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We won dispute with a guest complaint but I need perspective on a potential negative review

Hi, I am a fairly new host with a rather frustrating experience with a guest. And yes this was an instant booking with a new guest account with zero reviews ( I know - I know - I’ve learned my lesson! )

We’ve already had some solid 5 star reviews to date from our guests. This includes reviews where they mention how spotless the cabin is. We also have a pretty extensive cleaning process and as the host, I personally inspect after each cleaning and then send another cleaner a few hours before check in just in case. I don’t allow same day turnarounds.

We had a guest who after a day of being checked in, sent a message and said there were cleanliness issues. They didn’t clarify, and I asked them to let us know what the issue was immediately. I also quickly got another one of my cleaners ( not the one who did the turnover ) to be on standby in case the guest wanted a cleaner to come in.

Later that day the guest called and started complaining about hair on a towel, a pillow that they said smelled bad, floors being dirty, bugs everywhere etc. I asked them to immediately put this in the Airbnb chat and to send pictures / videos of what was wrong. I apologized for any inconvenience and offered to send a cleaner immediately. After a few hours they agreed - and I dispatched a cleaner same day. The guest never sent any pictures / video.

The cleaner found the house covered in hair ( including a trash can full of hair), every bed used in the house ( despite that not aligning with the number of guests ), personal effects all over the house, new stains on the wall and couch, etc. The cleaner went ahead and cleaned the property again and we notified the guest when the cleaner left. We sent multiple reminders asking them to send us pictures of what was wrong with the property but they didn’t respond.

We didn’t hear anything back from the guest for the remainder of their visit. A day or so after checkout, the guest sent a long complaint alleging more issues and saying that the second cleaner didn’t clean anything. They included a closeup picture of a roach, a closeup of a spider and a dead something and basically said the house was infested. The pictures were so close that it was hard to see if it was even our property or not.

I immediately contacted Airbnb and sent pics of the house after the turnover clean before check in, as well as what the cleaner saw when they were asked to clean in the middle of their visit, and I sent the pics the cleaner took when they were done cleaning. I also told them that I suspected we were being indirectly extorted for a refund or this guest would blast us with a negative review. No more than an hour later - the guest did just that and filed a complaint and demanded a crazy amount of money back - about 2/3rd of the entire booking.

Ultimately Airbnb rejected the guests claim as invalid and closed their dispute. So no money lost!

Now this brings me to the last part and my concern. We are still new so we only have 5 star reviews but we are concerned we are going to get dinged. I know I’m going to write a factual but not emotional review of this guest ( I’ve already rewritten it 4 - 5 times trying to get it right). Any suggestions for approaches to this?

I’m also bracing to file a dispute that their negative review is retaliatory if they give us all 1’s . I don’t want to give this guest a horrible review to seem like we’re angry / vengeful and then compromise any discussions on disputing the potential 1 star review. Is that the right approach or should we just be blatantly candid about what happened? Has anyone else been in this position and successfully disputed a negative review? Should we just brace ourselves for the ding?

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It’s almost impossible to get them to remove a review unless you can find a way in which it violates review policy (lies don’t).

You have to give the guest an honest review to warn other hosts, even if it’s horrible. Please don’t make them sound like decent guests.

The review you leave has nothing to do with compromising a possible review removal.


So I want to be clear - I wasn’t intending to make them sound any better than they were in my review. But there’s also a range in how hard you go in on a negative review. I absolutely want to warn any other host about this guest and how they tried to scam us.

I just envisioned that there’s a level of subjectivity to how Airbnb handles disputes on reviews. Like I honestly believe the only reason we won the guest complaint dispute was because of the sheer amount of photo documentation we rebutted with. I’ve read plenty of cases where hosts did not succeed

First, sorry about them. I would hope that you have photos of everything including the “trash can full of hair”. Assclowns target new hosts, so be on the alert. A new Account with No reviews is certainly a concern. Locals can be fine or not - vetting is needed.
We host many guests with no reviews and they have been fine. We simply communicate with them right after booking, as with all our guests, and clarify things (and vet as needed).
Did you get a message that the guest submitted a review? If not, then for the moment hold off and do NOT put one in (YET).
If they did, then it would be worthwhile to contact Air - what the guest did is IN VIOLATION OF AIR Terms of Service. Terms of Service - Airbnb Help Center
Granted, in theory the guest can still write a nasty 1 star review and in theory your only means of removal is “Not Relevant”. BUT - lately Air has sometimes done the right thing.
If you are lucky, they will not submit one. Then, you submit yours near the end of the 14 day review period, when it will be too late for them to give one.
By all means have your review pre-written, so you can just paste it and submit with (naturally) ALL 1 STARS and “NO” for would you host again.
What we would write, and feel free to use is:
“Would Never Host Again. Many house rules broken. Very messy! Bodily fluids on bedding, furniture and floors. Stains on our walls and our sofa!”
We would not bother discussing extortion. Just BLAST THEM and keep it simple.
No host in their right mind would ever host them.
Best of luck!


I’ve had plenty of those without incident…like hundreds. The problem isn’t solely new guest accounts, I think scammers target less experienced hosts. Also, you aren’t on site so scammers are less worried about getting caught with things like too many guests. I’m a huge advocate of exterior cameras to monitor guest count, pets, etc.

Don’t post it until the last minute or until you notification that they have reviewed you. If you review them first it prompts them even more times to review you and you don’t need to encourage them.

All reviews should be unemotional and honest. Just the facts, please.

And they should be concerned that they get dinged. Maybe they do this and then just open a new account but reviews go both ways. Don’t live in fear of the negative review.

“XXX complained that the rental was dirty. Although I asked for a list of complaints and photos they didn’t provide any evidence. Despite this, I sent a cleaner for a mid stay clean and to check for problems. The cabin was filthy and appeared to be housing more than the number of disclosed guests. 1 star in every category. I would not recommend this guest to any host.”

Don’t mention extortion or that Airbnb found in your favor on the resolution. Don’t speculate about anything or get defensive citing prior good reviews.


Yes indeed we have photos. I’m sort of obsessive about things like this and I also want to make sure my cleaners know I stay on top of things - so we photographed after the turn over clean, then when the cleaner was asked to go in - I had them photograph the entire place in great detail before doing the clean, and then when they finished - I had them take photos of the cleaned areas. All of that was submitted to Airbnb when they requested the money back.

Regarding extortion - I only mentioned it to Airbnb when I saw how outlandish the complaints were and how they were escalating. Ironically the guest request for money came after that.

I didn’t get a notice that they wrote a review yet. Does the host receive a notification if they write theirs before you’ve written yours? I thought we only did if we had already submitted or the time passed.

I am definitely going to just sit on this and not submit my review for now.

Thanks for the draft - it’s definitely a more concise version of what I was working with.

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And thanks for the tip about leaving prior reviews, the extortion or the money dispute out of the review.

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TELL THE TRUTH. 1* across the board. Bad communication, lying about cleanliness, making a mess and using rooms that weren’t theirs to use (lock them!!! close them off when they’re not being used).

I’ve had a guest leave a nice-sounding review and 3* across the board and couldn’t get it removed because it didn’t violate Air’s ToS. It cost me a 5* ranking but my subsequent reviews have been good. I’m at 4.8 or 4.9 (depending upon how Air feels that day) and I get guests.

Don’t sweat losing 5 stars. Make the next guest experience better.

Cleaning people should take before and after pics every time they go through the house and so should you.

I’d be tempted…


“this was an instant booking with a new guest account with zero reviews”
I thought this wasn’t possible to avoid exactly this scenario. :thinking:

Only if the host has that requirement set for IB.

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Yes, you will get a notification if the guest has submitted a review. Has nothing to do with whether you have already submitted one or the review period is up.

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I blame my ignorance - but I learned this too. I changed my account to only accept guests with reviews, people with gov ID, and no guests with negative reviews. Hopefully that will help mitigate some of this from happening again.

We would all want to know this about the guest, but if the Host mentions the outcome of a resolution in a review they’d risk getting that much needed bad review of that guest removed. My first bad stay with a supervisor assisting me in the review process said this to me. I can’t find it specifically in writing but I think they could argue “relevance” as the Host would be making accusations they can’t actually prove and/or revealing the outcome of a dispute, as @KKC said. The supervisor was specific about me not mentioning the resolution results. We just have to be happy Air backed the Host this time. Best not to risk it.


Yes, this has been widely reported here. I also don’t know where it is in writing but I’m not sure that Airbnb cares anyway.

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Bear in mind that you do get 3 free cancellations as an IB host (I am not comfortable with this booking).
At the very start of hosting with IB, using “only hosts with good reviews” makes sense for maybe a month or so, just long enough so you are no longer a “new host” and not an obvious target anymore. Note: what the switch means and what it implies are two different things.
It does prevent accounts with no reviews from IB. It also prevents accounts that got a “no” for “would you host again” from IB.
It does NOT prevent a lot of stuff that we would want or expect: “guests under 5 stars” or “guests under 4 stars” or “guests with one or more reviews with 1, 2 or 3 stars”. Granted, nothing is published to that effect and Air is never going to do so. The only thing that is CLEAR is it relates to Yes or No for “would you host again”.
We don’t use any of those switches, and we are just careful to vet and communicate with ALL our guests after they book. Worst case, we can always cancel with “not comfortable”. And have not had to do that yet.


I would wait to the last minute to review them and hopefully they won’t review you.

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Don’t sweat a bad review until it actually happens. If you do get a bad review ask for it to be removed – citing to AirBnb their response to the guest’s attempt at extortion.

Here’s a simple, honest, factual review – all you need to say about them:

“Cannot recommend Guest. Over the course of Guest’s stay, and afterward, Guest made ludicrous claims about the listing’s lack of cleanliness, despite of our sending the professional cleaner into the listing during their stay. Guest attempted to extort us for a massive refund. AirBnb has rejected Guests claim and closed their dispute.”


All good except for that last line. I’ve read of reviews being removed for mentioning Airbnb resolutions.

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this will not make airbnb delete:

Cannot recommend Guest. Over the course of Guest’s stay, and afterward, Guest made claims about the listing’s lack of cleanliness, which we had immediately addressed by sending a professional cleaner, who found a terrible condition caused by Guest. After cleaning, Guest continued to make claims which, like the cleanliness claim earlier, were false and were then accompanied with a demand for money. Guest, who had trashed the airbnb to create a condition where they could ask for cash, continued to threaten a bad review if their demands were not met.

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