Anyone up for a horror story, a real one that happened to me last week, which is, as of yet, unresolved? If so, read on for my cautionary tale.
It was the last day of a three-day intensive transformational workshop through Sistership Circle and I was both exhilarated and exhausted. After many “Jewish goodbyes” with my dear sisters, I was excited to join a dear friend for a four-day stay in an Airbnb bungalow in San Diego.
As a person who lives with the insidious autoimmune disorder known as MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity) or EI (Environmental Illness), I had carefully done my homework to be sure the place would be environmentally safe. The response I got from the host was assuring. He wrote that they use all natural products and would wash the linens in vinegar just to be sure.
“Wow,” I thought, “that is so accommodating. Surely it will be fine…”
Wrong. The chemical stink was emanating from the place before we even opened the door. I had hoped it was coming from the laundry exhaust of a nearby neighbor. I never thought I would hope for that before.
Once we stepped inside, we were blasted with strong synthetic chemicals. You can imagine the horrors when my friend and I found three Airwicks. We opened all the windows, but it was too late – the place was saturated with toxins. Even the bedding reeked of strong chemicals.
We had been deceived and had to leave within minutes of arriving. Our hearts sank as we sat on the patio trying to calm down our bodies’ reactions to the chemical assault: burning eyes, asthma, nausea, irritated throat, mood irritability and major brain fog, AKA neurological impairment that affects cognition.
We weren’t thinking clearly and needed to come up with a back-up plan. It was such a drag. The host found us outside and came out, speaking all smooth as he calmly blamed us and his housekeeper. He was a living snake-in-the-grass and of course offered not one iota of compassion or a single suggestion as to where we might could find a place to stay during spring break at 11:00 PM.
Both the host and I reported the situation to Airbnb. Since this host had a five-day notice required for canceling (which I had foolishly overlooked), he charged my credit card the 100% full amount for a four-day stay with all fees included, to the tune of $633.05. Meanwhile, Airbnb’s resolution was to apply an arbitrary $111.00 to that fee which was not acceptable.
You can imagine the flurry of calls to Airbnb and my credit card company that I made to dispute the charges and the hassle of finding a mediocre-at-best hotel late at night and so on. Unfortunately, the only place we could find was toxic too, but we managed as it was bearable, albeit barely.
It seems Murphy’s Law was in effect for us, but we did the best we could with what we had, spending most of the time out in nature on the coast or in Balboa Park. Airbnb’s case manager said she was leaving town for two weeks after she applied the $111 to the full charges for a place that we not only could not stay in but made us feel quite ill. Again, this was unacceptable.
I felt I had no choice other than to call my lawyer and open a case. First thing tomorrow morning, we will discuss the case again and get moving toward an acceptable resolution.
Some “professional”. Never again. I am owed my refund in full and am determined to reach that solution, even if I have to get the Americans With Disabilities Act (the ADA) involved. Airbnb is culpable here too and they need to be reasonable and have the backs of their guests when it’s called for, not just the hosts who bring them so much money.