Where’s the refund you promised on my Costa Rica rental disaster?

Starr Boyle assumed her vacation rental in Costa Rica would be safe, dry and insect-free.

She was wrong on all three counts. Their condo turned out to be a total disaster.

“The unit ended up being not safe at all, infested with red ants, and our children were hurt in the unit,” she says. “We had a flood from the dishwasher, the washer and dryer didn’t work, nonfunctioning plumbing, and so much more.”

Boyle wants us to advocate this case for her. We’ll let you make the call in a minute.

Here are a few details: Her husband and three young children were traveling from Canada to Costa Rica. They leased a unit through Grow Family Realty in New Jersey. They chose their property based on both photos and descriptions that the owner provided. The company promised them a specific unit that was built to North American standards and was in good condition.

But, disappointingly, what was promised was not what was delivered, she says.

Boyle kept an accurate and lengthy paper trail, plus photos and videos documenting the major safety issues they had to deal with. They were severe enough that the family had to leave mid-month and pay for other accommodations.

Apparently, the owner agreed that the rental didn’t live up to its billing. He didn’t hold them to the lease and promised to wire the last month’s rent and security deposit back on August 7.

Well, at least he was willing to do that much, right?

But the Boyles haven’t seen any refund. What they have seen is more than five weeks pass and a list of excuses that are entertaining, but not believable.

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A company representative first told them that “his dog ate his bank authenticator.” (That must be the adult version of the dog eating your homework.)

Then, Boyle says,

He went on vacation for two weeks. We did not bother him at all, believing he would rectify as promised upon his return.

He came back and was busy with ‘other things’ for a week.

He supposedly sent the wire last week (Monday) on a holiday. We have waited five business days. Both his bank and ours say two to three business days is the absolute longest it would take.

Now it’s after hours, and he can’t contact his bank, so we need to wait until tomorrow again.

Property managers onsite told the Boyles that the company is aware of the issues, but has not taken any actions to rectify them, because he doesn’t want to spend the money. The property managers even stated that the unit was not an appropriate place for young children and directed them to other accommodations.

Boyle says the owner “is holding our $2,900 hostage with excuse after excuse and continuing to promise returning it, but not actually doing so.”

Of course she deserves an immediate refund. Should we give Grow Family Realty a little nudge?

Update: Looks like this post was all the “nudge” they needed. Boyle emailed up late Friday to say the money had been returned. Case closed!

Should we advocate Starr Boyle's case?

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Christy Wood

Christy Wood is a writer specializing in transportation topics. She lives in Salem, Ore.

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