Sunday, August 14, 2011

AirBnB's strange apology

After the mess between AirBnB and a blogger named 'EJ' I received an email from them containing an 'apology'. I've used quotes there because there's something, to me, that doesn't ring true in the apology. Here's the first paragraph of the email I received (my emphasis):
Last month, the home of a San Francisco host named EJ was tragically vandalized by a guest. The damage was so bad that her life was turned upside down. When we learned of this our hearts sank. We felt paralyzed, and over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings. So here we go.
First, the feeling of paralysis. If true this is a ridiculous thing to admit. The company has massive financial resources, a large staff and should easily have been able to overcome paralysis. Is it possible that the paralysis they felt was entirely legal? That they felt paralysed because they were worried that doing something would set a legal precedent that they'd have to live with for years to come?

Second, the blog post that didn't express the CEO's feelings. What? If you read the blog post it's pretty clear that it was an attempt to maintain the fiction that everything was going to be ok for... AirBnB.

The second paragraph of the email reads (again my emphasis):
There have been a lot of questions swirling around, and I would like to apologize and set the record straight in my own words. In the last few days we have had a crash course in crisis management. I hope this can be a valuable lesson to other businesses about what not to do in a time of crisis, and why you should always uphold your values and trust your instincts.
The valuable lesson is just the sort of righteous claptrap beloved of some people in Silicon Valley who think everything is a lesson, or a learning experience, and an example of spinning for something positive.

Reading the mail I have a hard time believing the second part about trusting your instincts. I guess that they did trust their instincts when they wrote the first blog post and asked the blogger to take down her original blog post. Their instinct was to protect AirBnB and their investors.

It's true that the rest of the email does apology profusely and outlines ways that AirBnB will improve. That's all good, but I'm left with the distinct feeling that I would not trust the management of AirBnB.

No comments: