I’m new to the forum, so apologize in advance if my issue has been covered already.
I have a single family home in the Florida Kay’s, 5 star rating and typically very happy guests. This summer has been more challenging, as for some reason our summer guests tend to be more problematic. Our most recent guest has me puzzled, as she waited until after she checked out to message me privately and tell me about MANY problems with the house. She took several paragraphs to explain that the A/C didn’t work well, the TV remotes were all broken (had “holes” in them and she had to use a “poker” to make them work”, the house wasnt clean, the dishwasher was full of dirty dishes so they didn’t use it, the beds were hard, the coffee pot did t work so they didn’t use it, the landscapers weren’t doing a good job and the refrigerator smelled like fish. She said she was letting me k ow in a private message, as if to do me a favor. I was horrified, even though we have excellent cleaners with a solid 5 star rating, the landscapers do a good job, etc… it was also odd that all of these things were wrong, suddenly, with no mention of any of it from the previous guest. In addition to wonderful cleaners (same mother daughter team that have been with us 7 years) we have an overseer for the property, who I sent right over to check the list of problems. He told me that everything on her list of “things that do t work”, we’re actually fine. Dishwasher empty, A/C working well (almost too cold he said) refrigerator didn’t smell, coffee pot and remotes working,landscape looked good, etc… he couldn’t comment on the beds being hard, as that is personal preference, but one of the two she complained about is less than 6 mo this old, high end, pillow top mattress.
I suspect that maybe this woman is hoping I’ll just refund her some money without verifying her claims? She knew we were out of the country, but could have called the overseer whose number I gave her and is posted clearly in the house. She said she will give me a rating but first wanted to tell me privately. It almost feels like extortion.
Have any of you experienced this?
That sure does sound like an extortion scam! But you won’t know for sure until she actually makes an overt demand rather than just hinting that her rating will hinge on… something. Maybe you can draw out the conversation until she actually makes a demand for compensation, at which point you will have confirmation and can report her to Airbnb. Have you looked at her reviews of other places she has stayed?
Here’s how I shut down these types of guests and complaints.
- I have it in my house rules that they need to communicate with me if there is any problems with the suite while they are still there so that I can fix it for them. I also state that claiming after they have left of problems deprives the host of rectifying the problem.
a) I have it in the Airbnb message app that they have confirmed that they have read and agree to my house rules.
When they arrive, I send a check in message asking if everything is as expected and to let me know. (Guest still don’t always acknowledge this message but I have it in my messaging that I reached out.)
Finally, I take a time-stamped video (there are free apps) of the suite prior to the guest’s arrival. I turn on all the lights, fans, tv’s, etc. I show that the toilet, shower, appliances all work. It’s a pain but now I have the evidence to back up any fraudulent claims or damage.
Yes, it’s highly likely she wants you to refund and it is implied extortion. But you can’t do anything about it until she explicitly asks for something in exchange for NOT posting a bad review.
She’s playing a game - she probably wants YOU to offer money to her to have her avoid leaving a bad review. That way, she’s not guilty of extortion. I’m not suggesting you do that, but that’s my suspicion. Not all greedy/fraudulent people are stupid enough to explicitly extort you.
@waterlife - Any chance the guest’s first name was Mallory? I had an identical situation, although she sent me the list of complaints the very last night of a week-long stay. I simply thanked her for the input and told her I’d correct as much as possible as soon as possible.
That was that last I heard from her, until she left me a three-star review with vague complaints about our home not being up to the standard of a vacation rental and the area and food being sub-par. I think she wanted me to contact her to get the review removed. I didn’t. I left it there and responded to some parts of her review and ignored other parts. We’re fortunate that we have enough five-star reviews it didn’t hurt us.
Thank you for the input. Her name is not Mallory, but apparently there are a lot of them out there and only the names have changed. Ha! I have 155 reviews with a 5 star average, so I’m hoping my rating can hold up to what might be coming.
I’m treading carefully as I go through her long list of complaints. So far she has not explicitly asked for anything. Will see what happens. I appreciate your thoughts.
Good advice, thank you. Unfortunately her profile shows no reviews that she has given, just 2 good hosts reviews of her. I probably would have given her a good review too if I was too quick to do it. (Lesson learned from previous bad experience). I’ve reached out to her to keep the conversation going. Will see where it goes. We are on vacation presently, half a time zone away so it’s slow communication.
This is all good. You’ve probably learned from experience, sadly.
I have implemented some of this and will implement more. Since we do not live near our Airbnb, the video idea will be harder to implement, but anymore experiences like this, and I will have to find a way. Thank you
With that many reviews, I’d just let her review and take it from there. Keep the messages she sent you privately. If she gives you a bad review, post it on here and perhaps one of the wise members of the forum will see a way for you to get it removed. If not, I’d still contact AirBnB (or Vrbo, whichever it was) and show them the message where she complained privately first and mentioned she was going to give you a review. You might get lucky and get the CS rep to agree it’s extortion.
If not, post her review here and let us help you craft a response to it.
And don’t worry! Although the average will suffer a bit if they don’t take it down, potential guests will see her review is not consistent with all the other reviews. I got a booking for Christmas (our highest-priced week) while the 3-star review was still within the top five most-recent reviews, and the Christmas guest told me “I picked your place because of your reviews”!
In the future, do not let guests know this. Just tell them to contact your overseer for any issues, let them think that’s how you always run your business. I suspect she used your absence to state things you couldn’t disprove, as you weren’t there to see things for yourself. She figures she can claim that your staff is slacking off while you’re away.
That was a big issue for our problem guest - “ratting” out that our staff is not as good as the staff at a nearby resort that charges three times a night what we do.
You could ask your overseer to do it. Of course, that’s an additional expense but maybe the overseer could combine it with other tasks at the property.
Also, while it’s best to take the time-stamped video every time, I confess that we no longer do that. You sometimes get a sense – some here call it their ‘spider’ senses – that something might be up. So, your overseer could take the time-stamped videos just on those occasions.
Finally, @Lynick4442 is very comprehensive in her videos, and I understand why. But don’t let perfection become the enemy of the good. I don’t take pictures showing the toilet flushes, or that the TV projection system is working. So, you or your overseer will need to use their judgment.
You might get an unintended benefit from the videos. Sometimes when I’m taking the videos I notice things that have not been placed back correctly, or put in the wrong place, or just something needing my attention. So, there’s that. [Also, the first time I took the video I narrated it but I quickly discovered that that was unnecessary and distracted me from paying full attention.]
Good advice. Thanks so much. I’m too trusting, and live by the golden rule. Wish everyone did.
Please keep us posted! I now really want to find out how this plays out
OK, so I just got notification that this guest left a review, one day before the deadline. I was hoping she would just go away, but I don’t think the review will be nice. She was very upset when I replied to her afore mentioned message, and told her our overseer checked out the house and found nothing wrong with the coffee maker, A/C and TV remotes. I addressed her many other complaints as well, (which were more subjective in nature), but that I said the coffee pot, remotes and A/C were working fine, really set her off. She said she would “write more later”, but never did. She also never asked for financial compensation, just that they bought a coffee maker and took it with them. I appreciate your feedback and advice given so far, so I’m asking what you would do in this situation?
DRAFT a short, factual, balanced (plusses and minuses) review of her guest conduct, focusing on cleanliness, respect for house rules and communications. See review forms here. Then post it here for suggestions.
Regarding communications I might include a sentence like: “After checkout she messaged me about many many things that she said didn’t work and that were wrong with the property. Sending complaints after she’d left gave me no opportunity to fix them but the real point was that our manager could not validate any of them. Do not recommend.”
EDIT TO ADD: Earlier you wrote:
And that when you overseer said things were working fine, that that:
Is there something factual that you could write instead of ‘very upset’ or ‘really set her off’?
Was it something like we heard here recently 'came to my house, blocked my driveway, videotaped while screaming ‘I’ll get you my pretty and your little dog too!’
Thank you, good advice and I like your suggested sentence. (I might even plagerize a bit). My comments about her being very upset were just for the forum. She wasn’t as nutty sounding as the example you linked. LOL!
Per your advice, I am posting this draft of my review of her, and welcome feedback:
“On the positive, Stacey was very friendly and communicated well prior to her arrival. After check-in, she notified me that TV remotes were not working. I asked how many remotes didn’t work and offered to have new ones sent to the house, but she declined. For the remainder of her stay there was no communication until after she checked out and sent a private message with a very long list of things that were wrong, or didn’t work. Though some of what she reported was helpful and appreciated, sending the list after she left gave me no opportunity to have our property manager inspect and correct the issues. What’s most puzzling is that when he did inspect, he could not validate that the problems even existed. His comment to me ‘maybe they stayed at the wrong house’.”
When you say:
I get the impression that she was right in saying that there were some problems.
So as a future Host I would think that it was unfortunate that the guest sent the message after checkout but it would be unclear to me how much she was right and there were things not working.
Whereas in the original post I got the sense that there was nothing to her complaints:
So I want you to be honest but this review to me is unclear.
Did you mean to say something like 'While she made a few suggestions on design/aesthetics that I’ll consider, all her complaints about AC/dishwasher/coffee pot/appliances and remotes etc. not working, refrigerator smelling, were just simply not true. My property manager looked into it all and wondered ‘maybe they reviewed the wrong house?’
For the beginning I might write: “Stacey was friendly and communicated well prior to her arrival. After check-in, she notified me of just one issue, that TV remotes were not working. I offered to have new ones sent but she declined. Her next communication was after she checked out when she messaged me with a very long list of things that were ‘wrong’ or didn’t work.”
EDIT TO ADD: How did she do on cleanliness and respecting house rules? Would it be fair to start with: “Stacey kept the property very clean and tidy and respected house rules. Stacey was friendly and communicated . . .”
Because it’s important if she did those things well; not mentioning them might suggest to some Hosts that there was an issue there.
The “helpful and appreciated”, referred to her complaint that the King size fitted sheet came off the mattress every night, and tree branches needed to be pruned. Minor issues, in my opinion, but I thought I should acknowledge that in some ways she was trying to be helpful (I did order new sheets and ask cleaners to remove the unruly bottom sheet). I see your point that other hosts may think her complaints are justified with the way I’ve worded it. As for her cleanliness, my cleaners reported that everything was in order but the house was “very dirty”. Perhaps I could mention as you say, that she followed house rules but leave 4 stars for cleanliness.
I’m at home so I see what the guests left. Still, I often ask the cleaner. When they say ‘very dirty’ I ask very specifically what they mean by that. It can often mean that empty cups were left, or wrappers not in the garbage, or other things that I would not count against the guest. I resist descriptive terms like ‘dirty’ to ask specifics.
The guest is paying for the cleaning and as a Host or guest recently said here they don’t want to pay $X thousand dollars just to find that they’re being scolded for leaving things a little messy but essentially clean. I agree with such guests and think that the Airbnb name/concept gets hurt – which hurts us all – when guests feel they’re being scolded when basically they did a good job and are paying for the cleaning. It need not look pristine when they leave.
You are a very good wordsmith, by the way. Thank you for your help