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VRBO refund
Old 10-26-2015, 11:28 AM   #1
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VRBO refund

I mentioned in another recent VRBO thread that we booked a place in NYC but upon arrival discovered that they had misrepresented the apt. There were numerous good reviews. The listing mentioned that there were multiple nice restaurants and bars within walking distance, amongst other things that were untrue. The neighborhood is a war zone. People loitering everywhere drinking alcohol out of paper bags. 80% of every business is boarded up or had the roll up door pulled down already at 2PM. Over grown lots, bums, grafitti...you get the idea. We later checked crime reports and there had been 3 people shot in that neighborhood in the last week or two.

Anyway, the owner refuses to give a refund because we didnt cancel within 7 days. We didnt cancel because of any reason other than the fact that he obviously misrepresented his apartment and we would have little way of knowing that without seeing the area. We had to book a hotel on Hotwire from my laptop while sitting inside a pharmacy. It was so bad we never even met the owner or went to the actual apartment. The neighborhood was not safe to be in after dark. I wasnt comfortable being there during daylight and I was a cop for 24 years so I can handle myself.

At this point the only recourse I can think of is to dispute the credit card bill and let Visa do their investigation when a customer and merchant have a dispute. Any other ideas?

Obviously I wished we had looked at the street view on Google but its too late for that now.
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Old 10-26-2015, 12:02 PM   #2
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Is VRBO providing any assistance?

I can't think of anything else other than asking Visa to investigate.
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Old 10-26-2015, 12:13 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear of such a bad experience, had not heard of a VRBO listing being that shady before. I'd for sure use the credit card dispute mechanism. Out of curiosity I checked the VRBO site and was surprised to find they have three levels of "protection": Basic Rental Guarantee, that claims 'Listing fraud' up to $1,000 as a protected item; paying with "HomeAway Payments" upping that to $10,000; and the third - "Upgrade to our Carefree Rental Guarantee" that includes 'Property is materially misrepresented (Not as described)' also with $10,000 in protection. I didn't see any details on how much it costs to do that upgrade, maybe it is destination specific. Not sure I understand how material misrepresentation isn't already equivalent to fraud, but Perry Mason I'm not.
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Old 10-26-2015, 01:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by walkinwood View Post
Is VRBO providing any assistance?

I can't think of anything else other than asking Visa to investigate.
We called them while we were there. They sent us a link to fill out a complaint form and told us to include pics. We did all of that and I guess they logged it somewhere, but they said the refund was up to the owner.
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Old 10-26-2015, 01:23 PM   #5
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Our credit rating is over 800 because we pay our debts, but I also make it a point to never pay a debt that I honestly don't feel is justified so I wont pay this one. I'm confident that Visa will side with me when they see the pics, but if they don't for some reason I'm prepared to cancel the credit card and take whatever hit to my credit is caused by not paying.
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Old 10-26-2015, 02:29 PM   #6
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We called them while we were there. They sent us a link to fill out a complaint form and told us to include pics. We did all of that and I guess they logged it somewhere, but they said the refund was up to the owner.
This is the problem with VRBO, it works until it doesn't. When I had my only bad experience thru them as the result of VRBO allowing someone to post a completely bogus fake rental on their site, they were less then helpful. They actually sent me a fraud "we're sorry" notice.

I had paid the amount of about 1100 bucks by check, which is not uncommon for me. Many small accounts owners pay large credit cards fees and get stuck with charge backs complaints from people whining about minor matters. I've had owners offer me a very decent discount for not using credit cards and never had a problem.

When I send a check I buy the Worry Free Coverage which isn't that expensive. So I file a claim on the Worry Free policy. The first thing they say is if you paid by CC you have to claim with the CC company first. Since I paid by check I had to manage a boatload of claim paperwork. Ironic since VRBO admitted to the fake listing. After sending everything but the birth certificate for my firstborn 6 weeks later they send an email saying "Good News, we have approved you claim, expect your money in the next 30 days! I did get the money.

So, leave a very bad review of this property if VRBO is allowing this property to remain listed and be sure and say VRBO refused to go to bat for you.

On balance our VRBO rental have good and saved us money. But if it goes wrong realize your money might be gone for good.

Be sure and let us know who your CC company is and if they do anything for you in a case like this.
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Old 10-26-2015, 02:44 PM   #7
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We used streetview on our VRBO rental in Paris. No impressed but then we knew Paris was different. Also we were also using an agent. We did ask for two referrals that we could contact.

The place turned out to be beautiful. It had been redone by the Brits who owned it.

We have used VRBO many times. But always with the above precautions. If they do not provide referrals, we move on. Also we know what we have to pay to be satisfied. A bargain is for fools.
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Old 10-26-2015, 02:59 PM   #8
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We used streetview on our VRBO rental in Paris. No impressed but then we knew Paris was different. Also we were also using an agent. We did ask for two referrals that we could contact.

The place turned out to be beautiful. It had been redone by the Brits who owned it.

We have used VRBO many times. But always with the above precautions. If they do not provide referrals, we move on. Also we know what we have to pay to be satisfied. A bargain is for fools.
The referral idea is interesting but not foolproof. One would assume the owner would ask permission before releasing someones phone number or email. I know if I got a cold call about a rental I had done I wouldn't be too happy.
So the referral could be legit or someone the owner had coached, how would a person tell one way or the other?

On our bogus rental we paid the going monthly rate, but I really liked the location that the "fake" house was located in, BTW it was streetview of someone's real house, but the listing "owner" was fake. The 1100 bucks was to hold the month with the balance due 15 days before arrival. Ask yourself how the scammer got to post a listing for a house they had nothing to do with on VRBO. Inside job, or not strict enough rules for new properties?
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:02 PM   #9
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I'd do a chargeback with card issuer if VRBO is unresponsive. Putting blatant lies in the listing knowing they are false and expecting renters to rely on that false info is fraud. Also leave a nasty review on the VRBO site. I'd mention the fact that you are a former cop of 24 years and still couldn't take the horrible nature of the 'hood the apartment is located in.
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:32 PM   #10
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This listing has plenty of reviews on the site saying the neighborhood is awesome. They have to have been posted by the owner or friends of his. If thats the case, what good would getting referrals do? All he has to do is give you the number or email address of a couple of his friends.
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:41 PM   #11
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You should post the VRBO listing here so anyone googling/researching might find this thread.
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:42 PM   #12
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This listing has plenty of reviews on the site saying the neighborhood is awesome. They have to have been posted by the owner or friends of his. If thats the case, what good would getting referrals do? All he has to do is give you the number or email address of a couple of his friends.
Now, supposedly VRBO has safeguards in place so that only legit renters can leave a review. If you have trouble with the owner and a rental doesn't occur you can't post feedback. After my experience, I take the reviews with a grain of salt, they might be real and they might not.
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:05 PM   #13
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My wife did all the legwork on the property. From what the owner told her, we went to the wrong subway stop and if we had gone to a different one, our walk towards the apt would've been nicer. Maybe so, but that's still their fault for not telling us that the apt is surrounded on one or more sides with blight and advising us which way to come and go.
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:18 PM   #14
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Obviously they aren't going to offer that information pre-rental as it might put off a possible renter. Do you have this comment in writing? I think it would help your case with VISA....
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Old 10-26-2015, 09:41 PM   #15
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My wife did all the legwork on the property. From what the owner told her, we went to the wrong subway stop and if we had gone to a different one, our walk towards the apt would've been nicer. Maybe so, but that's still their fault for not telling us that the apt is surrounded on one or more sides with blight and advising us which way to come and go.
Might be some legitimacy to that since in cities the good area and the bad area aren't always separated by wide distances, but sometimes just a few blocks. Or daytime = okay; nighttime = dangerous. At least that's how I perceive areas around my part of the city.
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Old 10-26-2015, 11:32 PM   #16
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The VRBO and Visa response sounds very disappointing.

I have only done a dispute once, and that was recently with Discover Card, on a major merchant ( Time Warner). Discover immediately credited my account, and then required the merchant to respond. If the CC co. sides with the merchant, the charge re-appears, if not, or the merchant does not respond the credit stays.

If you can't get Visa to refund, then the merchant ( aka scumbag vacation rental operator) still gets paid. If Visa sides with the merchant, refusing to pay the cc bill will only hurt you.

Just a thought, does the district atty.where the rental is located have a fraud section where you could file a criminal complaint ?
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Old 10-27-2015, 12:25 AM   #17
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Now, supposedly VRBO has safeguards in place so that only legit renters can leave a review. If you have trouble with the owner and a rental doesn't occur you can't post feedback. After my experience, I take the reviews with a grain of salt, they might be real and they might not.

Since the owner is keeping his money he should be able to leave a review...
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Old 10-27-2015, 12:26 AM   #18
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To the OP...

I do not think you will get anywhere with your CC... from what you say the owner followed the terms of the contract.... your argument is good for small claims court, not with the CC company....
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Old 10-27-2015, 08:27 AM   #19
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To the OP...

I do not think you will get anywhere with your CC... from what you say the owner followed the terms of the contract.... your argument is good for small claims court, not with the CC company....
We will see. AT this point they have put a hold on the charge while the investigation is done. I actually find that the CC companies usually side with the customer. They don't want to lose the customers business as I can easily cancel my card and get a different one. They know the merchant cant just cancel their account and stay in business.

The person on the phone was very sympathetic towards our situation although I realize she wont be the person handling the investigation.

Like I said, either way Im not paying the bill. Even if an $800 disputed and unpaid bill shows up on my credit it wont do much at all to my credit rating. If it drops me from 810 to 770 for a year it wont make any difference at all to my day to day credit life, but I will get the satisfaction of knowing this guy wont get over on me like he probably has lots of others. Im hoping he has enough other complaints and charge backs that it causes him a problem with his credit card company
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Old 10-27-2015, 10:29 AM   #20
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If you are planning to go that route, get another credit card with as high a credit limit as poss. if you have not already done so.

Under $1,000 , the cc. issuing bank will prob. not go to court for a judgement against you, but I think your credit will drop to the 600 range for years.
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