I canceled my vacation rental, but they’re keeping my deposit

David Smith/Shutterstock
David Smith/Shutterstock
Pat Morin’s vacation rental in Aruba is a disaster — and she hasn’t even left yet. She’s trying to get her money back, but the owner refuses. Is there any hope?

Question: I recently paid a $2,060 deposit to rent a home in Aruba through VRBO. Before I was sent a copy of the lease, I realized that the rental didn’t have enough room for our party of 10, and I notified the owner that I wanted to cancel.

The owner refuses to refund the deposit, saying she runs the rental “like a timeshare.” I don’t even know what that means. That should have been explained in rental agreement, and even more importantly it should be explained to a customer when they are making a $2,060 deposit.
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Something’s still “phishy” about vacation rentals

Gilles/Shutterstock
Gilles/Shutterstock
If you think the words “vacation rental” and “phishing” are all but synonymous, you’re not alone. Just talk to Ann Schutte, who recently found a rental villa with a “million-dollar” view in Sedona, Ariz., through the rental Web site VRBO.com.

A woman claiming to own the property quoted her a $645 rate for five nights if she wired her the money. “After a number of e-mails back and forth, I agreed to the rental,” says Schutte, a property manager from Phoenix. “I received a contract. Everything looked correct on the contract. It even had the rental property address and logo. I signed the agreement, and wired the money through Western Union to the U.K.”
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Can you trust a vacation rental?

Your next rental? / Photo by Loren Sztajer/ Flickr
The two-bedroom apartment in the trendy Tunali neighbor-hood of Ankara, Turkey, that Richard and Ellen Lacroix rented through Airbnb fell dramatically short of their expectations.
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Was his vacation rental too good to be true?

Frank Leibsly says his recent apartment rental in London was a disaster of Olympic proportions, and he has the pictures to prove it.
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New confidentiality clauses can influence vacation rental reviews

Look who's trying to doctor those online reviews! / Photo by I Scott-Flickr
Tom and Terri Dorow didn’t like their recent vacation rental in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Their online review is clear about that. It’s a laundry list of complaints about equipment, appliances and even the appearance of a house they felt didn’t meet the expectations of a $3,500 price tag for five nights.
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Was this Grand Canyon vacation rental a grand scam?

Hey, where did my deposit go?
The rental cabin in Williams, Ariz., she found through VRBO.com had three bedrooms — the perfect size for her family. So last year, Trudi Wood sent the owner a $839 check for a deposit.
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Is this enough compensation? A $300 refund for an oil-soaked vacation

Fort Morgan, Ala., is a quiet Gulf Coast resort known for its sparkling white sand beaches. Well, usually.

Thanks to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill last year, Anne Hill’s spring break on Alabama’s Gulf Coast wasn’t all she had hoped for. She phoned a local rental agency, Meyers Real Estate, and says she inquired about the state of the beaches before booking a vacation rental.

“They said they were in great shape,” she says.

They weren’t.
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