Difficulty getting full refund from VRBO/Owner

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May 22, 2020
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Hi. In February (pre-Covid lockdown) I booked an apartment for two weeks in Ocean Grove, NJ. It was the first time I used VRBO. Like many, I thought it would be safe by July. However, as an older renter, I became concerned that it would not be safe for me. Long story, but the owner cancelled me, claiming that she would get me the full refund if she booked the property. She has a no refund for cancellation policy that she would not change. VRBO claims they are encouraging her to refund me but I have little hope. She really has no incentive to book because she’ll get my money anyway and what’s to stop her from getting private (she has her own company) renters in there and never booking through VRBO. There are also new local pandemic occupancy rules that come into play here, which VRBO doesn’t seem interested in knowing about. I found this forum from the article Chris Elliott wrote about Vrbo’s new policy including many more options for cancellations. In fact, the executive who was interviewed said HE was looking for a vacation rental for his family with a flexible cancellation if he felt the “time was not right.” Ha! But those of us who have genuine health/safety concerns but who booked early are stuck.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Who cancelled, you or the owner? I see you describe her policy as "no refund," but you also say that the owner cancelled you.
 
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May 22, 2020
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Who cancelled, you or the owner? I see you describe her policy as "no refund," but you also say that the owner cancelled you.
I had been speaking to her on the phone about my discomfort about making the trip and she asked me to give her notice by at least just after Memorial Day so she can clear the weeks. I naively believed she would give me a full refund in this case because she said that her policy of no refunds was to keep people from booking several places (presumably with lenient refund rules) and leaving her in the lurch.

Through the portal messaging I asked her to provide a cancellation with a full refund. I then got a call from her that Vrbo told her to have me use the insurance I bought (which I couldn’t because it was not the “cancel for any reason type”, take a credit for a future trip, or a 50% refund. She was making it seem like this was the only thing she was allowed to do by Vrbo but their own propaganda seems to say otherwise. I had called them earlier and they said they were encouraging full refunds.

Then I asked her if she could change her policy and she said she didn’t Want To and the conversation changed. I then called the company back (already had a case number) and they said they would work with her. I got a note from her saying she was trying to show those weeks as open even though I still had a contract with her. I said I didn’t think they would allow that. A short time later I got an email saying my trip was cancelled by the owner under her current policy of no refunds and a note from her saying this is what she was advised to do in order to free up the weeks, and IF she got bookings, give me a refund.

Back on the phone with Vrbo I got a lot of double-talk that was not encouraging. In the end, they admitted that if she didn’t rebook she would get my money anyway. They are supposed to be speaking to her about various incentives and penalties, but really, the system is gamed against me. When I saw some of the comments on the company’s FB Page I could see I’m not the only one out there who has been hurt.

If not for Covid, the booking would have worked out fine. It never occurred to me the owner’s no refund policy would be used against me because I had every intention of going and I did take the insurance in case I was sick or injured, etc. I thought that would protect me. With Covid, I kept up to date about how the company was handling this and also what the rental regulations would be at my destination. When I read the Elliott piece in Forbes, I was angry that I don’t have the same options and reassurances as the interviewed executive about having a safe trip.

Was I naive to have trusted the owner? Yeah. I should say that I had to request to book back in February and she called me, I think to make sure I would be a safe tenant, as she had many restrictions on the use of the property, i.e. no parties, no one under a certain age (27/28?) could rent, etc. Now I think maybe that wasn’t so innocent.

Sorry for the long response. Trying to add to the body of knowledge. Thanks.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Everyone who buys non-refundable arrangements does so in the hope/believe that it will not be used against them. Moreover, it appears your reason not to go is fear of traveling. (I get that. I've been home for two months.) She has said she will refund you if she can rent out the space. You may need to take that on faith.

The one thing you have going for you is that she cancelled, although it appears she has an excuse that VRBO can back up. I think you should aim for a partial refund or a future credit.
 
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Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Did you ask if she would offer you a credit for a future stay?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Everyone who buys non-refundable arrangements does so in the hope/believe that it will not be used against them. Moreover, it appears your reason not to go is fear of traveling. (I get that. I've been home for two months.) She has said she will refund you if she can rent out the space. You may need to take that on faith.

The one thing you have going for you is that she cancelled, although it appears she has an excuse that VRBO can back up. I think you should aim for a partial refund or a future credit.
I don't see that the owner cancelled but rather the traveler:

"she asked me to give her notice"
 
May 22, 2020
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I don't see that the owner cancelled but rather the traveler:

"she asked me to give her notice"
Did you ask if she would offer you a credit for a future stay?
Thanks. She offered that as part of what VRBO told her to do. I didn’t want that. Company’s wording on that is like “that might not be right for some travelers” in their Covid policy. But just try to refuse it.
 

Neil Maley

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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
These are the problems when booking non-refundable rates and it’s worse when using VRBO because they don’t get involved between you and the owner.

This article tells you about VRBO cancellations:

 
May 22, 2020
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These are the problems when booking non-refundable rates and it’s worse when using VRBO because they don’t get involved between you and the owner.

This article tells you about VRBO cancellations:

Thanks. I hate this because I’m normally pretty savvy with most things but I feel like I’ve been had.
 

Patina

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Dec 22, 2015
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Thanks. She offered that as part of what VRBO told her to do. I didn’t want that. Company’s wording on that is like “that might not be right for some travelers” in their Covid policy. But just try to refuse it.
Unfortunately, you may need to compromise on what you expect. You booked a non-refundable rental and cancelled. If she had cancelled, you would be due a refund. As @Neil Maley suggested, wait to see if she can re-rent the place otherwise use the credit for a future stay. There is nothing we can suggest that would require the owner to refund you.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
You weren’t “had”- you booked a nonrefundable rate and the owner isn’t required to refund you. There are other options for booking properties that have refundable rates.

New Jersey is opening. I would have gone and brought a mask. I live in a beach and we were there today. As long as you social distance, a beach vacation is still do-able.
 
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May 22, 2020
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You weren’t “had”- you booked a nonrefundable rate and the owner isn’t required to refund you. There are other options for booking properties that have refundable rates.

New Jersey is opening. I would have gone and brought a mask. I live in a beach and we were there today. As long as you social distance, a beach vacation is still do-able.
Ok. As I mentioned, I booked pre-Covid major concerns. I don’t know how old you are but it’s an issue in my age group. If I had my own house, in my own familiar area, it would be a totally different thing. Scolding someone who had never used this platform into “just getting a mask” of which I have several, is not an appropriate response, especially since you’re a staff member. People making light of a potentially serious illness is part of the problem. Just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you should.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,017
22,969
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Ok. As I mentioned, I booked pre-Covid major concerns. I don’t know how old you are but it’s an issue in my age group. If I had my own house, in my own familiar area, it would be a totally different thing. Scolding someone who had never used this platform into “just getting a mask” of which I have several, is not an appropriate response, especially since you’re a staff member. People making light of a potentially serious illness is part of the problem. Just because you “can” do something doesn’t mean you should.
I am in the highest risk group with health issues and I’m willing to bet I’m older than you.

The issue is that you purchased a nonrefundable rate and these vacation rentals are not regulated - there is no one for you to reach out to. VRBO can’t do a thing - the only one who has any power to refund your money is the owner and apparently she isn’t doing anything unless she is able to rent it again.

Your have three options- one is to ask if she would offer you a credit for another time, two is to hope she finds someone else to rent to and offers you a refund or - three- if she can’t- stay there anyway.

I feel terrible for you I really do, but these are the drawbacks of using those rental sites- they don’t get involved In disputes when folks book nonrefundable rates.

We have many many complaints about VRBO and AirBnB but what it comes down to is the contract you agree to when you book is all that matters to these companies.

Here is an article that might help explain it better- please read number 7-

 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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I am curious......how we're you planning on getting to the rental? If you were going to drive, the rental is no more or less dangerous than your own home/town if you take the same precautions that you are already practicing. Maybe you can hire a cleaning company to sanitize the place prior to your arrival so that you are confident it is disinfected to your satisfaction. Bring your own food from your hometown and go enjoy all that the coast has to offer. One of the safest places is being outdoors, not to mention, the sun has healing aspects due to vitamin D that no nutrition nor vitamins can give you. I guess what I am saying is try to make lemonade out of lemons!
 
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May 22, 2020
8
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64
Unfortunately, you may need to compromise on what you expect. You booked a non-refundable rental and cancelled. If she had cancelled, you would be due a refund. As @Neil Maley suggested, wait to see if she can re-rent the place otherwise use the credit for a future stay. There is nothing we can suggest that would require the owner to refund you.
Thanks.
I am in the highest risk group with health issues and I’m willing to bet I’m older than you.

The issue is that you purchased a nonrefundable rate and these vacation rentals are not regulated - there is no one for you to reach out to. VRBO can’t do a thing - the only one who has any power to refund your money is the owner and apparently she isn’t doing anything unless she is able to rent it again.

Your have three options- one is to ask if she would offer you a credit for another time, two is to hope she finds someone else to rent to and offers you a refund or if she can’t- stay there anyway.

I feel terrible for you I really do, but these are the drawbacks of using those rental sites- they don’t get involved In disputes when folks book nonrefundable rates.

We have many many complaints about VRBO and AirBnB but what it comes down to is the contract you agree to when you book is all that matters to these companies.

Here is an article that might help explain it better- please read number 7-

Yeah well. I did a stupid thing at a bad time and now I’m literally paying for it. Thanks.
 
May 22, 2020
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I am curious......how we're you planning on getting to the rental? If you were going to drive, the rental is no more or less dangerous than your own home/town if you take the same precautions that you are already practicing. Maybe you can hire a cleaning company to sanitize the place prior to your arrival so that you are confident it is disinfected to your satisfaction. Bring your own food from your hometown and go enjoy all that the coast has to offer. One of the safest places is being outdoors, not to mention, the sun has healing aspects due to vitamin D that no nutrition nor vitamins can give you. I guess what I am saying is try to make lemonade out of lemons!
Yes, I can drive there. Supposedly, both the town and Vrbo are requiring enhanced cleaning practices but there’s no way of making sure they’ve been followed regarding Covid. I’m not going to spend even more money to assure myself it’s clean enough either. It’s complicated and personal as to my comfort level. I appreciate your thoughts though. Thanks. Have a great Memorial Day weekend.
 
May 22, 2020
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These are the problems when booking non-refundable rates and it’s worse when using VRBO because they don’t get involved between you and the owner.

This article tells you about VRBO cancellations:

I wanted to let you know that the owner has made the decision to refund my money regardless of her booking situation. Via email, I see the refunds have been initiated. I’m very grateful to her. I wanted readers to know that, despite the many awful scenarios I’ve read about, both on this forum and other sites regarding Vrbo (which caused me to be hysterical in the first place), there are apparently good owners who do the right thing.