Airbnb customer 'prevented from posting a review about a dirty apartment'
Airbnb reviews are untrustworthy, user claims
An Airbnb customer has said that he cannot trust the site anymore as he was not allowed to post a review about a dirty apartment that he had booked.
Brian Le Vell arrived at an apartment in Madrid booked through the rapidly growing accommodation letting website but found it “very grubby” and decided that he couldn’t stay there.
After finding a half-eaten pasty down the side of the sofa, Mr Le Vell phoned up Airbnb to cancel the booking and went online to book himself into a hotel instead.
Airbnb cancelled the booking and refunded his money following the call. But he later found that he was prevented from leaving a review to warn others about what he had found.
Airbnb’s website says that users who cancel before the reservation begins “cannot leave a review for the host, because reviews should describe completed trips.”
“I don’t fee that I can trust Airbnb reviews anymore as in the very worst cases no review appears,” Mr Le Vell told Telegraph Travel.
“I arrived on Saturday afternoon and put my suitcase down but then had to go straight out. Later I decided to have a little sleep and found it wasn’t very clean. There were brown ring marks on the pillows. So I went around the flat and had a good look. In the bathroom there was mould up the wall and down the side of the toilet.
“A half-eaten pasty of some kind was down the side of the sofa. The kitchen area was very grubby. That was enough for me to think that I didn’t want to spend three nights there.”
He said he went online to find somewhere else to stay and then phoned Airbnb and asked for a refund. “They said it wouldn’t be a problem and cancelled my booking.”
He received a full refund along with a £100 Airbnb voucher which he said he doubts he will use after he tried to leave a warning review but couldn’t as his booking was no longer available to him on the website.
"Guest reviews are of the utmost importance when booking accommodation," he said, "and I feel that Airbnb is manipulating its reviews by not allowing them in cases like mine. Other travellers may have had the same experience but there's no way to check if they also had their bookings cancelled."
Airbnb told us that this was standard practice for them however, even if a user’s experience is so bad that it leads them to cancel and go and stay somewhere else.
“We encourage guests to read reviews of the listing - unlike some travel sites, all Airbnb reviews are authentic and can only be left by people who have actually stayed at the listing.
"Over 40 million people across the world have travelled on Airbnb and on any given night, half the guests staying on Airbnb are returning users,” its spokesman continued. “That speaks to the types of experiences Airbnb hosts are providing.”
It said that complaints about cleanliness are looked into.
"We take hosting standards seriously and provide hosts with clear hospitality standards. Isolated anecdotes are rare, but if issues arise, we work with our community to try and resolve them."
When you go to the review listings for the apartment now, the only sign of Mr Le Vell’s reservation is an automated post saying that the stay was “cancelled by the host”.