Consequences for writing a bad review?

I had a guest who booked a 7 night stay for Xmas and a day before her arrival she wanted to cancel. She kept insisting that because fo the rising number of cases, I need to give her a refund.

I said no refunds and since this was a day before arrival, I can’t let her reschedule. Xmas is the highest-demand time period for us. The listing is on an island and since last-minute flights are really expensive, we rarely get last-minute guests.

She contacted Airbnb and they messaged me. I told them I can’t offer anything beyond the cancellation policy.

She came and her stay was uneventful from my perspective. She did not leave a review. I left her a 3* review at the last moment due to her arguing about a refund. I gave her five stars on cleanliness as she left the place clean.

This was my review.

B wanted to get a refund for her Christmas trip one day before arrival. Once I declined she sent me a screenshot of a canceled flight. She reached out to Airbnb for a refund. I could not offer her a refund or reschedule one day before arrival, so she decided to take the trip. I thought her flight was cancelled but perhaps she found a way to get there.

She wasn’t able to leave a review since 14 days had passed. But she sent me a nasty message and a nasty response on the review I left her.

I’m wondering if I will get in trouble with Airbnb because I left an honest review. I’m sure she complained to Airbnb about me.

Maybe I should not have left her a bad review.

Her message to me:

You are an awful person with no dignity or empathy. I have been in and out of urgent care and doctors offices since I went on that trip. Still I chose not to leave a negative review on your page, because I believed it would be unfair to speak negatively on the accommodations, just because I found the host reprehensible. I am not a liar, and if you wanted proof that my flight was actually cancelled you could have asked for it. I am a human being who was trying to make do with an unfortunate situation. I did not try to cancel the night before for no reason. There were extenuating circumstances due to an unforeseen uptick of a global pandemic. Instead of employing a modicum of empathy, you instead bash me. That is disgusting. Your refund policies are predatory and you are a bad person.

I don’t think you’ll “get in trouble” for the review, but I don’t think there was any reason to detail the cancellation/refund debacle in the review.

Why didn’t you mention in the review that she left the place clean?

I would have left a review that said something like “There was initially an issue with XX wanting to cancel on very short notice and expecting to be refunded, but she ended up coming to stay and left the place in clean and tidy condition.”


I see what you are saying and it makes sense. I should have written about her leaving the place clean. I wanted to warn other hosts about her unreasonable request for a refund, and the hassle of having to deal with a person like that. But I suppose there are lots of guests like that. They book non-refundable rates but want refunds a day before arrival, but they don’t want to pay the higher flexible cancellation rate or for travel insurance.


Her last minute request unreasonable from your point of view for the reasons you detail. And it was outside the T&Cs so you were perfectly within your right to say no. I give last minute refunds for cancellations due to Covid but only if there is an official lockdown. I state this on my listing so it is a selling point. I live in what is sometimes described as “the most lockdowned City in the world” so it is more than theoretical. But I wouldn’t have taken points off her asking (and certainly not 2), she may have genuinely suffered some anxiety both about Covid and the money spent.


I see your perspective. I was a bit harsh. Perhaps the hours of messaging back and forth day before Christmas eve, made me overreact. I will keep this in mind when something like this happens the next time.

Perhaps I have become jaded from hosting, so I always assume if someone asks something, and I can’t offer it to them then I will get a bad review. I had one guest give me a low rating because I didn’t offer her early check-in AND late checkout. So I dread anybody ask anything that is outside of what I offer and have to say no.


And sometimes you will but giving a guest a bad review (especially one that doesn’t deserve one) doesn’t change anything anyway. There’s no tit-for-tat averaging.

Your guest was very well-spoken, I hope you appreciate that she didn’t go the same direction as you did :wink:


I agree with Muddy, I like the review she wrote. The written review you posted was a bit harsh since you implied that she lied about the cancelled flight. At this point, all you can do is move on. I wouldn’t respond to her messages because that might make matters worst.

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Never give a BAD review – even if a Guest totally trashes your place. Instead, give a dispassionate FACTUAL review. In your case, something like @muddy wrote above


No, you should always give a bad review, nothing bad is going to happen to the host. If you want to avoid the guest review wait till last minute till expiry, you can actually see minutes on the countdown on last day and last hour. I had so many horrible nightmare guests that hosts gave 5 stars, but I make sure everytime I warn the future hosts.


You gave the review you thought she deserved and which to you, was honest. You didn’t say anything that wasn’t true. Maybe you were too harsh, maybe not. OTOH, her saying things like “I’ve been in and out of urgent care” is completely irrelevant and she’s simply trying to make you feel bad. She probably didn’t leave a review because she’s been busy or because she’s a self centered liar. You’ll never know and you shouldn’t worry about it any more.

There’s no penalty for giving a bad review per se. The only penalty is if the next person(s) reading the review decide not to host her, or if you are on the receiving end you might move down in the search ranks and lose out on some bookings.

I would suggest running your thoughts by this group before leaving a review that might be problematic rather than after. Someone here would have advised you to soften it and that 3 stars was too low given the circumstance.

I agree with Ken that you shouldn’t leave “bad” reviews. You also shouldn’t assume you’ll get a retaliatory review because you told them “no,” and frame it with that in mind. Treat each guest as an individual and don’t punish them for what a different guest did or for what you read on a forum they might do.

Edit to add:

Thank you. Too many hosts go the other direction and because they fear a bad review they don’t give any useful information.

Hindsight and all that but… don’t do this. That is on you past the first message or two. If someone queries about this in the future, and given there is still a pandemic they will, just state your policy clearly and unemotionally. Refer any further debates about it to Airbnb. Remember, they have the guest’s money, not you. Don’t get sucked into hours of messaging. Reply once or twice to them. Reply to Airbnb when they ask you to violate your own policy. Don’t spend hours on it.


She was aware of your cancellation policy when she booked. I had this before as well and Airbnb stepped in and asked if I could reim half and so I did. Airbnb told me I didn’t have to but since I was able to recover some by opening those dates, I was able to rent to a VRBO guest.
She could have explained her situation “prior” to booking, in hopes you might be able to work with her if she needs to cancel.
Her fault, not yours.
You were up front.
She was not.
And she agreed to “your” cancellation policy when she booked.
You’re not the bad person here.
She is.


This. When people think in terms of “good” and “bad” reviews, it becomes difficult to write a review for a crummy guest- worries about the guest’s reaction (like the furious message this guest sent) and sometimes, not wanting to write a"bad" review, the host decides not to review at all.

If we think of reviews as factual and balanced, it’s much easier to write. You can usually come up with something positive to say about most guests, even if you wouldn’t have them back. Maybe they left the place mess, but they were friendly and communicated well. Hosts come across to future guests as fair if they leave balanced reviews and responses.

Also keep in mind that you aren’t reviewing them as a person, but as to their suitability as a guest. Some really “nice” people make lousy guests, and vice versa. So even if the guest pissed you off, or alternatively were very nice, try to separate whether you “liked” them or not from the facts of their stay. They might have been taciturn, or “odd”, but caused no problems and left the place clean, so your personal feeling about them is immaterial to a review.

A guest who has some objectionable behavior may be able to learn from a not so great review and be a better guest next time, if you can acknowledge the positive along with the negative. If all you do is slag them, they will just feel defensive and angry and learn nothing.

Admittedly, there are some guests, the partier/house trasher types who should be banned from the platform, about whom there is nothing good to say, but they are the exception, not the average guest.


My thoughts exactly.


THIS. Unemotional and factual.

It wasn’t completely unreasonable. Air has been allowing refunds for a while and while sticking to your refund guns is one thing, there is a global pandemic. Yes, she booked during it. Yes, you took a Christmas reservation. But I agree - your review lacked empathy.

Would giving her 50% back during a holiday when flights were a mess be a bad thing? I get it - she booked, it’s high demand, you make good money and you’re running a business.

THIS. People want life to be normal. It’s not. We shouldn’t just be thinking of the T&Cs, but the people on both sides of the business.

Yes, it sounds like you need a breather.

Wow. No. Factual and unemotional reviews stating the case. The guest wasn’t unreasonable, she was canceling due to Covid, a canceled flight, and whatever her health issues are. Yes, she did it on Christmas Eve, when emotions run high. But slamming her like that? I don’t agree with that.

@KKC is correct. Sage advice.

Again for the win.

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You say hassle but I say part-of-the-job. Ultimately what you’re describing is just a professional conversation that you didn’t want to have. It’s totally fine that you didn’t want to refund her but I can’t see taking stars off just because she asked for one.

Personally, I think this is what the review should have addressed. As a host, I am not concerned with having refund conversations during Covid, I expect to have them.


Stop thinking like this. It’s YOUR business. If you stop worrying about reviews and do a good job of providing what’s offered in your listing, you don’t have to worry. A few bad reviews will happen but if the majority are good, your score will be fine.

My review would have been like Muddy’s and delivered at the last minute.

My advice is to NOT offer early check-in, checkout, or anything else you don’t want to offer and when asked say “I’m sorry, but we’re not able to do do that” without any reasons why. Just stick to that phrase, or “I’m sorry, we don’t offer that.” After a couple of queries, they should get the picture.

For refunds it’s “I don’t have your money, AirBnB does. You need to talk to them about refunds.” and when Air calls to ask, just say you’re sticking to your policy. If they keep calling you instead of Air, block them.


I see that some of you don’t see a problem with what this guest did. I have left good reviews who politely ask for a refund once and once I politely say no, they don’t argue about it for hours. This guest kept on giving me reasons why she needs to be given a refund. It was not a polite request.

This is a guest who doesn’t book flexible cancellation rates, doesn’t purchase travel insurance, doesn’t want to travel during covid but wants me to take a loss for her poor decisions. The canceled flight was a poor excuse as she found another flight to take. I cannot recommend a guest like that to be on the Airbnb platform. I’m not an insurance company, I don’t cover every scenario that could go wrong with the world.

My loyalty is to the local economy and the people who work for me. If I don’t get paid, I cannot pay the cleaning crew, the greeters, the maintenance people. They have been hard hit during covid.

I don’t know if she was vaccinated or is in poor health. I don’t ask such questions. There are plenty of people in the world who are triple vaccinated, in good health, and willing to travel. By booking a high-demand period, she is blocking the place from people who could have traveled and contributed to our local economy by spending at restaurants, stores, and activities.

How is it fair that someone who shouldn’t be traveling during covid decides to book a non-refundable rate, doesn’t purchase travel insurance, and then expects to get a full refund and denies the local economy an opportunity to make a living after they have been hard hit for a couple of years? And on top of it, she tries to pressure me into giving me a refund.

But these questions of fairness are irrelevant. I simply enforced the T&Cs and she gave me a hard time about it. For that, I cannot recommend her to other hosts. I certainly wish other hosts would inform me of such people.


Great feedback. I will keep that in mind. I’ll have abb deal with them. I’m not sure if there is a hold time when contacting abb, but that should deter people from making frivolous requests.

Thanks for the support. She couldn’t inflict any damage on me since I left the review a few minutes before the deadline and she could not leave a review. I just wonder if abb keeps track of such things and would penalize me in the future. I have over 100 positive reviews with an average of 4.9 so I hope they look at this outlier guest and ignore her complaints.

After all, if I had provided her a refund, abb would lose some of their fees as well.

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You’re very emotional about a guest that happened almost a month ago. Let it go.

It’s not about fair. Life isn’t fair and guests and hosts make stupid calls every day. People do dumb stuff, especially around the holidays.

Going forward, do as suggested - stick to your guns and keep it to ONE message - “My cancelation policy is xyz. I won’t issue a refund. If you have further questions, contact Air as they have your money, I don’t.”

Then move on. If they persist, block them and contact Air. Done and dusted in under 30 minutes.

Stop expecting people to behave as you would. They don’t.

No, she’s blocking you from getting someone who isn’t going to want to cancel on Christmas Eve. Own your own business, not the macro economy going on around you. That’s a by product of tourism and someone staying with you.

I get the feeling you feel very personally burned by the bad reviews you’ve received in the past. Do you like hosting?

One message - “My cancelation policy is. I won’t/can’t refund and I don’t have your money, Air does. Any further questions, please contact Air directly.”



Nope, they usually keep their fees even if you give a refund.