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4002 Views 21 Replies Latest reply: Sep 17, 2012 3:55 PM by old_frog RSS
swiss-house Contributor 260 posts since
Jul 6, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 10, 2012 5:16 PM

Reporting a listing with false information?

What is the best way to report a listing that has false information?  Is there a special form or link, or does one just go through the regular customer support screens?

 

And I guess as an add-on question - what are the chances of HomeAway trying to validate the reported mis-information and taking action to correct it?

 

In this circumstance, I've noticed a number of listings that report our town as their location (we are have the highest rated ski slopes and waterparks in our region) but they are really 2 or 3 towns away, with typical travel times over over 20 minutes for guests.  In fact, a number of the reviews for some of these houses reference how they felt misled about the house's location. 

 

There are HomeAway locations for the towns these listings are actually in, they just chose to mis-represent their location and turn off the display on map feature so guests can't tell they're getting snookered.

  • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 890 posts since
    Sep 3, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 10, 2012 7:04 PM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    Swiss House,

     

    I hope you have better luck with this than I did.

     

    Listings for my town that are not in my town are one of my pet peeves. Several people in the same large development in Millsboro, DE have their listing grouped with Rehoboth Beach. There is a Millsboro category and there are listings there for this same development, as they should be. I've contacted VRBO numerous times about this with no response. 

     

    The listing should be with the town that corresponds to the zip code of the listing location. To not make it mandatory to list where the property really is is bad business policy-both for owners and those looking to rent.

  • scottr Contributor 205 posts since
    Aug 14, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 10, 2012 7:16 PM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    Let me know if you get any help from HA.  I reported a listing that was misrepresenting their weekly rate.  Instead of using the price for the week (like everyone else does), they were using the nightly rate as it would be for a weeks stay (eg. weekly rate divided by 7).  I never got a response from HA but about a month later a got an automated response from HA asking if my concern had been addressed adequately. I responded that I never had a response and that the issue still existed (still does last time I looked).   That was the last I heard on my concern.

  • island4 Contributor 33 posts since
    Jun 5, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 11, 2012 8:19 AM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    As I have said in other posts, my issue is a dumping of condos in the house section. This jumped the number of listings in my area fro 12 to 116 in a 5 day period.  HA blames the PM's for the mis-information, but where are their checkpoints? I, too, hope you have better luck then I have had. I first reported the problem 8/30, was given a case number, and 3 reps later have had no success in removing these listings.

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 865 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 11, 2012 8:44 AM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    I have over 90 listings at my beach which are not actually there.  VRBO has a policy which actually states that as long as the lister puts the actual location somewhere on the listing (it doesnt specifically say how) then they can do it until the cows come home.  What the company is doing in my area is putting the google map location but it is under a heading of my beach community right under the Google map.  Very slick of the property management company.  To top it off this property management company also runs a parrallel legitimate add of the same property in the proper site. 

     

    But then again, this validates how desirable my beach area is for renters that do their homework!

    • sage Community All-Star 972 posts since
      Jul 4, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 11, 2012 1:04 PM (in response to crescentbeach4u)
      Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

      this property management company also runs a parrallel legitimate add of the same property in the proper site

      And that is why HA endorses these deceptions.  One property with multiple listings means more money for HA in the short run.  However, it undermines the credibility of HA, VRBO, et al, and will alienate renters who become frustrated by the misrepresentations.  The HA stockholders should be concerned about renters fleeing to more reliable sites, and the exodus of owners that will follow, but I suppose any informed investors are just hoping for a short term gain, and then plan to bail out.  And as long as management have good severance packages, why should they care?

    • Contributor 86 posts since
      Oct 31, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 11, 2012 5:48 PM (in response to swiss-house)
      Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

      I contacted customer support.  Six days later here is the response I received (see below).  My bet is that they have closed this ticket and nothing will ever be done.

       

      Randy

       

       

      Dear Randy,

       

      Thank you for contacting HomeAway Customer Support. We appreciate that you've taken the time to contact us regarding these listings. We will research the location of the listing and contact the owner should we find there is an abuse of our policy.

       

      If you need further assistance, please feel free to visit our Help site at:
      http://help.homeaway.com/?brand=homeaway

       

      Thank you for using HomeAway— the world's most trusted online vacation rental marketplace.

       

      Best regards,

       

      B
      Customer Support Representative
      HomeAway.com

        • Contributor 86 posts since
          Oct 31, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Sep 11, 2012 7:57 PM (in response to swiss-house)
          Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

          Last Tuesday is when I reported it and this morning is when I get the response from HA.  Just checked and nothing has changed.  There is actually a seperate group just for their condo resort but looks like they prefer to advertise in our section.  Looks like property manager for some and maybe individual for some others.  It all started when they implemented bundling.  These are new listings to HA.

           

          To be honest with you I am getting tired of even talking with HomeAway.  It is obvious to me that they need some new management/staff.  They should man up and admit this last bundle implementation was a total disaster - bad programming, bad or no testing, bad communications, bad documenation, bad change management, bad implemenation!  I am really starting to feel bad for Shannon and a few others that are trying to make us feel like everything is ok!  Can you imagine being in their position and trying to keep making excuses for all the screw ups!

           

          The real sad thing is I don't see it getting any better.  It would be nice to hear from top management to admit their mistakes and commit to us to make things better.  We can only dream!

           

          Randy

    • sage Community All-Star 972 posts since
      Jul 4, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 11, 2012 9:45 PM (in response to swiss-house)
      Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

      I think there is a very real potential that the Federal Trade Commission would find at least some of the misrepresentations regarding location and nature of the property to be violations of its Truth in Advertising rules.  When, for example, a property is prominently listed in a highly desirable geographic location, and the prospective renter must dig for the true location, and may only recognize the difference when they arrive at the given address and discover it to be many miles from the named beach, that deception is likely to mislead consumers acting reasonably under the circumstances; and is "material" - that is, important to a consumer's decision to select that rental rather than one accurately described.

       

      When HA policies tolerate, and even encourage, deceptive advertising, the FTC might express its disapproval to HA in addition to the owner/property manager.

       

      Many, perhaps all, states have some version of an unlawful or unfair trade practices act that may prohibit many of these deceptive listings.  For example, Oregon says it is unlawful to "Use[] deceptive representations or designations of geographic origin in connection with real estate, goods or services" or to "Represent[] that real estate, goods or services have . . . characteristics, . . . benefits, . . . or qualities that they do not have."  ORS 646.608(1)(d)-(e)  These laws typically allow private citizens to initiate actions, not just the state attorney general, and allow an award of attorney fees to a prevailing plaintiff.  If one is having difficulty competing with the liars, it may be worth consulting an attorney who does consumer protection work to see if the attorney might pursue the matter on a contingent fee basis.

      • New Member 2 posts since
        Sep 12, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 12, 2012 6:23 AM (in response to sage)
        Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

        I had to step in today as I read these forums daily and am a frequent renter.  As an avid traveler I have run across this problem up in the NE states.  In searching further I find this problem has infested everywhere.  You mentioned beaches so I looked up Florida listings and did not have enough paper to write them down.  There are many properties listed on VRBO portraying to be in a location or beach as you mentioned yet they are actually somewhere else.

         

        Florida owners should review Federal Trade Commission and Florida Statutes as listed below.  I believe they would have a clear opinion in their favor:

         

        1. 817.41 Misleading advertising prohibited.

        (1)  It shall be unlawful for any person to make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated before the general public of the state, or any portion thereof, any misleading advertisement. Such making or dissemination of misleading advertising shall constitute and is hereby declared to be fraudulent and unlawful, designed and intended for obtaining money or property under false pretenses.

         

        1. 501.204 Unlawful acts and practices.

        (1)  Unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.

        (2)  It is the intent of the Legislature that, in construing subsection (1), due consideration and great weight shall be given to the interpretations of the Federal Trade Commission and the federal courts relating to s. 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act, 15 U.S.C. s. 45(a)(1) as of July 1, 2006.

  • beth HomeAway Employee 1,011 posts since
    Jan 20, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2012 10:15 AM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    Thanks for letting us know your concerns on this issue. Our policy is to allow members to place their listing under the city heading of their choice (within reason), as long as they make the actual location of the property clear within their listing. The only information we have about a property is what the owner supplies to us. Our primary goal is for travelers to have the information they need to make an informed decision.

     

    It has been our experience that owners are not trying to intentionally deceive the traveler, but merely wanting to generate inquiries for their property. Once the traveler contacts the owner and details are explained, the traveler is made aware of the exact location and can decide if they’d like to stay outside the main city they are inquiring about.

     

    With that said, we do have policies and protection for travelers using our site, and do take action if certain standards are not met by our members. Here is the link for more information.

     

    Prior to adding new locations (or sub-nodes) to our website, we will research various sources to verify a location. We will often use the local Chamber of Commerce site, local realty websites, and general Internet mapping sites (i.e. Mapquest, Google Maps™, etc.), so that when travelers are searching the internet for locations, they will be able to search our site using the same terms to find listings.

     

    Thanks,

    Beth

    HomeAway.com

    • carol Senior Contributor 2,155 posts since
      Dec 10, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 13, 2012 1:43 PM (in response to beth)
      Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

      Beth, the link you provided is a set of suggestions for how travelers can protect themselves;  all very useful  but I was hoping for rules/standards VRBO might have established for owners.   Is there anything like that?

    • sage Community All-Star 972 posts since
      Jul 4, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 13, 2012 3:02 PM (in response to beth)
      Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

      The only information we have about a property is what the owner supplies to us.

      HA may also have information from guests who complain of misrepresentations or from other owners/managers who are concerned that their properties are at a competitive disadvantage due to flagrant misrepresentations. 

       

      I recall seeing in the forum an owner mention that there were several properties claiming to be located in her highly desirable destination village, but which actually were 30 miles, and several villages, away.  To "make the actual location of the property clear within their listing" is a poor substitute.  A common rule is that the correct information must be displayed as prominently as information that may be misleading.  One may not have a title 'Waikiki Beachfront Luxury Penthouse' and then reveal in smaller print burried in the body of the listing that it actually is a shabby room in a basement some five miles inland.  If travelers find that they must scrutinize every word of the fine print of listings, and after making inquiries they must vet the responses to weed out those which had misrepresented themselves, those travelers will become frustrated and will take their business elsewhere.

      It has been our experience that owners are not trying to intentionally deceive the traveler, but merely wanting to generate inquiries for their property.

      I am sorry, but I find this statement incredible.  Certainly owners/managers want to generate more inquiries, but to resort to deceptions lure gullible travelers is not innocent conduct.  Some misrepresentations may be purely subjective--one man's castle may be another man's cottage.  Statements that some people might deem deceptive are mere puffery.  I do not see people in the forum concerned with those.  But other misrepresentations can only be viewed as intentional actions done "to generate inquiries" that they would not receive if the traveler was apprised of the truth.

       

      The link for more information contains a link to a disclaimer which includes "We do not verify the accuracy of information contained in the listings on our sites . . . ."  That disclaimer might be sufficient if HA truly was neutral and unaware of misrepresentations, but when policies seem to encourage and reward misrepresentations, and substantial evidence of misrepresentations is ignored, a defense based on ignorance seems disingenuous at best.

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 865 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 13, 2012 4:31 PM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    Beth, As requested I will also send these in by getting a ticket number.  I really appreciate your teams effort in using Google maps.  I too used the same process you say your group is using.  It was very simple to do.  Unfortunately I came up with over 55 locations not on Crescent Beach and I am not even half way through.  Actually 3/4 of all listings in my area are not were they are supposed to be.  I am going to send all of these in and I know the canned answer I am going to get back (rules on multiple listings....I have already read it) but it should be noted that Sage has some very good points above.

     

    Again, thanks for your help.

     

    Photo of properties not on Crescent Beach.JPG

  • New Member 12 posts since
    Sep 14, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 4:05 AM (in response to swiss-house)
    Re: Reporting a listing with false information?

    So what happens where HomeAway (in this case VRBO lists properties from other HomeAway sites) and puts them in the wrong location?  Who accepts responsibility for that?  If you check out the original listings on the originating site, they show in the correct location - no problem there, but on VRBO they magically show up in the wrong area as 'Additional properties from other Homeaway family sites'.  To make matters worse, the potential guest doesn't even have to actively click on a link to make these other properties appear (as does happen on other pages for other nearby locations) VRBO just lists them right there.  The owners are not incorrectly listing the location, VRBO/HomeAway is.

     

    So will HomeAway disavow themselves of any responsibility for lying to their site users in this situation?  Or will they actually take some responsibility and fix the problem?

     

    Based on their rather tragic record of using their market position to continually abuse their paying customers more and more, I highly doubt it.  Boy would I love to be pleasantly surprised and proven wrong!

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