Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How I feel today

I imagine many of you are wondering how I feel today, having read the statement that Brian Chesky posted yesterday on his Airbnb blog. I thought I might best explain my reaction here, in my own words.

When I originally wrote my story, I did so as a personal account of a significant experience in my life, as a cautionary tale, and to help me process the emotions I was dealing with. That my blog piece has gone viral in the way that it has came as a shock to me, and was absolutely never my intention. But I am gratified nonetheless that the extent of public awareness my story generated has encouraged Airbnb to implement real change to its product, its service and its community of users.

I agree with Mr. Chesky's statement that Airbnb should have responded much more quickly to my urgent pleas for help, that they should have communicated with more sensitivity, and that they should have taken decisive action to help me feel safe during what has been a desperate time. Had they done so, and had these significant new policies been implemented from the very beginning, I could have been spared nearly six weeks now of disruption and displacement, and the hurt and exhaustion of having to face disparaging remarks, slander and harassment, my integrity being called into question, my character publicly trashed. I was at one time a victim of an awful crime, doing my best to cope. Today, in addition to that, I have unwittingly and unexpectedly become the target of an onslaught, being called a liar and much, much worse by both public and anonymous figures who have no first-hand knowledge whatsoever of the very decent person I am, nor any knowledge of what has transpired in the past several weeks. All of this has exponentially confounded the trauma I already felt, and has taken its toll both emotionally and physically, subjecting me to utter hell. So while Mr. Chesky's public apology to me is clearly a heartfelt one and certainly appreciated, and while I applaud the steps that Airbnb is taking to fulfill its commitment to safety and security, the reality for me is that the hardship continues. As will, no doubt, the nasty comments and unwarranted name-calling that have been thrown in my face.

Regarding the crime itself, I am taken aback by the amount of misinformation being spread and publicly stated about the criminal investigation, and I wish I could address it all. But at this time I am not comfortable sharing any further details about the investigation, as it is still ongoing. Believe me, I want resolution and criminal charges pressed more than anyone out there. If and when the justice process happens and comes to completion, I will write about it. I hope you will come back here in search of answers to the many questions that loom large. But most of all, I hope to get answers myself so that I can begin to move forward.

On a final note, I want to again thank everyone out there - my rock of a family, my loving friends, and the kindest of strangers - for their outpouring of support, love and encouragement throughout this ordeal, particularly those who have unsolicitedly spoken out in my defense. I couldn’t keep going - or writing - without you.

75 comments:

  1. I am hoping for as speedy a resolution to this as is possible. Each person's home is their castle and this is a horrendous seige of your castle. Your story is a cautionary one for those of us who go from tight paycheck to tight paycheck and have contemplated finding innovative ways to make ends meet. Thank you for sharing your story - and more importantly - thank you for helping Airbnb's optimistic and ill-prepared team learn the importance and necessity of risk management. Future Airbnb travelers and hosts will be on safer and more stable footing because of what you've gone through. Though there is little peace in that, I'm glad that you personally are safe, emotionally jarred though you may be. I personally will take this tale as a warning and refrain from posting my place on Airbnb. Good luck to you with all of this, and I will check back for updates.

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  2. Hello EJ --

    I hope that recent events, and time, help you find some peace. Your writing is vivid and your saga awful, touching, and awful. I think that anyone reading your writing thinking about the person writing it -- as opposed to thinking about the next round in a ping-pong debate or looking for a hook for a flashy thing to say -- can't help but see a very decent person, I think.

    All the best --

    --Chris.

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  3. I'm thinking of you in Norway. We support you over here and wish you the best. May you be happy, healthy, and peaceful.

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  4. Did you post pictures? Perhaps that will stop the naysayers etc..

    Airbnb is an awesome concept, I don't know if I want that one company rule this system. Couchsurfing is also cool and free. But it is fair that people could rent rooms, appartments, houses, castles on a p2p fashion, and why not have it be more and more reliable, trusted, with insurance throughout the whole process. Let's make online solutions that compete with the hotel industry and at the same time provide as much safety for everyone that considers to get involved. It can be done, all they need is a true accomodation and indentity verification process.

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  5. We recently rented an apartment in Paris using AirBnB - our first time using AirBnB, though not our first time renting a stranger's home. Imagine my shock when I got Brian Chesky's apology email this morning. I was horrified to read your original blog post about the vandalism and am thankful that you are alive and have your health at the very least, if perhaps not your peace of mind. If you ever want a place to stay in Vancouver, Canada, we would happily host you as our guest (where I also train on the trapeze - and it's times like these that make me thankful for the life lessons that dangling from my trapeze has taught me).

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  6. Really?
    Did someone just post on promoting Airbnb and couch surfing on EJ's personal blog to express her experience in her own words? Go start your own blog (or you may already have one if you are working for the start up) and praise the 'concepts, p2p, online solutions, etc.' somewhere else. Smells fishy and very COLD. Try an empathy course or two.

    Dear EJ,
    All the best for an emotional and mental resolution to this madness and the COLD treatment from Airbnb. I was thinking of using them for my travels as I, too, travel a lot - even considered it as a future investment. However, that has changed tremendously with the COLDNESS and spin that has become their priority. Good luck and thanks for keeping it real.

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  7. Now a lot more people know you are a great writer, even (or especially?) under terrible circumstances.
    Hope when the madness is done you will have gained as much as you have lost emotionally and otherwise.

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  8. I've been following the story and wish you the best. I'm glad they are changing and although their system should have been better, you were right in trusting and I hope this doesn't destroy your resilience and ability to trust again.

    The net always appears, but sometimes we still have the imprint of the net on your face when we fall into it so hard!

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  9. You ARE a great writer, and that is one thing this horrible experience has not taken from you. You have my empathy and my sorrow for what has occurred to you, both with the actual vandalizing of your home, and now with the people that have nothing better to do than hate on you. Eventually, I have to believe, something good will come out of this. Like someone said above, the world now knows what a great writer you are. You never know what can come out of that.

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  10. Dear EJ ~
    In this day of crime & distrust, you gave your own apartment so that a stranger could have a better vacation. I salute your spirit. I salute the innocence. I admire your faith in the humankind. And i hope & pray that it all comes back after this awful experience. Let them not take that from you.

    love & peace coming your way..
    a!

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  11. What a horrifying ordeal...

    Hang in there.

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  13. EJ,

    My heart goes out to you. Any theft from and damage to your home is heart wrenching without the added complications of having invited those "guests" into your home, media attention and the general public writing their know-it-all opinions. You are right that most people are good and it's the small percentage who aren't who can really wreck it for the rest of us.

    In 2005 our inner city apartment in Sydney was broken into, everything had been gone through and several items along with my grandmother's ring were stolen. We didn't want to move but it was over a year before I was able to go home alone. Our extended ordeal came in finding the ring for sale on eBay some months later and embarking on a year+ effort with the local police to recover it from the nutcase who'd acquired it. I haven't thought much about it for the last couple of years though I am even more cautious about safety now.

    It will take time and it may take years but a day will come when you go through the whole day without thinking about this horrible experience and you will feel better.

    Oh, on the subject of Internet commentary, I will give my unsolicited advice... either don't read it or at least try to take the good comments to use for your own benefit and write off the rest. You can't trust what some people write on Amazon about a toaster... why should they get any credence for writing about your life?!

    All the best with putting this behind you!

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  14. To EJ and others: there are safe ways to rent your personal or second residence or exchange same, but it isn't Airbnb. The model is fatally flawed in my judgement for the very reasons this situation reveals. You don't get to vet your guests. In fact, you don't even know who they are, which to me violates the most inviolate rule of renting/exchanging. My business partner and I have been renting/exchanging property for 30 years, literally thousands of occasions. Most serious incident was a broken patio umbrella, which was paid for. Be happy to tell others how to do this safely but pleaseeee, for your own good, don't go through these annonymous systems like Airbnb. Begging for trouble.

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  15. Dear EJ,

    I can't believe some people actually think this is a lie.. what a cold blooded people they are. They might not know, but writing actually helps a lot with disturbed emotions. As i was reading your original post I, as well, could feel your fear and stress. My heart goes out to you as well as my prayer..

    Naomi

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  16. Hi EJ,

    Your story really moved me. Not just because I feel so much empathy and sadness, but because you shared it with all of us. That took a lot of courage, and reading your story really affected me. Thank you for sharing.

    Julia

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  17. I had my bank card skimmed THREE times in a calendar year. I felt so violated and vulnerable. And pissed off beyond belief!
    And it doesn't hold a candle to how badly you were victimized. I'm so sorry. I can't even imagine what you are going through right now and how you've held it together. You have my admiration and best wishes!

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  18. While I empathize with your ordeal the past several weeks, I cannot help that think that you are taking the public onslaught in the blogosphere too personally. You yourself say that most of these people do not know you, nor do they have knowledge of what transpired. Why should what they say then affect you emotionally? I commend you for bringing your ordeal into the public light and forcing Airbnb to do better for their users. Someone definitely needs to do it. That said, if you choose to live a public life by blogging about your personal experiences, then you should be prepared for public scrutiny, and have a tough skin for some of these things. Otherwise don't try to be a crusader. If they crucified Jesus, what makes you think you will be spared?

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  19. I've been following your nightmare and would just like to offer my support and condolences. As a traveler, former san franciscan, frequent airbnb host, and victim of home robbery (strangers can enter your home even when you don't invite them in) I emphasize with how you must be feeling. I'm grateful to you for sharing this story and for the changes that seem to be in the works at airbnb.

    As for people bashing you because you rented out your apartment- clearly they just don't understand. It is a very common thing for people to do in cities all over the world, but I suppose you wouldn't know that if you were settled down and not a frequent traveler. What happened was a horrible fluke and I'm really sorry that you are going through this experience.

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  20. Thank you for sharing your story. My heart is saddened with the negative comments and the further victimization you are being exposed to. Those are the 3% of the internet, take them with a grain of salt.

    I wish you happiness and growth in your future.

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  21. I am in shock that anyone would have negative comments towards you. You are a victim. My family will be keeping you in our prayers for regained peace and strength like you once knew.

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  22. Hang in there and screw Airbnb--selfish pricks that they are. Everything wouldn't have been as bleak as it could have been had they not been too concerned with protecting their brand.

    I read your other article that you don't want to set up a donation fund (I was going to suggest it and I know that I'm not the only one who would be willing to donate).

    You ARE a victim. Had Airbnb responded earlier, they would have understood that and seen it for themselves.

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  23. I'm really sorry about what happened to you. It's awful how such a dreadful event occurred and some people have the nerve to question your honesty and accuse you of being a liar. My best advice is to ignore those people. It'll be hard without a doubt, but their words don't matter as long you and your close associates remember what kind of person you are.

    It would also be in your best interests to keep your identity anonymous. It's bad enough that your Internet name has been slandered and it wouldn't do any good to have your real name out there.

    I'm not all that shocked by the amount of misinformation. There's always more than one story even if the teller wasn't even there when the incident happened. Just post whatever information you feel comfortable telling.

    Again I'm really sorry for what happened to you. No one deserves their home to be violated that way. In my opinion, a home is a person's second sanctuary (the first being the mind) and should NEVER be mistreated. No matter whose home it is.

    I wish you luck in recovering all your lost possessions and hope you'll be able to continue your travels with happiness again. I'm only in high school and I've always had this strong desire to explore the world. It'd be a shame for you to lose that enthusiasm because of this.

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  24. EJ,

    I feel awful for you. I hope you can get your life back to normal as quickly as possible. I think you should stay in your apt to show that no matter what happens, you will not let someone (or some people) take that away from you. If you choose to leave, I completely understand, and hope you find a new place that you like more than you did your current place.

    I've used AirBnB three times myself, with positive experiences on all. If am a bit concerned as a traveller for my safety though. My last stay in San Diego, a "friend" of the owner stopped by at 2am while I was asleep banging on the door to drop off computer speakers. It freaked me out and I am a guy. After getting the official email from AirBnB and reading your blog, I wonder for the safety for both the renters and renters.

    I think how AirBnB handled the entire situation is awful, and probably on guidance of their lawyers to protect themselves. They could have done a MUCH better job.

    In any case, I think you should get yourself a lawyer. I wish you the best, and hope you are able to heal from this. I will follow your blog and case from here on out.

    Shame on your AirBnb! I hope you've learned lessons as a good corporate citizens and are held accountable for any fault on your part.

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  25. I apologize for the typos in the email...it was written in haste and not checked.

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  26. Hi EJ, I want to say again that I'm terribly sorry for what has rained down on you. I was tepidly glad when they announced the new $50,000 coverage, including in retrospect for previously reported cases such as yours. Hopefully they will be adding a LOT more verification and security features as well, so as to protect more people. So the possibility - or probability - that this has resulted in massive changes and safety for other unsuspecting and innocent parties -- that's the positive.

    I respect your decision to keep your private life and information private. Just because someone posts on their personal blog and it goes viral (completely NOT something you intended, nor did I) does not make them a public figure. Being the victim of a crime should not subject you to more emotional damage from doubters - unfortunately, that's what's happened. The people making demands of you and treating you as a public figure, being skeptical of you and wanting you to reveal more, post photos, etc. - just ignore them. They have no idea what it is like to have your life deeply invaded, the feeling that your personal safety was deeply threatened, the violation of every aspect of your life. And no amount of explaining will make someone who hasn't personally experienced such acts understand.

    You WILL get past this. This will, eventually, be in your rear view. You never forget the pain of being victimized, doubted, and had aspersions cast upon you, but it does fade in time, just as wounds eventually become scars.

    On a final note, nobody goes through an experience like this and emerges unscathed. That only happens in the movies. If you haven't already, start researching PTSD and find out what you can do to combat the effects.

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  27. On another note, regarding how it came as a complete shock that it went viral:

    The first Google result for "airbnb" that is not directly tied to the company is on Fodor's travel forum - to be specific, this thread: http://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/has-anyone-used-airbnb-to-find-lodging.cfm

    Your original blog post was posted in that thread July 8th. The fact that it didn't go viral until nearly three weeks later is.. well, very irritating to me personally, and indicative of how little clue I could've had that my posting of it elsewhere would cause any ripples. Grr. If it (the viral issue) had to happen, I wish it would've happened sooner, so the company could've received its wakeup call sooner and you could've been helped sooner.

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  28. Well said, foxit.
    Please do me a favor and contact EJ if you can. I know EJ personally and I am delivering a message. Your comments are very kind and I thank you.

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  29. Dear EJ,

    My heart goes out to you. I've been reading your blog and wishing I could do more to help. For now I'm just glad to read that you have a good support network of friends and family whom you can at least live with for now. I salute you for having the strength to keep yourself together somehow. Please know that you are not alone and that you will definitely find peace and move on someday. I believe in you.

    Love,
    Feanne

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  30. Dear EJ,

    I am in shock that you've had this experience. May you recover swiftly and deliver the right punishments to the culprits that brought your spirit down. You will always have support from those on the interwebs that truly believe in you and the encouragement that will get you back on your feet.

    Many hugs to you,
    Michelle

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  31. Dear EJ,

    I am sorry to hear this happened to you and hope you recover best you can.

    I would like to encourage you to take this voilation less personally and also take more personal responsibility for your situation - for only you can manage your state of mind.

    I don't mean to sound harsh, but bad things happen, and we need to roll with them. The world is full of both good and bad - and we are all to a degree co-responsible for the state it is in.

    Those of us able to read and contribute to a blog like this are INCREDIBLY fortunate. Don't forget that. You could have been born into many other parts of the world where this violation, while unfortunate, would be the least of your problems.

    Get back up on your feet as soon as you can. You are a great writer and contributor. Don't be a victim.

    Onward!

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  32. EJ -
    I am so sorry to hear about what has happened to you. You did not deserve this, nor do you deserve the backlash you have received. Thank you for sharing your story so that we can all learn from what has happened to you. You will be in my thoughts and prayers as you go through this difficult time.

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  33. EJ,

    I can say with certainty that there are far more people who sympathize with you, feel for you, wish they could somehow help and comfort you, and recognize your inherent and fundamental decency.

    Random anonymous trolls and keyboard warriors crawling out of all sorts of cyber armpits have probably done their best to hurt you with their strange misplaced reasoning and bile, but what I've noticed is that they are by far the minority.

    For at least the last few weeks, the overall reaction to your ordeal has actually made me suspend my long-held cynical beliefs about human nature and made me think people are actually quite good, and kind, and caring.

    Like you!

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  34. EJ, the world needs more decent people like you.

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  35. To all journalist following this story.
    I'm not going to use airbnb ever again (I used to), I'm shocked by how they handled it and I'm shocked and very upset by what happened to you EJ, I'm really sorry. You are a great person and an amazing writer.
    I tried to delete my account - sent several emails to airbnb marked - urgent. They responded 15hr later (I guess this means urgent to this company?) telling me how sorry they were and how great they were. At the end of their email:
    "Thank you for your continued support and for being part of our community. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns with our site and services, as we are happy to assist. If you would still like to go on and delete your account, simply reply to us through here and we will do so immediately."

    I asked them again to delete asap. I received the same email! I'm shock as it seems now it's impossible to delete my account!!
    This should be changed asap!
    Dominika

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  36. Hey. I've been following your blog and the ensuing maelstrom for the past few days. I hope they find the creeps that did this and that you are able to find peace eventually. Good luck there.

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  37. I wasn't able to catch up on this story until I received the e-mail from Chesky about their new policy, etc. It is terrifying, and shame on people who call names and have no heart. That kind of behavior doesn't exactly redeem the human race either. Anyway, thoughts and prayers with you. Stay strong and I hope they find those who did this.

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  38. As another person who likes to assume the best about her fellow man, I'm so saddened that you came across some of the worst of us.
    I believe, in the end, you are your own karma.
    When all is said and done, you get to wake up every day and be you...a lovely, positive person who embraces life.
    The abhorrent people who did this to you have to wake up every day and be them.
    You already won.
    And if the worst thing they can say on your tombstone is "she trusted too much" you'll be okay.
    Hang in there. Keep your head high.

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  39. Dear EJ,

    Words cannot fully express the deep sympathy I have for you. There are indeed good people out there and I am sorry you ran into the exception to that.

    Concerning the boos and hisses directed at you, ignore them. The Internet is a great place to tell your tale and give warning to the good people I mentioned, but it can spread both good and bad word equally, so don't lose heart! We live in a time where everyone expects some visual evidence behind every story, i.e. pictures or video, because they no longer believe in trust, or they never learned how to read between the lines. But your words, I can tell, establish you as a wonderful person unluckily thrust into a crisis. Keep your personal life close to you, for it is your last stand of identity. Don't give in to demands for pictures, otherwise you'll just end up a photo-op for tabloids or whatever.

    Stay strong. My prayers are with you.

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  40. EJ, That you are capable of accepting Chesky's apology as "clearly heartfelt and certainly appreciated" -- after all you've been thru, and after the disingenuous sensitivity airbnb initially showed you (while simultaneously trying to sweep it all under the rug to avoid jeopardizing their funding) -- speaks volumes about you. About your character, your intelligence, your judgment, your inclination toward fairness, and your capacity for understanding.

    If anyone had the right to publicly skewer airbnb, it would be you. But you choose to operate above that level, despite the utter wrecking ball of an experience this must have been for you.

    I am very impressed. The world could use more people like you.

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  41. EJ,

    Just a random stranger who found your blog from a link on CNN. My heart goes out to you. Having one's home ransacked is an incredibly emotionally devastating event. Thoughts and prayers for your emotional & financial recovery. It's a tough road, but you'll get there eventually. Just keep plugging away.

    Ignore those that criticize or try to minimize your experience. They are weak, nasty, feeble trolls hiding behind their keyboards. The internet is, sadly, populated with quite a few people who value crassness more than compassion. They are not worth your time.

    I've thought about trying airbnb before, but always thought it seemed a little creepy. Your experience, however rare, validates that fear. Their reaction to you is disgraceful. Apology or not, they should have had contingency plans. Take some small solace that I and those seeking my advice will not be choosing to use airbnb anytime soon.

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  42. i just read your June entry detailing your horrific experience. I had to read it in installments because it was so upsetting i was beginning to tear up. Just thinking about it makes me want to sob because i am also one of those people that wants to believe the best in the world, and stories like that make it so hard.

    i used Airbnb to book accommodation on a recent trip. and like you, after a positive experience, decided i would try being a host. I was very nervous, but was lucky to get a very nice guest. it's heartbreaking that this happened to you, i hate to see optimism and faith in humanity battered out of someone. but who can blame you.

    i hope that you find strength and comfort in all the support that is out there for you. i hope justice catches up with those terrible people.

    Is it ok if I post a link to your blog on my next entry? i don't have a whole lot of readers, but i want to spread the word as much as i can.

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  43. Hi EJ,

    I've been following you since the first post, and I want you to know that I hope you're able to close this chapter of your life and move on as quickly as possible. It is such a terrible thing that happened to you, and I do not think you are to blame. You are the victim of a terrible crime and have done nothing to deserve this.

    If you ever feel like taking a vacation, you have a place to stay in Tel Aviv, free of charge.

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  44. EJ, please let me add my voice of support to the chorus expressed on this thread. I'd like to take issue, though, with two commenters. When Rowzbud claims that haters, scoffers and naysayers are a mere "3% of the internet," she badly underestimates the problem. I have no clue as to what the actual number might be, but I do know from personal experience as a blogger that the proportion of those who comment on the Internet is far greater than 3% mean-spirited.

    I must also strongly disagree with Unknown (August 2, 2011 6:29 PM), who asserts, "If you choose to live a public life by blogging about your personal experiences, then you should be prepared for public scrutiny, and have a tough skin for some of these things. Otherwise don't try to be a crusader."

    That's just callous bullshit. And it doesn't surprise me in the least that the poster will identify himself only as "Unknown," which is sadly typical of Internet commenters whose unlimited toleration of man's inhumanity to man is exceeded only by their intolerance of dissent.

    EJ, by bravely putting yourself out there as a "crusader," you deserve to be extolled as a hero, not castigated by cowards who aren't worthy to carry your sandals. Please stay safe and sane in the midst of this maelstrom, and know that you are in the thoughts and prayers of many men and women of goodwill all around the world.

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  45. I'm so sorry to hear what you have been going through. xx

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  46. Kudos to you, EJ, for handling this whole thing with maturity, dignity, tact and the restraint to avoid hurling vitriol back at the ignorant mob who dare castigate you for what is clearly a situation you did everything you could to prevent. You have my deepest sympathies, and my sincere respect for both your character and your writing. I'm sure something good will eventually come of this. I see that the incident has now reached CNN's home pg, so hopefully some more heat will fall upon Mr. Chesky. Hang in there. This too shall pass...

    -Mark

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  47. First, my condolences, first on the obvious and also on the unexpected rise to celebrity. I'm told it's hard to ever be ready for that, especially after the likes of what has happened. Celebrity attracts misbehavior and unfairness on a grand scale. As you say, they don't know you, so the harsh comments can't be personal at all. More a case of this:

    http://www.notquitewrong.com/rosscottinc/2011/08/03/so-youre-mad-about-something-on-the-internet/

    I have to say you're handling this extremely well. You have turned a personal crisis into an opportunity to have the right thing happen, and I want to honor you for doing that. Now I've had that happen to me too. I helped build a nonprofit museum, and this guy gets a bunch of employees of some local landowners to "join" as sham members, aiming to flip our board of directors, shut us down and take our land. We documented the obvious douchbaggery here and were ready to go nuclear with the publicity. But not knowing we had nukes, they and us started talking, and found out the real bad guy was someone else. And now they're helping us in a major expansion we could not do without them. Of course we're still mad. Of course we will NEVER forget. No, they are not groveling. But this is much more sincere, so we'll let them save face.

    And so it is with you. You say they havent' talked much to you... but you also say one of the founders asked you to coffee, and you did not follow up, I presume because of emotions you felt about the situation. Well, that's understandable, this is the defintion of "awkward" and there probably is no comfortable way to make contact. But still, it's vital that you work things out. Don't let the distrust bred by this situation lead you to not trust anything at all. The vandals = BAD. This company: TBD. They are surprisingly willing to disclose. I gather from drunken monkey's comment that airbnb notified all their customers about your incident... who does that?

    Do cut them some slack because this is a VERY new area of law. How SHOULD companies handle this sort of thing? Nobody knows. We (society) are blazing new trails through the jungle here... we don't have 100 years of social or legal precedent to draw from. And by the way I don't mean sue them... the whole point of social networking is to work things out, and their TALK at least suggests surprising willingness to do so. I mean they emailed all their members and disclosed this situation... who does that? Does

    And here you are in the nexus. Here is where the right mindset is. It's a liberal community, all the great minds of dot-com and social networking are here, the company is here, even the influential 9th Circuit Court is here (I hope you don't go there though.)

    I just see this as a huge opportunity to lay down precedent on how this sort of thing gets handled fairly in the future, since you and they are willing to be public. In fact I'd insist the final resolution be public. (their lawyers won't like that, but it'll be good for the world.) The effect would be to either kill a business that needs to die, or better establish the ground rules so everyone knows what to expect. You can't stop criminals entirely but you can still make society more resilient from them. Good luck!

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  48. Hey EJ, thanks for posting your blog about your experience and for giving it these follow up.
    I found the link to the CNN note on a CouchSurfing thread in NYC and immediately i reposted it with a link to your blog in our Phx group.

    It's cautionary tale. And things have been messed up, but also it is reassuring how you gather the aplomb required to still see things from a half full point of view.
    I do hope things get better and better for you.

    Chin up! you are handling this in a exemplary way.
    It's amazing your maturity and calm and ability to convey your mixed feelings and at the same time you are able to advice your readers without being patronizing.

    If you ever decide to stop by in Arizona and visit our indian ruins and all the desolated immensity of the desert, feel free to stay in our place~, for free of course! Not a huge place, but it is at your disposition. My roommate -who is very picky- will be okay, she is picky but ok.

    I'm glad also to learn that you didn't have phisical harm and also that you friend have been able to provide with a safety net while you are dealing with all these tribulations.

    Too bad the circumstance are not the best to say this, but, hey, EJ, you are freaking good writer! Keep it up!
    Don't worry about material posesions lost to those thieves, the important thing is you have yourself and you will and you are capable to recover and overcome this attack to your persona and your privacy.

    Take care and good luck on the battles you still have in front of you! Most of your readers, almost all of us, are supporting you!

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  49. btw,... that 5:05 is EST, in here, it's just 2:05 am!

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  50. Just wanted to also let you know that you have another stranger wishing you the best and sending you good vibes and prayers.

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  51. EJ -

    I've used AirBNB before had a very positive experience. I'm so sorry for what happened to you - keep strong, love!

    You will emerge from this stronger, wiser, and more capable. You are stronger than you ever imagined.

    Daylon

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  52. To the harsh critics: Your comments are far more telling of your ignorance and lack of character than EJ's.

    That said, as someone who has used airbnb and stayed in the homes of strangers, it is very important to give your host as much information to go on as possible, so they can feel safe with you.

    I go to great lengths to make myself transparent to my potential host, with pictures and access to my facebook page and my business address and phone. They don't have to ask for it. I treat the process like the interview it is. I myself want to guard their safety, as well as my own, by setting an example for them to see what a safe and trustworthy guest gives as information.

    Please, anyone who is considering using any P2p travel rental service, use as your guide your potential guest/hosts willingness to give you
    A LOT of information about them! Same goes for those renting the spaces. I use my intuition and the manner in which my questions are answered to guide me in my choice of hosts. Willingness to communicate is key.

    I know that Airbnb was riding high on their successes, and both EJ and the company have learned valuable lessons they weren't prepared for. Good luck to all. This model deserves to survive with the appropriate changes to ensure safety. We all have to be more personally responsible, hopefully with a continued trust in the goodness of the vast majority of people.

    PS One thing I am curious about concerns EJ's other community-her neighbors...Did they notice any of this crazy stuff happening? If my neighbor was a quiet and lovely person, and I heard or saw anything like what she describes happening, I would report it or call her if I could. Knowing your neighbors and perhaps letting someone in your building know to keep an eye on things in your absence is another way to keep safe.

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  53. Why weren't these policies that air bnb is now implementing in place from the VERY BEGINNING? If they had been, this probably wouldn't have happened to you!

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  54. I am also an Airbnb user and host - I've also used Crashpadder, Hospitality Club and Couchsurfers without trouble. Thank you for sharing and I shall be far more diligent in future because of your experience.

    As for Airbnb's business practices - they are lame beyond belief. Just this week I have been emailing over and over and over again ... trying to get a response for them to deal with a minor problem. 5 emails and 7 days later and the most if have got out of them is an email saying "your problem has been forwarded to the appropriate department".
    This is NOT GOOD ENOUGH - on all levels... and the corporations who are providing the $$$Millions in funding should be aware of the lack of integrity of Airbnb execs and staff.

    EJ - chin up love and if you're ever in Sydney look me up - on Crashpadder :-)

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  55. Dear EJ.

    Thank you for continuing to write. Please don't stop, there is one thing nobody can take away; your voice. Don't ever stop being yourself, there is beauty in authenticity.

    People will talk, you will likely get negative comments, but all this doesn't matter. You clearly have a community of people, family, friends, complete strangers who stand behind you. This energy will nonetheless see you through to the other side. Wishing you peace, love and much strength.

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  56. Stay strong EJ, we're rooting for you!

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  57. I've been following this closely not just because I like following tech stories, but also because you're a fellow San Franciscan who did a very San Franciscan thing: tried something new that's being driven locally, despite the imperfections.

    The thing that struck me most through all of this is the picture your sister painted of who you are in her open letter posted on Gawker. You sound like a generous, creative, loving and tireless person that any of us would be lucky to know. Please do not let the criminal who violated your home nor these maladjusted people with huge megaphones change who you are. Please be defiant and determined about this. The world needs people like you, and all of them will have won if your spirit has been broken.

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  58. Dear EJ

    I was very sorry to hear about your terrible experience, and hope you are starting to piece things back together again.

    I wondered if you might like to tell your story to readers of The Guardian newspaper in London (guardian.co.uk), where I work? If so, I would very much like to talk to you more about it, in private of course.

    My email address is hannah.booth@guardian.co.uk. And I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    best wishes, Hannah

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  59. EJ:

    Thank you for taking the uncomfortable step to write about your very personal story of misfortune with Airbnb.

    I am glad that there is a voice that has gone viral with the lack of response that Airbnb has used in addressing problems. Before your story went viral, I had an issue with Airbnb, with a trip that I booked with them. After booking the host told me that I was going to have to pay double, directly to them, after I arrived (in a foreign country, over Christmas). I of course, could not do that, and after several attempts to contact Airbnb (prior to a published phone number) I kept getting these disturbing, pre-written, emails, saying that they were too overwhelmed to get back with me, but would eventually. They did finally get back with me, and give my money back, but not before a significant amount of time, and the required persistence on my part.

    I am now eager to hear how they will handle a situation I am experiencing as a host. A recent guest stayed in my home, and significantly damaged an antique piece of furniture. I reported the occurrence to Airbnb, and while they have been pleasant, and responsive-- they made me aware that the security deposit, actually doesn't hold an ounce of security, because they won't release the security deposit to me, until the traveler agrees to pay the security deposit. The traveler is, of course, denying the damage (even though evidence of the source of damage was still there).

    I am currently in conversation with Airbnb, and they do seem to really want to work out the situation in the best possible manner. I did think that people should know how the security deposit works- that if there is damage, you can't collect the deposit, unless the traveler is completely honest, and agrees to paying it.

    I feel that if they choose to handle the security deposit this way, that Airbnb's insurance should cover us as well!

    I do hope that you are able, slowly, and surely, to regain security and confidence, in the privacy of your home, and life! Best Wishes to you!

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  60. Hi EJ
    I'm just another person who feels terrible that you had to go through that awful experience and the whole internet backlash. People an be so terrible and unthinking. I know it doesn't help but *hugs*

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  61. Hope things get better for you EJ.

    As far as AirBnb is concerned - it's just another form of prostitution: http://www.hejorama.com/lifestyle/airbnb-the-prostitution-of-couchsurfing-5400/

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  62. EJ, I have a possible lead on who might have trashed your apartment - how can I contact you?

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  63. The real world is a risky place for those with generosity of spirit--but that doesn't mean that said generosity is a bad thing.

    EJ, I am very sorry that this happened to you. I'm even sorrier that you've been the target of nastiness and bile from sad fools who are so jacked-up on E-Courage that they feel the constant need to show their hind-ends in public. It will get better. It will take time, but it will get better.

    E-hugs from NC

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  64. EJ, you've made a DIFFERENCE! I'm sorry it came at such a cost to you, but you may have just saved someone else the experience (maybe even their safety. Thank You!!!

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  65. EJ!

    We've recently been the victims of Airbnb's 'system' however we were the guests and a (known) shady host was involved.

    Four of us arrived from Australia last month for a 2 week vacation in NY. Upon sighting the property in person we discovered it was nothing as was pictured on Airbnb - not even the same penthouse in fact!

    It then took days to 'prove'(we emailed numerous pictures and had many phone calls 'representatives') to Airbnb this was the case, after-which they assured us they'd find equivalent (if not better) lodgings for us.

    Over the next 2 weeks we were shuffled all over NY, in 3 instances being left on the footpath with all of our luggage and no where to go.

    We spent HOURS on the phone and HOURS emailing to Airbnb - following them up, trying to get answers, having our calls and emails ignored or in most instances palmed over to someone new. Needless to say it ruined the entire vacation for all of us.

    Our stories seem scarily similar particularly the total lack of communication/miscommunication from Airbnb.

    Currently it's still ongoing and as with you, we've not been offered a solution let alone a call from Chesky himself - though as you'd know, on the Airbnb site he clearly states his email and to contact him at any stage.

    We've contacted him on a number of occasions only to be palmed off to his 'customer support team' who didn't help us in the first instance.

    Very much getting the 'if we screw them around enough, they'll give up and go away' vibe.

    Thoroughly unimpressed and will continue to strive for a suitable outcome.

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  66. The blog is to good and informative where i like to discuss about this in my blog thanks for sharing.

    apartments for rent Dubai

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  67. Thanks for this insightful article. If your looking for well maintained properties providing residential living then chose Apartment Accommodation Melbourne for top quality stay! They have everything to offer and so much more. I stay here every year when I am on a business trip! Enjoy!

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  68. Hey EJ. Helluva curious about what happened here. Your story gripped me and I found your cautionary tale evocative and interesting. I was hoping you would post an update. There is a hunger in me for the idiots to get caught! Anyway, don't feel obliged to respond. I just hope the hatemail stopped.

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  69. I hope your life is better today, EJ. I just learned about this one while searching for something else on Hacker News. If it isn't too late, my help for what you might need is here.

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  70. I will never, ever use airbnb, or any other couch surfing business, having read this. I hope Chesky and others read that, kinda doubt they will. But they definitely just lost a customer.

    Please sue airbnb for what happened to you. You deserve something for having your life destroyed.

    You will pick up the pieces. It will take time, but you can get past this. You'll never be able to forget it, as that's how trauma works, but you'll move on.

    Keeping you in my prayers.

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  71. hey EJ, any updates on the case? I was very shocked about your story and, as im listing my apartment for my xmas vacation, im worried something similar could happen.

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  72. I rented out my flat in Italy for a couple of months last summer and all went well until one idiot who had booked a room from us asked for his money back (after he had stayed the time he had booked), stating that the directions I had given him were not correct. I asked advice to Airbnb and before I knew it they had given the customer the money back... without really communicating with us or hearing what WE had to say. I found it disgraceful and have now stopped using them. Roomorama is actually a much more serious website. I hope your case got solved and you got some compensation.
    You never know whom your house gets rented to and I don't feel like Airbnb even bothers checking anything beforehand so am not sure what safety principles they use really.

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  73. Hi,

    I realize this post is old but cannot help but wonder if.....

    1) The perp(s) was apprehended?
    2) Criminals have been tried and sentenced?
    3) Airbnb reimbursed you for your stolen/destroyed valuables, repair of your condo plus new locks/keys/alarm system?
    4) Airbnb reimbursed you for travel/hotel/every day expenses for the days and nights you could not live in your home.
    5) Is the Airbnb host guarantee for real?
    6) Has an Airbnb rep ever met with you in-person?

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  74. Forgot to add our thanks for your keeping a blog about this terrible experience. My husband and I truly hope the situation has been resolved in your favor and that the criminals who did this are behind bars.

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