How I Collected from VRBO

If you’ve landed on this page you’re probably fighting VRBO for something they, not you, did wrong. You shouldn’t have to. Whether your loss was the result of a fake listing, an incorrect property description, or something else, VRBO needs to honor its guarantee. It’s that simple. Your vacation probably didn’t turn out like you’d hoped, plus now you’re fighting an uphill battle. Here’s what you can do:

Before booking a property, do your research
There are a few red flags you should be aware of, before booking a property.
    • Note any changes in the property’s availability or listing status
      1. Has the listing been removed? If so, that is a big red flag
    • Send a message to the property manager to introduce yourself and touch base
      1. Responsible managers will reply in a timely fashion. If they fail to do so, you may have reason to be concerned
    • Perform a google search on the property, its owner, and property manager
      1. Use the exact names, whether the owner and manager are businesses or individuals
      2. Search the property by exact street address
      3. Derogatory public records such as liens or judgments may be a cause for concern.
        • In my case, I found judgments records very easily
    • Listen to your gut
    • If you suspect anything may be wrong, contact VRBO in writing (instructions below)
Keep good records

Maintaining good records of your correspondence with VRBO is crucial! (This is part of the reason I recommend written, dated, signed correspondence.) Save all emails and rental agreements. If you engage in texting via VRBO’s messenger service, save screen-shots of every text.

Recording your phone conversations can be very helpful, but there are legal considerations to this, and I’m not an attorney. However, I understand that VRBO normally records its telephone calls anyway. If VRBO informs you that they are recording the call, then you can record it too. You can just say to the representative, “I’m going to record this call too, for my records.” The easiest way is just to set a recording device near you, and place your call on speaker-phone.

Contact VRBO in writing

Having my correspondence in writing was an advantage. Once you see that you’ve got a problem with VRBO, consider dealing in writing, with all letters sent via certified mail, return receipt requested. Certified mail only costs a few dollars, and prevents VRBO from saying, “We didn’t know…”

Expedia, Inc. owns VRBO. The mailing address I used is:

Expedia, Inc.
1111 Expedia Group Way West
Seattle, Washington 98119

Also consider directing duplicate mail to VRBO’s registered agent in your state. To find out who the registered agent is, go to your state’s Secretary of State website, and perform a Business Entity Search. It’s normally quite easy, and almost always free. The Registered Agent’s information will be clearly listed on the search results. The agent maybe a person, but it will most likely be a generic sounding company like Registered Agents, LLC or similar. The agent’s purpose is to act as an official representative of the company in your state.

Don’t be fooled by VRBO’s excuses

One thing VRBO told me is that they aren’t at fault, the property owner is. They tried to convince me that they are just a website, linking renters and property owners. They tried to convince me that they were really sorry, all the while refusing to help.

The problem is, most customers believe this. It is nonsense, however. When you book through VRBO, you receive their “Book With Confidence Guarantee.” It obligates them to perform. You sign a contract with VRBO. You send your money to them. They are absolutely on the hook when things go wrong.

Don’t be deceived.

Utilize small claims court

I wouldn’t waste too much time trying to resolve things amicably with VRBO. That didn’t work for me and it was clear that VRBO wasn’t going to help me unless I brought more pressure.  It felt like VRBO would just keep giving me the runaround unless I found a way to get their attention.

VRBO’s claims and complaints department can feel like an impenetrable fortress. There is a phone number you can call, sure, but it’s very difficult to get past their low-level employees, and speak with someone who actually has authority. It took me sending several letters via certified mail, before I spoke to even a mid-level manager. Even then, the agent’s telephone was “out-bound” only, meaning I could never call him. His email address was a bit of a decoy, since he had to provide a special access code to use, or else he wouldn’t receive the message.

Small-claims court is probably your fastest, cheapest, and most reliable way to get results. Too many people are intimidated by small-claims court, but they shouldn’t be. These courts are designed to be friendly, easy to deal with, and inexpensive. Most cases don’t normally cost more than $200. In most states, the court will provide you with a simple form you can fill-out with a pen in just a few minutes. You may be able to complete the forms online too. The hardest part is simply knowing where to start. You can ask an attorney for help, but many people represent themselves in small claims court without the assistance of an attorney.

How to take your case to small claims court

Using the court puts the force of law and government behind you. VRBO will have to respond and deal with things. If VRBO just ignores your small claims case, the court can punish them, including granting a judgment in your favor.

Need more help?

We are not lawyers, but we are on a mission to help others in situations similar to mine. Contact us with any questions, or if we can help you in any way.

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