I’m not sure that I’ll ever use @airbnb again after a recent incident where a woman’s home was ransacked by another user of the service. I’m not bothered that the event occurred (imho, that was almost inevitable) but the company’s apparent response to this woman’s plight has been questionable.
It’s this response that is what’s driving me away from wanting to use their service in the future. To recap, the victims story:
- A woman rents out her home using AirBnb.
- The person renting the home allegedly ransacks and loots it.
- She returns to her home and finds the mess.
- She writes a blog post explaining what happened.
Here’s where it gets rather questionable:
- AirBnb gets in touch initially but remains silent for a month (when the press begins to run with the story).
- The victim alleges she was told to change or update her story so as to not disrupt AirBnb’s current valuation/funding rounds (which estimate the company worth to be around $1 billion dollars).
- The victim alleges that she was told that AirBnb staff may have been aware of incidents in the past concerning the person who rented her home. Yet, wasn’t made aware of this in advance.
- The victim has yet to confirm that the company has offered her any sort compensation. (The company says they have.)
Here is the problem I have with all of this: What do I pay AirBnb for when I’m renting out my home? Am I only paying them to help broker financial transactions with random strangers (apparently). Or am I paying them for peace of mind when renting to random strangers? I actually thought they were in the business of the latter.
The story seems to indicate AirBnb be would rather be in the business of making transactions and introducing those who aim to rent out their property to people who want to pay. Great, that’s a fine business to be in.
However, as a customer, I want to pay for more than that. I want to pay for:
- Access to a vetted community of buyers and renters.
- Optional upgrades for security/cleaning/insurance should I desire it.
- A company that’s up front with users about what’s occurring in their community.
Anything less than that and I’ll just go to Craigslist or Couchsurfing.com