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.
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.
ANCHORAGE, ALASKA -- BEWARE OF VRBO VACATION PROPERTY RENTALS! My grown son and his wife were visiting us from California. This was their first trip to Alaska. The house was in no condition to stay in. My husband and I even considered cleaning it ourselves, as we had 4 hours before the kids flew in. We decided it was not even possible to get it where someone could stay there. We ended up needing to rent 2 hotel rooms, had the hotel expense, along with the expense of food I had bought to make my son some of his favorite meals.
There was no other rental in Anchorage that would fit our needs. We paid $1600.00 and bought all protection and insurances that was offered. VRBO had HORRIBLE customer service and refused to refund any of our money. 5 days later, we received a refund of only $600.00. BEWARE WHEN BOOKING FROM VRBO! They have horrible customer service and DO NOT protect customers who are paying good money to stay.
I WOULD NEVER RECOMMEND THIS PROPERTY OR ANY PROPERTY RENTED BY VRBO! I will be posting this on every website I can, to protect future travelers from going through what we did. We also wasted the first day of our vacation on the phone with customer service... They had no intention of helping us. We hope this post will help someone not make the same mistake we did by trusting VRBO to enhance our vacation days.
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!
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.
Be careful of renting through VRBO. They are for the Homeowners and not the Home renter. They will not post a negative review. I stayed in a house with a pool in Rancho Mirage this spring. It wasn't cheap, but I was prepared to spend the money. It also including a $1000.00 damage deposit...
One week after our stay I sent the homeowner a text message asking for the return of my deposit. Text came back saying no problem - they would be seeing their Accountant that week and a cheque would be put into the mail. Right... It's June and no replies to my text messages, emails, or phone messages. I know that my text messages are being read as I have an iPhone, and so do they. With iPhone to iPhone texts, you can see that.
So I let them know that I would post an unfavorable review as, they have not returned my damage deposit. And I do not want that to happen to anyone else... I also feel really stupid that I paid them what they were asking for - it was worth maybe a third of what I paid them. So I wanted to post a review with VRBO, and 3 times it has been rejected. So here I am on this site... Beware of property 450223.
FLORIDA -- We booked a villa in Sterling Oaks, Bonita Springs owned by Michael ** for one week in May 2014 and paid in full plus a security deposit of $500. On our arrival at the entrance to the complex, we had to show our booking form as they were not expecting us. (We subsequently discovered that this was because Mrs. ** had the dates mixed up.)
All was OK with the property except for an old stain on the carpet of one of the bedrooms. We cleaned throughout before leaving and there was definitely no damage or breakage caused by us. On our return we asked for the return of our deposit which was refused because of "an issue with the villa". Many emails and phone calls later to Michael ** and VRBO we have still not received an explanation.
An American friend called Michael on our behalf as he was not responding to us. She was told that "the main problem arose when we checked in as paying guests". Apparently Michael was fined by Sterling Oaks for letting for a period less than 1 month. In no way can we be responsible for this and, as we can get no other explanation from Michael **, VRBO or Holiday Lettings, we can only assume that our deposit is being withheld fraudulently to cover the fine.
FULLERTON, CALIFORNIA -- What a joke! VRBO advertises they guarantee their rentals, but read the fine print, it's all subject to their interpretation, and they completely side with the owner. We rented a house and paid $608 toward the reservation. The owner canceled, and still hasn't refunded us the money. We asked VRBO to take action and refund the money, since it was done through their HomeAway payment system. They said they are only an advertising site and refused to help.
Eventually, they contacted the owner and said he promised to pay us back in 30 days... right, still waiting. They wouldn't provide us with owner information so we could proceed with criminal or civil action. Our only hope is we paid through Visa card and we submitted a billing dispute claim - hopefully we get the money back eventually. Don't rent through VRBO, most of the owners are honest and it's a shame there are some real creeps out there who ruin it for others, but VRBO doesn't stand behind their advertisements.
STOWE, VERMONT -- My family rented VRBO 240500 in Stowe Vermont. We were asked to provide a separate check for the (very large) security deposit of $750. Prior to our arrival I wrote the owner and asked if we could bring our dog. She replied if I was willing to pay for additional cleaning costs. However, I was able to find another place for my dog while we were traveling and did not bring it.
The homeowner met us at the house and took us around for about 30 minutes, telling us to take off our shoes, how to open and close the windows and window coverings, how to work the TV, etc. She could clearly see we did not have a dog with us, did not ask to see a dog, did not ask about a dog, and was there when the rest of the group finished emptying the car.
When it came time to get my security deposit back, she had cashed and KEPT the check, saying she was keeping it because we brought a dog. The terms of the contract say that after the property is found to be in good condition, the deposit would be returned. I have contact the owner, as well as VRBO, but the owner refuses to return the deposit. Further, she has not even documented what her "additional expenses" were, but simply kept the entire amount. VRBO does not stand behind the contracts, and the owner certainly did not comply with hers. In addition, the property was noisy with 3 different construction projects going on around it, starting at 7 AM - 6 days a week.