For the first time since we were married almost two decades ago, my husband saved enough for us to go away for a few days this summer. While it would have been still in the state, he located a cute little house for a few days where we could be near a lake & take the dog. He works very hard as a contractor and we are by no means ‘well off’. Still, this was a beautiful idea and a trip I could do, despite my disabilities. (Places too crowded or too far are not an option for me.)
Taking to the internet, he found a referral site called HomeAway.com. They connect property owners with renters. Simple enough, right? Wrong. From the get go, we had issues with their ever refreshing itself website. After much patience, he was able to search a disability friendly, pet friendly rental. Decent price, perfect location. Great. Then, he paid for the reservation, in total, per their instructions.
Soon after, the property owner contacted him & they discussed the details. In our minds, all was well & we were set. But, a few days later, he logged onto the HomeAway site to make sure the card had been charged. He’d called MasterCard’s 800 number & it had said, payment pending. By now, it should have been taken & sent to the owner as their site stated. Unbelievably, the site said the payment & reservation were cancelled. Cancelled? We already had the lock box info & other details. How could it be cancelled? Who cancelled it & why was the payment still pending?
Immediately, we tried getting ahold of the property owner. She had no idea what was going on. She assured my husband she wouldn’t re-rent the property. Initially we thought everything would work out. We couldn’t find info for HomeAway, so we called Master Card, again. That’s where things got really shady.
VacationRentals, a subsidiary, was listed on the credit card transaction. This was the company that the phone number connected to when he called the first time. There was no other contact number available. We went ALL over their website. No address, no phone number, & even their company FAQs had no way listed to get ahold of ANYONE.
Eventually, we gave up on VacationRentals, who FYI told us they ‘didn’t have our money & couldn’t help us’. Using Google, searching for ‘Contact number for Homeaway.com’, we were finally able to locate an actual 877 number. Alas, we received the same, cold reaction to our predicament. Multiple transfers to various individuals resulted in our being told to call our Credit Card Company. After informing them that we had already done that, my husband was placed on hold.
Abruptly, a woman answered us with ‘Hello?’. To shorten this long tale, I’ll say that whomever we had been placed on hold by had called the property owner, connected my husband to her, and then ended their portion. Now, this woman couldn’t help us! She didn’t even know what was going on. However, she did say she’d been trying to get ahold of an actual, breathing human for WEEKS because they had overcharged her for her property listing.
Adding to our confusion was the fact that HomeAway gets a portion of the amount a renter pays when booking PLUS a fee for the listing itself! What a lucrative deal they have! So, not only is this lady, who’s in her 70s, out additional hundreds of dollars for a yearly listing, but she is now out the money we paid to HER not HomeAway. Per our itinerary, as they called it, the money was to immediately go from us to her without a middleman. That begs the question: where is our money?
No one knows, is the answer. HomeAway has marked our reservation as cancelled. They have provided NO answers, whatsoever. Every time we call, we’re told ‘they don’t know’. As a result, our credit card company must now take action for us. Ultimately, we do not have additional money to stay elsewhere or re-pay the property owner additional money. We are in limbo. No vacation. MasterCard, who has been wonderful through the whole thing, promise to have a resolution within 15 days. Anyone who’s ever tried to book late into the summer knows that there won’t be anything, anywhere for us to rent. The first time we could’ve gone anywhere in decades is ruined by a company who cares nothing for their customers, the ‘little guy’, or anything other than their bottom line. Poor business ethics, HomeAway! All they had to do was take the transaction, put it through & pay her. She tried to be gracious & let us mail a check. But, we paid with credit for a reason.
This is a company I refuse to ever do business with again. If they can’t keep track of one, simple payment, how can they be trusted with further vacations? Nothing was complicated about our reservation. What a shame!