You're going out of town for a week and could use some extra cash. Why not rent out your home through a travel marketplace like Airbnb? It can match you with a traveling stranger and you could come home richer.
That's what a San Francisco woman known as "EJ" hoped for until she came back to a ransacked apartment with her personal items stolen or destroyed. She has described her experience with Airbnb as "utter hell."
Airbnb has apologized and implemented new protection measures such as $50,000 for damages for users who rent out their homes.
That hasn't stopped many people from blaming EJ for being so trusting as to leave her credit card, birth certificate, passport, and other important documents at home when her unpleasant guests arrived. She has written about the online vilification of her, which is really blaming the victim.
While the incident was no doubt an exception to the many uneventful and even wonderful transactions that happen through sites like Airbnb and VRBO, it has rekindled discussion of travel marketplaces and the wider issue of trusting online strangers.
What do you think? Has the Airbnb debacle affected your views about accommodations sites? Would you consider using one (as either a homeowner or guest) if you haven't already? Vote in our poll and add your comments below.
And, of course, bon voyage!