Regulators have forced Airbnb to rectify a major flaw in its customer review system which meant that until now some of the worst listings have escaped bad reviews.
Currently, guests who decide to cancel their stay or leave early because the apartment or house is a bit of a dump cannot automatically leave a review. They are usually offered a refund – minus the Airbnb fee, which they lose – but then their booking is only shown as “cancelled”. It means customers looking at the reviews of a property have no idea that previous renters thought the place was so bad they could not stay there.
Only those who persist and go through Airbnb’s customer services department have been able to leave unhappy reviews after deciding to leave a property early, until now.
Following a intervention by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), Airbnb has now agreed to change its online reviews policy. The change will come into force on 31 August.
The CMA said it had been made aware of the problem as part of its bigger investigation into online reviews, which are now a vital tool for consumers thinking of using a site.
Airbnb guests will be able to leave feedback on the suitability of the host or the accommodation, or why they chose to cut short their stay. They will be able to do so regardless of whether they cancelled on the day of check-in or during their visit, said the CMA.
Gordon Ashworth, CMA project director, said: “Airbnb is a popular platform used by people searching for accommodation, and the online reviews and opinions left by other guests are an important source of information. We were concerned that, if someone cut short their stay, it was too hard for them to leave a review under Airbnb’s existing reviews system and so we are pleased that Airbnb engaged constructively with us and committed to making the necessary changes.”
The Guardian understands that the changes will be made worldwide – whether British residents are involved in the booking or…