Holiday site apologises after home vandalised
Published 03/08/2011 | 05:00
IT'S a karmic arrangement that should bestow good fortune upon everyone involved.
A website gives you the chance to let spare rooms in your home for a few days at a time, and if you're out of town guests can keep an eye on the property while saving money on their accommodation.
In theory it's a win-win -- but not in the case of a woman known as EJ, whose recent experience of using a popular service called AirBnB to let her San Francisco apartment has caused an online furore.
Her emotional blog post at the end of June detailed the ransacking and vandalising that took place in her home over the course of a week: AirBnB guests stole her passport, trashed her furniture, burned her possessions and used her credit card.
Now the huge interest arising from her warning to the site's other users has taken substantial gloss off the company's reputation.
Launched in 2008 by charismatic entrepreneur Brian Chesky, the initial growth of AirBnB was slow. But in the past 18 months that has all changed. AirBnB grew by 800pc last year, and it was valued at $1.3bn.
From small beginnings in the US it now showcases properties globally, including more than 1,500 in the UK.
Following EJ's experience, and with the bad publicity mounting, there's been a heartfelt apology from Mr Chesky -- "we really screwed things up", he said -- and the company has promised financial assistance to EJ, and offered a $50,000 (€35,200) guarantee against damage to hosts.