Untrustworty Review System
Sep 21, 2010
DislikesOtherPoor customer support
This site has a bogus and worthless traveler review system. The system
has no quality control measures to validate reviews. The reviews are
subjective and manipulated by reviewers and homeowners alike. Travelers
may say anything they like about a property no matter how untrue and
outrageous. Some travelers even plant malicious negative reviews to harm
homeowners (failed attempt to blackmail a homeowner with a negative
review to extort a refund). Homeowners often game the system by getting
customers to plant positive reviews. The bottom line is you cannot trust
the traveler review system, and DO NOT base your rental decision based
on traveler reviews as they are likely unreliable and invalid.
Facebook User (Power Visitor)
The best use of this site is Other. LikesActive community
DislikesHard to navigatePoor customer supportSite is slow and unresponsive
I list 3 properties with HomeAway of my own, and at one time had about
25 that I manage with them. The customer service has never been much of
anything. Their focus is on getting more & more owners, and
advertisers, but they don't seem concerned with providing us value for
the money. Their advertising encourages vacation rentals as a bargain,
bashes hotels, and now smushes the test baby. People who relate to these
are not our target market. It's mom, grandpa, and extended families
making the decision. Bleck.
Hard to list. Heavy handed managment.
Nov 18, 2011
dbo9 (Casual Visitor)
The best use of this site is Other.
Canibalistic predators - I believe from Texas - that have bought several
existing vacation rental sites and proceeded to destroy them by
murdering everything in them that was good and usefull, replacing them
with just ways to milk their subscribers for every penny. Also idiotic
policy and system.
Not focused on customers
Mar 03, 2012
upstateny (Power Visitor)
LikesEasy to navigate
DislikesOtherPoor customer support
I have three waterfront homes listed in upstate NY. I find the site
easy to navigate and ok to update and I appreciate that there are a good
number of hits by potential guests. However the "good" ends there.
Customer Service: they have NONE - people to answer the phone, but no
technology knowledge or ability to correct any bugs with the system. I
have had bugs open for over a year. They consistently are advertising
IN YOUR FACE additional features for additional cost before you can
actually use the site. The site is expensive compared to its
competitors. Using their payment system for rentals is very expensive.
I am just waiting for competitor sites to improve their traffic and I
San Francisco, CA
When we arrived at the property listed as #153095 on the website, for our
reserved time, the key lock box did not work. We called the owner and
he said he didn't know who I was. When I told him I had documentation
from him to me, then he started saying it was the wrong week. I again
stated I had documentation from him to me confirming the date and
showing he had charged my credit card. Then he said the maid hadn't been
there so the house was dirty. We didn't take the house.
The website Vacation Rentals By Owner offers the promise of 150, 000 properties to rent for days, weeks or months.
Most listings show pictures of the properties and traveler reviews. Boulder resident Jason Mendelson spent about $10, 000 for a
three-month rental of a one-bedroom house in Yountville, California, a Napa town renowned for its culinary offerings. The house had racked up several positive reviews from renters on VRBO.com.
About a month and a half into the rental period, after hearing late night scratching through the walls, Mendelson’s fiancé realized that the house had been infested with rats. The owner Lupe DeLeon says rats are an unfortunate epidemic in the area (disconcerting for diners who shell out small fortunes for a meal at nearby Thomas Keller’s French Laundry).
For Mendelson and his fiancé, the rat outbreak led to disputes with DeLeon over cleaning fees and reimbursement for a hotel stay.
Chalking it up to a bad experience, Mendelson simply wanted to give his appraisal of the landlord and property in the same place where other renters had written their positive reviews on VRBO.com. Mendelson sent his comments to VRBO. But a week later, Mendelson made a surprising discovery. Instead of posting his opinion of the property, VBRO removed all reviews for DeLeon’s listing. “My ultimate issue was not with the landlord. I thought I owed it to the VRBO community to let them know what my experience was, ” says Mendelson. “I was extremely disappointed that they don’t want to have a
transparent marketplace of communication about these things.” Mendelson’s initial review is now posted on his personal blog.
Mendelson’s experience raises the question of what types of disclosures consumers should expect on sites that let strangers exchange goods and services. DeLeon pays $300 per year to list each of his properties on VRBO.com. “Owners say they pay us to advertise their properties so they feel like they should have a say, ” says Alexis De Belloy, a Vice President at Vacation Rentals By Owner’s parent company, Home Away.com. DeLeon agrees: “I didn’t want to give them the opportunity to just trash me, ” he says. “I know I could’ve responded on the site, but I didn’t want to get into it.”
VRBO’s official policy is to let owners either open up their properties to all reviews, both positive and negative, or none, says De Belloy. De Belloy says VRBO.com is the only one of HomeAway’s 15 websites, including three US vacation rental sites, that allows owners to opt out of reviews. On HomeAway’s other websites, he says, owners must show all reviews. DeLeon, who lists three other properties in California and Mexico on VRBO, still shows traveler reviews on his other
VRBO did not engage in overtly deceptive advertising. Mary Engle, the associate director for advertising practices with the Federal Trade Commission, says the agency has clear rules for what constitutes deceptive advertising.
The FTC, she says, might take action against a website which posted only positive reviews and dropped negative ones without making that clear to the consumer. Still she says the FTC hasn’t seen a case like this yet, and VRBO’s opt-out policy clearly doesn’t fit into that paradigm.
The company’s policy does raise questions about overall transparency and consumer expectations online and on new online marketplaces, forums that are rapidly proliferating. VRBO tries to both serve potential buyers who want more insight into properties they might rent and sellers who pay the website for the service of listing their homes. While
consumers wouldn’t expect other companies that sell goods online to air every consumer gripe, VRBO appears to trade on the crowdsourcing check on quality that sites like Yelp offer by posting reviews. Yet, VRBO is ultimately a forum for paid advertising. While consumers who spend enough time on the site might realize that some owners have opted out of
reviews and come to understand VRBO’s policy, it’s not explicitly clear.
Social media has democratized the public airing of complaints. Anyone can post negative reviews on their personal blog and hope for an audience. As a managing director at Boulder, Colorado venture firm The Foundry Group, Mendelson has an outsized social media presence and more ways to get the word out than the typical consumer. Other people had
similar experiences, as you can see from the comments’ section of his blog. Have you had a similar experience with reviews or overall transparency on other websites? Drop me a line at [protected]@forbes.com or leave a comment below.
From owners perspective, its a poor customer experience as well. While
support is very polite, they are entirely inadequate in taking care of
thier owner customers, almost feels like they are monopolistic in their
approach. Wait, that is exactly the problem.
I hope that the VPs are listening. its rather sad to see basic logic not prevail in a good austin based company.
Joan C.I have used Homeaway for my vacation rental home for three years. While the
web site is easy to navigate for owners and renters alike, their customer service department is woefully inadequate.
As an owner, I pay a fee each year to have my home listed. For this fee, I expect at
least a shred of support when there's an issue with my site.
Today I made the sixth phone call to customer support. Each time, I receive the same reply: technical support is working on it, and they will call me back, or the customer service rep will call me back.
Each time I've been patient, but today I lost it and today I'm Yelping!!!
Bottom line: $350+ for the listing, and no support at all. Terrible.