COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A sudden and unexpected cancellation left a local woman desperate for another short-term vacation rental weeks before her planned trip. She called Better Call 4 with a warning for other potential travelers.
Ready for a getaway in February, Michelle Austing and her family began planning a trip to Hawaii in early May, booking flights, car rentals and vacation homes through VRBO, an online vacation rental marketplace.
“We’ve used them in the past and never had a problem,” Austing said.
On February 22, Austing booked a rental car for the final leg of the trip, May 13-17. Everything was settled until Austing said she received a message from the landlord on March 27.
“He emailed us and said … five weeks later … it was a timeshare,” Austing said. “And first of all he tells us he doesn’t have a timeshare for Friday and Saturday. His timeshare starts on Sunday. But then he also talks about the fact that this apartment complex is regularly cleaned every month on Friday and Saturday evenings and that it has to be vacated.”
In short, the landlord canceled Austin’s reservation. Austing said he was offering an alternative, but with no time flexibility due to the family’s flight schedule, Austing called VRBO for help.
“We can’t be helped. They said: ‘You have enough time to rebook something else.’ I just expected more help from them,” Austing said.
Austing received a refund from the owner of the property but no explanation as to why it took him so long to cancel and no additional help from VRBO.
Better Call 4 has reached out to the company about Austing’s ordeal. A representative sent this statement:
“We are sorry that Michelle did not have a good experience with your booking. We’ve researched that for you. In this situation, the host had to cancel Michelle’s booking as the accommodation for the building was scheduled for maintenance and was unavailable for her dates of stay. Michelle was given a full refund on the canceled booking.
While we expect hosts to honor their bookings, sometimes cancellations are unavoidable for reasons beyond the host’s control, such as: B. unexpected damage to their property or the effects of a natural disaster. When hosts cancel for reasons they are responsible for, those cancellations negatively impact the host’s listing performance and visibility to other travelers on the site, and over-frequent cancellations may result in their removal from our platform.
If hosts cancel a booking within 30 days of check-in, our 24/7 Customer Care team can assist with the rebooking with our Book With Confidence Guarantee to help guests find another vacation rental that compares. In this case, unfortunately, Michelle did not qualify for rebooking assistance because her booking was canceled by the host outside of this timeframe.”
Austing said she can find other accommodation at a higher price but has a message for anyone watching and planning to book vacation rentals.
“Viewers beware! Any of them can do this to you and let you down a few weeks before your trip,” Austing said.
Austing said she used VRBO to book another rental and had a good experience, but it cost an additional $300.
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