Banned Hamptons Airbnb host resurfaces

Short-term rental site claimed its technology blocks “permanently banned” users from returning

New York /
Oct.October 07, 2014 08:00 AM

A host who was supposed to be permanently banned from Airbnb was back on the site almost immediately, renting the same house, under a new account name.

The company has now removed the host, again, it tells us. This time for good. As we previously reported, this host caused a scary situation for Business Insider salesperson Joseph Velardo and his girlfriend Robyn Finker in June. While staying at this house in the Hamptons, Finker says, she got a weird text from the host, “Tom,” in the middle of the night. Shortly after that, Tom apparently let himself into the house while the couple was sleeping. Tom was downstairs, apparently inebriated, and talking nonsense, according to Velardo. It took Velardo 20 minutes to calm Tom down and get him to leave the house before the couple packed up their things and fled.

 

After Business Insider contacted Airbnb, the company went the extra mile to make things good. It apologized, reimbursed the couple for their Airbnb rental, picked up the tab for their alternative lodging, and offered them a credit to try Airbnb again.

Airbnb also promised that it had “permanently banned” this host from the system, telling Business Insider:

We deeply regret that this matter was not handled properly and our response fell well short of the standards we set for ourselves. This behavior is totally unacceptable and the host has been permanently removed from Airbnb. Our Trust and Safety team has reached out to these guests to apologize for the delay, issue them a full refund, and cover the cost of their alternative accommodations.
Airbnb had previously told Business Insider that when it permanently bans someone, it uses technology to make sure the person cannot sneak back into the community. The company, for instance, has also permanently banned the two men who were squatting in a Palm Springs condo.

Airbnb has helped 15 million people find accommodations when they travel, most of the time without incident. In fact, many other Business Insider employees use Airbnb regularly and really like it. Even San Francisco billionaire Marc Benioff uses Airbnb when he travels.

So when Finker ventured back onto the Airbnb site last week, she was shocked to see the same house listed again, with the first comment discussing the same host, “Tom.” The host was using a new host name, “Qui,” registered in July, shortly after his previous account was banned in June.

Here’s a review of Tom and the house in the Hamptons from September, months after Airbnb said it had permanently banned him.

 

Business Insider asked about the situation, and Airbnb spokesperson Nick Papas said the company made a mistake and had removed the person again — this time for good.

We have technological tools and procedures that help ensure bad actors don’t try to come back to our community. In this case, one investigator didn’t properly employ these tools. We’ve since addressed this issue and we are implementing procedures to ensure it doesn’t happen again. We will also make it clear to the host that he is not welcome and has no place in the Airbnb community.

We have confirmed that the host’s account has been removed.

Airbnb allows people to rent extra rooms, homes, or condos directly to strangers over the internet. Airbnb provides some background checks and verifications, and it removes people from the system when there are complaints. As the site grows in popularity, though, so do the types of problems people encounter.


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