VRBO owner isn't returning money after saying he would

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Mar 16, 2021
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We booked a place in January 2020 for May 2020, our son's Master's graduaiton. Covid happened and all graduation ceremonies were cancelled. We contacted the owner to see if we could reschedule. No response. We contacted VRBO and the owner then responsed and said we could reschedue for July, 2020. July came with a travel restriction to the state we were going to. If we came, we would have to quarentine for 14 days. We couldn't afford to do that. Again, we tried the owner. No response. Contacted VRBO and the owner then responed telling us to cancel our reservation and he would refund our money due to Covid. He put that in writing and he left us a voice mail stating that. Our son moved home July 31 due to losing his job (Covid), so now there is no reason for a rental there. As of March, 2021, nothing from the owner. He won't return email, text, or phone calls. VRBO refunded their fees within 4 weeks but the $810 for the rental the owner still has. I have not contacted my credit card company because it was paid for over a year ago.
 
Dec 19, 2014
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Unfortunately, we are finding out that VRBO is a toothless organization. The problem is, the owner has your $810, not VRBO, and despite assurances from VRBO, the only penalty that VRBO can assess is to ban future listings.

Ultimately, you may have to sue the owner in small claims court.

In the interim, consider writing VRBO's executive team.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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12,603
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San Francisco
I'm beginning to lean toward the idea that booking a VR is just like checking a bag on an airline. When you pack your bag, it will probably arrive, but you should consider that you'll never see those items again. When you book a VR, everything will probably be great, but you should consider that you'll never stay there, nor receive your money back.
 
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Mar 16, 2021
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I did write the excutive team. There is not anything anyone can do. It's up to the owner. Even though he put in writing he would refund all and stated the same thing on a voice mail, he does not have to refund anything.
Yes, it's helpful not to book a nonrefundable place, especially during a pandemic when a travel restriction was placed on travelers coming from our state. We could have gone another time perhaps, but that was not offered.
 
Feb 3, 2017
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Was his message about refunding you sent via the message system on the VRBO website? If not, I doubt VRBO will do anything -

Once you take any communication off their website, you lose whatever "protection" they might offer. You also mention a voice mail - I doubt that too would impact VRBO's position.

I recently booked an apartment with VRBO and the owner and I messaged on the VRBO website a number of times. When I let him know I was definitely ready to book, he sent me - via separate email directly from his company - an agreement to use to book. I messaged him, again through VRBO website, saying I was not going to book off the platform and I was then able to book directly through VRBO with a refundable booking (full refund 14 days pre-arrival)

Had I booked off the platform (saying it would save me the VRBO commission, which it would have), I may not have been assured of a refund should I cancel in time for one.

The owner may well have been trying to save me the commission monies but I chose to pay it for the assurance of a refund. I am not assuming the booking would have been a problem only that I chose not to take a risk that it might be.

VRBO are strict about this issue -
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
25,517
27,955
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
Unfortunately, this is the drawback of using these type of sites. When you pay, the money goes directly to the owner and you are at the mercy of the owner to make an exception for you. Airbnb and VRBO are basically online ad for rentals. You have no protections when using them and in most cases, even a credit card dispute doesn't work because they will look at the fact you knowingly booked a non refundable rate and side with the owner.
 
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Dwayne Coward

Administrator
Staff Member
Director
Apr 13, 2016
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Was his message about refunding you sent via the message system on the VRBO website? If not, I doubt VRBO will do anything -

Once you take any communication off their website, you lose whatever "protection" they might offer. You also mention a voice mail - I doubt that too would impact VRBO's position.

I recently booked an apartment with VRBO and the owner and I messaged on the VRBO website a number of times. When I let him know I was definitely ready to book, he sent me - via separate email directly from his company - an agreement to use to book. I messaged him, again through VRBO website, saying I was not going to book off the platform and I was then able to book directly through VRBO with a refundable booking (full refund 14 days pre-arrival)

Had I booked off the platform (saying it would save me the VRBO commission, which it would have), I may not have been assured of a refund should I cancel in time for one.

The owner may well have been trying to save me the commission monies but I chose to pay it for the assurance of a refund. I am not assuming the booking would have been a problem only that I chose not to take a risk that it might be.

VRBO are strict about this issue -
Unfortunately, we have dealt with a few cases such as this, and even if the owner indicated he would refund using the VRBO messaging system, VRBO has indicated to us they can only enforce the refund if it meets the cancellation policy of the booking or it is for something covered by their guarantee. Any agreements between the guest and owner outside of that are between them. At best VRBO (Airbnb is basically the same) will try to mediate a resolution and possibly refund their fee.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
10,824
12,603
113
San Francisco
Was his message about refunding you sent via the message system on the VRBO website? If not, I doubt VRBO will do anything -

Once you take any communication off their website, you lose whatever "protection" they might offer. You also mention a voice mail - I doubt that too would impact VRBO's position.

I recently booked an apartment with VRBO and the owner and I messaged on the VRBO website a number of times. When I let him know I was definitely ready to book, he sent me - via separate email directly from his company - an agreement to use to book. I messaged him, again through VRBO website, saying I was not going to book off the platform and I was then able to book directly through VRBO with a refundable booking (full refund 14 days pre-arrival)

Had I booked off the platform (saying it would save me the VRBO commission, which it would have), I may not have been assured of a refund should I cancel in time for one.

The owner may well have been trying to save me the commission monies but I chose to pay it for the assurance of a refund. I am not assuming the booking would have been a problem only that I chose not to take a risk that it might be.

VRBO are strict about this issue -
THIS is the perfect anecdote to point out that "booking off the site" is just plain cheating. VRBO deserves compensation for their part of the equation. This kind of thinking shows itself in many areas these days. People want to scheme and scrape ... cheap, cheap, cheap ... booking non-ref hotels for $3 less per night. Then wanting their money back. Perhaps some consumers will read your post and stop to think before they act. People and companies need to be compensated for their contributions, not cheated out of what is rightfully theirs. If you can afford a $1500 vacation trip, you can afford $55 more to make sure all parties receive their share for the work they do.
 
Mar 16, 2021
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His written message was through VRBO and then he left a voice mail. But there has to be an end to this and that end is now. We will not pursue this anymore. We have learned a lot, mainly that we can plan, book, and enjoy a trip without the help of Expedia, VRBO, or Homeaway. For the first time in over 10 years, we had a wonderful trip to Portland without of any from those companies. We already have two trips on the book for the summer and fall and again, we didn't use them. This experience has give us the confidence to manage our own travel. I would say that's a win.
Thank you all for your reponses and encouragement. For us, this is finished.