What’s the deal with HomeAway’s new “booking” fee?

For the last several days, I’ve been on the receiving end of emails from readers like Paul McWilliams about a new fee being charged by HomeAway, which runs VRBO and VacationRentals.com.

The new “booking” fees, these emails suggest, are poorly disclosed, have no discernible consumer benefits and are being forced on unwilling renters.
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You expect me to pay for what?

No one likes surprise charges, but this one takes the cake.

No wait, these folks didn’t get the cake, which is why they’re being charged.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Jessica Baker after she and her husband received a $75.90 bill for dinner from a bride and groom whose wedding reception they could not attend.
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