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Home Rental Startup Airbnb Seeks to End PR Nightmare with $50,000 Insurance Policy

/u94712/airbnb-logo1.png" alt="airbnb" width="275" height="148" style="float: right;" />You might not have heard of Airbnb, a feisty young startup out of San Francisco that lets users book lodging in the vacant homes of other Airbnb users, and rent out their own homes while they are away. The entire process is handeled by Airbnb, not directly by the users. In recent weeks, a firestorm of bad PR has hit Airbnb as a woman, blogging under the pseudonym EJ told the tale of how an Airbnb guest robbed and vandalized her home. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Airbnb has now offered an unconditional apology and a $50,000 insurance guarantee, but not after a few missteps.

There has been a significant amount of controversy as EJ and the Airbnb people traded barbs over just what happened. EJ claims that she was brushed off when she alerted Airbnb to the incident after returning home in late June. She found her home trashed, and many personal items (including IDs) missing. The police were involved, but Airbnb continued to bungle the PR nightmare.

EJ updated her story, claiming that Airbnb’s co-founder asked her to delete her blog. When all seemed darkest, the folks running the start up (which is funded to the tune of $100 million) have relented. Airbnb will offer a blanket $50,000 insurance policy to all users that rent out their empty house.The offer is retroactive so EJ should be able to get back on her feet.

Although, the emotional damage from having your home essentially destroyed by a drug-addled stranger you were paired with by a service you trusted must be intense. EJ can at least take some small comfort in knowing that the police have a suspect in custody after working with Airbnb. Do you think this situation was resolved amicably? Would you ever use Airbnb?

08-01-2011, 11:33 PM
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