Is this a "defensive" reply to a negative review or a warranted reply?

Received a very in depth 3 star review pointing out specific items in the house that were not clean, and it was obviously a cleaners mixup. I refunded an entire nights rent and the whole cleaning fee. Is a reply like the following “defensive” or warranted? I’m thinking of replying something like:

​As I read through your review, and I admit that the house was not up to its usual standards of cleanliness, I imagine that most future guests will rely on the other hundreds of reviews and realize that this was truly a fluke, a mistake in scheduling or something with the cleaning staff that led to the issues with cleanliness. I trust our generous refund to you helped smooth any ruffled feathers.

You’re sure to get many points of view on whether and how to respond – you’ve come to the right place! More seasoned Hosts than I are here, but here goes.

I think you should respond because cleanliness is important.

Your draft response shows you’re a class act who takes responsibility.

You make the key point that what happened here is not your pattern.

So, in my view, the key is how to respond briefly, a nemesis challenge for me.

I suggest this (edit for accuracy):

Thank you for choosing our property as your vacation home and your understanding when my cleaning crew and I let you down. The refund I volunteered cannot make that up. I am sorry. I’ve changed my procedures so that we meet the cleanliness excellence you see in all our other reviews – 100% of the time.

I wonder what this means. Did the cleaners clean the wrong house? Not all show up? Clean while drunk? I like the word ‘mixup’ (it seems so ‘innocent’) but wonder how it applies here. I’m guessing there’s a cleaning crew and member A thought member B had cleaned ‘x’?

If so, it was a failure to communicate.

You might want to review this scene from ‘Cool Hand Luke’ to straighten out any communication issues with your cleaning crew.

Just a quick note, I’d shy away from explicitly mentioning refunds (you don’t want other folks trying this out). Perhaps something along the lines of “I hope that our best efforts helped make this right.”


Agree strongly about not mentioning a refund, especially that you volunteered one – you’ll have everyone clamoring for a refund for all sorts of issues!

If I felt I had to respond to their review I would say:

“Thank you for choosing our listing. We have addressed and rectified the issues you mentioned.”


@Pinecrest Your response seems too wordy to me and “mix-up” with cleaners makes no sense to me. Either the cleaners never showed up, or showed up and did a s**t job.

Ken’s suggested response sounds much better.
And when a guest mentions a legitimate issue for which you are responsible, saying to look at your other reviews indeed sounds defensive and belittles the guest’s legit complaint. An apology and indication that the issue has been acknowleged and dealt with sounds much better. Do not mention or allude to any refund.


Love all your suggestions and I will wait and see what others have to say as well before plowing ahead. We definitely have a failure to communicate and I am working on ways to talk more affirmatively with my cleaner.

Thanks for the note on not mentioning a refund. I have had, in the past, a guest who tried to “extort” (airbnb’s word) money from me for a bogus claim.

1 Like

Thanks. I am waivering between replying at all but will definitely drop the mention of the refund.

Thanks for the reply. I will ponder all these good tips and get back to this this evening.

Without reading the guest review how can I know if your response is appropriate? I’m only getting your side of the story.


I like it! I would book at your place given your message and other positive reviews.

Who does the final walkthrough before guests arrive?

Cleaners, and I am allowing myself to say this because I was a cleaner for a long time, are just that. Cleaners.

If you don’t do the walkthrough yourself and have a co-host, then it’s his/her ‘mixup’.

As others have said, do not mention the refund.

1 Like

I do my own cleaning, but if I used a cleaner, I can’t imagine just assuming the cleaner showed up. I would check in with them the night before a change-over to make sure they were aware, and have it set up that the cleaner messaged me when they were done. And if it was not a long-time, trusted cleaner, I would either check-over the work, or have a co-host who did.

1 Like

My Host requests a FaceTime with the cleaners when they think they are done.

Each time.

She did have some valid issues and it was clear that the cleaner had not done some items but she was also “that guest” who admitted to pulling beds out from the wall to see if there were dust bunnies and taking a fan apart because there were cobwebs inside the fan cover…

Thanks Christine! I hope that other future guests would feel the same. I know when I travel I check a number of reviews to see if perhaps the lower ones were just flukes.

I’d just move on, don’t reply. Let your previous good reviews do your speaking.

1 Like

Thanks for your reply. Unfortunately our cleaner is our “walk through” as our airbnb is in another town where we were going to retire to but life took a different turn for us. I am going to work up a checklist for her, see if she can meet my checklist needs, and if not, look for alternatives. The “mixup” was due, I am sure, to her process of starting our house, going to a different one and coming back to ours to finish, thus, most likely, missing a couple steps in the process.

Sadly, this is a long time trusted cleaner and she has perhaps come to think that our house can slide a bit, unless she is doing other houses the same way. I do have a check and balance on confirming that she has us scheduled, the issue is, I believe that she will start our house and then go somewhere else and come back and finish us up, without, I am sure, any kind of written checklist so I will be working with her on that.

OK All, thank you and I went with a combination of suggestions, landing on “Thank you for choosing our listing. We have addressed and rectified the issues you mentioned. I hope that our best efforts helped make this right.”

In rereading her review, while some of it was warranted, there were parts of it that just make her “that guest,” things like "beds downstairs were hard to fit 2 people in, (double beds and advertised as such), ceilings were unfinished (ceilings are tongue and groove stained wood), walls were thin (advertised as a 1930s house and priced accordingly)…Overall I felt like saying in her review that “perhaps she is more suited to a hotel stay” but thanks to feedback from you here I refrained. Moving on…with some attention to working with my cleaner so that I have more consistent results from her cleaning. Happy New Year everyone.