Guest cancelled reservation based on "incorrect" listing information

You’re conflating : 1) Whether the guest’s behavior conflicted with the rules as they existed when the guest booked, vs. the new rules, and – the current subject (outside of the Host’s draft review) – 2) whether the new listing rules are, as you say, ‘perfectly, absolutely clear and precise’.

I think that the current rules, as discussed in my post above, falls short of ‘perfectly, absolutely clear and precise’. While these rules have our attention we might as well suggest improvements.

Isn’t it better to say that the check-in time check-in time is a x-minute window that you and I agree to at inquiry/booking that’s between 4 pm to 9 pm? After all, the listing now says "If you expect to be arriving after 9 pm, please mention this . . . " Isn’t it better for the Host and guest to agree upon that before making those post-9 pm travel plans? Doesn’t it ‘seem like’ it will be OK to come after 9 pm so long as it is ‘mentioned’ at inquiry or booking?

And is this a clear statement?

So, first this establishes an expectation that later checkouts should be possible. What if it isn’t? The listing said it ‘should be’. Now what?

Then – quite mysteriously – the listing says 'but if so . . . ’

Well, if so . . . what? .

It apparently means if a later checkout is possible then arrange it in advance of booking. This is convoluted; it is not written from the guest’s perspective. After telling the guest that the check-out time is normally [by] 11 am, the next thing the guest needs to know is that IF they’d like a later checkout time then they need to ask if it is available and, if so, arrange for that at inquiry or booking.

Isn’t the clear thing to say: “If you’d like an earlier check-in time or a later check-out time, please let me know at inquiry or booking to see if that is possible.”

The current language is

So the check-in time is ‘fixed’ by ‘negotiation’. Fixed. What does that mean? If I said I was coming at 7 but I come at 6:30, is that unfixed or is it ‘roughly’ ‘within that time’? How about 7:30? 8:00? 8:30? . . . . Is it OK to come earlier than the fixed time as long as it is roughly within it? [This is the language we’re dealing with.] Talk about cultural variations! Isn’t this why most delivery services I know give you a ‘window’? [Isn’t that why the Host wrote ‘within that time’ because they were thinking about a time window but yet ,they were saying a ‘fixed’ time?

Does the current wording avoid ambiguity and confusion ? I ask not for, in your words, someone who ‘either has a reading comprehension problem or a mental deficiency’. Ha ha. I ask for the English reader but not for the experienced guest.

As an aside, all this talk of ‘negotiation’, while technically within the definition is off putting to me. So I have to ‘negotiate’ a time to check in? Can we just talk and agree on a time window? I’m talking tone but maybe this is typical British usage. Not a big deal, but to me it feels arduous.

Having said all this, you and I probably well understand the Host’s language, especially in the context of Hosts and guests.

But now consider a guest who: 1) Is not all that familiar with short-term rentals, 2) might not be an astute reader, and 3) might one day be reviewing this language (or maybe a more astute friend) looking for a refund or a way to criticize this Host. That guest’s audience will be an Airbnb customer service representative. So it’s not good enough for you and I to understand; we’re not the audience.

So, as to #1 and #2 let’s make it as EASY as we can for a guest to understand. And as to #3 let’s try to make the rules as close to bulletproof as we can to protect this Host should it get in a later dispute.

This is not about pride of authorship or criticism; it’s about being as clear as you can for guests and about protecting the Host. It’s an ongoing process. I would guess that if each of us reviewed everything in our listing today we’d each find a way to improve it unless all our language really were ‘perfectly, absolutely clear and precise’.

You can dissect this ad nauseum, but Faheem hasn’t indicated that he has had issues with other guests misunderstanding nor disrespecting his check-in, check-out rules, so why would he need to reword it?

This guest’s latest, mutually negotiated check-in time was 7 pm. That his stated check-in window goes until 9 doesn’t mean the guest did nothing wrong by telling him that she’d arrive at 9, without his approval, and arrived at 9:20.

No, it doesn’t. And as Faheem communicates extensively with guests when they book, if they mentioned they were arriving past 9, he would let them know right away if that could be accommodated or not.

Because it has our attention now, because he chose to change it now because of this experience. Because clearer rules might have helped him in some aspects of his quarrel with this guest.

You say he hasn’t had issues with other guests misunderstanding. But there appears a misunderstanding with this guest. When the guest declined lunch and then informed the Host that she would not be there at 12:30 but would ‘share my ETA’ presumably sometime later. You interpreted that as entitlement. Maybe so. Or maybe confusion.

Maybe she knew they ‘talked’ about 12:30 but didn’t think of it as a negotiation or an agreement. It was ‘talk’. The listing’s the thing and in writing the check-in time is 4 pm to 9 pm. [Remember, the current wording was changed from what it had been, for this very reason.]

Anyway, I’m getting tired of this. The Host has my opinion.

@faheem You asked for a link to that thread where the listing said there was self-check-in, but in fact did not offer it and the host claimed it was a tech glitch.
It took a bit of searching, but here it is:

This, from one of the guest’s posts, makes it pretty clear that refund decisions are arbitrary, that whether you are a host or a guest, you are at mercy of whichever CS rep is handling it, rather than them following any stated policy.

“Support person on the phone told me that airbnb cannot force the host to refund even though listing had errors in it.”

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Thank you for sharing this.

One of the replies aid that because the Host had 3,000 reviews that the Host might be an agency or an entity subject to different rules or at least different enforcement.

We’ve seen somewhere on this forum (in an article) a reference to a group(s) of Airbnb Hosts who provide LOTS of reservations and then competes with Airbnb, and Airbnb seems to let it go. Something like that. Maybe you know the article I’m referring to (please feel free correct any inaccuracies in my description of that article).

Or it could just be a matter of inconsistency (or worse) on the part of Airbnb customer service reps. As I write this I realize how far-fetched that is.

Not sure what article you are referring to re a group of hosts, but it seems pretty obvious from all the guest posts I’ve read over the years that in a guest/host dispute, Airbnb very much tends to back the guest when they are dealing with a small-time host, but tell guests there’s nothing they can do about it when the host is some mega property management company.

As there is nothing in Airbnb policy or the TOS that indicates that property managers aren’t subject to the same policies as other hosts, aside from them being allowed to collect security deposits, and things of that nature, that Airbnb lets them get away with things they would suspend other host’s listings for, is pretty outrageous and reminds me of some old boys club where their buddies’ development permits get approved despite overwhelming community objection and environmental and zoning regs.

This why we see property management companies with listings that have 3 star ratings or less, and written reviews saying the place was filthy and unsafe, and no one responded to their complaints, while regular hosts get threats of delisting if their ratings fall below 4.7.

And likely why Faheem’s guest was refunded when claiming an inaccurate amenity, while the Dutch guest above was told they couldn’t force a refund over an inaccurate self-check-in offering. What’s really outrageous about this guest’s experience, is that not only did the host renege on self-check-in, he further reneged on even the possibility of a late check-in for a fee, as was stated in the listing. And while I think most of us would try to make things right with the guest, even if it was a tech glitch, either refunding them or going out of our way to arrange to check them in, no matter how late, that host obviously couldn’t have cared less.

While Faheem’s listing’s inaccuracy wasn’t anything he could make right (he can’t pick his house up and put it on the beach), arranging to check a guest in, no matter how inconvenient, (and 10pm could hardly be considered an ungodly hour in Liverpool, where that listing is) certainly seems doable. Worst case scenario, you hide the key somewhere outside so the guest can let himself in.

I certainly agree with this.

I am surprised that in the situation you posted that the Guest did not receive a penalty-free cancellation. I believe that Airbnb customer service rep decision was a mistake and an anomaly.