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Suggestions on How I Should Respond To (Ugh!) Awful Review

A family of four stayed two nights in one of the apartments I host. Very communicative, good manners, seemed ‘better than average’ upon my first impression… The first night she messages me on the Airbnb app that the sofa bed is not working, and included pictures. I responded within minutes and offered to come over right then to show her how to do it (it was late, like 9 pm) or I could show her in the morning at a time she could decide.

She thanked me profusely for responding so quickly and said the metal bars were bent/broken which I was unaware but not too surprised as the sofa beds in general seem to get shoved around and man-handled fairly often by guests converting them from bed to sofa and vice versa. She decided that she could use pillows to solve the issue and I could look at the frame tomorrow morning. Fine with me of course.

And so I did while the family was away at breakfast. Indeed, the metal on one side was askew, preventing the headrest portion of the bed to ‘pivot up’ for sleeping. I used some tools to bend the metal back (matching the way the opposite side looked) and the bed headrest was fully functional again and pivoted up correctly. I left before the family returned, left her a message and when she returned she sent me a nice message thanking me for ‘fixing the issue so quickly’.

I happened to see her and her family in their truck so I stopped and thanked her for being so patient and accommodating to us. I mentioned that the sofa bed is kinda weird how the headrest pivots up for sleep and pivots down for converting back to sofa position, and the instructions I leave are probably not the clearest. Bad engineering to begin with, you know with that weird pivot up/pivot down thing… She says oh I know how they work - they all do that pivot thing. (This was news to me, I figured this sofa bed was unique and difficult not usual and ordinary.) I said as much to her and thanked her again for letting me know that the metal got misaligned and giving me access to the apartment to fix it. She said no worries, thank you, and I walked away to go back home.

I thought that was that and was happy I could fix the issue, although when she explained to me the night before that the bed was actually bent I had already decided that if i could not fix whatever was wrong right on the spot and quickly - that I would just switch out the sofa bed with a similar sofa bed from the unoccupied listing next door. Whatever I was faced with I knew that I could solve the problem either by repairing it on the spot or switching it out on the spot. I thought the issue was addressed as reasonably uneventfully as possible.

So I leave her a great review - including me acknowledging her patience as I fixed a maintenance issue she made me aware of - and thought I would get a decent review, perhaps better…

Well here’s what I got - bad grammar and misspellings included:

GUEST REVIEW: “I would have to say im torn with my experience. The host’s were quick to respond when we had a issue with the couch bed. but all in all the couch bed was extremely uncomfortable for our boys. The master bedroom smelled very old like my grandma’s house i also had a big on me in the middle of the night and under the dresser (note: I always check for bedbugs and other insects and there where none so im not sure where they came from but none the less could not sleep both nights). Bathroom was okay i would give it a B on clean. and location was okay, very close the the peir and downtown but very congested and not in the best of neighborhoods. So i went back and forth on my review but ended at a 3 star due to the hosts promptness.”

I was aghast. Why did she not mention any of these things to me in messages or when I happened to see her? And the sofa bed is a very high quality leather sofa bed that is about a year old and cost $1600 when we bought it brand new, but it is a sofa bed. Which they knew they were getting! I didn’t bait and switch after they got here! Like bunk beds and full-size beds, some do not prefer sofa beds… good grief.

And she saw a ‘big’ and could not sleep both nights! OMG how could that be? Umm, the apartment is 875 feet away from the Gulf of Mexico get a fucking grip. Thank god she didn’t claim we had bed bugs too, and she gave a ‘B+’ for bathroom cleanliness - WOW!

The review is so vague and yet so powerfully repellent for other guests to read. I have responded to 90-95 percent of reviews I have received and I think only one review was more or less negative out of all of them. Mostly I respond with “Thanks for the rave review [guest name], let’s do it again soon!” but I have to respond to this review as it is clearly terrible and I need damage control. Her three-star review brought the score down to 4.81 (only 28 or so reviews on listing so far) and that has Superhost status in jeopardy as well!

Help! It has been two days since I got the review and I need to respond ASAP! Thanks fellow hosts!

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I don’t know but, wow, I am SO SORRY.

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Sorry for that guest! I could be wrong but it doesn’t look like the kind of review that you can get removed for “Not Relevant”. Except maybe the bit about “downtown but very congested and not in the best of neighborhoods”. That is perhaps your hope to fight it and get it pulled. Others may have additional ideas.
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Sofa beds can be “meh” to many for comfort. You might consider also buying a 2-3" quality memory foam topper for it - that can do wonders to add comfort for little cost.

I think learn from the sofa bed incident . How come you or your cleaners don’t check it between guests.

A guest shouldn’t arrive to a broken bed.

Have you actually slept in the sofa bed to make sure it’s comfortable?

Did the main bedroom smell?

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Ouch! What a nightmare - complaints in the review that you weren’t told about. You might be able to get it removed since they didn’t contact you with their smell and bug complaints (if I recall, ABB requires guests to contact the owner within 24 hours of check in about issues.)

However you reply, remember you are talking to the potential guests and not this one (although you can write it as a response to her).

I also advise you don’t do a line-by-line rebuttal - that just makes you sound defensive. And don’t worry about the sofa bed - bed comfort is very personal.

Write your draft and post it here and we’ll help you.

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Sorry you got this review. Due to the comical grammar errors it’s hard to take this seriously!!
I would just let it go, don’t reply to this nonsense.

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I have laid on the bed but have not slept overnight on it. The fourplex the apartment is located is 100+ years old that sometimes has a musty note to it. No other guest has ever mentioned or complained about it, probably in part because I keep the A/C on 24/7 and I have added two desiccant containers to remove excess water from the air. I will be repainting the entire apartment a different color soon so perhaps that will help reduce any residual musty odor.

As usual your comments and suggestions are spot-on, thank you. The mattress topper is a good idea.

I actually hadn’t considered that route. That may be a good avenue to explore and see what happens…

Thanks. I feel a bit better knowing that some of you understand how this review blindsided me.

I am the one who does the cleaning and maintenance in all the listings. I did not realize that the metal was bent to a degree that it would not work properly. Each time I changed the linens on the sofa bed it functioned normally. Maybe that lady’s sons bent it somehow that night, they were in their late teens and adult-male sized, I don’t know… Ultimately I dropped the ball on that point because it’s my job to prevent a situation like that from happening in the first place - and I had noticed the metal was bowing before that night. Thanks for the feedback.

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I’m sorry. It is disappointing to be blindsided. I know you don’t wish to sound defensive, but I do think these are real issues that could turn people away so you need to address them. If you have other stays already booked coming soon, hopefully this will be buried by good reviews.

It helps to have a draft to start from…maybe something like (VERY rough but maybe others can help or it will give you ideas)…:

“We are thankful GUEST made us aware of an issue with unfolding the sofa bed, which we apparently missed when preparing it prior to their arrival. Sadly, we were never told of any other issues. We are < 1000 ft from the Gulf of Mexico so insects are certainly in the area. We treat quarterly to keep them in check. We’ve added a lovely mattress topper for the 1 year old sofa bed to improve on comfort. As we are in a humid environment by the Gulf, we also take measures, such as running AC 24x7, to mitigate any side effects. As you can see from our many other reviews, this is not the usual experience and we look forward to providing more excellent stays, which is our norm!”

NOTE: My house is old (not as yours :slightly_smiling_face:) so I do have a section in my House Manual (that people are required to say they read) where I note it’s quirks. As you’re aware of the mustiness, why it’s that way & what you do to keep it in check, it may be worth mentioning if you cannot get rid of it.

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Don’t respond. It would make you appear defensive. Just move on and ensure that the place is perfect for your next guests and the review will soon be buried.

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@jaquo I have a question about that (I’m cool with not agreeing :slightly_smiling_face:). We had another thread where the host was fortunate enough to get a poor review removed. They noted they’d had no bookings since it went up & once it was gone the bookings immediately started rolling in. If they had not been able to get the review removed, would you recommend a response or not? I do know that one was more severe as it accused of bed bugs (I think, I’ll go look back). I guess if I read a review that suggested a place smelled, especially old & musty, I would think “mold” and look elsewhere. Especially when coupled with broken furniture (I’d have automatically thought the furnishing were old also).

I am in no way suggesting that @rmorell is not a good host however, different people have different standards (I’m referring to the guest there). I have stayed in a couple of Airbnb rentals that have been not good at all. One was mediocre, the other downright horrible. Both were five-star places and the latter was a superhost. (Please, @rmorell - again, I’m not suggesting you’re not a good host).

Often ‘bad’ reviews are seen by hosts as being disastrous but every review is just one person’s viewpoint. And potential guests don’t necessarily make their decisions on one outlier review.

my opinion is that for a host to spend time worrying about it, posting here, responding to refute the review etc., is not a practical use of a host’s time. And it would take up even more time to argue with Airbnb to remove it. (Chances are that they wouldn’t because the guest was simply writing about her experience.)

I’ve written here before that we live in a review era. What I’d suggest to hosts is to go to Amazon and find your favourite book. Read the reviews. Some will not be at all good. But you know that it’s the best book ever. Same with all reviews.

P.S. My favourite book has 80% five-star reviews. I see that as being quite good. But if an Airbnb host had 80% five-star reviews. many would be concerned.

I honestly believe that potential guests don’t pay as much attention to reviews as hosts think. :slight_smile:

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P.P.S. One review of my favourite book says ‘worst book of all time’.

:roll_eyes:

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Thank you for the ideas of what to write and how to proactively address known issues going forward.

The only problem with not responding is I already respond to 90-95% of reviews I receive. So if I don’t respond that may look ‘odd’ considering all of my other responses (?)

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Yes, it’s terrible and wonderful all at the same time (like Freedom In A Cup !! - YouTube)

It makes me feel good to get good ratings/reviews and I definitely use this info to determine what to buy, etc. BUT I hate it when it’s used unfairly (subjective at times, I know).

I feel the issue began with and continues to be how Air and other sites position us. And then there was that article in another link recommending guests not stay anywhere rated below a 4.8. Once you’re established and seasoned, it’s not so bad, but when you’re new and trying to build a reputation it’s hard.

There was a Black Mirror about a future society where people rated every person instantly after interacting and it would tank your social status, etc. if you fell below a certain # of stars. It was horrible!!!

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Hmm…curious and curious-er

I do not take offense to your comment, I didn’t think they were about me specifically, more like general-type comments about reviews and hosting broadly-speaking. And I realize I am very much a student of hosting still as I have only been hosting since January 1st (officially). I am learning more and more and more every day. I will write a sentence or two response (consistent with my responses to most other reviews). I am not too worried about reviews, per se, it’s just that it is the most recent out of less than 30 total.

It’ll be buried soon enough! Congratulations on your success so far. It takes a lot of tenacity, IMO, to start and keep a hospitality business going. Here’s to having all your hard work pay off!

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You’re right, it was meant in a general way. :slight_smile: You see, there are many would-be hosts who read this forum so there are a few of us who give general responses to posts in order to help other readers.

It’ll soon be buried. You might be new to this business but you’re ahead of the game when it comes to your attitude to reviews. Once you’ve been doing this for a while longer, you’ll not worry about reviews and you’ll be a happier host. :slight_smile:

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You inspired me to look up my favorite book on Amazon. I couldn’t believe what I found.

The title of this particular 1-Star review is a bit on the nose for this forum. Which one of you was it?? Lol.

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My favorite movie director, Hal Hartley, has a movie called “The Girl From Monday”, where people are traded on the stock market, their value being determined by their sex appeal rating.

Hal Hartley movies are indie, and most people don’t “get” them. Like someone’s favorite book, online reviews of his movies contain a lot of “Worst movie I’ve ever seen”, “Horrible acting” (that is a signature of how he directs- his actors often speak in a stilted way).

My favorite, and most accessible in terms of being a pretty straightforward plot, of his movies is Amateur. (Not The Amateur, a baseball movie). It stars Isabelle Hupert, a well-known and award-winning French actress. So no, the acting isn’t “horrible”.

I was watching that movie with a friend, first time for her, probably 4th time over the years for me. 5 minutes into the movie she commented how she hates it when actors speak in “fake” accents. I had to inform her that they weren’t fake- that Hupert is French and the other actress, Elena Lowensohn, is Romanian.

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