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. Continue reading…
The basics of good customer service, like courtesy and attentiveness, may be free. But great service? That’s expensive.
Consider what happened to Virginia Bibliowicz’ father, who rented a car from Budget recently. Shortly after he picked up the vehicle in Knoxville, Tenn., he suffered a heart attack and died.
“When my sister and her husband returned the car later, Budget refused to let them pay the charges,” she says. “I think Budget and this rep should be commended, and they will certainly always have our business.” Continue reading…
Mandy Fleming’s Airbnb rental couldn’t have happened at a worse place — or time.
Thousands of miles from home, on an extended visit to Hong Kong during the Christmas holidays, she showed up at her apartment with her husband and six-year-old son for an 18-night stay, only to discover the place fell dramatically short of its description.
Now, Fleming has a simple request: She wants to warn others about her substandard accommodations. And she wants my help.
I can’t invoke the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, since this happened at an apartment. But I would if I could. She contacted me a few days after trying, but failing, to fix the many problems in her rental.
You know the ding-and-dent car rental scam? Sure you do.
Rent a car, and the agents tell you “not to worry” about the little scratches and bumps on the high-mileage vehicle. But when you return it, they give it a careful once-over and pressure you to sign an incident report, acknowledging you’ll pay whatever repair bill they send you — usually something suspiciously close to your car insurance deductible.
Well, Chelsey Johnson thinks she’s a ding-and-dent victim. Let’s hand the mike over to her to hear her story.
A few months ago, Johnson rented a car from Advantage in Minneapolis. Continue reading…
Brad Joiner discovers a damaged underside to his Enterprise rental after he parks it in his driveway. He’s sure it isn’t his fault, but the car rental company begs to differ. It wants him to pay $826.
Question: I recently rented a Mazda 2 from Enterprise. When I picked up the car, a representative and I did a walk-around. I’m normally very careful when picking a car up. I noticed the fender well on the front driver’s side was popped out of place, and I noted that with the representative.
My mistake: I didn’t look under the front bumper to see what would have caused that to happen.
I drove the car home, where I parked it in my driveway, which is sloped. When coming out of my garage, I was able to see damage to the underside of the bumper cover. In an effort to do the right thing, I immediately called Enterprise and explained what had happened. I talked to the manager and told her I was on my way back. Continue reading…
Someone should have warned Enterprise before she rented a Toyota Corolla from the car rental company earlier this year. Maybe it wouldn’t have sent her the repair bill, which Kotzin claims was bogus.
Then again, maybe it would have. Hard to know.
Here’s what I do know: Kotzin’s tale of fighting what she believed to be a fraudulent damage bill, is an inspiration to anyone who thinks car rental companies are enriching themselves from frivolous damage claims. Continue reading…
After a grill falls off her rental car, Alamo sends her a bill for $669. Does she have to pay?
Question: I’m hoping you can give me some advice about a damage claim that my car rental company states I am financially responsible for. I rented a car from Alamo in Reno, Nev., recently. The paperwork was signed and initialed as the person at the counter indicated. Then I was escorted to the garage where the cars were kept.
My husband walked around the car and didn’t notice any damage. I drove from the airport rental location directly to our hotel in Reno, where the car was parked for two days. Several days later, when we left Reno to drive to Las Vegas, I noticed that the plastic grill on the front of the car was uneven. My husband inspected and found that it was loose but still connected. Continue reading…
Maybe David and Mary Sue Conner didn’t tell their rental homeowner they were in Oahu for a family vacation of a lifetime. But when you drop $25,000 for a one-month stay in Hawaii, and the whole ohana is there, that probably goes without saying: this is a special event, and everything needs to be perfect.
It wasn’t. The problems ranged from minor, such as a faulty air conditioning unit and a broken dryer on the owner-managed rental, to something many guests would consider a real deal-breaker: insects. Lot’s of ’em.
“We noticed as we were unpacking that there were ant traps throughout the house,” remembers Mary Sue Conner. “We didn’t give it much notice since we were in the tropics and bugs come with the territory. But on the second morning my husband noticed that the window sills in the great room had piles of ant hills across the entire length. It’s almost 30 feet long. We found ants everywhere.” Continue reading…
When Carol Swartz tries to check in to a condo in New Hampshire, she finds the unit in a state of disrepair. Now the site through which she booked the rental is refusing a refund, despite a written guarantee. Can it do that?
Question: We just had a frustrating experience with HomeAway and I need your help. I recently rented a condo in Laconia, New Hampshire, that we found through the site. It was advertised as a “luxury” condo, and we paid a total of $1,886, which included $49 for HomeAway’s “Carefree Guarantee Rental” program.
When we arrived at the condo, we found the exterior was in a sad state of disrepair. We did not even feel safe climbing the stairs to find our unit. The unit was clean but shabby and clearly not luxurious. Continue reading…