Well, here’s something you don’t see every day.
A family from New Zealand is facing every traveler’s worst nightmare.
Nealie and Andrew Barker decided to stay at an Airbnb in Cork, Ireland while on a 14-month trip through Europe with their four children. They arrived on the Airbnb property and Andrew, who works in IT security, scanned the house’s Wi-Fi network.
That’s when things got creepy, according to a report from CNN:
“The scan unearthed a camera, and subsequently a live feed. From the angle of the video, the family tracked down the camera, concealed in what appeared to be a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector.”
“It was such a shock. It was just a really horrible feeling,” Nealie Barker told reporters, adding that she called Airbnb to report the camera.
“They had no advice for us over the phone. The girl just said that if you cancel within 14 days, you won’t get your money back.”
Airbnb did not remove the listing or the host for several days––this became a saga. When the family called their host to complain, the host hung up.
Nealie Barker took to Facebook, where she wrote the following:
“PLEASE SHARE WIDELY. AIRBNB APPROVE HIDDEN CAMERAS AT THEIR HOUSES.”
“We are avid Airbnb users. We love the platform.”
“We just found a camera hidden in a smoke alarm case in the private living room of a listing. We were travelling with children.”
“The host admitted to the concealed camera over the phone, only after presented with our irrefutable proof.”
“The Airbnb safety team investigated our complaint (we provided photos and snapshot of video feed). Their ‘thorough’ investigation which didn’t include any follow-up with us exonerated the host, no explanation provided. The listing (with hidden camera not mentioned) is still on Airbnb.”
“The host is now claiming our accusation is false on the public platform.”
It took 33 days and “10 more unsuspecting guests” before Airbnb removed the host and the listing.
Airbnb “still didn’t seem to grasp the seriousness of the issue. They were treating it like a canceled booking,” even after the family left the premises and relocated to a hotel, according to Nealie Barker.
Airbnb eventually addressed the incident in a statement:
“The safety and privacy of our community — both online and offline — is our priority. Airbnb policies strictly prohibit hidden cameras in listings and we take reports of any violations extremely seriously. We have permanently removed this bad actor from our platform.”</blockquote
“Our original handling of this incident did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves, and we have apologized to the family and fully refunded their stay. There have been over half a billion guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are incredibly rare.”
People were appalled.
The incident has not put the family off Airbnb entirely, though Nealie Barker admits they are “much more cautious now.”
But why the long wait to rectify the problem, Airbnb?