HomeAway blocks negative reviews

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Sep 4, 2017
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#1
Curious if anybody else has had this problem. I have used VRBO for vacation rentals before with no issues. Stayed in Lauderdale by the Sea a few weeks ago. Rental was horrible experience - A/C didn't work properly, unit was dirty on arrival, roaches in drawers, etc. Property manager gave lip service but did nothing. Took 30 days to get our deposit return even though I insisted property manager do a walk through when we left and he said it was in better shape when we left than when we arrived, not to hard to imagine that based on condition.

Bottom line is the homeowner listed our reservation as cancelled while we were still there. That blocked us from reviewing. He didn't refund our money, took forever to return deposit.

Have talked to attorney but expensive to fight. But this is wrong, They are protecting bad rentals by blocking negative reviews. VRBO said sorry if the reservation was cancelled nothing we can do. How can it be listed as cancelled while we were there. Very unethical by both homeowner and VRBO.

Anybody had similar issues? All I want is to post an honest review, but if this is a standard practice it seems there should be some action that could be taken.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
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San Francisco
#2
Wow, Jimmy, that's a really clever way to block your review ... gotta hand it to these jerks. Every time I see an issue with a vacation rental I wish that an independent website/forum would appear for VRs. Like CruiseCritic or TripAdvisor, it would really be helpful ... people would know to check there before finalizing their VR.
 
Likes: divinemsmstl
Sep 4, 2017
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#3
Creative it is. I am curious about just how wide spread this practice it. Seems like some kind of deceptive advertising when properties have high average reviews but negative one's are blocked. I am thinking this property owner is not the only one to know this, and HomeAway is clearly ignoring it as they refused to help. I understand it is in their best interest to avoid negative reviews, but really dishonest from my perspective.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,772
12,753
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
If they marked it as canceled, did they refund your money?
Maybe you should go back to the owner and tell him since he "canceled " your stay he owes you a refund and that you will contact your credit card company. Try to call his bluff.

See if we have company contacts for whoever you used and write to the Executives. They need to know this is happening.

The fact that you can't warn anyone is ridiculous. But did you book through Homeaway or VRBO? Your title says HomeAway but your post says VRBO.
 
Sep 4, 2017
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#5
No refund of money. Took 30 days for deposit to finally be returned. It was through HomeAway, although complaints come back through their VRBO division for some reason. Since the terms of the rental agreement required cancellation in advance of the rental date credit card company can't do anything. Based on the way the owner and property manager handled it seems pretty obvious to me they have figured out the system.

Here was HomeAway/VRBO's last email response to me saying there was nothing they could do. I made the mistake of telling them I was so frustrated I was going to check with an attorney to see about what could be done and at that point they will not communicate further. They don't even deal with the issue at hand - namely that their system allows an owner to cancel a booked and completed reservation specifically to prevent a review from being written.

"Thank you for contacting VRBO Trust & Security. We sincerely apologize for the delay in our response. We are experiencing an unusually high volume of activity on the site and are working hard to help our customers as soon as we can.

I apologize for the situation you've encountered with this property. It appears there may have been a mishap in the refund, but I was able to verify with our payment processor that it has been corrected and you have been refunded the damage deposit. I understand your situation was frustrating, but you are not entitled a full refund. If you would like a full refund, please reach out to the property owner.

Unfortunately, once a reservation has been cancelled, it won't allow for a review. I apologize for the inconvenience."
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
12,772
12,753
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
Use our company contacts and write to the Executives telling them that this homeowner is getting around the review system by marking bookkngabas canceked and that it is impossible to warn others on the filthy conditions in the house because of this and they should terminate the landlord. If you have pictures- all the better to bolster you claim.
 
Sep 4, 2017
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#7
Thanks for the suggestion. I did reach out to the CEO contact listed via email. But since their customer support team wasn't too interested not thinking I will hear back. Honestly I could care less about the refund. It is clear that is going to be almost impossible to pull off getting money back, so I just chalk it up to a learning experience.

My curiosity really is this appears to be an intentional way the company is allowing reviews to be avoided. In their email to me they acknowledge the stay was completed, but they can't do anything if a reservation is listed as cancelled even if it wasn't. If others have had the same experience then the issue should be pursued, my biggest goal is to find out if other people have had the same experience with being blocked from writing a review because their completed stay was cancelled before they could review.

Maybe mine was the one in a million dishonest homeowner, or maybe HomeAway ratings are deeply flawed as the company allows a way to block negative reviews. Thanks again Neil.
 
Nov 14, 2016
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#9
If they marked it as canceled, did they refund your money?
Maybe you should go back to the owner and tell him since he "canceled " your stay he owes you a refund and that you will contact your credit card company. Try to call his bluff.
I'm usually cautious on the cc dispute thing but I'd be tempted to do that here. Print out the cancellation and use that as evidence that the owner canceled the stay. File for a chargeback. Let the owner have to try to refute the "cancellation" with hard evidence in hand that the stay was canceled. It should be fun watching them trying to respond to that.

If someone wants to try to be dishonest and game the system I'm all for letting it bite them in the ass. It will teach them a lesson. But that's just me...and Neil. :)
 
Feb 9, 2016
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#10
I'm usually cautious on the cc dispute thing but I'd be tempted to do that here. Print out the cancellation and use that as evidence that the owner canceled the stay. File for a chargeback. Let the owner have to try to refute the "cancellation" with hard evidence in hand that the stay was canceled. It should be fun watching them trying to respond to that.

If someone wants to try to be dishonest and game the system I'm all for letting it bite them in the ass. It will teach them a lesson. But that's just me...and Neil. :)
While I am always one for hard core retaliation :D, filing a credit card dispute against charges that are actually valid (yes, the condition of the rental makes this word 'valid' debatable) seems a little risky. Wouldn't that amount to fraud?
 
Nov 14, 2016
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#11
While I am always one for hard core retaliation :D, filing a credit card dispute against charges that are actually valid (yes, the condition of the rental makes this word 'valid' debatable) seems a little risky. Wouldn't that amount to fraud?
Yes, it is and you know that I don't encourage fraud. However, to me the consumer didn't really get what they're owed - things like roaches are not acceptable - and this fake cancellation prevents them from seeking any other recourse or warning other customers. So I'd be tempted to meet their fraud with my fraud, depending on what's been put in writing thus far. I'd at least use the threat of it to get a partial refund (this is when I use the PHONE and not put this in writing). But it could be that I'm just extra-grumpy today. :)
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
6,666
113
San Francisco
#12
If they marked it as canceled, did they refund your money?
Maybe you should go back to the owner and tell him since he "canceled " your stay he owes you a refund and that you will contact your credit card company. Try to call his bluff.

See if we have company contacts for whoever you used and write to the Executives. They need to know this is happening.

The fact that you can't warn anyone is ridiculous. But did you book through Homeaway or VRBO? Your title says HomeAway but your post says VRBO.
GENIUS, Neil! Torture them a bit, why not?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
6,666
113
San Francisco
#13
Thanks for the suggestion. I did reach out to the CEO contact listed via email. But since their customer support team wasn't too interested not thinking I will hear back. Honestly I could care less about the refund. It is clear that is going to be almost impossible to pull off getting money back, so I just chalk it up to a learning experience.

My curiosity really is this appears to be an intentional way the company is allowing reviews to be avoided. In their email to me they acknowledge the stay was completed, but they can't do anything if a reservation is listed as cancelled even if it wasn't. If others have had the same experience then the issue should be pursued, my biggest goal is to find out if other people have had the same experience with being blocked from writing a review because their completed stay was cancelled before they could review.

Maybe mine was the one in a million dishonest homeowner, or maybe HomeAway ratings are deeply flawed as the company allows a way to block negative reviews. Thanks again Neil.
Jimmy, I understand your frustration at not being able to do anything about this obvious fraudulent system. But it's the nature of the internet ... just point fingers, dismiss, ignore ... but rarely give the customer any service.
 
Sep 15, 2017
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#14
Curious if anybody else has had this problem. I have used VRBO for vacation rentals before with no issues. Stayed in Lauderdale by the Sea a few weeks ago. Rental was horrible experience - A/C didn't work properly, unit was dirty on arrival, roaches in drawers, etc. Property manager gave lip service but did nothing. Took 30 days to get our deposit return even though I insisted property manager do a walk through when we left and he said it was in better shape when we left than when we arrived, not to hard to imagine that based on condition.

Bottom line is the homeowner listed our reservation as cancelled while we were still there. That blocked us from reviewing. He didn't refund our money, took forever to return deposit.

Have talked to attorney but expensive to fight. But this is wrong, They are protecting bad rentals by blocking negative reviews. VRBO said sorry if the reservation was cancelled nothing we can do. How can it be listed as cancelled while we were there. Very unethical by both homeowner and VRBO.

Anybody had similar issues? All I want is to post an honest review, but if this is a standard practice it seems there should be some action that could be taken.
Wow, Jimmy, that's a really clever way to block your review ... gotta hand it to these jerks. Every time I see an issue with a vacation rental I wish that an independent website/forum would appear for VRs. Like CruiseCritic or TripAdvisor, it would really be helpful ... people would know to check there before finalizing their VR.
Wow....as a VRBO owner, I am surprised!! Having just received a negative review (and frankly, a nitpicky undeserved one) myself, I am pretty sure it's the con job of cancelling a reservation while the guest is still there that stopped the negative review. That is a low tactic and one I would never consider using. I much prefer making my place as good as I can and addressing the issues that do occasionally pop up.
And...VRBO and Homeaway are now the same company. So no matter what website you use, Homeaway will generally be where you go to solve issues.
After 6 years with them, I have seen the relationship between company and owner and guest and company slowly deteriorate to the point that I most likely will be setting up my own website and moving off theirs soon.
Adding booking fees without informing owners, who then have to weather the wrath of potential guests, trying (and failing) to keep owners and guests from communicating with each other, in general doing those thing big companies do in order to maximize their profits and minimize their responsibilities.
There is a convenience there that I am reluctant to give up, but the cons are close to outweighing the pros.
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with your rental. I would say many of the owners are conscientious, well-meaning people who are horrified by the small % that are making our job much harder.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
6,666
113
San Francisco
#15
911Lady, please come back often ... the subject of vacation rentals needs an expert. on this forum The rest of us have had mostly positive personal experiences if we've booked a VR.

If you have questions, send me a "personal conversation" by clicking on my photo.
 
Likes: 911Lady
Sep 15, 2017
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#17
911Lady, please come back often ... the subject of vacation rentals needs an expert. on this forum The rest of us have had mostly positive personal experiences if we've booked a VR.

If you have questions, send me a "personal conversation" by clicking on my photo.
An expert? Gulp..... I'll offer advice where I can! I'm still learning myself....
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
770
781
93
45
St Louis
#18
An expert? Gulp..... I'll offer advice where I can! I'm still learning myself....
@911Lady what @jsn55 meant was you have experience on the other side of the transaction that could be invaluable to our posters. Please stick around and provide any input you feel might be helpful! One note, if a post is older than about a month, the original poster (op) probably isn't monitoring the thread any longer. Welcome to our little world!
 
Likes: 911Lady

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
6,672
6,666
113
San Francisco
#19
@911Lady what @jsn55 meant was you have experience on the other side of the transaction that could be invaluable to our posters. Please stick around and provide any input you feel might be helpful! One note, if a post is older than about a month, the original poster (op) probably isn't monitoring the thread any longer. Welcome to our little world!
Excellent explanation, Carrie. Few of us are experts on anything, but I'll bet I have picked up 75% of my travel knowledge on this forum. You just dip your little toe in, blast out an opinion on something you know about. Your colleagues will be quick to point out any errors, never fear that!

Our biggest mandate here is to be NICE. And sometimes (I recall the woman whose kid wrecked some VR patio chairs ... she wanted to repair them herself.) it's a challenge to think up something to say that is helpful and nice.