VRBO / Vacation Rentals By Owner — no provision for refund on rental not as advertised
This is a criticism of VRBO and a particular landlord. The VRBO complaint is this: There is no provision for refund when the property turns out not to be as promised. You're just screwed, that's all. They require you to cancel 2 weeks in advance to get a full refund and one week for 50% refund. In my case, I found the property to be totally unsuitable and not what was promised, so the owner walked away with a week's worth of rent ($600) and I had to drive 75 miles further to obtain lodging, for which I was compensated $0.
Here's the story. My girlfriend and I rented a cabin in the mountains, outside of Las Vegas NM. Denmin Cabin, owner Lacey Loe, property number 1352896. The owner listed all the amenities including WIFI and kitchen. We were given an access code for the door. Before arriving we received an email that we shouldn't use the stove (!), so I suppose we were supposed to eat sandwiches all week, as the property is way out of town, 30-45 minutes down a narrow mountain road with a shear drop and no guard rails for much of the way.
When we arrived, no one was there, so we tried the access code on the door, about 20-30 times, with breaks in between. No way to get into the cabin. We tried contacting the owner via phone (no service) and email (no WIFI). Then the guys 30 yards away, across the road, came back from break and fired up their chain saws and heavy equipment for the log cabin they were building. Ever heard a chainsaw in a narrow mountain valley? Since the cabin was about half built, it was evident that the noise had been going on for a few weeks and would continue throughout our stay. We'd had no warning.
We rented the cabin in part because of the promised WIFI. My girlfriend was on a working vacation and absolutely needed reliable WIFI in order to finish work with deadlines this week. So, we left the cabin after half an hour or so and drove 40 minutes until we could get bars on the phone. The owner was initially cooperative on the phone and offered a 1-night refund since we were not going to be able to stay the first night. We lost the phone connection while driving in the mountains to find other accommodations.
Later, my girlfriend sent an email offering to pay for 2 nights (the minimum stay) and suggesting that, due to the unsuitability, we should receive a refund for the other 5 nights. The email we received back was frankly legalistic, accusatory and bullying. He said he was a paralegal and knew about contracts and I wasn't entitled to anything. Then he said he believed we had some hidden agenda and tried to make himself out as the victim. (Remember, he already had $600 of our money and we had to find and pay for other accommodations, gas, and lose our vacation time.) We responded to his email and he arbitrarily canceled our reservation (meaning, he stole our money and gave us nothing but grief in return).
Now, with the reservation canceled, it is possible that VRBO won't even let me write a review. There was no other reason for him to cancel, other than maybe now he could double dip by keeping our money and renting the cabin again this week to some other unsuspecting folks. I notice that he now has added an ALL CAPS sentence on the cabin listing about "MINIMAL HOME REBUILDING SOUNDS" (chainsaw noise is minimal?) to cover himself in future. Well, if I am allowed to write a review on VRBO, I will mention that, in addition to the room payment, Mr. Loe also kept the cleaning fee (we never set foot in the cabin, so how could it need cleaning?) and the taxes, which I'm sure he won't pay, since we didn't actually stay there. Then of course, there is the money that VRBO gets that we'll never see again. And, the promised refund for our first night? We didn't get that, either.
Needless to say, I'm deleting the VRBO app and will never do business with them again. It's always the case in this country that the businesses get protection and the consumer gets none, and VRBO is a prime example.
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