After sleeping three nights on a platform of chairs, here’s how I recovered the cost of my Airbnb and was granted a 30% credit. There are some keywords you need to use and a 2nd channel you’ll have to message.
Herceg Novi, Montenegro is a poor town only active in the summer. The apartments are left empty for some time and their caretakers grow complacent. When summer starts a tsunami of tourists rush to the town, raising prices to 1st world rates, but leaving quality behind. The Airbnb I paid $701 to stay in for a month had enough mold to smell and be visible at night. Combined with there being no wi-fi and my first experience was what many expect of Airbnb.
The morning after check-in I awoke to an aching cough. Nothing serious, but to have one so soon I recognized the mold was intense. That day I chose a cowork, sent Airbnb pictures, and considered my options. First, I’m cheap, living on $1500 a month. I wasn't willing to spend $40+ per night for a hotel. Second, I didn’t know if Aircover would reimburse me for a hotel stay. Third, I was not aware how long and painful a process applying for Aircover would be.
My second night in Herceg Novi I slept in the co-work. It was open 24/7, had A/C and wi-fi all for the price of €100 a month. Except it was missing a bed. For three nights I slept on a platform of chairs not letting anyone catch on to how I was the last and first person there. During this time I was desperately doing anything I could to talk with Airbnb.
It’s summer and support is swamped with tickets. 20 hours after sending pictures of the mold I knew it was time to escalate. After some research I learned the smell, sleeping outside the Airbnb, and Twitter were the keys to success. I publicly tweeted pictures and a message stating support hadn’t replied to the handles @Airbnb & @Airbnbhelp. Within an hour support messaged me asking for more information.
The location of the mold was important as was how many nights I had slept in the apartment. With the place being a 15x15 studio and having moved out the following night I checked both of these boxes. Stating the mold had a strong smell was the other solidifying factor. I was told I’d be refunded and credit provided, but first I needed to find a new place.
By this time it was 9pm and no host was responding. It was going to be another long night at the cowork. Every few hours I was transferred to a new agent as they changed shifts. Each one approached the situation in a different way. It’s obvious there’s no script and service isn’t standardized. As morning came I noticed the agent hadn’t changed and I grew wary.
The hosts started to reply. I sent links to their listings and screenshots of them agreeing the dates requested available. About mid day I had sent three different options to support but they hadn’t replied. That afternoon I asked how the change would work and how much each option would cost, no reply. I messaged Airbnb on Twitter again hoping they could get me through the finish line, no reply. I was staring at another night in the cowork and starting to lose my mind.
11pm I received an irate message from an agent upset that they couldn’t reach me on my US phone number. The ticket had grown too long and reading it wasn’t worth their time. Identifying this as an agent that wanted to get the ticket closed I gathered my remaining sanity and swung for a home run. I boiled down what happened to the key points and stated which Airbnb I wanted. Their reply was one of apology and reapproval of the refund.
The final hurdle was that the new listing needed to be booked before the switch could be complete. But at 11pm, that wasn’t going to happen before a new agent came and had to pick up from scratch. After pointing this out the agent understood and waived the requirement. I was then refunded $649 for the nights I did not sleep in the Airbnb along with a coupon equal to 30% of the previous booking’s value. The ticket was closed and I slept a little easier that night.
It has been approximately 48 hours since then. Having slept more than 2 hours last night thanks to a bed, I again have the mental capacity to write. Being in the situation was a roller coaster of emotion that tested my limits. Now on the other side I don’t feel averse to Airbnb, but I don’t feel good either. The lack of script and amount of power being granted to agents is something I like to see. They’re on the right track with this system, I just hope they can get capacity figured out.
TL;DR - If your Airbnb has mold send pictures, state it smells, and leave. Send proof of the new place you slept. Tweet a public message of the same thing to @Airbnbhelp to escalate. Support is swamped so be efficient with your messaging. Have the new place you want ready to send if your refund is approved.