A quick update everyone should add to their VRBO rental agreement

28 Replies

I own and self manage several properties in Hawaii via VRBO and AirBnB.  I've never had any major problems but i've recent incident that caused me to make an adjustment to all my rental agreements going forward.

I had a guest book one of my 3 bedroom beachfront condos via the Italian version of HomeAway.  Had a few weird messages with her before the booking, but chalked it up to her being on the high maintenance side.  (This is a $3000+ a week condo so its not unusual to get some questions first).  

Guest arrives arrives, checks in, and gives me a call that evening.  She asks where the other beds are.  Confused, I ask her what she means and she said, you advertise it sleeps 8 but there are only beds for 6.  I explain to her that there's both a pull out sleeper sofa and a brand new self inflating queen air mattress for their use, essentially sleeping 10.  She got upset and said the listing didn't disclose they'd have to sleep like animals.  I sent her a screenshot of the description where I clearly describe all the sleeping arrangements with a special note in caps saying groups larger than 6 will use the pull out couch or air mattress.  I fully disclose everything in my listings- I hate when expectations aren't met.  

She sent a screenshot back of the Italian version where that note is not present and demanded a significant refund.  After verifying she didn't edit the screenshot, it appeared there were a few sentences missing from the Italian version in my description.   

I called VRBO, they also verified it was missing, and pointed me to this policy:

11. Translations
If any user-contributed content created by members or users is translated for display on the Site or any site of any affiliate of HomeAway, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or quality of such translation and the user is solely responsible for the review, verification and accuracy of such translation.  

Apparently it's our responsibility to check every version of their affiliate sites in every language for each listing.  I explained the situation and the VRBO rep confirmed the discrepancy and said per this policy it's basically on me and they won't help in any way.  Now she's using this policy as an excuse for a charge back, and is threatening me with her 'legal team'.  I'm 99% sure they're scammers and i'm not concerned with anything beyond their charge back claim, but a simple solution is to add this into your rental agreements.


ERRORS AND OMISSIONS: All information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. We are not responsible for errors or omissions. All information provided on the VRBO / Homeaway listing was posted to the U.S. English version of the website and owner is NOT responsible for any translation errors or omissions caused by VRBO / Homeaway incorrectly translating from this original version. Guest agrees this policy supersedes VRBO / Homeaway policy.

I'm not a lawyer so i'm not 100% sure this would hold up, but it seems like it should do the trick when sending to credit card companies as proof for disputes.  Seems like a quick and easy way to cover yourself going forward, granted i'm probably the only one this has ever happened to  lol 

(God, slap me and slap me HARD if I ever complain about any of our customers here in Branson. Not that I ever do - we simply have the greatest of the greatest of the greatest guests in the world. But, should I ever feel froggy one night and get the urge to make a negative comment about any of our clients - slap me hard and remind me of the prima donna dirtbags that people like @Mike V. have to deal with)

Sorry you are dealing with this.

@Mike V. - Hey why not hop on craigslist or Facebook marketplace and deliver a $300 queen bed tonight? (I also hate high maintenance Airbnb guests).

@Michael Kugler , I also own rentals in Branson!  Although it's a fun place, thankfully, we don't have to worry too much about anyone from Italy choosing Branson, MO as their vacation destination.  lol  Although, the guests who traveled the farthest for us came from Taiwan, but they were military and originally from the U.S.   :D :D :D 

@Natalie Schanne I didn’t want my already long post to be that much longer. But the first thing I did was call the 3 rental companies in the area to see if they had one in stock- they didn’t. I offered a rollaway bed which was unacceptable. This is on Kauai and it’s a small island. I also offered them $100 to go away to which they said this is worth much more to them. I then offered to release them from the agreement and refund them any unused nights to which they rejected. This is why I believe they’re scammers. If they were truly unhappy they would have left. They also had several kids in their group and their kids were the ones sleeping on the air mattress. I don’t think any kids would care about that.

No no @Mike V. continue on. 

This is getting better. I can tell you that after reading what you wrote for the 2nd part - I would have absolutely told them to get bent. 

@Jen Faulkner can attest - folks here in the midwest are the exact reason we bought here. 100% the exact reason. You never run into any nonsense like this. 

I read similar ridiculous posts on FB group pages and am just astonished that tourists (and sometimes hosts) will have the temerity to stoop to the levels that they do.

@Michael Kugler to be fair, I own and manage several condos for several years now and this is the biggest issue I’ve run into. So I’d consider myself pretty lucky this far. I try not to let a bad apple ruin it but this group Is definitely testing my patience.

Here is how great our guests are.

A couple years back we were doing renovations in the office, which is attached to our home. A client checks in, sees what we are doing and asks how much longer the work will be. I tell her we should finish in about 3 or 4 days. About 6 hours later, she is back with several members of her family carrying plates of food they had cooked up for us. We had never met them before, yet here they were bringing us dinner because they felt bad for all the work we were doing. 

A family that comes down here each June brings bags of Walleye with them for us.

Another client of ours sends birthday cards to my twin daughters each year with a dollar for each year of their age.

When we had several storms this year, customers were out there helping to skim out the leaves, drag chairs back out of the pool, etc.

I had a heart attack a couple of years back. Customer (who I had never met) sent flowers to my room. Seriously... who does things like this?

Trust me, Branson customers are the best - end of story - on the planet.

Thanks for the tip @Mike V. !  I will have to see how Evolve would handle these type of situations so I can stay ahead of such issues should they pop up.  Certainly a corner case but I do get international guests from time to time at our Tahoe property. 

By the way, I've been 'window shopping' Princeville for a few years now, as we try to go out there every few years and love it.  If I find something that pencils out perhaps I can pick your brain on a few things? 

Thanks again! 

Originally posted by @Jon Crosby :

Thanks for the tip @Mike V. !  I will have to see how Evolve would handle these type of situations so I can stay ahead of such issues should they pop up.  Certainly a corner case but I do get international guests from time to time at our Tahoe property. 

By the way, I've been 'window shopping' Princeville for a few years now, as we try to go out there every few years and love it.  If I find something that pencils out perhaps I can pick your brain on a few things? 

Thanks again! 

going to imagine evolve or any other bigger company going to defer that problem back to you much the same way VRBO (or any STR) would...

Originally posted by @Michael Kugler :

(God, slap me and slap me HARD if I ever complain about any of our customers here in Branson. Not that I ever do - we simply have the greatest of the greatest of the greatest guests in the world. But, should I ever feel froggy one night and get the urge to make a negative comment about any of our clients - slap me hard and remind me of the prima donna dirtbags that people like @Mike V. have to deal with)

Sorry you are dealing with this.

 You mean to tell me Silver Dollar City and Dolly Parton's Stampede isn't bringing in the first class 5 star intl guest list .... (gasp)

@Matt K.   Very true, but Evolve has treated me pretty good these last 4 years...they are not perfect by any means but they are easy to get ahold of and usually resolve my issues quickly and with decent communication.  They own the actual listings so if they did not proofread it well enough in other countries, then that's on them actually.  I usually review my domestic listings every quarter and usually find a few small things that need to be corrected which they always resolve very quickly.  But I certainly see your point. :)

@Jon Crosby I hope you’re right but my instinct agrees with Matt. They’d hang you out to dry just as fast as VRBO did with me. This is such a random occurrence that no one here will likely ever have it happen to them. BUT I do think my quick add to the rental agreement would protect you in such an event. Hoping that some good will come from this experience and it helps someone in the future.
Originally posted by @Jon Crosby :

@Matt K.  Very true, but Evolve has treated me pretty good these last 4 years...they are not perfect by any means but they are easy to get ahold of and usually resolve my issues quickly and with decent communication.  They own the actual listings so if they did not proofread it well enough in other countries, then that's on them actually.  I usually review my domestic listings every quarter and usually find a few small things that need to be corrected which they always resolve very quickly.  But I certainly see your point. :)

I was going to list a property w/ them and they seemed decent enough, but they are too big to not include verbiage to shift the risk... Now will they make an exception to long time customer sure maybe, but that's an exception to the rule.

 Section 11 (1 and 2)

11. DISCLAIMERS

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MADE AVAILABLE VIA OUR SERVICES OR ON OR ACCESSED THROUGH THE SITE, IS PROVIDED “AS IS.” TO

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https://evrn.app.box.com/v/evolve-promo-agreement

Also, it doesn’t have to be about the number of beds. It can be anything that’s missing or incorrectly translated. I can’t believe a company as large as VRBO uses google translate for their translations without some sort of auditing in place. It only takes once...
Originally posted by @Mike V. :
Also, it doesn’t have to be about the number of beds. It can be anything that’s missing or incorrectly translated. I can’t believe a company as large as VRBO uses google translate for their translations without some sort of auditing in place. It only takes once...

 There's no risk to them (it's on the user) and automated translation is cheap (much cheaper than a human).  

I'd argue larger the company more likely they are to use automation vs humans ... Your situation for example probably so low statistically they don't even care (and by care I mean help you make it right). 

Not exactly the same but there's people that exploit errors all the time on retail sites... Watch a price mistake take off on slickdelas and look at how many people view the thread...

@Mike V. thanks for the heads up. Just updated 5 rental agreements. Gave me the opportunity to update some other parts and pieces that needed it and make them more consistent too. I require the same rental agreement be agreed to on VRBO, AirBNB, and my web site bookings, so I had to update your wording a little bit to refer to OTAs. But overall, it looks to me like it should provide the protection required in case anything like that ever comes up.

@Garry C. I actually did the same thing. This gave me the opportunity to update a few things that I’ve been neglecting. I try to do it once a year but that doesn’t always happen.

@Mike V. thanks for sharing your story. 

I actually have my own description in the rental agreement (including pictures) and a standard provision saying in case of duplicate or contradiction with the booking site, or even prior written emails, etc...this agreement prevails. You may want to consider this method anyway since each site puts part of the verbiage in a different way.

 Just curious: What are they threatening with now? since you offered a refund and they refused to take. What "damage" are they seeking to compensate for?

@Kevin Lefeuvre thanks for the tip.

Their story is they were 2 families traveling from Italy together. The father in the other family ‘has a bad back’. Apparently he was the one forced to sleep on the air mattress... no idea why he wouldn’t take a regular bed if it’s true. They are 4 adults and 4 kids.

Their reason for not taking me up on my offer to let them stay somewhere else is that they said its unreasonable to find last minute accommodations and the cost was prohibitive.

They're claiming false advertising (due to the omission) and the guy with a bad back got zero sleep and his dream vacation was ruined.

Sorry to hear that you are going through this, and thanks for sharing that additional language to add to the rental agreement!

How is the STR market in Branson? Are bookings pretty steady, or are there quiet times of the year? I know nothing about the area right now, but always looking for a good STR market.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

Mike

Branson is fantastic in price vs. return. It has slow times just like anywhere else, but when it is hot and banging - it is a pure money maker. (Did I mention the guests are simply the best as well?)