Booking travel accommodations online may seem like an effortless process, however, if things go array, the situation is different.
Click the button, receive the confirmation and you’re completed the apartment arrangements for your family vacation. You are happy. It seems flawless and brilliant.
This easy approach to apartment hunting and booking in the US and abroad is what Trip Advisor and its associates, including Flip key, Holiday Lettings and Niumba, can provide. The process is almost effortless. That is if you go as planned and the owner doesn’t cancel on you. If either of these occur, the story is different.
I’ve had experience with both. What I learned primarily is the renter can be on the short end of the stick.
The Owner Cancels
When the landlord of a vacation villa in Puerto Rico canceled our confirmed apartment (for which I had already paid) a week ahead of the 2016 Christmas holiday (before the hurricane September 20, 2017), I was beside myself. There was nowhere else suitable to stay near our daughter and her family whom we were to join on the island. I was left adrift and nothing offered by TripAdvisor to replace it was close to our daughter’s accommodation. It burned me and to top it all off, the money I paid TripAdvisor was slow to be refunded.
The Renter Cancels
Now, I’m on the other end of the agreement termination. I am canceling an apartment in London for May 2018 for which I partially paid. Though I made the reservation in December, and started the process of canceling two weeks later, my 1,824 British pounds would not be refunded according to the cancellation policy stated on the internet. When I contacted the owner via e-mail, he seemed to be conciliatory, however, and wrote, “I can’t cancel from my side, but you can ask them to contact me by email to confirm refund.” When I e-mailed TripAdvisor with this information, on both occasions, I received a return proforma memorandum that had nothing to do with the message I sent. It was as though a robot autogenerated it without a human on the other end. This, of course, may have been true. There is robo-investing; why not robo-reservation cancellations?
In between e-mail messages to the owner and TripAdvisor, I called the number indicated by TripAdvisor in the cancellation of booking, 1-855-785-9714. This number did not get me to human as well. I continued to be in limbo.
Finally, by searching the internet for a workable way to communicate with the company, I found this number: 1- 866-322-5942. It did get me to a human, Gil. He told me that TripAdvisor would take 410.00 pounds for my London booking if the owner were to forgive his part of my prepayment of 1,824.00 British pounds. Then, my refund would be 1,414 pounds. Indeed, the owner did cooperate, and I did receive my partial refund.
For me, after these experiences, I have come to this conclusion. Since plans do change, it is best for those who need more fluid arrangements, to not book through TripAdvisor. Additionally, those who don’t like having their plans altered by someone else (the owner), might want to avoid TripAdvisor as well. Booking directly with a hotel can alleviate either problem (depending on cancellation policy, usually much more liberal than TripAdvisor).
When figured in dollars and cents, the 410.00 pounds TripAdvisor took for booking only two weeks prior, and months before the reservation date, is about the equivalent of one night’s lodging in London. For a cost-conscious person, it might be better to book a hotel and cancel 24 hours ahead as required by most hotels, thereby saving this money or more.
Would Payment Protection (offered by TripAdvisor) Help?
Sadly, although it sounds like Payment Protection might solve these problems, it doesn’t cover cancellation by owner or renter. It is only beneficial if the tenant can’t get into the unit she contracted for or it is not as billed. For more on this, please see PAYMENT PROTECTION. Though Payment Protection makes this claim, “We've got you covered—Book a vacation rental worry-free with our Payment Protection,” in my mind, the worry would start when a renter couldn’t access her rental or if she found it misrepresented. Then, the burden of proof would be on her plus she would have to find yet another place to stay.
Here's a handy Website regarding TripAdvisor: https://gethuman.com/phone-number/TripAdvisor.