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VRBO-Safe? Experiences
Old 10-18-2015, 01:04 PM   #1
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VRBO-Safe? Experiences

Looking at doing a one month rental in Puerto Vallarta through VRBO-perhaps 2 months.

Do they have safeguards against scammers, etc.

Any good or bad experiences? Is it the norm to negotiate?
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Old 10-18-2015, 01:14 PM   #2
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Domestic, we've done around 9 or 10 and had one bad one,unfortunately that was on VRBO as they let a bogus listing slip thru. I used all the safeguards and it didn't help me one bit. I got my money back because I purchased the Worry-Free Vacation insurance from VRBO.

Haven't done an international rental.. if you read the VRBO website they will give you a list of basic precautions you should take. I'm not as high on VRBO as I was a few years ago due to my last experience with them.
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Old 10-18-2015, 03:08 PM   #3
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We've used VRBO, and similar sites many times, here in the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Spain and France. It is always nerve racking trying to avoid scammers but DW, who does all of this, does a great job and so far we have never had any problems.

She does do a bit of negotiating for the longer rentals (3 or 4 weeks).
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Old 10-18-2015, 09:37 PM   #4
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Done it in Puerto Rico, Puerto Vallatra and Amsterdam. No complaints. YMMV.
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Old 10-19-2015, 06:44 AM   #5
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Done several without a problem. I had a couple of worrisome interactions where I thought I might have made a mistake but they always worked out in the end.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:22 AM   #6
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Done 3 of them (with 4th upcoming). Nice, Barcelona and Florida. All with no problem. I try to pick ones with lots of positive reviews but the one near Nice actually had no reviews and was great.
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Old 10-19-2015, 07:49 AM   #7
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We've used VRBO and/or AirBNB 4 times. 1 times was great but the other 3 times were a disaster. 3 were so bad, that we didnt even stay there. In fact, the last time was 2 days ago. We booked a place in NYC. I wanted to stay in Manhattan but the wife wanted more space so she found a place on VRBO in Brooklyn. She grew up in NYC so she knows the ins and outs of how far everything is, but some of he neighborhoods have changed since shes lived there.

This neighborhood was described as an up and coming, yuppie, artistic neighborhood. We got off the train and within 5 seconds I knew we made a mistake. It was an all black neighborhood. Im not the least bit racist, but Im also a retired police officer and I know a bad, unsafe neighborhood when I see one. THis was not a place you would want to be after dark. There were adult males on every corner drinking alcohol out of paper bags. It was 2PM and almost every business was either boarded up or had the roll up cage closed. The only artistic thing about this neighborhood was the offensive graffiti everywhere.

We called the owner and told her we wanted a refund. She gave us a song and dance about it being up to VRBO, not her. We called VRBO and they said if we didnt feel safe we should leave and go to the website and click a link they gave us to request a refund. They told us to include pictures. We took 5-6 pics that would turn anyone away without even moving from the spot we were standing.

We went into a pharmacy that you, that had a glass cage inside, that you had to be buzzed past to actually enter the pharmacy. I sat down, opened my laptop and booked a hotel on Hotwire. It was between Times Square and Grand Central and was cheaper than this VRBO place. We are going thru the refund process now.

That is the second time that we sat down right there and booked a room from my laptop after the VRBO apt was unsuitable. The last one was in Chicago. We got there at noon and the place wasn't ready. We went out and toured the city and came back at 6PM all hot and sweaty ready for showers. The place still wasnt clean and not only that but they had a camera crew inside our apt shooting some sort of advertising campaign for some business. They wanted us to wait outside until they were done. We demanded our money back (we had paid cash that time for some reason) and sat down on the curb and booked a 4 star hotel (Priceline) on the Navy Pier cheaper than the apt.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:19 AM   #8
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Utrecht did you leave a review on VRBO?
We've used VRBO many times for years and have had only a couple times the place wasn't either as described or not as clean. Going back to the reviews we just missed a couple key points. Overall we like VRBO and will continue using them.
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Old 10-19-2015, 08:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by folivier View Post
Utrecht did you leave a review on VRBO?
We've used VRBO many times for years and have had only a couple times the place wasn't either as described or not as clean. Going back to the reviews we just missed a couple key points. Overall we like VRBO and will continue using them.
We are waiting to get a refund before posting a negative review. If we dont get a refund I will protest the credit card bill. There are lots of good reviews about this neighborhood on the listing. They have to have been posted by the owner's friends because they are outright lies.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:20 AM   #10
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I forgot to mention a very bad experience that happened to a friend of mine. A Mother/daughter pre-cruise stay in Italy. My friend is a 30 year flight attendant and very savvy. She picked an expensive place in a good safe neighborhood. The apartment looked very secure and was beautiful. When they returned from an afternoon sightseeing trip they had been robbed of all their passports, money and electronics. She was pretty upset because she felt it was probably an inside job and not something random.

There seem to be a few more issues with overseas rentals, where it's really hard to have a backup plan.
When I was ripped off on my rental, VRBO itself sent me the fraud notice, I had purchased insurance directly from VRBO and it was like pulling teeth to get my money back. I'm really on the fence about VRBO now.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:37 AM   #11
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To address the problem Utrecht mentioned, you can usually get the property owner to send you the address of the property then you can look at google streetview to check out the area surrounding the property. Those dudes drinking 40's from a paper bag will show up (along with the artistic graffiti) in Google Streetview.

Using this technique, we almost skipped an airbnb rental because it looked like it was in a bad neighborhood in Montreal. Turns out it wasn't bad at all, just a small amount of graffiti and otherwise a nice artsy neighborhood filled with mixed-income tenants (that mostly spoke French).

Our two VRBO rentals were perfectly acceptable. Once at a lake house in the NC mountains and once in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The Oaxaca house wasn't quite as nice as we hoped (bathrooms were a little more dated than we would like), but the location and price were unbelievably good. We had a few problems while we were there, but the landlord was on the go immediately to fix what he could. During our stay, we broke a few things (thanks, 3 year old kid!), and the landlord let us slide on those because of the excessive amount of problems we had (some of which were "life in Mexico" problems like the water being shut off for 3 weeks or more, and us depleting the cistern reserves after 1 week of living there). At $21/nt, we got a decent 3 bedroom, 3 bath rental with a well equipped kitchen, multiple patios/gardens, good location near town in an upscale Mexican neighborhood (neighbors included a yoga studio and orthodontists and dentists). That's why I can't complain!
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:40 AM   #12
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Good idea FUEGO. I have no idea why we didnt think of that.
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Old 10-19-2015, 10:51 AM   #13
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We've had mostly excellent experiences on VRBO and have used them extensively. I don't like eating every meal in a restaurant so I prefer to stay in places with kitchens - which is not typical in hotel rooms.

How to avoid issues:
- Look for rentals that have reviews. Read the reviews. Decide if they are relevant (some reviewers get nit-picky, others gloss over negatives... you have to read and decide if it's an issue for YOU.)

- Look at the availability - if the calendar is mostly booked, it's likely an attractive rental.

- Pay attention to the map view.

- If you have questions about the neighborhood - email the owner. Have him/her send you pictures of the neighborhood or give you the address.

We had two issues on our 9 week vacation this past summer. (11 rentals through VRBO/Homeaway). One was a complicated suspended bed system - I knew going in there was this bed. It was in Paris in a good neighborhood and the bed was the only negative. The other one had issues that were mentioned in the reviews. (Noise outside the apartment). Neither were deal breakers for us - just issues that I mentioned in my reviews of the place.
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Old 10-19-2015, 11:18 AM   #14
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Nothing but good experiences domestically. Good experience in Canada and a great experience in Paris. We read the reviews - it turns out that many property owners post their property on multiple sites like homeaway, vrbo, etc. They'll tend to post the same description so find a key phrase and google it. That'll open up the door for even more reviews. That's not perfect of course, but we also never go with a property with zero reviews, either.


Also you can never be too early to contact the owner before your trip. Many don't bother to keep their calendars up to date (when they have them). So just because it shows to be available, it might not be.
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:00 PM   #15
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Homeaway and VRBO are the same company. Listings will show on both sites.
Same with Flipkey and Tripadvisor, I think.
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:18 PM   #16
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I own a house listed on VRBO and its a great place with over 30 reviews from our guests, all of them 5 stars. We have rented a dozen other properties using VRBO and haven't had a bad experience yet. You tend to get what you pay for. Renting a 5 bedroom house on Cape San Blas in a couple of weeks. Very expensive but a new build house that looks extremely well equipped. My one rule is I won't rent a place that doesn't have a lot of 5 star reviews. Most scammers have new listings with no reviews.
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:21 PM   #17
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[QUOTE=rodi;1646396]Homeaway and VRBO are the same company. Listings will show on both sites.
Same with Flipkey and Tripadvisor, I think.[/QUOTE

VRBO and Homeaway merged some time ago. Vacationrentals.com are also part of them as well as a host of others (check out the bottom of the vrbo.com page)

Regardless, the listings aren't automatically on all of the sites unless the property owner buys a bundle.

https://www.homeaway.com/info/owner-toolkit/bundles
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:22 PM   #18
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Used it ten times, including 5-6 trips to Hawaii, with no real problems. I second the thoughts on using Google street view. I always poke around the neighborhood and make sure I have the exact location. Many "steps from the beach" places are technically correct - but two thousand steps is a bit much for a family with tiny ones. Often people will take "view" pictures that aren't from their property but closer to the attraction (ocean etc.), I always look for pictures taken from within the home looking out the window. I had one place claim to be on the beach but actually had a see wall behind it with waves crashing against it - not kid friendly. That was annoying but it was a short walk to the beach so we just rolled with it. Overall, pretty happy with the experience.
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:27 PM   #19
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So far so good in the few times we tried it. We rented a house on Marco island, an apartment on the Oregon coast, and a log cabin at Point Roberts, WA

All of these were really nice and way better than a hotel and a lot cheaper.

We corresponded via phone and email which gave me some comfort in addition to the reviews.
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Old 10-19-2015, 12:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rodi View Post
We've had mostly excellent experiences on VRBO and have used them extensively. I don't like eating every meal in a restaurant so I prefer to stay in places with kitchens - which is not typical in hotel rooms. .....
I rent timeshares to get a kitchen and they are always better than a hotel room.
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