Jan 17, 2012 9:42 AM
I need your advice and help.
First of all, let me start off by saying that I've used VRBO several times in the past with no issues. I recently married, and last year, I volunteered to help plan the vacation for my husband's family. I suggested they use VRBO for our rental, and they agreed to do so. I found a spot that seemed on paper really decent for our needs, and I contacted the property manager for information about the listing.
We are a party of 14, 8 adults and 6 kids (2 are babies). She quoted us a price, then contacted me a couple of days later and increased the price by $360, citing a $20/person extra fee and then an additional $250 extra cleaning fee (on top of the $200 cleaning fee in the original price). I didn't care as much, because if you look at her listing, you will see that she stated they were within walking distance of the beach, which is what the family wanted. We agreed, and she sent us the contract. This was in February of last year. Our vacation wasn't scheduled until October.
A week later she calls, asking me to send her a check asap for the full rental amount, including the security deposit. Considering the vacation was still several months away, I found this odd. I told her we wanted to pay by credit card. She refused and would only take a check. Anyway...we paid her the full sum a week later, and then never heard from her again until 1 week before our vacation.
We received a laundry list of Rules and Regulations, the check in instructions and check out procedures. We arrived there and after a long day of travelling, finally got to her house. The first thing, my sister in law stepped in dog poop while coming out of the car. Then several of us went in to use the bathroom...and there was NOT a roll of toilet paper anywhere in the house. We immediately had to go to Walmart just to get basic supplies (after an already 12 hour day of traveling).
everything in the ad turned out grossly exaggerated. The house was not within walking distance to the beach (it was a 15 minute drive at best), there were ducks that messed up the swimming pool, so it took an hour to clean each time you wanted to go in. There place was fraught with mosquitoes (so we couldn't stay outside after the sun went down). There were no large sauce pans to cook with (so each meal had to be cooked in 2 small pots which made cooking take twice as long), the dishwasher was broken (so we had to handwash almost everything)....and on and on and on...you get my drift, I won't bore you with all the annoyances.
It was frustrating having to constantly juggle all the crappy things we were dealing with. Everything we loved about taking a family vacation became a challenge...we couldn't even all sit and have a meal together because the largest table only fit 8 people.
Fast forward to checkout. I will admit that we checked out 1 hour later than we were supposed to; but we followed all the check out policies in her handbook. We even did extra loads of laundry, cleaned up the pool 1 more time, washed the dishes, and took all the trash out. She arrives in a snit and we were rushed off the premises. I forgot to empty out the refrigerator (but granted that would have only taken a few minutes at best).
She was supposed to return the security deposit of $500 2 weeks after our stay. We never heard from her. Then when we contacted her, she sent us a laundry list of complaints charging us $5 for leaving a cup in the upstairs bedroom, $5 for leaving a toy in the pool, $20 for emptying out the fridge, and on and on and on. She even charged us for not arranging the dishes the way she had them originally---which I thought was super weird. All of this added up in her mind to not returning the security deposit at all.
Anyway, we bicker back and forth about her ridiculous charges, and then she refuses to refund any of the deposit. I posted a negative review on her page which detailed the issues that we dealt with. She got raving mad at me, then contacted VRBO stating that my review was a lie. They upheld leaving my review up. Then she contacted me again stating that she will return our security deposit if I agree to take the review down. I didn't want to do this at all...it was never about the money for me, just the principle and warning others about the issues they will encounter if they use her vacation rental. She called my father in law (Because I was done talking to her at that point),. and she pressed him for an email from me stating that I will remove the review if she returns the deposit.
We were so gullible. I did send her the email, then she turns around, sends it to VRBO and has my review taken down saying that I harassed and threatened her. I am so flummoxed by this lady. So now my review is gone, and of course she has absconded with our deposit. VRBO is refusing to put the review back up, citing 'Terms & Conditions'...even though they agree that they also were deceived by this lady. Now it has become a personal thing, because I'm so sick and tired of getting her harassing emails, and nasty phone calls.
It has never been about the money for me. I make at my job in 1 day what the security deposit was. It's about the principle and the lack of integrity.
I really feel that if I had been warned about her, even with a poor review that I had seen, I would never have rented the property and I would have saved my family the aggravation. I wanted my review to be a testament to save other people from the same predicament that our family was put in. It was supposed to be a lovely vacation and it has turned into a nightmare. VRBO of course does not care, they just want to keep out of it. But I feel like I need to do something to help other people from suffering the same plight we did.
So now I turn to you all. I'm sure other travelers have suffered horror stories as well from other Landlords, and perhaps even from herself.
We live in Oregon, and she is in Florida, so involving the courts would mean that one of us would have to fly to FL to file the paperwork right?
What can we do? Any and all suggestions would be most appreciated and sorry by this long post. I'm just really upset that VRBO is allowing her to get away with her perfidy, and I feel so gullible and taken advantage of.
Thank you in advance for your advice.