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Never trust Vrbo/HomeAway (the Book with Confidence Guarantee is a deceptive trade practice)

On Nov. 11, 2019 we prepaid $5004.00 for a VRBO listed property that listed the amenities we had to have for our critically ill (non contagious) daughter. On Nov. 12, 2019 the property owners disclosed the property would not be safe during Christmas for our daughter. We immediately asked for a refund from the property owners and VRBO. The property owners refused to give us a refund and Vrbo (despite their Book With Confidence Guarantee) refused to refund our prepayment. VRBO required us to get photographic evidence the property was significantly different than listed.

To get the photographic evidence VRBO required we had to fly internationally and have legal access to the property. This also meant we could not take our daughter which meant paying for someone amazing to care for her. Our daughter encouraged us to take friends. We arrived after a long flight and found the key left by the property owners. Mold and algae permeated the entire property - not just the house. The property had 3 year old refuse piles all over it from the last hurricane 3 years prior. Inside it was difficult to breathe as mold grew in the walls. The property owners failed to disclose there was no 220 electricity, no hot water for showers, cooking or cleaning and the appliances listed had defective wiring and did not work. There was no air conditioning which made the mold worse and the laundry room was filled with dirty rags and solvents. The washer was rusty and the dryer did not work even when electricity was extended to the property. We took photographs and called the property owners who refused to answer. We had to immediately see a doctor because two of us had serious reactions to the mold. The doctor told us we had to leave immediately which meant paying for another place to stay. If we had brought our daughter the place would have killed her. We repeatedly tried to contact VRBO to get assistance with another place (another VRBO guarantee they failed to honor) and get our refund at this property. Vrbo placed on hold for over 20 minutes twice and dropped our calls. Four of us stayed in the van we rented because we didn't have a place to stay and VRBO failed to help us. When we returned and provided VRBO with the photographic evidence Vrbo claimed we waited too long. We began our request the day after prepaying. Our credit card company has been unable to fight VRBO despite VRBO's deceptive trade practices. HomeAway bought VRBO and our contract began with HA meaning it is a HOMEAWAY contract. HOMEAWAY has answered our numerous complaints saying they have nothing to do with this even though they bought VRBO and our contract was a HA contract. Never trust VRBO/HOMEAWAY for international bookings...their Book with Confidence Guarantee is a deceptive trade practice. We were scammed. The property was uninhabitable. The worst part is we now know VRBO/HOMEAWAY had prior knowledge this property was uninhabitable since the hurricane 3 years prior and these property owners were scam artists. We paid double for a special vacation for our daughter and our daughter was unable to go with us because VRBO/HOMEAWAY deceived us with a BOOK with Confidence Guarantee, and others. VRBO/HOMEAWAY knew prior this property was not as listed. They knew it was uninhabitable. The property should not have been listed on their site. They should have honored their guarantees.

Posted by
7606 posts

Where was the rental property?

Posted by
894 posts

Get an attorney to send a letter threatening to sue. If no response, sue them.

Posted by
6018 posts

Did you prepay the $5004. through VRBO or did you pay the owner of the rental property directly? It makes a difference for the guarantee.

Posted by
7153 posts

Boy Oh Boy - there's SKETCHY written all over this story!

Posted by
6692 posts

Others have told about their problems with VRBO recently. You aren’t a solitary complaint. You should go to the Chris Elliott website for more help. https://www.elliott.org/
Good luck.

Posted by
7109 posts

Thank you for posting. I’m sorry this happened to you.

We rented an apt in Paris that was/is disgusting and we refused to stay.
It is still listed on VRBO.

Posted by
330 posts

I am very sorry for your predicament.

However, I do not understand why you did not communicate with the owners in advance to make sure the property would be suitable for your special circumstances. VRBO makes this EXTREMELY easy to do. The owners would have had the opportunity to turn down the booking or to come clean in some way about its condition so you would go elsewhere.

We own a unit that we rent out through VRBO and we have refused bookings where someone told us they had chemical sensitivities , because we are not in a position to provide hospital-level sanitation.

Likewise if someone asks us how accessible the unit is, we let them know that the unit itself is wheelchair accessible but there are two steps needed to access it. If someone paid a rental deposit and then asked about it, I would wonder why on earth they did things in that order.

In any case, the lesson here in my opinion is not necessarily that VRBO is dishonest but that renters with special needs need to do their due diligence before booking.

Posted by
9389 posts

I would be curious about where this was and also your “paper” trail, i.e., emails with the owner and VRBO. I concur with Bets about consulting Elliott.org. If this is legit and if anyone can help, it is Elliott. You might even look to their site on executive contacts for VRBO and how to solve your issue without threatening. A lawsuit threat will likely shut down communications completely.

Posted by
631 posts

OK, the point has been made and I've already had to remove some guideline violations and sensationalism. I'm locking the thread. Thanks, everyone.