Hey, where’d the money go for my Hawaii condo?

Maridav/Shutterstock
Maridav/Shutterstock
Today’s question isn’t about whether I should try to mediate Deb DiSandro’s case. She paid $3,203 for a vacation rental in Oahu that she obviously didn’t get. I’m going to try to help her.

It’s more a question of who has her money — and who is responsible for her refund. That’s where I could use your help.

One year ago, DiSandro pre-paid for a condo at the Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort. There were numerous warning signs from the very beginning. The owner wanted to be paid in full by PayPal weeks before she checked in. Initially, he didn’t want to honor the rate that DiSandro saw online for the two bedroom unit on the top fourth floor on the north side of the oceanside tower, but then agreed to, as a favor.

It just didn’t look right. And sure enough, it wasn’t.

“About two weeks before our June arrival, the person we rented the condo from called to tell us that we no longer had a place to stay,” she says. The unit had gone into foreclosure and was now owned by a bank.
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Hey, where’s that Bahamas cruise you promised me?

Aleksey Stemmer/Shutterstock
Aleksey Stemmer/Shutterstock
Maybe you think you’ve heard this story before. It involves presentations with aggressive salesmen, lofty promises made and allegedly not kept, and fingerpointing — lots of fingerpointing.

But you haven’t heard this story. Not the way Troy Bryan tells it, at least.

He recently received a phone call from someone representing a company called Premiere Discounts.

“A representative indicated that I had won a prize from a contest that I had earlier entered,” he says. “I don’t recall entering this contest.”
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The Travel Troubleshooter: No refund for my Colorado condo?

Question: I need your help getting a refund for the advance resort rental paid to Winter Park Lodging Company in Winter Park, Colo. I made a reservation to stay in a two-bedroom condo during the New Year’s holiday.

I had to cancel my reservation almost a month before I was supposed to arrive. The company refunded the sales taxes and linen charges of $69 out of the prepaid $965. But it kept $896 for the rental.

Winter Park Lodging’s cancellation policy says, “If you must cancel, let us know as soon as possible and we will try to rebook your property for you reservation dates and will reimburse you for any nights we are able to rebook for you.” I asked the company if it rented my unit. It says no, but I question its honesty. If you look at the property availability on its site, you’ll see that all off the weekends from January to April were fully booked. What can be done? — May Tong, Houston

Answer: You have to take Winter Park Lodging Company — which describes itself as “the best place to find vacation rentals in Winter Park” — at its word. Which is something you’re unwilling to do, and for good reason. Its site appears to contradict what it’s telling you.
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Advanced vacation rentals: 9 things to know

Renting a reliable vacation home isn’t easy.

And not just because there are a seemingly endless number of rental resources to turn to — everything from local sites that list a few condos to big listing services like HomeAway.com or VRBO.com.

For me, it’s the politics.
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