Bizarre guest experience + now guest is requesting a majority of stay as refund

Last week we had a guest requesting a same-day booking, with this message… (she had no reviews but the account was open since 2015, and 1 verification)

is there availability of checking in early husband and I just had baby month ago and need a break we got a babysitter and need peace asap. asap like 1 if possible so we can enjoy almost full day

I know, I know… the whole “need peace asap” should’ve been a :triangular_flag_on_post: but I thought back to how my wife and I felt, shortly after having each of our 4 children. Desperately needing/wanting a break was not uncommon at all!

She ended up ignoring our responses and the reservation request was canceled.

Then on Monday, we had a guest who did a same-day booking, for two nights, with this message:

My fiance and I stay in Magna we have never stayed at a AirBNB. I just had a baby a month and half ago and we wanted a leisure trip with no children. I finally was able to coordinate a baby sitter and doggie sitter now that i’m not pregnant as well.

I was thinking… I wonder if this is a new scam or something, to say that you just had a baby and want to take a leisure trip. ¯\ (ツ)_/¯ We didn’t connect the dots until they were here, that it was the same person that requested to book about a week prior. This new account was created Nov '18 and had more (like 4 verifications) and of course, no reviews.

The asked to get in early (noonish) and we agreed, as the place was ready to go. They ended up getting in around 8pm or later. The floor of our main level doesn’t have the best insulation so we could easily hear that there was a woman and (at least) two other men down there. We double checked her booking to find that she had only booked 1 person. :grimacing:

Then around 10pm someone got in the compact sedan and took off. The back seat of the sedan was stuffed to the roof of the car with clothes (like someone was living out of the car or something.) That concerned us a bit. The other guest must have still been in the basement b/c the shower/tub started running and kept running for over 20 mins. My wife was about to shower but there was no hot water left. We have a 50 gal tank and never had issues not having enough hot water, even with parties of 8 guests! A few mins later the guest messages us and said “I know it’s late but I was trying to run bath for my husband and it doesn’t get hot it’s like warm.” We promptly replied that none of our family had baths or showers but if someone of their group did then the hot water might be all out. No reply.

Around 1am and throughout the night, we were awakened by the loud conversations in the basement + the TV at a high volume. And the TV was still on when I woke at 6am (Tue)

At that point I looked out to our driveway to find a big SUV parked in our driveway, with some bags next to the front tire. A few mins later I heard the SUV fire up (very loud!) and walked over to find a girl quickly shoving bags in the car, and she hopped in the passenger side.

Tue morning I sent a message saying: "I was up early this mornign and noticed some folks leaving our Airbnb. I just wanted to confirm whether you’re planning on staying tonight as well? Also, I wanted to come down and check the hot water heater to make sure everything is working properly. Do you mind if we come down to check on it? No reply.

The TV was still on so we thought that someone may still be down there. The whole day passes with no response from the guest and at about 7pm I went down to the private entrance to knock. No response. So I stepped a foot in the unit and called out, but there was no response still. So I entered. Nobody was there but the place was in a bit of dissaray. It wasn’t terrible but it was just very messy unlike it usually is when guests leave. Coffee mugs and food all over the unit on window ledges, tables, etc. We were pleased that other than having to put a little extra time into cleaning, there was no apparent damage, etc.

FF to this morning. I got a message that she was requesting $89.50 as a refund, with a message stating:

I left at 800 am maybe prior to that to go to SLC I didn’t realize it was

:arrow_up:︎ That’s it.

Here’s the outline of charges for the 2 nights (Mon, Tue)
$60 (x 2) ➞ $120
$30 cleaning fee
-$4.50 Service Fee

And they’re asking for $89.50 which is basically like asking for 1 night and the cleaning fee to be refunded.

I want to avoid having them leaving a bad review for us, if possible, and I bet if I refund all, it would prob help avoid a bad review.

Technically b/c she didn’t respond to me in the morning I was not able to make our unit available for that evening so b/c their lack of communication/response, they should be liable for that second day.

At very least I’d be fine refunding the second day, for $60, but not the cleaning fee as well.

So I want hear from some of you seasoned hosts what you would do in this scenario.

Any advice?

I would decline the refund. Airbnb’s cancellation terms are clear: refunds are processed according to your cancellation policy and only after they’ve officially cancelled. By not informing you they were leaving you couldn’t rebook the night.

The only thing she may have a leg to stand on is the hot water. Once she informs you, you’re supposed to have 24 hrs to remedy the situation. It sounds like she messaged late Monday night? Your response was more like “should be working” than an actual fix. Of course it sounds like they drained the heater, but I might have replied to coordinate a time to check it in the morning. They shouldn’t get a refund for that, but if they get a sympathetic CS agent, they might.

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Decline the request.

  1. They brought extra guests as evidenced by voices you heard & amount of trash left in the room, & use of the shower.

Her reservation said something about her husband & her needing a break so although the reservation was for 1, you knew 2 were coming.

However you heard additional voices & someone used all the hot water before the husband (supposedly).

  1. Even if they left, they did not cancel their reservation through Airbnb.

  2. They were wasteful of your resources by leaving the TV on while no one was in the unit.

This feels scammy. Is your minimum rental one night or two?

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Hi @alwaysd8don

First things first, as hosts we need to be proactive about managing situations so they don’t escalate.

  1. 2 almost exactly the same requests a week apart should have set off red flags
  2. They booked for one rather than two, but you didn’t ask them in advance or on check in to alter the booking
  3. They asked for an early check in
  4. You knew there were three rather than two people there but did nothing about it (don’t know if your house rules cover no extra guests who haven’t booked and paid)
  5. I don’t know what your house rules are around late night noise but presuming you have this rule in place why didn’t your contact them and ask them to keep noise to a minimum
  6. There is no reason for her to have a refund. She didn’t cancel and she behaved appallingly. Just refuse the request and say she didn’t cancel the booking but if she had any refund due would be in line with your cancellation policy. She let you know about the hot water late at night and she offered to come and have a look the next morning, it is not your fault she didn’t respond.
  7. She can leave you a bad review there is nothing you can do about this. Refunding in full won’t stop the guest leaving you a bad review.

So learn from this experience to vet your guests more carefully, be more proactive when your guests break your house rules.

Leave an honest review and make sure you put in a request for the extra guests who stayed in the property.


Great advice and feedback. Many thanks for chiming in.

Our minimum night is ONE. So if someone books for one night (happens often) we walk away with about $87.50, which is worth it to us to change/wash some sheets and clean up everything (about an hour).

Oh dear @alwaysd8on sounds like my detailed suggestions didn’t work for you :slight_smile:

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This was a shady guest and now she’s trying to scam you for a refund. Don’t fall for it!!


Forget it! That will NOT avoid a bad review. Stop worrying about a bad review. NO REFUND! They violated several house rules.

YOU should not have let things progress as they did – Stop nonsense as quickly as you can.


I’m really grateful for all the detailed feedback and encouragement from from all of you.

My biggest takeaway as a new Airhost is that there were a few more things I could have done to be more proactive along the way and cover ourselves. Don’t let anything slide if it’s outside the scope of each individual “contract” and if anything goes out of that scope… quickly address it.

Thanks @Allison_H, @Annet3176, @Helsi, @TuMo and @KenH for helping us see all these different angles that we didn’t consider. (@helsi, my response about minimum of ONE night was in response to another. Your detailed feedback was VERY helpful. Thank you!)

I have these options:

So this is what I was thinking of saying…

Unfortunately, we’re unable to process a refund since a cancellation request was not received. If you would have responded and canceled your second night then we would have been able to offer a refund and open the unit to another guest.

After messaging you yesterday (Tue) morning and asking if you were planning to stay the night, we did not receive a response. The television was left on and we were under the impression that you were still down there, so we could not enter the unit, clean it, and make it available for other guests. If you would have canceled your second night then we would have been able to offer a refund.

Is that my most compelling response? Any strategic thing that I could change or tweak that would make her not be inclined to leave a bad review?

I’d leave that sentence out. No point in giving any validation or encouragement on that front. And do you give refunds for last minute cancellations? Do you get plenty of last minute bookings?

Between having two accounts, terrible communicatio, asking for early check in and asking for a refund, I don’t think anyone wants to host this person.

Overall very nice and professional, more than I would have been. LOL.


Great point! I’m so glad I asked. I tend to be too verbose about things (as you could tell from my OP). Glad to cut the fat where it makes sense and I agree with your comments!

We get a surprising amount of last min bookings! Pretty fortunate on that front. Glad to help good, honest people in desperate situations. We’ve all been there a time or two ツ

I also get lots of last minute bookings although they are almost never desperate they are merely procrastinators. LOL. Most are actually road trippers with cars who seem to be winging it as they go. So because I have flexible policy anyway, and it works with my lifestyle, I tend to refund in more cases than most. I’ve refunded multiple people who didn’t even ask for a refund. However, I would not refund or in any way encourage this person to continue using Airbnb.

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Touché! Def procrastinators!

I love your approach to hosting and will assimilate these ideas into our approach. Totally on point! We’ve done the same and requested a portion of a booking without the person even requesting it. But from the start, they had such great communication with us, etc. etc. They were WONDERFUL guests in the end, too!

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Look for the “Hell no!” button.


Definitely decline the request.
Any chance they deliberately ran you out of hot water to have something to use to get a refund?

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Yes, thanks to everyones help I took the route of declining the request.

That’s a good question about the hot water and definitely a plausible thing to consider… a little collateral to dispute a rejected refund :thinking:

Yep. My advice is/was to just click the Decline button. By writing a message you’re just asking for things to be dragged out once again. What part of NO do they not understand? If Air CS calls you, say the same thing – “I tried to communicate and they wouldn’t. So my answer is NO. No refund.”


I encourage you to read Helsi’s comments. In the long run you will find that hosting includes a crash course in assertiveness training.

My two cents: if it smells fishy, it probably is. And there is a direct relationship between being overly generous and insults like these.


Well, we ultimately declined the request entirely. We’ve been fortunate that the guest did not retaliate in any way.

We have not left a review for the guest but would like to make other hosts aware of our experience. However, I’m hesitant to leave a review b/c I know Airbnb automate messaging will send the guest an email and let them know we have given them a review and it will try to solicit a review from them. We have 2 days left till the review window is closed.

What are the implications of not leaving a review for a guest? Does Airbnb ding us in any way?

I feel like this issue is out of sight, out of mind to the guest and fear that by leaving a review it might resurface their probable dissatisfaction with the refund.


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What a shame you don’t want to leave a review for these guests. How else will you make other hosts aware of these guests behaviour as you indicate you want to do.

Reviews are blind, so they won’t know what you have written.

As we have said many times on this forum, fear of a bad review shouldn’t stop hosts from leaving an honest review.