They posted my negative review of a property - which two people found useful. Next thing I know I have a note from VRBO saying the review they posted wasn't posted, and an email from the property owner trying to make up by refunding part of a security deposit she withheld from me. VRBO is a disappointment and NOT trustworthy. Do Not Rely On Their Information. The property is listing # 233549. Here's my review, in case anyone else has the misfortune of renting here. It's a home n Santa Cruz, CA.
We stayed three nights in May to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The house is cozy and charming, and feels larger than it is. The backyard is also very pretty. It is two blocks from the beach, but this route to the beach is inaccessible during high tide, and you must walk about seven blocks down a busy road to reach a more reliable access point. Beyond that, the home is well equipped and comfortable. It comes with music, wi-fi, movies, plenty of dishes and cooking utensils, and most kitchen Staples.
We encountered two drawbacks. The first was the owner, who was intrusive. She sent the gardener over twice to check up on us. It's uncomfortable staying in a house, especially a small one, with a stranger in the backyard. After we left she counted the number of empty bottles of alcohol that we had placed in the outside recycling bin and reported this to us in a letter. We had a dinner party for eight one night to celebrate our wedding anniversary. She charged us $50, ostensibly because my sister and brother stayed over that one night, but in a letter to me she mentioned that she also had to remove bottles from the recycling bin.
The owner lists the property as dog-friendly but there are a lot of ticks in the area, which was the second drawback. We let our Labradoodle into the backyard once, supervised and on a leash, and pulled 16 ticks off of her. We found three more crawling in the house and one dead on the bedroom floor. The owner also charged us $50 for “trampled” plants – allegedly by our dog, who didn't go out back unsupervised. I suspect it was more likely a wild animal, raccoon or skunk or whatever brings the ticks in.
I want to give the owner the benefit of the doubt, which is why I'm giving this property three stars instead of two. Perhaps she was worried about the dog and in that case should not list this property as pet-friendly. Or maybe she likes cataloguing her tenant's refuse (however if use of recycling bins is not permitted then the contract should make this clear, or steer clear of making assumptions about her renters). But the gardener and the bottle counting lead me to believe that this home might be better if it were owner-occupied.
LAKE TAHOE, CALIFORNIA -- We just rented this place from Jan 20-26, 2010, and we feel their property description is misleading regarding several features. First, the master bedroom w/ king does not have an energy efficient window and needs a bigger heater vent because the room temp remained slightly chilly even with thermostat set at 78! Also, since we had to keep the temperature set higher, the rest of the house would get uncomfortably warm.
My father was in the other master bedroom and had to close his vent because it would get too hot in there. There was a broken closet knob, missing handle on one of the dresser drawers, one of the toilet handles broke (which we fixed ourselves rather than having to wait for someone to come out), lots of scrapes & scratches on the walls in the dining area, bedroom, bathroom, as well as doors, railings, and wood floors (which leads me to believe the remodel was done quite some time ago, or one of the previous tenants really banged up the place and the owners have not bothered to fix it yet).
Technically it's 1.5 bathrooms, since one has a shower only, which really needs an adjustable showerhead (otherwise the water goes right over your head unless you're over 6 feet tall!). The owners should purchase new pots and pans for the kitchen, as the Teflon is all scratched up and flaking off. We didn't want to use them, but didn't have a choice. Also, note that the rooms with triple bunk beds are VERY small – only big enough to fit the beds, a dresser, and a closet. Lastly, the cabin was not cleaned before our arrival, which meant having to wash sheets/blankets/towels and clean up the kitchen/bathrooms so we could use them during our first night.
The owner refunded our $150 cleaning fee, but pointed out that since we received a discounted rate of $250/night (our original agreement, not because the cabin was dirty), he couldn't take off any more than that. In my opinion, that's not an adequate reason because basically he's saying that since we paid less than the regular rate, it's all right to get a less than satisfactory property! We felt we should have gotten back a little more money for the inconvenience of having to clean it ourselves plus wait while it was cleaned the following day (thus cutting into our skiing/boarding time), as well as the needed repairs/improvements listed above.
After driving through a snowstorm to get to the place, the last thing we wanted to do was clean! The owner did offer a free night on our next stay of 4 or more nights, but why on earth would we want to stay there again after our experience? Especially receiving his response to my complaints: “Thanks for your detailed summary of things we need attention” and “sorry the place wasn't ready when you arrived.” No apology or concern that his place is no longer in the “pristine” condition described in his listing.
This place is definitely NOT worth the regular rate of $300/night -- You can find much nicer places in that area for the same price. We ended up renting this place because we thought we were getting such a great deal. Boy, we were wrong!
This condo I stayed at was much larger than the pic's can display - remodeled, OK, but that's not why you're going on a vacation is it? To look at a remodeled condo (or house)? Please be warned, I was promised a condo with "A/C, N/S, and a pool, sleeps 4-6 adults". AC was a tiny unit in the "master br", and the other bedroom smells like an ashtray - no amount of airing it out will help. I know because I stayed there for 11 days. "Japanese futon" was a 2" pad no bigger then a 5yo can sleep on. The pool was no larger than a typical hot tub.
So in reality at most this condo could sleep 3 adults. so, I was pretty upset having 4 adults there, one with asthma & the flu who had to go to ER for meds because smoke really exacerbated it (what was she to do, sleep outside, in the car?), and I had no recourse to boot, because VRBO does not stand behind the "home away guarantee" and I was stuck.
To quote, VRBO said, "this is highly unusual and we will contact the owner." Unfortunately you do not qualify for the $5000.00 guarantee." Really, all these lies to sell a condo? What does qualify? (I notice you now have to pay $70 for a $10,000.00 guarantee that I wonder if VRBO will ever pay out) It's not a pretty picture when you've planned a vacation 2 years in advance.
If you are going for an extended stay (21+days) a condo/home might be the way to go in my humble opinion - but there are other sites to help you find a good place to stay that are reliable and worth their salt. If you are going on vacation for a once in a lifetime trip, save up your $$ to make plans with a hotel or resort that will cater to your whims and fix things the second anything goes wrong (if anything goes wrong at all), because they care about their representative - VRBO does not care.
They think they don't have to care about their representative because negative comments like these are screened - any comment does not make it to the website unless the owner approves it! Come on, you have no way of finding out the truth of the condo (or home, cabin, etc), which is bad for the good eggs because now everything on VRBO is tainted.
Think about your trip and what you will do, and what you want to do at the end of your day. You have been sightseeing and you're now exhausted, so there is something extremely depressing about washing your own laundry, taking out the garbage, and doing dishes while on vacation! PS - Do not buy your airline tickets more than 3-5 months in advance - the airline will kill your pocketbook by about $400 extra per ticket, but you'll learn about that if you look at the Dr Mercola article "Roam the World Without Spending A Kings Ransom".
I recently decided to rent a cottage in a Florida beachside development for a few days between Christmas and New Years. I contacted an owner through the site VRBO.com and the owner and I agreed on a price for my stay and he assured me he would be in touch. This was before Thanksgiving. I then attempted to contact him several times after the holiday to attempt to send my deposit and pay for the unit. Each time he would say he was really busy but he would get back to me.
His last response was yesterday when he notified me he had rented the unit out long term to another couple that he had been negotiating with. This is two weeks before our trip. VRBO says there is nothing they can do and will not even ban him from the site or pay the difference between our former rate and the rate we are being forced to pay now for another unit. Basically VRBO is siding with the landlord that acted in bad faith. When you Rent VRBO you are renting at your own risk.
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.
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 7AM - 6 days a week.
VRBO are useless when it comes to helping travelers get a refund of charges paid. We booked a condo through VRBO - it was not a cheap condo - and two weeks after we confirmed the booking and paid over $3100 deposit the owner turned around and cancelled the booking on us. They told us we would get a "full refund" but they did not process it.
We called VRBO to ask for help in getting our money back and they basically told us we were on our own and all they could do was "send them an email asking them to refund the money". Eventually, after a lot of hard work, we got a portion of the deposit back, but we are still waiting on $510 which were the "fees" paid (I thought the owner paid the fees, not the traveler, but it seems that the owner is able to pass through the fees to the owner).
In any case, we are still waiting on the fee portion to be refunded. I have initiated complaints with VRBO and have started a chargeback on my credit card. The next step is to file a theft report with the police in the city in which the condo is located. I would not rely on VRBO to be of any help if you have a dispute with the owners of a property. Just be warned that you are on your own. I would NEVER pay for anything like this through PayPal. ALWAYS use a credit card so you have a modicum of protection.
We have rented through VRBO multiple times and overall have been pleased. I have also owned a condo in Florida, so I know the challenges that owners can face. My biggest complaint with VRBO is that if you reserve a property through VRBO and the owner cancels, you have no recourse. We experienced this last year, reserving and sending a deposit in advance, taking time off work, making arrangements for pets, etc.--and the owner cancelled 2 weeks before our vacation.
The good news was that he did return our $$ (a week later); the bad news is that because it was a popular week in that area, there were no other accommodations to be found. VRBO said we could not write a review because we had not actually stayed there. My personal take on it was that the owner had a better offer ($$) and will probably continue to do this because...he can! BTW, Rental management companies wouldn't put up with someone who repeatedly cancels, but VRBO neither cares nor will it let potential customers know if the owner does what this guy did. So, use VRBO, but beware the pitfalls!