VRBO.comConsumerAffairs Unaccredited Brand
The original mission of VRBO was to connect vacation homeowners and guests looking for a better experience with more value. They were a marketing partner for my vacation rental. Guests and owners alike were able to speak one-on-one and make a mutually agreeable arrangement. The unique experience is what created the incredibly successful business model. That model no longer exists. Now that VRBO is owned by Expedia, guests and owners are no longer able to contact one another directly. As an owner, I have no choice but to agree to online booking where VRBO's staff take over all direct client contact, as well as all financial aspects of the rental. They become a fee-based property management company, increasing guest and owner costs with no added value to the owner or guest.
As you can see from the hundreds of complaints, VRBO doesn't demonstrate even minimal acceptable customer service. I'm unwilling to hand over management of my vacation home investment to a third party that doesn't demonstrate superior customer service and duplicates costs. I've been a long-term VRBO rental host. All but one of my reviews have been five stars with the exception of a single 4 star. I keep my calendar up to date and reply promptly to inquiries. I have an on-site management company that handles booking the reservations, collects the deposits and covers all services for a reasonable fee. Why would I want to pay VRBO to do tasks I'm already paying my onsite rental manager to handle? I will not be renewing my VRBO/HOMEAWAY when it expires mid-March. If enough owners take this stand, a more user-friendly company will step in to fill the need.
I booked a stay at a place in Dallas where I had a business conference. When I booked it six weeks prior to my stay, they immediately took a $1500 refundable damage deposit, which I thought was strange... But knew it would be returned. When we arrived at the property at approximately 5 pm. The host answered the door and said she was not expecting us and appeared very confused. She told us to hold on while she checked something. She left us outside in 30 degree weather. She came back and said that she wasn't expecting us because VRBO removed her account on their site. She went on to say that it's ok, cause she didn't have anyone else expected to stay. I offered to show her my phone and the confirmation. She seemed to know that I did have a booking, just couldn't access the site to see it. She said that the apartment wasn't ready yet, but could be.
We offered that we could go to get something to eat and be back in an hour to afford her some time. She agreed. We came back in what was more like two hours. Again, we knocked on her door and were left outside waiting again for approximately 5 minutes. She finally came and was trying to drag a space heater out the door. She then went on to say that the place actually was already ready, it just needed the heat turned on. She offered the space heater. We asked if the heat had been already turned on. She said yes. We then asked why we would need the space heater. She said "just in case". We assured her that it would probably be fine if the heat had been turned on (presumably two hours previously). When we got into the apartment the temperature in the place was 40 degrees. We could not believe how cold it was! We decided to call her back for the space heater. She did not answer the phone.
My associate went back to her door and was left waiting again. We got the space heater into our space and struggled to get it to work. We then heard a wrap on the door and it was the hosts husband bringing another space heater. We told him that the first wasn't working. He said he'd work on it. Which he did. It began working. At this point we now felt the central heat kick into the apartment. We asked him how long it takes to warm up since it was turned on two hours ago and it was still so cold. He said, "it was just turned on 5 minutes ago!" We told him what his wife had told us and he said "She doesn't know anything!" At this point, this is all minor stuff...
I began to settle in, where I began removing the throw pillows from the bed I was meant to sleep in. Under one of the pillows was a crumpled washcloth. Thought it was curious, but continued preparing the bed by pulling back the covers. I immediately noticed rust stains all over the sheets. There were many... Probably 15-20 separate little marks. Now, I've watched things on the news about evidence of bed bugs. What I've always seen is that you can tell by these rust colored stains on the sheets. They are the victims blood from being bitten. I was very upset and determined there was NO WAY that I could stay there. I was concerned that the bed bugs would get on my own luggage. I travel a lot and did not want to put my own home or any other place I stayed in jeopardy. I immediately called HomeAway/VRBO. It took about 15-20 minutes of being on hold to get thru to someone. I was still at the apartment.
I told the representative the situation. He said he would get ahold of the host. I told him I would not be staying there. We left while I was still on the phone from him. The only thing disrupted about the place was that the sheets were pulled back on the bed. I wanted HomeAway to back up their guarantee. He told me he would file the complaint and that the reason this host had her account removed was due to lack of payment of her dues. I trusted that HomeAway had my back and would help me with the situation. They asked me to send pictures. I sent approximately four pics of the stains on the sheets and one of the thermostat. HomeAway eventually, after about 3 weeks and many calls, emails and pics sent back and forth, that they couldn't do anything because I didn't have pictures of bugs. They never told me on the phone that I would need to stay and hunt down the bugs and get pics.
Further, it was my understanding that these bugs were a problem because they were so good at hiding and that the best one could do to determine if there was a problem was to look for these stains. HomeAway has not backed up my complaints or issues whatsoever. My $1500 damage deposit has still not been returned. Again, the only thing done to this apartment during our 40 minutes, was that we pulled back the covers of the bed. I have attempted to contact the host to solve the problem with absolutely no response back. I'm disgusted. I've used VRBO countless times in the following cities: Montreal, QB; Nashville, TN; Manitowish Waters, WI; Florence, Italy; Rothenberg, Germany; Amsterdam, NE; Minneapolis, MN; Albany, NY. I've never had any problems at any of these amazing places and HAD recommended VRBO to many people. Never again. It is shameful that VRBO/HomeAway will not back me up on this.
VRBO is a total scam. I have used Airbnb before and had great experiences. I booked through VRBO for the first time and ended up paying $371 per night instead of the advertised $179 per night. They charged multiple fees to my credit card without notifying me. I recommend staying away from these guys unless you don't mind giving your money away!
I tried repeatedly to book a room, sent several requests that were not responded to, called customer service several times with no answers. Wasted an entire week waiting for responses from homeowners. Decided to just book a hotel instead of waiting around for weeks to not have a place in the end.
My husband and I own a vacation property in FL which we have rented through VRBO for about 15 years. Initially, it was a wonderful service for both renters and property owners and we were very happy with it. The annual fee was higher than most, but we liked the way the service was structured so we happily paid our annual fee ($400-$600/year depending on the level of service we selected). We spend a lot of time and money keeping our property in tip top condition, well furnished and renovated. And, to keep that, we have high standards who can rent our property - no one under age 25, no spring breakers, etc. That was clear in our ad, and we had the opportunity to communicate directly with prospective renters.
All that changed when Expedia bought VRBO. They have completely turned the business around. Prospective renters cannot talk with Owners until they pay - well that defeats the purpose of communicating before a decision is made to rent or not. They have added on a pretty hefty fee that renters pay. We have a local property manager who has a small management/rental fee ($55) that is charged to renters. She is the one who actually does the work, and takes care of our guests when they are on site. Yet, VRBO/Expedia charges a significantly higher fee - for no service at all. It's just a money maker for them.
I really resent that I am the property owner. I am not a hotel, I own one smallish condo on a beautiful beach. It represents a significant investment for our family, and one that we really work to keep up to date and in perfect condition. I really resent that VRBO prevents me from communicating with prospective renters. They go so far as to strip email addresses and phone numbers from any correspondence that occurs through their website. VRBO is the big fish in the vacation rental market, so it's hard to find another company that can provide the service they used to. I have decided to invest money this year by listing with several websites to see how they operate. I absolutely HATE working with VRBO and can't wait until I find another viable option.
My husband and I are seriously considering selling our vacation property, which is a loss to us, but also to guests who are going to have fewer vacation rental opportunities because so many of our property owners are tired of being treated this way, and having our properties controlled by someone who NEVER sees the property, who knows NOTHING about the renters who come in. What a shame that something that worked so well, has become universally disliked by everyone in the community. Shame on you Expedia for your greed and lack of caring. I have deleted my Expedia account for all kinds of travel and won't book any travel service from them ever again.
- 1,047,006 reviews on ConsumerAffairs are verified.
- We require contact information to ensure our reviewers are real.
- We use intelligent software that helps us maintain the integrity of reviews.
- Our moderators read all reviews to verify quality and helpfulness.
For more information about reviews on ConsumerAffairs.com please visit our FAQ.
My issue is that VRBO does not allow you to cancel requests to book. This not made clear up front. It's in the fine print, where most users will not double check. So if you decide to get rid of your request, only the owner of the property has the power to either take your money despite you wanting to cancel your request, or maybe they will cancel the request if you send them an email through VRBO. Again, none of this was made clear to me after until I called their helpline. It's not user friendly at all. So save yourself the time and either go through Airbnb or Priceline to find hotel deals NOT VRBO.
I used their website to book a rental for a weekend and was charged a service fee for booking online. I was then charged a service fee from the actual rental agency. My 280 dollar rental came with 100 dollars worth of service fees, what a joke! I will never use VRBO again, Airbnb is MUCH better without all the fees.
I also as a homeowner agrees with other property owners. VRBO has so drastically changed the format of the company and now seek to control every facet of the rental. I now am unable to speak to anyone inquiring to rent my home and vice versa for the renter, it is and was very important to have an open line of communication with both parties to ensure that it is a good fit regarding the rental. I really miss the old VRBO company and I feel the new policies they have implemented. Don't have anybody's best interest except theirs.
My entire nightmare with VRBO/HomeAway began because VRBO posted a fraudulent rental. I notified VRBO immediately the day after I booked it on Nov. 26 that I believed the property to be fraudulent. They told me I had to wait for them to do anything as my trip was over a month away at that time, and they had other people that needed help before me. They operate on a first in line priority listing. In other words, none. It took them 2 weeks for anyone to look into it and when they did they sent me a letter acting like I had never called and reported it in the first place but that they had discovered it.
This entire debacle went from bad to worse. By then it was less than a month before our family vacation to Hawaii and we needed to find another place to stay. I was told they would "assist me" in finding another rental but to also look on my own. They didn't assist me but I found one myself anyway, but had to pay 100% of the new rental cost without getting my money back for the fraudulent rental yet. It was significantly more $$ because this was Hawaii. At Christmas. And last minute by this point. Not much available. But I was assured I would receive the original rental rate for the new rental. That required what turned out to be a long, convoluted process with multiple delays. I.e. end of year vacations and holidays so no one was working in the claims dept. What??! Ridiculous excuses.
Long story short, after dozens of phone calls, emails with receiving absolutely no help whatsoever, I finally threatened to sue HomeAway for my $1,799.13 plus all the additional accrued fees that were piling up in my bank account. They replied by email that I'd signed a contract stating I could not sue them. I responded that they'd already broken the contract and identified the 3 different sections in which they had broken it. My attorney contacted their legal dept; I got my money within 24 hours. 45 days after we had returned from our trip and 65 days after the nightmare began. I will never ever do business with this company again They are terrible. They keep our money and float the use of it to run their business. They are not efficient, they lie to their customers, extremely poor customer service and they overcharge fees to both homeowners and renters.
I have been a host on VRBO since 2009. It has always been a contentious relationship but they were a necessary evil and so I put up with their ineptitude, their lies, their many systems issues that went on for weeks, months, and in the case of my channel management issues, years. The company had a “you need us more than we need you” attitude in my early years. That changed somewhat when Airbnb became hugely popular very quickly. But then Expedia bought VRBO and their attiitude went from bad to good to horrible!!
Btw, all of the companies (including Airbnb, FlipKey, Holiday Lettings, Expedia, Booking.com, etc.- I have worked with them all) are a nightmare to deal with, especially as a host. There are so many hosts that they don’t seem to care if they lose a few. For now at least but I believe there will be a mass exodus as hosts continue to deal with guests from hell. What these companies are failing to recognize is that quite a few of the hosts who are now giving up are long term hosts that previously enjoyed wonderful reputations until recently. The decline in our reputations is based on unvetted guests who rent our properties with bad intentions. As other hosts have stated, these companies do not seem to care anymore about the hosts and will ignore pics, testimonials, and repair documents in order to not have to pay for damages.
My properties are quickly being destroyed. My reputation is being destroyed. Damage happens weekly and many times daily. Theft is rampant. Drugs, prostitutes, college students partying, lawyers, nurses renting to have stag parties, birthdays parties, etc. that get out of hand. And none of these companies will do anything to stop these guests (it is amazing how so few bad reviews I write get uploaded to their sites (always blamed on technical issues but I believe their systems flag words like theft, destruction, partiers, etc). I am so disillusioned that I have just sold the 8 properties and will no longer be continuing as a host. Nor will I support the industry as a guest anymore. This industry is now toxic and dangerous for both the hosts and guests.
Beware everyone. VRBO will not switch your credit to another account nor will they give it back. Do not give them your credit card or pay for it upfront. They told me that I would have to wait for a manager to call me back 24-48 hours (that's just insane!). They quoted me paragraph blah blah blah some made up ** that I can't get a refund. Who do they think they are!?? They are awful! Stay far away. On top of everything they try to get renters to pay their fee if they pay upfront. I always told my renters to go through me and avoid their fees. VRBO only worries about $$$ not their customers.
NEVER GO TO THIS SITE. VRBO doesn't stand behind their product and it's a FRAUDULENT site. This site does no review or analysis of the "owners" who purport to rent space.
The level of incompetence is overwhelming!! I have over 55 homes listed with this joke of a company and they make it so hard to work with them! They removed guest communication which was expected and common for most advertising sites, however when there is an issue I expect VRBO to call the guest because I can't and when they "won't" it is so frustrating and unacceptable. For VRBO to lie to my face and say they don't have access to the guest info as well is the biggest slap in the face! The anger I feel for this company in un-natural and quite alarming. Every time I or my team calls no one helps us and no one knows what's going on and we are lucky if they speak any English at all! I don't understand how this company is so large and incompetent! I am looking forward to a day where a new booking site launches and we can all say goodbye to this corrupt shady company! VRBO YOU ARE THE WORST!!!
I attempted to rent a place and was told there would be no charge until the rental was confirmed. They said the rental was unavailable and charged my card anyway. After 7 days it was still there and I had to have my bank retort it as fraud. 1 month later on Feb 13, they charged me again!! It's about $900 each time they charge me and I have to get a new card each time. This company is fraudulent! Buyer beware!
Yesterday I tried to send a question about availability to a property owner. The website was confusing and sent some sort of message off into a black void with no acknowledgment of anything. I assumed it didn't work. Then it asked if I would like to try and book the property. I wanted to see if they had availability - so I tried to see if the booking would work. It asked for card info and then charged me.
All along there is no mention of anything relating to how the booking works. Turns out - they charge your card for the full amount of the booking for 24 hours. They don't tell you any of this until after you try to book. Even if the owner is unresponsive and most likely didn't update the property's calendar and didn't want your booking. Even if you didn't really want to book it and try to call them to reverse it within 5 minutes of booking. Even if the owner hasn't responded to anyone it looks like ever in the entire history of the property. But there's also no way to know. If the owner accepts at the last minute you have no choice. So you can't book anything else.
When you call to try and cancel they just hang up on you. I will not use this site ever again. I feel dirty for even having talked to their customer support and having gone through the processes of trying to book a possibly fake (unresponsive) property. There's something that feels dirty about dealing with a business that relies on tricking people into clicking a button to get their sales.
VRBO just notified me that "you are no longer eligible for pay-per-booking listings." I get very few requests from their site, and a few of the requests didn't work out, so their computers determined that my "conversion ratio is low," and they bumped me from their site. They offered me the option to pay for an "annual subscription so you can continue booking your property on our site." I book so few renters from their site that it would not be profitable to do this. But they just want my $300 plus annual subscription fee! Stay away from this site. Book on Airbnb instead! Smarmy site!
As an owner of a rental property we paid for a year subscription. VRBO canceled our listings because we refused to charge guests a service fee of $75 per rental. We felt this was unfair to our guests. As a result VRBO deactivated our listing and when we called to finalize the deletion of our listing they told us they would not refund us the year's subscription ($597) that we had paid in advance even though they deactivated our account and we only used 5 months of their service.
For what was a great site to list your property on has been taken over by the greed of VRBO. We have always paid a membership fee, $399 per year, to use their site. That fee still exists - but now they charge our customers a service fee along with us paying a credit card fee. The service fee is rather steep which looks like we increased our rates. We can no longer speak to people before they rent our condo, because VRBO wants their $$$ first before you can speak to potential renters. We have lost a lot of people to this service fee and homeowners are starting to seek alternative ways to rent their homes. This site is more geared towards hotels, motels, etc. not the individual homeowner wanted to rent their place in which they cherish!
I booked my first vacation rental through VRBO. I spent a couple weeks looking for different places and locations. When I made a selection the contract required 1/2 down with the balance due 6 weeks before my vacation dates. Seemed reasonable and I booked. Now I have 1/2 down and the balance due 2 weeks later. I am beyond angry and of course lesson learned - nonrefundable. I have trip insurance but this is not covered under trip insurance. Another scam. So disappointed in this company and the inconsistency in booking and actual contract. Never ever again.
As a client of VRBO for the past 14 years, I am very angry and disappointed at the way they changed their business model from advertising owner rentals to becoming a booking company for Expedia which bought them. It is no longer a friendly "rent from owner" company. And forget trying to speak with a VRBO manager as they will deceive you. Many of your fellow vacation homeowners have expressed my same frustration. The only way I (we) can fight the giant is not to renew with them... which I plan to do. If we keep feeding them money, they have no reason to change their onerous treatment of their clients (you and me) who provide the inventory.
One reason most of us are not receiving bookings is (among numerous other things) the fact that they have allowed rental companies with 10 or more homes/villas to put their entire inventory of properties on the VRBO site (which clearly is not renting direct from an owner). Then they give these rental properties priority in position on the search pages. Thus were are pushed lower.
Yes, these properties do belong to an individuals like us, but when a guest inquires - they speak to a reservation person at the rental company, not an owner. I, like many of you, want to continue to rent direct, vet my guests, and handle "my own money". My new approach is - with the help of a young technical college student, I am in the process of creating a business Facebook page for my two properties to help drive renters to my ad on a website I was referred to by a friend called Carolina Vacation Home Rentals. This site looks just like VRBO and I can only hope as it builds its web presence that it will not be purchased by Expedia.
Since 2003, I have been one of the original members of VRBO and Vacationrentals.com, I had 2 property listings with them, referred countless owners to them which they collected their fee in full for, and all parties were satisfied until they took my money 2 years ago and decided to try and collect the rental amount themselves plus a hefty credit card fee which was not our agreement AND charge the consumer a convenience fee. My rental business was cut by 70% and I threatened to leave and did stop my Vacationrentals account but was assured by Mary in upper management at VRBO that I could still book my own clients if I renewed for $499.00 for the year for VRBO.
As many complaints you already have, they changed the terms without consent and my 14 year relationship with them changed as they got greedy! I have received no rental bookings as the consumer thinks it is a scam especially since they cannot talk to the owner like before (me) before they pay hundreds of dollars in a "service fee".
VRBO stands for Vacation Rentals By Owner and used to be a great site for owners of rental properties and people trying to rent directly without the rip-offs from large corporations. Unfortunately they have changed their policy 180 degrees and now make it impossible to have a direct relation between tenants and the owner. Instead VRBO tries to force all clients to use their "service" for a hefty fee. VRBO collects the down payments and installments of the rent and does not forward these funds to the owner before the end of the rental period. Property owners have to pay sales and tourist development tax on this income and thus have to pre-finance these expenses out of their pocket. At the same time VRBO enjoys to work with the liquidity of their clients.
VRBO has taken away the control of owners about their listed properties by changing the Terms and Conditions. There is no more "renting by owner" through this website so the name is completely misleading. Accounts will be restricted if an owner tries to rent directly to a tenant. HomeAway owns further websites that follow the same scheme and delude clients that they would deal directly with property owners. It is even restricted and penalized if an owners talks or emails directly without using VRBO. VRBO censors all emails through their website and removes Email-addresses and telephone numbers. I have spent several hundred dollars per year and end up having nothing but trouble. I am so glad my subscription ends this April and I will for sure never deal with them again.
I just called customer service in India who told me there is not time frame after the guests have left to bill for the used electricity which makes no sense to me. The whole Service fee is a ripoff and only to create more income. Then I also have to pay the 3% to 5% for the credit card fee where before I took a check and nicely interacted with future guests, I have no choice and hope a new startup company can take this business away from VRBO/HomeAway.
We stayed at property which is located on Bay Ave. on Bonnet Island. Our stay was 7/29/17 to 8/5/17. The place was nice and we enjoyed our stay even though there was construction right outside our unit from 7:30 to about 4:30 each day. There were some small issues that needed addressed during our stay and it was difficult to reach Mr. **. At the end of the week we cleaned the unit and left it spotless. The problem was getting our security deposit of $500.00 back. When we did not receive it in 2 weeks we tried to contact Mr. ** by phone and email several times with no response. We contacted VRBO and received no help from them. They told me to try and resolve the problem with the owner or contact my bank. I filed a complaint with the bank and finally received my deposit on 12/5/17. I will never deal with Mr. ** or VRBO. This was our first experience dealing with VRBO and it was very frustrating and disappointing.
I would suggest you avoid attempting to rent any property from Kathleen ** from Oregon. My girlfriend reserved a house in Astoria in October from Kathy. She confirmed the reservation and took the deposit. In January she asked for the full payment which we immediately paid. A week later she emailed and said, "I'm sorry somebody beat you by five hours." 5 hours three months ago? We looked at her rental and it was now booked for that same weekend indefinitely.
Thinking this was really strange we dug into Kathy. She's a Christian fundamentalist. She apparently discovered that Astoria has a craft beer festival that weekend and decided since it didn't fit her values she would never rent to these types of people. Funny she had no problem taking our money and collecting interest off of it. Wonder how many people she's done that to? Religious discrimination is not ok regardless of what side you are on. So far HomeAway/VRBO has done nothing but send copy/paste responses saying basically, "You got your money back. What else do you want". How about make sure she doesn't do this again? Is she making $ of interest from collected funds from multiple people?!
I booked a trip...paid down payment...paid balance 20 days before arrival. We have had a business emergency come up and are unable to come. No one would talk to me about it or allow me to talk to the owner about possible doing a partial refund. The customer service was lacking. What really irks me the most is that if I cancel they can rebook and double the money. And even if they will not refund all of my money, I do not understand why I would still be responsible for a $450 clean up fee, 629 in taxes, another 105 in taxes again, and a 321 service fee??? On top of losing the rent I paid, they get $1505 for nothing??? I will not use these groups again. I will stick with Airbnb where I only had to cancel once but they were gracious, personable, understanding and refunded me.
2002 was the year we started using VRBO. We have several listings. Then, in 2016, everything good seem to be negated. Listings buried with the assurance that that wasn't the case. We were told to "refresh the calendar" or have a "new review" posted in order to become more "prominent". What a joke. We have several guests who weren't able to access the site well enough to give us a nice review. But the worst part? Homeowners are not allowed any contact with guests until AFTER they have paid. And they're forced to go through VRBO to do that; we've been shut out of the process. Complaints seen here are spot on. The company has become a bully of its homeowners; we feel like we're being strong armed. The COG attitude - count on greed - is alive and well with Expedia/VRBO/HomeAway... Am searching for new ways to stay in business.
I spent hours ++++ carefully narrowing down the options for a trip out to Western Canada. I asked clarifying questions through VRBO site and got answers but when it got down to booking then things went south. My card got "rejected" - though the bank didn't see any of the so-called rejections. (I trust my bank 100%). Called VRBO, same thing. Told me to communicate with the owner via the site. MIA. Has been for 2 days. Why? it's unclear. This whole thing is a scam. Completely. Now, I feel like I've exposed myself with my credit card and wished I hadn't even considered. Stay away!
I was booking a cottage, for whatever reason (they won't tell me why) they said that my credit card was rejected because of "irregularities" but they still managed to charge the card $1,500. How exactly they pulled that off is quite a feat. Even better, they aren't returning the money for 5-7 business days. Now, this cottage was for my boss, who is arriving in 2 days. So in order to make sure she has a place to stay, I am going to have to shell out even MORE money to secure her lodging. And I still have no idea why they took my money and then claim they have to return it. Unprofessional and unacceptable.
I have had property listed on VRBO for two years, despite having used it in the past and finding it extremely difficult. However, I realize that most vacation renters ARE using VRBO so tried again. We have lost so much money to them!!! This year, especially, my own parameters for rents charged, discounts, etc were "fiddled with" (no better words to describe). All of a sudden, my rental rates were lowered and included an additional $225.USD discount... (what discount???) I called and was told that "our new rate editor must have recognized a better pricing". No notification to me, nothing.
Plus, imagine when they (VRBO) represent a rental at "Payable to You" @ $4,384.00. I actually end up with $3,497.00!!! This is only a $250.00 security deposit (which they hold) and all the rest $887.00 went to VRBO. DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT USE THEM. You are much better off getting a Facebook page or even setting up your own website. Fair warning. Plus, your customers will be very grateful to save all the fees. Customer Service? When I told the guy who was "helping" me that I was "done with VRBO", the response was, "okay, have nice day".
VRBO.com Company Information
- Company Name: