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When do you complain, when do you post a bad review?

In December I posted a highly negative review of a vacation rental where I'd stayed. I thought long and hard before doing so, knowing that this would impact the guy's business. (He had only 5 reviews, mostly 3 or 4 stars, before mine.) I posted the review because in my heart of hearts I felt the owner should not be renting out the place until he fixed two fundamental flaws - 1)a lack of privacy (there was no easy way to block the windows of the bedroom so as not to be seen from the road or by passersby, especially at night) and 2)lack of cleanliness (the filmy curtains were so grimy I could hardly bear to touch them when I tried to jerry-rig something to block the windows, and the windows were crusted with dirt as well).

There were other problems, too, that I ticked off, such as a funky dog smell on the couch, threadbare sheets and towels, etc. I didn't even mention the fact that we'd had no toilet paper the first night because I'd called him about that, and he'd delivered some.

In his reply to my review, he said he was "heartbroken" that I hadn't mentioned any of my complaints in the review to him. I felt, what would have been the point? He would probably not have been able to remedy most of them within the 3 days we were staying there. (This was an island, which may be relevant.) And I felt they showed a slapdash attitude to renting that future visitors should be warned about.

My question to you is, when you're staying at a B&B/AirBnB/apartment/VRBO/other type of individually owned small property, not a corporate hotel, how do YOU decide what to complain about while you're there and what to post a bad review about? And what to just shrug off?

I rarely post bad reviews, only when we were seriously inconvenienced or horribly appalled. Like once at a small hotel where the carpet was wearing out so that carpet nails were sticking up that we could have easily gotten injured by when stepping on them barefoot. You?

Posted by
132 posts

I think for others' safety/health. I agree with you and have only ever posted negative reviews twice. In one I did try to list some positives ( great location, ease of communication) but to be aware if you had mobility issues ( then described the steep stairs with no lights or railing at almost the edge of the loft bed)! In the other there was no smoke alarm and sketchy exposed home wiring and extension cords all over. Not ok. If you are running an Airbnb it's a business and you need to be in compliance with code, at least ethically.

Posted by
5996 posts

It is curious that the people that stayed there before you did not mentioned the same problems in their own reviews, especially the privacy one. Some are higher maintenance than others, perhaps.

We complain when we are there if the bathroom is dirty for example mold or mildew; that is a safety/health issue or other safety issues; or if they say something is there but is missing like towel or the internet.

The last trip, the power went off but there was nothing in the apartment saying how to turn it back on from the inside. That was in Granada, Spain where power and water (they told us how much hot water we had a day for bathing which was less than what we in reality we waste here in America) is rationed. The owner ended up buying us a box of chocolates the day we complained.

So In reviews I only mention a problem I complained about that did not get addressed and little idiosyncrasies

Posted by
5637 posts

I would reconsider the assumption that an owner couldn't fix the problem (in some way that would make you satisfied) without giving him/her an opportunity to do so until it's too late. Truthfully, you never know what someone is willing to do unless you ask. I would deal with the offending party one the spot before posting anything on a social media or third-party platform later - to me, that's an outlet of last resort when other options have been expended. I just think it's a polite thing to do to give someone the chance to make amends in real time - if they are unwilling or unable, I would give them a heads up about the pending negative review because no one likes to be blind-sided. Even if an owner seems to clearly be at fault or deficient, I do see "the point" of negotiating with him/her first because, among other things, he/she could give you a break on the fee if you were unhappy.

If this person got 3-4 stars in prior reviews (and assuming they were legitimate reviews), it seems likely that there was an expectation gap with you that was bigger and should have been brought to his/her attention right away.

Posted by
2552 posts

I certainly would have addressed it with the owner first. Island homes can get dirty fast and the owner might have relied on a cleaner to keep it clean. Even then, if it was something beyond her scope of work, she may not have bothered to mention it to him. If he was a new renter, his cleaner may also have been new and not looked at things with tourist eyes.
Airbnb gives you 24 hours to report problems and facilitate with the owner to get it fixed. If it was a different agency, regardless, I would have mentioned it right away. Island or not, a window covering could have been arranged and things cleaned.
I am particular with my rentals, and rarely book a 3*. I read reviews of things I want addressed specifically. But if something is off, I tell them on a private note....wording it kindly, if say needing new towels, more TP or a little more dusting in living room corners. If it was a dangerous or security issue, I would bring it up right away, by phone and in writing including AirBnb. If something breaks alkng tje way or isn't working, I deal with it immediately. For reviews, I don't routinely give out 5 stars and I mention in my review that I don't. If something wasn't right but fixed to my satisfaction, I will mention there was a repair or lack of supplies that was taken care of quickly and efficiently.....if that was true. I have never had a rental I needed to leave a bad review for, but have hotels I was disatisfied with and I addressed it to the front desk, manager and in writing on the evaluation form. I lastly did a bad tripadvisor review. I find it harder to get hotel satisfaction that apartment rental satisfaction from issues.

Posted by
546 posts

As a former Hotel Owner I can tell you that nothing irritates you more than this passive/aggressive type of complaining. The owner DESERVES a chance to hear your complaint and be given an opportunity to fix the problem before one writes a review.

Just because one may be too shy or non confrontational to politely and firmly address the owner with a valid complaint isnt in my book reason or excuse to validate a bad review.

To me this is an issue of basic fairness and civility.

But millions of dollars are being made by companies like Trip Advisor who have made everyone a qualified travel "critic". Meanwhile the small business guy just trying to make it gets a bad review that could put him in dire financial straits. A quick bad review of Hilton is one thing it's entirely another level when it's done to a shoestring operation.

And NO I do not agree that we as travelers have any obligation to try to protect those that come after us from dirty curtains or badly placed windows....real danger, serious health and safety issues...yes..but too much time and effort goes into these "Mob" review sites that can wreak true havoc on a small business with negative reviews that should have been taken up with the owner or manager.

Next time please think again and talk to the owner first. After that if you have gotten a bad response or no action then in my book one is free to post online reviews with a clear conscience.

Posted by
288 posts

As a former Hotel Owner I can tell you that nothing irritates you more than this passive/aggressive type of complaining. The owner DESERVES a chance to hear your complaint and be given an opportunity to fix the problem before one writes a review.

In theory, your view sounds fair. But there are some faults that can easily be remedied and others that can't. I did tell him about the lack of toilet paper because that was something that could readily be fixed, and was.

However, every other item I complained about was completely obvious and would have been already fixed if the owner had cared to do so: it was impossible to be naked in the bedroom unless you were an exhibitionist, the sheets were threadbare (with no spares in the linen closet), the see-through curtains were visibly completely grimy, the stove buttons were so worn down you couldn't tell which way was high and which low. Etc. These were not sudden issues that someone could or would bustle around and fix in 20 minutes, they were fundamental and longstanding ones.

Posted by
6865 posts

marcia, i had a similar experience and agree with you. We rented an apt in Paris, it was managed by one guy, who also managed about 8 other apts. The apt was so bad (visible mold throughout, plumbing held together with duct tape, tiles crumbling away and others missing in shower, bits of old food on one bed, bedroom window that could not close and it was snowing outside, thin shredded curtains, all towels in washer soaking wet, the whole place was absolutely filthy and reeked of mold.
The mgr did not meet us at the apt as he promised so we called him and said the apt was not acceptable and why, his response was nasty and vicious.
We decided to leave and stay at a hotel instead because most of these issues (mold, shower tiles, janky plumbing) could not be fixed immediately and why should we stay there and pay money each day while work is, or is not, being done. That is not my idea of a vacation.
So, i do think a bad review in your case (and mine) is absolutely reasonable. As you said, your issues (and mine) were there and obvious for him to see and he had the ability to fix everything before renting it out.
I did not write a bad review on his website b/c he controlled it so there was no point.
One poster on this forum recommended this mgr and his apts for years and after my experience i often saw this mgr recommended by that poster and one other poster, so... after 6 mos i finally got up the nerve to post about my experience because i knew i’d get blow-back. And i did. I was severely criticized by these 2 posters. One of them told the mgr about my post and the mgr viciously attacked me in that thread. The webmaster chose to delete the thread.

I was trying to warn future renters but sometimes on this forum it is not worth it.

So, i’m not surprised by the negative response(s) you’ve gotten here, but i agree with you and i would appreciate the warning before i rent, before i arrive, before i find out for myself, and before i have my vacation ruined.

Posted by
5757 posts

If it's something that's likely to ruin my stay I will definitely complain at the time. If the issue is not resolved to my satisfaction, I will post a bad review. I think it's important for others looking at reviews to be as honest as possible in your review - good or bad.

If it's a minor irritation and I don't feel like complaining, I usually don't say anything about it in my review unless it's something that I think will be helpful to future guests to know.

Posted by
2552 posts

I don't mean to put the blame on the renter. Often the story is not the entire one. However, from what I read, I don't see the items as being unsafe or unrectifiable, and if he arrived with TP, why didn't you bring up the other items at the same time?
The other thing I might add is that as a renter, we should all be aware of what recourses we have for lack of expectations. I mentioned Airbnb's 24 hour policy. Perhaps other 3rd parties also offer options we might not think of. I believe some travel insurance now covers recompense for falsley advertised lodgings.
I personally treat an apartment rental as a temporary partnership. I trust it will meet my expectations and if something is lacking, then I say so. We also need to remember there is trust the other direction as well.....that we will be good tenants. Some are horrible and do extensive damage. That is a lot of trust on their part. I wouldn't do it.

Posted by
6254 posts

Though I’ve been renting apartments from agencies and owners for twenty years, I’ve left only one review. And that one I almost didn’t do. Backstory: I found an apt in Bologna with great reviews, but the reality when we arrived didn’t match the reviews. So I re-read the reviews and found strange coincidences in the misrepresentations. Additionally, many names had no active hyperlink. I signaled this to TA, who did nothing, so I figured my review would be discounted as sour grapes.
Only when another traveler posted a truthful review debunking all the falsehoods previously posted, I added mine, figuring with two of us it might make a difference.

Otherwise, I normally just let things go despite numerous apartment catastrophes (backed up toilet, shower leaking into living room, upstairs neighbors partying or rearranging furniture at 2am (3x), washer with no spin cycle and no manual, check out person an hour late when we had a train to catch, downstairs neighbor remodeling which meant drilling for 3 days, unwashed sheets in an uncleaned apt after a trans-Atlantic, church bells across the street every 15 minutes, dirty dishes (2x). But frankly, unless the apartment has fake reviews, I don’t bother writing anything.

In your case, I would have told the person I couldn’t stay without privacy curtains. If this was the Caribbean, my expectations of sheets, towels, comfortable beds, rises only when the price rises considerably. What price-range was this in? With only a couple of reviews, this person could be new to rentals and not see it the way you do.

Posted by
288 posts

I don't want to single out any specific post here, but several show exactly why having reviews (both positive and negative) from actual guests is so valuable when you're choosing where to stay.

Potential guests can decide for themselves what they care about. You can read about someone else's "unacceptable" lodging experience and think, "No privacy in the bedroom? Who cares about that?!" Or "As long as the sheets were clean" (and they were), I'm fine with that."

Without honest negative reviews, potential guests don't have the full flavor of what they're getting. From my review, people who don't appreciate a funky, crash pad-like experience will go elsewhere, as they should.

Posted by
4876 posts

It all depends ... I often rent through or VBRO, which ask for your reviews. If there is a contact to lodge a complaint or request corrections, I will certainly start there and try to get the issue addressed during our stay.

In one apartment, the heat and hot water were not operating -- in December -- discovered this shortly after moving in, called the local contact who immediately arranged to have it fixed. That issue was NOT mentioned in my review because I saw it as a one-time fluke (we had been there several times before with no problems.)

Posted by
9038 posts

I only leave a great review when things exceed my expectations. I am not an easy grader so few “5s”.

One time I gave a B&B in Verona 3 stars because of two things: 1) a low pitched ceiling on which my poor husband almost knocked himself out when getting out of bed and 2) failing WIFI. I am aware the first itemcould not be rectified immediately (maybe move the bed or put up,warning tape?) but I thought to tell people it might bother that there was a low ceiling over the bed and tall people needed to beware. On the WIFI, I went downstairs and told the owner in my (then) halting Italian that we could not connect. Her solution was that we should come to her apartment to use the WIFI. That is not, IMO, a solution when you need to research a train schedule at 10pm or email your kids at 6am. I thought others should know of these inconveniences and I was careful to state all the good things: view, breakfast, kind owner, comfy bed, location. The owner was not happy with the 3 stars and complained vociferously.

I do believe this is a valid way of passing info to future guests. Even 5 star properties have idiosyncrasies and that is why I read many reviews before I select a property. If someone loves a place but there are 5 flights of stairs, I need to know that because we will not stay there. It’s not so much a negative review but a thoughtful comment on the property that maybe the owner did not clarify in the description.

Occasionally I write to an owner after our stay to mention things that could be better. Like in Lausanne last year we had a lovely apartment, but ONE trash bag for an entire 7 night stay. The owner told me to go buy some at the store but the Swiss trash bags are taxed and very expensive. Not cool. Or providing one roll of toilet paper for two people for a week. (I have bought more TP and had to leave behind extra rolls than I can count over the years.) I report broken wine glasses, etc., in these emails to the owners or managers, not in reviews.

Posted by
2784 posts

I always bring any issue I have up to whoever the responsible party is while I am there.

If something doesn't work or something is not as clean as expected, I feel they should be able to at least attempt to fix the issue. Their attitude and approach to resolving these issues will impact my rating, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt if they try and are partly successful especially if the rental is in a remote isolated location. In a tropical island location, some mold in the bathroom is expected. If it looks like it was scrubbed, it probably is no worse than my own bathroom at home.

A structural issue like no railings on the stairs, an obviously broken bathroom fixture that shows no signs of attempted repair, or worn out sheets and towels is a conscious decision by the owner. I grade a lot harder on these things since they show the owner is simply trying to make a dollar and shows no real regard for the actual comfort or safety of the guests. And no, I don't expect 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets or anything else at a luxury level unless the posted description of the property says to expect it.

If they don't like my review, then maybe they should correct the issues.

Posted by
1743 posts

Before complaining I do a quick assessment of whether the situation can be helped v.s. the potential aggravation for saying something. In other words, don't piss off the waiter before he brings your food. Complain to the host at the beginning of your stay and have an attitude for the rest of your thanks.
As for leaving negative reviews online.... People are ten times more likely to leave a negative review than a positive one. On Yelp you can see if someone is a one time ranter or someone who gives all types of reviews as opposed to AirBnB where you might only use them once a year.
The amount of thought the OP has put into whether or not to leave the review tells me she isn't a one time ranter.

Posted by
2804 posts

In his reply to my review, he said he was "heartbroken" that I hadn't
mentioned any of my complaints in the review to him. I felt, what
would have been the point?

What would have been the point?? Did you notify the man of the problems when you initially arrived and give him the chance to fix the issues or refund you? If you didn't, I think his response to you is on point.

My question to you is, when you're staying at a
B&B/AirBnB/apartment/VRBO/other type of individually owned small
property, not a corporate hotel, how do YOU decide what to complain
about while you're there and what to post a bad review about? And what
to just shrug off?

I've notified the owner/manager immediately after a problem has happened or I've discovered a problem.

In only one case, a server had spilled hot soup on my niece while he was talking to another server; we were taking her out for dinner for her birthday. When I spoke with the restaurant owner, he shrugged his shoulders and said "sue me", shoved a bottle of wine in my hands to take home and then told us to leave AFTER we paid the check. I didn't want to pay it but my husband did so he paid it. We didn't sue. I did write a post in Yelp and TripAdvisor blasting the owner for the way he treated us after his server's carelessness.

In other situations (whether small boutique hotels or large chain ones), I have contacted the innkeeper or manager immediately when I notice a problem. The hotel management either moved me to another room or resolved the problem. Why would I keep silent? Consequently I've then written reviews in TripAdvisor PRAISING the management for resolving a problem because things do happen.

Posted by
11939 posts

Re: "My question to you is....?"

To answer that most of it does not apply to me traveling in Europe since AirB&B, apts, VRBO are not options for me. I stay in B&Bs and "individually owned small property" such as Pensionen and two star hotels.

In a way I am not not that picky and have been pretty lucky too since I have yet to encounter something so egregiously bad, maybe that one time a small hotel in Frankfurt in 1989 tops it, ie seeing a cockroach on the wall near the mirror when I was shaving. That was a first! It was the day before my flight out, I didn't tell the staff guy.

These small places I've stayed were at least satisfactory to good. There are couple of "small property" places in Germany where I would never write a negative review.

On one occasion we had to report to the front desk that something was not working properly, if at all. It was in Krakow in a 3 star hotel near Krakow Glowny, it was the toilet. The Mrs informed the front desk and within a few minutes, they had a guy fixing the problem.

The Mrs had on one trip, that of 2008 when I didn't go then, stayed in this hotel in Lyon and found the place pretty "bad." incl the final bill, ( don't know the details but she was irate, ) and basically told the guy off in fluent, firm but polite French, ie, in the guy's own language, otherwise it's useless when s/he can always claim they don't understand, shut down, clam up on what she found disagreeable. He got the picture all right.

Obviously, she wrote a review in English afterwards...uncomplimentary.

Posted by
513 posts

My theory is to leave an honest review. If it is dirty, say so. Cleanliness, noise, A/C and beds are the most important to me. Views, decor are the least relevant to me.

Posted by
2302 posts

My opinion is the same as threadwear. Cleanliness, lack of maintenance, electric wires where lights should be, doors not locking, etc. are examples of items I’ll mention, but even those don’t necessarily mean I’ll give a negative review. I few really negative reviews were for restaurants, most of which have since closed.

Posted by
248 posts

I appreciate seeing the negative reviews when I'm booking. I've gotten very tired of seeing only fabulous reviews that I suspect are not totally honest. And a negative review doesn't always deter me from booking, maybe my standards will be different, maybe the price is too good to pass up , maybe the owner's reply reassures me.
And I would argue that it is not your responsibility to spend your precious vacation hours contacting the owner or Air BnB to resolve the issue, when you want to be out seeing the sights.

Posted by
1353 posts

I am in the group that appreciates honest reviews. Some things we can roll with when we travel, other things are a problem. When the hotel in Colmar had a a/c malfunction, that was a fluke. When the apartment that was supposed to sleep 4 had a unfolding foam “couch” that was at best a loveseat as the second bed, I mentioned that in the review. I’ve been on both sides of the issue, so I am sympathetic to landlords, but also feel that if you’re going to rent out a place, there are certain basic standards. It’s pretty easy to set up a basic check list so guests don’t have to come asking for things like toilet paper.

Posted by
413 posts

I appreciate an honest, clinical review. I don't think it's negative to say there were no curtains. You're not being vicious, you're stating a fact and explaining why this was a problem for you, "there were no curtains and people were able to see inside while I was dressing". This way your explaining why this was a negative for you and allowing the reader to decide for themselves if this is a good or bad thing. I also think it's a positive and not a negative if you say something wasn't working but they came and fixed right away. It probably would be fair to the owner to say something was broken but we didn't bother to call to correct it. I'm curious how everyone on this forum would interpret a review I did for a VRBO stay in Covent Garden in London in September. I wish I could dig it out and post it here. In a nutshell I said I liked the location however this particular apartment faced a very lively street with pub noise going on all night, plus sirens from a nearby fire station. I'd stay in the area again but not facing that street. I also warned that the apartment had laundry but it was a very small washer/dryer combo and we couldn't do very large loads plus it took a long time to dry. We did talk to the owner about it, but we got the impression that's what these small washer/dryers are like. Was that negative or factual, fair or unfair? I also stated the apartment was clean, the owner was responsive and it was a great location (except for the noise).

Posted by
1424 posts

Fortunately we have had a rewarding experience with VRBO (private owner). We have been renting the same condo in Hawaii for many years. The owner provides a list on the website that describes the expected amenities. The owner has a maintenance person who we can call for any issues. Over the years when minor issues occurred they were rectified immediately. The owner is very proactive and asks for feedback after our stay. This type of customer service is what keeps us regulars coming back year after year.

Posted by
59 posts

I'm also one that would appreciate a review with those details. If you're giving an honest and accurate description of the rental, you're doing the owner a favor by helping to set expectations for other potential renters. People who don't care won't be dissuaded if the rental otherwise meets their criteria, and people who do care won't come in with expectations that can't be met.

When I'm posting a review, I try to keep it as factual as possible, but I would definitely be inclined to post the review.

Posted by
6865 posts

I very much appreciate a factual, non emotional, plusses and minuses, review. That is the only kind of review that is helpful and the whole point for a review, imo.

I read tons of reviews that say: We had a wonderful stay at hotel x! We loved (name of town)! Those reviews are useless to me. I would like specifics, good and bad. Beds, cleanliness, noise, location, helpful owner/mgr, etc.

Posted by
589 posts

When I have had the occasion to post a "negative" review I try to let the owner know my intentions so they are not blindsided. But somethings I don't put in the review that I might just tell the owner - like could they sharpen the knives or have pots and pans they didn't buy at a garage sale. But shabby or see through curtains ... holes in the couch - I certainly post those. Noisy location not defined well in the posting - I certainly put that in my review. Deceiving location - in my review.

I am amazed when places I would rate 3 stars get overwhelming 5 stars. I know some owners do badger people who post negative reviews. Heck I was hounded by one owner for months before he finally gave up. Don't post deceiving photos.

I like reviews that are factual. And when I post a great review I mean it!

Posted by
2837 posts

I've only left one extremely negative review for lodging and it was for an AirBnB in Paris. In our case, the flat did not look remotely like the pictures (like the difference between a real bed and a foam mattress on the ground, it was dirty and moldy and grimy, and the host was late to/forgot to meet us. We had to wait in a bar for two hours to get a hold of him and get into the flat.

The host was nice when he met us, but we didn't have a time to look at the place before we left, and there was no check out procedure, just leaving the keys in the flat, so we had no way to remedy it with him. We could have called him up, I suppose to complain about things that wouldn't be fixed during the course of our 2 night stay, like a foam mattress on the ground versus a real bed, or a serious mold/mildew problem in the bathroom, but I didn't want to waste more of our short trip dealing with it.

I felt pretty justified in leaving a negative review based on the lateness to meet us and most importantly the extremely deceptive photos. I've stayed at this point in hundreds of places in Europe and never had an experience like this. And I was still kinder than I felt in the review, using language like, "I didn't really feel like the pics were accurate, but the location is convienent and if you just need a budget place to drop your luggage and don't mind sleeping on the ground, this will place will be fine for you." (All the previous reviews were glowing, btw.)

The owner of course got in a huge fight with us on the AirBnB site, claiming we'd left the place dirty (we followed all directions - my husband is way too fussy and worried about getting charged extra fees to not leave a place as clean or cleaner than we found it, which we did in this case) and so on.

Frankly, people who own property in cities like Paris are quite privileged and since I rely on other reviews, I would have felt remiss for not accurately describing the flat. If the owner had been there at checkout I would have let him know we didn't find the flat true to description as well. shrugs Clearly he is just someone putting in the bare effort to make some easy money, I don't feel bad for telling the truth. As a small tourism-business-related owner myself, I would expect the same.

Posted by
769 posts

I haven't wanted to answer but long story short is I stayed in a flat in Spain that wasn't cleaned well, dust everywhere, smudges everywhere and I got an allergic reaction due to dust mites(I'm highly allergic them). I did bring it up with the owner and since all other posts were glowing put down my thoughts.

Of course the guy attacks me and threatens to sue me for libeling his apartment claiming no one else complained about dust or dirt and I just wanted money. I said I was expressing my experience and if he wanted to take it down he could. So he took my review down. Thats why if I see all glowing reviews at a place now, I usually know to stay clear.

Posted by
2804 posts

Of course the guy attacks me and threatens to sue me for libeling his
apartment claiming no one else complained about dust or dirt and I
just wanted money. I said I was expressing my experience and if he
wanted to take it down he could. So he took my review down. Thats why
if I see all glowing reviews at a place now, I usually know to stay

Threatening to sue you; did he follow through? Disgusting. Yet another reason we probably won't rent a room or apartment. Who needs this crud?

Posted by
929 posts

I have a hard time down grading the owner for things they have no control over ie street noise. I just stayed at nice vrbo property in Tampa where I described the bed as firm ( which is code for too hard for my tastes.) I should have left a paper note saying it was time to replace the bed pillows and it was time for the cleaner to bleach the coffee mugs. In my review I mentioned the excellent patio with soft lounge chairs on the far side of the big house instead of complaining about the wrought iron chairs on my side of the property.

I'm not trying to pick fights w the OP, it's just a very subjective situation, esp when you are aware the property owners can also rate you and hold up yr security deposit.
We rented a house in Mexico with perfectly adequate poly cotton sheets. The next reviewer, from Belize, went on and on about how they wished the sheets were 100% cotton, because then they would not have needed the air conditioner. The sheets were not on the owner's list of amenities, but the air conditioning was. I felt that reviewer was being totally unfair. So yes, a small business owner I approach differently than when I'm dealing with the car rental agency (thru Expedia that I just wrote a NASTY review listing their customer service/staffing issues)

Posted by
11939 posts

In all the trips to Europe, I rented an apt only once. That was in Warsaw in 2001. The guy managing the apt to be rented out (the Mrs and I stayed 5 nights) was English and due to missed (e-mail) communication was in less than in a happy mood when we got to Warsaw that afternoon on the scheduled date of arrival.

The Mrs handed all the arrangements, she dealt with the guy when picking up the keys which was somewhere else other than on the premises; it was her call to stay in an apt in Old Town, I went along with it.

Had I been staying 5 nights in Warsaw solo, I would have rejected the apt option.

Once we got to the apt, it was very nice, very satisfactory. The only "problem" was after returning from dinner, we could not get the apt unit door open. Other tenants came out, tried to communicate with us but to no avail due the the language difficulty. The Mrs' Polish knowledge then was still pretty rudimentary, none of the Poles trying to see what the matter was and help spoke any other foreign languages.

Anyway, it was totally our fault since the door opened in the opposite direction, well... I felt pretty dumb then, totally without imagination. We had thought we would have to contact that English guy who most likely would be in a foul mood dealing with us...again, being disturbed, etc., time wise, it was already past 9 pm. Luckily, none of that happened, the Mrs didn't have to call him up.

Posted by
47 posts

Since I do own rentals myself, I understand the importance of reaching out to an owner to resolve an issue early on in the stay to give them opportunity to resolve the issue(s) - it's how I would like my guests to treat me should they find something lacking in one of my rentals.

That said, over the years I've learned to look for the red flags in reviews:

  1. They're all 5-star glowing reviews, especially in less expensive properties, with no complaints whatsoever from anyone in the reviews. The odds of this happening, over dozens of reviews, is statistically low - you cannot please everyone and if a property has only glowing reviews, some of them may be fake reviews to boost the owner. Now that isn't always the case - some owners are diligent and work hard to make guests have wonderful stays....they're usually earn Superhost status because of that attention to detail and care for their property.

  2. Ignoring the US properties with this one - the first 5-10 reviews are in the host language, are all very similar in noting highlights, and they're all glowing....then the language of reviews is mixed - this is a red flag the first 5-10 reviews were from friends or family. When you see this type of pattern, pay attention to the more recent reviews and toss aside the first ones to decide if you'll stay. Some newbie hosts think this helps them, and they may actually turn out to be great hosts, or they might not - the more recent reviews are likely more truthful.

So far as leaving a bad review - I've left a couple of bad reviews when I've reached out to the host and nothing was done to resolve the issue, or when the host is simply not available during our stay to resolve issues. With more than 20-years of staying in vacation rentals the good ones far outweigh the bad ones, though I must say in the last five years - since AirBnB has grown and VRBO/HomeAway were taken over by Expedia, there has been a sharp decrease in the quality available - there are way more properties that simply out there to make money and not provide a unique experience....and both Air and VRBO/HA have set up obstacles to direct communication with hosts...I now find myself booking into hotels way more than I ever considered years ago and that's mostly because the quality of many properties has declined to a point where it's not worth my time to cull through to find the gems that are still out there.

Posted by
4420 posts

Not an either/or situation.

If something's wrong, but fixable, contact the owner/agent/service/whoever right away, ask for a fix. Be reasonable, work with them, but don't just accept something that's not right. If something in the listing was outright deceptive, don't be afraid of saying so, give them a chance to do the right thing.

Then write a fair, honest, frank review.

FWIW, I literally (yesterday) got back from a trip to Mexico where I booked all accommodations via and airbnb. Most were between good and great. At one of the places I booked via, there were some significant issues - there was actually one major issue, plus a list of a half-dozen smaller things that together really soured the experience. Initially tried working with the owner/agent to address a handful of minor issues, some of which they tried to mitigate or provided suggestions for (sometimes inconvenient) workarounds. Then the next day we had a deal-breaker (we booked a place with a nice pool and a beach; we were denied access to the pool and beach because of an ongoing dispute between the owner and facility management - turned out the owner wasn't paying his bills, we were given the bums rush as a way to retaliate). I contacted asking for help. We received a full refund for our stay there and an apology. I will still write an honest review about the experience - including the mitigation steps from the owner and excellent customer service provided by Honest, fair, no ranting, but I will include an honest description of the place and our experiences, and what I wish I had known before I booked there. I'll also write honest, fair (positive) reviews of the other places (as soon as I unpack a bit).

So, complain (or praise) and write a fair (honest) review, warts and all.

Posted by
546 posts

In theory, your view sounds fair. But there are some faults that can
easily be remedied and others that can't. I did tell him about the
lack of toilet paper because that was something that could readily be
fixed, and was.

As a hotel owner you may have resources and ways of doing things that are not readily apparent to a guest. I could have put new curtains in one of my rooms in 10 minutes. Tell the owner and let Him or Her decide what they can do and how to do it. You made some assumptions that may well have been totally wrong.

Let me give you an example...I had a National Geographic photographer stay in my hotel who was doing photos of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Now the hotel was in a tropical beach resort all open to the elements in the bar and restaurant and the doors leading in to the hotel remained open. He came to me at the bar one afternoon and said "there's dog shit on my bed" !!!! Oh God. That's just not possible. Yes we had a hotel dog but he was so thoroughly housebroken he would rather die than go inside and he never went into rooms...We nearly ran to his room. He was very matter of fact about it and incredibly reasonable.

My partner and I and staff rushed to his room and there it was smack in the middle of the bed...but it was CAT poop not dog. Just as we were figuring this all out my dog Nigel rushed in and flushed the cat from under the bed. Apparently it got in while the crew was cleaning and they didnt know thus locking the cat in the room.

He was very generous about this. But I sent a staffer to buy a new mattress downtown and in 30 minutes and two free drinks later all was solved.

But just think how bad a review that would have made if he had not just come out and told us. But we solved it in 30 minutes. In the end he agreed to take the photos of the hotel and restaurant for my advertising and web site and did a great job. And he came back to stay again...

Just tell the manager/ not try to presume what can or cannot be done. I have replaced entire air conditioners in an hour because someone complained that theirs wasnt "cold enough"

Posted by
288 posts

As a hotel owner you may have resources and ways of doing things that are not readily apparent to a guest.

You are absolutely right that I was making assumptions about what the owner would and would not do to remedy a problem. But I think it's telling that well over a month after I posted that review, the owner still has not posted a reply saying that he has fixed all the things - or even just one of them - that I pointed out. (On VRBO an owner can update their response to a review, overriding the initial response.)

Whether or not my posting the review was justified, what he needs to do in response is, instead of emoting and blaming me, to say exactly what he has already done to fix the problems.

From the evidence I had, I sized him up as someone who would rather stint on what he provides to guests than put in extra effort and give guests a decent stay. I still believe this was accurate.

Posted by
5011 posts

I have only posted one bad review and it was for a major luxury chain in an international city. Every day I hoped their service would improve but it got worse. Their concierge desk was terrible. When asked to recommend a local neighborhood restaurant I was chastised for not eating in the hotel. And much more.