Vrbo offered a refund after my husband lost his job. Where is it?

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Christopher Elliott

When Betsy Bair’s husband loses his job, they cancel their Vrbo rental. Are they going to lose all their money even though Vrbo offered them a refund?

Question

My husband unexpectedly lost his job last year. We had to cancel a two-day vacation rental through Vrbo. I spoke to a Vrbo representative, who agreed to issue a partial refund of $751. Then I waited a month but did not receive anything.

I called Vrbo and the company told me it approved the refund, but that I would need to contact the property owner since the owner was the one that was holding up the refund. So I contacted him again. Now he says he doesn’t know anything about a refund and never agreed to a refund.

Can you help me sort this out? Initially, all I wanted was a refund of the cleaning fee since we weren’t there. But ideally, I would like them to honor their promise of a partial refund. — Betsy BairThe Dalles, Ore.

Answer

Vrbo’s refund policies vary. You have to click on the property page to see the exact terms and conditions for your rental. Generally, they can range from a lenient policy that offers a 100 percent refund if you cancel at least 14 days before check-in, to a strict no-refund policy. On this point there’s no debate: You were past your refund period.

Your paper trail — the correspondence between you and the owner — is problematic. If you read it a certain way, it looks as if some kind of refund is due. And you say that Vrbo promised you a refund. But the rental manager also says no refund is due. That’s confusing.

So what’s going on? To find out, you would have had to contact Vrbo directly. I don’t see any correspondence with Vrbo in your paper trail. But you can easily reach out to the company online. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Vrbo executives on my consumer advocacy site.

I checked with Vrbo. It doesn’t have any record of offering you a refund. But when I inquired about your case, it refunded the $88 service charge. That still leaves $663 in charges, which you say Vrbo promised it would refund you. A Vrbo representative told me that you were not eligible for a refund.

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“However, the guest did purchase trip insurance through CSA/Generali Global Assistance, which partners with Vrbo to offer travel protection for bookings,” the representative told me. “This policy may provide coverage for involuntary termination of employment, so we recommend that she follow up with CSA/Generali on his claim.”

You did that, but unfortunately, you were not eligible to file an insurance claim because your husband lost his job within 10 days of purchasing the policy. The insurance says it has to be at least two weeks before you can file a claim. 

I relayed that information to Vrbo, and it offered to advocate for the insurance company to honor your claim. You received a full refund. 

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Tokyo.

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