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Surprise response from Airbnb to complaint about unfair review

We recently had guests who stayed for three weeks and then left us with a review complaining there was n dishwasher and no full stove (just a cooktop and a microwave). The thing is that both of these items are made clear in the “amenities” section of the listing AND the guests had a local son-in-law do a walk through three months prior (Plenty of time to cancel without penalty,) They also gave us a three-star – only the second non-five-star on that property in six years.

We phoned Airbnb Superhost and said “This isn’t fair – they are complaining that the guest suite was exactly as described and as pictured.” We wanted the review removed and Airbnb refused to budge.

But…

For the longest time our reviews in the listing were displayed in chronological order with most recent at the top (except non-English reviews, which were at the end). After our complaint the most recent review – the unfair one we had complained about – was buried near the end of the reviews, just before the ones written in Chinese and German. I’m wondering whether this is Airbnb’s Solomon-like way of making the review almost invisible (keeping us happy) while still leaving the review “live” on the listing (keeping the guest happy).

Has anyone else noticed something similar?

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But the 3 star review still did damages to our overall score. A new host like me would be hugely impacted by even one unfair reviews.

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Our score dropped from 4.96 to 4.92. On the basis of two subsequent 5* reviews it has inched up to 4.93… but you’re absolutely correct… this would have messed with us if we had been just starting out.

Actually a host doesn’t even have to be just starting out to have a low rating have a big impact on the average score.

Some hosts, like me, don’t get a high volume of bookings because we have a seasonal booking window and/or longer stays. My viable booking window is from late Oct-mid May, that is the main tourist season here and that’s why people book in this town- to enjoy the beach. People don’t come on business, or to attend school or to visit rellies. The summers are dripping hot and humid and rainy.

Then because my average length stay is 10 days and many guests stay 2 weeks, I’m lucky to get 15 bookings in a year.
So if a guest were to leave a 3* rating at the beginning of May, it would probably take months from the following Nov. to have the 5* ratings pull the average back up.

I’m not personally concerned about it, as I have always gotten 5* ratings and great guests, but a host in my booking situation who didn’t get such nice guests could be devastated by even one 3* rating.

I had heard that Airbnb hides bad reviews near the bottom, but don’t know if they do that as a regular thing, or when a host pushes for a review removal they won’t remove. I remember some guest post on another forum who had stayed somewhere that was legitimately bad, couldn’t find the review and thought it had been deleted, only to find it buried near the end of the host’s reviews.

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We’ve had 54 reviews in six years on this property – all overall fives except for two. (We get a lot of guests staying with us for a month or two when they first move to this city, and our minimum stay is one week)

The first *** was about 3 or 4 years ago, and before the recent *** we were at 4.96. This one dropped us to 4.92. Our other listing is straight fives. (They are both the same property – we offer a slightly cheaper configuration by locking off one bedroom. Each configuration is listed separately (and priced differently).

So – God forbid you get a three-star from a sour-puss, but it will only put a tiny dent in your overall score (but it always hurts to lose that “perfect five,” because you’ll never get it back.)

I think I’m at 44 reviews (maybe 50 stays, but some guests didn’t leave a review). Must have started hosting about the same time you did- it was the end of 2016. Then I closed to bookings near the beginning of March 2020 due to Covid, as I share my kitchen with guests.

Just had my first guest since I opened back up and it was a 2 week booking. She’s used to hot weather, she lives in the Virgin Islands. But I likely won’t get more until the fall- it’s already really hot here during the day. And I don’t have AC or a pool.

You must have secret power to choose nice guests over the mean ones. I have total 5 reviews so far as I just started hosting. Four of them are straight 5* but one of them is 4*. This 4* giver left review says I have a very clean and nice place with awesome location. But she gave me 4* anyway. Since I’m a new host, my price is lower than other similar listings decided by Airbnb smart pricing. I cannot understand why I only got a 4* on value while everyone else think they’ve got a great bargain. This guest and family missed their flight so they stayed 3 days instead of 4 days they booked. So I guess I’m the one who got punished for their missing flight. This 4* rating alone has put me on a cliff of losing the qualification as I’m pursuing superhost.

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Their trip started off on a sour note, not when they arrived at your place, but when they missed their flight. So they arrived disgruntled, and that set the mood for their stay. Or she is just one of those people who thinks 5 stars is only something for a ritzy hotel or she just never would give 5 stars. And many guests are under the impression that a 4* rating is fine. They truly are not aware that a host would be upset with a “Good” rating.

I doubt I have any special powers that lead to 5* ratings :woman_superhero:

It’s a combination of factors.

  1. I only host one guest at a time in a private room home share. Solo travelers tend to be self-sufficient, low maintenance, adaptable, easygoing, and friendly.
    Couple or group dynamics can spill over into finding problems with their stay. If they aren’t happy, they aren’t going to be non-judgemental about their stay. I see families on the beach here, it’s their first day of vacation (you can tell because they’re pastey white- tomorrow they’ll look like lobsters), and they are already miserable because they bring their emotional baggage with them.

“Where’s the sunscreen? You guess you forgot to pack it? Oh, great. You were supposed to pack the beach bag while I got the kids ready- I can’t depend on you for anything, I have to do everything myself. Now I have to try to keep the kids out of the sun while you go back to the hotel and get it, so get back here fast.
Yes, you have to sit here under the umbrella- you wanna get skin cancer? Stop whining! Dad will be back with the sunscreen in 10 minutes.”

  1. My place is not on the beach, in a beach tourist town. It’s in the quiet countryside, a 20 minute walk to town and the beach, and almost none of my guests arrive with a car. So it tends to attract down to earth types who don’t mind the walk, who are fit and don’t want to just hang around the house all day. Many are seasoned travelers who have been many places and experienced many situations. When you’ve stayed in a grotty hotel in Delhi with no hot water, or a mud hut in Cameroon, their clean private room and bathroom here seem luxurious.
    I market towards to type of guest who will be a good fit in my listing wording. I don’t try to attract everyone.

  2. The architecture of my house is unique, as is the decor of the guest space. There are decorative, custom-made iron bars on the windows, curved walls, one-of-kind tile work, etc. The guest room and ensuite bath are simple, colorful, uncluttered and super easy to clean, with no upholstered furniture that might be perceived as not clean, so it’s easy for me to make it look and feel immaculate. The entrance to their room is up an outside staircase, they don’t have to traipse through my house and feel like they are intruding. They look out on a lush tropical garden, beautiful birds perched on the palm trees. What’s not to like?

  3. I’m very casual about hosting- I don’t knock myself out to impress anyone nor do I put out any vibe that I am concerned that they may have complaints, because I’m not. I greet and relate to guests as if they are friends or a long-lost cousin who comes to visit, so they seem to feel at ease from the start. I’m easily adaptable to the guest’s vibe. If they seem private, I don’t try to engage them in conversation or be chatty. If they are obviously sociable, we hang out and chat. Some guests I barely see, some I drink wine with until 1am, having great conversations and lots of laughs.
    I don’t have a list of rules. They can smoke on the balcony outside their room, use the kitchen as much as they like, etc. No one can sneak extra people or pets into a home share, so there’s nothing like that to call them out on.

  4. My guests are coming here for one reason- to relax, enjoy the beach, escape the cold. They aren’t conducting business, going to school, visiting family, or any other everyday sort of thing, so they are relaxed, in vacation mode, and like to remain so. They don’t focus on what’s wrong, but what is wonderful.

And it’s much harder for guests to find fault in a home-share, where they have direct everyday contact with the host, than when they have an entire place to themselves and freedom to poke around and look for problems and haven’t really established any personal rapport with the host.

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I’ve got over 400 reviews and the vast majority are 5*. Recently had a woman stay here for one night and when she left there were several towels missing. I contacted her about it but she denied it.

Her review of me was 2* for value and 3* for everything else and she complained that I had asked about the towels. At first I was upset, but then I realized it’s a drop in the bucket. Bad reviews are going to happen. I had one guy complain that the mattress was crooked and the water pressure was low. Neither of those things are true, but whatever.

It definitely sucks when you’re first starting out, but the feedback can be helpful, too. Is there a gem in the rough that you can use to improve? Legitimate feedback helps us grow as professional hosts and ridiculous reviews remind us we are dealing with the public.

I’ve also added, “If anything is amiss please let me know. I’d much rather have the chance to fix it than read about it online” to my communication. Hopefully that helps guests feel comfortable asking for something while simultaneously discouraging negative remarks in the review.

But no matter what we do, negative reviews will happen. It’s part of the industry.

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