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Jun 8, 2021
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Hello I’m writing this in a last effort to receive some sort of refund from our VRBO stay which we could not attend because BC borders closed after we booked our reservation and began issuing fines of $575 CAN to any people travelling for leisure purposes. At the time we booked May 23rd the travel restrictions were just a suggestion that people should not travel for leisure but there were not any actual closure of borders, police surveillance and issuing of fines. People everywhere were still travelling for leisure and in trying to be responsible We thought we would be okay to book for May since that was a few months away and we were hoping that cases would have decreased by then. May 24th we messaged the owner on how we were worried and had concerns that we may potentially not be able to travel due to Covid and since the cancellation policy was zero refund we were wondering on if the owners would do a partial refund or something since it’s out of our control.
The owners did not reply so we kept sending messages trying to receive answers but did not hear anything until we called VRBO directly to find out, to which we were told to continue contacting the owner to figure out some sort of agreement or compromise, but the owners would come back saying no each time.
At one point in trying to communicate we asked if we could come at a different time once restrand request to change the dates to which the owners said sure the dates are available, so we then thought we could go in June but the owner then came back saying no we would need to pay again and it would be a separate booking.
So we proceeded to create a case through VRBO and continued trying to work with the owners, explain our situation, asking for a change of dates even, just something because $2,366.52 CAN is a lot of hard earned money and frankly way too much to just throw away.
We the travellers kept holding on to the hope that we would be able to go but as mentioned above the travel restrictions turned even worse and switched to the fines and closure of the borders well after we initially booked.
VRBO continued to say just keep calling, keep trying to work it out with the owner even though that was not happening, then in the last week before our trip dates VRBO said they were confused as to why we waited so long to do this process and that we should have started sooner when we had literally been trying to contact the owner a few hours after we booked! They then said there was nothing they could do as they could not force the owner to do anything and therefore there was nothing further they could do for us and that they suggested contacting our credit card company to see if they could help us.
So we contacted our credit card and began a case and process with them, they told us specifically to not cancel our trip officially so we trusted them and did just that. After a few weeks without hearing anything we called, because again $2,366.52 is a lot of money so we wanted to check in and follow up; we waited for over 2 hours only to find out they had tried everything in their power but they could not further help us at all. This time saying that because the owner never said they’d offer us a refund that they couldn’t do anything to change that.
We then contacted VRBO again trying to explain that this was out of our control, we were not a ‘no show’ on purpose and we were not trying to rip off the owners or anything!
we could not legally travel there and therefore we were requesting a full or partial refund, a change of dates, a voucher etc. ANYTHING!!!
VRBO did try again to contact the owner who hung up on VRBO so VRBO called again and the owners extremely upset stated that they would not be refunding us because we cancelled our trip and therefore their cancellation policy applied to us, VRBO said to contact them again and explain that we had not in fact cancelled because we were following what our credit card company told us to do.
Upon messaging the owners and explaining this the owners then came back saying that this would be the final time they would respond and said that we disrespected their policy and that we were not entitled in any way to a refund of any kind and that we were irresponsible for booking during the pandemic and that it was our own fault for taking the risk when we booked and that we needed to take responsibility. Also that we were inconsiderate because they couldn’t fill those dates because we never officially cancelled and that we shouldn’t be taking advice from a bank on these matters.
So here we are sharing this with you in hopes of receiving any/all help in this matter! Thank you kindly!

Chelsea
Money is in Canadian Dollars
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,039
13,213
San Francisco
Chelsea, I'm having trouble getting through your narrative. Please make a concise list of the facts, leaving out all the conversations and who said what. We need to understand the whole transaction from beginning to right now. I hope we can help you.
 
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,861
28,983
New York
www.promalvacations.com

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
857
1,796
since the cancellation policy was zero refund we were wondering on if the owners would do a partial refund
This is, I think the problem. You booked a non refundable rate. Even more so you did this knowing COVID could derail your plans.
Now that COVID-19 has in fact prevented you from using this rental. If the host’s place was open and available to locals or people allowed to travel there and the rate was non refundable then they can keep they money if the host wants too.
If you bought something non returnable from a store and later disliked it. You go back to the store and want to return it. Would you be upset when the store refuses because you bought a non refundable item. Sure for good will the store can take the item back , I am sure some would. But the point is they do not have too. It looks like the host is choosing to legally keep your money. It is their right, they do not have to give you a reason.
I understand this is a lot of money to lose. But this is the risk of non refundable rates.
* The OP booked a non refundable rate during COVID.
* The OP was prevented from traveling to the location that was booked.
* The hosts want to stick to the terms of the rental that the OP agreed to.
* The OP wants those terms to be voided.
booking during the pandemic and that it was our own fault for taking the risk when we booked and that we needed to take responsibility.
This is the truth of the matter. If the host does not want to give you back your money. They do not have to.
In COVID times booking refundable rates are much safer.
 
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Skippy

May 30, 2019
897
2,392
After reading through the narrative, I agree with Post #3. The Original Poster (OP) booked a non-refundable rental rate, then requested consideration beyond the terms of the rental. The owner did not agree with that, as was the owner's right to do.

Form the owner's perspective, offering a different date where inter-province travel would be allowed would mean losing the revenue for those dates. And, because the OP didn't formally cancel the original dates, they were locked up preventing even local travelers from booking. You knew about COVID and were advised not to travel when you booked, but nonetheless booked a non-refundable rate.

You tried requesting a full refund - that might have worked. You tried requesting a Goodwill Gesture - that might have worked. You tried filing a dispute with your credit card - that did not work, and it shouldn't have anyway because the reservation was valid.

From a self-advocacy standpoint, I cannot think of any actions to take at this time.

Sorry.
 
Jun 8, 2021
7
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Chelsea, I'm having trouble getting through your narrative. Please make a concise list of the facts, leaving out all the conversations and who said what. We need to understand the whole transaction from beginning to right now. I hope we can help you
Thank you all, here is a hopefully clearer and more concise list of facts:
(I apologize for being all over the place)

March 23 we booked the VRBO stay for May 14-17th
Few hours after booking we realized we need to inquire on the cancellation policy and find out about a refund if something were to happen and due to Covid we couldn’t travel
Continued to send messages trying to inquire on this
Never heard back until weeks later
We missed the deadline for a 50% refund
We as a group of 5 were planning on going up until New stricter restrictions came out in May, which by then was too late for a refund
We politely and respectfully asked the owner if there were a way to work something out yes as a good will gesture; they refused
Since we cannot afford to lose that amount of money we decided to keep trying desperately to find help in mediating with the owners, help from a third party etc.
We do not understand why they need the cleaning and service fee etc. when we weren’t able to go?
Since they never answered us the whole process was delayed in deciding what we should do
We are hoping to find some help in what we can do now, if there is anything else we can do etc.
 
Jun 8, 2021
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Since Covid is wavering and things change daily we were trying the best we could to make responsible decisions with what we knew at the time and it’s devastating to all parties involved

Thanks everyone for the input and responses!
 
Jun 8, 2021
7
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And with that we were trying to gain clarity on whether due to Covid which is an uncontrollable/unforseeable situation we could find some help here

The restrictions at the time of booking were SUGGESTED non leisure travel March

They changed to fines and border closure in May so we missed the cancellation refund deadline

It is neither our fault nor the owners

Therefore trying to find out it there’s anything else we can do
 

Comicman

Jul 13, 2020
857
1,796
If the host refuses to refund you then I am sorry to say there is not much left to do. They are following the rules that state the rental is non refundable and as such they can legally refuse refunds. I guess in their minds they need this money more then you do.
Maybe this is morally wrong but unfortunately it is quite legal.
 
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Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,861
28,983
New York
www.promalvacations.com
The listing tells you when you begin to book what the cancellation terms are. It sounds like you booked a strict policy.

Did you book it THIS year? Travel restrictions were already in place about leisure travel in and out of Canada if it was this year, wasn’t it? I have Canadian family members who still can’t leave Canada.
 
Jun 8, 2021
7
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Hi there this was travelling from Alberta to British Columbia within Canada not out of country or anything just province to province which are next door to each other and within a few hours of each other
 
Jun 8, 2021
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Yes I understand it was right on the booking page but given Covid is an unforeseen circumstance and out of our control we were wondering if there was a loophole with this situation since it’s not our fault we couldn’t go, Canadian restrictions were very lenient up until May of this year when suddenly our numbers were rising due to new variants and strains of the virus so they implemented the new travel restrictions which were the fines and closure of borders etc
 

Alexander Pahany

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Jan 6, 2021
487
1,690
Houston, TX
Yes I understand it was right on the booking page but given Covid is an unforeseen circumstance and out of our control we were wondering if there was a loophole with this situation since it’s not our fault we couldn’t go, Canadian restrictions were very lenient up until May of this year when suddenly our numbers were rising due to new variants and strains of the virus so they implemented the new travel restrictions which were the fines and closure of borders etc
Unfortunately with services like VRBO and Airbnb, they only act as a broker—a classified ads service, of sorts, for the property owners. When it comes to customer service and helping you through unforeseen instances, they really aren’t there for you. You’re at the mercy of the property owner with whom you booked—as lousy as it is, if he/she doesn’t want to refund, VRBO isn’t going to help you because they’re just the middleman and they’ve already paid the owner; they can’t (won’t) get it back for you.
 

Neil Maley

Staff Member
Forum Moderator
Dec 27, 2014
25,861
28,983
New York
www.promalvacations.com
Hi there this was travelling from Alberta to British Columbia within Canada not out of country or anything just province to province which are next door to each other and within a few hours of each other
You booked when Covid was active, not when it first started and there were waivers, unfortunately. You should have booked a rental that allowed for cancellations.
 
Dec 26, 2018
19
107
52
I really do not mean to sound unkind, but I think your assertion that "Covid is an unforeseen circumstance and out of [your] control" is not entirely accurate. You explained that at the time you made the reservation there were travel restrictions already in place that were "suggestions." You stated that "We thought we would be okay to book for May since that was a few months away and we were hoping that cases would have decreased by then. " So it sounds like you did give some thought to the pandemic and hoped/projected that the situation would improve within a few months so as not to interfere with your reservation. Based on that projection, you decided to book the vacation rental. That decision was fully within your control. Unfortunately, your projection turned out to be wrong. The property owner's response may sound a little harsh, but his or her point that you bear the responsibility for your decision is not unreasonable.

Obviously we all wish that you and the owner could work out something to your mutual satisfaction. But as others have noted, if he or she is standing firm, you don't have much recourse. I am sorry.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
11,039
13,213
San Francisco
Chelsea, I am so very sorry for your predicament. We receive far too many post like yours. People think I'm weird when I say that I book travel on the internet assuming I'll be 'cheated' ... that I'll find myself in some kind of trouble that I can't escape. Now you know that the immediate task when booking a vacation rental is to read the cancellation policy. I book 75% of my hotel stays at two international chains and have done for years and years. As familiar as I am with their websites, I verify that cancellation policy every single time. If it's a hotel where I have no status, I screen-shoot the policy and hold it in my travel file. The online services go to great lengths to make people comfortable ... and if we find just the right place, we want to believe whatever they tell us.

Owners have been villified for not making refunds to anyone who requests one. We need to understand that the costs for overhead and maintenance of a property have not disappeared just because there are no renters. Owners have been scraping money up to keep their properties out of foreclosure. Owners are rightfully a little sticky about their customers all thinking they should get their money back because of the virus. Let me describe 'artful begging' to you; I think it's a term one of my colleagues came up with years ago. When life comes back to normal, write to this owner, apologizing for not reading the Xll policy and wasting his valuable time. Be polite and appreciative. Don't go so far as saying your young daughter has been crying in the closet from disappointment that she won't get to have all that fun ... but you get the idea. Tell him you have no right to ask, but would he possibly consider a future credit for another stay. It is surely worth a try. Good luck, and please let us know what happens.
 
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