VRBO needs to rethink this new policy. It is unfair to the property owners. If we hold onto a tenants security deposit for treating our home with disrespect and causing damages, in retaliation the tenant could place a bad review on our property and there is nothing we can do about it. This is really not fair to the property owners and we are the ones paying good money to be on this site.
I agree. VRBO needs to rescend this policy. I've only had one disgruntled renter, and am pretty sure it was their way of trying to get a partial refund ( we could never validate their area of concern).
AND, many people are not comfortable writing a review. No one should be forced to. I think this will cost those of us who advertise, and VRBO- in the long run.
I know of no other Vacation Home rental site, or hotel, that REQUIRES a review.
Please, VRBO-- try listening to the folks who pay your bills, and keep Reviews optional.
It is just a matter of time before every VRBO customer will be hit with a "scammer" making a false claim about your property just to get a refund. I have always had great reviews until this person came along. I received an email from this person several days later after she was long gone and basically what it boiled down to if I did not give her a 1 night refund she would post a review that could affect my business. I did not let this person intimidate me because I knew she made up a story. VRBO allowed this person to post this review without considering what I had to say. This person was allowed to take away my source of income in my retirement years based on a false accusation. VRBO states no illegal postings will be submitted, but this is exactly what they allowed this person to get away with. Making false accusations are illegal. Ironically, this person works for a hotel group in another state.
I am new to this group. But as I understand it, anyone can review the comments posted here, even renters – so beware!
That said, my husband and I have had a listing on VRBO for many years. We chose to op out of reviews when there was a choice. Frankly now that there is no choice, I will cancel my listing when I am blackmailed by a guest as I think that is so unfair and cause for legal action. Unfortunately we can thank our elected officials for allowing online freedom of speech. Sites like VRBO and TripAdvisor are protected from getting sued.
I agree with what others have said. The paying advertiser should call the shots, not the renter or the site. The paying advertiser should be able to op out – they are paying to be on the site, for crying out loud. Unfortunately they are now also paying to be abused. If they don’t have reviews, they may suffer the consequences, but that should be their choice., not the site’s choice. I think the reason VRBO made the change was because of TripAdvisor and FlipKey, their biggest competitor. I believe they thought that if TA and FlipKey offer a no “opt-out” feature, then so can they.
But TripAdvisor is different. You can get posted on TripAdvisor like it or not, and free of charge! Yes, you can pay to have a listing on TripAdvisor and their sister company FlipKey, but you don’t have to pay to have a listing to be blackmailed with a bad review on TA. You can be blackmailed on TA without paying to be blackmailed, yet on VBRO you pay to be blackmailed – seems unfair. Why would someone advertise on a site that can ruin his or her business? I certainly would not knowingly choose to advertise on such a site.
As for a security deposit, it is a no-brainer that you can no longer choose to not refund the security deposit, even though your rental was trashed. Those days are gone forever, because of the review process. So you take the security deposit, hoping that it will make your renter think twice about trashing your place, but that is the only reason. They now have the right to ignore your policies and trash your place – plain and simple. Thank you VRBO!
I think your best defense is to interview each and every potential renter. You need to find out if you can meet their expectations. And if you smell something funny, you just tell them that you cannot meet their expectations and recommend another rental. Reading people is an art. I cannot tell you how many people we have turned away, because we think the fit is not right.
Your second best strategy is what I call “pay-back-time” when someone wants to rent once again – you can say, so sorry, but we cannot meet your expectations! And you send them to another site and wish them luck! It is such a good feeling to say NO when you know it will upset someone that has done you wrong.
Bottom line, I refuse to solicit reviews – just don’t have the time. I don’t like it when someone asks me to post a review - I hate it! Besides, we are constantly getting told by our guests that they want to keep our place a secret and all to themselves, so why would they want to post a good review knowing that would make it more difficult for them to get a reservation again and again?
Just my two cents…
Erieview1, can you explain what you're talking about?
I have an ad on VRBO, and I haven't heard anything about mandatory reviews.
Did VRBO send me an e-mail that I missed?
It sounds like you're saying that VRBO is going to require that all guests submit reviews? I don't understand. How is that even physically possible? We get lots of inquiries through VRBO, but VRBO has no idea which guests have booked with me and which have not. I mark my reservations on the VRBO calendar, but I am not required to enter e-mail or other contact information about the guests on the calendar. Plus, I might have typo's or whatever in there. So I really can't imagine that VRBO is phishing my guests' personal info out of the reservation calendar, and soliciting them, without my knowledge. Are they? I hope not.
In short, I have no idea what you are talking about. Can you explain what it's all about?
It appears that you have nothing to worry about until the day you get a bad review. There are many of us that would rather not participate in soliciting reviews and want to opt out of that whole game. But it is now impossible to opt out. Thus all those with a listing on VRBO have to allow reviews, both the good and the bad. This was not the case when many of us paid for our listing. It is no longer a choice. VRBO did not notify anyone of the change, that I believe happened in March. Thus, there are some of us that will cancel our listing because of getting blackmailed by a guest that trashed the place and wants his/her security deposit back, or else he/she will post a bad review. For some of us one bad review could put us out of business.
Hopefully I can offer some clarification on the issue of reviews at VRBO.com. While VRBO.com does require that all homeowners participate in the reviews system (i.e. owners may no longer “opt out” of reviews), we do
not require travelers to participate. Travelers write reviews on a purely voluntary basis. Be sure to check out our Traveler Review FAQs for more information.
I hope this helps, and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have more questions.
HomeAway Social and Multimedia Specialist
Thanks for the clarification. I think only one person posting here thought it had to do with mandatory reviews by "travelers". The rest of us understand that it has to do with owners not being able to opt out of the review process.
That said...under Terms and Conditions on the VRBO site, it states...
"Users cannot post a review or response for the purpose of trying to force an owner or a traveler to do something that the user wants him or her to do. The reviews are for the benefit of future travelers, not to allow one party to threaten the other."
So I must ask, what do we do if we are threatened (or blackmailed) with a bad review, when we will not refund a security deposit after the renter has trashed the place or did not abide by the policies set forth and referred to in the signed rental agreement? What do we do when we have been unfairly treated? Do we send you photographs of the trashed facility? Do we send you a copy of the signed rental agreement? Posting an owners response does no good to remove the review that is based upon a threat. I know it says that you have no obligation to do anything. And I know you are protected by law from being sued by a lister. So what do we do? Do we have to take legal action against the renter such as has been done on Yelp? And if we take legal action and win, will you then remove the review? Inquiring minds want to know...
Travis, I realize HomeAway/VRBO are totally missing the point. The point the homeowner's are trying to make, you have opened the floodgates for unethical renter's to be able to post on an owner's site if they are unable to blackmail, bully, itimidate or any numerous words to describe these type of people. I am a poster-child for every homeowner out there. I was recently scammed by someone who contacted me several days after her departure from my property and contacted me by email (cyber-bully) that if I did not give her a refund she had other venues she would take and post on the site which would affect my business. She made up a total lie and thought I would let her use the above scare tactic to get money out of me. She picked on the wrong person because I knew it was a lie she made up and I wasn't falling for it. In a court of law, she would not have a leg to stand on. Certainly, it doesn't take a rocket-scientist at HomeAway/VRBO to realize this is happening over and over again in large numbers. She did affect my business by this made up lie she was allowed to post. Allowing someone to post a lie is illegal.
Get past the topic of allowing reviews to be posted or not. We are in a whole new area now. The most important TOPIC that needs to be addressed by HomeAway/VRBO/ Homeowners is how to put a stop to this nonsense by allowing these liars, cheater's to get away with their scams and you know they are out there in large numbers, it only takes one.
My question is: Where is the fiduciary duty to your customer's who use your site to advertise their property.
Great question. If you find a review is in violation of our review guidelines, please report it to our Customer Support. We'll investigate the situation, and immediately remove the review if it is in violation of our guidelines. In investigating, our Customer Support team will ask you to forward a copy of all written correspondence between you and the traveler regarding the threat of a negative review. You'll need to include the entire email thread with all headers. Please note that the threat to write a negative review must be clearly stated in the correspondence if the review is to be removed.
If the negative review does not violate our guidelines, then we allow it to stay in order to maintain the credibility of our review system. If this is your situation, perhaps this article on how to handle negative reviews will be of some use, as might this Community discussion regarding how to handle a bad review.
I hope this helps, and please let me know if you have further questions.
HomeAway Social and Multimedia Specialist
Travis, and what if the threat is not made in writing? These people are not stupid, just mean and vengeful trying to get their deposit money back after doing damage to a home. They will threaten over the telephone, post a bad review and as far as VRBO is concerned, the homeowner has no recourse in having this bad review removed. Is VRBO reconsidering their decision at all on this policy? After reviewing all the upset property owners i would think at this point that would be a good business decision.
Travis, you stated the guidelines on the stream of emails have to clearly state a threat!! Are you kidding that you seriously believe this is how you justify posting a comment or not. These un-etchical people know how to work the system and you are simply allowing yourself to be manipulated. They know how to word their emails so you will buy into it. It's very odd these people wait until their long gone then contact the owner with a made-up story. That in its-self should tell you something. Your guideline should read provide substantiating proof to these opportunist.
The ONLY reason they do this, they don't want to give the owner an opportunity to check out their fictitious stories while they are actually there. Everyone has a cell phone or at least has a way of using a phone while out of town to contact the owner. You are allowing these people a free vacation at the homeowners expense if they don't give them refunds.
The handwriting is on the wall and you are turning a blindeye. There will always be another company who comes along and your staff might end up sitting around scratching their heads and wonder where did we go wrong.
Your homeowners are trying to help you, why won't you listen....
REMEMBER, IT IS NOT ABOUT BEING ABLE TO OPT OUT OF REVIEWS OR NOT...IT IS A MORE SERIOUS ISSUE NOW ABOUT PEOPLE TRYING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HOMEOWNERS AT THE HOMEOWNERS EXPENSE......