Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

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Johnny Thinwallet
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Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm

I think this probably falls into the category of "nobody to blame but myself" but I figured I'd get some other opinions on this.

Last month we booked a short-term vacation rental stay. Due to COVID, we intentionally picked one out on VRBO that listed on the VRBO site a lenient cancellation policy of full refund if we cancelled within 14 days. Despite the VRBO listing saying 14 days, the actual rental agreement said 60 days. This was a red flag I missed at the time.

Shortly after booking, I noticed that the owner has their own direct booking site that had a cheaper price as it does not have any VRBO fees associated with their direct fee price. I contacted them, asked if they'd be willing to switch and they said sure. I received the VRBO fee as a credit, as expected. I also asked them if their cancellation policy that was listed on VRBO would still apply. They responded in an email that the VRBO cancellation policy would still apply.

Today, at 18 days out, I asked to cancel and for a full refund, per the 14-day refund policy they had quoted me. The condo owners are refusing to refund any money as they say their rental agreement policy does not list a 14 day cancellation policy. And since I switched the booking to direct rather than VRBO, I'm now unfortunately unable to ask VRBO for any recourse. The condo owner does not care that they sent me an email several weeks ago stating that they'd honor the VRBO cancellation policy of 14 days, they say that the rental agreement are the actual terms.

So what would you do? The amount of money we're talking about is roughly $1,300. I see my options as the following (anything I'm missing?):

1) Acknowledge that I screwed up and chalk this up as a lesson learned. Go on the trip, take as many COVID precautions as possible, hope to enjoy ourselves as best as possible.

2) Dispute the credit card charge. I do have their email documentation they'd honor the 14-day VRBO cancellation policy. What are the odds that a credit card dispute would rule in my favor? The only time I've ever disputed a credit card charge was a cut-and-dry fraud charge many years ago.

Any other options?

If reasonable folks here believe the screw up is mine, then I'll have to chalk it up as a lesson learned. But if folks think I have a good chance at recourse or winning a credit card dispute, then I'd love to hear those opinions as well.

westie
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by westie » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:15 pm

either you're out $1300 or the VRBO owner is. Who is responsible for anyone losing out on this? You.

Lesson learned I say. Maybe they'll agree to let you use it later in the year instead.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by tibbitts » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:19 pm

I don't think it's your mistake, except that you should have asked them to modify the agreement.

My guess is you would lose any dispute due to the agreement.

I would say you booked last month knowing Covid-19 would be a problem. What has changed - something specific to the area you live in or are renting in?

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ResearchMed
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:20 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm
I think this probably falls into the category of "nobody to blame but myself" but I figured I'd get some other opinions on this.

Last month we booked a short-term vacation rental stay. Due to COVID, we intentionally picked one out on VRBO that listed on the VRBO site a lenient cancellation policy of full refund if we cancelled within 14 days. Despite the VRBO listing saying 14 days, the actual rental agreement said 60 days. This was a red flag I missed at the time.

Shortly after booking, I noticed that the owner has their own direct booking site that had a cheaper price as it does not have any VRBO fees associated with their direct fee price. I contacted them, asked if they'd be willing to switch and they said sure. I received the VRBO fee as a credit, as expected. I also asked them if their cancellation policy that was listed on VRBO would still apply. They responded in an email that the VRBO cancellation policy would still apply.

Today, at 18 days out, I asked to cancel and for a full refund, per the 14-day refund policy they had quoted me. The condo owners are refusing to refund any money as they say their rental agreement policy does not list a 14 day cancellation policy. And since I switched the booking to direct rather than VRBO, I'm now unfortunately unable to ask VRBO for any recourse. The condo owner does not care that they sent me an email several weeks ago stating that they'd honor the VRBO cancellation policy of 14 days, they say that the rental agreement are the actual terms.

So what would you do? The amount of money we're talking about is roughly $1,300. I see my options as the following (anything I'm missing?):

1) Acknowledge that I screwed up and chalk this up as a lesson learned. Go on the trip, take as many COVID precautions as possible, hope to enjoy ourselves as best as possible.

2) Dispute the credit card charge. I do have their email documentation they'd honor the 14-day VRBO cancellation policy. What are the odds that a credit card dispute would rule in my favor? The only time I've ever disputed a credit card charge was a cut-and-dry fraud charge many years ago.

Any other options?

If reasonable folks here believe the screw up is mine, then I'll have to chalk it up as a lesson learned. But if folks think I have a good chance at recourse or winning a credit card dispute, then I'd love to hear those opinions as well.
I'd suggest a dispute with the charge card vendor.

You have the email from them (are they disputing the email is "real"?). Was that email exchange handled before the 60 day time frame?
They really can't tell you in writing that there is one policy when you ask for clarification or for a change, and then not honor that written statement. (Or so I think!)

We previously had some vacation rental properties, and this was when VRBO/HomeAway were much younger.
We handled ALL of our own rental agreements. When the online agencies started to require that they insert themselves in the rental process (sometimes, at least back then, refusing to allow interaction between owner/manager and guest directly, and not allowing sharing of e-addresses/phones/etc.), we stopped using them, as by then we had enough of an online presence with our own website. (That would be difficult now; there weren't very many properties in the relatively new resort area where our properties were located.)
We spoke directly to each prospective renter and went over all the terms, and answered any questions, etc.

I was starting to think that yes, you have only yourself to blame by not noticing the 60 day timing (although I thought that was a bit sleazy by the owners, without pointing it out directly, given that it was different from the platform you used to rent), until you mentioned that email!

And I assume that you meant you could cancel *before* that last 14 days, not "within 14 days" (that would take one right up to the arrival day, or at least the day before).
Or did you mean "within 14 days of making the reservation", although I'm not sure that quite fits, either.
The actual wording can matter a LOT, no surprise.

And I agree with tibbits that it would have been appropriate to request a change (with initials by both parties) to the actual Rental Agreement, at the time.
But you do have it in writing from them....

RM
Last edited by ResearchMed on Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Flyer24 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:35 pm

You don’t mention that the owner specifically said that the 14 day policy applied. You do mention that the owner said the VRBO policy applied. The VRBO policy in the agreement that you acknowledged was 60 days. I would think that the agreement acknowledged carries more weight than a listing error. I would have to side with the owner in this one. Sorry and hope it turns out ok.

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gwe67
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by gwe67 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:52 pm

Sounds like both parties erred. Ask for half to be refunded, or else credit card dispute will be filed.
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Johnny Thinwallet
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:56 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:20 pm
I was starting to think that yes, you have only yourself to blame by not noticing the 60 day timing (although I thought that was a bit sleazy by the owners, without pointing it out directly, given that it was different from the platform you used to rent), until you mentioned that email!

And I assume that you meant you could cancel *before* that last 14 days, not "within 14 days" (that would take one right up to the arrival day, or at least the day before).
Or did you mean "within 14 days of making the reservation", although I'm not sure that quite fits, either.
The actual wording can matter a LOT, no surprise.

And I agree with gibbets that it would have been appropriate to request a change (with initials by both parties) to the actual Rental Agreement, at the time.
But you do have it in writing from them....

RM
First, to answer tibbitts question, the area we're renting has experienced a significant spike in cases which is why we had made the decision to cancel.

RM, I appreciate the thoughtful response. To help clear a few items up ... our original booking was inside of 60 days. The cancellation language states "100% refund if you cancel at least 14 days before check-in." In addition to that infamous email, I also have a screen shot of that language on the VRBO website.

The email I sent earlier this month was about two topics: 1) switching the booking over to their platform from VRBO and 2) the cancellation policy. I asked about both topics in the very same email. In fact, my question about the cancellation policy was (exact words) "Is the final day to cancel and get a full refund on 7/3? I’m just looking to confirm." Their email response is (exact words) "VRBO cancellation policy applies."

They are now stating that because I switched the booking to their platform, instead of keeping the booking on VRBO's platform, that the VRBO cancellation policy no longer applies and it is instead the 60 day cancellation policy listed in the rental agreement (which we obviously do not qualify for).

Perhaps the best question is: if we disputed the credit card charge and I provided both the screen shot of the cancellation policy and the email correspondence as supporting documentation, which side will the credit card company ultimately rule in favor?

To the folks responding that they would side with the owner, I really do appreciate that feedback. It helps inform me about which course of action is our best bet moving forward.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by 8foot7 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:16 pm

I like the approach of asking for half back and if not, then dispute the whole thing. It’s clear what you intended to happen by asking them to clarify their cancellation policy and they were equally unclear in specifying which VRBO policy they were applying to your new deal. Both parties should take some responsibility but if they’re not willing to eat some then I wouldn’t be either.

The dispute may well resolve in your favor given the written evidence you have. A lot depends on the card issuer, how much of a paper trail you have, how long since original charge, etc. It is also certainly possible a travel-related Covid claim may not receive the scrutiny that it might otherwise have in another economic environment.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by gch » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:20 pm

Unless you’re in an at risk group then just go and quarantine from people when you get back.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by bluebolt » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:37 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 3:56 pm
RM, I appreciate the thoughtful response. To help clear a few items up ... our original booking was inside of 60 days. The cancellation language states "100% refund if you cancel at least 14 days before check-in." In addition to that infamous email, I also have a screen shot of that language on the VRBO website.

The email I sent earlier this month was about two topics: 1) switching the booking over to their platform from VRBO and 2) the cancellation policy. I asked about both topics in the very same email. In fact, my question about the cancellation policy was (exact words) "Is the final day to cancel and get a full refund on 7/3? I’m just looking to confirm." Their email response is (exact words) "VRBO cancellation policy applies."

They are now stating that because I switched the booking to their platform, instead of keeping the booking on VRBO's platform, that the VRBO cancellation policy no longer applies and it is instead the 60 day cancellation policy listed in the rental agreement (which we obviously do not qualify for).

Perhaps the best question is: if we disputed the credit card charge and I provided both the screen shot of the cancellation policy and the email correspondence as supporting documentation, which side will the credit card company ultimately rule in favor?

To the folks responding that they would side with the owner, I really do appreciate that feedback. It helps inform me about which course of action is our best bet moving forward.
Without your email quoted, it's a little hard to say, but it looks like you're on the wrong side of this. It appears the owner took your two questions as independent and answered them correctly. Also, because the new agreement you signed said 60 days, the owner appears to be in the right.

So, you can fight it or try to come to some compromise, but from what you wrote, it looks like this is on you.

If you provided specific language that makes it clear that what I said is incorrect, I could change my opinion.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by ram » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:44 pm

8foot7 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:16 pm
I like the approach of asking for half back and if not, then dispute the whole thing.
Seems reasonable to me.
Ram

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by hudson » Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:59 pm

Johnny Thinwallet,

I would want to talk to the owner not email. I would state my case very briefly in the most humble fashion.
I would not make any threats about any action that you would take and ask for mercy....again with kindness and politeness and leave it with them.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Stinky » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:02 pm

I just won a contested charge on a beach rental last week, also under murky circumstances.

I booked a beach trip months ago. 50% due at booking, remaining 50% due 60 days before the stay started. At the 75 day mark, I got an email from the resort offering a 95% refund if I applied for it prior to the last payment being made. They didn’t charge my credit card at 60 days. At 35 days, I emailed them, canceling the reservation and asking for my 95% refund. They came back, saying that I needed to ask for the refund more than 60 days before arrival.

So I contested the original charge from February. The rental place may have had a policy saying “cancel before 60 days”, but I had an email saying “cancel before final payment is made”.

The credit card company asked for documents, and I gave them a copy of my email. In my mind, it was murky. But Citi took my side.

OP, you have more time pressure that I had. My entire process of contesting took about 5 weeks, and you don’t have that long until your trip.

If you have a good paper trail showing your 14 day policy, you might prevail if you contest the charge. I’d call it a 50/50 chance.
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Trader Joe » Mon Jun 29, 2020 7:40 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm
I think this probably falls into the category of "nobody to blame but myself" but I figured I'd get some other opinions on this.

Last month we booked a short-term vacation rental stay. Due to COVID, we intentionally picked one out on VRBO that listed on the VRBO site a lenient cancellation policy of full refund if we cancelled within 14 days. Despite the VRBO listing saying 14 days, the actual rental agreement said 60 days. This was a red flag I missed at the time.

Shortly after booking, I noticed that the owner has their own direct booking site that had a cheaper price as it does not have any VRBO fees associated with their direct fee price. I contacted them, asked if they'd be willing to switch and they said sure. I received the VRBO fee as a credit, as expected. I also asked them if their cancellation policy that was listed on VRBO would still apply. They responded in an email that the VRBO cancellation policy would still apply.

Today, at 18 days out, I asked to cancel and for a full refund, per the 14-day refund policy they had quoted me. The condo owners are refusing to refund any money as they say their rental agreement policy does not list a 14 day cancellation policy. And since I switched the booking to direct rather than VRBO, I'm now unfortunately unable to ask VRBO for any recourse. The condo owner does not care that they sent me an email several weeks ago stating that they'd honor the VRBO cancellation policy of 14 days, they say that the rental agreement are the actual terms.

So what would you do? The amount of money we're talking about is roughly $1,300. I see my options as the following (anything I'm missing?):

1) Acknowledge that I screwed up and chalk this up as a lesson learned. Go on the trip, take as many COVID precautions as possible, hope to enjoy ourselves as best as possible.

2) Dispute the credit card charge. I do have their email documentation they'd honor the 14-day VRBO cancellation policy. What are the odds that a credit card dispute would rule in my favor? The only time I've ever disputed a credit card charge was a cut-and-dry fraud charge many years ago.

Any other options?

If reasonable folks here believe the screw up is mine, then I'll have to chalk it up as a lesson learned. But if folks think I have a good chance at recourse or winning a credit card dispute, then I'd love to hear those opinions as well.
I would proceed with and enjoy your planned vacation. Have fun and enjoy.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by bob60014 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:09 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm
Shortly after booking, I noticed that the owner has their own direct booking site that had a cheaper price as it does not have any VRBO fees associated with their direct fee price. I contacted them, asked if they'd be willing to switch and they said sure. I received the VRBO fee as a credit, as expected.
You tried to save a few bucks but in turn it seems you lost all protections. Lessons learned, IMHO.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by gwe67 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:12 pm

gch wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:20 pm
Unless you’re in an at risk group then just go and quarantine from people when you get back.
Medical advice??
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by nalor511 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:32 pm

gwe67 wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:12 pm
gch wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 6:20 pm
Unless you’re in an at risk group then just go and quarantine from people when you get back.
Medical advice??
I think the intention was logistic/financial advice rather than medical, IMO. Effectively saying "use the thing you booked/paid-for"

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Zombies » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:50 pm

I’m surprised at the suggestions that you take this on the chin. In good faith, you asked if you were agreed upon terms, and it appears you were (based on your side of the story). I imagine the credit card company will agree - at least with Amex, I have found them very easy to work with on disputes and they act with an innocent-until-proven-guilty approach.

I also am surprised at people suggesting not to book off VRBO or AirBnB - the fees are ridiculous and hit both ways. We stayed at a property last weekend in a non-Covid hotspot where the owners had signs posted everywhere saying book through their local rental company instead of AirBnB to save significantly on fees.

FWIW, if you take precautions I still think you could go on your trip, but I don’t see anything remotely ethically questionable about disputing the charge if you’re being upfront with us on the communication about the cancelation requirement (which I’m sure you are!)

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by galawdawg » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:59 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm
Last month we booked a short-term vacation rental stay. Due to COVID, we intentionally picked one out on VRBO that listed on the VRBO site a lenient cancellation policy of full refund if we cancelled within 14 days. Despite the VRBO listing saying 14 days, the actual rental agreement said 60 days. This was a red flag I missed at the time.
So what is this "actual rental agreement"? Is it a document you signed? A web page with terms and conditions that you must accept prior to booking? Information about this "actual rental agreement" may be helpful to provide suggestions. IANYL.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:15 pm

galawdawg wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:59 pm
Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm
Last month we booked a short-term vacation rental stay. Due to COVID, we intentionally picked one out on VRBO that listed on the VRBO site a lenient cancellation policy of full refund if we cancelled within 14 days. Despite the VRBO listing saying 14 days, the actual rental agreement said 60 days. This was a red flag I missed at the time.
So what is this "actual rental agreement"? Is it a document you signed? A web page with terms and conditions that you must accept prior to booking? Information about this "actual rental agreement" may be helpful to provide suggestions. IANYL.
The timing is critical, but it sounded to me like OP asked about the cancellation deadlines prior to signing.
... and then relied upon the written assurance that the "website terms" would be used, and the website stated 14 days.
That was my assumption when I gave my input above.
Perhaps OP could clarify...?

It's a bit tricky, but unless the above is not correct, I'd give it a go with a dispute.

RM
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:55 pm

Continued thanks to those offering up their opinions, including Stinky who offered his own experience in which he won the credit card dispute. I used the Fidelity Visa card in this situation (so Elan), which a number of folks on this forum have.

Despite the situation, we are currently leaning on going and I am trying my best to shift my mindset toward looking forward to the positives of the trip. We'd be there for beach and pool only, nothing else. Any meals would be eating in and/or takeout only (no dining in). We would take all the mask/sanitizing precautions, and the math part of my brain calculates that the odds are we'd probably be fine (especially with those precautions and staying away from crowded restaurants).

I also realize that timing is likely such that if we do dispute then we'd essentially be cancelling the trip and I'd be at the mercy of Elan whether we'd recover the money. I would not expect a resolution being made in the next 2 weeks prior to our planned arrival.
ResearchMed wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:15 pm
The timing is critical, but it sounded to me like OP asked about the cancellation deadlines prior to signing.
... and then relied upon the written assurance that the "website terms" would be used, and the website stated 14 days.
That was my assumption when I gave my input above.
Perhaps OP could clarify...?

It's a bit tricky, but unless the above is not correct, I'd give it a go with a dispute.

RM
Here's the timeline:

June 6: original VRBO book date
June 11: date of email correspondence that asked to shift booking to their direct site away from VRBO and asking about confirmation of refund deadline still being 7/3. The transfer away from VRBO took place on June 11 after that email correspondence.
June 29: submitted request to cancel and receive refund (and getting denied)

Quite honestly, had the owner informed me on June 11 in that communication that I'd be losing the ability to cancel by shifting away from VRBO, then I would have just cancelled altogether on June 11. Instead, I interpreted that written assurance in their email that I was maintaining that ability to still cancel before 7/3 without penalty and receive a refund. I think what aggravates me the most is it seems like the owner did a bit of bait-and-switch, and then I screwed up by not catching it immediately.

Another interesting tidbit is that the renters who had the rental immediately following us apparently cancelled today. There was a date range of about 6 nights blocked out immediately following our rental period, but those dates are now available per the listing on VRBO.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Stinky » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:32 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:55 pm

I also realize that timing is likely such that if we do dispute then we'd essentially be cancelling the trip and I'd be at the mercy of Elan whether we'd recover the money. I would not expect a resolution being made in the next 2 weeks prior to our planned arrival.
It sounds like you’re making a good decision for you and your family.

I agree that you almost certainly wouldn’t see a resolution of your dispute within two weeks. In my experience, disputes take time. The credit card company sets up a file, then they reach out to the merchant for his story, then to the cardholder for evidence, etc. In my case, the only way that I could submit evidence was by snail mail. My dispute took 5 weeks from start to finish, which wouldn’t fit into your timeline at all.
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:23 am

Discussions of dishonest behavior or bypassing the law it totally unacceptable. I removed a post suggesting the OP not be truthful when giving the landlord a reason to cancel due to health.
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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by jabberwockOG » Tue Jun 30, 2020 8:35 am

Send the condo owner a notice of cancellation, and if you feel like you acted 100% in good faith, protest the charge with Elan and send them your documentation.

As presented it sounds to me like you had a reasonable expectation to rely on their email response to you regarding cancellation.

I personally would not take a health risk that you are clearly concerned about, just to avoid losing a relatively trival sum.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Flashes1 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:13 am

I would go under the circumstances unless I lived with a Covid high risk person. Pool and ocean are fine - I think you can also do restaurants if you go early enough (I have fairly young kids so we're always the first people there).

We went to Destin in late May. We had a great time but again, we were at the pool and beach the whole time, and went in-ding restaurant just once.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by scophreak » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:26 am

I think I would be quite disgruntled about the situation myself. According to your telling, you didn't simply ask if the VRBO cancellation policy would govern. Instead, you asked about a specific date (deadline) for cancellation, which was in line with the VRBO policy. I don't think there was any real gray area as to what you were asking. I would have taken the reply, while admittedly not 100% clear, as confirmation that the 7/3 cancellation deadline was valid.

If I did decide not to take the trip, I would have no qualms about filing a chargeback for the payment. I would first detail my intentions to the owner, again citing your previous question and reply. If that continued to go nowhere, I would immediately file the chargeback.

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by galawdawg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:48 am

I have to wonder why, if OP really thought there was a fourteen day cancellation policy,, he didn't post more information about the "actual rental agreement" cancellation policy. that he says he initially overlooked. Because the owner didn't directly respond to his inquiry about a specific cancellation date but referred him back to the VRBO cancellation policy, the question becomes more important. What does that "VRBO cancellation policy" state?

Since OP has apparently now decided to continue with his planned trip, it appears to be a moot point. But if OP wants actionable information on whether he is likely to prevail on any claim that he can cancel fourteen days out, more information would be necessary.

IANYL. :happy

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Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by scophreak » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:24 am

galawdawg wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:48 am
I have to wonder why, if OP really thought there was a fourteen day cancellation policy,, he didn't post more information about the "actual rental agreement" cancellation policy. that he says he initially overlooked. Because the owner didn't directly respond to his inquiry about a specific cancellation date but referred him back to the VRBO cancellation policy, the question becomes more important. What does that "VRBO cancellation policy" state?

Since OP has apparently now decided to continue with his planned trip, it appears to be a moot point. But if OP wants actionable information on whether he is likely to prevail on any claim that he can cancel fourteen days out, more information would be necessary.

IANYL. :happy
Agreed that additional information would be helpful. Having some experience with VRBO, there are specific categories of/choices for cancellation. Of the pre-set options, one that seems to best match what OP claims is:

14/7 day policy
- 100% refund if you cancel at least 14 days before check-in.
- 50% refund (minus service fee) if you cancel at least 7 days before check-in.
- No refund if you cancel less than 7 days before check-in.

Of course, owners can also set their own custom refund policies, but OP did mention that the listing specified a full refund within 14 days. Though not guaranteed, dates typically refer to the date of check-in, which would mean that travelers are eligible for refund at 14+ days from check-in.

OP...can you clarify the exact wording of the cancellation policy listed on VRBO for this property?

Topic Author
Johnny Thinwallet
Posts: 136
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:07 pm

Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by Johnny Thinwallet » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:32 am

galawdawg wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:48 am
I have to wonder why, if OP really thought there was a fourteen day cancellation policy,, he didn't post more information about the "actual rental agreement" cancellation policy. that he says he initially overlooked. Because the owner didn't directly respond to his inquiry about a specific cancellation date but referred him back to the VRBO cancellation policy, the question becomes more important. What does that "VRBO cancellation policy" state?

Since OP has apparently now decided to continue with his planned trip, it appears to be a moot point. But if OP wants actionable information on whether he is likely be prevail on any claim that he can cancel fourteen days out, more information would be necessary.

IANYL. :happy
The rental agreement states 60 days. In fact, the rental agreement on VRBO states 60 days. In other words, the advertised listing on VRBO's website states 14 days but once you dig down deep into the rental agreement it states 60 days. Which one actually applies? I'm assuming the owner made a recent change to the VRBO website listing to change it to 14 days but for some reason never bothered to change it in the actual VRBO rental agreement. Maybe it was an oversight on their part. Maybe it was deliberate to advertise one set of terms but then stick you with a different set of terms. I don't know.

The rental agreement itself is its own story. The VRBO rental agreement is different than the direct rental agreement. One line in the direct agreement lists four different websites that the property is listed on and then states "the cancellation policy that applies is whichever is most strict from all the agreements on these sites." It makes me wonder: am I supposed to dig around and discover every single rental agreement that's out there on this property?

Another line on the rental agreement "prohibits renters from leaving negative reviews on any website, which consists of any review of 4 stars or less." The reviews listed were all stellar. Maybe now I know why!

I know what I should have done at the beginning, which is run, run, run away. Big time lesson learned. I've kicked myself plenty, but I can't go back in time so I'm trying to figure out the best path from where I'm at.

That said, this amount of money does not create a hardship or anything. And we can still go on the trip, which I'm still leaning on. I'm waiting on some other variables (local gov't mask mandate decisions they are voting on) to play out before making a final call. We are not at risk. In addition to the other precautions I listed in another post, the unit is on a low enough floor and we that we can just use stairs and avoid the elevator as well. This includes luggage as I'm more than fit enough to haul our luggage up a few flights of stairs - that's no problem.

But it's aggravation and frustration that I'd rather not have dealt with and the long-term impact of this is we're going to be hesitant (and very particular) on any future vacation rentals. This is our fifth experience using a vacation rental instead of a standard hotel. Two experiences were absolutely wonderful, two were good-but-not-great and this one has been a huge disappointment. It's the disappointments that always seem to stick out.

TheDDC
Posts: 956
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:11 am

Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by TheDDC » Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:55 am

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:46 pm
I think this probably falls into the category of "nobody to blame but myself" but I figured I'd get some other opinions on this.

Last month we booked a short-term vacation rental stay. Due to COVID, we intentionally picked one out on VRBO that listed on the VRBO site a lenient cancellation policy of full refund if we cancelled within 14 days. Despite the VRBO listing saying 14 days, the actual rental agreement said 60 days. This was a red flag I missed at the time.

Shortly after booking, I noticed that the owner has their own direct booking site that had a cheaper price as it does not have any VRBO fees associated with their direct fee price. I contacted them, asked if they'd be willing to switch and they said sure. I received the VRBO fee as a credit, as expected. I also asked them if their cancellation policy that was listed on VRBO would still apply. They responded in an email that the VRBO cancellation policy would still apply.

Today, at 18 days out, I asked to cancel and for a full refund, per the 14-day refund policy they had quoted me. The condo owners are refusing to refund any money as they say their rental agreement policy does not list a 14 day cancellation policy. And since I switched the booking to direct rather than VRBO, I'm now unfortunately unable to ask VRBO for any recourse. The condo owner does not care that they sent me an email several weeks ago stating that they'd honor the VRBO cancellation policy of 14 days, they say that the rental agreement are the actual terms.

So what would you do? The amount of money we're talking about is roughly $1,300. I see my options as the following (anything I'm missing?):

1) Acknowledge that I screwed up and chalk this up as a lesson learned. Go on the trip, take as many COVID precautions as possible, hope to enjoy ourselves as best as possible.

2) Dispute the credit card charge. I do have their email documentation they'd honor the 14-day VRBO cancellation policy. What are the odds that a credit card dispute would rule in my favor? The only time I've ever disputed a credit card charge was a cut-and-dry fraud charge many years ago.

Any other options?

If reasonable folks here believe the screw up is mine, then I'll have to chalk it up as a lesson learned. But if folks think I have a good chance at recourse or winning a credit card dispute, then I'd love to hear those opinions as well.
I would go with option 1. Enjoy the trip as much as possible.

-TheDDC
Rules to wealth building: 90-100% VTSAX piled high and deep, 0-10% VIGAX tilt, 0% given away to banks, minimize amount given to medical-industrial complex

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galawdawg
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Location: Georgia

Re: Vacation Rental Refund Disagreement

Post by galawdawg » Tue Jun 30, 2020 12:11 pm

Johnny Thinwallet wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 10:32 am
galawdawg wrote:
Tue Jun 30, 2020 9:48 am
I have to wonder why, if OP really thought there was a fourteen day cancellation policy,, he didn't post more information about the "actual rental agreement" cancellation policy. that he says he initially overlooked. Because the owner didn't directly respond to his inquiry about a specific cancellation date but referred him back to the VRBO cancellation policy, the question becomes more important. What does that "VRBO cancellation policy" state?

Since OP has apparently now decided to continue with his planned trip, it appears to be a moot point. But if OP wants actionable information on whether he is likely be prevail on any claim that he can cancel fourteen days out, more information would be necessary.

IANYL. :happy
The rental agreement states 60 days. In fact, the rental agreement on VRBO states 60 days. In other words, the advertised listing on VRBO's website states 14 days but once you dig down deep into the rental agreement it states 60 days. Which one actually applies? I'm assuming the owner made a recent change to the VRBO website listing to change it to 14 days but for some reason never bothered to change it in the actual VRBO rental agreement. Maybe it was an oversight on their part. Maybe it was deliberate to advertise one set of terms but then stick you with a different set of terms. I don't know.

The rental agreement itself is its own story. The VRBO rental agreement is different than the direct rental agreement. One line in the direct agreement lists four different websites that the property is listed on and then states "the cancellation policy that applies is whichever is most strict from all the agreements on these sites." It makes me wonder: am I supposed to dig around and discover every single rental agreement that's out there on this property?

Another line on the rental agreement "prohibits renters from leaving negative reviews on any website, which consists of any review of 4 stars or less." The reviews listed were all stellar. Maybe now I know why!

I know what I should have done at the beginning, which is run, run, run away. Big time lesson learned. I've kicked myself plenty, but I can't go back in time so I'm trying to figure out the best path from where I'm at.

That said, this amount of money does not create a hardship or anything. And we can still go on the trip, which I'm still leaning on. I'm waiting on some other variables (local gov't mask mandate decisions they are voting on) to play out before making a final call. We are not at risk. In addition to the other precautions I listed in another post, the unit is on a low enough floor and we that we can just use stairs and avoid the elevator as well. This includes luggage as I'm more than fit enough to haul our luggage up a few flights of stairs - that's no problem.

But it's aggravation and frustration that I'd rather not have dealt with and the long-term impact of this is we're going to be hesitant (and very particular) on any future vacation rentals. This is our fifth experience using a vacation rental instead of a standard hotel. Two experiences were absolutely wonderful, two were good-but-not-great and this one has been a huge disappointment. It's the disappointments that always seem to stick out.
Assuming that you had an opportunity to review the rental agreement prior to paying, the terms of the rental agreement would control. So go and enjoy your vacation!

You don't have to worry about the language that "prohibits renters from leaving negative reviews on any website, which consists of any review of 4 stars or less." That language is unenforceable and prohibited by law: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumer_ ... irness_Act. Just be sure whatever review you leave is factual and truthful.

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