A niece is getting married in Lake Tahoe in May and instead of flying out, attending the thing and then flying back we are going to make a long vacation of it. We are going to drive out, spend a week at Lake Tahoe and then drive back. Instead of staying at the Holiday Inn Express for $200 a night or $125 for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino we thought we’d rent a house or a condo for something in between to have the ability to cook our own meals, etc.
When we found out Donna’s youngest brother was coming down with his wife and kids we thought maybe we’d get a big house that we can all share. They were agreeable to this idea so we went looking for places that had at least 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms. We started with VRBO because that had worked out so well when we rented a cabin on a lake near them in 2015.
We found a nice place in a condo development less than 2 miles away from the wedding venues and requested a booking. We had to give VRBO our charge card number to get the process going and they got their $130 fee right then (refunded if the owner doesn’t confirm the reservation within 24 hours) while the rest of the total would be going to the owner once confirmed. Not long after that the owner wrote back and asked a couple questions, we swapped a few emails and then waited for the next step. And waited. We started to worry.
At about hour 28 the owner emailed us and said although she felt she responded to VRBO within the proper time frame, they did not and we would have to cancel and rebook. The VRBO’s $130 was already listed as pending on the charge card, so I called the VRBO customer support line to make sure that that charge wouldn’t go through because I had cancelled the reservations. I was assured it would not. So, we started the booking process all over again. This time when filling out the request, VRBO’s cut was listed as $129. Why the dollar difference?
This time we didn’t get anything right back from the owner. After 12 hours we emailed the owner. She apologized for the delay saying she is under the weather with the flu, we were all set. Donna and I were under the impression that when we agreed to payment terms and gave VRBO our charge card information that was all we needed to do. But according to her (and the rental’s VRBO page, which we didn’t notice) we pay everything except the $130 booking fee to her. We needed to sign some documents and she would send us an invoice over the weekend. It was now Friday afternoon, so we waited.
And waited. By Sunday approaching bedtime we had still not heard anything. After eighteen total emails between us, VRBO & the owner and 2 separate $130 charges pending we were not feeling comfortable about the process anymore, so we decided to cancel the reservation and start over with a different rental place. I went online to the VRBO site to fill out the form. Using up all but 18 of the allowed 1,000 characters I wrote this, and retired for the night:
We have been trying to book this property since January 9th. The first attempt (Reservation #HA-VZ80Y8) fell through because the owner told us she must have missed the payment deadline and we would have to cancel the reservation and try again, which we did on the 11th. I tried to re-book on the night of the 11th, but my credit card wouldn’t work online. I then spent 15 minutes with one of your Customer Service Reps on the phone trying to use it through her and it wouldn’t work then either. The CSR said you were having problems with a software update. The following day, the 12th, I successfully booked online with a charge card. The owner informed us that she would be send us payment information via email and documents. We have yet to receive anything else from the owner. We are now quite skeptical of this process and would like to cancel our reservation. Please refund the both the $130 for the 1st & the $129 for the 2nd reservations. Thank you, Donna and Brian Bogardus
VRBO had asked for a reason for the cancellation, not finding anything right on point, I picked something that was as close to how we were feeling about the process – Traveler’s reason: I ran into suspicious activity. So, when we got up on Monday morning, there was our cancellation confirmation email from VRBO timed about a minute after I entered it. And 5 minutes later than that an email from the owner who took umbrage at the suspicious activity reason. “She had been in business or 9 years and never had any problems…yadda, yadda, yadda.” Didn’t take her over 48 hours to respond to that though, did it?
Monday night we found a 3 bedroom, 2-1/2 bath place about $50 a night cheaper on Airbnb. Booked it and within an hour we heard back from both Airbnb and the owner confirming our reservation. Done.