Remember the days when Airbnb was the go-to for affordable and accessible lodging instead of hotels? Those days are long gone. Airbnb prices now rival hotels, often even exceeding them. And the recent surge of Airbnb guests finding hidden cameras in their rentals definitely isn't a good look for the company.
One woman's recent Airbnb experience further highlighted the rental platform's growing concerns. While her stay fell far below acceptable standards, customer service claimed she wasn't eligible for a refund. It was only after she posted about her awful experience on social media in a now-viral post that the platform finally took action.
A woman checks into an Airbnb for a month only to discover that it has no hot water, the ceiling leaks, and there's a roach problem.
On Jan. 9, author Melanie Rio, aka M.L. Rio, took to X (formerly Twitter) to detail her grievances with an Airbnb rental she was staying at. While she didn't reveal the location, she noted that she had rented it for an entire month for $2,500.
But it wasn't long after checking in that she discovered the space was riddled with issues. Besides being unclean, Melanie claimed the rental's front door didn't lock, there were roaches, the heat and hot water weren't working, and the ceiling was leaking among other things.
"For a fun game, let's do a tour of the unit Airbnb refuses to give me a refund for!" she wrote in her now-viral thread. "I'm sure they'd hate if you liked [or] shared this, which seems to be the only way to get their attention. Let's start with the entryway. Not off to a great start re: cleanliness."
She attached two photos of the carpeted stairwell leading up to the rented unit, which seemingly hadn't been vacuumed in some time.
Next, she attached photos of the front door. Melanie explained that she had gone out at one point and locked the door of the unit. But when she returned, the door was unlocked and there was a screw missing from the deadbolt.
Piggybacking onto that, she found cockroaches in the unit and what she believed were mouse droppings.
Her speculation that the rental had a mouse problem was further confirmed after she found a pack of "natural rodent repeller packs" in a cabinet.
Melanie first reached out to Airbnb only inquiring about the unit's lack of hot water, as she hadn't discovered some of the other issues yet. Chatting with a representative, she was asked to provide documentation that the hot water wasn't working, to which she responded: "How would I do that?"
She was not given an answer. And the longer she waited for help, the more issues she found with the unit, leading her to eventually ask for a refund.
Other images she shared in the thread include the rental's dirty bathroom and leaking ceiling. Despite sharing all these images with the platform, Airbnb still wasn't very helpful, claiming that there was not enough evidence to issue her a refund. She was told she would have to take it up privately with the host.
Melanie noted that she spent hours on the phone speaking with different representatives, all of which made her start from the beginning of her story, hinting that the company hadn't documented any of her complaints.
However, it appeared that the quickest way to get Airbnb's attention was to share her unfortunate circumstances on X. Melanie's post accumulated over 40 million views, with many strangers commenting on it and urging the company to offer her a refund.
The next day, Melanie shared an update on X claiming that Airbnb was issuing her a full refund.
"Guys we did it," she wrote, adding "Hugely grateful to everyone. Wow, it has been the weirdest 18 hours."