Best way to handle unfair or unwarranted review

I have read posts on this forum regarding this issue where the offended host cannot resist the urge to vent and respond with rebuttals, which in some cases are more of a reflection of their anger, than factual relevant rebuttal. I can understand where they are coming from but at the same time want to avoid emotional rebuttals.
We had a guest on which I got bad vibes even before I met him. My wife had given him the usual introductory tour and had received a deadpan reaction from him with no questions, comments, or reactions. He then came and went through the private entrance and never used the door from his room into the kitchen and dinette, not even to get water from fridge. To me it was pretty obvious that he did not want contact with us on a face to face level. I told my wife that there is something he is not happy about and she thought it was just that he was a loner and did not want interaction.
A couple of days later I was out walking the dog in the treed area behind the house when I heard a noise and saw a car on the gravel driveway spinning its wheels and lurching forward in a very erratic manner. After traveling about 60’ the driver jammed on the brakes and skidded to a stop, and then got out and looked at the front of the car and then went to the back, then got back in and drove out in a normal manner. This was the guest! By the time I reached the driveway he was long gone but he had left over 40’ of deep trenches in the gravel and top surface of the drive. I should mention that the drive is about 250’ long and slopes down toward the roadway and that we have had over 50 guests some in 4 x 4’s and the usual UPS Fedex trucks up and down and never had any damage. Anyway, he returned in mid afternoon and went straight to his room. I thought maybe he was having nap so did not disturb him, but sent him an email asking if he would stop by as I needed to see him. He did so on his way out at about 8pm when I introduced myself and asked him what had happened on the driveaway as I had seen him spinning his wheels. He told me that he had forgotten to take off the brake. He said he was sorry about that and that he would clean up the mess, but it came across that he really did not care so I said ok but I will take care of it, but please be more careful. He said ok and then left.
If that had been me I would have contacted host myself and apologized and made a sincere offer to take care of it.
The following day he was due to leave and he checked out around 5am leaving the suite in clean tidy condition. He sent in a review real quick . My wife wanted to give him a review so she could see his, so she gave him a basic review to the effect that due to his schedule we did not have any interaction but he left the room in good condition, she left out any negatives.
As expected we received a bad review as below:
“I did not enjoy my stay at this airbnb. The hosts lack basic knowledge of hospitality. On my 2nd day I left tire marks on the gravel driveway because I didn’t take of the emergency brake on my rental car, my mistake. The host initiated the discussion about it later that night. I explained, apologized and offer to fix the gravel, 3 times during the conversation. They didn’t accept the apology or my offer to fix the situation. I felt very unwelcome at that point. Mistakes happen and as a paying guest, I expect to be treated as such, a guest.”
xxxxxx’s private feedback for you:
“Airbnb is a hospitality business. You made me unwelcome and were rude. I’m the paying customer. I apologized and offered to correct the issue with the gravel driveway but you didn’t accept the apology or offer for me to correct the issue. You continued to talk about how awful and terrible the tire marks were.”
Checkin feedback:
“Your guest had some issues with the the check-in process: entering home.”
Now that you’ve both written reviews, we’ve posted them to your Airbnb profiles.
While xxxx’s feedback can’t be changed or removed, you can write a response that will appear directly below it.
I was certainly not rude, even my wife agreed, and thought his attitude was “so what, why are you even mentioning it?” We both thought that it should have been up to him to make contact and offer to help fix, not for us to have to request a meeting. As to Airbnb’s comments that “guest had a problem with the check-in process”, we have absolutely no idea what the problem was. My wife is very friendly and communicative and is very good at making people feel at home. Check-in time was 3pm and we were home at 2.10 and guest arrived at 3.20. The only thing different was that guests normally ring bell at front door, whereas this one entered through backyard gate and my wife heard him and greeted him on the walkway and gave him the usual tour but in this case got little response. Entry into the suite was uneventful as my wife opened the door and showed him around. However, it is obvious that there must have been a problem, otherwise why would he have avoided contact after that. He even went to the local store for bottled water rather that use the fridge in the kitchen for free cold bottled water, (along with Continental Breakfast laid out for him the next morning). Was he embarrassed when I told him I had seen the would thing from a distance?
Purpose of this is to get opinions of other hosts as to:

  1. Should I even respond to that review?
  2. If I do, should I refute his claim that these were just tire marks. and ask why they went on for so far and were in different positions, and why he did not contact me in the first place, and offer to fix. If I had accidentally spilled wine on the host’s bedspread, for example I would have seen them and apologized and offered to clean it up or pay for it, even if they had not seen me spill the wine.
    Am I allowed to know what the issues were with "check-in process: entering home.” as this is a mystery as the street number is displayed clearly on mailbox and again on house. He was walked through to the room and door was opened for him.

He’s just a strange guy. I’d probably ignore it and move on. If you are one of those who feel “misconceptions” should be cleared up then go for it.

Ugh I think his guy also stayed at my place although no trenches. Disheartening when this happens and not much you can do. The review system is not for the Faint of heart

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I don’t think I could resist responding to that - it’s lies!

But keep it brief and without emotion! Because yes, to me hosts who respond to the negative feedback can sometimes look a little nuts.

I’m expecting my first lot of bad feedback with my last guest, I hope I take my own advice!

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Having a bad feeling ahead of time is such a familiar–and uncomfortable-- feeling. Sigh. Hosting is an object lesson in trusting one’s gut, although once the guest is booked, what can you do? Sometimes people are just jerks. Of course you had to ask him about what happened!

I hosted a group where the woman who booked it HATED the property. She kept saying, “I didn’t know it would be like this (referring to the raw cedar walls in one of the rooms).” After the 3rd or 4th time she mentioned how “rustic” it was, her husband interjected “_____________, it looks exactly like the photos you showed me!” Then I knew I was sunk. She didn’t respond to any of my messages checking in during the stay, and yeah, she left a scathing, lengthy review. I made the beginner’s mistake of responding (worse yet, I responded to her private feedback in the public review, I was so frazzled, a one-time error I’m still kicking myself about). One of her complaints–bugs in the shower–turned out to be a couple of little moths. I could see the bathroom window from my house, and noticed that she left the light in the bathroom on all night, and it drew moths. Sheesh.

It really upset me, and once I calmed down, I resolved to never respond in a knee jerk fashion again, AND to always, always listen to my intuition. That said, if someone out and out lied about something (like your guest saying you were rude when you asked him about damaging your driveway) I MIGHT write the review, save it, and possibly post it after thinking about it for a few days.

A few nice guests will wipe away most of that bad feeling. Some people are temperamentally unsuited for home-sharing, and are best served by the anonymity of a hotel, which is what I would probably say in response to his review if I did respond.

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Oh gosh… I have been in your shoes… with people who hated my place, but never read a single thing in the listing and then keelhauled me cruelly in the review. I never knew they were unhappy, because they put on a really good show while here and thanked me and shook my hand when they left.

It’s so hard not to take it personally. I’ve been doing this a long long time and I never have been able to get over these nasties when they occasionally crop up. Also you get the sense that you can’t trust your judgment because you give the green light to someone who is just going to hate you. How I wish I could do it over and never approve their bookings.


Thank you all for your input. I had decided not to respond/rebut as thought his review was so bad that most potential guests would see it for what it was and might realize that one does not get “superhost” status by treating guests the way this guy claims. That was until I went onto the Airbnb site and saw that he had rated us one star in EVERY category.
The other thing that was so different about him was that from the outset he avoided any contact. When he booked I had sent him self check map & instructions in the event of late night arrival. Day before I had emailed him for eta as we would like to meet&greet and he responded with a 3 pm arrival. He came close to that, but unlike every other guest he went to the back gate rather than the front door presumably to use the self check key code. My wife saw him and went out to meet him before he got to the door of the suite. She then gave him a tour but he was deadpan throughout.
He was told that Continental breakfast would be laid out on the dinette table in the kitchen and that he was welcome to help himself to bottled water and fruit juice from the drinks fridge. Next morning he did not come into the kitchen for either. When he checked out there were many empty water bottles from a local store which he had gone out and purchased rather then availing himself of the free cold drinks available in the kitchen. Seems that he wanted to avoid any personal contact from start. There is a connection between him and a budget airbnb in the area. In retrospect I think he tore up my driveway deliberately as he came from snow country where, if he drove like that he would be stuck, period. So I think he knew how to drive and what he was doing. Also I have checked the specs on his rental car and it has is a “brake on” warning message. He seemed embarrassed when I told him that I had been watching the whole thing.
This was clearly a malicious vindictive review which as the host (and guest if applicable) we should be able to appeal and have removed.

I will definitely be sending a rebuttal at this stage. I would like to post it here for other host’s suggestions as now this has become an emotional issue but I want my rebuttal to be factual and devoid of any emotion or accusations.

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This guy’s avoidance sounded so much like a recent guest I had that I had to go look at his reviews to see if it was the same guy. I guess it’s not. It’s strange how people who don’t want contact choose to stay in someone’s home, even if it does have a private entrance.

Here are the rebuttals, a short one and a long one. Which of these (if any) would be considered appropriate and least likely to put off future potential guests.
This was so far off reality of what really took place. Guest trenched the driveaway with deep trenches for 60 feet…hardly marks on driveway! Never bothered contacting us with offer to repair, so I emailed him and requested meeting. I was never rude and his attitude was, so what I’m a guest. Airbnb reported that he had reported problems on checking in. We were quite unaware of any problems at check in and still are mystified, as one of us was available to greet him on arrival and show him around, although no comments or questions were raised at that time. It is obvious that from that time on he was unhappy and was avoiding any contact from then on. We later saw that he awarded us just one star on ALL categories. Read all our other reviews and ask yourself, could this be a fair and legitimate review?

You forgot to mention that you also gave us just 1 star for location, cleanliness, accuracy , checkin , communication , and value. Strange that our previous 50+ guests have given us 5 stars on all those categories. Had you made contact after checkin and stated the problem/s we would have realized that your expectations were totally unrealistic and beyond our power to correct, and would have contacted Airbnb who (maybe) could have found you accomodation in line with your expectations and arranged for a full refund. Without knowledge of the existence of any issues we were not able to respond at that time.
On the morning when you rearranged my driveway with deep trenches for about 60’ I was walking my dog behind the house some distance away and heard strange noises and looked over and saw your car making a series of stops and starts with gravel flying all over the place. I saw you finally stop about half way down, get out and go to the back of the car and then walk to the front looking down. You then returned to the car and continued this time in a normal fashion down the driveway. On reaching the house I couldn’t believe the mess you made nor why. I assumed that the reason you did not make contact with us at that time, was because you were running late but would contact us on your return with an explanation and an offer to help rectify. When you returned in the afternoon you went straight into your room. By the time evening came I thought that you may be napping and therefore was considerate enough not to disturb you, so therefore sent you an email asking to meet with you, to which you responded.
I was certainly in no way rude to you, as I simply asked as to what it was all about. Your responded that you were trying to drive the car with the brake. Your apology and offer to clean it up did not seem sincere and that was why I had responded not to worry about it and just to be more careful, and I will take care of it . At that point you simpy left and I thought that was the end of the matter, and that was the first and last time I saw you.
In your review you made mention of " left tire marks on the gravel". Definitely an understatement, wasn’t it? Big difference between marks and deep ruts which needed a barrowful of gravel and 30 minutes to repair. Had I, as a guest, caused similar damage even accidentally I would have contacted the host at the earliest opportunity. We have had UPS vehicles on that drive nearly every day as well as the occassional ten wheel heavy duty truck and all they have left behind were tire tracks which I simply brush over every couple of weeks.
In answer to the notation we received from Airbnb that " guest had some issues with the check-in process: entering the home." Even though you never reported those ssues to us we are still at a loss to guess what they might have been as Dion welcomed you on arrival and showed you around explaining where things were etc., as she normally does with every guest. As you made no comments nor asked any questions she presumed that you were quite satisfied with the welcome you received. In retrospect your dissatisfaction must have started at or before that point

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K9. I agree that is strange as a chain hotel would be a better choice. We did have another guest a while ago who gave us 4 stars as there was no refrigerator in the room. We had stated that the kitchen fridges were available for guests’ use but did not state that there was not a a private fridge in room! She obviously did not read the description and was ticked off immediately on entering and wanted to avoid contact as she knew she was going to knock us.

As a host, I look for clear, concise reviews, so right off the bat, I would suggest going with the condensed rebuttal. HOWEVER, I also put more faith in host reviews that stick to the facts only, and leave emotions and opinions out completely. Anything else makes it look like a pissing match between you and the guest, which doesn’t make anyone look good. Here is what I would write:

As my review of the guest states, I cannot recommend him to other hosts. We greeted him upon arrival, and showed him around, and he did not indicate any problems or questions during check in. In addition, during his stay, the guest trenched the driveway with deep trenches for 60 feet, and did not offer to repair the damage.


I hope your venting here helps. As for the reply to the review (it’s not called a rebuttal) I’d go with something short like what daniellalberta suggested. Even your condensed one is too long. Reading a long reply like that is a real turn off to me as a guest.


Rigs… I know you are upset and have every right to be. Stick to the facts in an unemotional manner.

Refer to guest in third person to keep voice neutral.

Unfortunately, this guest did blah blah blah. Wer’re sorry his stay was not successful. We always appreciate and respect every guest, as evidenced by the xx number of great and satisfied guests who have stayed.

Keep it short if at all possible!


I have to agree that my responses were too long, but feel I should send a response as many potential guests just look at the last review and, yes, if it too long they won’t bother with reading it.
I appreciate the input from you all and have sent the following public response:

It is unfortunate that guest was unhappy enough to give us a 1 star in ALL categories in contrast to the 5 star reviews we have had from our other many guests, who were a pleasure to host. We were not pleased that he damaged the driveway on his 2nd day with 60’ of ruts/trenches and that he never initiated contact and apology following that. He must have been really unhappy from the very start. Had he mentioned his many concerns we would have realized that they were not resolvable and would readily have agreed to cancel his stay.


We have to remember when writing responses that we cannot be defensive. It may not have been the best thing to bring up how many stars he left because it’s a negative. You don’t want to continue the drama the guest has started. Your future guests are looking at you to see how you responded to a bad review. It’s a tricky business to write a response that doesn’t sound defensive or continue the drama.

New guests don’t want drama. They are booking your house and want that to be a positive experience.


If I were you I would not state that the guest gave you one star in all categories. Potential guests won’t know this unless you tell them.

Wow. I really wish you’d followed the advice you asked for.

Replies to reviews are not a second chance to review the guest again, they are an opportunity to correct any glaring mistakes in a review with a factual and professional response. Had you just left it alone, it would have looked like an anomaly in a sea of good reviews. That always indicates to me that the problem was with the guest, not the host.

By replying with emotion and opinion, you’ve opened yourself up to guests interpreting what you wrote, and I fear you’ve done more damage than clarification. As others have mentioned, future guests would not have known he gave you one star for everything. They would just see the average of all your previous reviews. If all your other reviews were fine, the change would have been minimal.

As a potential guest, the sentence “he must have been really unhappy from the start”, is a total red flag for me, as was “his many concerns…were not resolvable…we would have readily agreed to cancel his stay.”

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but based just on this reply, I would be really hesitant to book your listing. This reply indicates to me that a) someone roasted you on a review, so b) you’re going to continue to argue with the guest on a public platform after they left, c) his first impression of your property was not favourable, and d) you didn’t try to resolve any of his concerns, preferring to cancel his booking if he raised any issues. It also sounds like you’re accusing him of damaging your driveway because he was unhappy with your listing.

See if you can call AirBnB, get that reply deleted, and either try again, or let it go.


Daniellealberta, I understand the points you are making and I believe that some people will take that view while others would not. For that reason responding to a negative review can certainly put the host in a defensive position. By ignoring the review many people may think that either the host does not care or that there was some truth in the bad review, so basically we are between a rock and a hard place.
However, on the upside to this, we have just received a booking which shows that this new guest was not deterred by the bad review. Assuming of course that they read it, but as it is the first review on the pag,e chances are that they did.
Had the guest contacted me about his extreme dissatisfaction, I would have been unable to correct any of the complaints as they would not have been valid or reasonable, i.e., the location is what it is, the description was accurate, cleanliness is subjective but if something had been overlooked we would take care of it, value is a matter of opinion but they knew the price and that of the competition when they booked. He should have requested cancellation and a refund at that point and had he done so we would have agreed.

Danielle is 100 percent correct. You’ve managed to make the response worse than the review.

They WILL let you edit if you call them. I would listen to your fellow hosts on this one. You sound angry and defensive…

Even though clearly you had every reason to be!!! The response is not the place to vent. The response isn’t to the guest, it is to the future guests.

I had a horrible guest who was fine while here and then keelhauled me cruelly in the review, calling me a scam artist basically and saying I had misrepresented my overpriced dump, ranted on and on…

you better believe I wanted to answer him emotionally and desfensively, but I carefully wrote my response in the neutral and addressed it to future guests who could all see it was anomaly.

Here, you added to the drama, possibly planting the idea in future guests heads that you are difficult…

Do yourself a favor and ask them to let you edit.


We all understand your disappointment when this happens as we go over and beyond to make it all perfect for our guests and feel let down; but honestly when I look at reviews on anything if I see one negative and majority positive I always think the negative one is them and not the product; plus you got a new booking. Wasted energy…