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VRBO / HomeAway double booked my reservation. What do I do now??

VRBO / HomeAway double booked my reservation. What do I do now??

Old Jun 10, 15, 12:01 am
  #1  
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VRBO / HomeAway double booked my reservation. What do I do now??

Long time lurker, first time poster here. I am in a huge bind here and need some advice. Here's what happened:

On May 20, I booked and paid for a high end condo in San Diego for June 7 - 12 on VRBO.com. My credit card was charged $1,340 and I received a confirmation email from VRBO and the property manager. I confirmed the reservation via text message with the property manager.

On June 7, I texted the property manager to ask about the logistics to get the keys. He texted back that he made a mistake and already rented the condo out and it is occupied until June 13. There is a huge conference going on and there are no hotel rooms available within walking distance to the conference that are the same price or less than the condo. The property manager first suggests a room at a house that is under construction and would require a car or cab to and from the conference. I told him this was unacceptable and that I needed a hotel or condo of equal or better quality than his condo that is still within walking distance of the conference center. He then suggested a crappy two star hotel that was $308 a night and again not within walking distance. The cheapest hotel my wife and I could find online was at the Hilton for $384 a night. It's located roughly the same distance from the conference center as his condo. I went back and forth with him and was getting nowhere with so I just booked the Hilton and paid $2,163. I texted him that I expected him to pay the difference of $776 (which I miscalculated - its actually $823), which he immediately sent to my PayPal account. I texted him when I got to San Diego and we agreed to follow up in the morning on June 8. I also contacted VRBO customer service to note the issue.

On June 8, I texted the property manager requesting an update to my refund of $1,340. I got no response.

On June 9, I contacted VRBO again and they were pretty much useless to get me my $1,340 back. I filed a complaint against the property manager. I then called my credit card and filed a dispute on the $1,340 and they immediately reversed the charges. About an hour later, the property manager sends me a PayPal payment for $584 and he says that's all the money I'm going to get from him.

At this point I have no idea what to do. I'm out $823 for this hotel and this guy isn't going to send me any more money. I'm wondering if I have to contact a lawyer or something else. I'm still waiting on my credit card people to follow up with me and I fully realize that I can't keep both the credit card reversal AND the $1,340 from the property manager via PayPal. But what can I do about the extra $823 it cost me to get this hotel? He breached a contract, right? We did not have any formal contract other than whatever the default VRBO.com purchase agreement. However, anytime I've ever stayed at a hotel that was overbooked, they have always put me up at a hotel of the same or better class in the same general area of the city and they paid any difference. Is this the same kind of situation?

Thanks for reading this and for any guidance you can offer.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 12:12 am
  #2  
 
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As a VRBO owner and manager, I don't see how that can happen as the VRBO calendar system seems fairly robust (I hope I haven't jinxed it by saying that). However, I have had an analogous situation when some renters left the house in a terrible state and we were unable to get it up to any sort of standard before the next guests were due - for the July 4 weekend. Luckily we found suitable hotel accommodation for our guests, which we paid for, and we negotiated suitable financial terms. However, I really don't know what we could have done had we not found some hotel rooms on one of the busiest weekends of the year. Ultimately, the OP and the manager have to work in the realms of the possible not the fanciful.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 5:22 am
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VRBO / HomeAway double booked my reservation. What do I do now??

As an airbnb host:

I don't receive the renters payment until the day after they check in. It seems almost .. shady that the host or property owner can receive payment a month or more before the guest stays.

I do however believe that if something comes up, and I have to cancel a month+ in advance, i apologize to the customer, but don't feel is my responsibility to book them elsewhere (they would get a full refund of course).
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Old Jun 10, 15, 7:59 am
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In response to one of the previous comments questioning how this double booking can happen, here is what I believe happened:

I booked the condo through VRBO.com and paid in full about two an a half weeks before my check in date. I suspect the property manager booked the condo to someone else through a different website such as CraigsList.com. He didn't keep track of his bookings and made a serious mistake.

This seems to be a serious shortcoming with these online rental places. I don't feel like I have any legal protection like I have with an airline or hotel that overbooks their flight or property. A refund is nice, but now I'm out almost a thousand dollars because I had to find my own last minute accommodations. I would consider legal action but San Diego is not my hometown, lawyers are expensive, and there's the chance you could lose in court. On the other side, I am so angry at this guy that legal action seems like the only option.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 8:31 am
  #5  
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First, why presume that the property manager didn't simply rent to someone who offered him more money? Large conference, expensive hotels and so on. Somebody who rented there before may have dealt directly with him, he rented to the other people and bumped OP. Has nothing to do with VRBO. This is the problem in dealing with any third-party you don't know. And there's nothing VRBO can really do other than maybe give the guy the boot.

Second, The property manager likely had no legal obligation to cover OP's consequential damages, but chose to. So, that is to the good. In most situations, OP would be out the $823 in extra costs.

Third, but having covered the extra costs, OP is definitely due the prepaid rental of $1,340. For whatever reason, the property manager went through PayPal for part of it. OP has an obligation to notify his CC issuer of that payment and thereby reduce his chargeback request to the balance.

Fourth, OP has a temporary credit in place and there is no sign that after investigation he won't get his permanent credit (although he really does make sure that there isn't a double credit in order to avoid the property manager screaming fraud).

Fifth, Who cares what the property manager says? The decision will be made by the CC issuer and they withold plenty from vendors such as this.

If OP does lose the chargeback, then he can consider a small claims action, but it's a hard case to make unless the OP can show a contractual obligation by the property manager to pick up the consequential additional costs. But, that's an "if" so quit worrying. Nothing bad has happened yet (beyond the original issue).
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Old Jun 10, 15, 8:58 am
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Originally Posted by uwcableguy View Post
I then called my credit card and filed a dispute on the $1,340 and they immediately reversed the charges. About an hour later, the property manager sends me a PayPal payment for $584 and he says that's all the money I'm going to get from him.

At this point I have no idea what to do. I'm out $823 for this hotel and this guy isn't going to send me any more money. I'm wondering if I have to contact a lawyer or something else.
You'll likely lose. What does the contract you formed via VRBO say about cancels? Likely it protects them and the owner.

Originally Posted by uwcableguy View Post
But what can I do about the extra $823 it cost me to get this hotel?
Suck it up.

Originally Posted by uwcableguy View Post
We did not have any formal contract other than whatever the default VRBO.com purchase agreement.
And what does that say about such situations?? That is the only contract you have and the only thing you'll be able to leverage for getting "damages" covered.

Originally Posted by uwcableguy View Post
However, anytime I've ever stayed at a hotel that was overbooked, they have always put me up at a hotel of the same or better class in the same general area of the city and they paid any difference. Is this the same kind of situation?
No.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 9:22 am
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yeah, zero comparison between hotel and rental (overbooking / hotels "walking" guests)

perhaps some luxury rental management companies / realtors will offer compensation
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Old Jun 10, 15, 10:58 am
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WHBH - "Want hotel, book hotel". These outfits don't market themselves as hotels, they aren't hotels and contrary to the OP's statement, there is a "formal contract". It is the terms and conditions to which he agreed. If they disfavor him, that was his choice to sign on.

OP just needs to be careful about reporting the partial refund lest the property manager turn this around on OP with an allegation of fraud.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 1:00 pm
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A couple of my recent attempts to book via VRBO have been cases where the owner responds with (basically) "Sorry, the unit got booked via another website." I found this out after VRBO showed the unit as available and I entered credit card and other personal information.

Thankfully, I haven't been out any money because the owners were honest enough to *not* accept my booking. It's just frustrating as a renter. It's basically clear to me at this point that people list their properties on a bunch of sites and don't always follow up with all of the calendars in each when their property is booked. I'm would assume that a lot of this is Airbnb vs. VRBO, but perhaps there are other sites? In the pre-Airbnb days, if we saw something on VRBO we could count on its information being up-to-date.

Sorry for the OP...he got mixed up with a bad guy. Lawyering up is probably more trouble than it's worth, even if you think there might be a legitimate case there.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 1:11 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
I haven't been out any money because the owners were honest enough to *not* accept my booking.
and one of the reasons to always use credit card where you can dispute charges

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; Jun 10, 15 at 1:20 pm
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Old Jun 10, 15, 1:17 pm
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The OP has done that, but that doesn't really help him because he's concerned about the consequential damages from extra expenses.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 1:21 pm
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I'm puzzled how the property manager even got the OP's PayPal account details for the refund when the OP paid by credit card.

I think the OP should report carefully to the credit card company that the property manager paid exactly the compensatory amount that was requested but did not refund the original amount paid. To me, the PayPal payment in the exact amount requested indicated that the property manager agreed that compensation was due in the reported amount of the difference between the VRBO price and the total hotel cost. This is different from refunding the rental fee and no reasonable person would believe that this is all that the OP was owed.

However, having asked for the difference in cost, the OP can't go back and ask for more because he/she miscalculated the amount on the first try.

IANAL.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 2:48 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
A couple of my recent attempts to book via VRBO have been cases where the owner responds with (basically) "Sorry, the unit got booked via another website." I found this out after VRBO showed the unit as available and I entered credit card and other personal information.
I think some owners use this as an excuse to reject people they decide they don't want in their unit for some reason. It's happened to me multiple times in both NYC and San Francisco - both places that have a certain reputation for being fussy. In NYC, in particular, I began to get the feeling that I didn't fit their narrow definition of the type of person who would be worthy of their unit - the same sort of person who walks around with a designer dog in their purse (or murse, as the case may be.)
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Old Jun 10, 15, 2:58 pm
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Hit the nail on the head

Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
First, why presume that the property manager didn't simply rent to someone who offered him more money? Large conference, expensive hotels and so on. Somebody who rented there before may have dealt directly with him, he rented to the other people and bumped OP. Has nothing to do with VRBO. This is the problem in dealing with any third-party you don't know. And there's nothing VRBO can really do other than maybe give the guy the boot.

Second, The property manager likely had no legal obligation to cover OP's consequential damages, but chose to. So, that is to the good. In most situations, OP would be out the $823 in extra costs.

Third, but having covered the extra costs, OP is definitely due the prepaid rental of $1,340. For whatever reason, the property manager went through PayPal for part of it. OP has an obligation to notify his CC issuer of that payment and thereby reduce his chargeback request to the balance.

Fourth, OP has a temporary credit in place and there is no sign that after investigation he won't get his permanent credit (although he really does make sure that there isn't a double credit in order to avoid the property manager screaming fraud).

Fifth, Who cares what the property manager says? The decision will be made by the CC issuer and they withold plenty from vendors such as this.

If OP does lose the chargeback, then he can consider a small claims action, but it's a hard case to make unless the OP can show a contractual obligation by the property manager to pick up the consequential additional costs. But, that's an "if" so quit worrying. Nothing bad has happened yet (beyond the original issue).
I think you are absolutely correct on all points here. The 'contract' I have with VRBO is pretty much worthless and I think all I'm ever going to get back is the original amount I paid for the rental. What is absolutely shocking to me is how easily this same situation could happen to anyone using the VRBO.com site (or similarly HomeAway.com or possibly even AirBnB.com). I don't understand how these property owners / managers can just so easily say 'oops, I made a mistake, here's your money back, good luck to you getting a room somewhere else.' There is no incentive for them to be honest and hold their end of the deal. Somebody came in after me, gave this guy more money, and I end up getting screwed. Lesson learned - never use any of these fly-by-night websites again. Which is sad because I've been using them for years when we go to the beach in Alabama. But again, people from the country have, in my experience, been a lot less shady than big city folk and you can still make a deal on a handshake and not have to require that every single little detail is spelled out in a multiple page contract that only makes sense to a person with a law degree. I got screwed by a fraudster, and it's not going to happen again.

Thanks everyone for their input on this. I thought I had seen it all...guess not.
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Old Jun 10, 15, 4:00 pm
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Originally Posted by milepig View Post
I think some owners use this as an excuse to reject people they decide they don't want in their unit for some reason. It's happened to me multiple times in both NYC and San Francisco - both places that have a certain reputation for being fussy. In NYC, in particular, I began to get the feeling that I didn't fit their narrow definition of the type of person who would be worthy of their unit - the same sort of person who walks around with a designer dog in their purse (or murse, as the case may be.)
My examples have been so far off the beaten path that I don't *think* that is the case. One was a lakehouse in Oklahoma...it was a 4-bedroom at a fixed price and the information the owner would have had about me was 6 adults 0 children. The other was Finger Lakes, NY, and it was a 4-bedroom where I'd reserved for 5 adults and 2 children...but it was a house that specifically advertised for families (had a swingset and everything). We're also nonsmokers with no pets but the owners presumably wouldn't have known that.

In other words, even if the owners were fussy, I'm not sure what would have triggered them to reject us. If VRBO allows owners to rate guests (do they have that?), we'd have a good rating as our 7 or 8 completed rentals have all been pleasant and without any kind of dispute with owners over payment, damage, etc.
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