RENTAL

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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The high cost of great customer service

Nikkytok/Shutterstock
Nikkytok/Shutterstock
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.”
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Why won’t Airbnb let me review my ill-fated rental?

Leung/Shutterstock
Leung/Shutterstock
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.

And there were many.
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