Guest complained & now wants money for a good review

UPDATE (7/17/2021): I waited until there were only 17 seconds left to review Karen, then smashed that submit button! She didn’t leave a review, or at least did not review in time. Thanks to all the Airhosts on this forum for their helpful responses and strategic thinking. You guys really had my back!

Here’s my review of Karen (declined to host again & one star rating across the board):
“Would never host Karen again. She demanded money for claiming to see a common tropical flying insect on the ceiling.”

Short, sweet and to the point! Thanks everyone!

UPDATE (sort of): Help, it’s almost the review deadline! She has not responded again and has not left a review. Tomorrow afternoon is the deadline for a review and I’m panicking! I want to warn other hosts and be concise and matter-of-fact, but how to phrase is a block! Help! Maybe like the following:

“Karen was offered a very generous renumeration for the small inconvenience of seeing a harmless insect (native to this tropical island location) on the morning of checkout. Her response forced me to rescind my offer and message was immediately forwarded with my response that I will not pay a guest $200 in exchange for a positive review.”

Not a very good review to possibly write, is it? Help!

(ORIGINAL POST): A guest I will call ‘Karen’ stayed in one of the listings I co-host as the Primary Host. She stayed for two days, checking out today. I wake up to discover she messaged me at 12:30 am with pictures of a bug on the ceiling and complaining about smartlock not working and regular key also not working correctly. (When she checked in two days earlier I left a regular key because a guest said lock was jamming and wrote to please let me know if she has any problems with the code. She never responded to let me know she was apparently having problems both days.)

We had heavy rain most of the day yesterday and this is a hot and humid location on an island and the bug was likely trying to escape wet weather. Of course that is an unpleasant sight at any time for a guest to see whatever the ‘reason’ and as a host i try to avoid such a situation.

So here’s our Airbnb message thread (Edited)

Karen 12:34 AM (Day of Check-out)
[with two pics of a bug attached]
Hello, yes the lock has been an issue. It takes 5+ min to open or close the door sometimes. The key doesn’t work for us either. Also, as we were about to sleep we saw a giant roach in the apartment crawling on the walls. Not sure where it came from but you may need to spray!

Karen 10:03 AM (Day of Check-out)
I hate to say it but that really did end up changing our plans for today, we really wanted to get up early and go to the beach and have a relaxing morning. Unfortunately neither of us could fall asleep after seeing that last night right above our bed and we didn’t fall asleep until 3-4am so we had to sleep in to get some rest

Richard 11:13 AM
Hi Karen, I saw your pictures and read your messages this morning. Yikes! That’s awful! The listing owner [X] is sending you a $100 payment for your inconveniences. We wish that we could have acted sooner, had we been made aware, but regardless it’s an unfortunate last impression for guests! Sorry. We certainly don’t want the end of your stay to be spoiled in that manner…
Thanks for staying with us and we hope you come again when the weather is cooperating!
Best,
Richard

Karen 11:33 AM
I appreciate that, we definitely plan on writing a review and up until last night it would have been a decent one. If this was a hotel they would compensate at least 1 nights worth and then some. We would appreciate that and leave a nice review!

Karen 11:45 AM
$200 would be less than half of our stay

Karen 2:41 PM
When should i expect to see that money in my account?

Karen 9:08 PM
At least do the $135 for one night i mean I’m sure you would be saying the same thing if you saw a giant roach above your bed when you’re falling asleep!

Karen 8:27 PM (Day after Check-out)
I’d love to give you a review but I’m waiting for a response from my messages regarding a refund

Thoughts…
I feel like she is attempting to extort double the amount we offered in return for her writing a good review. I started a Support Chat to begin the process of documenting my issue to Airbnb. I turned in the initial Support Chat message before my next guest actually, physically checked in, but after the 3:00 PM Check-In Time of the next reservation. I don’t know if that is a problem or not.

I would appreciate any feedback. I’m sure my post pissed off one of you guys so… just be gentle it’s my first time.

Richard

EDIT: Airbnb response #1 from Airbnb Support 4:43 PM
Hi Richard,
Thanks for reaching out to us regarding this issue. I’m forwarding your inquiry to a member of our team who can better assist you. They’ll be getting in touch with you soon.

In the meantime, please feel free to respond to this message with any further questions or concerns.

EDIT: Airbnb response #2 from Airbnb Support 6:27 PM
Hi Richard,
This is Shan from Airbnb’s Support Team.

Thank you for reporting your concern. We can only take action on a review if the review is posted on Airbnb’s platform.

You can contact us again after the review is posted and we will take action as per our policy. For more details, please reach out to out Help Center article at:

airbnb.com/help/article/548

Thank you.

EDIT: Airbnb response #3 from Airbnb Support 8:44 PM
Hi Richard Morell,

We totally understand that this is quite frustrating for you but you have to understand that Airbnb will be happy to assist you in further accordingly to protocol as well.

We acknowledged that the guest is violating the Airbnb’s Policy but we are able to take action if the review been updated on the platform only with further investigation.

We definitely will help you in further once the review has been update and it need further investigation before we remove it from the platform.

I hoped you understand, you can contact us again after the review is posted and we will take action as per our policy.

For more details, please reach out to out Help Center article at:

airbnb.com/help/article/548

Thoughts:
I don’t think the response means anything other than verbs improve with conjugation.

2 Likes

That’s extortion and against Airbnb policies. You’re being exploited because you’re new. Hosts like you are targeted by scammers.

Don’t contact her again. Contact Airbnb.

14 Likes

Okay I’m glad another host sees that as extortion. I have not responded other than the initial response. Here is my response from Chat Support:

Airbnb Support4:43 PM
Hi Richard,
Thanks for reaching out to us regarding this issue. I’m forwarding your inquiry to a member of our team who can better assist you. They’ll be getting in touch with you soon.

In the meantime, please feel free to respond to this message with any further questions or concerns.

Best regards,

There was no name after ‘Best regards,’ just white space.

1 Like

Definitely use the word “extortion” in your communications with Airbnb. Based on others’ experiences, you may have to be persistent with Airbnb.

Wait until day 14 to review Karen in the hopes that an intervening good review will push hers lower, just in case Airbnb does not act to not allow or remove.

So, I’m getting ahead of things here, but If a bad review remains, you will get mixed advice about whether to call more attention to it by responding or not. I think a bug complaint may merit the briefest of responses: “We encourage guests to bring any concerns to our attention during their stay, and have addressed the issue.”

Addressing the issue can be with a professional appt, or you checking cracks and crevices and spraying.

2 Likes

Thank you for the example review and advice to delay posting my review.

Actually I respond to every review I get although I have not had any bad reviews. Of the 40-ish reviews I have received and responded to thus far, the worst was a (3-star!) review where the guest wrote “great overall place” and i replied “Thanks”

3 Likes

Palmetto bug?

I now tell guests they have seen a palmetto bug (aka wood roach). These are common. Unlike the brown cockroach they do not carry salmonella and other harmful bacteria. They stroll or fly in and are part of the local critter population. When I was a child we were cruel and tied a string to their legs and let them fly at round. Please don’t squish it because it will make a terrible mess…the vacuum works better. Wet weather drives them into dry places.

I’m tired of apologizing for a “roach” that really isn’t. I’ve become jaded. We have alligators & palmetto bugs. The end.

9 Likes

For the first half of this story it seemed like a difficult guest and you handled it properly by compensating for her troubles. Then in the the second half it was clear she was trying to scam you. Contact Airbnb, tell describe the situation as “extortion” and hopefully they will be able to address the problem accurately. Being a host isn’t always fun but this is a great way to see how some guests know how to take advantage of the situation.

2 Likes

Very true. A cockroach wouldn’t be on the ceiling. They like dark damp places. And I know they have wings, but you rarely see them do more than scurry around.

2 Likes

Don’t pay the 100 either

5 Likes

You need to put in the house rules that guests may see a palmetto bug, which looks like a giant cockroach, and that they can enter when guests leave doors, windows, or screens open. You need to also tell them that they are harmless and don’t spread disease like roaches. That puts it on them to not leave the place open.

You can enter that info under “potentially dangerous animal” under Safety and Property Info on your listing. I put our black bears there, but if you put palmetto bugs there they may actually read it to see what the “dangerous animal” is, since, as we all know, guests never read the entire listing. ::

5 Likes

I added this message to original post

Karen 9:08 PM
At least do the $135 for one night i mean I’m sure you would be saying the same thing if you saw a giant roach above your bed when you’re falling asleep!

I’m a host and I’ve also used Air as a guest lots of times since I’d starting hosting. It would not occur to be to ask for a refund for spotting a large insect. If it was me, I’d try to move the insect outside and wouldn’t say a thing to the host.
It’s just hard for me to imagine people getting so upset spotting insects in a rental. Are people really that removed from the real world?

14 Likes

They’re not upset about the insect or removed from the real world, they’re just trying to scam the host for a partial refund.

12 Likes

I assume there’s been no followup from Airbnb?

I’d withdraw any offer of payment and let Airbnb handle this scammer.

3 Likes

@Brian_R170 OK, I really can’t imagine doing that either. :grin:

1 Like

The only follow-up from Airbnb is copied below (and added to the edited original post):

This is Shan from Airbnb’s Support Team.
Thank you for reporting your concern. We can only take action on a review if the review is posted on Airbnb’s platform.
You can contact us again after the review is posted and we will take action as per our policy. For more details, please reach out to out Help Center article at:
airbnb.com/help/article/548

It seems to me these issues (if and when she leaves a review, and if and when I try to have it removed, and if and when Airbnb deems it a violation of review policy) are hypothetical, potential issues and have little do do with my actual complaint “She is attempting to extort me.”

Do I really have to wait until she leaves a review where she admits “As a result of host’s refusal to pay extortion for my good review, here’s my shitty review…”

Or is it more likely she will leave a review such as “Zero stars! Host is running a listing overrun with roaches and neither smartlock nor key worked so we got locked out and then the host lies about everything!” which may be considered opinion so Airbnb won’t remove review?

BTW, this is kinda funny - OOPS! i forgot to skip the scheduled message that is sent to every guest the day after checkout. So she got my canned “We had a delightful time hosting you and are pleased to let you know we have already submitted your review. Could you take a moment to review us? Our goal is to give every guest a five-star experience…”

D’oh!

2 Likes

It makes sense that Airbnb won’t do anything until the bad review appears.

5 Likes

It doesn’t make sense to me. The guest has already violated Airbnb’s rules by her own words, and I quote:

“We definitely plan on writing a review and up until last night it would have been a decent one. We would appreciate [at least one night’s worth and then some] and leave a nice review! $200 would be less than half of our stay. When should I expect to see that money in my account? At least do the $135 for one night I mean I’m sure you would be saying the same thing if you saw a giant roach…”

From Airbnb’s Extortion and Incentivization policy:

“This policy prohibits guests threatening to use reviews or ratings in an attempt to force a host to provide refunds, additional compensation, or a reciprocal positive review.”

“No, actually, Karen, I wouldn’t. And it isn’t a roach. Roaches don’t go on ceilings. It’s a saw palmetto bug, which everyone who lives in this area is quite used to, as they are endemic, and no one freaks out over them.”

2 Likes

Once you host awhile and get to understand how Airbnb works you won’t expect much from them.

Another approach you could take would be a hardline explict one with the guest. Tell them that their extortion threat is a violation of Airbnb policy and send them a link to it. If they follow through they risk being removed or suspended. That might or might not matter.

I’d say something like “I generously offered a remuneration for the small inconvenience of seeing an insect in a tropical location. Threatening extortion is a serious violation of Airbnb policy. Therefore I’ve withdrawn any offer of renumeration and have referred the matter to Airbnb.” Then I wouldn’t contact her again.

Airbnb's Dispute Moderation for Reviews - Airbnb Help Center

BTW, something I missed the first reading was this:

This is your responsibility to fix. Did you make an attempt to fix it and the lock worked fine? I’d be annoyed if I expected a smart lock and then the host gave me a key and said the lock was malfunctioning.

5 Likes