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Verify legitimate agent and rental site + are they, or owner or manager the responsible party?

Discussion in 'Vacation Rentals' started by Richard C, Jun 12, 2017.

  1. Richard C

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    We are in the process of booking a villa in St. Martin for early December and are about to send a confirmation check to save the 3.5% credit card fee. We found the property listed on the Internet under St-Martin-Vacation.com. When we requested information about the property we were directed to a particular agent who described herself as a Conde' Nast Travel Specialist. The property we want to rent for a week is called the Matisse & we have been directed to send the initial deposit and all other rental payments to:
    Blue Ocean Villas
    16506 Lambourne Road
    Midlothian, VA 23112
    Question1: How can we verify that this is a legitimate agent and rental site and not some scam to avoid?

    We did try to check out this agent by a search on the Internet of her name, which provided some information that seemed positive, and a Conde' Nast labeled site shows her picture & info. However, there was one very negative review we found from a renter that had several problems with the property he had rented from the agent - Instead of working with this disgruntled renter to resolve the property problems, she reportedly told them to contact the property owner. That doesn't sound very ethical to us.
    Question 2: Is that typical for a property rental agent to avoid helping renters resolve property problems by dumping the responsibility over to the property owner?

    We would appreciate knowing as soon as possible whatever light you can shed on on our questions.
     
    #1
  2. VoR61

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    There are two concerns I have with this scenario:
    1. Even though the check will save 3.5%, you lose any and all ability to recover the funds via a credit card dispute. We have seen many issues here that arise from the cash (check writing) approach. And your credit card may include limited travel insurance.
    2. The so-called Conde' Nast agent is unwilling (according to the review you read) to work with the renter in the event of an issue or issues. Anytime someone takes my money and then refers me to another person or entity I become concerned.
    Now that said, Airbnb will refer you to a host for resolution, but they also retain some ownership for issue and appeals.

    Only you can decide how to proceed. At a minimum, I would sacrifice the 3.5% to protect my investment ...

    Amended: I also strongly recommend you purchase Travel Insurance
     
    #2
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2017
    JVillegirl541, Patina, Neil and 2 others like this.
  3. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Don't use a check. You have absolutely no recourse if this is a scam or you don't get what is promised. Sometimes penny wise is pound foolish.

    This smells. But I will tell you if you use Airbnb thru tell you the same thing- work it out with owner. But they sell insurance.

    You need to be very careful with travel insurance because many do not cover rentals like this.
     
    #3
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  4. jsn55

    Staff Member Advocate

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    I have little direct knowledge, but I know this: 1) use a credit card, do not use check/cash ever and 2) If this agent has many reviews and only one bad one, she may have had a dofus for a client ... one of those people who is never happy. Did you look at Yelp for the agent? How about the Blue Ocean entity that's in charge? Does the property itself have reviews and is there any way to contact past tenants? There are so many renting opportunities in the tropics, I'd move on if you're not completely comfortable. Based on what I've learned on this forum, I go for a hotel every time ... I don't like being anxious about a vacation rental. Good luck and please let us know what transpires.
     
    #4
    Patina likes this.
  5. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    Find a travel agent that does villa or house rentals. Then you have some recourse if anything happens. They are your advocates.
     
    #5
    jsn55 and Patina like this.
  6. Richard C

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    #6
  7. Richard C

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    We really thank all of you for your great replies and suggestions. We started with Airbnb and Home away, but after much research, we have booked what we believe to be a great place with the agent we wrote about. Our original post was at the beginning of our investigation and we had read just one negative review about the agent. Since then we have done a lot more research and have read many great reviews, and are comfortable with the agency, the agent and the property. Blue Ocean Villas is the rental agent acting on behalf of the owner. We have been corresponding with the agent, Sonja, and have read testimonials on the website and through other sources on the Internet. Sonja has answered numerous questions that will be very helpful once we get there. And once we are there, there is a local management company who is in charge of handling issues/problems with the property, and the agent assures us we should contact her if there are any problems with this management company. If this is a scam, they are doing a fabulous job of it. We did pay by credit card as was suggested on your posts, and have saved all our correspondence with the agent. If you are curious, the website is Blue Ocean Villas, which lists many properties. Ours is https://blueoceanvillas.com/listings/beachfront-house-matisse-orient-beach-french-stmartin/ Thanks again to all of you for your time and advice! Oh...forgot to add, we DID purchase rental insurance, 37 pages of it!
     
    #7
  8. VoR61

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    You should consider Travel Insurance as well. A lot can happen outside of the rental expenses (especially trip cancellation and medical expenses).

    I highly recommend you speak with a travel insurance broker prior to purchasing. They know what to ask (that you and I don't) in order to steer you toward the right coverage for your needs. Here are some of the available coverages to consider:
    • BASIC policies (or "lite" as they are often labeled). These offer limited coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delays, and baggage issues. But too often they fail to meet the needs of travelers due to their restricted coverages (i.e., covered reasons). COMPREHENSIVE policies can cover one or more of the following for a nominal cost:
    • Cancel for Any Reason. Covers 50-75% of your non-refundables depending on the policy
    • Cruise Cancellation. Covers non-refundables not purchased through the cruise line
    • Employment Layoff. Being unemployed is hard enough without a failsafe for trip costs
    • Financial Default. Covers when a travel provider is no longer in business
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation. Costs can be in the tens-of-thousands!
    • Hospital of Choice. Without this you are transported to the nearest facility
    • Pre-existing Medical Waiver. Covers conditions that insurers decide is "pre-existing"
    • Primary Medical. Places the insurer first in line for claims. Eliminates the need to file with your own insurance.
    Be aware that no single policy will cover every possible reason for cancellation at 100%, and that there are time restrictions (e.g., signing up, cancellation) with every policy ...
     
    #8
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  9. AAGK

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    There's never a problem until there is a problem, though.
    I would only use Wimco for a Caribbean villa rental.
    3.5% seems a small price to pay for the protection.
     
    #9
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  10. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    You can also do a search on complaints for a company online too. Just Google "reviews for whateverthecompany name is" or go to the BBB and do a search for the company. That's an easy way to see if there have been complaints
     
    #10
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  11. joycexyz

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    I am in total agreement. Please don't be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Many times the desire to save a few dollars leads to a boat-load of trouble. If nothing else, the use of a credit card buys some peace of mind.
     
    #11
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  12. kenish

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    Agree or disagree, OP has gone ahead and purchased through the agent after a lot of due diligence. See post #7. So no need to repeat the caveats, IMHO.

    @Richard C thanks for the update, and please let us know how it turns out. Of course I hope the outcome is a good one.
     
    #12

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