5 Replies Latest reply: Nov 25, 2019 9:43 AM by green_mango RSS

    Premier, fraud and VRBO who turned their back on me.

    italyblu New Member

      I had a renter who rented my property in August, she stayed the weekend,  left and then denied the charge on her credit card saying it wasn't a valid charge.  I called VRBO and they offered me ZERO assistance, they said "it happens".    I asked for her driver's license and they informed me they do not verify any renters....meaning anybody can build a fake profile, give fake name and address.....what?????  I had no idea and I have been taking VRBO renters for over 2 years.  I continued to contact anybody and everybody at VRBO and my requests fell upon deaf ears.  The chargeback people are based in INDIA and I couldn't keep one person on the case, I had 13 contacts who were NOT dealing with me.  I was unable to get from the processing company(who works for me and VRBO) the information I needed, like "is this her card or was it stolen".  I just needed that info not the numbers  but instead they protected the thief over me!  I meet 99% of my guests in person and since she was coming in late, I decided to allow her access without meeting her.  It cost me 2k, I had zero proof she was there according to the credit card company....even though I have videos of her in my driveway, she posted videos of my house on her social media and I supposedly had a rental contract with her via VRBO.....I WAS TOLD BY VRBO THEY HAVE NO FRAUD DEPARTMENT....HUH????  YOU ARE HUGE AND NOW OWNED BY EXPEDIA.  I WOULD NEVER....EVER EVER.... DO INSTANT BOOKING WITH YOU.....IN FACT I HAVE GIVEN 90 PERCENT OF MY BOOKINGS TO AIRBNB BECAUSE AT LEAST THEY VERIFY THE IDENITY....YOU LOSE MY BUSINESS BECAUSE OF HOW YOU HANDLED ME.  I MAY HAVE LOST 2K IN A BOOKING BUT YOU HAVE LOST DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THAT IN FEES.  IN FACT THE RENTER IS STILL ABLE TO BOOK OTHER RESERVATIONS BECAUSE THEY HAVEN'T BLOCKED OR DELETED HER....HOW MESSED UP IS THAT!!!!

        • Re: Premier, fraud and VRBO who turned their back on me.
          wildiris Active Contributor

          First, I am very sorry this happened to you.  When you say that the guest said that the credit card charge wasn't valid, I assume that the name on the card matched the name on the reservation.  Is this correct?  So, the cardholder is saying that someone stole her credit card number and used it to book your vacation rental.  (It's easy for fraudsters to steel a credit card number and use it without stealing the card itself.)

           

          You have to fight the chargeback yourself.  Neither Vrbo nor its credit card processor will fight the chargeback on your behalf. You wrote that the credit card company said that you have "zero proof" that the guest was there, yet you also wrote that you have a video of her in your driveway and she posted photos of your vacation rental on her social media.  Did you print out copies of these photos and send them to the credit card company?

           

          You have learned the hard way that Vrbo does not verify a guest's identity and does not vet guests.  It does not ask to see a renter's photo ID.  Owners must do this themselves.  There are many posts in this Community with suggestions from other owners about the "best practices" that owners should use to protect their vacation rental and themselves.  Going forward, you should engage in these practices on ALL booking platforms including AirBnB.  These practices should be used even with Instant Booking.  It's backwards, but an owner can vet a guest after an IB.  If everything doesn't check out, try to get the guest to cancel, but if the guest won't, cancel the booking yourself. 


          Here's a list of "best practices" when you receive a reservation request or IB.  It's not necessarily an exhaustive list and other Community members may have their own suggestions and recommendations.


          Communicate Directly with the Guest.  Talk or communicate directly with the guest yourself.  Some owners prefer speaking with the guest on the phone, others prefer communicating via email.  (I always speak with the guest on the phone.)  Obtain the guest's home address, email address and phone numbers (cell and landline if he has one), the reason for the visit, and the names of everyone who will be staying at the vacation rental to include the names in your rental agreement.

           

          Rental Agreements.  Have an attorney draft a rental agreement for you.  Upload a sample rental agreement to your Vrbo listing.  Require that the guest sign and return the rental agreement to you directly in a specified period of time.  (Some owners give the guest 24 hours, some 48 hours, some 72 hours.)  Include this signing requirement in the time window as one of the rental rules on your listing.  (If it is one of your rental rules and the guest doesn't comply, Vrbo will supposedly allow you to cancel the booking without penalizing you.)

           

          A guest clicking on the "I accept" box on the Vrbo website won't hold up in court.  You must prepare a rental agreement for the guest yourself. Make sure to include all of the essential elements of a contract in the agreement including the guest's name, your name, the dates of the stay, the rent, fees and taxes that he must pay, the name of each person who will be staying at the vacation rental, etc.  You must send the rental agreement to the guest yourself and obtain his signature.  You can do this by either emailing the agreement to the guest, having him print it, sign it, scan it and email it back to you or you can use an online electronic signature process.  The person who signs the rental agreement should be the person whose name is on the reservation and whose name is on the credit card being used to make the payment.  (Verify this using the payment detail information of the reservation on your dashboard.)


          Photo ID.  Require a government-issued photo ID such as a driver's license or passport from the person who is making and paying for the rental.

           

          Vet the Guest.  Do an online search of the guest.  The primary purpose of this is to make sure that the guest really is who he says he is.  With a guest's name and home address, it's amazing how much information you can find.

          • Re: Premier, fraud and VRBO who turned their back on me.
            margaret CommunityAmbassador

            italyblu I am sorry you have had such a bad experience. The suggestions wildiris offered is good advice and you should apply it to every booking. ABB is no exception. A guest may or may not upload their ID when booking through ABB but ABB will not share that information with you even if they have it.

            • Re: Premier, fraud and VRBO who turned their back on me.
              u0999 Premier Contributor

              I am sorry that it happened. But I am still to this day wonder where do owners get an idea that vrbo verifies renters or collects their drivers licenses? They do not. You were given very good advice in this thread. 

              • Re: Premier, fraud and VRBO who turned their back on me.
                green_mango Active Contributor

                Unfortunately, it's highly likely it was a valid chargeback - too often guests use stolen credit cards.  So it may not have been the guest who disputed the charge, but rather it was likely the actual card holder who disputed the charge.  The green check mark that says "verified" next to a guest's name on VRBO means that they have a functional email address.  That's it.  Plenty of scammers have functional email addressees.  When you open your home to strangers you have to take steps to protect yourself - personally, I require ID and a signed rental agreement.  It's not totally foolproof, but definitely helps decrease scenarios such as this because that guest will simply book a different listing without those extra steps required.  I require the same on Airbnb - while they also "verify" guests, they don't share that info with hosts if needed without a court order & I don't trust a 3rd party as much as I trust myself.