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5 star rated listing, 150 reviews, offer daily cleaning and don’t charge a cleaning fee. Guess what, my latest guest complained about a SINGLE hair in the bathroom.
What’s crazy is that Airbnb support said that the guest is entitled to a full refund of the cleaning fee (haha) and 30% of the first night = $150.
I offered a full refund if the guest leaves immediately in order to do a deep cleaning because according to the guest and I quote “It is completely unnacceptable”, and the response of Airbnb was, the guest doesn’t have to leave but can take the refund.
Has something similar happened to you? How did you deal with it?
From the very start of our hosting eight years ago my wife/co-host and I have put ouselves in the shoes of a paying guest and said out loud over and over "One hair and we’re fxcked! Just ONE!! " This seems like basic Innkeeping 101 the world over – Airbnb’s., B&B’s, hotels, motels – all of them.
I just find it surprising that someone who has written a book on hosting and who mentors other hosts (correct me if I misunderstood) is nonplussed and even indignant when he encounters the consequences of this basic hospitality-industry fact of life. I mean – I understand the “Ouch!” – but not the notion that the guest (and Airbnb) have over-reacted. Being an innkeeper or a host is, by its very nature, a “one-hair” game… whether we realize it (or like it) or not.
That is a bit ridiculous given that you offer daily free cleaning! But yeah, hairs have a strangely outsize symbolic import in hospitality, don’t they? Wise of you to offer to let them leave after a day. Doesn’t seem like the kind of guest you’re looking for.
In fact, one of the things that made us give up on our ABB management agency and start managing the place ourselves was a hair. Actually, more than one hair.
So, when we first met the property manager, she emphasised how important it was that we not use the property in between when the cleaner came through and the next guest, because, she said, if we left so much as one hair behind, that would be a disaster. I took her point, but reassured her that I was an incredibly meticulous – some (ahem, my husband) would say obsessive – cleaner and that wouldn’t ever happen.
Well, I visited our ABB flat after the cleaner had come and gone and there was not one but several hairs, plus heaps of lint from the cleaning rags, on the floors and walls of the bathroom. That told me that the cleaner didn’t just fail to meet our standard, but also failed to meet the property manager’s claimed standard.
I took over and now I clean myself, and the very last thing I always do before leaving the apartment is check the floors and sink in the bathroom (which is white tiled and therefore it is incredibly easy to spot a single hair).
After being a host so long I really notice any kind of cleaning shortfall in hotels. The last hotel I stayed in was a Hilton Hampton Inn outside of Boston. I used the sofa bed and had them drop off linens. The underside of the sofa cushions were some kind of fuzzy black fabric and when I pulled them off I saw there was lots of hair – mostly short dog hair but some longer strands. I just let the desk know they need to vac or more likely lint roll those cushions. I didn’t jump up and down and demand a refund.
Funny how hair on our heads is attractive, but elicits disgust on its own. My theory is it viscerally reminds us of death to see something detached that we usually think of as part of our bodies. The sight of a hair also punctures that fantasy that we are the first and only guests in a clean room. No matter how well cleaned, we’re surrounded by dead skin cells, dust mite body parts, microscopic critters, etc.
I’m an anthropologist, and a very famous anthropologist named Mary Douglas theorised this in her book Pollution and Danger. Her argument is basically that dirt is “matter out of place.”
Think of it this way: you could have the cleanest floor in the world, and you don’t consider chocolate cake to be dirty, but you would never eat a piece of chocolate cake off your floor. Even if a delicious crumb drops on the floor, even if you just finished wiping down the floor first with disinfectant and then with multiple swipes of clean water so it’s the cleanest place in your house, that cake is now dirt, not cake. (Unless you are my brothers and you practice the 10 second rule ) Or another example: you could have just bought a pair of completely new, never worn shoes, but most people would never put those new shoes on the dinner table.)
This cultural rule that “matter of our place” is polluting particularly applies to anything that transgresses boundaries of the body. Anything that was once part of the body and then becomes separated from it is seen as disgusting, which is why we consider spit, urine, hair and nail clippings to be super disgusting – yet a fingernail when it’s on the body, or as you say, hair on the head, is not considered gross.
Here’s how I demonstrate the validity of Douglas’s argument to my undergraduate students: I ask them how many of them would be willing to spit into a cup and then one second later, swallow that spit again. Most look like they want to vomit at the idea. (How many of you are feeling queasy just reading this?). And yet, just a second before, it was in the mouth and nobody would think twice about swallowing it!
I think you’re also right in your analysis that it punctures the fantasy that we are the first and only guests in a clean room.
I have always thought that dreadlocks are gross. Nothing to do with how they look- but half the hair in them isn’t even attached to their head anymore- it would have fallen out if it wasn’t all tangled up in the dreads. It’s like taking your fingernail clippings and gluing them to your fingernails. (just in case anyone wasn’t grossed out enough by the hair talk yet)
Maybe we should start offering discounts for bald guests.
So ridiculous. Hair falls off of people so if a guest sent me a pic of a hair on the floor I’d assume it was theirs. I wouldn’t give any thought or compensation to this “complaint.” Now a wad of hair in the shower drain or a hairball under the bed is a different matter. And all carpet is gross and I guarantee there are many hairs in/on it.
I got a one hair complaint in the early days of my hosting. It was one hair on the floor of the second bathroom on the tiled floor. They even sent me a picture Can’t remember if they mentioned it in their review.
From then I have become quite paranoid about hair which is only an issue in the bathrooms and mainly on the tiled floor. Hair in the basins or bathroom tops is easy to see, but not on the floor. Now I 1) vacuum the floor first and 2) then use something like this to pick up any hair the vacuum didn’t https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005006007497047.html? I am always surprised how my hair gets picked up from the lint cleaner and 3) mop the floor.
The carpets always have plenty of dropped hair which I can tell from the vacuum cleaner rollers but of course it’s hard if not impossible to see so the guests don’t complain.
Did I miss something? Has the OP written a book on hosting, & is mentoring other hosts?! If that is the case, just…. Wow! Time for somebody to put their big boy pants on.
Yes, that one hair can sink you. It’s why conscientious hosts are on their hands & knees, looking for that.one. hair. SMH!