PARK CITY, UTAH -- We were excited to stay at this rental because the reviews on VRBO all sounded so wonderful. Didn't know at the time that VRBO owners have control over posting their reviews, so potential renters will never see the negative reviews. Our experience turned negative during our stay, and has soured our memories of the trip to the point that we will probably not ever rent another VRBO again.
Two things happened. First, this rental advertises "a secure GARAGE PARKING, which is heated in the winter time, with RESERVED PARKING space (Floor/level 1)". WOW, this is great in theory. The problem we had is that on our 2nd night there, someone else parked in the reserved parking space for our rental. After discussing the situation with the on-site office manager, we were told we could not have a pass to park out in one of the many spaces out front (the easiest solution for all), nor could we park anywhere else BUT our supposedly reserved spot.
She was not very helpful, probably since we were renting from a private condo owner, and the office manager was there to represent condo owners who used HER services to rent their condos vs. VRBO. A towing policy was posted on signs in the parking garage for those who violated, so we had to call a tow truck to remove the offending vehicle, and my husband wasted 2 hours of precious vacation time dealing with the tow truck process so that we could just park our car for the night. The first tow truck was too big to fit through the garage door opening, and we had to wait for a second truck to show up.
Then we had to worry about having damage done to our rental vehicle, keying or whatever, due to an upset owner of the towed vehicle. It cost this guy $250 to get his car back. So lesson here is (1) definitely don't park in anyone else's reserved spot, and (2) heaven forbid that someone else park in your reserved spot as YOU will get stuck wasting your vacation time to arrange for towing just so you can park your car. I'm not personally blaming the condo owners for this incident at all, but just noting it is a "benefit" of this rental that can quickly turn into an undesirable situation for you.
The second thing that happened concerned the king-size master bed. My husband (6' tall, 190 lbs. - normal weight!) went to lie down, by himself, for a short nap on the afternoon of our last full day. After a few seconds, the side board of the bed collapsed. It was made of some type of softwood, with large grain variations and knotholes galore. The sudden drop actually jarred my husband's back. We called the local property manager immediately and waited 1 1/2 hours for him to show up. He looked at it and we all noted that the weak point seemed to have been a rather large knothole right smack in the middle of this sideboard.
We sent the condo owners a cell phone picture of the damaged board. The condo owner husband quickly texted back that he was sorry for the inconvenience, and that it appeared to him as well that the knothole was a weak point AND stated to us that he was a safety inspector for his career. THEN, the real problem started - the tune changed when the condo owner wife got the news. She called me about 2 hours later, and started making accusations that my husband or I must have stood on the side rail to cause it to fail.
I told her we certainly did not. All we did was sleep in the bed during our stay, nothing else, if you get my drift (and I'm 5'6", 128 lbs. - normal weight, just like my husband). She was wanting us to pay for the damages, claiming we had CAUSED the problem. If we had caused any damages, we certainly would have offered to pay up, in a heartbeat - we are honorable, church-going people. But we had done no harm.
If a 190 lb. person lying on a bed results in the bed collapsing on one side, then one has to question the integrity of the bed. When inspecting the bed after the collapse, while the property manager was still there with us, it was noted that the bed had no vertical supports underneath the mattress and that the bed side rail had an inferior quality wood that was used to support the horizontal slats underneath (at the point where they connected to the side rail).
Most of the weight to support this bed was resting on these side rails. Paired with all the knotholes in the wood, it was clearly an accident waiting to happen. I'll save you the long story of the next few days concerning all the phone calls and e-mails from the condo owner wife seeking payment from us. Her husband seemed to be understanding that an accident had occurred, through no fault of ours, but she wanted to place blame and was unreasonable, in our opinion, to talk to.
Bottom line, she deducted the money from our $400 security deposit to repair this obviously faulty bed. We came away from this experience grateful that something more expensive had not failed during our stay - a heater, a refrigerator.... as we surely would have been blamed if it had quit functioning properly during our stay.
So do yourself a favor. Don't assume, like we did, that just because a VRBO has favorable reviews that you will have an enjoyable experience with that rental. Truth be told, if the condo owner wife had been more sympathetic and understanding, we probably would have offered to pay for some or all of the damage of this unstable bed on our own initiative, just out of human kindness.
But she insisted from the start on falsely accusing us of directly CAUSING the damage (stepping on the side rail - which we did not do), and that does not make for a very conducive environment for reaching a settlement. No one likes to be falsely accused. I would not rent this VRBO again, or any other unit, from these owners.
I have been a homeowner member of VRBO/Homeaway for almost 2 years with a property in Wildwood and wasting time writing this. The changes that are being made to paying customers are unbelievable. My plan is to not renew my membership as I have other ways to list without being given grief and aggravation. This was once a great site but no more.
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!
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".
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.
I have used VRBO a few times now, and about to again but my intuition is telling me not to. I shouldn't ignore the facts. My first VRBO rental was disgusting. The owner posted pictures of a home that had clearly been taken years earlier when the house actually was livable. Everything in the home was broken and it looked like a foreclosure property. The pool didn't work, the grass was overgrown, every cabinet and door knob was missing, there were holes in the walls and stains in the carpet. They took aerial photos of the properties which were just wide enough to NOT show the plethora of garbage and broken down fences which surrounded the property.
My second rental in Tucson was better - the owner was very attentive, yet it was clear that the home had not been cleaned sufficiently before we arrived. It was a nice home but had only received a light "wipe down" and a quick vacuum before we arrived. There's something about someone else's sticky glass stains that gross me out... The last rental was a similar process I have been noticing on VRBO. Many people will post very beautiful properties with attractive rates, show availability, yet when you email them, they are NEVER available and direct you to their private websites for their other properties, cutting VRBO and your protection out of the equation.
These are horrible, unethical tactics, but clearly there is no supervision or consumer protection to prevent this from happening. Finally - here's what has happened to me FOUR times now... an owner agrees to the dates and rates via email and I wait patiently for the contract, which never comes, because they use my confirmation as a way to negotiate the rate up to another renter who is willing to pay more, never giving me a chance to rebid because VRBO prohibits bidding wars. So people do it in private and never tell you, thus screwing the renter yet again.
What's sad is that most renters leave the properties in better condition than when they arrived and are held hostage by not knowing a particular location or if the crime in the area is rampant - you can do all the internet searching you want but unless you've physically been to a specific location, you are at the mercy of the property owner, who I have found, is typically a huge liar.
A friend and I booked this property via vrbo.com for two nights (including New Year's Eve) and immediately wired payment, including a $25 cleaning fee. Joe **, the owner, assured us that the condo would be ready for our 2 pm arrival. I arrived early (approximately 11 am), and the condo was an absolute horror show; it had not been cleaned from the previous guests.
The sink was piled high with dirty dishes, trash was everywhere (including beer bottles both in and around the property), dirty towels were on the floor, and the entire condo reeked of smoke. The shower was filled with sand -- so much sand, in fact, that the water could not drain properly. All three beds had been slept in and were unmade. To top it all off, there were broken eggs littering the entrance.
I immediately contacted Joe via email; I gave him the benefit of the doubt since I was three hours early. To his credit, he wrote back immediately. He told me that I needed to find the cleaning lady and get her working on it. Of course, I did not know the cleaning lady and it wasn't until 2:30 pm when she finally showed up on her bicycle. She told me that the condo would be ready by 3:30, so we waited. And waited. And waited some more. We sat outside the condo from 11 am until 5:30 pm, when the cleaning job was finally completed, sort of. The towels that she gave us were damp, and the bedding consisted of only a fitted sheet and a flat sheet (no mattress pad or bedspread).
By 5:30 pm, we had lost both an entire day in Jaco as well as qualitative planning time, since we had hoped to book an excursion to Tortuga Island for the following day. I emailed Joe to give him an update and let him know that we were finally able to get into the condo at 5:30 pm. He wrote back that he, too, was on vacation and had been disappointed because his rental didn't have internet and had not been cleaned either. I regret that he had a similar experience, but it does not lessen the fact that he manages the Jaco property and should have been responsible for ensuring that it was ready for our arrival.
I tried to resolve this amicably with Joe via email, and he offered me a free night in Jaco. I explained that I do not plan on returning to Jaco, in part because of my rental experience at rentjaco.com, and requested monetary compensation to cover lost time. Joe has not responded to my request. I would not recommend this property to anyone. There are much nicer, cleaner properties throughout Jaco; do not waste your time and money at this rental. Unfortunately, vrbo.com allows owners to "opt out" of reviews. So, any potentially negative reviews will not be seen by prospective renters. Shame on VRBO!
PHOENIX, ARIZONA -- In Jan 10, I entered into a rental agreement with the owner (a real estate agent) of a house in Phoenix, AZ, listed under VRBO #50260. The house was normally rented by the month, but with no Jan occupancy of the property she willingly agreed to a “last minute” rental for a one week period commencing 18 Jan 10.
On 18 Jan, a major winter storm shut down our transportation hub and we were unable to get to Phoenix without incurring significant alternate transportation costs.I called the owner that morning to discuss options. She agreed to a postponement for a week to be determined later in 2010. She retained our cleaning & refurbishing and rent monies for the later week. So far, so good.
In May, I called to arrange for a week in Nov 10 that was convenient for her. Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy. She reopened negotiations on what I thought was a done deal. After many follow-up calls and e-mails, she indicated we could only rent for a minimum half month even though she had no bookings for Nov. She also said we had to pay an additional $90 for cleaning & refurb, on top of the $90 already paid. We settled on a 12-day agreement. When the contract arrived, it called for 11 days for the price of the 12 and demanded yet another $90 for cleaning & refurb (for a total cleaning bill of $270). So much for the week postponement.
I questioned the additional charges. She realized I was unwilling to enter into an inflated arrangement. She decided to return the rent payment. She said she would be retaining the $90 because it was spent on cleaning and refurbishing in advance of our planned arrival in Jan. Interestingly, the owner was the last to inhabit the house in early Jan.
Three weeks later she decided to renege on her decision to return our rent. The owner realizes I am prepared not to let this rest. In the interim, I have offered her the opportunity to make things right, which I will report here. Further action is being considered. Until that time, do not trust her to keep her word; in fact, be very careful about entering into a rental arrangement with her unless you are prepared to forfeit some of your funds.