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Nov 29, 2020
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My husband and I decided to plan a last minute trip to Florida. We decided to use VRBO to find a place. I booked a week stay in Indiatlantic Ocean area on November 9. The stay was suppose to be December 1 through 8. I found out I had some lymphoma in my neck and the doctor wanted to schedule the surgery to remove the nodules the week of December 1. I asked the host immediately to reschedule our dates to March or May. He refused and said to cancel the trip and then rebook but he was going to keep my money. He refused to answer me via text or phone and sent a message via VRBO saying do NOT ever call me or text me again. I even offered to rent both his properties in May which would have given him more money but he refused. To top it off I had to have a covid19 test and it came back positive. I told him immediately my husband and I both tested positive for covid and were told to quarantine for 14 days. The host accused me of lying and got angry with me and said he no longer felt comfortable hosting me and canceled my reservation. This was AFTER he told me to cancel on my end so his ratings would not go down. I was advised by VRBO on the phone not to do that because if I canceled I would definitely not get any money back at all. He gave me a 24 hour deadline to cancel and I said no. Then he said fine you have until 7 pm that night to cancel. Again, I was advised not to cancel by VRBO or lose all my money. So basically he said do this by this time or else lose your money. He then canceled and kept all my money. The total was over $5,000. He returned a security deposit of $800 after I contacted VRBO again and my credit card company. He has kept over $4100! At first VRBO sent an email after a phone call and said he canceled, therefore he owed me the money. Then they turned around next day and said he was within his rights to cancel and keep my money and said good luck to you. I need this money back. Please help because they refuse to communicate with me now after blocking me on instagram because i left comments regarding the situation.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
3,174
4,603
113
Maui Hawaii
Here are VRBO contacts: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/vrbo-customer-service-contacts/
Email the first level of customer service and wait 5-7 working days before moving onto the next. Put your request into a bulleted list, not long paragraphs. Your email needs to be short and very easy to read and understand. STOP calling anybody. You need to have documentation of your contacts with VRBO and anything that is "said" needs to be in writing.

What was the cancellation policy you agreed to when you booked?

Be very careful how you phrase your request as it sounds like you have already "poisoned the well" on Instagram, and you may have little success going forward. VRBO is the source of many complaints on this site and they have not been responsive to covid cancelation refunds.
 
Nov 29, 2020
5
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Here are VRBO contacts: https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/vrbo-customer-service-contacts/
Email the first level of customer service and wait 5-7 working days before moving onto the next. Put your request into a bulleted list, not long paragraphs. Your email needs to be short and very easy to read and understand. STOP calling anybody. You need to have documentation of your contacts with VRBO and anything that is "said" needs to be in writing.

What was the cancellation policy you agreed to when you booked?

Be very careful how you phrase your request as it sounds like you have already "poisoned the well" on Instagram, and you may have little success going forward. VRBO is the source of many complaints on this site and they have not been responsive to covid cancelation refunds.

We have contacted a personal attorney who advised using social media to plead with the company. Giving someone a bad review is not justification for keeping their money. I am apparently at the wrong site for help or not sure how this works. I have contacted VRBO numerous times via email and messaging. I expected to reach out for legal advice here not get bashed by another member. Thanks!
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
3,174
4,603
113
Maui Hawaii
We have contacted a personal attorney who advised using social media to plead with the company. Giving someone a bad review is not justification for keeping their money. I am apparently at the wrong site for help or not sure how this works. I have contacted VRBO numerous times via email and messaging. I expected to reach out for legal advice here not get bashed by another member. Thanks!
We do not give legal advice. You have already sought that and should follow the advice of your attorney.
We provide you with the contacts and tools to advocate for yourself.
 
Nov 29, 2020
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Already took all the necessary steps I needed to before coming here. We even contacted a local news station where the property is located because I have family that lives nearby and has contacts. I apologize I thought you were just another member as that is what it says by your name. Did not know you were part of the Elliot advocacy team. There are numerous complaints even worse than mine regarding fraud and VRBO.
 

Skippy

May 30, 2019
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I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV. I am someone who has in prior professional roles read and responded to escalated customer complaints. Feedback given here is meant to be constructive. Volunteers offer feedback for self-advocacy.

If you booked a rental with a clear cancel policy, then attempted to cancel at a date later than where the cancel policy states a refund is available, then a refund would only be provided as a goodwill gesture. Thus the question in Post #2 "What was the cancellation policy you agreed to when you booked?" However, when a company or party is publicly shamed in social media, then the opportunity for a goodwill gesture is lost.

I am guessing -- and this is only a guess -- that when you booked your last-minute trip, there was not a generous cancel policy at the rental, or the cancel window was closed already when you booked. Then you had a dialogue that the owner claimed was potential harassment, which allowed them to justify cancelling on their end.

Did you have travel insurance for this trip, perhaps something through your credit card, that could help defray the cancel costs?

If you are taking a route of self-advocacy, then then Post #2 has useful feedback and advice -- appeal to VRBO by writing a carefully crafted email that explains why you should receive a refund. If you are looking for legal advice, you should remain in contact with your personal attorney. I hope this feedback helps.
 
Sep 9, 2018
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While it's NEVER a good idea to communicate with an owner/renter off of the VRBO platform, I'm not sure I understand how the owner gets to keep all of the money when he was the one who cancelled.

Does the cancellation policy make any reference about what the refund policy is when the OWNER cancels?
 
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Nov 29, 2020
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I was given his phone number which is visible through the VRBO rental site. I do have a message from VRBO that says to contact the owner/host directly. I do have proof that VRBO sent saying I was to be given a refund as well as since he canceled. We always communicated with hosts who provided their phone numbers and email through every other place like VRBO, AirBNB, etc. Never an issue until now.
 
Nov 29, 2020
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I thought I did but it said travel insurance then when I got the email it said damage insurance.
 
Jul 13, 2020
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I think a lot depends on what VBRO's terms and conditions state. I would think 1st step would be to read it.
Beyond that , if the owner canceled then you would be due a refund.
"If your reservation has been canceled less than 30 days from your stay, and you’ve already attempted to resolve this issue with the host directly, please reach out to us by clicking Contact Us below and selecting Cancellations. We can help you obtain a full refund, and find an alternative, comparable accommodation that is available for your dates. In some instances, your new property may cost a little more than your original reservation. If this happens, we’ll take the time to listen to your unique situation and consider things like the availability of other properties in the area, your original booking and stay dates, and the urgency of the situation to determine if we can cover a portion, or possibly all, of the additional cost of a new rental. "
This is from their web site. Though if you have told them you have hired a lawyer they might not be able to help any more.
Did you send a copy of the letter saying you will get a refund to your credit card to do a charge back as you have proof you are due a refund and now you are being denied the refund. I am surprised the lawyer did not suggest this.
But remember VBRO is more like a newspaper want adds then a travel agent or provider. Their covid policy only refunds you the booking fee they charged and not the amount the residence or hotel is charging. It states clearly that all they can do is incentivize the host to give you some sort of refund by in the future giving the host a better place in the listings search engines. So they really have no teeth to force a host to refund anything :(
Best of luck.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
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1,514
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I'm not sure I understand how the owner gets to keep all of the money when he was the one who cancelled.

At first VRBO sent an email after a phone call and said he canceled, therefore he owed me the money. Then they turned around next day and said he was within his rights to cancel and keep my money and said good luck to you.

What exactly did VRBO tell you when they said the host was within his rights to cancel?

VRBO does have a policy that allows hosts to force a cancellation if they claim a violation of house rules. If this is what happened, it would explain why VRBO changed their initial position on the refund.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
24,744
25,899
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
I think you need an attorney for this. Or you may have to file a Small Claims Court case to get your money back.

Have you used our company contacts with VRBO to escalate this? This is how we recommend proceeding:

 
Mar 17, 2015
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I am still unclear as to a few facts.
1.) What was the date you contacted the host to discuss options?
2.) What was the cancellation policy in effect at the time of your booking?

I am sorry you have medical issues and then COVID on top of that, it is an unfortunate series of events. These two items will help all of us help you better. Even if they are not in your favor, the facts allow the volunteers to help craft the best responses. Without all the facts, it is hard to help.
 
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AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
1,334
1,940
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I think you need an attorney for this. Or you may have to file a Small Claims Court case to get your money back.

OP says they have hired an attorney, so there's not much else we can do to assist them.
 
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Dec 19, 2014
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I'm trying to be sympathetic with the OP, but I'm struggling here.

1) What was the cancellation policy when the OP booked the property?
The OP has never stated the actual cancellation policy. Since this was a condo booked less than 30 days prior to arrival, I would be very surprised if it was non-refundable at the time it was booked. Obviously, there is a slight possibility that the cancellation policy allowed for refunds with a shorter time period, but the OP has not explicitly stated so.

2) If the reservation was non-refundable at the time the stay was booked, then the OP will be fighting an uphill battle.

3) The OP's position is that the owner was the one that initiated the cancellation, therefore he is due a refund. Not so fast. If the owner has documentation and can demonstrate that the OP had no intention of staying and was harassing the owner, VRBO may not intervene

4) No attorney will take this case. The amount in dispute, $4100, may warrant a small claims suit. When an attorney tells you to take it to social media, they are kindly telling you to go pound sand.

5) VRBO's terms and conditions allow the owner to cancel with no recourse by the renter. Unlike renting through a rental company where there is a legal real estate contract, VRBO offers little protection for renters. Your dispute is with the OWNER, not with VRBO. VRBO's may delete an owner account or penalize the listing, but that is all they are going to do. VRBO cannot force a renter to refund.

6) At the end of the day, the perception you give is that you weren't acting in good faith. Obviously you had a medical condition that was serious enough to warrant cancellation of your trip. But, that's not the owner's problem. The owner is not under any obligation to accommodate you legally. They may do so out of a gesture of goodwill, but it sounds like that bridge was destroyed.
 

smd

Mar 14, 2018
783
1,514
93
They didn’t say they hired an attorney and I’m not sure an attorney who says to use social media really helped.

I'd assume the attorney told the OP they had no legal recourse and their only hope was social-media shaming.

Presumably the reservation was non-refundable. Even the most relaxed (rare) VRBO cancellation policies do not allow for refunds when cancelled less than 7 days out.

I originally thought the OP had a valid case since it was the host that actually cancelled. But then I reread the post and saw the OP had tested positive for COVID and was medically quarantined during the rental period. It would violate Florida law for the OP to travel to the rental property in this situation and VRBO's terms require both the renter and host to abide by all laws and regulations.

The host is allowed to force a cancellation when renters violate the terms. My guess is the host informed VRBO of the quarantine which is why they reversed their original position that a refund was due.
 
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