Homeaway cancellation question

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Jul 21, 2019
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#1
On July 3rd, I reserved 2 VRBO home rentals in Maui and received approvals right away for the week of August 13-20. This would be my family's first time in Hawaii. We were all very excited as this was also a celebration for the family before my son goes off to college for the next 4 years. We paid everything up front including security deposit as requested by the owners. The morning of 7/19 ( 17 days after reservation), I emailed the owners of the 2 properties right away to let them know that my uncle had passed away that morning at 5:40 am due to a stroke and the 3 day (24 hours/day) cultural funeral was set to take place on August 16 - 19. I explained that I needed to cancel, requesting a full refund and will provide proof of death certificate. Funeral home availabilities for for this type of ceremony is hard to find and when a spot opens up, families grab it right away with no flexibility on anyone's schedule. Our very own father passed earlier this year and due to the family being so close to this uncle, we couldn't see any other way but to cancel and attend the funeral ceremony. The cancellation policy for both properties says "100% refund if canceled at least 60 days before arrival date". We purchased trip insurance, but after submitting the claim, we were told that it only covered the airfare tickets, not the vacation rental. One of the property owner (reserved for August 17-20, total paid $2467) was very responsive and understanding. He was willing to refund %100 provided proof of death certificate. The other owner (reserved for August 13-17, total paid $2528) was not as understanding. He explained that he is more worried about not being able to rent out his place on such short notice and said the most he could do right now is open up the dates for potential renters. If he is able to get those dates filled, he will refund 100% back to us. If he does not, he will talk to his wife about what to do next as he's not obligated to return anything at this point. Which leaves me to wait with no resolution. I am wondering if you have any advice for me and if an extenuating circumstances overrides the cancellation policy or if I have no choice but to wait on the 2nd owner's decision?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing from all of you on your experience and advice.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,799
17,000
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
Unfortunately, the cancellation policy was listed when you booked. The second owner is being very reasonable by considering a refund if he can re-rent it.

Sorry I don’t have better news for you. Unfortunately when you book with strict cancellation policies these are things that can happen that you don’t think about. Wouldn’t your family understand that you would lose more than $2500 by having to cancel? Can’t they change the dates of the memorials?
 
Jul 21, 2019
2
0
1
42
#3
They can't change the dates of the memorial as those are the first dates date available for the funeral home and hard to grab.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,799
17,000
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#4
Would they understand you already pre-paid this and would lose the money if you canceled?

I would be thinking I will not be receiving a refund from the second rental and decide if you can afford to lose that money or not. Sometimes choosing a strict refund policy doesn’t work out when something like this happens.
 
Apr 9, 2019
34
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#5
Give the second owner a chance to re-rent. You have plenty of time to deal with this without having the owner dig in if you get adamant now. You might look at the owner's rental calendar to see how often he rents, and so the likelihood the property will rent, if that will help you figure out how likely it is he will be able to give you a refund. As a last resort, as time draws closer, you might ask if he would lower his price for those days to encourage a rental, and you will pay the difference. Not ideal, but.....
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,799
17,000
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#6
I agree with Lilyb that you shouldn't bother the owner of the second unit about this because they can rebook it and still not give you back your money if you annoy them. You want them to work with you so sit back. I like Lilyb's idea of offering to pay the difference if they lower the price to try to re-rent it. Remember they did nothing wrong - they are sticking to the terms that you agreed to when you rented from them.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
1,950
2,031
113
Maui Hawaii
#7
On July 3rd, I reserved 2 VRBO home rentals in Maui and received approvals right away for the week of August 13-20. This would be my family's first time in Hawaii. We were all very excited as this was also a celebration for the family before my son goes off to college for the next 4 years. We paid everything up front including security deposit as requested by the owners. The morning of 7/19 ( 17 days after reservation), I emailed the owners of the 2 properties right away to let them know that my uncle had passed away that morning at 5:40 am due to a stroke and the 3 day (24 hours/day) cultural funeral was set to take place on August 16 - 19. I explained that I needed to cancel, requesting a full refund and will provide proof of death certificate. Funeral home availabilities for for this type of ceremony is hard to find and when a spot opens up, families grab it right away with no flexibility on anyone's schedule. Our very own father passed earlier this year and due to the family being so close to this uncle, we couldn't see any other way but to cancel and attend the funeral ceremony. The cancellation policy for both properties says "100% refund if canceled at least 60 days before arrival date". We purchased trip insurance, but after submitting the claim, we were told that it only covered the airfare tickets, not the vacation rental. One of the property owner (reserved for August 17-20, total paid $2467) was very responsive and understanding. He was willing to refund %100 provided proof of death certificate. The other owner (reserved for August 13-17, total paid $2528) was not as understanding. He explained that he is more worried about not being able to rent out his place on such short notice and said the most he could do right now is open up the dates for potential renters. If he is able to get those dates filled, he will refund 100% back to us. If he does not, he will talk to his wife about what to do next as he's not obligated to return anything at this point. Which leaves me to wait with no resolution. I am wondering if you have any advice for me and if an extenuating circumstances overrides the cancellation policy or if I have no choice but to wait on the 2nd owner's decision?

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to hearing from all of you on your experience and advice.
In the future, if you are pre-paying $5000+ of non-refundable accommodations you might wish to look into travel insurance, which would have coved a significant portion of your lost expenses. If you purchased insurance through your airline reservations, it covers only the airline fare, not any other associated expenses.
You should wait and see about the second reservation. It is unusual that the first reservation was refunded, not that the second was not.
 
Feb 4, 2019
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#8
First of all, very sorry for your loss.

If you paid by credit card, check it for its trip cancellation benefit. Both of my credit cards through Citibank (Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi and Citi Dividend American Express Card) provide trip cancellation benefits if a ‘Covered Traveler’s Family Member, not traveling on the trip, dies. Their definition of Family Member includes an uncle.
There is a maximum trip cancellation benefit for both cards (Costco Visa - $3000 max per Traveler per trip, AmEx - $5000 max per Traveler per trip).

I have used the trip cancellation benefit of my Costco Visa card to cover my non-refundable payment to VRBO when I was hospitalized 3 days before our trip and was advised by my doctor not to travel. By the way, when we cancelled our rental, VRBO automatically refunded the premium I paid ($59) for the Property Damage Protection Insurance that I had paid for.
 
Likes: Mel65

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,397
8,503
113
San Francisco
#9
What a sad situation. I echo my colleagues' remarks ... prepaid anything needs to be insured. There really is no other choice. I do hope the first owner follows up with a refund. My choice would be to explain to your uncle's family that you have $5K at risk and will be unable to attend the funeral, hoping that they will understand. I do assume that this ia most remote possibility, but it may be worth a try. Good luck getting this straightened out, and please let us know what happens.
 
Likes: Neil Maley