Airbnb blocks bad reviews by guests who leave in disgust

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Airbnb suspiciously refuses posting bad reviews and commentaries of their accommodations. Some people who had to leave earlier due to inconvenient conditions of living couldn’t warn other users not to come.

The website refuses to post comments from people who had to leave, saying they cancelled the trip. Guided by only good reviews, many people may become victims of the same wrong treating, as many of those awful accommodations have 5-star ratings.

The accusation came after an investigation by Sunday Times showing that many people who own property in Britain may be breaking the rules of planning. They reportedly turn their accommodations into “Airbnb hotels”.

For example, 26-year-old Natalie Moores from Manchester used the website to book a flat in Birmingham last month. She needed a one-night stay as she was coming for a business trip, and the flat had a 5-star rating on the service.

On arrival she found the balcony door would not lock, and while trying to explain the problem to the “abrasive and unnerving” landlord, her bed collapsed.

“I was still on the phone to him and said, ‘This has just happened’, and he said, ‘What do you want me to do about it?’

“I said it was an issue: you can’t sleep on there, and someone could climb on to the balcony and get into the house.”

The landlord refused to help and even though it was 11pm by that point, she left to stay with a friend in the city.

Moores complained to Airbnb and received a refund for her stay, but when she tried posting a review to warn others she was unable to do so.

“In effect, according to Airbnb, we never went to the property, we never stayed there. And we effectively are unable to leave any feedback, which is quite misleading.

“All the reviews on there are five-star currently, which makes me wonder how many more bad experiences people have had with that property.”

How does Airbnb work?

Moores said she was “really, really nervous” about relying on Airbnb reviews in future.

Another British Airbnb user was not only blocked from posting a review, but also had a false comment posted under his name by the company.

The London-based traveller, who asked not to be named, complained to Airbnb after an apartment he booked in Jersey City, New Jersey, for a week-long stay in September, did not match the photographs on the company’s website and lacked the “Manhattan view” and pool advertised.

Airbnb raised his complaints with the property owner and on his second night there she cancelled his reservation and insisted he go.

“Obviously I’d like to leave a review of this because if I had a great trip, I always leave a review and I think it’s probably more important that those who have a negative experience are able to express that,” he said.

Instead of his review, however, he found a post under his name that read: “The host cancelled this reservation the day before arrival. This is an automated posting.”

The same automated message appears on thousands of Airbnb listings.

He complained to Airbnb, saying the comment was “not true” and should be removed, but was told by Airbnb staff that “since the cancellation took place during the trip, the system treats it as if the cancellation took place prior to arrival”.

Another user was blocked from posting a review by Airbnb, despite having spent four nights of a six-night stay in a flat in Toronto that turned out to be a “construction site”. Waldo Jaquith, from Charottesville, Virginia, tried to post a negative review, but was told by a member of Airbnb staff that “at this point it is not possible to leave a review on a cancelled reservation so unfortunately we are not able to help you with this”.

Jaquith described this a “horrible design decision” which “prevents those customers who have the worst experience from alerting others”.

An Airbnb spokesman apologised for its staff’s response and invited any guests affected to contact the company. “All hosts and guests can review their experiences on Airbnb and we apologise that our policy was not applied correctly in these isolated incidents,” he said.

“We firmly believe in transparency — our review system relies on it — and will contact the guests affected to apologise and help make things right.”

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