When a consumer has problems getting satisfaction from a travel provider, we suggest a credit card chargeback as a last resort. It’s shocking when the provider is the one to suggest it, and as the first option.
Question: I made a reservation on VRBO.com for a property in Charlotte, N.C. The owner’s policy is if you cancel 30 days or more prior to the reservation date you receive a 100 percent refund.
Since making the reservation, I have had the need arise to cancel this reservation. I have been unable to contact the owner via email, phone, or text. VRBO customer service says they cannot cancel the reservation. Only the owner can do that. VRBO customer service has been polite, but so far unhelpful.
Could you please help me cancel my reservation and get my 100 percent refund, even though it’s past the cancellation date. — Chris McMillan, Wade, N.C.
Answer: That’s absurd! What good is offering a cancellation policy when you’re not available to accept the cancellation?
This case is a reminder that while it’s nice to have a company like VRBO stand behind their service, it’s complicated to have to go through the owner to make the cancellation.
You were smart to post about your predicament to our forums. They are read by our advocates, as well as industry executives, who often can provide the help you need.
You also did the right thing by paying for the rental via VRBO’s secure payment platform, which protects both the renter and the owner. This guarantees that your payment is safe.
Our forum respondents suggested that you follow the process outlined on VRBO’s website. Nevertheless, you struck out getting your refund because of the lateness of your date, so you reached out to our advocates, who contacted VRBO on your behalf. A company representative contacted you, but you were not happy with the response. You told us:
Their advice to me was to go ahead and pursue denying the charge for the rental with my credit card carrier. They indicated they had sent a communication to the property owner with a deadline to respond. However, if no one is monitoring the phone number or email address the property owner provided to VRBO, how do they expect to receive a response?
I have always had the option of working back through my credit card carrier to cancel this reservation, so I really don’t see where VRBO is doing anything to assist me. They did indicate that, if the credit card company will not reverse the charge, that they would provide me a refund if I documented the credit card carrier’s refusal to them in writing.
Basically, all the work is on me to get my refund, and who knows how long that will take. This is poor customer service in my opinion. VRBO should refund my card and then work with the property owner to get their money back. That would be better customer service.
You’re right. VRBO’s response was quite surprising. Normally when we advocate cases, we suggest credit card chargeback requests as the last resort for consumers — not the first. Subsequent to VRBO’s unusual suggestion, we haven’t heard back from you, so perhaps their suggestion worked. We hope that the chargeback was successful and, if not, that VRBO stood by its promise to refund your money.
For our readers who wish to use websites like VRBO for your upcoming rentals, this is a reminder to always use the company’s secure payment platforms and to not pay by check. It’s also important to remember that sometimes the responsibility to get your money back in these situations is on you, and that credit card chargebacks should be used only if all else fails.