Help with a review, it's not pretty

Oh lord. Start at the start.

Guests: Lovely young couple, brought us pounds of chocolate from England, great rapport before and the first couple of days.

Didn’t see them the last 2 days, but that often happens, i didn’t worry. I left a vase of fresh flowers outside their door I liked them so much. Flowers, people.

As they were checking out, I did the “hope you had a lovely stay” and they said, awkwardly, Well there was one thing… money “went missing” from their room.

Well I think all the blood drained from my face. What a punch to the gut.

They kept suggesting maybe it was some other guests - but while originally there were going to be other guests overlapping they changed their plans. The only people upstairs/ on the same floor as their room were me, husband, kids and my husband’s parents. And my in-laws are pillars of the community like the rock of Gibraltar is a small stone.

We checked the sheets, looked behind the dresser. Nada.

First I took 15% off their stay ($45), they said “nice gesture but” so i asked how much was missing and they weren’t sure but guessed it was about 125. Fine. I refunded them $100 because I hate this awful feeling.

They thought we went into their room, opened her makeup bag, and stole money. Fuck.

So they wrote back thanking me (that’s when they asked if they could update their review of us. I hadn’t even realized they’d reviewed us, I’d been so upset. I told them to call customer service)…

I am still feeling ill about it, but I’m not sure what to do in regards to my review of them. They were perfectly lovely guests right up until they assumed me and my family were (hosting) thieves.

(Personally, I think they either accidentally spent it- it’s an expensive town- or stashed it elsewhere or dropped it or something… but they got home and unpacked their bags and reiterated it was not there)

Say they were lovely guests, recommend as long as they have access to a room safe
Say they were lovely guests but I’m scarred for life, can’t recommend
Don’t review at all
Other, hopefully involving Greek chocolate with hazelnuts and my belly

… I’ve already got a note in my house rules that they’re not to do illegal things and I’m not liable if they do. Do I need to add that valuables are their responsibility and should be kept with them at all times? The bedroom door only has a hook and eye key on the inside - for privacy, not security - and I don’t want to add a lock to the outside. Either they have the only key and I can get locked out of my property if they lose it, or I’ve got a copy and we’re back at accusing me of thievery if anything goes missing.

This is the closest I’ve come to closing my listing in 4.5 years.


(Please no judging or "You should have"s. They don’t help. My in-laws don’t think i should have sent them any money at all, as that admits guilt, but that was a decision my husband and i made and it makes the pit in my stomach feel slightly better so I’m sticking with it)


God Alia this is awful for you. I would contact Airbnb straightaway and explain the situation. Don’t wait and hope that the guests will contact CS, they might not do it. Is everything documented on the message thread?


I don’t know what you should do about the review. I’ve found that almost always when someone says that their stuff was stolen, they find it later.

I think you should put a lock on the bedroom door. As you sometimes have more than one group of guests it will save you from having to deal with one group of guests accusing the other group of stealing. If guests accuse you of stealing, you know that they are wrong.


Yes, everything but the initial verbal conversation. After that I was all via airbnb messages because omg.


Speechless, and feel your pain about wanting to shut down. Love your writing style, have felt the same in recent days…

I would do as recommended. Wait a week or so… but only for clarity… since they already reviewed you?

I would second calling Airbnb for assistance with this difficult situation. It is a doozy.

If I were ever accused of such a thing I would be… crazed with offended feelings. You did not do it so no need to feel guilty. And won’t comment on the refunds since its done and can’t be undone (to quote Lady Macbeth)…

I think you should leave a review. I would not want to host these people. As K9 said. They are either liars, scammers or too absent minded to be good guests.

You are not a thief and it must break your heart to be accused of it.

Hang in there. I’m sending you a PM.


That’s a big plus. There’s a very good chance that Air will be supportive over this. I would plead with them and be honest, saying you know you shouldn’t have refunded but you were so upset and shocked at the accusation etc. Ask them to contact the guests directly if they haven’t heard from them. Please don’t de-list! If it all goes tits up and their review is not amended, it will look like an admission of guilt. Do as K9 says and just block off some time to get your thoughts together. I so feel for you :frowning:


Try not to let this get you down. I’m sorry to say this, but if you’re renting out multiple guest rooms that are not lockable (inside and out) then a sitation like his was bound to crop up sooner or later. The first thing I’d do is call air and explain the situation - perhaps putting emphasis on the fact that you feel like they’re casting the finger of suspicion over you. Then steer the conversion towards the issue of the review, and how super anxious you are over it. Depending on the rep, they may even disclose it’s contents and depending on it’s contents might remove it if it’s a libel issue. I think these guests were simply dozy, underestimated how much they’d spend and allowed the element of doubt to creep when factoring in that their possentions were not totally secured. Sometimes my guests go out leaving their rooms completely open but I really wish they’d lock up. If something goes missing, the ownus is then completely on them.


I am so sorry that this happened. I have no thoughts. No advice. Just a ton of sympathy for what feels like, a bad dream.


I want to offer you my empathy. Not advice.
I think I know how you feel…like the time I was accused of being a “peeping Tom”… guest saw a pinpoint hole created for the construction that was scheduled to begin on the day of their departure.
Punch to the gut… my terror of ending up on the front page as a “peeping tom”. Like what happened with the camera in the smoke detector.
Or the private message I got from a wretched druggie guest that shredded me, my body language and my marriage from top to bottom.
I was ready to quit.
My husband reminded me that I was not to allow any other person to control my destiny.
Breathe…breathe in and breathe out.
Time helps. Defend yourself and keep going.


And by the way. If the review makes unsubstantiated accusations it will be removed. So there’s that.

I wonder why they wanted to edit it. Very bizarre and still should not stop her from leaving an honest review of these accusatory people.

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Your guests knew when they checked in what the locking system was, and they agreed to stay in your home, so they assumed the risk. They also weren’t forthright with you. Dollars to donuts, they didn’t report the incident to Airbnb, either, or you would have heard by now. That’s because they share some responsibility in this.

Think: if you or another guest were thieves, why stop at currency? Why not take credit cards or other valuables?

Alluding to missing money during a stay - on a review, or anywhere else - also has repercussions for the Guests. Personally, I wouldn’t want to host a guest who stated that money went missing.


Case Study 1 ; Once upon time , guest 1 checks in to our place meanwhile guest 2 had already arrived for a longer stay in our second room.
Guest 1 leaves and when tidying up - voila they left behind in their room a lovely nice cheap but new hair drier. Bingo I think as I have two bathrooms and one didn’t have a hair drier.
Guest 2 departs some time later - and when tidying up, hair drier was missing. I cursed and wailed Guest 2 for being light fingered scoundrels, for only they could have taken it.

Anyway, after a day and a medicinal tea I got thinking - Guest 2 were pretty sweet really - what if guest 2 had brought the hair drier with them, had it in the bathroom, then guest 1 borrowed it thinking it was part of the facilities - while guest 2 didn’t say anything about it going astray - then guest 1 left it behind in the room as it wasn’t their’s. Plus I didn’t see any packaging in guest 1’s room.
Well I came to the conclusion that guest 2 packed it away when leaving as it was their’s anyway, although for a day or two I had convinced myself otherwise. I’d made up my own drama in my mind.

Case Study 2- On holiday and a little financial transaction with my friend on the last day and handed him over a 50 euro note. Got to the airport and into duty free while waiting and did a little wallet stocktaking, thinking I was a bit lighter than I should have been, had this uneasy feeling I’d lost money or lost track and had some other pretty strange ideas about what could have happened.

Anyway back home, friend contacts me, laughing and thanked me for the free money - I’d handed him over 150 euro, three notes had been handed over because they were brand new, unfolded notes from the mint and ‘stuck’ together, I didn’t notice somehow - was on holiday, unfamiliar currency etc. As much as I thought I wouldn’t ever be as stupid to do that with brand new notes - I was, and if my friend hadn’t ‘confessed’ I’d never would have known.

What I’m trying to say - things happen and although there is a plausible explanation, sometimes you can go down the wrong route and come up with an explanation that does fit but just isn’t correct. Perhaps your guests have done the exact same and their explanation for the missing money - ie blame your household - may seem absolutely fitting for them, it is likely to be completely wrong.


This is such an awful situation, as obviously you KNOW you and your family have nothing to do with their money going missing. Likewise, I’m sure the guests THINK they know that you or someone in your household took it. They’ve convinced themselves of it, when really the idiots probably spent it or lost it.

I’m sorry I can’t offer any practical advice, just my sympathies :frowning:


Hi @Alia_Gee,

Sorry this happened. It must have been very unpleasant.

However, seeing as I live in one of the more lawless areas of the planet (I’m not sure how NYC compares :slight_smile: ), I feel I can offer some (honestly, fairly obvious) perspective and suggestions.

My guest room has a sort-of soundproof door, so a mortice lock is not an option - we have a padlock instead. And we tell the guests to use said padlock. This looks slightly odd (it’s the only padlock in our entire home), but it does have the substantial advantage that it’s obvious that guests have locked the door and are not there.

Now, when I do a walkthrough, which I always try to do, practically the first thing I do is hand the padlock to the guests and tell them to use it. As in, lock up when they leave the room. It’s also mentioned in my guest guide, but we all know most don’t read it. Mercifully, I think everyone has indeed locked up. If they hadn’t, I would have sent them a message via Airbnb telling them to do so.

A few notes. Sure, guests know that I have a copy of the keys (though I don’t mention it), but I try very hard to avoid using them. My guests have written some fairly nasty things about me in reviews, but so far have avoided accusing me or anyone else in the household of pinching stuff. For longer stays, when we clean the room, change sheets/towels, etc. I tell the guests to put their stuff in the wardrobe and lock it before we come in. This isn’t ideal; in the longer term we should get something more substantial, like a luggage locker.

I also tell guests not to leave their stuff lying around outside the room, in the open, when they arrive and depart, because it isn’t a secure area.

As you can see, the point of all this is to avoid a situation where guests can complain that someone here has taken their stuff.

I’d strongly recommend you put a lock on the door. I don’t think that the guests will accuse you of coming into their room and stealing if you have a key. I recommend you not mention the existence of other keys, in any case. In the worst case, it drastically narrows down possible culprits from everyone in the household + visitors to you.

I’ve never stolen anything but been accused twice. Once when I worked at a fruit shop at 15 and fired (bag of 5 cent pieces when I had access to the whole register!) Please! The owners fat, sexist, lazy son was later caught and revealed as the thief. Second time a few years later at a cafe, I was suspended for a week with no pay basically trying to force me to resign (which included my birthday) and it was discovered a week later my co supervisor had accidentally put the float ($200 from the til) in the safe box. She was never ‘suspected’ as she wasn’t poor like me.

Both times no apology from the thieves/management and one of the worst feelings of my life thinking people believe you to be a scummy thief.

@Alia_Gee These guests, if legit, have no proof you stole and may have picked you as an easy target.

In hindsight I would have insisted all via Air messenger and called Airtbnb first. I have learned from your lesson and thank you for sharing. Shi@&y experience.


This is an unfortunate incident and I’m very sorry this happened to you @Alia_Gee.

Let me look at this: any hotel or BnB one goes to anywhere in the world, for rooms that have locks on the doors. the owner always has spares of the keys.

So with or without locks, if they implied you had taken the money, it’s a groundless accusation – if you were of the thieving kind, you would’ve fortified your defense by installing locks, using the spare key for the theft and later saying ‘oh but you’d locked your doors!’

Now, there might have been other guests in the house, but you say (and I imagine told them too) that there weren’t any others during that period.

And even there were, what @justMandi said applies: they agreed to the lockless setup of the place. So if they found their money went missing, they’re roundly to blame!

I hope these two points make you feel less guilty – if it all you should still take on any blame for this; and hope they help you word the review to suggest they were at fault.

Looking into the future, given as there are multiple parties of guests sharing the house, I would consider either putting up the ‘your valuables your resp’ rule on the listing or installing two-way locks on the guest bedroom doors.

My first reaction to reading your case was to consider putting a lock on the (sole) guest bedroom door at my place. But thinking about it further, I won’t.

I don’t want to host a guest who wouldn’t trust the host; and if a guest does this to me, I now know what to tell them!

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I’ve seen this viewpoint before. And respectfully, I disagree. Unless literally the only person to live in that home is the host, there are other people to be concerned about. Visitors, tradesmen, workers of various kinds. Etc. etc. This is an issue of security. I don’t think one should make into an issue of trust.

We’ve had previous threads in which hosts objected to having locks as they think it implies they aren’t trustworthy. I think it’s not just about security, it’s about what’s in people’s heads. If someone wants a lock, it really doesn’t matter why they want it, does it? Someone else posted about how some guests like any evidence that there were previous guests to be erased by having a new roll of TP, miniature unused bottles of shampoo, etc.

It’s not a huge expense and unless it’s ruining a vintage door (the only legit reason to not have a lock) the peace of mind it gives to guests should trump the host’s ego. Which reminds me, I need to go change the knob on my guest room to a locking one.

Hi @KKC,

True. But I do think it is mostly about security. I can’t imagine why else someone would want a lockable front door.

Security is a big thing everywhere. But particularly in the US. The govt is constantly yammering on about it, and using it as a (threadbare) excuse to do all sorts of horrible things. (Sorry, random political aside.)

Agreed. I actually gave up the idea of a smart lock on our front door because we couldn’t find one that would fit. And we didn’t want to replace the front door. It’s probably the original front door of the house.

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Think of all the great guests you’ve had over the years, and the overall interesting journey you’ve been on. I know you love to host and meet people. You were joyful over turning your porch room into a seasonal guest space. Think of those good times.

Everyone is going to have the odd “hiccup” - as hosts we deal with all sorts of people and crap is inevitable.

Yes, you didn’t need to give these guests any money, but you did what you felt comfortable with. If they ARE decent people (and not scamming you) they will realize that you went above and beyond what was expected and I’m sure they must appreciate it.

Nonetheless, my heart goes out to you.