VRBO owner refuses payment through website

Old Dec 2, 16, 10:46 pm
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VRBO owner refuses payment through website

What would you do if the owner of a property that you requested a booking for asked for payment via personal check/money order and refused to post the request via the VRBO website even though the communication had been entirely through the site? As this was a peak season property in Alaska we went for it anyway (even with the $100 non refundable deposit) but we think it is lousy as the intermediary likely isn't getting anything and who knows if the payment is even being declared as income by the homeowner. Of course my biggest complaint is that I won't get any membership rewards points but I guess I may be saving the VRBO fee. The communication was through VRBO and I have records of it so I believe I have some protection from them. Thoughts?
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Old Dec 3, 16, 6:14 am
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Hm, from a VRBO perspective I would assume that it's the homeowner who takes the risk of being booted from the site for going outside their payments system; however, from your perspective, I think it's a much bigger risk to pay by check/money order vs. CC. Paying by CC gives some recourse (via chargeback) if the homeowner does something nefarious like claiming that you never paid, renting the house out from under you, etc. If they did this and you tried to get some recompense from VRBO, my assumption that VRBO would disclaim all responsibility if the payment didn't go through them. Frankly, if I got a request like this when renting a property, I'd refuse.
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Old Dec 3, 16, 11:14 am
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Good points, travelmad478. I agree that paying via a CC would certainly give us more options if things start to fall apart. It was a tough call as it was the property we wanted at the time we needed it and the choices were really slim pickings. Typically I would have walked away as you suggest but in this instance I really didn't have another good choice.

I don't think VRBO can disclaim all responsibility as the booking was set up and all discussion was directly through and visible by them. It may all be above board and maybe the guy just can't take credit cards for some odd reason? <sticking head in sand>
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Old Dec 3, 16, 11:46 am
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I hope it all works out. You may want to check VRBO's T&Cs though--I don't think you would have a leg to stand on with them if you went outside the site for payment. As long as the property reviews are good, hopefully you're going to be fine, but the whole thing doesn't smell too great. (And if the homeowner pulls this stunt all the time, there might not be reviews to check, since as far as VRBO is concerned he's never completed a rental!)

As far as the guy not being able to accept CCs, I don't know how that would be. It's VRBO doing the CC acceptance--he should get paid via EFT from them.
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Old Dec 21, 16, 2:08 am
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I wouldn't have booked the rental for the following reasons

1. You didn't book through the site. Do you really believe that VRBO, who didn't make a dime from the booking, has any responsibility or obligations towards you.

2. You've lost your best protection, i.e. the credit card protection that would have should the property be misrepresented, the reservation unilaterally cancelled, etc.

3. The owner is happy to cheat VRBO. If he/she is willing to cheat VRBO, I submit that the owner is equally happy to cheat you.
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Old Jan 4, 17, 5:50 pm
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Originally Posted by clarkef View Post
I wouldn't have booked the rental for the following reasons

1. You didn't book through the site. Do you really believe that VRBO, who didn't make a dime from the booking, has any responsibility or obligations towards you.

2. You've lost your best protection, i.e. the credit card protection that would have should the property be misrepresented, the reservation unilaterally cancelled, etc.

3. The owner is happy to cheat VRBO. If he/she is willing to cheat VRBO, I submit that the owner is equally happy to cheat you.
These are all very good reasons to avoid doing this. There are many bonus listings out there. As a host, we do go outside of AirBnB sometimes but only for repeat bookings where it makes sense. Guests are quite happy with this because they save 15%.
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Old Feb 14, 17, 9:14 am
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Originally Posted by lavajava View Post
These are all very good reasons to avoid doing this. There are many bonus listings out there. As a host, we do go outside of AirBnB sometimes but only for repeat bookings where it makes sense. Guests are quite happy with this because they save 15%.
Is that allowed within the AirBnb contract? That seems reasonable if it is.
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Old Feb 14, 17, 11:13 am
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Originally Posted by clarkef View Post
Is that allowed within the AirBnb contract? That seems reasonable if it is.
It won't be insured or otherwise protected by Airbnb in that case, but if you feel like renting out a room for money to someone whom you already know, you are certainly within your rights as a homeowner to do it however you want.
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Old Feb 15, 17, 3:04 am
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
It won't be insured or otherwise protected by Airbnb in that case, but if you feel like renting out a room for money to someone whom you already know, you are certainly within your rights as a homeowner to do it however you want.
Depends on the contract. Many contracts have non-solicitation type clauses. I haven't the first clue about Airbnb's terms and conditions
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Old Feb 15, 17, 10:22 am
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Although I am an Airbnb host I can't say I've scrutinized every word of their contracts either--but the fact that many people list their homes on both Airbnb and VRBO makes me think this is not an issue.
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Old Feb 15, 17, 7:30 pm
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When you see how much VRBO takes from owners, you will understand why people go outside their system.

VRBO and a bunch of other competing sites were all gobbled up by Homeaway a few years ago and once that happened the prices for their services increased substantially. Unfortunately Homeaway pretty much controls the market now and can charge what it likes.
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Old Mar 4, 17, 2:13 pm
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Originally Posted by clarkef View Post
Is that allowed within the AirBnb contract? That seems reasonable if it is.
sorry, catching up on FT updates. I would assume not, however we've done it with guests we trust/think are a good match/have repeat stays or a long term work contract in the area. IMHO, I don't think the AirBnB 'insurance' policy is worth much. We have cover in our household insurance to cover short term tenants including contents/damage.
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Old May 2, 17, 4:47 pm
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I have booked VRBO properties multiple times and always suggested to come to an agreement outside of VRBO to lower the fee. All worked out great, I have never paid the listed rate, usually 15-40% less in fact.

However, I have never had an owner request the same from me.
If that were the case, I would be cautious and would never pay anything before arrival. At the same time I would demand substantially lower rates.

As riced pointed out, the VRBO fees for homeowners are outrageous. But the listed prices already take that into account. So if the owner demands the listed rate but payment outside of VRBO, I would never agree but definitely negotiate.
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Old Jun 13, 17, 6:35 pm
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Originally Posted by travelmad478 View Post
Although I am an Airbnb host I can't say I've scrutinized every word of their contracts either--but the fact that many people list their homes on both Airbnb and VRBO makes me think this is not an issue.
I have seen nothing in either the Airbnb or VRBO (actually now HomeAway) terms of service that require an exclusive right of listing on either site.

IANAL, but the Airbnb and HomeAway terms of service do not strike me as actually engaging in a contract with a property, beyond the general legal principles of a website TOS being a contract. A listing on Airbnb or HomeAway is, from the owner's end, handled much like listing an ad for a rental property on rentals.com or listing an item for sale on eBay or even posting an item on Craigslist. Airbnb or HomeAway do not have any contractual rights on your property; they only effectively serve as venues to deliver you sales leads and then conduct a transaction from those leads.

Airbnb is, however, very strict about any leads that come through their site, and they both actively censor contact information (phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, etc.) and monitor communications for attempts to circumvent their booking system. If a traveler finds a property via Airbnb, Airbnb wants to earn their cut and makes it very difficult to bypass paying them their cut.

HomeAway is less strict. There is limited censorship and (AFAIK) no active monitoring of communications through the HomeAway platform for attempts to bypass the HomeAway booking system. That said, the terms of service require that "[m]embers agree not to encourage or advise a traveler to avoid or circumvent the service fee charged by HomeAway," and HomeAway is moving more towards the Airbnb model (a booking platform, rather than just a listing platform).

Previously, property owners paid a tiered (and in most cases, higher--it's currently $399/year, IIRC) annual subscription fee to list their properties on HomeAway, but owners and guests could work out their own payment arrangements, and many owners did not accept credit cards (preferring to avoid the merchant fees of doing so). Nowadays, HomeAway really pushes their HomeAway Payments service by promising owners that allowing Instant Booking through that service will move properties up to the top of the search results and defaulting new listings to the settings that allow that (and the integration really is quite simple and automated)--and by advising guests that payments through the HomeAway platform will receive their "Book With Confidence Guarantee"--but it is not mandatory. Owners may still take payments by other methods, whether their own credit card processors (many of whom have better rates than the 3% fee HomeAway Payments takes), check, or whatever, but in these cases, HomeAway still asks the guest for a credit card number during booking to pay for the HomeAway service fee.

So, HomeAway Payments is not a mandatory and exclusive payment provider for HomeAway listings, and owners are free to take payment by any other method, as long as the guest pays the HomeAway service fee. There isn't anything fishy or wrong about an owner asking for payment outside the HomeAway payment system--many owners of highly-in-demand properties in areas with few alternatives (and especially older, long-time owners used to the traditional VRBO listing methods) will feel confident they can fill their properties without needing to take payments by credit card (these are also the owners who typically eschew "Instant Booking" or "Book It Now"-type transactions in favor of approving individual booking requests after vetting the prospective renters--horror stories of bad renters are all over the HomeAway forums). It's of course up to guests whether they prefer to book properties that take payments through HomeAway Payments (since the guest does get additional protections that way), but if booking a highly-rated property, I don't think there's any reason to be worried about issues when paying with another method (if the owners were flaky or unscrupulous, you'd see mention of that in the reviews).

Last edited by jackal; Jun 13, 17 at 6:43 pm
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Old Jun 18, 17, 2:16 am
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Originally Posted by jackal View Post
I have seen nothing in either the Airbnb or VRBO (actually now HomeAway) terms of service that require an exclusive right of listing on either site.
I wouldn't expect there to be.

Originally Posted by jackal View Post
There is limited censorship and (AFAIK) no active monitoring of communications through the HomeAway platform for attempts to bypass the HomeAway booking system. That said, the terms of service require that "[m]embers agree not to encourage or advise a traveler to avoid or circumvent the service fee charged by HomeAway," and HomeAway is moving more towards the Airbnb model (a booking platform, rather than just a listing platform).
[...]
HomeAway still asks the guest for a credit card number during booking to pay for the HomeAway service fee.
I haven't used HomeAway. If I understand correctly, a guest can actually book through the Homeaway system but pay the homeowner through other means, i.e. not through the Homeaway system?

A brief review of the site appears to confirm your statements. In that case, I would be more comfortable paying the owner outside of the system. I had assumed that the owner was asking that the renter circumvent the system.
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