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VRBO overcharge and how to reach them to fix it

In early Feb., I booked a 5 bedroom vacation rental home in Switzerland on VRBO, for a large-group stay in Sept. of 2022. When I was using their website to book the home, the price was shown in US dollars. However, after I clicked on "book now," the next page stated that the fee was to be paid in the property's currency, which was British pounds. The converted amount was shown. I wondered, at the time, why a home in Switzerland would be asking for payment in GBP instead of Euro, but I thought perhaps the owners are British and have the property's account in England. I didn't think much of it. The nightly fee was 1500£ and the total fee for our five night stay was shown to be 7500£. I didn't verify that this was the approximate equivalent of the USD dollar price I'd seen, at that day's exchange rate. I assumed they knew what they were doing. I had to pay a 50% deposit, which I did via credit card, 3750 GBP. Our account shows we owe a final balance of another 3750 GBP.

Now, 3 months later, I've learned that there was an error on the part of VRBO. The owner's currency for this property is EUR and her price per night is 1500 EUR, not 1500 GBP. Given the difference between the value of 1€ and 1£, we overpaid our deposit by about $736 USD and if nothing gets fixed, we'll pay over $1,400 more for our stay in this property than we should be paying.

The property owner and I have been in email contact with each other. She said that she didn't know about the error because deposits collected by VRBO don't get sent to the property owners. They get no payments until about 6 weeks after the stay. She said that it's up to me to straighten out any issues with the way VRBO charged us. I assume she'll verify that her nightly rate is 1500€ and not 1500£, but I think the rest is up to me.

I'd like VRBO to do one of the following: (a) re-calculate our price using 1500 EUR as the nightly rate instead of 1500 GBP and give us credit for what we overpaid, going back to Feb. 3 (our booking rate) to get the exchange rates. I calculate that we'll have paid about a 57% deposit instead of 50%. OR (b) refund the exact deposit we paid, 3750 GBP, and charge us a new deposit, 3750 EUR. The dollar is weaker now than it was when we booked, so this second approach would be to our advantage and VRBO's disadvantage. I'm fine with (a) but it's going to take more work on their part to figure it out.

When we booked, the VRBO service fee was stated to be 327 GBP and we had to pay it in full. It came out to about $450 in USD. It should have been 327 € so we overpaid.

The listing on their website is corrected now and everything is shown in EUR, a nightly rate of 1500€, and this actually is how I discovered the errors, when I was on the site the other day to show our rental home to a friend. But now the service fee has gone up pretty significantly. To book a five night stay, it's 600€, or about $730 in USD. I am half expecting them to say they can cancel our entire first booking and refund everything paid, and then they'll do a new booking, but on both ends this will include the service fee, and for the new booking, the current higher one applies. This was their error and I think it would be very poor customer service to try to gain from it by collecting a bigger fee.

Is email the best way to communicate the whole story with them, or if I'm better off to try to reach someone on the phone? A Google search has given me a customer service number of 877-228-3145. We'll see how good that is. Who has had experience dealing with VRBO customer service, favorable or unfavorable? Several times in the past year I've tried to use their live chat box to ask a question. Each time I've been given the estimated wait time for an agent to join the chat, and each time, I've waited and waited and no one ever replied. Has anyone got a customer service phone number different than the one shown above, and have you had success with it?

Posted by
168 posts

This may be a stretch- but contact your credit card company and dispute the charge ASAP.

It is very difficult dealing with these online entities that have limited or no customer service capability. I had a major hassle with Airbnb with a covid cancellation last year (they refused to refund my money even though it was impossible to get to the destination due to local government mandated lockdowns) This would be the first and last time I will ever deal with Airbnb. I finally got my money back but it was a pain--time consuming, stressful and oh yes, the VISA credit card company "due to covid we won't take your call, please email, blah blah blah. Well due to covid I just called the fraud department and got a person and started to dispute the charge.

Another lesson learned-- I will only use American Express for any deposits or bookings. If there is a problem, I have no problem and AXP handles it.

Posted by
8854 posts

Go to the Chris Elliott advocacy website and gather as much information there that you can. There will be contact info for VRBO and info on how to approach these entities. One thing they say is that the credit card charge-back is the nuclear option because it will stop dead in the tracks any progress on solving the problem that you have made. The same goes for saying the word "lawyer" because all cooperation will stop. Keep all your communication in writing, nothing by phone.
https://www.elliott.org/

Edit after Maria's comment: this isn't meant to sound confrontational, but for you to get the educational tips from a travel troubleshooter on how to approach and deal with this problem.

Posted by
759 posts

There is no need for a credit card dispute at this time. VRBO will gladly cancel the transaction and refund the OP. She could then rebook at the correct rate BUT in doing so will incur the newer HIGHER VRBO service fees. OP your best bet is to just try the phone number you have. Be prepared for a wait. And I would strongly suggest you present with a nice attitude- call it an unintentional computer error in listing the price. You need to understand this is a mutual mistake. They listed a price, you saw the price, and you booked at that price. You didn’t overpay- you paid the price stated. Now the price stated was incorrect but you still agreed to it, and as you stated, you didn’t question the listing in Pounds nor check the conversion rate. That error lies with you. So take a gentle but firm approach with VRBO and you will probably get it corrected but don’t expect them to research old exchange rates, they will probably use current rates.

Posted by
3789 posts

For disputes or complicated issues, may be better to put it in writing. Or try by phone, but ensure you get a name and email address to back up any discussion in writing.
Personally, I don't understand why the adversarial tone of some of these replies, or your hesitation to just address the issue with them first.
Though you did agree to the price in pounds, it was their error. Nicely say you have dis ussed with the owner, they were aware of the incorrect currency, so you are contacting VRBO to find out how they will be handling the correction.
Maybe they will convert your deposit to Euro, and you will only need to pay the balance...not 50%.
In fact, have you looked at your account and balance today? I know with Airbnb, I can do this. If it is still incorrect and a credit of the amount from pounds to euro suits you, then suggest that as an acceptable solution to their error. Sometimes having an acceptable solution that saves them some work pays off.
Before you approach them decide what you will accept and tackle it that way rather than assuming X,Y or Z may happen.