VRBO - Different Scenario

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Jul 7, 2020
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Below is my situation with a homeowner and VRBO that I hope can get resolved. I have phoned, emailed and contacted both the owner and VRBO. After I emailed the President of VRBO, I received phone calls and follow up emails from "Kurt", a member of their Executive Customer Relations. So far, the homeowner has ignored me and VRBO has refused to intervene.

I booked a home for a stay in Kissimmee, FL between April 4th to April 11th, 2020 for our family (wife, three children, two in-law spouses and three grandchildren). Final payment was made on February 4th.

Following the declaration of an emergency on March 9th by Governor Ron DeSantis and finding out that Walt Disney World would extend the closure of their parks beyond our vacation dates, I requested a refund from the owner on March 22. Although I realized that I was beyond the 60 day cancellation window. I had hoped there would be some flexibility with the owner, due to Covid-19 and the urging by VRBO to extend a minimum of 50% cash or full credit applied to a future stay. I emailed the owner, explained that under the circumstances of Covid-19 and the closure of the parks, that I would appreciate a refund. She promptly responded to me via VRBO's internal email on March 23rd, stating that she would apply full credit to a future booking and directed me to immediately cancel in hopes she could re-rent the property. I followed her direction. To date, neither I nor VRBO/HomeAway have been able to contact her directly via phone or email, despite repeated attempts. At this juncture, I am fairly confident that she intends to ignore me, keeping my $3,000 and thus depriving my children and grandchildren of a vacation that, as a retiree, is sad and costly. If she had told me that a refund/credit was out of the question, I would have kept the reservation, driven to Florida and completed the stay.

Given the circumstances, I would rather get a cash refund and not have any future transactions with the owner. Further, I believe VRBO should form an arbitration team to resolve issues such as mine, instead of protecting their owners. i am sure if they de-listed her properties, withheld payments or allowed me to share my experiences on VRBO/HomeAway to warn other travelers, she would behave differently.

Your help and consideration would be greatly appreciated.

Mike
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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Unfortunately VRBO is just a listing service, where if you point to their customer it would be the property owner not the renter. They essentially have no way to force an owner to do anything. Maybe someone else on here has another idea, but the only thing I can think of is small claims court but that would 1) have to happen in Florida and 2) not sure how it'd shake out since it was a credit not a refund you were promised, but cutting off contact with you might be in your favor.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Unfortunately VRBO is just a listing service, where if you point to their customer it would be the property owner not the renter. They essentially have no way to force an owner to do anything. Maybe someone else on here has another idea, but the only thing I can think of is small claims court but that would 1) have to happen in Florida and 2) not sure how it'd shake out since it was a credit not a refund you were promised, but cutting off contact with you might be in your favor.
VRBO collects money from me,. the traveler, as well. I have booked many properties on VRBO and cruises on Expedia. A little good will and extra effort can go a long way to keeping a customer, IMO.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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Bad news: you will not get a refund. Period. You were not eligible under the circumstances. BUT, you should proceed with VRBO is retaining the credit for a future stay as long as you have that in writing from the owner.
 
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May 30, 2019
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VRBO collects money from me,. the traveler, as well. I have booked many properties on VRBO and cruises on Expedia. A little good will and extra effort can go a long way to keeping a customer, IMO.
Sorry about the lousy situation.

Here's a metaphor: If you responded to an advertisement in the newspaper and had the same situation, you would not expect the newspaper to give you a goodwill gesture. If you sue, as suggested in Post #2, you may not win. My suggestion in the context of self-advocacy would be to use the credit when you can or see if it is transferable.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
VRBO collects money from me,. the traveler, as well. I have booked many properties on VRBO and cruises on Expedia. A little good will and extra effort can go a long way to keeping a customer, IMO.
And this is where you find the disadvantages of these type of bookings. The owner has already been paid and VRBO has no power to force them to refund a nonrefundable stay.

Please read #7 here:

 
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Jun 13, 2019
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Florida's governor banned resort home rentals on or about March 1 for an extended period. Ours was cancelled, and we received a complete refund--but we did not use VRBO or similar companies. It appears that he would not have been able to stay anyway because of this. The homeowner owes him a refund or at least the promised credit. And if the OP paid by card through VRBO then he should start the dispute process.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
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Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Florida's governor banned resort home rentals on or about March 1 for an extended period. Ours was cancelled, and we received a complete refund--but we did not use VRBO or similar companies. It appears that he would not have been able to stay anyway because of this. The homeowner owes him a refund or at least the promised credit. And if the OP paid by card through VRBO then he should start the dispute process.
In a real world- yes. But that isn’t how VRBO works. Please read the story in the link and what VRBO does. It is likely the OP would not win a credit card dispute because the contract they agreed to had a strict cancellation policy and that is what the credit card company usually bases a dispute on - Covid or not.

Airbnb was much more helpful to its users.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Sorry about the lousy situation.

Here's a metaphor: If you responded to an advertisement in the newspaper and had the same situation, you would not expect the newspaper to give you a goodwill gesture. If you sue, as suggested in Post #2, you may not win. My suggestion in the context of self-advocacy would be to use the credit when you can or see if it is transferable.
She promised the credit but will not answer my phone calls/emails to rebook.
 
Jun 13, 2019
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In a real world- yes. But that isn’t how VRBO works. Please read the story in the link and what VRBO does. It is likely the OP would not win a credit card dispute because the contract they agreed to had a strict cancellation policy and that is what the credit card company usually bases a dispute on - Covid or not.

Airbnb was much more helpful to its users.

A neighbor booked through VRBO in Florida and had their reservation cancelled because of the ban on vacation rentals The owner was sticking by the cancellation policy and VRBO did nothing to help. They did file a CC dispute and sent not only the original cancellation guidelines, but a link to the governor banning such rentals and a copy of an email from the owner saying the original cancellation policy stood. It was a very snarky email which probably helped the dispute. Both VRBO and the homeowner fought the dispute but the card issuer sided with my neighbors, and they got a refund. I guess it depends on the card you have.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,405
23,376
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
A neighbor booked through VRBO in Florida and had their reservation cancelled because of the ban on vacation rentals The owner was sticking by the cancellation policy and VRBO did nothing to help. They did file a CC dispute and sent not only the original cancellation guidelines, but a link to the governor banning such rentals and a copy of an email from the owner saying the original cancellation policy stood. It was a very snarky email which probably helped the dispute. Both VRBO and the homeowner fought the dispute but the card issuer sided with my neighbors, and they got a refund. I guess it depends on the card you have.
It doesn’t hurt to try. The worst that can happen is the credit card company finds in favor of VRBO. The best is they find in your favor.
 
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Dec 19, 2014
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I completely sympathize with you, because I believe you should receive a 100% refund.

Did you pay by credit card? If so, I would file a dispute.
Florida vacation rental ban was initiated on March 27, 2020 and extended through April 30, 2020 on April 13, 2020

Bluntly put, this was an illegal rental. The owner would not have been able to re-rent the property. Some of the advocates will disagree with me, but in your situation, the ban is the owner's problem and shared risk does not apply here. If you were able to use the unit but choose not to, then it would be your problem.

Sadly, VRBO has no power to do anything. They freely admit it. So, your options are to 1) file a credit card dispute on the grounds that it was an illegal rental as per executive order, 2) file a lawsuit in small claims court (but this may cost you more money and time than it is worth).

The owner takes the risk purchasing a rental home and renting it out. If the home had been destroyed by a hurricane, would they still expect to keep a renter's refund because it was "non-refundable?"
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
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Florida vacation rental ban was initiated on March 27, 2020 and extended through April 30, 2020 on April 13, 2020
Per the initial post, she cancelled the reservation on March 23 when it was still legal, so I don't think a credit card dispute will work.

I do think she's entitled to reschedule based on the message from the owner. To your point, though, small claims court may be the only way to pursue this if the owner refuses to communicate.
 
Jun 24, 2019
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Per the initial post, she cancelled the reservation on March 23 when it was still legal, so I don't think a credit card dispute will work.

I do think she's entitled to reschedule based on the message from the owner. To your point, though, small claims court may be the only way to pursue this if the owner refuses to communicate.
Our OP might be limited to filing a small claims lawsuit in Florida, which might limit the attractiveness of that approach. And, I suppose, even if she prevails it might just be with a credit for a future stay.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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I suspect she was just being "nice" offering you a full credit and isn't very experienced with how business is done. If you have a very strong credit card, such as the top Sapphire cards from Chase or a high-level AmEx, you may prevail with a CC dispute. But it's unlikely. I'd make an offer to the owner to split the difference and pursue a credit for a future stay. Wish we had better news.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Never said I was “entitled”, but when someone offers you full credit contingent on immediate cancellation,” (two weeks before the actual stay date) that appears to me to be a change in the contract. Being “nice“ by saying she will give me full credit if I cancel immediately, then ignoring me doesn’t compute in my book.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Our OP might be limited to filing a small claims lawsuit in Florida, which might limit the attractiveness of that approach. And, I suppose, even if she prevails it might just be with a credit for a future stay.
I’m sure the owner figures that I really don’t want to drive 750 miles to take her to small claims court.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Bad news: you will not get a refund. Period. You were not eligible under the circumstances. BUT, you should proceed with VRBO is retaining the credit for a future stay as long as you have that in writing from the owner.
And how would I do that, if the owner won’t answer my phone calls or emails. I doubt VRBO will pony up.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
23,405
23,376
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Never said I was “entitled”, but when someone offers you full credit contingent on immediate cancellation,” (two weeks before the actual stay date) that appears to me to be a change in the contract. Being “nice“ by saying she will give me full credit if I cancel immediately, then ignoring me doesn’t compute in my book.
She didn’t have to offer anything if you were outside the cancellation date.

I also would have suggested splitting the cost and asking half the money back.
 
Jul 7, 2020
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Sorry about the lousy situation.

Here's a metaphor: If you responded to an advertisement in the newspaper and had the same situation, you would not expect the newspaper to give you a goodwill gesture. If you sue, as suggested in Post #2, you may not win. My suggestion in the context of self-advocacy would be to use the credit when you can or see if it is transferable.
I have given her the dates of rebooking and she ignores me. VRBO has had the same experience.