Airbnb apologizes with $50,000 security guarantee

Summary:In light of its recent events that brought upon a less-than-favorable media spotlight, Airbnb is trying to do everything it can to please and retain customers.

In light of its recent events that brought upon a less-than-favorable media spotlight, Airbnb is trying to do everything it can to please and retain customers.

The easiest way to keep customers happy? Money. To reassure and protect its clientele, especially those who will be renting out properties they own to vacationers, Airbnb is stepping up its security precautions:

Starting August 15th, when hosts book reservations through Airbnb their personal property will be covered for loss or damage due to vandalism or theft caused by an Airbnb guest up to $50,000 with our Airbnb Guarantee. Terms will apply to the program and may vary (e.g. by country). This program will also apply retroactively to any hosts who may have reported such property damage prior to August 1, 2011.

This is the result of a horror story that gained a good deal of traction on the blogosphere last week in which a San Francisco resident named EJ published a detailed account of her Airbnb rental experience gone wrong. EJ rented out her apartment while on vacation, only to return and find her home trashed and burglarized.

Naturally, plenty of other Airbnb mishap stories came out of the woodwork, but none gained the attention that EJ's report did.

Things didn't get much better for EJ nor Airbnb in the days that followed as both sides seemed to be communicating and complaining via blogs rather than to each other over the phone.

More security-related services are detailed on Airbnb's site now, many of which seem to directly respond to EJ's problematic experience. One of those amenities is a 24-hour hotline with "operators and customer support staff ready to provide around the clock phone and email support for anything big or small." That's a bit overdue as EJ asserts she didn't hear back from Airbnb until 14 hours after she first contacted them in June.

At least there have been a few other positive developments in this case. Although EJ disputed that she hadn't heard of any arrests in connection with her case, San Francisco police confirmed to CNET on Friday that they arrested a 19-year-old woman on June 28 in connection with this incident as well as for several other counts, including possession of stolen property and methamphetamine, fraud and an outstanding warrant.

Two other people were detained but were not arrested.

Related:

Topics: iOS, Apps, iPhone, Mobile OS, Security, Smartphones, Wi-Fi

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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