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    VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

    New Member

      OK, I've got to know if I'm the only one who takes big issue with VRBO turning on Reviews? 99.9% of our guests enjoy their stays and have positive experience.  And yes, I realize they can also post their positive comments on VRBO, but you can't force them and you can't keep hounding them either.   I'm not a big fan of reviews anyway.   Just took my Mom to a highly rated restaurant for Valentines that was not very good -- certainly not worthy of all those great reviews.  My gut tells me it was friends of the owner that were responsible for the 5 stars  


      Having said that, there seems to be a very small group of people who will write a horrible review (usually in an attempt to get a refund or money back from the property owner).   We like to call this the "BAD REVIEWS FOR REFUNDS" program.   Unfortunately VRBO has bought into this whole "reviews are where it's at" mentality.  Our viewers "demand" it -- well, what about the people putting money in your pocket??  Obviously VRBO's loyalty is to the masses and not the folks paying them.  I am appalled that a company I pay thousands of dollars to annually is allowing ANYONE to slam my properties and my company, and all I get offered is an "opportunity" to "professionally" respond to their negative review. 


      I had a negative review steal linens and beach towels on their way out -- is it "professional" of me to address that they are both liars and thieves in my "rebuttal"?  Sure, you can candy coat it, but a spade is a spade -- a bad guest is a bad guest.  Oops wait . . . that's not true . . . VRBO loves these guys    We will obviously never allow this group into any of our properties again, yet VRBO invites them in with open arms.  Come . . . please let us know just how awful your experience was so we can share it with the world . . . it's total BS!!   


      I will unfortunately start researching other advertising opportunities.  I work 7 days a week and love what I do.  I can not and will not allow VRBO to be so frivilous with my livelihood.  I really enjoyed being part of VRBO but am unwilling to hand over that kind of power to a company so uncaring to their paying subscribers.   Negative reviews cost me more in business than VRBO is worth.  Shame on you VRBO -- you are not a public forum and should not give any idiot looking for a refund the RIGHT to slam your paying Owners or the properties they work so hard to maintain and market. 


      Are there any other owners out there that feel the same way?  I sure hope I am not alone . . . .


      PS  The VRBO Customer Service Rep I spoke with this morning said there was a chilled bottle of Vodka awaiting her at home . . . apparently it was already a long day at 10am in the morning . . . no doubt they are getting lots of calls from very unhappy PAYING customers    Let the CS Reps take the heat -- the fat cats at VRBO don't have the #%$@ to speak with Owners. 

        • 1. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

          I understand where you're coming from but don't have the same degree of anger that you do. I've been contemplating this same problem recently and am perplexed.


          We have 18 reviews (we rated 5/5)and have received 2 reviews lately where we were rated a 2/5.  Neither were done near the time of the guests stay.  One was 9 months after they came.  One of these came in just yesterday and the guest had visited us almost 3 years ago!  Both reviews had straight up lies and/or other misrepresentations.


          Both of my negative reviews were from guests with whom we had  trouble during their stay.  One left permanent damage to the house. So yes, it is not surprising they're seeking vengeance towards us and this Review system is the perfect forum for them to do it.


          With the first poor review I gave a brief response ("read the rental agreement/contract before you sign"). and then shared the background of some of the details of that situation for those who desired more of an explanation.


          When this one came in yesterday, I felt like if I actually responded to it I would appear less trustworthy and too much on the defense to future potential guests.  Yes, she lied about the date, and most all of the other details but it's a catch 22 to respond.  If I respond I'm defensive -  if I don't, then I'm passively giving my admission that what she said is true.


          I've sent an email to vrbo asking what to do and am awaiting a response from them.  My understanding from the phone customer support person is that a homeowner can dispute a review to VRBO.  I don't know what this process will be though.


          I would love to hear what other homeowners do in response to low review scores when falsehoods are included in the review. 

          • 2. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews
            New Member

            Hi Smiley, hope VRBO will help you!  I have asked before but was told my only option was to respond to the negative review.  You're right -- it is a Catch 22.  You have to be so careful on your response, but can't just not respond either.  I chose to Opt Out of reviews. Some are so sugary sweet, it makes you wonder if they were really written by a guest anyway   


            Good luck with VRBO! 

            • 3. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews
              New Member

              No, you aren't alone. I totally agree and just hope that there are enough of us to cause them to reconsider their new policy.  If being able to read reviews is important to their customers (actually I thought I was their customer) then they wont rent from me. That's pretty simple. 


              It is hard to get people to enter reviews without hounding them and when folks do that to me I find it irritating.  I don't want to hound people about their vacation.  I also feel like entering reviews from our guest book is suspect so I didn't ever do it.  Now this leaves me with very few positive reviews and one really bad review carries a lot more weight so disabling the entire thing was my choice.  


              I'm trying not to rant about this but it is so incredibly irritating when WE ARE PAYING THEM!!  Ok, I feel better now.  But I will be cancelling my listing.

              • 4. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                I just learned of this policy when asking if I could let my listing  lapse, then sign up again so as to not have a negative review showing  up (it happened a few years back). It's become obvious our property is best suited to retired couples and I will never again rent it to anyone under age 50  (Facebook is a good place to find out their age.) However, as the rep  said could happen, if that young couple comes back for some reason and posts their negative review  again, I will have to quit VRBO and like ga-cabin-owner find another way  to advertise.


                Here's another thing I'm wondering, just got an e-mail about a response on a "cleaning" post thread and the person writing said they are not a homeowner. Why are non-homeowners being allowed in our Home Owner Community??? Guess because of the reason above, I don't trust them to know our business concerns!

                • 5. Re: VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews
                  New Member

                  I agree with you ....VRBO is way out of line in forcing owners to not be able to opt out of reviews...negative or positive.  I had a reviewer who was vindictive because he wrecked my condo and I deducted the costs from his security.   He was clearly mentally ill and very unstable (as noted by his crazy emails and personal threats)....and since pyschiatric examinations are not part of the rental vetting process I had no idea in advance of the rental what I was going to end up with.  In any case I let VRBO know that his review was packed with lies and that it was a fraud. I even offered proof of how crazy he was by sending them copies of his threatening emails and copies of my bills for repair along with photos of the detsroyed property.  Instead VRBO decided to judge me ...because they posted the fraudulent review in spite of all the evidence I supplied them with.  They were even arrogant enough to state that my evidence did not matter to them and that they did not review it.  So in response to their arrogance I opted out of reviews.


                  Now I am being informed by VRBO  that as of March 15th I can no longer opt out of reviews and that the original reviews that I opted out of by the crazy renter will be re-posted to my ad.  The conditions of an original contract are binding so first of all VRBO is now in breach of contract because the conditions of my original contract were that I had the option of opting out of reviews.  No party can change the terms of a contract once consideration has been accepted unless both parties agree to the changes. I have not agreed to this change. Secondly by willfully and knowingly publishing a negative review that they know is a lie - because I have informed them of such and because they have made no effort to vet out the truth..... they are guilty of negligence and slander. Furthermore they are devaluing the property that is being advertised not only for rental but possibly for sale in the future. The written web record of the property can be used by anyone later on in a devaluation when and if it is for sale.   And on top of all that by publishing the false negative review against the wishes of the owner and without permission of the owner they can be found guilty of restraint of trade in a court of law.   So they are sabotaging their own customers in so many ways!!!  Hardly a good business strategy for staying in business.  Are they trying to downsize ....because if so this is a great way to do it.  


                  What is really amazing about VRBO is that on their online contract and terms of use they demand that owners NOT publish false statements about their properties....and here they are doing this themselves.   It works both ways.  The owner cannot contractually be held to standards that VRBO themselves does not respect. 


                  I am going to be contacting the Texas AG about web fraud and the complicity of VRBO in web fraud because they have been notified that the review is false and they are deliberately collaborating with the reviewer by publishing the false words anyway.  I am also going to be contacting personal injury attorneys in Texas to determine if we have a class action based upon the following causes of action: breach of contract, negligence, restraint of trade, slander and the purposeful devaluation of a property....that may along with it carry statutory damages as well as punitive damages against the company because of the deliberate nature of their act.   Anyone who would like to write to me directly and privately to discuss any of the above may do so at the following email address:  rboclark@aol.com


                  Thanks for listening.....and there definitely is a case here....maybe more than one.




                  Message was edited by: Jane E. Rosen


                  Message was edited by: Jane E. Rosen

                  • 6. Re: VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews
                    New Member

                    Add my name to the list: Billy Davis   billy.davis@cox.net


                    I have been with VRBO since long before the current ownership. The prior owners were people who rented a home, just like us. The new ownership is callous and only wants to promote itself; not us. I currently have one review which list the address of my property which they will not review, and another that while positive has erroneous info which has an adverse effect on my rentals. Twice in the last five years I have been extorted by guests who wanted money from me due to no fault of my own. One was due to weather. I am looking hard for another site to break away from this VRBO and it's other companies all together. They have already created a false advertising issue by allowing realtors to compete directly with us under the the "by owner" banner.


                    Time for class action to protect our rights as provided by law. It should be noted that the TOS with the sites cannot supercede state or federal law.

                    • 7. Re: VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                      Thank you, Jane, for stating the case so clearly. It's true, I wouldn't like to have to leave VRBO, as their ratio of inquiries is at least 5 to 1, even over HomeAway. I'll e-mail information to be added to your list.   --jaclyn

                      • 8. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                        We too are totally not happy with the "no option out reviews". Here is what they told me recently - I think everyone who is not happy with the annoyance of "reviews by guests" should ask for a pro-rated amount back, if they cancel their VRBO listing due to this.


                        "They wrote: There are many reasons why we no longer allow members to opt out of reviews. Part of the decision was based on feedback we received from members. From a survey last September:

                        52% of the owners were not even aware they opted out

                        12% indicated that they had opted out b/c they did not see a need for the tool

                        8% expressed that they were cautious of reviews

                        - other concerns included home owners thought the reviews costed money so they opted out. "


                        VRBO offered me the following:

                        If I do not want to continue my subscription under their current terms, they will remove my listing from the site and issue us a prorated refund.


                        Which I think was nice of them, honestly.


                        I am still deciding what to do???

                        • 9. Re: VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                          Apparently, the new policy is already hitting the web blogs!


                          See:www.jamesmendelson.com - Tell this guy how you as homeowners feel about the "no option to opt out" - he is an advocate and is very pleased that VRBO changed their policy. He mentions how pleased FORBES is as well.


                          Heck, just type in VRBO new policy - in google!

                          • 10. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews
                            New Member

                            We are furious.  This is so unfair.  We pay top dollar for Management, contact guests whilst they are staying in our home and deal with any problems immediately.  We spend very large sums of money to keep our home in very good condition and repair.  Despite this we had the most horrific review 5 weeks after the guests had stayed, and following two further bookings with no complaints whatsoever.  We even had a guest wanting to know where we bought our furniture so she could get it herself.  The complaint was immediately investigated and found to be totally false but the guests responsible refused to communicate in any way about their "issues".  We were not able to remove the complaint so we had no option but to take off all reviews.  Whatever we say in response to this, I am certain it is going to have a very detrimental affect on our rentals.  WHO ARE VRBO REPRESENTING EXACTLY.  We are restricted in what we can say and do, but it appears that guests can say what they like and VRBO are allowing them to do so with no way of knowing whether they are telling the truth or not.  We are currently reviewing our options...........watch this space.



                            • 11. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                              I agree 100% with the OP.  The vast majority of our guests are extremely happy.  But when we get one that isn't happy the go about flame throwing on every internet avenue.  This seems to be typical now with most posts.  I've noticed that the posts on Trip Advisor have taken a HUGE dip in our area, I think that should tell VRBO that this is a dying trend.

                              • 12. Re: VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                                I doesn't matter, Carl Shepard is all "gung-ho" about it. Contact Jane





                                On Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 12:18 PM, jnowlen@ellijay.com <

                                • 13. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews
                                  New Member

                                  I advertised on VRBO because I could opt out of reviews.  I own two properties, one of which has been renting for 7 years.  I have had complaints, which I thank the renter for pointing out and take care of immediately, if possible, while the renter is still there so they can benefit from the resolution.  I do not mind reasonable people who express reasonable expectionations.  However, when advertising on Homeaway, I had a family group who were scam artists of a high caliber who stayed for a week, ruined my home to the point of my having to suspend rental of my home for a week until repairs could be done, and then they posted a libelous and extremely damaging review on Homeaway.  I sent pictures of the damage and bills to Homeaway,and requested that the review be removed as I would be taking the tenants to court.  Their response was "You can respond to the review, but we cannot remove it".   My only solution:  Cancel my advertising on Homeaway, change to VRBO where I could opt out of reviews, and create my own website where I post reviews (good and not so good) from my Guestbook.  Now VRBO has forced me to accept reviews, libelous or not, because they were bought by HOMEAWAY.  By the way, went to small claims court, received a damage award.

                                  • 14. VRBO's New Policy to turn on Reviews

                                    I am a big fan of reviews but I fully agree that it should be optional for the owner to participate in the service or not.  Additionally, Home Away and it subsites should have some sort of process that libelous reviews should be removed if found to be inaccurate or malicious My reviews for the most 95% are 5 star and I work incredibly hard to keep them so.  A review that is less than glowing when it offers incite to an area that could be improved is welcomed and appreciated when it is valid.  However owners have too much riding on the rental of their property to be not to have recourse when they may be the target of a fraudulent reviewer. 


                                    This problem could escalate to where non guests review properties for the purpose of discrediting the competition... i.e. management companies going after true VRBOs.


                                    This issue could get really ugly. 

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