37 Replies Latest reply: Dec 29, 2018 6:48 PM by twobitrentals RSS

    First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?

    mitig8r New Member

      Brand new to renting out our cabin, we had our first guests who reserved for a 3 night stay in late August.  Brief facts:

       

      1.  We live on the property in a garden level apartment, separate outside exit and entrance.  Guests have 2 story cabin, with keyed entrance.  Only shared space is driveway.

      This information is listed in the description of the property, as well as in the rental agreement.  We specifically state that guests must acknowledge that homeowner lives on property.  (rarely if ever have we seen or engaged in anyway with guests since this first renter.  We respect their privacy, and appreciate their respecting ours)

      2.  This was a last minute reservation and they received and acknowledged via email the rental agreement (24 hours prior to the day of arriving) was received, and they would sign it.  However they did not sign and return, and still arrived for their stay.  Because they were our first guests, and we didn't want a bad review, we didn't pursue getting the rental agreement back.  (I take full responsibility for not saying you can't have the key code until you hand me the renters agreement.) 

      3.  The couple stayed two of the three nights and left the morning of the third day, sending me an e-mail stating they they had left the night before (which they had not) due to hearing someone clear their throat, and possible low level talking, and they "were in fear of their lives", and "this was the nightmare from hell".

      4.  They acknowledge that they knew we lived on the property in a garden level apartment, but assumed it was a residence in the garage.  (Our garage is a one story, one car garage and our two vehicles were parked in front of it.  Part of the house rules is that when guests need to take out their trash, it goes in the recycling bins inside the garage, and no key is necessary to access the garage)

      5. Guests describe being "outraged" to discover where we resided, and felt it was a violation of privacy to learn we lived in the garden level below the cabin.  They opt to contact VRBO and pursue getting the charges stopped with their bank so that no money will be paid for their entire stay via their credit card.  We learned about this from an email VRBO forwarded us of the guests email to VRBO saying they wanted a full refund.

       

      We have been booked almost solid since this late August stay and have had 5 star ratings, and personally are completely enjoying the "host experience".  However I was devastated to read the email the first guest sent to VRBO about their abbreviated stay with us.  I immediately called VRBO and asked what to do, and they kept me on the phone for one hour reviewing our listing and the customer service person stated that our rental unit clearly states we live on the property and the only shared access point is the driveway.  She was very considerate with us and explained about Yapstone, and the 3 month process that it would take for us to get paid, and said from this point on, it was out of their hands.  

       

      Our interpretation from that conversation was that HomeAway wants to be the vehicle through which homeowners make reservations and for that they get a service fee, but they have surgically removed themselves from the payment process to the homeowner via the guests by using Yapstone as a collection service.  So, even though we think we are in a business relationship with one company, they hire a collection agency with no relationship to us as homeowners, to do the dirty work, should any problem arise after a transaction is made.

       

      We have gone back and forth with Yapstone trying to figure out what their role with VRBO is.  We are not completely ignorant of how businesses do business.  My husband has a Phd in management and finance, so we "get it'.  My PhD is in psychology, and from my position, the system seems to be set up so that you never really have direct contact with the people who process payments from the guest to the hosts.  We get e-mails from Yapstone, but you can't call Yapstone and communicate with the people who sent you the emails.  The people you can talk to by phone have regurgitated answers in response to our questions that have no relevance to the questions we are asking.  We have provided significant certified documentation that the guests received the house rules, and rental agreement the same day they did an automatic reservation.  We have pictures of their arrival and exit of two of the 3 days the guests were here.

       

      We have never received any notification back via e-mail or hard copy of written notification that Yapstone has made a decision either way, and it has now been well over 3 months.  We decided this week we would call, and Yapstone says they have already agreed to give a full refund back to the guest.  When asked how that decision was based, Yapstone said VRBO and HomeAway have a policy of  property owners not living on the same property as the guests.  In preparation for their answer, I had 15 examples in our same state of VRBO rentals where homeowners live on the same property.  We have several acres, and can and do have guests without ever seeing them unless they seek us out.  More to the point, I had a reservation to stay in one such rental unit this coming week, and provided that information to the person on the other end of the line with Yapstone. Their response was:  "VRBO and HomeAway have a policy of homeowners not living on the same property as guests!"

       

      Because that is blatantly false, and I provided evidence of every location's unit number as proof of my point, I am clueless how to proceed.  Can anyone on this forum tell me how to deal with Yapstone and or VRBO/HomeAway about their policy, when there are so many illustrations of people living in one condo, while they rent out a second condo to Homeaway.... Last year we rented one level of a ski-in-ski-pout unit, with the other lower half of the penthouse was rented by someone else.  Or in my case of where I am staying this week, the family lives in one end of the house, and I have rented a basement apartment with a complete separate entrance.  I don't want to call the people at HomeAway or Yapstone liars, or be confrontational, but is there no one at either of the businesses who can provide logical instruction as to how this decision was made?  When someone stays two out of the three days at a 2,300 square ft. cabin in the mountains of Colorado-- I think it's reasonable to assume they should not receive a full refund for their 3 day stay based on discovering sight unseen "others" live on the property.

       

      I have no idea where to turn, and can't get a straight answer to logical question by phone.  Any guidance from this forum would be very welcomed on our end.

      I am literally clueless in Colorado.

      Thank you.

        • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          Sorry you had this experience. I use several payment processors, VRP/Yapstone is the only one I do not feel comfortable using and I truly have no confidence in them. Unfortunately, you learned the hard way to always get a signed RA, I would also suggest getting a gov. issued photo ID from the person making payment.

          • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
            dinamight Contributor

            I am sorry to hear of this as well. The reason they (the guests and VRBO) gave is ridiculous.

            Not sure I understand though - was there a chargeback? Did you already have the money?

             

            Communicating with Yapstone is infuriating. They want our money, but they do not want to talk to us.

              • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                mitig8r New Member

                Thank you for answering my cry for help.  The terminology is still new to me, but let me see if I can answer your question.  The first thing I knew about came to me as an email from VRBO/HA that my guest was going through her bank credit card company and had told them not to pay VRBO for the stay at our cabin.  So VRBO was notifying me that Yapstone was taking over.  I called them the same day I got their email to ask what the heck was going on since the guest stayed 2 out of the 3 nights, and they reassured me that I was in good standing with VRBO, and that it was perfectly clear to CS at VRBO that I did in fact live in a garden apartment on the property, and the only shared space was my driveway.  They told me by phone that they had no issues with my living on the property, and that this was the case with many of their property owners.  I asked VRBO to explain who the heck was "Yapstone", and they explained to me that they (VRBO/HA) don't process any exchange of money.  They use Yapstone to do that, so Yapstone was now the contact persons I would be dealing with. I asked if Yapstone had "my" money and they told me to call Yapstone. 

                 

                Called Yapstone the same day and they went out of their way to tell me they were my advocate and would do everything possible to get me my money, but it would be a 3 months process, and I would need to provide them with significant data, which we did through our attorney.  Proof of emails with guest.  Proof she received the rental agreement, proof she was here at the cabin through emails, etc.,

                 

                Yapstone then contacts me a week later telling me they contacted my bank, and my bank refused to pay Yapstone their minuscule charge back fee, and if I don't' respond within 7 days, they will terminate the process of getting my money from my guest.  I call Yapstone to try and figure out why I owe them an $8.00 charge back fee, and they say it's their fee for pursuing getting my money from said guest.  However, neither me nor my bank knew anything about Yapstone or chargeback fees until this threatening email.  Through my CPA and attorney, they feel the bank was right to decline paying Yapstone without my written consent,  so thank God my bank appropriately refused to debit my account.  I call VRBO/HA to confirm that I DO owe Yapstone this fee, and am again reminded by them it's out of their hands.  So not only does Yapstone or the guests bank have my rental fee, but now I owe Yapstone money to start the process of getting my money paid to me.

                 

                I spend a day at my bank with Yapstone and the bank manager on speaker phone trying to clear this up, and confirm that yes-- I have to pay $8.00 to Yapstone, and then they will presumably fight for me with the guests credit card company and get my money back within 3 months.

                 

                I paid the eight dollars.  I never heard from Yapstone after 3 months.  I had to call them to find out they gave my money back to the guest for the reason I already mentioned.  VRBO/HA tells me by phone that it is fine that I live on the same property as the cabin, and Yapstone tells me I won't get paid because that same point, is against VRBO/HA policy, in spite of the fact I can provide examples right here in Colorado to the contrary.  I literally am considering a law suit.  I work with lawyers for a living.  They assure me there are enough complaints in this forum to confirm that Yapstone is "not on our side", and HW is deaf and dumb to their host base.  In the end, it's HA who would be sued for putting us in this position as home owners.   

                 

                I am fuming.

                  • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                    margaret CommunityAmbassador

                    I am sorry you have had to deal with this mess. I hope you are able to recover the payment you are owned.

                    • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                      dinamight Contributor

                      Thank you for explaining. This is a strange case, but perhaps the action of your bank explains it. When we get chargebacks the fee comes straight out of our account, I didn't even know they could be blocked. Yapstone certainly has no problem reaching into our account and extracting thousands of dollars but I suppose they can say it came from them in the first place.

                       

                      Without their fee, maybe Yapstone was not keen to pursue this case and perhaps it even expired before they contacted you a week later, which is why they are now coming up with such a ridiculous reason.

                       

                      As I understand it:

                      What usually happens is that they extract the rental money and the chargeback fee from your bank account, then tell you that you have 7 days to submit a request to get it back (the rental fee that is, not their chargeback fee!), complete with onerous requirements for providing pages and pages of proof. They then send this off to the renter's bank, who usually waits up to 3 months to (understandably) decide in the renter's favor, after all what do they care. Yapstone tells you that you can appeal, but warns you that you need to come up with even more (and new!) proof and that if you lose you will be hit with an additional fee of minimum $250 and a maximum of ("but not limited to") $500. Once you have decided to take the risk and do this, the decision then goes to the credit card company, who take a far more balanced view of this, and you have a good chance of winning if your case makes sense, which it does.

                       

                      I would ask Yapstone (or get your contact at HA to ask Yapstone) to provide you with proof that they submitted your counterclaim and also proof of what the result was. Also why you were not allowed to appeal the initial ruling. As I said, I suspect Yapstone either did not submit your claim or were too late in doing so.

                       

                      I wish you the best of luck.

                        • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                          psphoto Active Contributor

                          The fact that you never got a signed contract is a big problem here.....since it puts you in a he said she said situation.

                          Frankly I don't think you will get the credit card issuing bank to reverse the chargeback here, so I would take a different tack.

                          I would go after them in small claims court if possible, since if the chargeback isn't reversed, you still have a case of non payment for services.

                          Of course....it all depends where they live and the individual states rules on filing a claim.

                          Don't let them think that a credit card chargeback lets them get away scott free!

                          Use every avenue available to make them pay for their stay.

                    • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                      georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                      homeaway_community_manager  - can you get us a clarification on this comment by YapStone?

                      I have never heard this before and I too live on property and have for the many years I have been with HomeAway / VRBO.

                      This statement is very unsettling and I would appreciate it if further light was shed on it. THANK YOU.

                       

                      " We decided this week we would call, and Yapstone says they have already agreed to give a full refund back to the guest.  When asked how that decision was based, Yapstone said VRBO and HomeAway have a policy of  property owners not living on the same property as the guests.  In preparation for their answer, I had 15 examples in our same state of VRBO rentals where homeowners live on the same property.  We have several acres, and can and do have guests without ever seeing them unless they seek us out.  More to the point, I had a reservation to stay in one such rental unit this coming week, and provided that information to the person on the other end of the line with Yapstone. Their response was:  "VRBO and HomeAway have a policy of homeowners not living on the same property as guests!"

                        • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                          twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                          I have stayed in a VR in Colorado where essentially it is a lower level unit, owners live upstairs. It does have a separate entry. I LOVED the place and the owners were amazing!!! However, I was told that not reporting them contributes to the problem of having owners on the platform that don’t comply to the rules. So, I privately reported them under protest as I think the place is a wonderful place to stay and would stay there again, even though there was noise at times from pets and walking across the floors. I would never do a charge back. If I was offended by the configuration I would not stay again. Oh and now that I think about it I stayed in one in Oregon that was shared with owner too and it was fine. Owner was a bit intrusive at times as we were there for my Mom who was passing and he wanted to chat, but still a great place on the beach.

                           

                          Guess what the one I reported...........is still on the platform and is a premier partner!!! LOL! Fine by me!

                           

                          So, go figure!!!

                          • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                            davidp_ha HomeAway Employee

                            georgygirl1955

                             

                            Shared Space is defined as any property listing where the traveler could unintentionally share space inside the property with the partner or other guests not in their party during their experience.


                            If you live on the property in a separate unit that does not share inside space with the traveler, we would not consider this a shared unit.


                            David

                            HomeAway Community Manager

                              • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                davidp_ha So it appears Yapstone not only gave wrong info to mitig8r but refunded the guest based on that wrong info.

                                • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                  mitig8r New Member

                                  To David and GeorgiGirl,

                                   

                                  Thank you all for your thoughts.  Really.  When I posted in this space, I was feeling like I was dealing with a black hole with YapStone.  Yap Stone never contacted us after the 3 month waiting period.  Still haven't sent us any written documentation telling us we won't get any money from our first guest.  We ultimately called them to find out where any of the money at all was.  The customer service person told us we would not be receiving any of the money back.  When we asked why:  They said it was against VRBO/HA "policy to have home owners living on the property".  When we stated we do not share an entrance.  We do not share anything but a common driveway in and out of the property.  We do not see our guests at any time unless we pass each other coming and going on the property, and in the case of this guest:  We never saw them.  YapStone's response was rehearsed and robotic:    it was against VRBO/HA "policy to have home owners living on the property".   When we offered to provide examples of people in Colorado who we have stayed with, that live on the same property but don't share doors, entrances, nothing:  Yapstone literally repeated word for word the same robotic sentence previously mentioned.  When we asked for written confirmation that we would not be getting a penny back, we still have yet to receive an email or any written documentation.

                                   

                                  I so appreciate forum's comments.   They seem to validate what we were questioning.  I am in the wrong by not getting the guests rental agreement back prior to her checking in.  I do have written confirmation that she received it, but realize that isn't sufficient enough.  I am also in the wrong for not getting a copy of her government issued ID.  Chalk that up to my very first time renting out our cabin.  But I have serious concerns that Yapstone can speak for VRBO/HA policy, when my business arrangement is with VRBO/HA --- and that there is no way to contact a real person and have written confirmation of who gets to over ride whom's contract policy-- leaves me feeling I have no say, or control in this financial arrangement.  The cabin we rent out is 2,300 sq. ft, and we have no shared parts to this.  We live in a 1,000 sq. ft. apartment on a separate level with separate everything, and because the "guest" says she thinks she heard something or someone and she felt in fear of her life...?  If that claim works, and you get to stay free two out of three nights:  I am probably in the wrong business.  That night she thought she heard something we had a momma moose, and baby outside our entry door,  and it triggered the motion sensor light which stays on 30 seconds. 

                                   

                                  We call that a gift.  And while not everyone feels the same out wildlife in the mountains of Colorado-- It is not a violation of VRBO/HA that I can identify.

                                   

                                  If we go by Yap Stone, we are out of the full payment, plus our $8.00 for Yap Stone representing us in this dispute.

                                    • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                      hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                      There was no true, by the law's description, representation by Yapstone only uniformed, judgement call ,by a CS at Yapstone

                                       

                                      Go to an attorney, and get an agreement.  The attorney must write it up, not as a monthly, or year round rental agreement such as a realtor one.  But, with all the details that must be addressed as a STVR, unique to your home.

                                       

                                      You must have your bases covered for a STVR agreement.

                                       

                                      Remember to mention that its a STVR agreement and (check with the attorney first) is not subject to the same tenant rules as a "tenant" contract would be.

                                      Its similar but not the same as what the rules apply for a hotel.

                                      Second, have a last page reserved for lines of names and ages of all occupants.

                                       

                                      Call and speak with them personally, let them know they can ask any questions needed.

                                       

                                      If you are able, greet them, or pay someone to be your greeter and eyes and ears.


                                      The hands on personal touch, makes a big difference.

                                       

                                      I also like outdoor cameras.  Its quite controversial, but we are coming to that age now.  You again must disclose that on any advertising site, and in your rental agreement.

                                       

                                      What ever you decide, this is your property, your liability, your responsibility.  So take care of yourself and cover all your bases.

                                       

                                      There are so many wonderful vacationers, but it only takes one bad one, get a binding guest agreement, government Id and no latch key guests.

                                  • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                    hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                    This is an example of a company being able to make decisions that Homeaway its self should have the final say.
                                    Yapstone, if not owned by Homeaway, should not be making and refunds unless HomeAway gives its Ok and or there is fraud.


                                    Two many cooks in the kitchen, very unprofessional for Yapstone to have a say about the properties or the policies.

                                  • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                    twobitrentals CommunityAmbassador

                                    Oh my gosh.....just looking at the San Antonio, TX area and put in lowest to highest price for sort and low and behold. Rooms with shared spaces available!!! Hahaha!

                                     

                                    So, guess there are many listings that prove shared space properties are acceptable and yapstone made a poor decision overall.

                                     

                                    Edited to add: Since our platform includes B&Bs (shared space) and hotels (shared space with dining and pools) why would owners be excluded from doing the same thing as long as it is disclosed in the listing???

                                      • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                        hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                        The difference here lies in the fact that there is a legally binding agreement with any vacationer,  unlike a normal CC payment for buying merchandise.

                                        So, the CC company cannot have final say, and just choose to agree with the vacationers who want to do a scam chargeback at their whim.

                                         


                                        This is the reason its is imperative that HomeAway step up and take the lead.  We are not selling refrigerators that are faulty.

                                        The issues can be subjective and if left to the vacationer, who might make a career on charge back, could be a real problem.

                                      • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                        db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                        There is a shared space listing I found on a recent search VRBO where it is described that guests share the kitchen and living areas, etc. with the owner.  They have their listing under the "House" category and not Bed and Breakfast.  I also noticed that the Bed and Breakfast category is now available to chose on the owner dashboard under Amenities, as are hostels and hotel suites, so "shared space" listings are now allowed to be added directly to HA/VRBO in spite of the Policy that says they are not (see link below).

                                         

                                        Here's an interesting article on a recent "shared space" listing issue that made the news:

                                         

                                        https://www.elliott.org/advice/vrbo-shared-rentals-forbidden-rental-nightmare/

                                         

                                        Here is HA's policy on shared spaces:

                                        What is HomeAway's policy regarding shared space rentals? | HomeAway Help

                                        What is HomeAway's policy regarding shared space rentals?

                                        HomeAway is committed to offering a whole home experience for travelers. As such we do not allow shared spaces on the platform.

                                         

                                        Shared Space is defined as any property listing where the traveler could unintentionally share space inside the property with the partner or other guests not in their party during their experience. This includes listings from hostels and bed & breakfast style properties.

                                         

                                        If you are interested in listing a bed & breakfast property, please visit Expedia.com.

                                        • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                          bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                          Your post is long, so I will try to be brief.  We live on our 120+ acre ranch, where there are two houses - the main house and the guesthouse.  The two houses are atop the steep mountain separated by stairs that meander through car-sized granite boulders.  The privacy is obvious between the two houses.  We meet and greet every guest and walk them thru the guesthouse, while listening to the Oo’s and Ah’s, and some even shed tears of joy.      

                                           

                                          Gotta say that in the 20+ years we have been in business this might have happened once, where the guest arrived and it was not their cup of tea.  They left and we refunded them 100%.  Yes, they signed a rental agreement.  But we aim to please and if we cannot meet expectations, then the fit simply was not right.  This is why we like to speak to each and every guest before they book so that we can be assured that we can meet their expectations.  Our place is not for everyone, so it is essential that we know we can meet expectations before they arrive atop the mountain.  You can write volumes describing your rental in your listing, but guests simply do not read. You can get them to sign a rental agreement, but that does not mean that they will have read it.  So for us the bottom line is pleasing ALL of our guests, and if we cannot do that then we feel that refunding 100% is in order.  Not to mention, that it might avoid a negative review which helps me sleep at night.

                                           

                                          It is unfortunate that this happened to you, but if this happened to us, I would refund without any hesitation.   

                                          • Re: First guest asking for full refund and pursues charge-back process.  Help?
                                            shaverlakeowner New Member

                                            So here is something even MORE upsetting with Yapstone and chargebacks that I just found out: they do NOT check the name of the person against the name of the OWNER of the credit card, so you can't know when you rent out the property that the credit card used was, in fact, in the name of the person who owns the card. It could be Joe Smith's card, and the name used Mickey Mouse, and there is no check on this. And, on top of this, hopefully you have already figured out that Homeaway does NOT check that the person who rented the property is the same as the person paying for the property. So here is the only means of being sure about who is renting and who is paying:

                                            1. Put in your agreement that you require the full names of ALL adults that will be part of the group;

                                            2. Put in the agreement that you do not allow third party bookings or payment (that is, any person making payments must ALSO be a guest);

                                            3. Put in your agreement that you require a signed agreement for any person either making a payment or signing up as the guest on Homeaway;

                                            4. Put in the agreement that you require a copy of the ID of each of the signers, and a copy of the credit card for each payer, with the first four and last 4 numbers showing but all the other numbers blacked out;

                                            (Yes, I know this creates a problem! It will be hard for some people to do! They can cover these numbers with their thumbs!)

                                            5. Check the name of the person making a payment against the name of the person reserving the property for EVERY transaction; if they are not the same, contact the renter and remind them of numbers 1-4 and enforce it!

                                            6. Take a picture of the guests when they arrive (and save them, chargebacks can happen a year after they checked in) so you have proof that the person with the ID is the person who arrived is the person who paid. OTHERWISE Yapstone will ALLOW the chargeback. You will be out the money plus the fees. In Yapstone's own words: