A group of associates who misplaced greater than £6,000 after the proprietor of the luxurious Ibiza villa they’d booked on Vrbo “disappeared” say the corporate’s “e book with confidence assure” turned out to be hopeless.
Elaine Forth, who lives in Birmingham, and her buddy Lisa Colclough had booked the villa for a gaggle of associates in 2020. They paid greater than £7,700, however have solely been in a position to recuperate their deposit and repair payment.
They’re the newest folks to report reserving costly vacation lodging only to find there is very little consumer protection in place if there is a problem.
The reserving was paid for partly utilizing Forth’s bank card, within the perception that this is able to give some safety if the worst occurred, with the remaining placed on a debit card.
When Covid hit, the group have been pressured to cancel however have been advised by the proprietor that they might reschedule the journey post-pandemic.
However by the point they have been able to rebook, the proprietor had stopped responding to messages. It later emerged that he had eliminated the property from the Vrbo web site.
Since then the buddies have tried each avenue to get a refund, however say they’ve been rebuffed.
“We pursued a grievance by means of Vrbo who tried to contact the proprietor however to no avail and the corporate finally mentioned that there was nothing they might do as they’d no legal responsibility,” says Lisa. “They mentioned the ‘e book with confidence’ assure didn’t cowl us as a result of it was past their management. What kind of assure is that?”
The bank card supplier, HSBC, declined a piece 75 declare on the idea that they’d paid Vrbo – an agent – reasonably than the villa supplier straight. This can be a main flaw with the part 75 safety, which is meant to carry card suppliers collectively liable to supply the service.
Subsequent they tried the debit card supplier, Halifax, and requested for a chargeback of half the price of the villa. This was refused on the idea that they have been out of time. Chargeback claims are restricted to 120 days.
“We had saved as much as have a good time what was going to be a milestone birthday, and an opportunity for us all to get collectively,” says Forth.
“We thought that we have been doing the correct factor utilizing a bank card – reserving with a big-name firm in Vrbo – however we have now been let down at each flip. There isn’t any safety in place if an proprietor simply disappears – it’s been massively disappointing.”
Vrbo, which is Expedia-owned, advised Guardian Cash that it solely acts as an agent, and that each one rental contracts are between the holidaymaker and the host.
“Refunds are on the discretion of the person property-host to resolve what to supply the holidaymaker. The book with confidence guarantee coverage for eligible clients supplies a sure stage of safety however cancellations brought on by or ensuing from occasions which can be exterior the management of Vrbo, similar to Covid, are usually not lined,” a spokesperson says.
It mentioned Vrbo had refunded the traveller service payment and safety deposit of €1,123, and had provided the host’s particulars to permit the group to take authorized motion in opposition to him within the Spanish courts, in the event that they wished.
The case reveals the issues shoppers face when reserving vacation lodging, significantly overseas, as there may be little or no comeback if the reserving goes mistaken.
This can be a explicit problem in Ibiza and different well-liked Spanish locations, the place scammers will promote faux listings or take over actual listings, and alter the contact particulars. Holidaymakers have discovered themselves standing, suitcase in hand, exterior villas they thought they’d booked, solely to study they’d been scammed.
Airbnb arguably gives the very best safety on this regard in that it controls the method and doesn’t launch the fee to the proprietor till simply after check-in. Till the likes of Vrbo undertake an identical scheme, it’s very a lot a case of caveat emptor.