Guest cancelled reservation based on "incorrect" listing information

Hi folks,

For reference, the URL redirects to my listing.

I hate to be the guy who shows up here only when there is a
problem. Though I guess these days this is what I am.

But I just had an infuriating experience with a guest who just
left. Happily this is a rare occurrence. I do try to screen my guests,
but obviously it’s a crap shoot at the end of the day.

I promised her a very bad review, and I feel that I should keep my
promise. She certainly deserves it, in my opinion. But I feel it would
be a good idea to run my proposed wording past the experts here, in
case she tries to get it removed for reasons of objectionable language
or similar.

I’m writing this in a bit of a temper, but I feel I should do it now,
otherwise I will probably forget about it.

So, some background. The guest is a lawyer, and according to her, has
practiced in the Bombay High Court for 10 years. The Bombay High Court
is quite close by - just down the road at Fort. Basically walking
distance. She also said she is familiar with my area (Marine Lines),
which is quite close. And there is a church nearby which she said she
knew about - she’s presumably a Christian.

However, she moved to Goa during the pandemic, and stayed there. She
made a booking request on 18th April, which I accepted on 19th April,
after speaking with the guest. That’s not something that is supported
by Airbnb, or possibly even approved by them, though I am not aware of
any rule against it). But I started doing it during the pandemic. And
despite some push back from prospective guests who apparently can’t be
bothered to take a call, I think it is a good idea, and have kept it
as part of my screening process. It possibly saved me from at least
one unpleasant experience; a New Yorker with great reviews who I might
otherwise have accepted. When I spoke to him on the phone he was
extremely unpleasant, said I sounded “exhausting”, and hung up on
me. I’ve had bad experiences with New Yorkers before, and was quite
happy that he didn’t come to stay. (Sorry, I’m rambling.)

Anyway on 28th April, I sent her my information, including my guest
guide, which includes my address, directions and landmarks. So she
knew exactly where I was located.

The reservation was from 10th May to 15th May. And her check-in was
scheduled at 12.30 pm on 10th May.

Shortly before midnight on 9th May I sent her a last minute message
(not an arrival confirmation request) to ask if she wanted to have
lunch (no charge) since she was arriving at lunchtime. She replied
almost immediately, and said that she would be arriving after lunch
and so would not have lunch.

I think I might reach after lunch and not at 12:30 PM. I’ll share my
ETA. No lunch, thanks so much…

I then told her that wouldn’t work for me as I had a doctor’s
appointment in the afternoon, and we settled on 7 pm.

She sent a message on Airbnb Messaging at 5.51 pm, asking if a friend
of hers could “crash”, and also asking about parking. I had got back
early from the doctor’s appointment and replied to her at 6.15 pm,
telling her she could come now. The next I heard from her was at 6.46
pm, saying that she had gone for something to eat! I called her and
asked her when she was planning to come, and she said maybe 7.45
pm. (Her attitude seemed to be that this was a perfectly normal way to
behave. She said to me “that’s fine, right?”, referring to stopping
off to eat.) I said that was when I had dinner. And she eventually
arrived at 9.20 pm, with some man in tow who I had never seen or heard
from in my life, who she wanted to stay with. Against my inclination I
agreed to have him stay. I took his details and ID, naturally.

The next morning when I woke up I was greeted by an Airbnb message
which said the guest has complained that the listing incorrectly
advertised “beach access” in the amentities. Apparently, the listing
said that

Listing details → Amenities → Location features

Supposedly I had enabled

Beach access
Guests can enjoy a nearby beach

and also

Beachfront On or right next to the beach with direct beach access

I got a screenshot from one rep with the

Beach access
Guests can enjoy a nearby beach

part. As I tried to explain to more than one Airbnb rep this
afternoon, I had no recollection of ever enabling this, and certainly
would not have said I was on the beach front, which I’m not.

What makes this doubly weird is that the guest, who has lived and
worked in this area for a long time, must have been well aware, at
least on 28th April when I sent her my exact address, if not before,
that I was not on the beach. As I already mentioned, she was familiar
with the nearby church. This isn’t some foreigner who had never been
to Bombay. Though even then, this would have been unreasonable

Whether I am near the beach is arguable. Chowpatty Beach is not far
away, though I don’t know why anyone would want to visit it. It’s
quite polluted. It’s also clear from the area name (Marine Lines) and
the location shown on the Airbnb map in the listing, that it’s not on
a beach. And she could anyway have written and asked me if it was that
important to her. Or asked me when I spoke to her.

Of course Airbnb, who seems to be mostly composed of robots, didn’t
listen to anything I said, and refunded the guest 4 days of a 5 night
stay. This is not surprising. One does not expect sanity or common
sense from Airbnb reps. But this was only an issue because the guest

I am sorry to say I got a bit abusive with the guest as she left. I
rarely do this, but I was provoked.

So I was left with ₹2,061 (around USD 25) for maybe 10 hours of
nuisance, not counting the time I’m spending writing this. And
possibly not including the time I spent arguing with Airbnb. Plus the
₹500 I collected from this person’s “friend”.

Ironically, I have a lot of legal troubles, and had thought that this
person might help me with contacts or something, since she was a
lawyer who has worked in Bombay. Though I certainly wasn’t counting on
it. Seems funny in retrospect. I didn’t try asking her when I met her
on the evening 10th May, because her behavior was a bit strange, and I
kind of got bad vibes from her.

In 7 years (my listing went live in April 2016), with a pandemic gap,
I’ve never had someone complain to Airbnb about the accuracy of my
listing. I didn’t even know it was a thing, or that it could be the
basis for cancelling a booking and overriding the hosts’s cancellation

And my experience with Indian lawyers have been that they are really
crooked and unpleasant people. This just serves to reinforce this
bias. This person was one of those people who makes one wonder why one is doing Airbnb hosting.

Final thoughts:

  1. I wonder if there is really any point leaving a bad review, because
    the guest, whose account currently has no reviews, could presumably just delete her account and create a new one. And then that review would be gone. Is there anything stopping her doing that? I currently have 217 reviews. If she leaves me a bad review, I’m not going to delete my account because of it.

  2. I often think my guests are troublesome, but happily I’ve had very
    few experiences like this. If this happened regularly, I don’t think I
    could cope.

  3. It seems that this approach is a good way of doing an end run
    around cancellation policies, if the guest is sufficiently immoral to
    try it. Because Airbnb and their reps will happily assist the guest if
    he/she decides to try to screw the guest over. And I’m sure it is
    always possible to point to inaccuracies in any guest’s listing. I’m
    just glad it wasn’t a longer stay.

Fortunately, I get few cancellations, and so far it doesn’t seem to
have occurred to anyone else to try anything like this. But I guess
that’s the sort of thing lawyers do?

Anyway, so what do you think of the following review draft? Excuse the
telegraphic style, but Airbnb has a 1000 char limit on reviews now
(idiots). I don’t remember it before. Perhaps it’s new?

I’ll post this one a bit before the review period closes. Possibly on
the same day. In any case, I tend to post them rather last minute
these days. After hundreds of reviews, I think I’m jaded.


Summary: avoid this person if you value your time & sanity.

Made 5 day reservation with agreed upon check-in time 12.30 pm. Night
before arrival guest informed would not be making the time, and we
agreed on 7 pm. Was waiting for her & at 6.45 pm informs me has gone
to eat(!)

Finally turned up 9.20 pm with some person I knew nothing about, and
asked if he could “crash” for the night. Agreed against my inclinations.

Next day, got Airbnb message saying guest had complained listing was
falsely labelled beach front property. Had said no such thing in
description, but some setting had been enabled on listing. So guest
cancelled reservation, Airbnb refunded almost all money & I got ₹2,061
(USD 25) for 10+ hours nuisance value spread over two weeks. First
such complaint in over 300+ stays over 7 years.

Guest didn’t contact me about this issue, & is familiar with area,
having lived and worked nearby (Fort) as Bombay HC lawyer. Also, I
sent her address/landmarks details 2 wks earlier.

I think it’s great you stopped by the forum for a gut check.

Unfortunately, I think you are SOL, Faheem. You’re responsible for what your listing says even if Airbnb effs it up. Who knows, maybe its AI went by the address near water. You’ll get nowhere blaming the guest for not knowing better, even if she did, and used the listing as an excuse to check out.

Count yourself lucky that losing your cool upon check out didn’t get a complaint, and move on. I think the most you can say in the review is:

“Guest kept rescheduling the agreed-upon check in time and brought an unexpected second guest, which we accommodated.”


I know this isn’t part of what you are asking about, but one thing I notice in your listing info, Faheem, is that you have a check-in window of 4pm-9pm, and while you say that guests should let you know if they need to check in outside that window, you or someone really need to be available to check guests in anytime during that window.

Negotiating the check-in time during that window because you have an appointment or are having dinner isn’t really acceptable and can set the tone for issues with guests, as you aren’t following the terms of your listing info.


Hi @dpfromva,

I wasn’t expecting that anything can be done about this, if that is what you mean. I’ve been with Airbnb long enough to know they don’t give a crap.

I was mostly just looking for feedback on the review. I think my version is reasonable (I wrote it, after all), but I’m obviously willing to listen to feedback.

I don’t post much here these days, because it’s not practical to write about every bit of nonsense guests do, or ask for feedback all the time. And I don’t have time to get into arguments. But I do think it’s perfectly valid to mention that the guest decided to cancel because the listing was incorrectly advertised as being on a beach front. It would certainly be a red flag for me. Perhaps not for you. I’ve read many reviews, and my impression is that this is quite unusual. And it’s certainly never happened to me before.

And certainly in the context (Bombay), which probably most people are not familiar with, it’s quite weird IMO. But opinions vary, of course.

Faheem, many people only appear here when they have an issue, no apology needed.

Although you didn’t enable the setting, if your listing says beach access and doesn’t have it, you aren’t going to have a case with Airbnb. It’s your responsibility to monitor and update your listing. Yes, it’s irritating but it’s a problem that has been reported here and there’s little else that can be done except to exercise oversight on Airbnb’s mistakes.
As you know and have admitted, being concise is not your strong suit. If you are writing the review to release some frustration, I hope you can do that here. No one reads overly long reviews so if you are doing it for future hosts, be more brief. Also check the guests previous reviews. If you are the only one leaving a bad review it’s going to look like something other hosts will just dismiss.


Hi Muddy,

For more context, the guest earlier said she wanted to come at 12 noon (without asking if that would be OK), and I suggested 12.30 pm, which she eventually agreed to.

Then she decided she would not honor this commitment. Then we agreed to 7 pm (she initially said 6.30 pm). She blew that off as well.

At that point I’m perfectly entitled to negotiate the arrival time. Are you suggesting that I should make myself available at a moment’s notice to anyone who decides to move their arrival time around at a whim? If so, you clearly have a very different conception of Airbnb than I do. I do have a life, you know, for what it is worth. And I take a guest on a walkthrough etc. Which takes time. And certainly for the amount of money I make I’m not willing to place myself at the beck and call of random strangers, whenever they decide to drop by. I’ve been feeling pretty fed up with the whole thing as it is.

Perhaps you feel differently, and that’s fine. It’s not clear for whom it is not “acceptable”. The guests? Airbnb? Both?

Hi @KKC,

Yes, I realise that Airbnb is going to make the contents of my listing my responsibility. But the fact is that I don’t monitor it that carefully (seriously, I already spend way too much time on this for the money I get), and no doubt there are other minor inaccuracies if one wants to look for them. Though I think this remains the only complaint I’ve received on that score I’ve received in 7 years. People complain about other things, notably paperwork, but not that.

I didn’t think my review was overly long. It can’t be, because Airbnb limits reviews to 1000 chars, as I already mentioned. I don’t recall that being the case before, but perhaps I forgot. I can read 1000 characters at a glance, more or less. So from my POV, at least, it’s not long.

As I mentioned in my initial post, the guest has previous trips but no reviews. I asked her about that, and she replied with some irrelevant nonsense, and I didn’t press it. See the part where I speculate that she could delete her listing to get rid of my review, because she doesn’t have any others. See the para starting with:

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Hi Faheem! It’s always nice to hear from you. I’m sorry about your crappy guest.

First I’d like to say that you should absolutely leave the guest a review. If she has Verified ID on her profile, which is obligatory now, then she cannot start a new profile. If you’re concerned with her reciprocating, just do it at the last minute.

Unfortunately, I think you must leave out the details of the Airbnb refund, interaction, etc. I’m not sure if it is still policy but previously they would remove a review that contained information about an Airbnb-facilitated resolution to a reported issue (e.g. refunds). You can focus on her unreliability with agreed-upon check-in time and showing up with someone she wants you to let “crash”.

Perhaps, in keeping with your wording (and sneaking in a jab about the beach issue):

Summary: avoid this person if you value your time & sanity.

Made 5 day reservation with agreed upon check-in time 12.30 pm. Night
before arrival guest informed would not be making the time, and we
agreed on 7 pm. Was waiting for her & at 6.45 pm informs me has gone
to eat(!)

Finally turned up 9.20 pm with some person I knew nothing about, and
asked if he could “crash” for the night. I agreed against my inclinations.

Checked out the next morning 4-days early because she was hoping for a beachfront property.

I had a strikingly similar situation with my listing last year but with a far more reasonable outcome (quite opposite in fact). Apparently, my listing also suddenly and mysteriously became “beachfront” and had "beach access. I only found out about it because I received a notice from Airbnb that they were aware of a bug (I will include the letter below).

The letter did not tell me what amenities had been added but I later asked the guest. She told me that it said beachfront and beach access. And then she said, “It was no problem for me. I lived down the street in college so I know the area is not on the beach.”

I urge you to send a screenshot of the letter I’m posting and ask them about the known bug.


I so get it. You had in your mind built up expectations about this guest – a nice professional, familiar with the area. Even maybe giving you some free expert advice!

Then she discourteously messes you about with check in times and dumps a second guest on you, possibly for an affair.

Next you lose a boatload of money when she checks out due to Airbnb messing you about on your listing.

You’re already irritated with the guest so you’re going to blame it all on her in the review. But you did accept the second guest. And your listing was inaccurate. The draft review doesn’t get you anything back, but it could make you seem less welcoming for future potential guests.

Not worth it, IMO.


Thanks for providing more context. I totally understand what a PITA this guest was, and of course hosts have lives and can’t always be at a guest’s beck and call, I’m just saying if you don’t honor what you say in your ad, whether it’s making sure a guest can check in anytime during your stated check-in window, or providing the amenities listed, that can be something a guest reports you for, or complains about in a review.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ask for guests for their estimated arrival time- we all like to be able to plan our day, and guests who are disrespectful and don’t arrive when they say they will, and don’t honor the stated times, give or take an hour, are a pain, but as hosts we should be available within the check-in window. (I know this particular guest asked for an earlier time, then ignored the time you had arranged- I am speaking in general terms here)

As far as your review not being overly long because it conforms to the character count, the point is that people tend not to read through long reviews, neither guests nor hosts, and the point of writing a guest review is to warn other hosts. It’s really not necessary to mention every detail about the guest’s behavior- you can condense things and still get the point across that this was a bad guest you wouldn’t accept again. And Airbnb will remove reviews that talk about their involvement, so don’t do that.

There’s a tendency to want to detail everything if you have a bad guest, but after writing the draft review (where you can get all your frustration out- that’s therapeudic), it’s best to wait a week or so until the irritation (or, as you put it, "a bit of a temper) has subsided, and revisit what you’ve written and edit it to be concise and to make sure it sounds objective, not emotional.


Hi @JJD,

Ah, that’s interesting. That’s the sort of thing that I was hoping for feedback about. Do you have a reference for this - that Airbnb removes reviews that contained information about an Airbnb-facilitated resolution to a reported issue?

I like your review wording! I hope it’s OK if I use it, or something similar.

I should send the screenshot of the letter to who? I’m probably being dense, but some instructions would be appreciated.

How did you ‘talk to the guest’ before they booked by phone? How did you get their number or did they also get yours?


Hi @Muddy,

I’m willing to move things around a bit for check-in, and do so frequently. I’ve even checked out people in the middle of the night, though not recently. But I’m not enthusiastic about doing so multiple times for the same guest. Also, I don’t interpret 4 to 9 as meaning that the guest can literally turn up anytime during that period and expect me to be available. I ask them for a specific time window, and then expect them to stick to it, and also let me know when they are on the way. Otherwise it would it make it very difficult to get anything else done during that period. E.g. sleeping, bathroom stuff, going out, having a meeting etc.

The 4 to 9 is just indicative. Just something to point to, in case of two people leaving/arriving the same day, for example. And in any case, people often arrive outside those times, and I’m OK with that, mostly. Within reason, of course. And nobody has complained yet.

Though I do find myself less tolerant of people’s nonsense as time goes on. No doubt I’m getting more jaded. I haven’t done much of this compared to some of you, but one does get fed up.

Hi @Rolf,

We exchanged numbers. Why? Did you want details for some reason? I’m not sure what you mean by “booked by phone”.

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booked (by phone).

Air TOS says this is against TOS:

" * Asking guests for contact information prior to booking; all guest communications prior to booking must be on Airbnb"

Hi @dpfromva,

Well, a pointer/suggestion or two rather than expert advice. I’ve yet to meet an Indian lawyer who is an expert. Perhaps the experts (if they exist) are too expensive for me. I’ve also yet to meet one that is nice. But yes, something like that. Though I try not to have expectations, especially in India. They have a way of getting crushed. Perhaps a little hope is all. Thank you for the sympathy, in any case.

Not really a boatload of money. Around USD 100. Which I suppose is not much for many of you. But I don’t charge much. I might be able to charge more than I do, but probably not much more.

Well, perhaps. But I’m more concerned about the possibility of the review being removed, as was already suggested. I’d like to learn about that. Could I just ask Airbnb directly?

Hi @Rolf,

Ah, thank you for the link. Yes, I thought Airbnb might not like it, but didn’t realise they had an actual policy about it. Though I also didn’t look. I guess that means that in addition to all the other threats to my listing, Airbnb may remove my listing if they notice what I’m doing. Or, more likely, if someone complains. Which might be just a matter of time.

Hmm. I really like talking to the guest in advance. It seems like a good idea in general. So either I stop doing that, or risk them deactivating my listing.

I think I should really focus on other means of making a living. Not that I make that much from Airbnb.

Though this bit makes no sense.

  • Asking or encouraging guests to book outside of Airbnb for repeat or future bookings

How can they prohibit this? That’s nonsense. Is it even legal? Or maybe I’m misunderstanding it.

There used to be a line in the review policy that said as much, but I can’t find it now. That’s why I said, “if it’s still policy”. However, I suspect that it is now included within the clause about retaliation (I will post that here for you).

However, we also know that it doesn’t matter if it’s no longer explicitly stated because they also say they will remove reviews at their discretion, which is anything. And I can say that I’ve heard of a review being removed for mentioning that the guest demanded a refund as recently as a couple of weeks ago. So I don’t think it’s worth the risk. You can get your point across without including that bit.

And, yes, please feel free to use the review wording!

Airbnb. Include the reservation number of that woman with it (to make sure that it is associated with her complaint). I don’t expect you’ll get money returned to you (though it isn’t impossible). But the details of your sudden beach access amenity is exactly the same as I experienced, so it is not unreasonable to think that it’s the same bug they wrote me about. I think it is a good idea to send it in. If it is the bug then they need to be aware.

Perhaps it only saves another host but I know that they also keep notes on accounts so even without a money-return it would be good to justify what they currently believe to be your mistake (if it’s a bug instead then that is not your mistake).

Hi @faheem,

I don’t recommend you leave any review. I think your draft is unfair to the guest. It seemed to me that you implicitly agreed that she could bring someone with her when you did not object after her 5:51 pm message. As a guest I would think I could change my mind when I’m coming as long as I was ultimately in the 4-9 pm check-in timeframe of the listing. I would also think that I’d have some leeway, so that if I said 1 pm and came at 1:30 it would not be a problem. They ended up coming a little later than 9 thought you agreed to that.

I agree with @muddy that you should be available during the 4-9 pm timeframe you present in your listing (or change the wording of your listing).

While I also agree with others who have said here that Airbnb listings sometimes get their amenity list changed without any carelessness or action by the Host (it happened to me) that while that is not a defense to the cancellation as to the guest it could be a defense to Airbnb as to any penalties they are applying to you. So that is worth a shot.

You might want to explore self check-in, though I see there’s much that needs to be explained. If self-check-in is not a reasonable option you might want to say in your listing that a 4-9 pm check-in is available but must be scheduled and agreed x hours in advance.

Even with self check-in you can still offer a face-to-face or FaceTime type orientation. As an aside, I appreciated your pictures’ captions but would have wanted to know if the picture was shown of a shared space or an exclusive space though I think I could have figured it out. Fewer pictures would probably be better though you didn’t ask.

I enjoyed reading your profile (and eager to ask math questions but none come to mind just now!).

I happened to have 2 guests in a row last month who arrived long after midnight, and I have a very flexible check-in time of 11am to 11 pm. In one case, the guest missed his flight (he obviously didn’t leave himself enough time to get to the airport), the other didn’t bother to check the bus connection schedules to realize he’d have a 6 hour wait between busses.

And yes, that was really irritating, because it was due to the guests’ lack of planning. And also not just a matter of me waiting up for them- my place is really hard to find, so I pick my guests up at the bus station, a 15 minute round trip.

It has only happened once before, but it was totally understandable, as her flight got delayed for several hours, so I didn’t mind waiting up for her.

I communicate pretty extensively with a lot of guests before accepting their booking request. But I do this through the Airbnb messaging- there’s no reason you need to do it over the phone and you can definitely get delisted for that. Once the booking is paid for and confirmed, there’s no rules against communicating off-platform.

Most of us totally ignore that. Airbnb wants to try to own the relationship between hosts and guests, which they can’t feasibly do. It has nothing to do with legality- they can set any policies they want as a condition of using their platform.

I give all my guests my email address and tell them to feel free to call or email and book directly if they ever want to come back. The only way I would risk being taken to task by Airbnb for doing so, is if a guest reported me for that, and why would they report me for offering to save them money?

However, I just say they are welcome to direct book next time if they like, so I am neither “asking” nor “encouraging” them to book off-platform, just giving them an option.

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