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The Moneyist

Dec. 14, 2020, 7:58 a.m. EST

I stayed in an Airbnb on my parents’ street for Thanksgiving. My mom pleaded with me NOT to write a bad review. What do I do?

‘We couldn’t believe what awaited us: unflushed toilets, dirty dishes in the dishwasher and uneaten food in the refrigerator’

By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch

Dear Moneyist,

I didn’t want to put my parents at risk for Thanksgiving, so I booked a house on their street two months ago and stayed there for six days. My wife and I sequestered for another six days beforehand. Before we sequestered we both got COVID-19 tests, which were negative, and drove seven hours to see my parents. They have been isolated and have not seen many people over the last nine months. It’s been hard for them, so it was worth the trip.

However. This is a big however...

We booked an Airbnb (NAS:ABNB)  for $900 two houses away from my folks. It belonged to a family that was also visiting their family at Thanksgiving, so it seemed like a slam dunk. Kismet! We couldn’t believe what awaited us: unflushed toilets, dirty dishes in the dishwasher and uneaten food in the refrigerator. They didn’t even empty the waste basket, although the instructions asked us to do so when we left. They were nice people, but it took them six hours to respond to one query about the central heating.

It was hell! My mom pleaded with me not to write a bad review. What do I do?

Shocked, Very Little Awe

Dear Shocked,

It looks like you happened upon the old “we left in a hurry due to a zombie apocalypse” listing. Time ran out and they rushed out the door. You didn’t mention the sheets, so I am assuming they were at least clean. Everyone has a different red line with Airbnbs: an unflushed toilet will do it for some, including the Moneyist, while a “lived-in” vibe is more acceptable to others, as long as there are fresh towels and bed linens, and the people are decent and able to receive feedback.

In this case, however, it’s possible that one of their kids said, “Mom, just a minute!” and used the restroom, unbeknownst to their parents. The food in the refrigerator, I could overlook. I don’t mind a half-full jar of jam, and a nob of butter or two. I’m on the fence, however, about the unemptied garbage. That could have been done the night before. That’s my strategy — then I take whatever I used the following morning with me when I leave, and pop it in a public garbage disposal.

The Moneyist: ‘I lost my mom 2 months ago and I’m still in a fog’: My brother and his family moved into her home. They want more than half

In most circumstances, I would say to a family member: “The price of my silence is $900.” But given that we are living in stressful times, and you were doing your parents a great service by visiting them and making sure that you arrived with negative test results, it would diminish some of that goodwill by leaving a stinker of a review (pardon my pun) after you leave. Your parents live on the street, and they may like these people, and who wants awkwardness on your doorstep?

Leave them some friendly private feedback, thank them for the stay, and move on. The house fulfilled the purpose for which it was intended. You got to see your parents at Thanksgiving, you made them happy, and you did so responsibly. Why stand in hours for a coronavirus test if you’re going to leave your parents in a weird situation with these neighbors? We are living in strange and surreal times. People’s nerves are already shot. Keep your powder dry.

<STRONG>Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch’s Moneyist columnist. You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at qfottrell@marketwatch.com</STRONG> . Want to read more? Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter and read more of his columns here.

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