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Does anyone have any ideas on how to protect oneself against more money being requested upon arrival?
We negotiated a 4 month rental in Rome from an advertiser on the HomeAway website, and paid upfront
(If I was the owner I'd want that too, since I'm tying up my rental for a long time)
We purchased HomeAway Carefree Guarantee just to be sure.
Upon arrival owner wanted 25% more (I think they realized they might have been able to ask for more from us initially). But now we were stuck: large amount already paid, trip is in motion, etc. etc.
HomeAway/CareFree Guarantee people say this is not covered under their Internet Fraud clause (although am still in discussions with them)
If the Guarantee does not cover that, any ideas how one could be protected against such a fraud/scam?
It is very rare for owners in Italy to use a contract and most deal in cash on arrival. How did you pay? When did you pay? When is your stay? Have you paid in full?
When I traveled through Italy for several weeks we rented four different properties (Venice, Rome, Tuscany, and Umbria) and had rental agreements for all properties. I was not aware this was unusual. I do not think I would be comfortable traveling such a distance without a written contract (I would be unlkely to rent any property without a written contract.) We did pay the balance of our rent, in two instances, in cash on arrival. But we were not asked for more than the agreed price.
tim22, I hope you are able to work this out.
Edited to include: I realize my comment will not help solve the present problem, as the payment appears to have been made and the trip completed (is this so?) but I do think, as someone who re-confirms hotel reservations on route from one destination to another, that a written agreement is a necessary protection. Is any of your communication regarding your stay in writing? Again, wishing you the best.
Your best avenue for gaining a refund is continuing to work with Homeaway and hope they can convince the owner to return your funds based on the documentation you have provided.
Are you asking how to protect yourself in the future or how to help yourself now? I"m confused by your last sentence.
It's not clear how you could protect yourself in the future from an owner that acts unscrupulously. Perhaps someone in the forum knows of travel insurance that would cover such an event.
I'm not clear on exactly what happened as you haven't posted the timeline or detail of events: was the 25% for the four months demanded before entering the apartment? did you pay the entire amount at once? did you stay for the four months? If so, did you contact Homeaway or local authorities for assistance during that time?
How did you prepay the rent? Depending on how much time has passed and method of payment you might be able to get the credit card issuer or financial institution to reverse the payment. But if four months have passed it may not be possible to take any action. Action might have been successful if taken immediately.
A final suggestion for you, write a review of your rental experience detailing the owner's practices and inform the owner you are preparing to post it. You could also communicate that you are prepared to post about your experience on every popular travel board (Trip Advisor, Fodors, Frommers, etc). I would wait on Homeaway to work with the owner before taking these actions, but would have a detailed review ready to post in the event Homeaway is unable to assist you. The owner may not want to risk your posting a negative review of his/her practices.
Thanks for the advice.
The 25% extra demanded was for the entire 4 months.
We stayed the entire 4 months.
We disagreed with the owners when we arrived, but paid the extra 25% anyways...
They already had the money that we had originally agreed to. As I said there was a whole vacation in motion, and it was too late to change all these plans.
And because they now had our damage deposit, again we were at there mercy. So made sure we stayed on cordial relations with them during our stay, and until we received our damage deposit back (they gave it all back). Only at that point did let them know we were going to take this up with HomeAway, and with the Guarantee Insurance. But they have ignore us from that point on.
I am continuing to work with HomeAway.
As a last resort, I will indeed post a negative review...but don't want to do this until I've exhausted all possible recourses to get the 25% extra I paid back.
My main question was how in heck could one protect oneself against this kind of thing of fraud in the future?