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need help booking vacation rental on tripadvisor...scam or legit?

Need help renting a house via tripadvisor! Hi, I'm in the process of setting up a rental in Paris through tripadvisor but was asked to submit funds via wire transfer..the contract was emailed to me and I'm supposed to sign and email back...I read the FAQ section of tripadvisor which states the trip will not be covered if I don't pay using the inbox...wire transfer sounds very shady.....but the rental got great reviews!
any suggestions?
I'm asking if they can change it to paypal or CC via the Tripadvisor inbox

Tripadvisor payment protection:
For property, you may use a credit/debit card or PayPal account to pay via the TripAdvisor inbox. Once the owner approves your stay, he or she will send you a quote, which will include payment instructions. You must pay via this inbox if you want to be covered by TripAdvisor’s Payment Protection. This owner/manager may also offer other payment options. Owners/managers do vary in their booking practices, and not everyone chooses to use the TripAdvisor online booking system

Posted by
7050 posts

Can't comment on a particular property (no info provided). Some owners simply want cash via wire transfer as a deposit so they don't end up with an empty property when someone decides to pull out unexpectedly. There is nothing inherently shady about it. I think it's wise to go "through" the system as opposed to outside of it so that you don't lose your protections - otherwise you're truly on your own (why take that risk?).

Can you pick a property that doesn't require a wire transfer? I'm sure there are some out there, if not on Tripadvisor, then elsewhere (HomeAway, Airbnb, etc.). I think that's a much better option than wiring cash if you can find it.

Posted by
16093 posts

I'd agree with Agnes. Wiring money leaves you without recourse should the rental turn out to be a sham: it's gone. Credit card provides the ability to contest the charges should things fall apart. Personally, I'd find a different rental.

Posted by
1097 posts

In my one experience renting through VRBO in France (and many rentals in the US), I have never been asked for anything more than a deposit at time of rental, and have always accomplished that through the system, not outside of it. I agree with those who recommend that you keep looking.
There have been crackdowns on rental properties in Paris that are not in compliance with the law in that city. Many online rentals are included in that category. Do your homework or ask for more details with your specific situation so you don't become a victim!

Posted by
2916 posts

First and foremost, anyone who asks for a wire payment is most likely a scammer.

Definitely not true. While I don't like to do wire transfers, on 2 occasions over the 30 years I've traveled to France I had to do so as a deposit. In both cases I had no qualms about doing so, since based on the way I found the properties and what I read, they were clearly aboveboard.

Posted by
10349 posts

Landlords do that to avoid paying the percentage to TA for the listing. The listing is probably legit, but if he/she is scamming TA is he/she honest enough for you to want to do business? Will you be comfortable that your apartment is all it claims to be. I had a landlord in Bologna do exactly that, with glorious reviews, but once I got to the apt, most didn't match the numerous reviews, many of which had no hyperlink--meaning the "reviewer" was no longer active. So contact reviewers directly is the lesson Iearned and that the lister is cheating TA.

Posted by
2466 posts

I disagree about wire transfers - but let me quality this statement.
Third-party wire transfers, such as Western Union, are easy to falsify and should be avoided at all costs.
Secure bank-to-bank wire transfers are used on a daily basis by Europeans to pay their bills. For us, it's normal.
However, if you are dealing with someone you do not know - and know very well - you had better do some serious investigating before wiring funds to his bank. Social media is a good tool, but you will need to do much more digging than that - unless you're prepared to lose a bunch of money.
It is true that the majority of the vacation-rental listing websites are not as secure as they should be, and hacking and phishing are both quite common.
If someone offers to "work outside the system", I would avoid them, because there's something not quite right about this, and you could fall victim to a scam.
It is not true that paying by credit card will always protect you - it depends on the card and your bank. Make certain to read the fine print about this.
If you are at all unsure about any aspect of this rental, I would strongly suggest you look elsewhere.

Posted by
8225 posts

I have occasionally wired money although not recently but always with a lot of due diligence including speaking with the landlord. I am doing it for a place this fall but it is a relative of a French friend who owns the place so we are confident of integrity here. It is very risky to wire funds; I would move on and find something else. The same thing occurs on VRBO -- there is a payment guarantee if you work through the web site but if you pay outside that, no guarantee. Yet this organization accepts listings from people who won't work through the web site. I would simply not do business with those people; the odds they are unethical seems high.

We have rented literally dozens of times in Europe for over 35 years; we have three rentals already lined up for this fall and we had four last fall ranging from 4 days to a month in Austria, Czech Republic, St. Petersburg and Paris. We have never been cheated, had a security deposit taken, or had a place that was not more or less what we expected (sometimes they are a little disappointing and sometimes much more wonderful than we thought they would be, but they have never not been what was promised ) We always read reviews carefully, speak with the landlord or agent, and make sure we understand the terms of the contract. I'd not be wiring money to someone you don't have reason to have confidence in especially when the web site you are using makes clear they won't stand behind money paid directly rather than through their system.

Posted by
68 posts

We own 2 properties and list them on VRBO. On more than one occasion, our account has been hacked. I would recommend you try to speak directly to the owner of the property. The scammers phone #s are not listed (to my knowledge), and you will be better able to confirm if this is legitimate.

Posted by
42 posts

Yes it was a scam! I contacted the owner directly and he said his account must have been hacked and that the dates were not available !

Posted by
18761 posts

chexbres; Americans aren't comfortable with bank transfers the way Europeans are. I have a small business in Europe and I have been amazed how everything is paid by transfer. We are still using paper checks here, in my business in Europe the people i do business with wouldn't know what to do with a paper check.

chexbres; I've done a little more reading on the legitimacy issue with Paris apartments. Sounds like an incredibly wide scale disregard for law. When I travel one of the top things on my mind is being respectful of the host country's laws; even if the odds of being caught are slim to none. But it sounds like there is no real way to know if the apartment you are renting is legal or not. That's disturbing.

Posted by
59 posts

Try going through Haven in Paris. They are recommended in the RS book and we have booked a Paris apartment with them for our upcoming trip. Obviously, we haven't seen the place yet, but all communication during the past few months has been timely and professional.

Posted by
2466 posts

JamesE - there is a ton of very good information about this subject on Fodor's, reported by people who live in Paris and have access to much more information than "BonjourParis".
It would probably be a lot easier for you to do a search there - look for "AirBnB", "Short-term rentals illegal in Paris", "Mayor's crackdown on vacation apartments", etc.