AUSTIN, TEXAS -- We rented a place for 2 weeks in Mexico through VRBO. We planned ahead by booking in March and even took out their vacation insurance. Upon arrival, we noticed a very strong odor, almost like very bad body odor. At first, we thought it was the property manager who let us in. After spending some time in the house, we noticed black mold on the electric outlets, in corners and crevices, on ceiling fans. We tried to stay in the house, but were overcome by the stench and our inability to breathe.
We promptly called the owner and let her know our concerns. She was rude and basically said we were screwed. Being that we were in Mexico, our only way to communicate with VRBO was through email. It took a long time to get anything meaningful back from the company. In fact, we didn't really get sufficient information from the company until we got back to the U.S.
Long and short of it, they did not honor their travel insurance because we did not return the keys to the owner within a 2 hour time window. We held the keys as collateral until we heard from VRBO and eventually folded when we didn't get a meaningful directive from them. I will NEVER use this company again as they do not fully vet their properties or their owners. You are better off working with a hotel. (By the way, the credit card company Fifth Third Bank was super unhelpful as well. They didn't even wait to hear my side of the story before commencing the investigation.)
For a homeowner - Every year they charge more and offer less. Now, you are forced to use their online payment system or have a terrible ranking. We use a management company and can't use their payment system, which means a much lower ranking. My experiences with their customer service have been brutal as well.
For a customer - If you use the online payment through VRBO and have a problem, vrbo customer service is horrific. You have very little recourse and will just be frustrated and probably lose $. All our reservations run through a great management company with fantastic customer service. In 8 years, there have been no customer service problems. Booking our place through them is a much safer and overall much better experience.
If you have a problem after arrival (water leak, heater failure, phone doesn't work, internet doesn't work, etc.), who will you call? VRBO? Good luck getting them to help. The owner? Maybe helpful but also could live far far away and make things much harder and time consuming to get fixed, or not get fixed. If there were a problem in our place, you have 24 hr access to help and very fast turnaround.
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Back in November of 2015, I booked a 4-bedroom home in downtown Rapid City, SD, well in advance of a family summer vacation in July of 2017. I did this early because I wanted a nice, clean home that suited my family's needs. 5 MONTHS later, the owner broke the lease and the only other home in that area that I would have considered renting was booked solid for my dates. I ended up reserving another home through Flipkey, 3 bedrooms, 15 miles from where I wanted to be. As a result, the smaller home forced some of my family members to stay home, after purchasing non-refundable plane tickets.
I am quite devastated over this and very angry about the fact that a Homeaway owner can, at will, pull the plug on a client who has dealt with her in good faith. Apparently, Homeaway/VRBO does not impress upon their owners the importance of commitment and responsibility. I probably won't be booking with Homeaway/VRBO again since I guess their owners can get away with this kind of behavior. I'm just wondering now how many people out there have had the same unfortunate experience? Surely I can't be the only one…
This past summer we had the worst rental experience ever. After attempting to contact the owner multiple times and giving them plenty of time to respond (6 months), I finally decided to share our experience in hopes others could avoid. However VRBO refused to publish my review stating it "was not relevant to the property being reviewed". Really?!?!?!
We stayed at the property and I captured our experience with accuracy, so help me understand why it's not relevant. I suppose it's because I didn't provide a 4 or 5 star rating. Obvious proof that VRBO is as shady and dishonest as the owner we rented from. Well I can guarantee we will NEVER rent from this owner or use VRBO ever again. Please share, because VRBO refuses to publish my review.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA -- Watch out for post #741411 Orlando for the Wyndham Bonnet Creek. There's an owner, SCOTT **, that takes your money and does not provide a reservation. His voice mail box is full, doesn't respond to emails. He screwed up my family vacation 7 days before I am to arrive on March 26. No reservation, had to scramble to find accommodations a week before spring break in Orlando and double the cost. Never again will I book through VRBO, they don't seem to have any idea or control over these owners.
TUCSON, ARIZONA -- Stay away from VRBO rental property #66904 in Tucson, AZ. The owner will demand you sign a contract prohibiting any negative reviews (No wonder he only has all 5-star reviews!). Not only does he not allow negative reviews, but he will fine you $1000 (according to his contract) and threaten you with a lawsuit. Be smart. Spend your vacation dollars elsewhere. You will be glad you did!
AUSTIN, TEXAS -- The site is OK for renters, but they aren't the customers of Home Away/VRBO because renters deal primarily with property owners. The property owners are the customers of HA/VRBO & they seem to agree that they are HORRIBLE!! Because they are the largest, they seem to think that they have a monopoly, so they can care less about their customers/property owners.
I have been with using Home Away & VRBO for over 7 years. I have 3 properties listed with each, i.e. 6 listing at the highest levels offered. Last year I paid them over $7,000, but I won't b renewing my subscriptions because I am getting no bookings. That's because my listing priority is so low. For example, on Home Away using all applicable filters, my 2 BR cabins are # 54 & 55 out of 150. Without filters, & on VRBO it's even lower. The problem is that they keep changing priority criteria so they can get more $ & some recent priority requirements are things I don't control.
When I 1st started years ago, the only priority was length of time someone has been with them. Then they added priority based on the # of listings we had. Then they added subscription levels & then more subscription levels. Then it was whether or not we paid more $ for a "featured listing." Even though the cost kept increasing, I could understand that, i.e. priority based on longevity, # of listings, & amount paid. However, they then added priority based on reviews. I have no control over whether or not someone writes a review, what they consider a "good" review, or when someone is using a review as coercion.
I've had guests write a good review but give a 3-star rating. I asked them about it & they said they thought 3 stars was a "good" rating. I've also had people stay in a cabin for a week or so with no complaints, but a month later contact me & complain, making it clear that they were going to write a bad review unless I did something to compensate for their "bad experience," i.e. unless I gave them a refund, they would write a bad review.
Last year, Home Away said priority was based on whether or not we OFFERED online booking, so I added online booking. The problem is that if a guest uses online booking, funds go directly into my account, but I don't know who the funds are from nor which cabin it's for (as I said, I have 3 cabins listed on Home Away & VRBO). Therefore, I don't use online booking.
This year, Home Away has changed again & has made priority based on whether on not we USE online booking. As I said, last year I paid Home Away/VRBO over $7,000, but I'm not getting any bookings. All my bookings are coming from Vacation Home Rentals (not Vacation Rentals) or Flip Key & paying less than 1/2 what I paid Home Away/VRBO. Both of those are on Trip Advisor. In other words, I paid over $7,000 to Home Away/VRBO & I have gotten nothing for it, so that money was just wasted.
CHESTERTOWN, NEW JERSEY -- Because I mentioned the amount of the security deposit, VRBO won't publish my review, and they refuse to respond to the help request I sent asking them to revise it. My emails go unanswered. Here is my review: We and three other couples rented this house for a long weekend. The PROS: The house is very nice and the kitchen was furnished for cooking. It's got nice rooms, a nice property & I like that we didn't all have to share one bathroom.
The CONS: I was disappointed that after we agreed on a price the owner informed us that the hot tub was broken but didn't offer to give us a discount. I felt that would have been fair, but let it go. After dinner the first night the sink garbage disposal got clogged. When we started to gather in the living room to play games we couldn't get the living room lights on, and found one of the leather sling chair's stitching was loose so that we couldn't use it.
It was late for calling the caretaker, so I called the next morning. I told her about the 3 items & informed the man who came to fix the disposal & the lights that the wood under the sink was rotten & moldy from the disposal having a long term leak. He took care of the lights (circuit breaker issue), took the chair with him & fixed the clog in the disposal. So far so good.
A month later & I still hadn't received my $300 security deposit. I call the owner & he informs me that the chair is being looked at by the insurance adjuster & that he's holding my deposit. I told him that we didn't break the chair -- that the stitching was loose & I was merely letting them know as a courtesy, same as I'd like renters to let me know of anything that needs attention in my own rental. He then proceeds to challenge me: the chair was fine the day before when it was dusted. He hadn't seen it broken the last time he was there, etc.
When I explained that we never even had the opportunity to use the chair, he got a bit heated & insisted that all was well prior to our arrival. (Luckily he didn't accuse us of causing the rotten, mildewed floor under the sink, too, since no one had apparently ever noticed that, either!) He eventually agreed to send my deposit back, but not after basically calling me a liar & getting quite nasty.
We've rented houses for years both in the US & in Europe. I've generally been pleased & often we end up returning to places year after year. One couple we were with was going to rent this home until I told them about the homeowner's behavior, when they decided to steer clear. The whole incident left a very bad taste in my mouth & ruined what otherwise would have been a very nice weekend.
KIRKLAND, WASHINGTON -- Don't rent through VRBO, if you expect any customer service. If you have a problem, you should expect them to side with the owner. Use a credit card to pay - this is the only way that you have any recourse if the owner wants to withhold your deposit. PayPal considers this a service, so they will not give you the time of day. Recently, June 30 - July 15, 2014, I rented a one bedroom condo, rental ID #421106, in Kirkland, WA, $85/night. I have a dispute with the owner about my 'damage' deposit.
The owner has already withheld part of my damage deposit. I ask that my deposit be returned. The gist of the matter is that the owner is withholding a portion of my "damage" deposit, so that she can clean her carpets, in a vain attempt to remove the smell, the mold and mildew smell, that I did not cause. Here is how I found out that she is withhold my deposit:
PayPal note from owner - Note from Sherrie **: Hello David, Because beyond normal cleaning was required to eliminate the odor and mold due to the piled wet towels, I'm holding $100.00 of your damage deposit to cover professional carpet cleaning.
I am a 50 year old man. I don't need the $100.00. It is simply unfair that she is withholding deposit, especially to deal with something that I suffered with my entire stay. I paid the money that I agreed to, for this cheap crappy place. I complained directly to the owner, and not in a review. She is blaming me for the smell. Obvious to anyone who has been in a few old condos in the Pacific Northwest, this smell is from a long term problem. It was there when I arrived, and it will return soon, after she cleans her carpets.
Regarding her complaint about towels on the floor. I used one towel to dry myself my entire visit. I never put it on the floor, until the morning that I was to leave. I left it and two other towels that I had used to cover the couch, before I would not sit on it without a cover, on the floor so that the manager would know which towels I had used. I put dirty my sheets there too. I did not wet the towels, more than by drying myself after my shower and I wouldn't risk leaving something that I was going to use, on my body, on that carpet. It is not reasonable that these towels, left on the bathroom floor that morning, a half hour before I left, caused the mold and mildew smell.
The problem is that there is mold and mildew in her carpets. Among other issues, her bathroom has little ventilation and the shower curtain doesn't prevent water from getting on the carpeted floor. Over time, this has caused the carpets to smell. If she would check, the carpets not only smell in the bathroom, but they also smell in the living room. I didn't cause this. I am simply the messenger. When I was there, I kept the fan on in this place, full-time, to keep the smell down.
This especially irks me, as the owner already takes $200 for cleaning, which is excessive based on charging $85/night. But fine, I had agreed to that. I have no problem, when treated respectfully. The cleaning fee was spelled out in the list of costs. However, to then withhold my damage deposit, when I did no damage, this is unfair.
The place is already overpriced and low rent. When I arrived there was stolen and trashed car in the parking lot. The towels are cheap and worn, the sheets are cheap and the bottom sheet does not fit properly on the mattress. The comforter was made for bargain basement rayon and worn through in several places (manager says that they replaced that). The highest tech in the place is a VCR.
The parking space is so small, if everyone in the building is parked in their spaces, you have to exit the build to get to your door, because you physically cannot get to the back of the garage to get in. I wrote the owner about all of this, except for the part about the stolen car. I asked manager when got my key to report the car. A couple of days later someone hauled it away. But, there was a trash, abandoned car in the parking lot.
Finally, this place had previously received a bad review on the VRBO site, including mentioning the smell. I previewed the place because of that. At that time, in passing, I mentioned to the owner's manager Cecilia that there was a smell. It wasn't overwhelming and this was just one of many other little issues you might find in a crappy place. We agreed that the place was functional. I was already resigned and really stuck, so had no choice but to take it. When I arrived I also signed some kind of paper indicating that the place was in order, down to counting the spoons. It does not mention smell.
Here is the previous review - Title: Not even close to the 2 reviews I used to book this condo. Content: Local channels only on TV. No dishwasher soap, Half a roll of toilet paper, Not very clean, hamper in bathroom is moldy and smells terrible. Stayed April 2014. Submitted April 24, 2014 - Source VRBO.
I do not agree with the owner's assessment that I caused this smell problem, and I am not willing to bear any part of the cost of fixing it. I simply reported it. Besides, why would I report it, if I had caused it? I also called the owner's manager that morning, mentioned the smell and told her that I had sent an email to Sherri. She called later and told me that Sherri had received my email and was not very happy. She mentioned the towels, but she did not say that I was going to get charged for damages. I just ignored it. Again, I put them there for their convenience.
If I had caused the smell, why would I tell them about it? I didn't cause the worn towels or the comforter. They don't charge me for them, because they know that it's not me. I am simply the messenger here. Don't charge the messenger. I want my money back! I want payment for my wasted time. I already paid an agreed upon amount, to stay in this rental. I shouldn't be wasting my time, defending my actions. I did nothing wrong. If anything, I was a great tenant. I was never there. It was too unpleasant. I slept there only.