Reviews of an AirBnB guest: when can they be removed?
August 1, 2016 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Our AirBnB host publicly complained about the sand we left behind. In a listing titled "Close to Beach!" I believe this review is, frankly, bullshit. So under what circumstances will AirBnB remove a review that, while not technically fabricated, is not legitimate?

To save you the trouble, AirBnB's official policy is not to allow reviews that are:
Reviews that do not represent a user’s personal experience .
Reviews unrelated to the actual reservation (ex: political, religious, or social commentary).
Content that endorses or promotes illegal or harmful activity or violence, or is profane, vulgar, obscene, defamatory, threatening, or discriminatory.
Content that violates another person’s or entity’s rights, including intellectual property rights and privacy rights (ex: publishing another person’s full name, address or other identifying information without permission).
Content that is proven to be used as extortion.
Content that refers to an Airbnb investigation.
However, that doesn't apply in this case. Anyone gotten a bogus review removed?

It's my first negative review, and I take the responsibility of being a guest in someone's home seriously. I let them know if there's mail, strip the beds at the end, send a courtesy text when I'm gone, etc. I did all of those things and yet the host still chose to complain about sand. The title of the listing contains the words "Close to Beach!" and the body has 38 more occurrences of the word "beach". There were beach towels and beach cruisers provided (as well as surfboards, though those were not for guests). And before you ask, there's no no outside shower, no vacuum cleaner or even a broom to help with removing sand. So it's essentially impossible to avoid. Otherwise, we left the place very clean, towels in the laundry bin as requested, dishes and sofa bed put back, etc. The cleaning fee of $35 for 700 sq. ft. seems like plenty to sweep up some sand in a beach condo. Help?
posted by wnissen to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total)
If you can't get the review removed, can you leave a response to it that others will see? Seems like you already wrote a pretty good one here.
posted by bizwank at 7:03 PM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nothing in your post indicates the review is actually false.

The homeowner may be overly particular, be in a bad mood, or just be an asshole. However, none of that violates any of AirBnB's terms of service. Hence the review is not "bullshit", nor is it "bogus".

Your best course of action here is to ignore the review.
posted by saeculorum at 7:09 PM on August 1, 2016 [16 favorites]

This sounds frustrating! As an Airbnb user who has had mostly positive experiences, I can relate to what you're describing. Like bizwank said, I'd leave a follow-up comment that is matter-of-fact; we can help wordsmith if you'd like. For example, "I apologize for the inconvenience. We tried to be as tidy as possible but there was a lot of sand since it's a lovely beach property! We had looked for a vacuum and broom but could not find them. We suggest you encourage future guests to leave their shoes and other belongings outside so you don't have to experience this again. Thanks!" That's overly apologetic but also shows others what's really going on. I've learned to read between the lines on Airbnb descriptions and reviews since most people don't want to be outwardly critical like this guy was.

If it's any consolation, as a future renter or host I'd take their words with a grain of sand. (Pun intended, sorry!) You can always send Airbnb a private note saying you had a good experience overall and respect the host's review but wanted to let them know that the host seemed overly critical here. While it won't likely result in that review getting removed, it will alert them to keep an eye on the hosts should it become a pattern. The host may be a jerk but Airbnb wants its customers to stay happy and keep coming back to the site! (You could even send this link to Airbnb, just a heads up and ask for their advice.)
posted by smorgasbord at 7:15 PM on August 1, 2016 [11 favorites]

You being a great guest aside from the sand thing is irrelevant to the fact that you got some sand all up in there and your host hates floorsand a whole lot. The $35 is not a cleaning cost, it is the harsh punishment imposed on airbnbs who defy Sand Law. Everyone who owns a house has at least one arbitrary thing that drives them insane, you discovered this guy's.
posted by theodolite at 7:16 PM on August 1, 2016 [10 favorites]

I'd probably just ignore; sounds like it is factual and they were persnickety. Leave a response if it would make you feel better, and it probably is not out of line to suggest in it that they provide a broom etc.; it's a little bit nutty that they didn't.

If you are planning on another beach rental, ever- did you leave outside shoes at the door? Was this in the house instructions? It's a bummer if they didn't ask and still expected the place relatively sand-free. It has always been asked of me in my Hawaii rentals, and it's a thing that is easy to remember do if you are from a place that is reflexively shoes-off, and a direction I saw a lot of guests from shoe-on cultures ignoring.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:18 PM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, there are a lot of things you can do to control sand going inside even short of an outdoor shower, so I guess I feel like the review is fair. "Close to beach!" doesn't automatically equate to "I love sand tracked over everything and destroying our drains and finishes." However, you might note that the owners didn't provide clear instructions about controlling sand, and really, they should, since not every guest is going to be familiar with the etiquette of beach life and how to do things like leave shoes outside, brush off/shake towels and blankets outside the door, etc.
posted by Miko at 7:59 PM on August 1, 2016 [9 favorites]

The cleaning fee doesn't seem that high, FWIW.

If you get into making suggestions for later, our host left a decent-sized pan of water at the base of the stairs for us to dunk our feet in. It removed the sand. However, if she hadn't done that, and explained the pan to us, and also mentioned "Please please do what you can to keep sand out of the place," then we probably would have tracked sand in and I'd never have known what a big deal it is.

Some people grow up knowing how the beach works, some don't. It's not really cool to expect the beach newbies to psychically know that sand is a big deal, but it's also not really cool to get your place damaged just because people don't know any better.
posted by amtho at 8:23 PM on August 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Sounds like you did the thing (brought sand in), got called out on it and had to pay $35. The review is legit, not bogus. Leave your rebuttal to the review if that's possible and move on with your life.
posted by fixedgear at 4:11 AM on August 2, 2016

Have you left your review of the property yet? If you haven't, you have the chance to also send a private note to the owner of the property, and also send a note to AirBnB themselves.

I'd apologize to the owner, and gently say that "we tried to clean things up as best we could without a vacuum or a broom, sorry we couldn't get everything" or something. And then to AirBnB, leave the note that "yeah, it would have been way easier to clean things up with a broom or something."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:41 AM on August 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I think this is actually good for you. There are people like you, who don't care about tiny mistakes like this, and then there are people like the owner, who do.

The people who do care, you don't want to rent from because this is just going to happen again. The people who don't care are the people you need to be renting from, and if that's the case they'll overlook the review.
posted by FirstMateKate at 5:46 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think OP is saying there is a $35 cleaning fee regardless, so leaving the negative review was excessively spiteful since the host has recourse built in. I am not a beach person per se but every beach house I've stayed in has been hella sandy by the end of the week and I always assumed that was the cost of doing business at the beach. I would leave a reply indicating the difficulty you had removing sand due to a lack of tools or guidance, in a nice, reviewy way, and also contact airbnb just to see if they can help. Reviews are really important on airbnb so I would also be mad about my tarnished record!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:37 AM on August 2, 2016 [3 favorites]

Airbnb masks reviews until a two week waiting period has ended- and only reveals them when the opportunity has ended or both parties leave reviews.

I'm a host and i consider the review system fairly one sided- I'm penalized for reviews below five stars. I don't pay attention to guests reviews and have hosted several guests with negative reviews with no issues. I wouldn't worry about it.

Also the $35 cleaning fee is modest- our cleaners charge $50 even if it only takes them 20 minutes to clean.
posted by arnicae at 6:52 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, as another data point, I host and rent on AirBnB, and wouldn't think twice about renting to you due to this review. Don't worry about it, or post a quick, factual response.
posted by craven_morhead at 7:37 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

Did the host's manual ask that you be mindful of sand? If it did, then, well, you didn't follow the house rules and that's absolutely something that deserves to be pointed out in a review. If it wasn't part of the stated rules perhaps send a short message to the host suggesting they add a short blurb about it, since it seems to be pretty important to them.

For what it's worth, my husband and stayed in an AirBnB near the beach a few years ago. The fact that we DIDN'T track sand inside was literally the first thing mentioned in the host's review of our stay. So I think this is kind of a universally important Thing to beach hosts.

It sounds like you're a great guest otherwise, so I'd just chalk this one up to a learning experience. Now you have one more tool in your Awesome Guest Arsenal for next time.
posted by darkchocolatepyramid at 7:46 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I lived one block from the beach for years. Sand was omnipresent, whether tracked in by people or the wind. Your host is being persnickety for something they know to expect. If they honestly didn't have a vacuum or broom provided, I would leave that in a comment/response/whatever you can share, whether you share that information with AirBNB or the host. It doesn't cost $35 to vacuum up sand in a sandy environment.

AirBNB will likely not respond to you at all. They're a pretty foul company when it comes to resolving issues like this.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:07 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

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