Booking.com says it has suspended a West Auckland property from being hired out after two bridal parties reported concerns about a hidden camera.
Auckland woman Sarah Muir laid complaints with police and the privacy commissioner after discovering a 360-degree camera in the light bulb of a property they had hired through the booking agency Booking.com for the bridal party involved in her friend Shannell Henderson's wedding.
The bridal party were joking about a hidden camera when Muir said she looked up and saw the lightbulb, which appeared to be a lot bigger than others in the Waitakare Rd rental.
They discovered it had an SD card inside.
Muir immediately emailed Booking.com demanding a refund and complaining about the light, while Henderson and groom Jimmy Fitzpatrick also shared concerns about their young children, aged 3 and 6, also being left vulnerable.
Another bride also hired out the venue in January and was surprised by not only the state of the property - long lawns, maggots in the house and chicken poo scattered outside - but she didn't realise it was shared accommodation with the owner, Ting Zhou, also known as Tim.
In replying to an earlier query from the Herald, Booking.com today confirmed it had suspended Zhou's property from being hired out on its site and given Muir a full refund.
"At Booking.com, we do not tolerate improper behaviour from our accommodation partners and in the very rare instance that we're made aware of such a situation, we investigate immediately.
"We have refunded this customer in full and have suspended the property in question from our site, pending the results of a full investigation."
Zhou previously told the Herald it was only for security purposes when the property was unoccupied.
Zhou says he never had the camera turned on when people were there.
But the brides weren't so sure.
The second bride claimed they saw the light change from red to green when they walked inside.
They tried to reach it, to cover it, but it was too high on the ceiling.
"At that stage we were like, 'Oh that's a security camera' but we did make sure that from that point on we weren't too exposed.
"We did check the rooms [for more cameras] but couldn't see anything obvious."
She said they tried to find alternative accommodation but everything was booked out as there were big events in the area that weekend.
"It just wasn't made clear. I would never have booked something like this for my bridal party [had I known]."
When contacted regarding the suspension, the bride said she was pleased to hear the company was taking it seriously.