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More airbnb monkey business


#1

I have another case of airbnb removing emails from my inbox. The only reason I have copies is because I have copies in my sent folder from forwarding to my husband. They were removed just now, after I photographed one pertaining to the situation below.

A few weeks ago I had a couple of awful guests who smashed around my home infinitely louder than any of the parties of 7 and 6 guests I have had since, and ruined a favorite leather chair to boot. The guy was so awful, I knew filing for a resolution could only mean one thing, a huge retaliation in the reviews. My husband, who had purchased the beautiful chair in New Orleans and treasured it, asked me to ask just a fraction of what it was worth, so I did, even knowing it was putting my hand in a bees nest. Boy oh boy was it ever. Airbnb ruled in my favor, and checked the review yet to go to live and said it broke the violations (obviously discussing the case - as I later saw it as a fluke and wow! It was full of as many lies as they made up in the resolution!). They said I was a lunatic that accused them of jumping off the desk repeatedly onto the chair. Almost comedic.

Well, I got Augusts’ ratings about my hosterly duties, and expecting them to be 100% 5 stars, because every guest was a five star review across every mark, but instead found it was 86 percent, the lowest I had ever received. I realized that despite removing the review from view, the left the ratings up which must have been a 1 (we were busy in the studio and only hosted 8 couples).

I called airbnb to see if this was correct, and this was what I got as a message in return:

Airbnb Customer Experience

O, Sep 5, 12:36:
Hello Sandy,

My name is O, I am working for Airbnb. Thank you for your call today.

Thank you for taking the time to share your experience regarding this review with our team. We understand that this review may have come as a surprise, and we sincerely empathize with your concerns.

Airbnb values free speech and we do not remove, censor, or edit reviews. We only consider exceptions in the event of extraordinary cases, where the content doesn’t reflect our Review Guidelines: www.airbnb.com/help/policies/content#review_guidelines

We’ve carefully gone over this review. Though the part about the issue is discouraging, it doesn’t violate the guidelines, so the review will stand as is. Rest assured that the Airbnb community takes all comments into consideration. We feel confident that the other reviews will provide a clearer picture than this one alone. And we can not change stars in review, the system does not allow us.

A professional way to respond publicly, if you haven’t already done so, is to post a polite, final word in response to this review. Here’s how: www.airbnb.com/help/question/367

Moving forward, we’re sure you’ll receive glowing reviews reflective of your contributions to our community.

Best regards,

O
www.airbnb.com/help

The main issue is, due to a glitch when I wrote my review, I did see the customers review, and it was almost 100 percent violating airbnb’s policies as it spoke almost entirely about the resolution case I had opened (it was an open case, which eventually was ruled in my favor). I was also told by the other woman that ruled it violated the policies and removed it, that reviews are meant to be about quality of the stay, your room, host, comfort, not things such as cases etc. She also got her seniors to oversee and advise.

Here’s what she had said:

M, Aug 23, 15:25:
Hello Sandy,

I’m so sorry to hear about your sofa! I know that these incidents are rare, but that’s very unfortunate.

You always have the option of our Host Guarantee, if you’d like to request compensation that way.

I do have some good news, though – after looking over the review that Jung wrote, we have determined that it would be in violation of Airbnb’s content policies. As such, it will not be made public.

Let me know what else I can do to help.

Best,

M
www.airbnb.com/help

After I forwarded the discrepancy and told O that it had already been decided that the review violated policy, and I was simply asking about the ratings, the messages in my inbox from M on the 23 of Aug all disappeared. In fact, my inbox of the email I use for airbnb has nothing on this date suddenly.

Two worries here, how can two agents read the policies so differently, and secondly this is about the third or fourth time I have had airbnb remove emails from my inbox when I have questioned things.

I am willing to try to prove this sort of thing is going on to anyone who wants to use my case to look into it. Obviously you’ll need to prove you have no ulterior motives, and are good with computers (so you can see I didn’t put anything in the trash myself). I never trash any emails from airbnb for what it’s worth. Actually I never trash emails full stop. Probably should now and then.

Please share if anyone else has ever noticed this phenomenon. It usually occurs if you pull them up on something that has gone wrong. They remove all traces of it.


#2

Oh my god. She has removed her own message also. It doesn’t exist in today’s inbox now. Obviously airbnb service agents can cover tracks however they like, and remove messages. They are guessing we won’t look in our sent box though, because if you happen to respond, there will be a copy there. But still, what a creepy thing to do! It feels violating, to be communicating with the person, and suddenly they disappear as if they never spoke to you, and try to erase everything else pertinent to the conversation in your inbox that they have access to. What I was initially trying to deal with feels like nothing as dishonest as this way of behaving.


#3

Sandy - what a shocker. I hate hearing things like that. I keep thinking that Airbnb itself is all very legit and above board, but of course I haven’t had any issues that I’ve needed Airbnb to sort out - yet! Like you, I don’t delete emails. With my Airbnb guests, each has their own email folder, I put everything in it and after a couple of weeks I archive them. They’ll always be there if needed. Probably unnecessary but it’s a habit I got into in business. I also have a email folder for all correspondence with Airbnb themselves. I don’t like the idea of relying on their server to keep my correspondence safe.

I think with the sheer amount of money that Airbnb makes and turns over, they consider that small issues such as these with individual hosts/guests are not worth investing the time or money in to resolve. They know that you have no recourse. What are you going to do? Stop hosting because they’ve indulged in some dodgy practice? Probably not as the reality is that it’s an income for you and they know that. Airbnb’s focus will be on issues with councils, governments demanding taxes, potentially massive insurance claims and shooting down any global negative publicity before it grows too big. And of course ensuring that they wring every cent from every opportunity (look at the Paris hosting event schedule for an idea of where some of that money is going! It’s astounding). Your situation is like that of a bank who has an unhappy savings account holder - it matters - but their real money is made in all the trading between massive financial institutions and loans, so they have a ‘pat’ response they send out and hope that it will keep you, the little guy, quiet.

It’s so awful to see one awful review totally trash your star rating. If there’s no review, then there’s no review to respond to presumably so impossible to defend yourself.

Hope something happens in your favour. Keep trying.


#4

If this sort of thing is going on we should all be cut/pasting any communication including the time stamp to a file on our hard drives. Or even taking screenshots so they can’t claim forgery.


#5

It’s definitely going on. It is about the third or forth time that a customer service agent has gone into my email to do it. It has always been when they have made a different ruling than an agent before them. So the way they deal with it so that you have no comeuppance, is go and delete any evidence that the other agent ever said anything different to you in your inbox. Try proving an agent said something to you without the evidence! But alas, they don’t even care when you do have it, anyway. A closed case in an agents mind is just that, they just don’t respond after they’ve said their ruling. Of course I haven’t bothered trying to elevate it to things to the ‘higher ups’.

This time, because I was still in touch with the ‘trip team’ over a recent guest cancellation, where I had shared some frustrations over certain things (penalizations for not accepting guests even when they are requesting to book despite being inappropriate for the home as per the listing, wanting to bring more guests than the room takes, bring dogs, etc), and the woman asked me to share any further issues because airbnb cares so much (lol). So I sent along my little issue with the disappearing emails. My message went like this:

J,

Now that you mention it, I have a huge problem I’d like to discuss. One that feels violating to quite a large degree, dishonest and like an invasion of privacy. It is the habit of airbnb representatives of removing emails from my inbox when they don’t want to respond to an issue or even to rewrite history. It happened just this afternoon in fact. Of course we want to believe that everyone is trustworthy and has our best interests at heart, however these kinds of vulnerabilities make us feel insecure as members of the airbnb community due to those that can easily exploit this for their own means.

An O who had trouble understanding my reason for calling (it was just to ask why a review that had been decided weeks ago as violating terms and was thus removed, was now affecting my August ratings). She wrote back instead that she ruled that the review that Margaret A with the help of senior advisors had decided was a violation of policy was no violation of policy, and was the review could be shown.

When I responded that my question was just regarding the ratings (the review was not showing) and sent her a snapshot of my prior comms with M showing that she and her seniors had agreed it was a violation, she promptly deleted all the emails from M in my inbox, deleted her own emails to me, and I guess she feels that’s that.

It isn’t the first time this has happened, and thankfully I keep duplicates and screenshots of emails since I noticed the disappearances. It is creepy seeing someone being able to access messages from however far back they like from ones own inbox to try to rewrite history. I suggest a better way to try to deal with things.

As I said, it’s not the first time, and I am happy to discuss other times I have had this happen to me if you are interested. It’s always pretty obvious when emails disappear from your email feed, especially if like me, you never delete emails.

Pretty upsetting.

Sandy


#6

Thanks Wilbur. In effect it’s just a splash in the pond. It brought down just this months ratings, but for the year I still sit up in the high 90’s. I do believe that when they remove a review because it has been proven to be vindictive and focused on a case, then the ratings should also be removed. But if that is not the policy, at least someone could tell me, rather than removing all traces we ever discussed the topic and essentially shutting me down. Is it an unfair question to ask? Olga just removed the messages because she realized she’d made a mistake, and knows that she can delete former messages easily to cover tracks. Then she removed her own canned message, and decided not to even deal with the question I really came to find out about.

It’s amazing! Being a superhost you get this premium customer service!!

No word back from the woman from the trip team. What’s the bet she won’t answer? She refused to comment on my asking why they don’t have a travel insurance set up, so that hosts aren’t ever left in the lurch by guests claiming extenuating circumstances (as just happened to me). She shut me down with a simple ‘we are happy to see you have rebooked the listing and will be hosting Andrew instead’, and refused to discuss circumstances when you don’t get rebooked and lose relied upon (and quite possibly essential) income that would otherwise have been coming if the guest hadn’t tied up the listing. Eventually I got this message, because she kept telling me that if I’d had suspicions about my guest (I did because he’d both times tried to book outside of airbnb and other weird stuff), I could have flagged him. Except, there were no flags. We exchanged repeated messages on this until she finally checked and realized the app they have designed is a big fail. Here’s the patronizing reply. Patronizing because I don’t believe for an instant that my voice is powerful or essential, or that they value users feedback. If they did, certain things that many people have found troubling would have already been done away with.

Therefore I am probably an idiot for even sending the message I did about the disappearing emails. I have had other messages trotting out the exact same line (your voice is powerful etc, please share your wonderful ideas!). They literally have a few canned emails to select for each situation, and are trained to go through folders to select which email suits which case. Pretty insulting. I bet it goes absolutely nowhere.

J, Sep 4, 12:08:
Hi Sandy,

We always welcome feedback about our policies! :slight_smile: I have certainly shared this case with my team above and below me to see what we can learn from it.

I apologize for the difficulties you encountered using our the flag feature on the iPad. Please log in to the desktop version, and then you will be able to mark flags in messages.
We encourage you to also monitor your account using an up-to-date desktop browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. If you’re using a mobile device, this link will take you to the desktop version of Airbnb: http://m.airbnb.com/desktop

We are always working to improve our products and policies, and we encourage you to submit your feedback in direct reply to this email. Even when unable to accommodate all requests, Airbnb truly values user feedback – your voice is both powerful and essential. I’ll be sure to pass your thoughts on to the right team.

Thank you for your time and contribution.

Kind regards,

J
www.airbnb.com/help


#7

So I am not the only one I see:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9849502


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