‘I’m a 5 star superhost but Airbnb’s duff advice resulted in an unfair 1-star review’

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Dear Katie,

I am an Airbnb “superhost” with exemplary reviews, that was, until recently when a problematic guest came to stay. 
I will admit that the problem first arose because of my mistake. 

At the time of the guests’ stay a nearby footbridge was closed, making the walk into town approximately 20 minutes instead of 10 minutes, as listed on our profile. 

We had previously thought the work was only temporary and wouldn’t affect their stay, but I made them aware of this five days prior to their arrival. 

However, I don’t think the guest read the message. 

They arrived in a foul mood and became even more irate when they found out about the bridge. I called Airbnb on their departure day for advice, as we anticipated they might complain. 

I was told we didn’t need to offer a refund. 

Airbnb also told me that “because of a glitch” the booking had been cancelled in the system so neither the guest nor ourselves would be able to leave a review of one another. 

Then to our astonishment the guest did leave a 1-star review. It contains false and vindictive accusations such as uncleanliness, which has left me mortified. 

GS, via email

Dear reader,

My personal experience with Airbnb is that there are far too many money-grabbing hosts who charge the earth but can’t be bothered when it comes to making things special for guests. 

Judging by your reviews you pour your heart and soul into ensuring every guest is well set up in their accommodation, and you should be applauded for this. 

You seem to be happy to accept partial blame here but I can’t see you did anything wrong. You warned the guest about the bridge as soon as you knew it was an issue and if the guest failed to read your message, well, that’s their lookout. 

I agree with Airbnb that you didn’t need to offer a refund, however it sounds like you were already thinking about offering a gesture of goodwill so you could protect your reputation. 

However, Airbnb misinformed you about the guests’ ability to leave a review, which discouraged you from taking action. 

With this in mind, I asked Airbnb to consider deleting this unfair review, and I’m pleased to say it did. Airbnb has a duty to ensure guests can leave honest feedback, and usually I wouldn’t advocate in favour of removing negative ones. 

But in this case restoring your outstanding 5 star record was the right result. We need more like you, so just keep doing what you’re doing.