Owners are reporting that the new HomeAway payments system does not include the ability to refund travellers through the platform, and that owners are being directed by Customer Service to go off-platform to make refunds. As of this writing, the moderators have not commented on this issue, and I am imploring them to do that.
Last August, HomeAway sent me an e-mail introducing the new payment platform. The text is below, promising "A better payment experience." There is nothing in there about losing the ability to make refunds.
A better payment experience is here
Because payments are critical to your business, Vrbo and Expedia Group have built an upgraded payment option for you. Here’s how to get started:
Sign in to your account and accept the new payment terms.
Follow the instructions in the confirmation email to add your bank account.
Once you complete these steps, you’ll get the following benefits at no additional cost:
A flat 3% processing fee and no surcharges
World-class fraud prevention
Expert 24/7 support from our team with no transfers to third parties
New reporting tools that make tracking payouts easier
The ability to process quick, accurate refunds is crucial to any payment platform if customers are to trust it, and it is indeed crucial to fraud prevention. Specifically in this business, we need the ability to process refunds through the system for many reasons, starting with these:
1) It would be a great inconvenience for both travellers and owners to have to refund off-platform, and would look totally unprofessional. What about refunding in a different currency to a different country? What about lost checks? And what about timing? When I need to make a refund, I do it right away. I don't want anyone to worry for a minute about whether or not they will get their money.
2) Owners would lose the refund of credit card fees paid on the refunded amounts.
3) Bookkeeping for tax purposes would become even more difficult.
4) And if HA doesn't care about headaches for owners and travellers (and we know that, alas, they don't), they should be able to look around the corner and see that any time an owner processes a refund off-platform, the seed is planted with a traveller that they can just cut out the middleman and deal with the owner directly in the future. I have quite a few repeat travellers who choose to book through the HA platform, rather than booking directly with me. I don't ask them why they are willing to keep paying the service fee when they could just book directly with me--I figure that's their preference, and that's fine with me. But if I needed to refund off-platform to one of these guests, that lightbulb might go off for them--the direct channel would have been opened.
We have seen this company make many, many mistakes that it might be difficult for them to reverse ("verbo"; service fees; etc.). But this one should not be hard to remedy.
Moderators: please inform us and advocate for us.