of anything customer service oriented. Here is our conversation. Remember, this is a customer service / resolution representative.

“It appears what I have told you so far hasn’t made it to you. So here it is again – shorthand. I’d like to change a review I made of a guest, as they left a significant mess but they remedied the situation and I don’t think it’s fair to leave that review up about them without also sharing the actual outcome, as she went above and beyond expectations to fix the problem.”

“Unfortunately, I’m unable to resolve your case so I’m forwarding you to a team that can better assist you. While response times may vary, we do our best to respond within 24 hours. Thank you for your patience.”

“Will they call me or how does it work? I’m not waiting on here for 24 hours am I? Are you still there? Hello? Anybody out there?”

“Relax, my colleague said within 24 hours and it’s been three minutes. I’m from Airbnb’s resolutions team, please let me have a look right now.”

“I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to wait here for 24 hours or what. Thank you for your kind communication and your efforts to help.”

“Wow. FYI the difference between 9:34 and 9:40 is six minutes, not three.”

“Relax? This communication is definitely going to head office.”

“So you are already threatening me? That’s not very nice of you.”

“I have just been assigned to your case. It’s not a threat. I’m telling you about accountability. I’m trying to do a good thing on here, and you’re telling me to relax? That’s very resolutiony of you. You were assigned to my case and came on and told me to relax? For real? You’re acting like you’re an anonymous Twitter user, and you’re not. You’re representing a company that is global, and makes a lot of money. I will absolutely be sending this communication for accountability. You hold your hosts and your guests accountable for their behaviour, so I think it’s only fair to do the same with the so called ‘customer service’ representatives.”

I particularly like how he says “You’re already threatening me?” showing us all that he perceives that gets threatened regularly and it’s just a matter of time. I’m guessing if one pulls up his other communications, there will be a lot of anger and animosity. This is not a guy who should be representing any company in a customer service way, and he might want to go back to his Twitter troll ways.

The great thing is that he’s not anonymous, and we do know where he works and who he’s representing with his toxic aggression. I will also be sending a hard copy of this communication to the address Airbnb Hell has supplied. Just because. If we’re all held accountable for our behaviour, so too should the jerks representing Airbnb.

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.

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Horrible Landlord Now a Airbnb host

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Technically I’m not an Airbnb guest, but I’ve rented a room that just started advertising in Ventura in August on Airbnb. This is just a warning to potential guests. The ad is misleading; it’s for a long term month-to-month rental, it’s high pressure to lease, the host is very talkative, the house isn’t well maintained, and it’s been cited by code enforcement for multiple health and safety violations.

I’m on Airbnb as a guest, but since I leased a room before this property was advertised on Airbnb, I can’t post a review on Airbnb, since I have a lease. Airbnb does a good job protecting hosts and not policing its properties. This property only rents 30 days or longer. I’ve heard it’s impossible to get a refund, so my review is as follows.

I’ve been a guest at this property for over a year. I can honestly say it’s not bad. When the host is not here, it’s generally quiet. The host is the property owner and lives on site, but you’d never guess she cared about the property; it’s generally in neglect, the yard is just dirt and dusty, there’s peeling paint, and there’s no care about it’s upkeep. They’re willing to rent for $30 a night – a 30-night minimum – up front.

The ad is not being honest with expectations and is misleading, not showing two common areas, the garage and small living room (now advertised on Airbnb). Those two common areas were infested with vermin. One common area, the garage, is still cluttered. The second, a small living room, is now being advertised on Airbnb; it’s partly filled with clutter.

As a matter of warning, the host is not exactly a clean person; dirty clothes are lying around in common areas, piles of dishes are left in the sink, the house is dusty and musty, and there was a serous vermin infestation. It’s just matter of time before they return. What the ad doesn’t tell you is that the beds are futons; one bed is a old sofa bed in a living room surrounded by clutter.

The Airbnb bedroom currently advertised is occupied and full of clothes. If the room gets rented, that tenant has to move to the living room and the shared bathroom is with another tenant. If you rent the lovely living room – privacy by curtain – you get to share the bathroom with the host.

The ad states that it has smoke detectors, which it does, but only because I turned the landlord into code enforcement for not having them. She hadn’t handled other issues. She’ll ask you to vacate rather than do simple maintenance. It was easier to have code enforcement deal with her; their deadlines got her to move.

The house is fairly dirty. If you have to share the host’s bathroom, it’s a mess. My bedroom was next to it. I closed the door so I couldn’t see in. The toilet isn’t cleaned but once a month by a cleaning service, and the light in the bathroom doesn’t work; in fact, they don’t work in either bathroom. She’ll tell you that they are going to be fixed, but they’ve been broken for over five months.

The host never cleans – never. She had a friend crashing there. Her friend is the domestic help; when her friend moves out, the house goes back to full neglect. Something that was omitted in the travel brochure: the property is less than a mile from Ventura County Jail which discharges prisoners at all hours and the property is on a common path for foot travel.

There aren’t locks on some windows, there have been homeless people camped nearby. I pointed out to the host that just outside her wall is a bedding area, which doesn’t bother me, but it might someone else The bathroom is small, very small and shared with full time tenant. Typically the house rule is all showering must be done by 11:00 PM and none in the early morning.

One good thing: the house is 420 friendly. Despite what the host says, she smokes weed on occasion. Still, it’s not a well-kept property. The tenant and guest refrigerator and washer and dryer are in the garage and the garage is a nightmare zone; it’s dirty, has had serious vermin infestation, been cited for contamination and still has piles of papers, boxes and clutter next to the tenant refrigerator.

The place is loud. The host is a loud talker. She had a female friend crashing there, who was loud. Together they were exceptionally loud, talking on speaker phones.

The place is dirty with poor ventilation. The beds are thin, old, and had been used for years. Your clothes go into plastic bins or you have to keep them in your suitcase. It’s not a short-term rental; it’s leased month to month for a minimum of 30 days. The house was cited for lack of maintenance and it remains the same.

During my tenancy here, every tenant has said the host lied to him or her, denied any issues, even denied vermin despite catching three in a day, lied about repairs, and harassed long term tenants when complaints were made.

My Bad Airbnb Review was Disappeared

I wrote a very clear, factual, but damning review of a room in Bolinas, California, and Airbnb did not post the review. When I called to see where that review went, they claimed they do not spike bad reviews, but that is pure BS. The room was almost $300 with add-on fees, and it consisted of a bed and a folding chair. That’s it: no table; no soap; no instructions on how to work the door lock; no parking (in spite of the fact the listing claimed there was parking for guests).

They’re an exploitative rental, and Airbnb is exploitative for protecting bad hosts. I could say more but just realize that Airbnb is not an honest mediator. Guests reviews, very factual but negative, are not shared with you, the consumer public. I’m done with them. You should try another platform and avoid places that they falsely list.

Airbnb Review System Heavily Censored

My gripe is with Airbnb itself. My family (four adults + one child) booked a house in Aptos, California for seven days. It wasn’t cheap, but that is not the problem. The property didn’t live up to expectations and our review reflected the shortcomings we found. We also praised the good aspects of the property as we are trying to give a balanced picture for future guests.

Some of our more negative comments included the incident on our second night when police were called to the house opposite ours and shouts of “I have a gun” were heard – not very neighbourly. Other review comments related to the kitchen cleaning; we had to wash nearly every utensil in the kitchen before use, despite being charged a very hefty cleaning charge.

The problem is that the review was heavily censored and probably 2/3rds of the review was missing. Contacting Airbnb customer service was the usual trail of BS and deadends with the only contact being someone who couldn’t find my review. What kind of data storage do they have? The last I heard they were “closing this ticket, have a nice day.”

This attitude reeks of modern day big business i.e., Microsoft, Facebook, et al becoming too self important and losing track of the fundamentals. Would like to hear if other Airbnbers have had similar censorship issues?

Why Airbnb Needs Some Serious Renovations

I began traveling over 30 years ago and I consider myself a seasoned traveler. My wife and I have been using Airbnb since 2012.  During a five-week trip to Europe in June 2018, five out of the six places we stayed were Airbnb apartments, which we carefully chose.  While our past Airbnb experiences have been mostly positive, we learned during this trip that the travel platform has some very serious issues.

Let’s start with what Airbnb calls hosts.  The conventional definition of a host is: “A person who receives or entertains other people as guests.” Airbnb has taken that definition and completely convoluted its meaning.

The potential guest may assume that their “host” is the person listed on Airbnb as the host but that could be a completely wrong assumption.  The “host” on Airbnb is often just a ghost.

According to Airbnb, the host is simply the person who has sent their identifying documents to Airbnb as the human responsible for a particular listing.  The Airbnb host is also meant to be the person who has posted their photo next to their name. One assumes that this photo is an accurate visual representation of the host.

Let’s just call the person paying for the Airbnb rental the “guest”.

Let’s call the person who writes back and forth to the guest the “communicator”.

Let’s call the person who meets the guest, takes them to the rental, and shows them the ropes the “greeter”.

Now let’s see how this all plays out in the real world.

When a guest is interested in making a booking, they often first send a message to the host asking if they are able to make the booking. The guest assumes that the person or they are corresponding with is the named host.

That would also be a wrong assumption. Often the person writing to the guest is a completely different person who has an unknown relationship to the named host or to the rental.

Once a listing is booked, there are various back and forth messages with the “host” about what time the guest will arrive and exactly where they will meet to check into the rental.  The guest assumes that they are going to be met by the person who has been writing to them to be shown the apartment and to ask any questions. Wrong again.

Often when the guest arrives at the meeting place, the greeter is a completely different person that the named host or the communicator.

All of this would be fine if the guest actually was informed in advance who exactly was the host, who exactly was the communicator and who exactly was going to be their greeter. Sadly the guest is often left in the dark.

Why does this happen?  The easy answer is that the Airbnb host allows it to happen. This Airbnb host is free to assign a “communicator” to deal with the guests and this communicator is free to sign their messages in the host’s name even if they are a different person. The host is also free to assign the task of greeter to another third party without letting the guest know in advance. In reality the host is free to have no role whatsoever in the management of the listing or interacting with the guest. The host does however always have one important role: the host is the one collecting the rent.

Let me give you an example: our recent trip to Europe in June 2018.  Some names and cities have been changed to shield the guilty but everything is as it happened.

We booked an apartment in Rome, Italy for seven nights.  Let’s call the host “Sophia”. There was a photo of Sophia on the listing next to a young girl. The photo was very low resolution but you could make out a kind smile. The photo did make me sympathetic to the host.

Before we arrived at the apartment, there were quite a few back and forth messages from the host signed by Sophia. However, we later found out none of these messages had actually written by Sophia.  We were told to arrive at an office no later than 6:00 PM.

When we arrived at the office, Sophia was nowhere to be found. The person in charge of the office passed us onto another person who spoke just enough English to show us the apartment which was a short distance away. When I asked about our host Sophia I was told that she worked at a shop elsewhere in the city and if I wanted to meet her I could find her in the shop.

I later found out that our “host” Sophia had absolutely nothing to do with the guests. Sophia was not actually the “communicator” although all of our messages had been signed by her and she certainly was not our “greeter”. During our seven-night stay, Sophia never reached out, texted or made a cameo appearance. Pretty photo, and the host was named but she was not involved in any manner in the listing – a ghost.

Another version of the ghost host phenomenon happened at an Airbnb on Lake Como. The named host of this apartment was a holiday rental company so at least we knew up front that the person we were corresponding with was an employee of the rental company. The communicator named Chris was very helpful and gave us lots of help in figuring out how best get to the tiny village from the city of Como.

On the day of our arrival we were in contact numerous times. In fact 45 minutes before we arrived at their office Chris wrote that he was looking forward to seeing us soon. We arrived at the office exactly on time but Chris was nowhere to be found. A young German girl was our greeter at the office. We asked what happened to Chris. She said he was too busy to meet us even though less than an hour before he was looking forward to meeting us.

The young German girl did her check in procedure and then something happened that had never happened before. The girl handed us the keys, pointed down the road, said to look for a green house and just to let ourselves inside. Never before in our long history with Airbnb had we not been brought in person to the rental and been allowed to ask questions about the unit.

Of course we found the apartment but we felt that our greeter experience had reached an all-time low. Chris, the communicator, continued to answer any questions we had by email but never showed his face. Chris was a ghost communicator.

Now lets talk about Superhosts. Airbnb defines a Superhost as follows:

“Superhosts are highly rated and reliable, going above and beyond to create an exceptional stay for every guest.”

Unless you have dug deep into the terms and conditions of the Airbnb website, you would have thought that someone who had earned the badge of “Superhost” would in fact be a super host.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

It turns out that a host can become a Superhost simply by maintaining a minimum star rating and a minimum number of successful rentals per year. The Superhost designation is completely computer generated; there are no humans involved.  There is no requirement that a Superhost submit a clear photo taken within a reasonably recent time frame. The photo may or not be a real photo of Superhost at all.

There is no requirement that a Superhost write a reasonable description of the rental and submit reasonably accurate photos. There is no requirement that a Superhost is a warm or welcoming person. There is no requirement that a Superhost provide detailed instructions on how best to arrive at the rental from various starting points such as airport, train, taxi or on foot. There is no requirement that a Superhost provide information to the guest about the appliances or features of the apartment. There is no requirement that the Superhost provide additional recommendations about nearby sights, restaurants or local transport.

The Superhost might be the owner of the unit, might be the agent of the owner, might be the communicator, or might be the greeter. The Superhost might be all of the above, some of the above or none of the above. There is no requirement that the Superhost disclose who they are or their role. Like the basic host, the Superhost is the person who has submitted their identifying documents and may or may not be the person who is pictured in the photo.  There is no way to know if they are active in management the rental or if they are simply a ghost host.

Let’s consider another real life example

We had woken up at 5:00 AM in Lisbon, Portugal and had traveled over nine hours to get to Rome. We arrived at the office about 5:00 PM utterly exhausted. The simple politeness of a host to a guest should have dictated some words of welcome or interest such as “welcome to Rome,” or “how was your trip?” or “did you have any problem finding our office?”

Instead, our reception was more like arriving at immigration at the airport: no smiles, no welcome and no kindness. We were asked for our passports, and then told we had to pay 21 euros in cash for a tourist tax. This additional tax was not disclosed in the listing so we felt put off from the get go.

As I previous recounted, the person with whom we had been communicating through Airbnb was named Sophia and she was rated as a Superhost.

Each and each and every message we had written before we arrived through Airbnb messaging had been signed by “Sophia.”  When I asked where she was, the communicator, Luigi, told us that Sophia was his wife and worked at another shop.

An assistant of Luigi took us to the apartment as she spoke a small amount of English.  She was not able to answer any questions about the apartment such as how to use the washing machine or where to dispose of the garbage and there were no written instructions or any kind or suggestions about anything in the apartment or the town.

Other Superhosts have extensive written manuals written in English to orient you to the city and explain how appliances work. This apartment had nothing. The one and only written word in the apartment was how to turn on the power at the switchboard downstairs if all of the electricity went dead.

When our greeter showed us the apartment, I checked to see if the internet worked as I have a web based business and this was a key feature of any place we rented. The internet was completed dead. During the following hours various people came and went trying to figure out what was wrong. After several hours they were able to get the wifi to work but it was a hassle to deal with after an exhausting day of travel.

We were staying for seven nights and noticed there was only half a roll of toilet paper.  We sent a Whatsapp message to Luigi about this and commented that the listing said that toilet paper was included. Luigi initially told us to buy our own but when told this was not acceptable he reluctantly brought us a few extra rolls.

As we settled in to our new home we discovered one of the front door keys did not work, there was no way to boil water except in a pot, there were no wine glasses and the fry pan was not usable.  My wife makes tea several times a day, I cook eggs for breakfast and both my wife and I think it’s more romantic to drink Prosecco from a wine glass.

The next morning I spent over an hour in the office with Luigi. We had to write back and forth using Google translate on his computer to communicate. Luigi finally agreed to provide a working key, an electric kettle, wine glasses and a new fry pan but said in no uncertain terms that we were “difficult” and he clearly was angry with our requests.

Luigi provided the items we asked for but his unfriendly attitude and sheer lack of any warmth or kindness put a real damper on our stay. We had never experienced a Superhost who was so unwelcoming. What we requested was listed in the apartment’s description or what we have experienced in most all of the other Airbnbs in which we have stayed. In our many interactions during that week, the named Superhost Sophia never showed her smiling face.

Now let’s consider negative reviews.  If you have a bad experience with a host you may want to let future guests know about it and leave an honest review about your experience. I did exactly that for our experience with the ghost host Sophia and her communicator husband Luigi. I actually wrote a very long review and was hopeful that it would be published.

However, when it was finally published, I found out that the maximum word count for an Airbnb review is 500 words. This does appear if you dig in the terms and conditions of the website but on the page where you write the review Airbnb neglects to add the simple subtext that reviews are a maximum of 500 words. By the time you find this out it is too late as reviews cannot be edited after 48 hours. Thanks Airbnb, for letting me know this upfront when I needed to know.

If you have a bad experience with a host then your host might leave you a negative review as well. That is as it should be. If you are being honest and transparent then both parties should be able to express how they feel and what they experienced. However, a couple of weeks after my negative review of Sophia was published and Sophia’s negative review of me was published, I received this email from Airbnb:

“You received an unfavorable review after one of your stays. We know that sometimes things happen, but we want both the guests and hosts that make up our global community feel respected, welcome, and safe anytime they’re using Airbnb. Guests who receive multiple negative reviews may not be able to book a future stay on Airbnb.”

There are many reasons that a host might leave a bad review for a guest, e.g. the guest left the rental messy, disturbed the neighbors or behaved badly. However, there are other reasons that a host can leave a bad review for a guest, like the guest was “difficult” and asked for such unreasonable things as toilet paper, keys that opened the door, working internet and basic kitchen implements.

The fact that any negative review from a host means that the guest may “not be able to book a future stay on Airbnb” simply means that Airbnb values positive reviews and punishes negative reviews no matter what the backstory might be. Airbnb makes their position quite clear: if you have a bad experience and your host leaves you a negative review you may be kicked off our platform.

We had a problem with another rental in Milan. It was the last four nights of our trip and we rented a relatively luxurious apartment. Our Superhosts were owners, communicators and greeters all in one and were indeed great at hospitality; they were what Superhosts were supposed to be.

Unfortunately, the AC did not work at all and it was 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius) in Milan every day during our stay. The hosts did everything they could to fix the AC but nothing worked. The strange thing was that the host persisted in blaming us for the fact that the AC was dead because I admitted that I had checked the filter. The fact that a burglar had stood on the outdoor unit trying to break into the apartment before we arrived and that the host had shown this to us on our arrival walk through did not seem to matter.

When we got home I had a long conversation with customer service about what was an appropriate amount to ask for a refund. The amount I suggested was confirmed as reasonable by Airbnb customer service and only then did I put through the request. Later I got an email from the Airbnb Resolutions Center saying that they had spoken to the host and rejected my request.

There was no email address or phone number to reply to this resolutions specialist. There was no way to contact them through Airbnb messaging or the website. The Resolution specialist was another ghost.

Airbnb recommends that all communication between a guest and host be done through the website or app so that everything that happens can be viewed later. That is as it should be. Furthermore, when you have any issue with Airbnb customer service you can call or view that conversation through the messaging. However, when it comes to refunds, all of a sudden the conversation is one way. The takeaway is clear: all communication should be through Airbnb unless it involves Airbnb Resolutions.

I am well aware that Airbnb is a platform on the web and that it is difficult to police thousands of listings around the world. However I am also aware that Airbnb has made zillions of dollars creating a platform for ordinary people to enter the hospitality market. The problem of course is that some of these ordinary people do not have a clue about the hospitality part.

Airbnb has recognized this itself and started a new division called Airbnb Plus. The Airbnb Plus rentals have actually had a real live person verify the details about both the rental and the host. Human to human interaction. How novel. This new Airbnb Plus idea is great but unfortunately only covers a limited number of big cities.

So what can Airbnb do to make its platform more transparent for its many guests? Here is my checklist.

1. Get rid of the meaningless term “host” and replace it with these more meaningful terms

a. New term: Owner / Agent

If the owner is “Joe” and he is involved in the rental say so up front.

If the owner has designated an agent or rental company to act in their behalf then name them up front.

b. New term: Communicator. The person who is communicating with you about the rental. Let the guest know the real name of the Communicator and let the guest know what their relationship is to the Owner / Agent or if they are the Owner / Agent

c. New term: Greeter. The person who greets you at the rental when you arrive, takes you to the rental, shows you around and answers any questions the guest may have. Let the guest know who their greeter will be before they arrive and let the guest know what the relationship is between the Greeter and the Owner / Agent and the Communicator.

2. Photos 

Currently the photo listed next to the “host” may or may not actually be the host, may or may not have been taken in the last ten years and may or may not be clear. I suggest that Airbnb update their photo policy and require all photos be a reasonably high resolution and request that the photo submitted to be no more than two years old.

Each Owner / Agent should submit a photo or logo.

Each Communicator should submit a clear photo.

Each Greeter should have a photo.

3.  Stop using the term “Superhost” 

Let’s be honest Airbnb.  It is absurd to claim that all Superhosts are “highly rated and reliable, going above and beyond to create an exceptional stay for every guest.” You can’t every verify what role if any the Superhost plays. You certainly can’t verify that a Superhost creates an exceptional stay. There is absolutely no way to know that unless an objective third party person has vetted the host. Stop pretending that a computer algorithm can measure the quality of an interpersonal experience.

Just let the reviews speak for themselves and continue to get more Airbnb Plus rentals verified by real humans as that is the only honest way to verify what is or is not going on at a rental.

4. Make reviews fair

a. Below the box where the guest writes their reviews let them know up front that they may write a maximum of 500 words.

b. Don’t tell guests that they will be kicked off the platform if the host leaves them a negative review.  If you want a fair dialog then both sides of the transaction should be free to express their opinion without being bullied by the platform to leave positive reviews or else get kicked out.

5. Be transparent With disputes

If you expect guests and rental operators to use your platform exclusively to communicate about a rental then have the same standard for your own resolutions department. All communication with an Airbnb Resolution specialist should be trackable on the Airbnb platform and resolution specialists should be contacted directly by both the guest and the rental operator.

I believe the home sharing economy that Airbnb helped to create is a good thing. I have personally been an Airbnb customer for many years and in the past most of my experiences were positive. Airbnb is still relatively new and like many new enterprises it needs to become more transparent and honest with its users.

We as internet consumers have come to expect that other internet giants like Facebook and Google become more transparent and honest about the data they collect and how it is used. It is time that Airbnb joins the fold and starts being more honest with the millions of people around the world that entrust them as an enabler of travel.

So Airbnb I have now left you a very long negative review. Here is my question for you: is anyone listening?

PS: I am well aware of the upcoming Airbnb IPO.  As with Uber and Lyft, I imagine the Airbnb IPO may become an Initial Public Bust.

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Guest Who Didn’t Even Stay Posts Review

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A woman reserved my house in Austin for the MotoGP weekend and and never actually stayed at my house. Her fiancé and guy friends trashed my house and stole bottles of liquor (had a sign up requesting payment of cost for any liquor taken). I asked for the $125 (which is actually less than the cost).

Airbnb refused to answer anything for six days and refused to actually call me after four calls being told it would be handled. The woman who booked never complained once while the guys were partying and staying at my house. I called her out for her fiancé’s group leaving bags of trash everywhere and food out and she denied everything.

I sent pictures to Airbnb and they refused to do anything to help. Just patronizing messages from someone who hides their name and refuses to actually talk. I don’t think anyone who didn’t actually step into one of my rentals should be able to post a review. I based my acceptance of her reservation request on her five stars but she never stayed at my house. Her review is probably full of more lies and I have six days to get it taken down. I realize I can respond to get bogus review but it will ruin this beautiful blew listing.

I have eight Airbnb properties and have never been treated so unprofessionally. This policy must be changed. If an instant booking is based on a person’s reviews and likability then they should be staying at the listed house. This woman from California is just lying her way through the Airbnb system. I need corporate’s involvement. I can’t get through to anyone higher up to help after so many calls.

Airbnb Hell for the Poor Person Renting Property

I had a few nice tenants to begin with. I thought they would all be nice, but then I had one lot who complained about everything: “the sheets were smelly, the room smelt, and the dishes weren’t washed.” They left.

Meanwhile I was left with a big cleaning bill, a steam cleaning bill for carpets, and with a person who lied about my place on Airbnb. Now how does that sit with a person who has, with her cleaner, spent six hours cleaning and preparing a nice place, buying extras to make them feel at home while the guests prance off and leave another cleaning bill for me after one night?

“Okay,” I thought to myself, “What happens now?” Are her lies going to be plastered on Airbnb without finding out first what the real deal was? I bet your bottom dollar that is how it went over. I am now out of money and tired. Now my head is thinking – what will happen when the next lot of people arrive? Will they read the liar’s story and perform the same ritual?

I was so right in my thinking. They said exactly the same things that the previous liars said and now I will be out more money.

Thinking of being an Airbnb host? These last lot brought their cat… need I say more? I am very tired and very heartsick that a big company such as Airbnb allows renters to tell lies, believes them without asking any questions, and takes money from us poor suckers. Am I alone in this horror story? Obviously not! Will I continue to be a host? You be the judge.

Can I ring Airbnb or even email them with my side of the story? I have tried both; I emailed at midnight and I was told to wait 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, hours later, I fell asleep only to wake up and find that they had closed me down and didn’t wish to continue with my case.

Airbnb Censors Reviews for Guests and Hosts

I hosted two Airbnb listings for past two years, earning Superhost status with nearly a hundred five-star reviews. If ever on the fence about a guest due to condition of my Airbnb post- checkout, I’d avoid leaving a review altogether instead of a bad one.

Not so with my last guest. I thought the guest did not match his photo, traveled alone despite claiming to travel with a spouse, staying all day long in the guest house for purposes unbeknownst to me, but definitely not a happy vacationer. Uneasy about security for the first time, I went so far as to write a negative review so other hosts might consider him depending on how their Airbnb was situated.

Airbnb actually deleted my negative review of this guest against my protests. They tried to say it was for my own good because it would delete his negative review of my Airbnb as well. I said it was fine to leave his critique as is. With so many five-star reviews, travelers could read both sides to decide. That’s how reviews are supposed to work: present balanced views. Instead, now I discover Airbnb censors negative reviews, so their whole rating system is worthless.

Airbnb has become too greedy. Disregarding safety, misleading the public via censored reviews. Consequently, I will stop working with Airbnb entirely this year, moving my listings to VRBO instead.

Airbnb Doesn’t Always Allow Negative Reviews

We have reviewed our stay at a place in Chamonix, France where we stayed from February 5th until February 19th, 2019. However, it never was published by Airbnb because the guest never wrote a review about us, the guests. This is, in our opinion, an incorrect action on Airbnb’s part.

Because the owner feels that our review would not suit her, our review will not be published so future guests will not have a reference to how we have experienced our stay at her chalet. I see that as a wrong policy from Airbnb and it is, in a way, cheating. Those who look for reviews will not be adequately informed about this accommodation. We all look for reviews and photos because the principle is ‘what you see is what you get’. That is why there is a gap in the reviews of her place between April 2018 and February 2019.

My advice: If there are hardly any reviews or there is a big gap between reviews, especially in areas like Chamonix during the skiing season, don’t take the place because something is wrong. That was our experience as well. The bathroom was dirty, the shower cabin had a sewer smell, the water tap for mixing cold and hot water did not function well, there were a number of things not provided although advertised, and the bedrooms are upstairs, but the shower and toilet downstairs which, for us, was not clear in the pictures, among others.

We still gave it three stars. However, the review was not published. For us this shows the lack of responsibility by Airbnb where it comes to publishing reviews and informing future guests adequately.