Should I respond to jerky guest's criticisms?

Hello everyone,

This guest departed just under 2 weeks ago. I was meaning to ask whether I should respond to his review, which, I suppose, wasn’t bad, but I didn’t much enjoy reading it either. And contained some odd and offensive bits. Some of it felt a bit patronizing. Also, 4 stars overall.

I didn’t particularly want to write this post, so I’ve been procrastinating. For me, personally, writing about guest reviews increasingly feels like petty and pointless whinging. And not a good use of my time. Especially given my price point.

But I basically wanted to ask if I should respond to it or not. I haven’t actually had any non-Indian reservations since this guest posted his review (on October 15th), but it’s obviously impossible to know whether his review has had a negative effect on prospective guests. My place isn’t exactly hopping. And I’m almost out of time if I want to leave a reply.

And this guy’s review did get under my skin, particularly the implication that it wasn’t safe to eat here (for unspecified reasons). Also “grungy and a bit depressing”. And “His meeting with friends and colleagues in the living room also made the shared spaces feel off-limits.” What? I think I was probably meeting with people doing work in the house. It happens occasionally, and it’s the most common reason I talk to people there. And it’s not the living room, it’s the entrance hall.

Also not sure what he meant by “there are no addresses”.

It’s certainly true that the entrance hall and kitchen could use work, particularly the living area. But :“grungy and a bit depressing” is just insulting.

The guest himself wasn’t particularly pleasant. He was from NYC, and reminded me rather of the other NYC guest I had, that I wrote a thread about recently. He freaked out about the boiled water. On several occasions he started walking away while I was in the middle of saying something. And just before he was leaving, I left him eating breakfast, and we were going to do the checkout after that. I told him I would be back in a few minutes, went to the bathroom, and he just walked out, leaving his breakfast mostly uneaten, I think.

Trivial/petty stuff, and I left him an excellent review, because none of this was really relevant to him as a guest.

Which kind of brings up the additional question. If I think the guest is a bit of a jerk and find him personally disagreeable, can I say so in the review? So far, I haven’t. I’ve just been sticking to the main bullet points you’re supposed to cover.

Also, I’ve now had three 4 star reviews from NYC people. All for no reason. Is there some sort of moral I should be drawing here?

Review follows, including the private feedback. I think he didn’t quite get that the private feedback was private.


Public feedback

I really loved the guest room; it was exactly as described: clean, in a very unique rooftop dome, connected to a lush outdoor balcony and clean bathroom, not to mention a rooftop terrace with a view of the neighborhood. VERY good WiFi! The apartment is in a pretty great location in terms of being close to all the major tourist attractions and centrally located. It’s on a busy street but that wasn’t a surprise. I slept well and actually enjoyed my outdoor trips to the bathroom! In addition, Faheem is very attentive and responsive—a truly conscientious host. He lives with his family in the rest of the space—be warned: he’s a bit of an odd bird and doesn’t have a positive view of Mumbai so he’s no good for sightseeing or travel tips. The
shared spaces are antique and quite unique, as you can tell from the photos. Unfortunately, Faheem doesn’t maintain the same cleanliness standards in the living room and kitchen so I didn’t spend any time there. His meeting with friends and colleagues in the living room also made the shared spaces feel off-limits. Again, it wasn’t an issue for me but it’s something to consider, depending on your plans. Also, I didn’t eat any meals there so can’t attest to those. To be honest, the state of the kitchen made me think twice about the food. Overall, it was perfect for my short stay in Mumbai, all things considered.

Private feedback

This is just for you. It won’t appear on your listing or profile.

Thanks again for everything Faheem. I really enjoyed my stay! Sorry I didn’t have time to fill out the suggestion form. I would say my biggest suggestion is to put a bit more time and energy into cleaning up the shared spaces. There’s such a contrast between how nice and clean the guest room and guest bathroom are and the rest of the space, which is cluttered and a bit grungy. Just my two cents. I hope you
don’t take it personally.


Areas for improvement

Kitchen It’s a study in contrasts: the guest room and guest bathroom are very clean but the rest of the space is grungy and a bit depressing.


It’s a little hard to find as there are no addresses. But Faheem came down to meet me so that helped. Faheem is a very thorough host so the check-in process can take a bit longer than usual.

You are within your rights to say that a guest’s personality offended you, but I would strongly caution against it. If other potential guests read that you didn’t like the guest, they could think that they are obligated to make you like them.

It seems like a lot of you and your guest’s problems with one another are cultural differences. In the U.S., New Yorkers are known for always being in a hurry and not wanting to engage in social exchange more than is necessary if they are conducting a business transaction like an Airbnb stay. I’ve always gotten stellar reviews from New Yorkers, so I don’t think there’s a moral to draw.

I understand him freaking out about the boiled water if he hasn’t traveled or camped out much. New Yorkers pride themselves on the superior quality and flavor of their tap water. Many of them maintain that their mineral heavy water is the reason that pizza and bagels don’t taste as good outside of New York.

You are a person who speaks literally. I think to most grungy and a bit depressing is a reasonable description of a kitchen that one doesn’t find to be clean enough. As you say that the kitchen could use some work, I would leave this alone if I were you.

I’ve found that guests feel that they need to be specifically invited to use common areas or they feel that they are imposing. When we’re giving the house tour we tell them that they are welcome to use any room in the house except our bedroom. If I were you I would definitely not say that it wasn’t the living room, it was the entrance hall. I’ve been in some big houses and I’ve never seen an entrance hall big enough to conduct business. I think that what you call an entrance hall is what we call a living room.

Is your address clearly marked at the entrance to your property? If not, that’s what he meant by no addresses. If so, he was mistaken.

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That is a tricky review to answer.
A lot of passive/aggressive compliments and complaints.
Do you answer all reviews? If yes…then that would mean it is important to answer and clarify.
If no…then it is not a totally bad review. A little bad, but not totally.
" Thank you for really appreciating the cleanliness and comfort of your bedroom and your toilet space. We believe that a good night’s sleep, and a clean toilet/bathroom is the most important feature of what we offer; we are glad you noticed how good bedrooms are our key feature. Although the kitchen area is a bit dated and ready for an update…it is still clean ( although old ) , and we believe that there is no reason to hesitate about cooking. We welcome guests to enjoy and use our shared space, and yes…I use it too…as it is shared. I love it when guests appreciate my oddly quirky unique personality - but even if not I will always be attentive and responsive. Having studied in the USA I will do my best to accommodate cultural differences and to be understanding regarding meeting expectations. "


@georgygirlofairbnb - Brilliant!

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I agree with @georgygirlofairbnb remarks and love her wording. I also think you should respond only if that is your usual pattern. His review is so long that the top half will appear and that is the best part. Many people just skim and don’t bother to click “more” to read the entire review.


Hi Ellen,

Thanks for the detailed comments.

That’s an excellent point.

Yes, I agree. Part of it is clearly cultural. Though an Airbnb is supposed to be about more than business. There is an element of cultural exchange, at least for me (and according to the stated principles of Airbnb too), which unfortunately seem to be falling by the wayside.

I think it’s legitimate to be concerned about boiling water. Since it doesn’t removed dissolved solids. I’ve don’t know the makeup of Bombay Municipal water, so I can’t say how much of a problem these solids would be. Unfortunately having water tested is very expensive (for us), and getting hold of official testing information would probably be non-trivial - the BMC is a nightmare to deal with.

“grungy” generally means dirty. Our kitchen isn’t dirty. It obviously isn’t like an operating theater either, but then which kitchen is? And “depressing” is obviously a subjective term. By work I just meant that there are plenty of suboptimal things - things that could be improved. Most obviously, the entrance hall needs a proper sitting area.

Yes, I could certainly say something like that during the walkthrough. Thanks for the suggestion. But really, much of the time, there is nobody in the entrance hall. I don’t spend a lot of time talking to people there. Maybe once in a while.

Well, as a matter of fact, it is the entrance hall. What we call the living room is a different room - it’s not normally accessible to guests. This is an old building - the layout is not what one would call modern.

In fact the address is not marked at the entrance. That’s another excellent point. I think at some point there was a board with lettering there, but a repainting job was done - the board was painted over, and the lettering was not replaced. I could try to do something about it, but we have a pretty messed up situation here.

Hi @georgygirlofairbnb

No, I rarely respond to reviews.

Thanks for the suggested response. It’s better than anything I could have come up with. Though I would not call myself “oddly quirky”, and definitely not with guests.

Given that I don’t normally respond to reviews, do you think it’s reasonable to not respond to this one as well? If I respond to it, it will have the effect of highlighting it. Which I don’t think I want to do.

I wouldn’t respond. The first half of the review is glowing and I expect the second half will get cut off on the site (prospective guests would need to click +more). I’m afraid that leaving a response will just call attention to the review in the long run. If I were scrolling through reviews, I’d see the “really loved” - “exactly as described” and move on, but if I saw a response, I’d feel compelled to read the rest.

His suggestions didn’t seem poorly stated - just very direct as New Yorkers tend to be. I’d take it as a data point and think about giving the common spaces a good cleaning.


don’t respond.
It is not an awful review - not great, but not awful

Hi @Allison_H,

Thanks for the feedback.

I agree. I won’t leave a response.

I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here, but the space aren’t dirty. They get cleaned all the time. There is a bit of clutter that could be cleaned up, and more importantly, the usage of the space is poor. As already states, it lacks good seating areas.

I won’t respond. And thanks again for the suggested response.

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