My Story

My wife and I have always dreamed of taking our four kids to NYC for a month. In January, 2021, we found the perfect apartment on VRBO, and we booked it.

About eight months prior to our stay, I noticed that the property was unavailable on VRBO’s website. I messaged the property manager through VRBO, but didn’t get a response. After a few more unsuccessful attempts, I called VRBO. They assured me that everything was fine, but that they would have the property manager call me. I did not receive a call.

I corresponded a bit more with VRBO over the next few months, with the same result. Finally, I decided to do some digging of my own. With just a few Google searches, I learned that:

    • The property owner’s website was down
    • The City of New York had sued the property owner in 2018 for rental violations, and had obtained a $300k judgment
    • Various social-media platforms featured negative reviews left by previous renters who had experienced similar unresponsiveness, and difficulty recouping their security deposits from this same property owner
I sent a letter to VRBO’s registered agent, informing them of the above, and expressing my fear that the property owner was out of business. Some weeks later, I got a call from VRBO’s customer relations group. The agent agreed that the property probably wouldn’t be available, but insisted that I fly my family of six to NYC and try to check-in, before VRBO would consider making alternate arrangements for us!

I could just picture my family, twelve suitcases, standing in the rain, unable to check-in, on hold with some VRBO representative. I decided it would be best if I made alternate arrangements myself. 

This was a great financial risk, however. If we were able to check-in to the apartment we booked on VRBO, I’d be on the hook for two places.

Since it was the only way to guarantee we’d have a roof over our heads, with less than a month before our trip, I booked and paid for a back-up place somewhere else.

The only place I could find on short notice was smaller, less nice, and twice as expensive! Plus, it wasn’t available for the same dates, so I had to change all our plane tickets and pay thousand of dollars in fees and increased fare.

You can guess what happened after that. We flew to NYC and went to the apartment we booked with VRBO. We spoke with the doorman, and he confirmed that the property owner had lost the place at least six months prior.

We weren’t allowed to enter.

Fortunately for us, VRBO’s failure didn’t ruin our vacation. We simply checked into our back-up place. But most people don’t have the resources to be out the cash for two places.

Again, I contacted VRBO on the phone and in writing, but they refused to reimburse us anything.

From this point forward, VRBO began to, well…hide. They assigned me a case manager, but his phone number was “out-bound” only. I couldn’t call him. The case manager could email me at will, but for me to email him, I had to have a special access code in addition to his email address. Otherwise he wouldn’t even receive the message.

In short, I felt like VRBO spent more time and energy trying to prevent me from contacting them, than they did trying to make things right. The excuse they gave me was that they were just a booking service, and weren’t responsible for my loss. They encouraged me to attempt to collect from the property’s former owner, but insisted they didn’t owe me anything. They said this in soft, sweet tones, that sounded caring and sympathetic, all the while dodging their legal responsibility.

I decided that, even if it made no financial sense, I owed it to society to sue VRBO, hold them accountable, and help other victims to do the same. In my case, the amount of money VRBO owed me was tens of thousands of dollars – more than a small claims court is allowed to handle. However, in nearly all smaller cases, small claims court is an option.

My lawsuit against VRBO took more than a year, but eventually they reimbursed my losses. I learned a great deal about VRBO’s tactics and inner-workings, that I can pass along to others. All of us here at VRBOstinks are dedicated to getting justice for anyone who has been cheated. If we all band together, we can make a difference.

As I’ve told my story, I’ve been truly amazed by how many people have had similar experiences. If you’ve been cheated by VRBO, click the button below for tips on what you can do.

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