VRBO home owner gets fraudulent chargeback from customer

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Jun 5, 2018
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#1
Some of this information has previously been posted in another thread. I am still learning how to use this forum. Here is my story:

A customer, who was traveling with others, made a reservation with me on May 1, for 9 days, May 19 - 27. VRBO accepted her first half payment by VISA credit card on May 1. On May 8 I received communication from the traveler that she needed to cancel the reservation because one of her fellow travelers had subsequently made a different reservation for themselves ... some place else. My stated cancellation policy requires a 14 day notification to get a 50% refund, and I reminded her of that, since it was only a 9 day notification. She had accepted those terms on my VRBO page. She stated that she had cancellation insurance and she would be covered by that. The traveler identified the reason for using cancellation insurance was that she "needed different amenities and features." Which, was not covered by the insurance. (Of course.) With multiple communications back and forth between the two of us she pleaded with me to refund her. I refused. On May 31 I was informed of the chargeback she initiated against me through her bank. The money was immediately withdrawn from my personal checking account. Chargebacks were new to me, but I have learned a lot in the past 6 days.

Her chargeback reason code 10.4 indicates that she "does not recall authorizing or participating in this transaction."
Although VRBO assured me numerous times that they were there to help me ... they have not been there at all. No conversations on the phone were helpful. No guidance. The only documentation they gave me were a couple of screenshots of the conversations between the traveler and myself. Which I had complete access to myself. I didn't need them to do that at all, nor did they provide any guidance in how to proceed with writing a compelling rebuttal.

I finally came to understand, on my own, that a big piece I needed to have, in my defense, was connecting this traveler to this purchase, since it was a internet purchase, CNP, card not present. No signature. No PIN. Fortunately for me ... because VRBO "chargeback specialists" never said anything about it ... I noticed that when she made the original transaction purchase, on my VRBO page, an IP address was included. I watch NCIS/Law and Order. I know IP addresses help in certain situations. I was able to ascertain that the transaction was completed at a US university campus and I was able to ascertain that the traveler works in the same university in the library. It would take further investigation, that I am unable to do, to connect the traveler's work computer to the purchase. I hope they don't say I need that, too.

A friend of mine, who has vast experience representing employers in unemployment insurance claim litigation, helped me put together a comprehensive and compelling letter for my defense. It included all the specific screenshots of the travelers transaction and agreements from my VRBO page, as well as, the numerous interactions the traveler and I had, 20 of them, in all. As directed, I sent it on to VRBO/Yapstone chargeback specialists. At that time, yesterday, and no time prior to that, they, VRBO/Yapstone, informed me that now the evidence would go through pre-arbritation with the traveler's bank and further fees and expenses would be added. If I win, she will pay those fees and the money will be returned to me. I can only hope.

I hope that I win this case. It has been such a nightmare for me. She is being so blatantly dishonest, that it turns my stomach. I hope she gets charged by her bank for bank fraud.

Why does VRBO not have a signature requirement somewhere, somehow when someone makes a reservation payment? Or a PIN? These simple things would protect anyone in a situation like mine. VRBO has a big loophole here and I don't like it. I wonder if AirBnB has better protections for their home owners? Anyone know about that? I also want this traveler to be blacklisted on VRBO.

Is there any further hope in filing a help claim here? I can provide any documentation, such as the rebuttal letter.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,599
13,724
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
Every one of these home rental sites states they aren’t responsible for disputes. However, I would think that they don’t want to get caught in a chargeback situation either as they lose their big fees they get when someone rents.

Have you provided all the texts and emails you got from this customer where she tried to cancel before she made the false charge?
 

Carrie Livingston

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Jan 6, 2015
948
935
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St Louis
#3
We do have company contacts for Airbnb located here. If your claim is not successful, you can go up the contacts ladder waiting at least a week between contact and not emailing all the contacts at once.
 
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
#4
We do have company contacts for Airbnb located here. If your claim is not successful, you can go up the contacts ladder waiting at least a week between contact and not emailing all the contacts at once.
"A customer, who was traveling with others, made a reservation with me on May 1, for 9 days, May 19 - 27. VRBO accepted her first half payment by VISA credit card on May 1."
This is about VRBO--are they the same?
 
Mar 17, 2015
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#5
I don't think you are going to need to go so far as to get the IP number. Of course there is no physical signature when doing an online purchase. Unless this traveler wants to say that the CC the reservation was booked with was stolen and/ or fraudulent, then this sounds like standard protocol for a chargeback. This is part of the cost of being in business, whether anyone likes it or not. I think your paper trail should be sufficient in order to prove that she is the one who made the reservation. Why else would she have been in contact with you, asked for a refund (why would you ask for a refund for a charge you say you didn't make?), tried to claim insurance, etc.
 
Jun 5, 2018
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#7
Every one of these home rental sites states they aren’t responsible for disputes. However, I would think that they don’t want to get caught in a chargeback situation either as they lose their big fees they get when someone rents.

Have you provided all the texts and emails you got from this customer where she tried to cancel before she made the false charge?
Yes. In my letter of dispute I included all of interactions that were all done on the reservation page for my home on VRBO. All screenshots.
 
Jun 5, 2018
14
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#8
I don't think you are going to need to go so far as to get the IP number. Of course there is no physical signature when doing an online purchase. Unless this traveler wants to say that the CC the reservation was booked with was stolen and/ or fraudulent, then this sounds like standard protocol for a chargeback. This is part of the cost of being in business, whether anyone likes it or not. I think your paper trail should be sufficient in order to prove that she is the one who made the reservation. Why else would she have been in contact with you, asked for a refund (why would you ask for a refund for a charge you say you didn't make?), tried to claim insurance, etc.
I already have the IP address. It was no trouble. It was right there on the VRBO page where she placed her reservations with me. From there, it was easy. IP Location Finder. Google it.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,599
13,724
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#9
Then you have to wait so the credit card company can investigate. Once you send the info it takes about 30 days for a decision.

So sit back and relax for now and understand that just because she initiated a charge back doesn’t mean she will win. The only issue you might have is that you didn’t get a signature, copy of the credit card and proof of identity.
 
Apr 23, 2018
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#10
This seems pretty simple to me. If the OP has documented evidence that she called him to cancel the reservation and evidence of his cancellation policy, then the bank will side with him and, hopefully seriously scare the you-know-what out of the claimant for making a false statement about not remembering about the reservation and charge.

PS - In re-reading the OP's name, it occurs to me that Aime might be a lady. My sincere apologies, Aime, if I mis-characterized your gender.
 
Last edited:
Aug 29, 2015
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#11
Hi Aime, I would recommend you check out an electronic signature system for you ur short term leases to be used any time you get a credit card deposit. It will help with potential charge backs. I’m using it for any time I have a person pay me via PayPal, since charge backs are so easy with PayPal, and they almost always side with the purchaser not the seller of service. I personally use DocuSign, but there are other options out there as well. My method is that once I accept a reservation, I send the contract via DocuSign, where they agree to my terms, including payment terms and cancellation terms. I’ve not had to use it yet, but I’m prepared for when I do.
 
Likes: jsn55

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
14,599
13,724
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#12
Hi Aime, I would recommend you check out an electronic signature system for you ur short term leases to be used any time you get a credit card deposit. It will help with potential charge backs. I’m using it for any time I have a person pay me via PayPal, since charge backs are so easy with PayPal, and they almost always side with the purchaser not the seller of service. I personally use DocuSign, but there are other options out there as well. My method is that once I accept a reservation, I send the contract via DocuSign, where they agree to my terms, including payment terms and cancellation terms. I’ve not had to use it yet, but I’m prepared for when I do.
You still might need a copy of the card.
 
Nov 12, 2016
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#13
Some of this information has previously been posted in another thread. I am still learning how to use this forum. Here is my story:

A customer, who was traveling with others, made a reservation with me on May 1, for 9 days, May 19 - 27. VRBO accepted her first half payment by VISA credit card on May 1. On May 8 I received communication from the traveler that she needed to cancel the reservation because one of her fellow travelers had subsequently made a different reservation for themselves ... some place else. My stated cancellation policy requires a 14 day notification to get a 50% refund, and I reminded her of that, since it was only a 9 day notification. She had accepted those terms on my VRBO page. She stated that she had cancellation insurance and she would be covered by that. The traveler identified the reason for using cancellation insurance was that she "needed different amenities and features." Which, was not covered by the insurance. (Of course.) With multiple communications back and forth between the two of us she pleaded with me to refund her. I refused. On May 31 I was informed of the chargeback she initiated against me through her bank. The money was immediately withdrawn from my personal checking account. Chargebacks were new to me, but I have learned a lot in the past 6 days.

Her chargeback reason code 10.4 indicates that she "does not recall authorizing or participating in this transaction."
Although VRBO assured me numerous times that they were there to help me ... they have not been there at all. No conversations on the phone were helpful. No guidance. The only documentation they gave me were a couple of screenshots of the conversations between the traveler and myself. Which I had complete access to myself. I didn't need them to do that at all, nor did they provide any guidance in how to proceed with writing a compelling rebuttal.

I finally came to understand, on my own, that a big piece I needed to have, in my defense, was connecting this traveler to this purchase, since it was a internet purchase, CNP, card not present. No signature. No PIN. Fortunately for me ... because VRBO "chargeback specialists" never said anything about it ... I noticed that when she made the original transaction purchase, on my VRBO page, an IP address was included. I watch NCIS/Law and Order. I know IP addresses help in certain situations. I was able to ascertain that the transaction was completed at a US university campus and I was able to ascertain that the traveler works in the same university in the library. It would take further investigation, that I am unable to do, to connect the traveler's work computer to the purchase. I hope they don't say I need that, too.

A friend of mine, who has vast experience representing employers in unemployment insurance claim litigation, helped me put together a comprehensive and compelling letter for my defense. It included all the specific screenshots of the travelers transaction and agreements from my VRBO page, as well as, the numerous interactions the traveler and I had, 20 of them, in all. As directed, I sent it on to VRBO/Yapstone chargeback specialists. At that time, yesterday, and no time prior to that, they, VRBO/Yapstone, informed me that now the evidence would go through pre-arbritation with the traveler's bank and further fees and expenses would be added. If I win, she will pay those fees and the money will be returned to me. I can only hope.

I hope that I win this case. It has been such a nightmare for me. She is being so blatantly dishonest, that it turns my stomach. I hope she gets charged by her bank for bank fraud.

Why does VRBO not have a signature requirement somewhere, somehow when someone makes a reservation payment? Or a PIN? These simple things would protect anyone in a situation like mine. VRBO has a big loophole here and I don't like it. I wonder if AirBnB has better protections for their home owners? Anyone know about that? I also want this traveler to be blacklisted on VRBO.

Is there any further hope in filing a help claim here? I can provide any documentation, such as the rebuttal letter.
We stopped using HomeAway because the only thing they were good at was collecting their fees, they are no help even with the simplest of issues.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Jun 5, 2018
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#16
HEY!!! Here I am! I almost forgot you folks! Chris Elliot reached out to via email. To answer the burning question: I WON!!! There was $200. in fees collected off the original amount, but I'm still $450. some dollars ahead now. There have been lots of good responses here since I've been away. I took Neil Maley's advice and "sat back to relax" while I waited ... and waited ... and waited. It wasn't very relaxing. I like the advice for adding a DocuSign kind of thing to a rental agreement. I added a rental agreement that requests a photo of a driver's license. I haven't demanded one so far. I would really like to not use VRBO anymore. AirBNB has people create an account, with user name and password, with them before you can use their business. I believe that is the safeguard that is present there. VRBO doesn't have that.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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#19
Aime I am happy for you. We do advise people not to do a fraudulent charge back, which is what happened to you. Yes, sure, do not recognize the charge after cancelling the reservation and then begging for a refund. I hope the credit card company takes a dim view of that behavior.
 
Jun 5, 2018
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#20
Nope, my mistake. Company contacts for HomeAway (who does own VBRO) are here.
I won my chargeback dispute, Carrie, and have also written to the executive contacts at Homeaway since you provided them here. I shared with them my ordeal and the lack of guidance provided by the "chargeback specialists". I've also asked for travelers to have to create a personal account to be able to make a reservation. They need to have a username and password, so that they are self identifying. If that had been the process, this kind of thing would be much easier to defend.