19 Replies Latest reply: Feb 16, 2020 1:49 PM by rperrino67 RSS

    Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?

    mauimarcia Contributor

      I wonder what you would do if you're a vacation rental owner in a market where people generally book months ahead of time.


      A guest frankly told me that she unintentionally booked two places for her vacation week, mine and another one.  I don't understand how this happened, other than it appears that she thought she was making a final payment on the same place when she booked the second unit.  She made the reservation with us in November and it;s for March.


      She says she is in big trouble with her husband over this and can I help her out with a refund?


      Our cancellation policy says she is entitled to a 50% refund of what she already paid, which is half of the total amount.


      If I were to give her a full refund of what she paid, I might very well be left with a week unrented and therefore a significant loss, because of her mistake that I had no part in.


      The only thing like this that I've run across is a woman who reserved our place for the Maui marathon... and made a mistake about which weekend it was.  She claimed her partner was ill.  She did have travel insurance and pursued a refund through them.  I don't know whether or not she succeeded.  I did not believe her about the illness, but that was up to the insurance company to adjudicate.


      Please tell me what you would do about this, and why?  Thanks.

        • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
          mauimakani Contributor

          Mistakes happen, but I am not sure why you should be responsible for providing anything more than what was in your contract.


          If she initiates a cancellation through the HA system, I would indicate that you can provide the 50% that she is entitled to based on your contract. I would also offer to refund any dates that you are able to re-book, explaining that she will need to initiate a cancellation soon so that your dates will be available so you will time you have a better chance of filling dates.


          Make her aware that the service fee she paid will not be refunded by HA and that you do not have control or access to those funds.

          • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
            feibus Senior Contributor

            She had over two months to figure out her (supposed) "error" and now she wants you to solve it for her.  Why not the other owner, I wonder?  Why aren't you wondering that?


            Nah.  Refund policy is in force if she cancels via HA system.  If you can rebook, you can always give her more money back, but she's also blaming her husband for why she needs this refund and as a guy, I'd resent that too.

            • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
              sage Senior Contributor

              So she has paid 1/2 the total and under your refund policy she would be entitled to a refund of 1/2 the amount paid, which would leave you with a payment equal to 1/4 of the total charges for the week.


              With the Hawaii market tending to book months in advance, your chance of getting another booking for that week next month are not great -- maybe it will book, but you cannot count on it.


              So right now if you refuse to refund more than the amount prescribed under your refund policy it is likely that you will be out 3/4 of the income you would have had for the week and the careless traveler would be out 1/4 of the amount of the charges. It sounds to me as if your pain is likely to be greater than that of the careless traveler. I think that provides a basis for your decision.


              If you want to be generous you could tell her that if you rent some or all of the period she had booked you will refund some additional amount.

              • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                mauimarcia Contributor

                Thanks to everyone for the comments so far.


                The best outcome would be if she decides to keep my booking and cancels the other one... so long as she still feels I am being nice to her.  SO I will do my best to be both firm and nice.


                I am really not sure how she ended up making two reservations, but after talking to her on the phone, I do believe this is her situation and she is not making that up.


                It may be that when she paid the other party (not through VRBO), she really thought she was paying the second installment for our place.  Quite a lot of people, it turns out, don't understand the distinction between a certain property, like a condo complex, and the party through whom they are booking it.  Because I have a good Google ranking when people search for my condo complex, just about every day I get a phone message from someone about a reservation they made through someone else that they believe I can help them with.  And that is even though I say explicitly on my voicemail message that if they made a reservation through someone else, they need to contact that entity, not me. 

                  • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                    kmcbhense Contributor

                    She doesn't have another booking. That's just her excuse to try to get her money back. I think its even further proof when she told you she booked the other home directly not thru VRBO. That was her cover, because she knows that if she booked another home thru vrbo, it would have been easy to send a message thru vrbo to that homeowner, asking them if she had booked their home during that same time frame. Please don't refund this lady a dime.

                  • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                    wildiris Senior Contributor

                    I have a different theory about what happened.  I think it's likely that she intentionally booked both places because she couldn't make up her mind which one she wanted to stay at.  Perhaps the other place is either larger or smaller, family or friends were possibly joining them, etc.  She was planning on cancelling one of the reservations penalty-free but forgot and missed the deadline (oops!).  Whether the double-booking was intentional or inadvertent, it  was her mistake, not yours.  I think that you should hold fast to your cancellation policy.  Explain the situation to her as Sage has explained it.  If you can't re-book her dates, you will be taking 3 times the financial "hit" that she is - through no fault of your own.  I would tell her that you will issue a full refund if you are able to re-book her dates.

                    • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                      vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                      Tell them to cancel the other booking and stay at your place.  People will try to make their problem into your problem, don't let them.

                      • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                        panda Contributor

                        Don't overthink this. We're all in some fashion small business owners--smart ones at that.   Put on your business hat and just do business. You have reasons for your policies, no need to second guess yourself.  We cannot peer into the minds of others and try to figure them out. We don't need to rehash and rehash trying to make sure that our refund policy fits their particular situation. No need to justify.  No need to rethink, "am I reaaaaaly being fair to this person or that person."    You've already covered that when you decided what your policy was going to be.   Apply your policy and wish them the best (remember service with a smile). I think because we are all hospitality minded people, it's natural for us to want to make sure our guests are happy and well pleased. Well, this is one of those times where it's a rock and a hard place. A little uncomfortable, and sometimes that's how it is.

                        • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                          hmmmm Senior Contributor

                          You have received some excellent advice all around.

                          You will never quite know the real reason, and its not your concern, its hers.

                          I like the advice that Panda put forth as a final comment to sum up this experience.


                          I am an over thinker as well, but this business is not a good fit for the faint of heart.....Some vacationers can spot a co-dependent a mile away. 

                          • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                            mauimarcia Contributor

                            OK, no more drama.  She cancelled the booking with us and her refund of half what she paid so far was processed.


                            Let's see if we're able to get another booking for her dates.  It's definitely possible...

                            • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                              georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                              My final payment is due 65 to 75 days prior to the visit.

                              If a guest is going to ditch, they ditch before the last payment.

                              I want to leave enough time to re-book in case of a cancel. I also have a contract signed and intialed plus photo id....if it is a bunch of money then small claims court can be a last resort.

                              The reservation for this manipulator was upcoming soon for March.....I suggest in the future that final payment be made sooner ( in  January ) , so you dont get stuck again. Same advice for everyone.

                              Good luck. I am sorry for the outcome. ¼ pay is wrong...it should be based upon the total, and not upon the amount paid.

                              So wrong. 

                              • Re: Guest double booked, would you offer full refund?
                                rperrino67 New Member

                                I would explain your situation and offer to refund the other 50% IF you are able to re-rent her time.  Otherwise, as a small business owner you have to stick with your policy or not be able to meet your own obligations.