I need to Vent - Boy do I hate Airbnb's rating system and customer support

Hi Community

I’ve been a host since 2016. Generally I get 5 stars and since I have over 450 reviews, one bad review won’t hurt me but this past review really annoyed me. I wrote to Airbnb to ask them to remove because I have no control over GPS and even alerted the guest to special instruction but they said it falls within their guidelines. But of course, they have to first thank me for being a super host. It just makes me want to pull my hair out.

  1. One night stay (I don’t normally do 1 nights but if I have random 1 night between bookings I will open it up.) Guest Arrives around 4 pm to check in. Never responds to my message to see if everything is ok. Never responds to my message about if he’s going to do an early check out time. Goes out for the night. The next morning he leaves around 5 am.

2, This is the review I get: Overall I got a 3 star review.

Basically all we did was sleep there. We were in Boston late that night. Got back to Melrose went to sleep got up left the next morning so it’s really not fair to give a thumbs up or thumbs down the reason why we had problems finding the location would do the GPS not so much of her directions.

Detailed feedback
Check-in 2
Cleanliness 5
Accuracy 4
Communication 4
Location 4
(I am by far one of the most affordable Airbnb’s in the Boston Area in a very nice neighborhood close the the subway system and major highways and airport.)

  1. Note - I provide in the first sentence of my check in info a warning about not using GPS with my address but provide very specific instructions using my neighbor’s address and then go to the next driveway and even have large yellow arrows and flashing light. (I’ve also spent hours with the different GPS companies fixing the issue but there are 1 or 2 that just won’t fix it so I gave up and provide this info.)

  2. I don’t normally respond but I did below for future guests with:
    You had no complaints about the suite which is the purpose of the review for future guests. Airbnb considers 3 stars a poor review. I encourage future guests to read our other reviews below. (probably shouldn’t have mentioned the stars and left it alone because guests I don’t think saw the actual stars.)

  3. Then I get an email from Airbnb:
    Now’s a good time to review our ground rules for Hosts, which cover our expectations for things like cleanliness, communication, and listing accuracy.

I realize this is a form letter but really, really irritating.

  1. I’m not really asking for any advice but since I can’t seem to let this one go, I just wanted a safe space to vent.

Thanks all.


Sorry for what you went through. I suppose this is the cost of doing business that we get occasional weirdos.

I didn’t think any response to her review was necessary. Normal guests would ignore that review.

Sorry about your experience, Lynn. But, as you said, guests can’t see the ratings a specific guest gave you, just the averages. I can understand why you wanted to respond, but don’t think it was necessary with 450 reviews under your belt.

One thing about responses- if you start out, as you did, addressing the reviewer, it really isn’t aimed at future guests and I think it could turn future guests off, thinking you might rake them over the coals publicly if they left ratings they felt were fair. I would just write factual responses to correct misinformation, and leave the education re ratings to a private message to the guest if you feel it’s warranted.


Oh, I feel for you! I had a similar experience - 450 5 star reviews and a guest who clearly didn’t read my listing (which is very clear that it’s a lived in home) gave me 2 stars. She sent photos of my personal photos on the wall and the fridge with condiments and demanded a refund from airbnb, and claimed I “harassed her for 2 days” about parking (she didn’t follow the very clear instructions about where to park and neighbours were complaining). Airbnb ultimately reversed the refund after finding there was full transparency in my listing and communication, but ghd 2 stars did bring down my overall rating quite dramatically. That was 2 months ago and it is STILL bugging me. I was able to respond to her very negative review in a way that I think retains my respect as a host so I wouldn’t ask for that to be removed but I’m still pondering pleading my case to airbnb that the rating be deleted. I was not deficient in my part - the failing was completely on her for not reading the listing and subsequent instructions. I should not be penalized for that. I’ll let you know if I’m successful.


Oh, how I can relate to this post! I almost made a similar one this week. We received our first 3* from a first time Airbnb user.

He asked for early check-in, I said I would try but - as per my listing AND the welcome message - check-in is normally between 5 - 10 pm due to my work schedule. I told him I would see what I could do given we were having a guest check out that morning and I had to work.

The guest left super early. I cleaned and reset the room before work and made arrangements for my husband to be there for check-in. We have self-check-in but with a brand new Airbnber I wanted someone around (in-home room).

He stayed 2 nights and other than a cheerful “hello” when he arrived home we never saw him.
Check-in - 3 (unclear instructions) First person EVER to say that)
Cleanliness - 4 (but checked "squeaky clean bathroom)
Accuracy - 2 (inaccurate location - GPS brings you right to our door; missing lock on bedroom door - we don’t promise a lock on the door. This is in-home without other guests. If we had a lock, we would need a code or key anyway in case the guest left the door locked upon checkout.)
Communication - 4 (Friendly)
Location - 2 (he checked “inconvenient” - I wanted to say “but you chose it!!”)
Value - 5

We have 281 Five star reviews
6 Four star (two were deserved - one I forgot to change the door code, and one a cat took a very smelly dump just before the guest arrived. Others were “we never give 5s” people.)
And now one 3.

I didn’t respond publicly but sent a message to him through the app:

"Just a note to tell you I am sorry your visit did not meet your expectations. This was the first 3* rating we have ever received.

Something you should know as a new Airbnb user. The ratings are very important to hosts. If a host fall below an overall of 4.8 they lose "Superhost " status. If they fall below a 4.7 they are in danger of being delisted. I know it doesn’t seem that way when you are asked to do ratings but that is how it is interpreted by Airbnb to the hosts. The 3* rating prompted Airbnb to send us an email telling us we need to make improvements.
The star rating is NOT the same as a hotel star rating.

Also - it is expected you will read the description before booking. Rating an Airbnb down on items that are in the description is not the fault of the host. We did not offer locks on the bedroom door - therefore it was not a “missing” amenity. The general location is given before booking. A rating indicating the location is “inaccurate” or “inconvenient” could also have avoided by more careful reading of the listing.

I wish you well in finding other places to stay and hope you give future hosts the grace I gave you before doing your review. I did not mention the stained sheets or dirt left in the shower - assuming that is just part of my job to clean."

I got a Read notice so I know he saw it. He will be traveling to our area often. I will not accept him as a guest unless he contacts me and assures me he would not do that again. Part of me wishes he would end up in one of the truly 3 * listings so he would have a good contrast!

Frustrating but with so many reviews it doesn’t hurt the rating much - just my feelings! Went from 4.98 to 4.97. The text of the review simply said “Very homey.”

This will soon be buried as we hare having our busiest summer/lead into fall ever. Just aggravated because it takes a lot of 5s to overcome a 3.

And, yes, the form letter from Airbnb was very irritating!


I wouldn’t bother with requesting to remove it. Given that my guest gave me a poor review because he didn’t follow my instructions to find the home and even admits it was an issue with GPS (Which is explained in the first line of check in) but he gave me 3 stars because he felt he couldn’t review my place because he only stayed one night (WTF?) . He thought 3 stars was neutral. Airbnb thanks me for being a superhost, sent me a warning letter about the quality of my airbnb and refused to remove.

Yeah - that’s exactly what the scenario was for me. I knew it would take a lot of time and energy to plead my case so I appreciate you encouraging me to let it go.
They DID reverse the partial refund by my pressing them to investigate the facts, but I think when it comes to reviews and ratings they just figure if they ever made it possible they would have to have massive staff to navigate the requests. I actually have the woman’s # to text and have often wanted to say…SHAME ON YOU along with more admonishments for her bad behaviour! But also not worth the energy and the risk. Not everyone is a good fit for airbnb - I certainly did all I could to encourage airbnb and future hosts that she’s NOT. But with language that allows me to look like the better half of the equation. :slight_smile:

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I should add, the did say that the review and rating would not effect my Superhost status so I think that’s where they can use their discretion.

I think all that is meant by that is that the 2 star rating didn’t lower your average enough to fall under 4.8. Not that they are using their discretion and aren’t going to count that rating into the average.

I have never heard of Airbnb ignoring a rating that they didn’t remove.

I really wanted to send the guest a message about how the review system works but figured no good would come from it.

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If done in the right way, as a gentle education, not coming across as a host thinking they always deserve 5 stars across the board, or making the guest feel attacked, I think a lot of good can come of it. If the guest is open to realizing why an undeserved low star rating hurts a host, they won’t do the same to future hosts. And sometimes guests will agree to ask for their review and rating to be removed.

I’ve mentioned this before, but as I homeshare, I have had the review discussion in person with several guests. Because of how I talk about it, just factually, letting them know why hosts get upset with low star reviews (the majority of guests have no idea whatsoever that Airbnb sends “pull up your socks” messages to hosts for low stars, or that hosts lose Superhost for less than 4.8, or any of that), my guests have been really open to finding that out and can’t understand why Airbnb would tell them 4*s means “Good, met my expectations”, then turn around and tell hosts that’s not good enough.

One of my guests said she had been leaving 4 stars for places that were fine and where she would book again. She said she felt awful to know the host may have suffered for that- she thought hosts would be pleased with 4 stars. She thanked me for cluing her in, and said she’d make sure to give 5*s for anyplace she liked and would be happy to stay at again.

So yes, good can come of educating guests about reviews if they are reasonable people who have no intention of damaging a host’s perfectly acceptable listing. And most guests don’t have bad intentions- they are simply unaware of how the ratings they cavalierly tick off affect hosts.

Additionally, undeserved low ratings can negatively affect guests, as they would likely have a repeat booking declined by hosts. Letting guests know this would be of benefit to them.


I stayed at an airbnb once where the host posted a well worded note for guests about how the star system works and the impact on hosts so they would be better educated before reviewing. I thought that was very smart.

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Yes, you’re probably right. I seem to recall that at first my rating went down to 4.6 but it quickly went back up - now 4.95. But yeah - I’m such a Pollyanna.

Why do all your posts sound like they were written by an Airbnb chat bot?


I wondered how this person just showed up and knew extensive information on all the currant threads and proceeded to tell us in great detail.


I went through this recently too. I had a hard time to let it go, even though it was not the first time. I understand that you are not asking for advice, Lynn.
But for the sake of venting too: Airbnb does not remove what they call “the guest’s experience,” however they do remove the review that we gave that guest. This is what I do. I call Airbnb to remove my review to them. Airbnb informs the guest that their host’s review has been removed. This helps me to overcome the feeling of having been treated unfairly. I cannot stand having them enjoy my 5-Stars rating.

It’s a mathematical thing. They use the mean average. I think they should use the median average. One bad review can have an undue negative effect.
I normally get bad reviews only after people have misread the advert. I don’t rent my kitchen but regularly get people wanting a kitchen. It says clearly in every possible place on the advert there is no kitchen, but people still regularly don’t read the advert. I’ve even put the absence of a kitchen in the house rules.
The other confusing thing is when the star rating for sub-things are good and the written review is good but the overall total score is bad. I’ve had that a few times and then you get the automatic AirBnB letter about ‘doing things better’, but they’ve scored all the individual things highly and only said nice things. They need to only send that letter out when there is something in the review that can be improved. Same with ‘location’: am I supposed to move the house?
I got that letter once. There’s no way to reply. Even once got suspended because a guest mistakenly left a review for a different place when they hadn’t even checked in here (too many stairs - guessing they injured themselves after booking) but AirBnB removed that review.

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