Paris Homeshare Owner No Shows, Company Tells Reader to Pound Sand

Hotels overbook, and when they do they have certain policies in place to compensate you – generally including covering the night for you somewhere else, so you have a place to stay at no cost – and if you have elite status with the chain you should expect an additional free night as compensation as well.

I’ve written in the past about Airbnb hosts cancelling reservations. Sometimes this happens because they think they can get more money re-selling on another platform (hotels do this too and it’s sketchy) . Other times the owner just doesn’t show up.

Homesharing sites, which are really just a marketplace for rooms, don’t do much to take care of you when owners cancel, although I’ve heard relative few complaints about HomeAway/Vrbo which is owned by Expedia. However, like anything in my experience when you’re dealing with an Expedia company when things go wrong they go really wrong.

A reader shared what happened when they rented through HomeAway in Paris — they showed up on the other side of the Atlantic, but the unit owner did not.

In May, I rented a property in Paris through for two weeks in June; full payment was charged to my credit card. To make a long story short, the owner never showed up, and HomeAway customer service was not helpful with rebooking. In the end, I had to rent a string of hotel rooms at the last minute, in Paris in mid June, during the airshow and the women’s world cup.

HomeAway agreed to refund his prepayment for the place he didn’t get to stay in, but that was it. The reader thought HomeAway should pick up the extra expenses he incurred finding alternative accommodations.

I reached out to the company and that offered that “It is incredibly rare that a reservation isn’t honored. In this case, Vrbo has permanently removed this listing.”

And what should you do if an owner no shows? “Vrbo Customer Support should be [a customer’s] first call if something happens with their reservation, so Customer Support can find them a place to stay under the Book with Confidence Guarantee.”

But what about our reader? They he’s out of luck because he did his own rebooking so “is not eligible for reimbursement beyond the refund of his booking.” They had made him a rebooking offer that they say he declined.

Seems reasonable, right? Except according to the reader “the offer to help came three days after the cancellation” and he was in Paris and really couldn’t wait. Reading the Book With Confidence Guarantee doesn’t really promise anything, and that’s exactly what they delivered.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. “the reader thought HomeAway should pickup the extra expenses”

    Lmao I’m sure the reader did but what did his contract/terms he booked under say?

  2. Reading through the linked terms it doesn’t appear to meet that there’s any suggestion that there provider will cover the cost difference if any alternative booking, just that they’ll help book one. I presume they’ll do that by consulting their own listings and maybe Expedia in general. So, even if the reader had gotten the “assistance” promised it’s not clear he would have come out ahead financially or in terms of convenience.

    Incidentally, of they did offer such a guarantee (up provide alternate, equivalent accommodation at the original price) it could be fraudulently exploited by setting up a cheap rental using an alias and then no-showing for yourself.

    Full disclosure: I have a holiday rental that I rent out with HomeAway.

  3. While the company is probably in the clear, legally, their CEO should personally reach out and compensate out of pocket for these types of situations. After all they’re “incredibly rare” so they shouldn’t make much of a dent in the CEO’s schedule or wallet, right?

  4. No chance in my lifetime I would ever book through that channel
    With the big hotel chains where I am holding lifetime status Hilton Hyatt Marriott etc
    with over a million spending I would absolutely expect some reasonable form of compensation
    They would gesture me points and or free nights to make up for my loss
    It has certainly happened in past years and they made things right typically
    though as previously shared rare

  5. Hotels dot com put me up in a $700/night room at Courtyard Marriott Palm Desert, CA for Coachella weekend 2011.

    This was after my original $75/night booking at a nearby Travel Lodge wasn’t honored. The Lodge mgr offered a free room for my 1st night but told me “I’m not sure how you got that rate but it should have been $300/night. Stay here free tonight but I need the room back tomorrow.”

    After an hour waiting, Hotelscom phone rep found a room and fed me the info.

    So I got “upgraded” to a marriott jacuzzi room and still paid just $75/night for Coachella weekend.

    $225 will forever be my cheapest paid stay for Coachella – 15 years in a row.

  6. As others said, he doesn’t have a contract with the site (well, there is a user agreement but you know what I mean). Asking for compensatory damages would be like suing when your date no-shows. Tough luck. Heck, even actual hotel patrons get screwed every now and then.

  7. Whenever I have a booking I’m not confident in, I have a backup plan.

    For instance, last year I attended Oktoberfest in Munich. After I’d already booked a stay at a very convenient, but bare-bones Ibis property, I noticed that Hilton were opening a new Hampton Inn in a very convenient location, which would be open just a few weeks before my visit.

    I kept checking the Hilton website to see if reservations had opened up and, one day, they had. What they hadn’t done is loaded in anything but their base, AARP, and AAA rates, so I quickly snagged the AAA rate, which was cheaper than even the Ibis I’d booked. Since I’m Gold with Hilton, I was pretty ecstatic.

    I was even happier when I checked on the hotel’s progress a few weeks later and saw that rates for the dates of my stay had more than tripled, since they’d loaded in the appropriate special event rates.

    But that original Ibis reservation? I’d kept that, knowing that there was a chance the hotel wouldn’t open as scheduled, plus a decent chance that they’d try to walk me to get three times the money for the room. Plus I’d confirmed that the Ibis had a 6pm, day of arrival, cancellation policy, so, with a morning arrival in Munich, I’d hopefully be checked into the Hampton before I’d need to cancel the Ibis.

    In the end, the Hampton opened, they honored the reservation, I cancelled the Ibis, and we had a great trip.

    TL;dr – I had a risky reservation in Munich for Oktoberfest, so I had a backup plan I didn’t end up needing.

  8. Several years ago I booked a flat at the old town of Istanbul thru this HomeAway which was at its very infancy when Expedia started push that channel.
    The owner even had some correspondences with me on the airport transfer offer (but we were arriving from Selcuk on an overnight bus). So he was well aware of our arrival.
    When we arrived the address – we saw the building was not like what was being described at all. In addition there were a number of young people coming in and out – nearby people told us that building was used like a dorm housing a lot of foreign students. Looking at the environment of the whole thing we did not want to stay there. Lucky for us, our booking was paid on arrival. We just left the neighborhood to the edge of old town where the tram car ran. Then we checked each hotel on the main drag and nearby side streets, finally found an acceptable property for that night. Next day we set out to find a place for our remaining 6 nights.

    Meanwhile there was not a blip from Expedia when we contacted them.

    Needless to say, this marked the first and the last we used HomeAway.

    Several years later on another trip to Turkey – we had some Expedia $ coupon from Best Rate Guarantee and decided to use such – found a resort at Bodrum on the Turkish Southwest Coast onto Aegean Sea. The resort’s location isn’t ideal but there is a ferry between the resort location and the city center of Bodrum so we booked it.

    2 days before arrival we got an email from Expedia, telling us the resort wasn’t able to honor the booking (without giving any reason), and we needed to contact Expedia 1-800 immediately for rebooking – well, there was no way for us to call 1-800 number from Turkey, also due to time difference when the email arrived us, there was less than 36 hours left from arrival time. We had 2 nights booked at this property as 2x individual bookings. I went on to find alternatives – having a rental car with us, it wasn’t easy but we found one, at 30% cheaper than the Experida booking, too. So I booked that from and promptly canceled the 2 Expedia bookings. Never heard any more from Expedia.

    These days when we have to use independent lodgings we use exclusively because not only they have bigger selections in most parts of Europe, but their customer services are reliable, their system allows you to ask the property owner questions BEFORE you make a booking. So you are not going in it blindly.

    I am very disappointed by Chase that it chose Expedia to handle UR travel booking. So far the experiences are very spotty. Hotel prices are 10 to 15% higher for international locations, and inventory is not the same, often much less, than found on Expedia site. The much touted 1.5x travel booking benefit is very deceiving. You would not achieve that if your travel needs are primarily outside US, not even on airline tickets.

  9. My wife showed up earlier this month to a three week Airbnb reservation in Jakarta, and the caretaker refused to give her the keys because they claimed the price was an error. Turns out the owner lives in Palo Alto and I happened to be in the Bay Area at the time (I was going to join my wife in Jakarta the following week). A threat to stop by the Palo Alto police station and file charges for fraud netted us a full refund plus $300 compensation.

  10. As an Airbnb Superhost for the past five years as well as a guest when I’m traveling, I’m appalled by stories like this.

    We do not book or list on VRBO or HomeAway, which are now part of Expedia, because their service guarantees are inadequate compared to those of Airbnb.

    Further, AFAIK they do not escrow prepaid funds. Airbnb does not remit funds to the host immediately — they hold the funds for 24 hours to allow the guest to notify Airbnb of any problem with the housing after arrival. We have never needed to utilize this, but we know people who have. Those people were rebooked by Airbnb in either comparable listings or hotels at no extra cost.

    Tim apparently did not report this Jakarta incident to Airbnb. I’m happy that he was able to resolve it without Airbnb’s intervention, but if Airbnb knows about it, they can remove the host from their site so others don’t encounter such issues.

    When we’re planning our travel, we filter our Airbnb search results to include only Superhosts. These hosts have met strict criteria for high-quality reviews. One host-cancelled reservation disqualifies that host from the Superhost program for a year. We meet those criteria in our listings and expect no less from the hosts where we stay.

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