Airbnb User Trashes Home of Stranger

Company on defensive after honor system doesn't quite work
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2011 12:40 PM CDT
Airbnb is dealing with its first big PR problem.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It's been quite the up-and-down week for Airbnb, a start-up that helps people rent their homes to vacationing strangers. All began great when the company secured a $1 billion valuation, notes the Wall Street Journal. Then a PR disaster: A San Francisco woman blogged about how she returned from a week's vacation to find that her Airbnb guest had thoroughly ransacked and pillaged her apartment, reports TechCrunch.

"They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card, and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside," she writes. "They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals … my entire life." It gets worse; read the post in full here. Airbnb's CEO Brian Chesky has promised to go "above and beyond" to help the woman and to ramp up safety protocol, and he says police have a suspect in custody. But, writes TechCrunch's Michael Arrington: "It turns out that when something like this happens, Airbnb isn’t financially responsible."

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