34 Replies Latest reply: Sep 11, 2018 8:02 PM by uncheval RSS

    De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit

    Contributor

      I was replying to a post regarding a 1-star review, and the good suggestion was made to start a new thread on this issue. Has anyone else had their account de-activated after withholding a portion of a guest's deposit while HomeAway continued to demand receipts, pictures and other proof of every penny withheld? Things got so bad with this first-time renter I had to call the police. This was back in July. I have nothing but 5-star reviews for 2 years, yet HomeAway continues to demand that I jump through these hoops while keeping my account in a de-activated status! My current and future guests alert me that when they try to get instructions about checking in, my page is blank!

       

      They won't tell me what he said, although in an email that appears should have been sent to the renter, HomeAway says the following: "We have provided the vacation rental owner or property manager an opportunity to resolve the dispute by sending them the details of your complaint." No, they didn't! I disputed refunding the entire deposit and named each item that was damaged and how much it was going to cost to replace it on 8/2/2018. It's right on my page on HomeAway's website. I assumed HomeAway wanted me to justify those expenses, so I did, and we've been going in circles ever since.

       

      I sent pictures of the damage, receipts for what I'd spent, and changes I've had to make to my rental contract mid-season because of this guest, and the attachments were too large. I compressed them and sent them again. Still too large. I divided them in 3 and sent them again. I was told to respond to the original email with text only, no attachments, so I did. Two hours later I was asked for the attachments. I sent them. Nothing. Finally Sunday I called and was told my account would be re-activated day before yesterday, 8/28. It wasn't, so I called and was told at 11:00 it was re-activated and I'd be able to see it in 20 minutes. At 11:20, I could see it and thought it was all over. I can't see if the guest gave a bad review so I can't respond to it either. There's no way of knowing how much money this could be costing me, all so HomeAway can make sure this horrible renter isn't mistreated by HomeAway?

       

      Today, less than 24 hours after it was re-activated, they've de-activated my account again! I called and was told to respond to another email from JJ with the Guarantee Team, which said that until I provided receipts and documentation that matched what I itemized to the guest, my account would not be re-activated. I explained that I did the cleaning myself, so I don't have an invoice for the $50 I charged for the 2 extra hours at $25 hour to clean the wall their children had drawn on, etc.

       

      My account remains DE-ACTIVATED SINCE 8/14. This is so unfair. Anyone else have this happen? I'm very tempted to tell HomeAway to give the guest back all of his deposit. This is so not worth it. If my account ever gets re-activated, I'm never withholding a guest's deposit again for any reason.

        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
          psphoto Active Contributor

          Create a receipt for your services......there's no reason you shouldn't be able to.

          • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
            Contributor

            Email sent just now:


            "Dear Janis,

             

             

             

             

             

            Thank you for contacting HomeAway Trust & Security. Let us know when you have the rest of the invoices so we can review those once you submit them. We cannot consider reactivating your listing until this issue is resolved.

             

             

             

             

             

            Please visit the Security section of our Help Center at help.homeaway.com/security

             

             

             

             

             

            Best Regards,

             

             

             

             

             

            JJ | US Trust & Security Specialist

             

             

            HomeAway® | VRBO® | VacationRentals™"

             

            I told JJ I don't have and will never have any invoices, so why not just give the guest back all of his deposit and be done with this? What do I do? I could scream!

              • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                Contributor

                Here's what I sent him just now:

                 

                "JJ,

                 

                 

                I will never have any invoices. I told you I do the cleaning myself. Why don't you just refund Mr. Sora all of his $300? This is getting ridiculous. I should not be penalized by having my account de-activated while you wait for me to produce something I've told you I don't have. I don't know what more you want me to do. I also asked for a phone number for you. Just give him his money back and re-activate my account, please.

                 

                 

                Janis Price"

                  • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                    sage Senior Contributor

                    I will never have any invoices. I told you I do the cleaning myself.

                    It sounds as if you are wanting to charge the guest for excess cleaning that you performed. As a general rule one may not withhold funds from a security deposit for labor performed by oneself. Unless your local law is different, or you have terms in your rental agreement specifically providing for charges for your labor, there may be no basis for withholding any funds for your labor.

                      • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                        psphoto Active Contributor

                        Labor is labor.....I would suggest creating a separate invoice for billing your own cleaning time.

                        Being self employed......I've done that often.

                        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                          oceangrover Contributor

                          sage Can you help me understand why you say you can't charge for work you do yourself?

                           

                          In my case, if I have to do extra work because of damage caused by a guest--rare, but it happens--I charge out my time at $50/hour, billed in 15 minute increments.

                            • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                              Contributor

                              New Insight into the Inner Workings of HomeAway - Communication now only allowed by Email!

                              De-activated account means my guests see a blank page when they check my page for check-in instructions.

                              I've received new 5-star ratings while this has been happening, and I can neither post nor respond to them.


                              I have reached the honorary status of only being able to communicate with HomeAway by email. I just got off the phone with HomeAway Customer Support and am told they cannot discuss my issue by phone. They refused to give me a phone number for JJ. They re-sent an email I was instructed to respond to.

                               

                              I replied that I cannot provide the documentation they want.

                              Please refund the traveler his full refund of $300.

                              Please re-activate my account.

                               

                              This is all because a guest set up a truck tent in my driveway, encroaching on neighbors' property and the one road for egress/exit, and I had to call the police to get them to remove it. Then I had to change my rental contract mid-summer and hope future guests didn't think I was flaky. They ruined most of the games and a TV.

                               

                              HomeAway 100% took his side and de-activated my account 8/14.

                      • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                        Contributor

                        Okay. I just sent an invoice. I can't wait to see what they find wrong next.

                        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                          hmmmm Senior Contributor

                          Consider taking your own refundable security damage deposit for all your bookings.

                          • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                            green_mango Active Contributor

                            That's crazy?!  I thought VRBO stayed out of it - was my understanding that the payment processor simply holds the funds, but VRBO wasn't involved in decisions regarding deposit claims etc...   Is that not the case?  Has it changed?  I'd be upset in your shoes too.  Have you sent an itemized list of deposit withholdings to the guest?  I guess I'd just send that along to VRBO and hope account gets reactivated.

                            • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                              Contributor

                              green_mango

                               

                              I thought they stayed out of it, too! Apparently the guest called HomeAway and made a complaint 8/2/2018, the contents of which I am still not aware, and HomeAway made the decision to de-activate my account. Now when I call Customer Support, I'm told I have to deal with JJ of HomeAway Trust & Security and adequately explain to the guest why I withheld most of his deposit. I already did that on 8/2/2018. I feel SO HELPLESS. I can't get through to anyone, and I'm not the one who did anything wrong!

                                • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                  green_mango Active Contributor

                                  Frustrating - did you give the guest a written total of charges withheld? 

                                    • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                      Contributor

                                      Yes, green_mango! Where you don't want the damage deposit refunded, you have to give a list of the damage and replacement cost, so the renters had that on 8/2/2018.

                                       

                                      What's so infuriating is that this guest was so unreasonable I had to call the police to assist me in having them remove their truck and truck tent from my neighbor's driveway. I called HomeAway the minute I found out about the situation to ask them to call the guest, and they said there was nothing they could do, that I should call the police, so I did.

                                       

                                      This whole thing is unreal. HomeAway has a department called HomeAway Trust & Security run by someone named JJ? That's it. He doesn't even have a first and last name. I'm disgusted by how much time I've wasted on this. If they don't re-activate my account tomorrow, I'm going to revoke HomeAway's access to my checking account and cancel my auto renewal. Interesting: I can't even cancel my auto renewal right now because they can't find my listing. Unbelievable. I wonder if VRBO is any better, even though they're supposedly the same?

                                       

                                      I read in a blog online how HomeAway will not allow homeowners to keep any portion of a guest's deposit no matter what the guest has done. I have a male friend who agrees with me that I'm being treated this way because I'm female. Pretty bad.

                                  • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                    greggt Senior Contributor

                                    Actually this whole thread is very disturbing. I'm worried that VRBO/HA is going to judge our Damage Deposit decisions. In the past I have used the Damage Deposit for many things in order to make it easier for our guests, an extra day stay, and extra parking pass, pay for lost property bands, etc.

                                    Maybe Erinn can jump in and explain as obviously this is a change in policy and very Airbnb like.

                                    • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                      bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                      Our listing expired in May of this year.  Essentially we have been out of business for a couple of years.  Before that, we took a security deposit off platform via PayPal and stated we do that in our listing.  That way we controlled any refund on the security deposit.  That said, we also did the cleaning, but for many years, we lumped it into the nightly rate and noted thus in our rental agreements for which a guest was required to review and sign.  We do not have a cleaning business per say, so can only make $600 a year without abiding by gov't regs for services we provide.  We did not want to get into paying into ss and medicare and worker’s comp, and would have to do so if establishing a cleaning business.  So we never used the security deposit to cover extraordinary cleaning fees even though we state that extraordinary cleaning fees will be deducted from the security deposit. The security deposit could only be used for damage for which there would be a receipt for repair. And we could not do the repair ourselves and charge.  Late check-outs were a problem, as there was no legal way to charge so more of an irritant.  Bottomline is that even though we controlled the refunding of the security deposit, we rarely withheld any amount.  We felt these statements in our rental agreement (so-called guidelines) were more of a physiological thing in an effort to make people think twice before trashing the place.


                                      Edited...

                                        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                          Contributor

                                          My account has been re-activated! All it took was for me to refund this guest 100% of his damage deposit and provide proof via screenshot I had done so. I wish they would have told me that weeks ago! I had to have help from someone at regular Customer Support who was willing to talk to me and help me through the process.

                                           

                                          bobbie32 I like your idea re the damage deposit. I have never withheld any funds from a damage deposit, but this guest actually cost me money, and I was forced to continue using the damaged TV and hope incoming guests didn’t find it too trashy.

                                           

                                          I still find it odd that the traveler made a “serious complaint“ and I was never allowed to see it. HomeAway reassured me that no future guests could ever see it. So I guess I should be glad he didn’t leave a bad review and I still have my perfect record of 5-star reviews.

                                           

                                          I am resolved to never withhold any damage deposit again and risk having my account de-activated.

                                           

                                          Thanks for all your support!

                                          • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                            Contributor

                                            bobbie32

                                             

                                            Is it possible for you to give any more detail about having your damage deposit on a PayPal platform? I use PayPal, and your experience sounds enticing. Maybe I could figure it out on my own because the info you gave is quite detailed. I want to be sure I know how to do it before I decide. By the way, do you know if there’s private messaging on this site? I couldn’t find it. Thanks.

                                              • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                Hover over the name of the person you want to connect with, you will see a pop up then click on "add as a friend" Once they accept your friend request you can can PM them.

                                                • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                  bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                  It is rather simple, if you are used to doing things on your own.  We have been in this business for over 20 years, so we prefer to do as much as we can on our own and without a middle man.  Basically you collect the nightly rate and any fees thru the VRBO platform.  But you state in the notes or description that they need to follow thru and review and sign the guest agreement and return a signed copy to you via email in order to complete the transaction.  Some owners also require a copy of a photo ID which we do as well.  Additionally they need to pay the security deposit via PayPal.  All you do is send a request for payment via PayPal and they pay.  They do not need to have a PayPal account and you do not need to have a business account, just a personal account.  They just pay it by cc via PayPal as a first-time one-time user.  They need to do all this within 24 hours of receiving the direct contact info - at least that is what we ask.  When the stay is done, you just refund the payment including the cc fees.  All it costs you is about $0.35 per transaction to use the system and refund the payment.  They can also send a personal check for the security deposit.  If this happens, we just cash the check, and write a refund check after the stay. It is important to cash the check so they cannot instigate a "stop payment". But we also require at least 30 days prior to arrival for payments by check.  You could also collect the security deposit upon arrival via cash.  For short notice bookings for us,  it is either payment for security deposit via cash or PayPal.  No checks at the door.  Actually AirBnB wants owners to collect the bed tax at the door, as they don't have a line item for tax when booking, unless they have negotiated a deal with the municipality.  I consider that a real hassle.

                                                   

                                                  Hope this helps...

                                                    • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                      hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                                      Great advice for them.

                                                      And I add, its your property, your liability and your business.  So treat it that way and take actions that let the vacationers know you are involved from start to finish.

                                                      You will be the one, that has all the responsibility in the end.  As you see with this beginning.

                                                       

                                                      It bares repeating, you are the bottom line for liability, responsibility towards your guests and all actions.


                                                      Never forget that. 

                                                      Good luck, treat it like a business and protect your guests and your self at all times.

                                                        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                          Contributor

                                                          It's so true that it is my property, my liability and my business. I had worked so hard to build a good reputation and apparently succeeded, by all of my reviews having been 5-star reviews. That's why I was so crushed that this liar and horrible guest's actions resulted in all I've gone through with my account being de-activated.

                                                           

                                                          I'm just glad that it was re-activated and that every guest since has continued to give me the 5-star reviews that resulted in HomeAway's rating of me as Exceptional. This horrid guest never did leave a review, thank god. If he looks back at my reviews in the future, he will see that he's the only one who had a problem and what a fool he is, but he probably won't care or he wouldn't have acted this way in the first place.

                                                           

                                                          His phone number and email were UNVERIFIED by HomeAway and he was a first-time renter with HomeAway. That was my clue. Thanks to everyone and to HomeAway for getting me through this process, difficult though it was.

                                                        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                          georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                                                          I would be leary of a PayPal chargeback

                                                    • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                      homeaway_community_manager HomeAway Employee

                                                      Hi All,

                                                       

                                                      We want to be sure everyone understands that this incident was handled as a property complaint. It happens to revolve around withholding the security deposit. Depending on the severity of the complaint, a listing will be removed from the site until the partner responds and provides any documentation that may be requested. Unless its' a very serious complaint we do give partners time to respond to the complaint and a deadline to respond before we remove the listing. If it's considered a serious complaint (e.g. property is significantly not as described, traveler is denied access, double booking, etc) then the listing can/will be removed from the site until the issue is settled.


                                                      This is covered under Terms & Conditions, section 36.

                                                       

                                                      36. Termination of Listings; Other Remedies.

                                                       

                                                      If, in our sole discretion, any member submits unsuitable material to our Site or into our database, is not abiding by local rental regulations and is creating a nuisance in its community, misuses the Site or our online system or is in material breach of these Terms, we reserve the right to limit the member’s use of the Site, impact the member’s listing(s) search position, and/or terminate such member’s listing immediately without refund. In addition, if we become aware of or receive a complaint or a series of complaints from any user or other third party regarding a member’s listing or rental practices that, in our sole discretion, warrants the immediate removal of such member’s listing from the Site (for example, and without limitation, if a member double-books a property for multiple travelers on the same date, or engages in any practice that, in our sole discretion, would be considered deceptive, unfair or improper within the vacation rental industry or in an online marketplace for vacation rentals, if we determine or suspect that the member’s payment-related practices or procedures are not secure, legal or otherwise proper, or if we receive a complaint that any listing’s content infringes on the rights of a third party), then we may immediately terminate such member’s listing(s) or subscription(s) without notice to the member and without refund.  We assume no duty to investigate complaints.  Finally, if any member is abusive or offensive to any employee or representative of the HomeAway Group, we reserve the right to terminate such member’s listing(s) or subscription(s) immediately without refund.

                                                       

                                                      Thank you.

                                                       

                                                      Erinn

                                                      HomeAway Community Member

                                                        • Re: De-activated Account after Withholding Portion of Guest's Deposit
                                                          georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                                                          homeaway_community_manager

                                                          Erin - I hear you and I acknowledge your input and appreciate that you have given us all extra additional info about this instance.

                                                          However, to continue on this topic.....

                                                          It seems to me that

                                                          - anytime an owner might find it essential to deduct from a guest Security Deposit

                                                          - and anytime a guest disagrees with the deduction

                                                          - and then anytime a guest complains to HA/ VRBO because they are angry they are having money taken

                                                          - then the bottom line logical conclusion that my brain tick tocks to , .....is ......then it will always end up as "being handled as a property complaint" when it lands in the lap of HA/ VRBO.

                                                          - I can't think of any example where a guest, who is being deducted from, and who disagrees with the owner, and who then brings HA/ VRBO into the conflict, where the conflict could go to any department other than the Property Complaint Department. This would certainly put every guest into a power seat with the ability to manipulate and / or shut down a listing while it is all sorted out. Or forces the owner to give back the money to keep a listing active.

                                                          * if Possible, and if there are additional scenarios, and if you are allowed and if it does not break confidentiality, I would love more information on other ways a similar situation might be handled...not this situation, as I certainly understand that you would not be able to comment on a specific case.

                                                          Just the best way in the future to handle a withholding, where the guest is in disagreement so that the listing is not snoozed, temporarily or permanently .

                                                          Thank you if you have any extra thoughts and input.