Libelous Guest Feedback Forces Hosts to Reconsider Airbnb

I recently rented my two properties for a major event that usually attracts motor enthusiasts. I have never had any issue renting the properties until the last recent booking. As opposed to the usual group of guys booking, it was a young couple with a young child. I did feel this was unusual for the event; however, I accepted the booking.

I did everything as per usual prior to arrival to ensure the house was in pristine condition. I also employed a new cleaning company to assist in the final cleaning and preparation. I actually witnessed the cleaners thoroughly clean the properties. We normally do not provide full linens at the property as in summer we receive many back-to-back bookings which makes it problematic to change the linens when there is sometimes only a 3-4 hour turnaround between bookings. However, as the guests were travelling we made an exception and provided the full linens free. We also sent the guests a welcome pack via email before arrival which detailed the operations of the house, local attractions, maps, and advice on how to maximise their stay.

There was some communication prior to the guests’ arrival but nothing during or after the stay, despite providing my phone number in the event of any issue. After their stay I sent a few messages to which they did not respond – until finally the guest replied. At that time as I lived two hours from the property, I had not yet inspected the house. The guest made some very odd references to the lack of cleaning – which was just not accurate – as the property had been thoroughly cleaned – by us and the cleaners – up until the day prior to their arrival.

She made particular references to a bathroom – toilet and shower recess – which we knew was incorrect and a complete fabrication. She also suggested she would send photos – which never transpired, leaving us to believe that this was some kind of veiled threat to in some way gain a refund. When I inspected the property, I found that she had dumped all of the towels we provided on the wet floor of a second shower recess – for what purpose, I have no idea, as we provide a laundry basket and by the time I inspected the property some of the new towels were ruined.

I reported this to Airbnb and sent a photo of what I found. Over a period of a few days, my case appeared to be handed from one operator to another. This was prior to any feedback being posted form the guest. Essentially I smelt a rat and felt the guest had fabricated issues regarding the cleanliness of the house to negate her own disgusting behaviour of dumping wet towels on the floor of a shower recess. I could predict what was to come and suggested to Airbnb that they review the feedback. We anticipated fabricated references to cleaning.

However, Airbnb would not do anything. The feedback was posted. We received two stars for cleanliness, which dropped our rating from a 5 to 4. Her comments were also quite distressing. We are now considering removing our house from Airbnb as there appears to be no recourse when a guest posts negative feedback which is untrue yet damages a hosts rating and reputation. I have sent additional messages to Airbnb since the feedback, but have not received any reply. We have supporting testimonial from our cleaners who are also really angry by the comments made after they had cleaned what they believed was already a fairly clean and well maintained house beforehand. Does anyone have any advice how I can address this situation?

Airbnb Removed My Review Mentioning Bed Bugs

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.

No help or support for guests when faced with a terrible host

blank

I need to share my extremely disappointing experience with Airbnb. I’ve just returned from a trip to the USA, where I had a great time, except for my Airbnb experiences. Firstly, I had booked my accommodation very early, but two months before my trip I tried to modify my LA reservation by one day. The host kept refusing my request but also ignoring my messages. This went on for days, where I couldn’t get in touch with him and had to contact Airbnb for support. In the end, the support person told me there was nothing they could do if he refused to modify my reservation.

Around the same time, my host for my accommodation in New York cancelled my reservation because he wanted to host someone else. Again, Airbnb was no help, as the guest can’t stop a host from cancelling a reservation. Sure, the host is penalized – but that just means money for Airbnb. As the guest, I’m left without accommodation.

During my stay in LA, my host (the one who refused me to modify my reservation), was messaging me privately, being very friendly, and offering help and tips. From this I felt like perhaps I misjudged him from the earlier interactions. After I checked out of the apartment he sent me a private messaging that said: “I just got to the apartment. Thank you for taking such good care of it. You have been a great guest! I have a few apartments in this area. I would like to offer you a discount the next time you are in town. You are welcome back anytime. Safe travels!”

I have used Airbnb for all my trips over the last few years, and every time I treat each property with care and respect. I make sure I clean up before I leave: taking out rubbish, washing up and putting everything away, making the bed, wiping down the kitchen, bathroom, etc. I can confidently say that every place I leave looks like it hasn’t been touched. I left a review for the host in LA that was very honest; I mentioned that I encountered some issues leading up to stay with trying to modify the reservation, but also pointed out all the positive aspects of the actual stay and complemented on the apartment and the host. I believe in leaving a true reflection of my experience.

However, I then received a review from the host that said: “She was an okay guest. I did my best to accommodate all of her requests and questions. She requested a reservation change after having booked the apartment for a bit that would have left me hanging. I couldn’t accept the request as it was not in keeping with our cancellation policy.”

I found this review extremely spiteful and deceptive. He was clearly lying and pretending to be nice to me in the private messages, while the whole time holding a grudge over me trying to modify the reservation. His review did not reflect how I am as a guest, and made it sound like I had made a lot of unreasonable requests. Trying to ask for a modification to a reservation with two months’ notice is not unreasonable. Plans change, and I only wanted to modify it by one day; how can that possibly be “leaving him hanging”?

I still accepted the fact that he wouldn’t let me change my reservation and stayed at the apartment with no further requests. I never met him during my entire stay. I checked in and checked out myself. His review made it sound as if he went of his way to help me. I’m very angry at how mean spirited and deceptive someone can be.

What’s even more disappointing is Airbnb allowing this type of host to get away with it. I contacted Airbnb again, explaining my disappointment in the whole experience. The only help I got was links to the Airbnb policies – there’s nothing Airbnb can do for me, as there is a non-interference policy on reviews. Policies are all well and good, but where is basic human decency?

I know no matter how much I try to get my point across, I’m only going to hear about more “policies”. I’ve spent too much time emailing Airbnb’s support team. I may not get a satisfying resolution, but l will share how utterly disappointing and frustrating this whole ordeal has been. Airbnb has major flaws in their policies that doesn’t offer enough support and help for guests.

Destructive Review From Host, Only One After 19 Stays

During our six years as Airbnb guests, amounting to 19 stays in various parts of the world, I’ve very rarely felt uneasy enough to photograph the place before and after. This was especially true with this apartment because it all seemed ideal for us – terrible mistake. This Airbnb accommodation was just as described by the host and many glowing reviews: a comfortable, self-contained basement apartment with a well-equipped kitchen. My wife and I booked the apartment for two months because it was one of very few Airbnb offerings in Black Diamond, Alberta, Canada. Also, most fortunately, it was just a few doors away from our family, who we were in Black Diamond to visit. This unusually good combination of positive features caused us to ask the host if it would be possible for us to book the apartment for future visits and she responded favourably.

We had two great months there, though there was one problem. In the bedroom there was an infestation of bed bugs. Because the accommodation was otherwise so good and because it was our intention to return to this apartment in future years I thought it would be best to report the infestation to the host quietly and privately, rather than making any public fuss about the matter. This seems to have caused her some embarrassment and subsequent antagonism, which I believe induced her to give my wife and I such a startlingly bad review following our stay, as in: “Pleasant people, however they left the suite absolutely filthy.”

As a couple we’ve been enjoying Airbnb’s services for over six years and in that time have stayed at 19 listed locations around the world. It’s mainly because of Airbnb that we have felt secure enough to set out on most of these adventures. We are quiet and responsible retirees who have always treated our hosts with respect and consideration. This has invariably caused us to clean our accommodation thoroughly and return it to the way we found it before leaving, regardless of any pre-charged cleaning fee made by the host. which can be seen from the consistently good reviews we’ve had, until this most recent one.

For Airbnb to leave this damning and untrue review in place will make my wife and I reluctant to book any further Airbnb stays. I have been hoping there is something constructive that Airbnb can do about this situation. Any helpful intervention from Airbnb is still lacking to date. My conclusion: always take detailed before and after photos.

Was My Host Just Plain Nuts? A Guest Ponders After Bad Review.

As a warning for Airbnb guests, you are only allowed two weeks to respond to reviews. I didn’t even know I had a review until after the fact. There is no way to contact Airbnb from what I could find. On the listing of reviews, my visit didn’t even show up on the site from my viewing.

I have to wonder about Airbnb’s practices regarding reviews of hosts. They make their money from having hosts supported. Even a few negative reviews too many would hamper their success. If negative reviews are kept out, no one is the wiser. Notice Amazon businesses bending over backward to do right by their customers. The overwhelming number of reviews of my hosts portray their experiences as all sweetness and light. There’s a dark side.

It is difficult to fathom the animosity and personal attacks expressed in my host’s comments about me as a guest. She began by claiming I disregarded her 11:00 AM check-out time. Her listing stated nothing with an 11:00 AM check out. Her Airbnb listing stated, “Flexible check out time.” She never stated differently. The fact is, I did, coincidentally, leave the room at 11:00 AM.

I checked my emails while in her living room and left the house until about 3:00 PM, returning to pick up my belongings. Her listing also stated she and her partner “work 8-5 jobs” and that I took advantage of her and her partner, claiming I knew they were not home. I did leave my bags in a corner of their living room during the day while I was out. I certainly did not know their whereabouts. They appear to live in the basement of their house. I didn’t see them Saturday and they made no effort to communicate with me. I assumed they would have been home.

Where the host stated I stayed five hours after her check-out time, I did make a judgement call about leaving my bags at her house while I spent the day out. I was not at her house during that time. But what did Megan actually communicate to me regarding my departure time and my leaving my bags at her house while I was out? We texted at 3:00 PM that day: “Okay, if you could leave prior to 5:00 that would be great… I have no problem with you leaving bags while you were out, but would like to have known in advance.”

Fair enough. My bad. An egregious transgression of etiquette? Additionally, she claimed I lingered at her house, “When I realized [the guest] was still lingering, I asked him to leave,” but, as I quoted her above, she admitted to being okay “if you could leave prior to 5:00,” which I did.

The host also wrote “rides to/from the airport are not included or offered in our listing but you pestered my partner into driving you 20 miles across town.” Pestered her partner? Going back again to her and my 3:00 PM phone text, “I won’t be home in time to give you a ride. I apologize!”

She omitted the fact I stated I could also call Uber. She omitted I offered her the $20 for the service I was told Uber would have charged. There was no pestering. Moments after our phone text, and her demonstrating an openness to my offer, I walked into the house and made her partner the same offer just before the next guests walked in. As he checked in the new guests, I sat at their dining table waiting for his answer. When he finished with the guests, he offered to take me. If he had said no, I would still have had 2-3 hours to catch a ride with Uber or a taxi. I had no investment either way how I would have gotten to the airport. I thought I was being thoughtful with my offer.

The host added to her complaints, saying I was “creating a chaotic and uncomfortable situation” in her house. Her new guests, her partner, his brother, and I were all the people at the house. Five people. At other times it would be possible for her partner, his brother, their housemate, and his friends or relatives whose were staying there, along with the host and her son, to have all been at the house – four additional people. Somehow, I, as one person sitting quietly at her dining table was “creating a chaotic and uncomfortable situation?” I waited patiently for her partner to do a routine check-in, and then he gave me a lift to the airport – accepting my $20 payment. Easy-peasy. How was that “creating a chaotic and uncomfortable situation?”

In addition, she left out the fact that because the bedroom was so hot, even with windows open and fans going, I slept on top of the bed where the only attention for the room would have been to straighten the bedcovers – I had cleaned the room before leaving. I left a note for her saying as much.

It appears that despite any effort on my part, the host glossed over if it might show I was not the “unpleasant,” “entitled and disrespectful,” “pestering,” “lack[ing] etiquette” and “lingering” guest she portrayed me. 
Considering her comments of me, perhaps I should have given a more frank telling of the condition of her house and my experiences with her. The house was a mess (I politely excused that, with her having a young son). The bathroom had the appearance of a college dorm bath being used with several people’s bath items strew about, crowding the sink and tub areas. I wrote only, “The bathroom was adequate, but in need of updating.”

I was shocked by her insulting accusations and other comments about my stay. I went back to her site to see what credibility there might have been in her numerous accusations… precious little. What I did discover was a photo of her bathroom only showing the toilet, excluding the tub. I believe this was an intentional deception on the host’s part to hide the bathtub from view – with good reason. The tub is the worst I’ve ever seen in a house. To that, I wrote only the bath is in “need of updating.”

I nearly chose not to shower because of the dark brown and grey-black stains where the finish had long worn off. It looked like a vat used for toxic chemicals that had worn off the finish. I wish I had taken photos to show I am not exaggerating. I’m surprised no one else had mentioned it in their reviews. I suspect it was left unsaid, just as I had left it unsaid, as an act of generosity as a guest.

It appears after all is said, her only issue with any legitimacy was that I did not call her before leaving my belongings at her house for a few hours. For that, she lashed out, maliciously lying, misrepresenting and berating my character and my actual behavior, all the while creating a fanciful fabrication of what my stay actually consisted.

I was willing to be graciously forgiving of her failings as a host and in my overall assessment of my stay. She suggested as her last comment to me, “Let this be a learning experience for each of us.” Indeed!

Airbnb Experience Different for Older Guests

We experienced our first Airbnb in the US this past week. How we came to be there is that my husband’s nephew stayed at this same place. He is 30. Our tastes in accommodations and his are dramatically different. In his review he gave them seven stars.

Anyway, he said they would give us a deal if we went directly to the hosts. We weren’t sure but that may have been a bad sight. The rate on the advertised room was $35 a night. Even with cleaning costs, that was still overcharging for seven days; we paid $400.

On arrival we met them. They seemed like an okay but aloof couple. After three days our towels start to smell. We texted a request for fresh ones. The host replied Airbnb required us to provide one set… Later on in the day I got a text from her about which towels I wanted replaced. I replied the ones in the bath which was exactly what I got: one damn towel. My husband missed out.

The host advertised on their page that they had European and American coffee pots. She never said or showed how to make espresso. When I asked for the American coffee pot what I got was a pot that was full of mold; it looked like it hadn’t ever been cleaned. It was disgusting.

They advertised they had a balcony. It was there all right… if you could forage through the crap laying all over it. Cigarette butts overflowing in the ashtray, and glasses and cups had been sitting there for days. As far as cleanliness, there were always dishes in the sink and a pot of food on the stove.

This takes the cake. They had a shoe rack outside the hallway and asked us to remove our shoes… no joke. I know there are better places out there and I will give Airbnb one more chance but this was an eyeopener. There was a TV in our room; however, it didn’t work. There were no mirrors and the pillows were as flat as pancakes.

They advertised they were students as their occupation line… this is their way of making a living? I’m not sure. They seem to be living in the bedroom opposite ours. The host mentioned she has a degree in international business and the husband in entrepreneurship. I think they missed a class or two in hospitality. The bottom line is don’t expect a 30-something to know what your expectations are. He tried to do well and we appreciated it. However, it was a lesson learned by us. Too bad, so sad.

Host Slept in Living Room While Guests Stayed in her Room

Not so long ago, I went to LA with my friend and decided to stay in the heart of Hollywood. I saw this one-bedroom place on Airbnb and decided to book it because it was heaps cheaper than hotels. The place looked amazing and the bed was massive. I contacted the host and she was very prompt in replying.

On the day of arrival, I pressed the intercom and was surprised that a guy answered and told us to come in. As far as I can remember, I was exchanging messages with a female beforehand. Anyways, my friend and I decided to go ahead. When we got into the place, we were not so pleased to see three people (two girls who were the host and
her sister, and one guy). The host was very friendly and took us to our room. My friend and I were becoming a bit jittery of the situation. We decided to go out and have dinner, hoping the three would be gone when we come back. After all, we booked a one-bedroom unit; we expected privacy.

To our surprise, they were still there when we got back. We decided to sleep just one night and leave the next day. Upon waking up, we saw the host and her sister sleeping on the couch just like it was their usual routine. I couldn’t describe how I felt that day. I was angry deep inside. I felt I was cheated. In spite of what had happened, I told the host that we were leaving and that we didn’t like the experience.

I tried to put a bad review on that listing but it didn’t get published. I made a complaint on Airbnb but there was no reply. Unfair, right? Upon checking up on the host, I found that she had moved to a new place and had a new listing. It seemed to me that she didn’t own the place at all. What she probably does is lets people rent her place so they can pay for her rent. That’s why I have been very skeptical of Airbnb, because of that terrible first experience.

Airbnb Only Bothers to Protect Hosts and their Reviews

Do not use Airbnb. They only protect their hosts and not the guests. Our Miami condo was cancelled by the hosts one hour before check-in (literally as our plane landed I received a notice, and not even an apology). I’ve been trying to work with Airbnb the past three weeks and they even removed my bad review of their host, wiping their record “clean” on a technicality that I shared information about the case. When I said I’d rewrite it to omit what was not allowed, they refused and still removed my review, so consumers would never know the hosts or Airbnb did this. I can’t believe how their support is very one sided and favors the hosts. Trying to get their call number to report the issue as the issue is happening is like finding a needle in a haystack. Their call number is nowhere to be found on their site unless you click on at least six different links and you have to read everything to just figure out what to do. During the entire complaint, case managers that handled your issue refuse to talk live to you on the phone; they handle everything by email. If you must use Airbnb, do not use this host. They have four properties: I think two in Miami and two in other countries. They are based in Croatia and use some property managers in their Miami condos.

Stranded in Florence After Host Lied and Cancelled

Have you ever wondered why so many hosts have five-star reviews on Airbnb? It’s because all the one-star reviews are deleted. If only hosts were as good at cleaning as the Airbnb admin folks. We were left stranded in Florence in high season. The host first told us he’d sent an email with details of the key pickup. There was no email. Then he said he would send someone with the key (by then it was 3:00 PM). We waited outside for an hour, and there was no sign of the key. After a few more frantic calls, the host said someone was three minutes away with the key. Then we got an email saying our booking had been cancelled.

We emailed Airbnb but didn’t get a response, so we regrouped and booked another apartment. It was much smaller, only had one bathroom, and didn’t have the same great view, but it was a bed and it was available. Airbnb emailed suggesting we leave a review for the host who let us down. “You can leave a review for your host even though the trip was cancelled,” they said. So we wrote a review thinking at least other guests wouldn’t find themselves and their suitcases on a pavement in Florence. We checked a few days later and the review had been deleted. Airbnb said the host had trouble accessing his account (not true because he was messaging us through the site while we were waiting for the key) so there was no penalty for the cancellation. Not even get the standard “host cancelled” message on the listing. So after leaving us stranded, with no explanation, the host still has 74 five-star reviews and is a “Superhost”. Deleting reviews is deceptive and misleading; it takes away the customer’s right to make an informed decision, and it jeopardizes their safety and comfort.

You Can’t Trust Pictures or Reviews on Airbnb

My wife and I have booked some apartments through Airbnb and we can now say that what you see is never what you get. The property pictures on Airbnb are embellished; everything looks shiny, but the moment you enter the apartment you realize you more or less bought a pig in a poke. Not once did we feel an apartment was more beautiful and better than its pictures. Sofas and chairs looked nice in the photos, but turned out to be very cheap and uncomfortable.

Beware of apartments with old furniture. Some owners advertise them as art, design, or something. This is rubbish. They’re there because they’re old and almost broken, and the owners don’t want to use them anymore. They’re too greedy to buy new furniture. I prefer apartments with IKEA furniture, because at least that’s new.

Once during an Airbnb stay, my wife got bitten so badly by lice from an old bed (I slept on a new IKEA bed) that she had to go to a doctor. We like to cook, but in some apartments the kitchen utensils were also old and broken. Don’t trust five-star reviews. I know for sure that owners can make a guest change a negative review. Once, we stayed in an apartment that had a bad smell in the bathroom. After a week, a previous guest published a negative review mentioning that same bad smell. I even made a print of the review. Some days later, I looked again and… voilà: the review was 100% positive. The bad smell was no longer mentioned. It’s clear that the owner promised the guest a partial refund if he would change his negative review into a positive one.

As bad as a hotel might be, if you have problems you can complain to the staff; someone will be there to help you. Not so with Airbnb. After you check in, most owners disappear.