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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A refund in process, but should we get involved?

Robert Lynch reserved a vacation rental that never materialized, and now he wants his money back. He deserves a full and immediate refund, and if he doesn’t get it, our fearless advocacy team will jump in to help him, of course.

But refunds take a while. The ability to make time move faster, or slower, is slightly above my paygrade. But eventually, he should get his money.

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Hey VRBO, what happened to the security deposit on my vacation rental?

I’m a longtime admirer — and critic — of VRBO, the dominant vacation rental site. I like the way it consolidates a disorganized business like vacation rentals into a cohesive online marketplace and makes it easy for consumers and rental owners to find each other. But one thing I’ve never been able to understand is how it disingenuously feigns neutrality in disputes between managers and customers.
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Case dismissed: A “disgusting” apartment rental and no refund

When Steven Silverman found an apartment in London through HomeAway, one of the largest home rental sites, he was sure it would be perfect. After all, the site specifically guarantees its rental properties won’t be misrepresented.

Maybe the apartment’s owner didn’t get that memo.

Silverman says the rental, for which he paid £1,350, was “disgusting” and didn’t meet his requirements. He’d specifically asked for an air-conditioned unit, and was promised one. But that’s not what he got, he says.
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