Where’s Airbnb’s Policy with a Mouse in the Caravan?

We went for a family holiday and business trip to North Wales. I was taking part in a Welsh Culture Festival selling fashion. We decided to stay in a caravan about 30 minutes from the festival. It was a little old and gave us the basic requirements we needed but the reviews looked good so it was a done deal. My mother is also disabled so we needed somewhere she didn’t have to walk upstairs.

When we got there, the first impressions were okay, but the more you sat in the dingy caravan the more you discovered. Firstly, I got an Airbnb message from the host on my phone. I tried to text her back but it would only let me communicate through the website. I did, then the host texted me directly. This is where I know we went wrong.

All of the correspondence between us and the host was via text. The first thing she told me was her cesspit would be emptied the day after our arrival. We would have to sit in her garden with years’ worth of poo being emptied before us. The cesspit was also uncomfortably close to the caravan. We booked the caravan months in advance so she could have booked this at any other time but didn’t.

I soon discovered that there was no wifi, even though it said on the listing that there was. She then said she would contact her son who was “profoundly deaf and might be working”, one of her many excuses, like “I think I just need to put my hotspot on.” Let me get this straight: you’re advertising wifi to your guests using a hotspot on your phone in the house next door to the caravan?

At this point we didn’t even know if she was in the house or in another country so we could have been using a hotspot in England for all we knew. May I add she was also painfully slow at responding to our messages, leaving at least 30 minutes between each one.

Already disappointed, we tried our best to keep our spirits up, even after walking in on the pungent smell in the small bedroom, and cobwebs all over the place. As it got dark I turned the lights on and you could see that the carpet hadn’t been cleaned at all. I found plaster on the floor, and bugs stuck in the ceiling light.

Then something moved in the corner of my eye. All three of us looked at each other… what was that? “A moth,” I thought.

“A spider,” my dad thought.

My mum knew: a mouse. It ran under a small cabinet. I crept down on the floor to have a look and saw. Sat next to a leaf in the shadows was the mouse, frozen in sight staring right at me. My mum and I went to sit back on the sofa with our legs up, then we saw him scutter out from under the cabinet and into the kitchen area. We think he went into the kitchen cabinets then, either to hide in some kind of nest or through a hole out of the caravan as we couldn’t see him after that. He was cute but I’m sorry, unwelcome.

We complained about the situation to the host and asked if it could be sorted that night. We would have been willing to stay, maybe, if she would have been willing to do something about the situation. We waited an hour with no response. When we finally got a response she claimed she had lived there for 30 years and had never seen a mouse; she was gobsmacked.

She then tried to blame it on the farmer next door, asking if it was a field mouse as he had been doing the fields and then some girl that did the changeover might have let it in? Then she said, “Could you not just pick it up and throw it out?” Excuse me?

In the time she spent ignoring our messages, we managed to pull back the sofa and saw mouse droppings scattered everywhere. On closer inspection I found more in the dining area, and a few in the bathroom. This wasn’t a lone mouse that wandered in, it was a recurring problem. After seeing it scurry into the kitchen cupboards we knew it could potentially contaminate our food.

It got really late. We were running out of time to find back up accommodation, so we left and told her we wanted a full refund. She was “apologetic” but not really, still sticking to the same script.

We decided to go straight to Airbnb that night with all the photos we took and screenshots of the messages taken. Then at 1:00 AM she sent a paragraph of a text demanding to know why we said such horrible lies about her caravan. She had no problem responding then. She claimed she went to the caravan but we had already left, so she magically made an appearance late at night, stating that the caravan was spotless. She stays in five-star hotels and it was immaculately clean apparently.

As we drove past her house it was clear that it was dirty; in the conservatory there were piles of boxes and bin bags stacked on top of each other. The entrance of the house was full of beat up old cars and more trash.

Airbnb did nothing. We had pictures of the mouse droppings, dust and uncleanliness, and insects in the caravan and provided all of the screenshots. We were told “we can’t use text messages as evidence as they can be doctored.”

We couldn’t receive our money back as she claimed we didn’t tell her about any of the issues so they’ve taken her word for it and I have now lost £580 for a 10-night stay + about £1000 for last-minute accommodation for the week. All they did was offer a coupon for our next stay, and after bickering with them for a bit they retracted this coupon anyway.

I haven’t added the listing, and haven’t written a review yet as we are taking legal action and trying to get our money back via PayPal. She has some bad reviews on her profile concerning the cleanliness but they’re mainly good. I went to check recently and saw that she suddenly had loads of new reviews for July. Strange… either she had so many guests before us and couldn’t clean or they’re doctored in some way. Airbnb is more than happy to leave a rodent-infested listing on their website, so their policies have no legs.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

5 Comments

  1. You were in the country, next to a working farm. Hardly surprising to see a mouse or insects. One mouse does not make it “rodent-infested”.

    It is also not surprising it was booked solid in July – it’s high summer and the holiday season.

    “We would have to sit in her garden with years’ worth of poo being emptied before us.” Were you held there at gun point? Chained up? You couldn’t have gone sight-seeing? You do not know if that was the only availability there was when it was booked to be emptied.

    You expect a lot from a caravan and cheap at that. Goodness, the host not jumping immediately when you text her! Making you wait 30 minutes for a rely! Didn’t drop everything she was doing to attend to you! How terrible! What’s the world coming to?

    You get what you pay for in this world. You pay for a caravan in the fields, you get a caravan in the fields. If you pay for beer, you should not expect champagne. If you want immaculate and prompt service, you need to pay for it. You paid double for your alternative accommodation and no complaint there other than price I notice.

    • Hi Geoffrey, if you think this is okay, you clearly have no standards, and I would be seriously concerned if you are a host! as I said very clearly in the description there were mouse droppings all over the caravan which implies that there were more mice in the caravan, we just happened to see one. Evidence of mouse droppings in the kitchen cabinets where we would be eating, in the bathroom and living room. It is a serious health risk!

      as for the 30min wait from each text I said at least! learn to read babe.

      I’m sorry £580 is not cheap for a caravan! you an get a bloody full inclusive holiday for that price! If you’re hosting on air bnb it needs to be fit for purpose whether its a caravan or not, we didn’t get what we paid for! as it was disgusting and uninhabitable!

      • I am not your babe.

        Even waiting double that time for a reply is not unreasonable and expecting a reply after waiting at least 30 minutes still smacks of self-entitlement.

        STG58 a night for a “family holiday” in self-contained accommodation is cheap in the UK. Your “bloody full inclusive holiday for that price” is in what country? And inclusive of what? All meals? Transfers?

        You saw one mouse. One. If there were mouse dropping “all over the caravan” why did any of you fail to notice them when you first arrived instead of saying “first impressions were okay”?

  2. I hate you had a disappointing time. Leave a truthful but unemotional review so it will be taken seriously.

    However, one mouse in a camper is not unexpected. If you had reported it and the host handled it immediately, it should not be a concern. To ignore it, is troubling.

    Did you contact Airbnb about any of your concerns during the first 24 hours of your trip or within 24 hours of a negative event? The terms of service requires guests contact Airbnb customer service within 24 hours.

    Always keep all communication on the platform. If your host texts you, take a picture/image and post it on the Airbnb communication thread—state “this is to document our conversation”

    Airbnb can/will only consider communication on its platform when attempting to resolve issues.

    Common mistakes by hosts & guests are to not keep communication on the platform & to not involve Airbnb from the beginning.

    • Hi Anne, yes we contacted Air Bnb the night of the incident with proof of all messages between us and the host via text and images of the droppings we saw under the furniture in the living room, bathroom and kitchen. We were told by Air Bnb “we cannot take text messages as proof as they can be easily doctored” thankfully the bank thought otherwise and we have received a full refund

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