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TessieTravels

Should we be spontaneous in a foreign county or not?

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Posted (edited)

Cruising Friends, I need some advice from some experienced travelers and I’m not quite sure where to post this question, so I’m starting here.  So, here's my story...I booked a "vacation rental" in Dublin pre-cruise for a place that was new to a vacation rental website and had no reviews. I thought to myself that the homeowner would likely be very conscientious being a new rental and wishing to get good reviews. Six months pass and the reviews are HORRIBLE, dirty, lack of communication, rental amenities not as described, etc.  So, I canceled the booking, come to find out, it was a nonrefundable.  I talk it over with DH and we decided reach out and ask the vacation rental agency if we can reinstate the booking so we don't lose the nonrefundable payment.  I'm told they would have to check with homeowner to see if he would be agreeable.  They contact me a day later and state that the homeowner is agreeable and that no extra charges would be added.  I was advised to reach out to the homeowner to give our arrival time.  I email the homeowner.  Two months later, no response.  I check the website that I booked the vacation rental and it shows that the rental is available during the time of our reservation, so I click on the button on the webpage to "ask (the owner) a question" and inform him that I attempted to communicate with him via email to confirm our reservation.  He responds within 6 hours stating he never received an email or payment with our names or the dates in question.  I reach out to the booking agency with our concerns.  They respond that they will look into it and a few days later, the website shows that the vacation rental in question is booked and I receive an email that the owner gave them a verbal agreement that he is indeed honoring our reservation, they are waiting for something in writing and to communicate with him of our arrival time.  So I send a message the same way I had the second time since it was more successful in getting his attention. Well, it has been a month now and the homeowner has not responded.  What would you do? I am inclined to just book another vacation rental and consider this as an expensive learning opportunity, especially since the reviews are not great.  DH is inclined to wait until we get to Dublin and see what happens (he's the spontaneous one, me...not so much), especially since we don't land in Dublin until 5:30 pm.  Would you book another (more reliable, better reviews) accommodation and double your accommodation cost or wait until you arrive to see if indeed the homeowner will be meeting us at his vacation rental and confirm that the accommodations are not as promised and then decided whether to stay or note at 7-7:30 in the evening after traveling 21+ hours (yes, I am aware I making the latter sound terrible so that you will advise the way I hope you will).  Since we are traveling with my mom, we didn't want to book a hotel and thought a vacation rental would be a better option and about the same cost as one (vs. two) hotel room.  I guess my quandary is that the homeowner is telling the booking agency that he is honoring the reservation (yet nothing in writing, just a verbal), but he is not responding to my queries.  What would you do? Please be kind in your judgments, as I have now learned to read the fine print and won’t be making that mistake again (or admitting it).  We leave in a few weeks and I am having a bit of anxiety.  Thank you in advance and I promise to let you all know what was decided and/or what happened when we arrived in beautiful Dublin (so excited)...

Edited by TessieTravels
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7 minutes ago, TessieTravels said:

 .............I am inclined to just book another vacation rental and consider this as an expensive learning opportunity..........

 

Not much of a learning opportunity if you repeat the same thing.

 

With the understanding that I share the disdain of many neighbors in popular cosmopolitan cities (like Dublin or San Francisco) for those individuals who invite a parade of strangers through our neighborhood, let me suggest that you get a hotel, which is properly zoned and resourced to handle transient guests.

 

There's a very nice and affordable Doubletree right on the River or, if you want the upscale Dubliner experience, there are places like the Fitzwilliam on St Stephen's Green.

 

And if you want to truly understand the problems created by the likes of "AirBnB," Google it along with "San Francisco" in the same search field. And if you have the time, check out Uber/Lyft and the traffic disasters they're creating in already overcrowded downtown areas.

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First, I would escalate this at the booking agency, to a manager, with a request that since communication with the "host" seems impossible, you want your money returned.

 

Second, if the booking agency doesn't refund/cancel your booking, I would speak with your credit card company, with a list of your attempts to resolve this with the booking agency AND the "host".  See if the cc company will do a charge-back to the booking agency.  You may need to escalate to a manager at the cc company, too.

 

I would NOT risk the "private home accommodation" actually performing as they have sort-of said they will.  Find another place, even if it means you all share a room for a night.

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21 minutes ago, Flatbush Flyer said:

 

Not much of a learning opportunity if you repeat the same thing.

With the understanding that I share the disdain of many neighbors in popular cosmopolitan cities (like Dublin or San Francisco) for those individuals who invite a parade of strangers through our neighborhood, let me suggest that you get a hotel, which is properly zoned and resourced to handle transient guests.

There's a very nice and affordable Doubletree right on the River or, if you want the upscale Dubliner experience, there are places like the Fitzwilliam on St Stephen's Green.

And if you want to truly understand the problems created by the likes of "AirBnB," Google it along with "San Francisco" in the same search field. And if you have the time, check out Uber/Lyft and the traffic disasters they're creating in already overcrowded downtown areas.

yes, isn't that the definition of insanity?

 

Thank you Flatbush Flyer, although I do use Taxi services vs Uber/Lyft, I didn't consider the problems created by the vacation rental agencies and I truly do appreciate the advisement you lend as I live in an area that I don't think there are a lot of vacation homes nearby.  However, I do have experience with low income housing that is disappearing in our area, but didn't realize that vacation rentals are replacing those venues, not just higher rent or demolition for vacation rentals.  This is why I love this board!

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17 minutes ago, VennDiagram said:

First, I would escalate this at the booking agency, to a manager, with a request that since communication with the "host" seems impossible, you want your money returned.

 

Second, if the booking agency doesn't refund/cancel your booking, I would speak with your credit card company, with a list of your attempts to resolve this with the booking agency AND the "host".  See if the cc company will do a charge-back to the booking agency.  You may need to escalate to a manager at the cc company, too.

 

I would NOT risk the "private home accommodation" actually performing as they have sort-of said they will.  Find another place, even if it means you all share a room for a night.

VennDiagram, thank you, I didn't think I had any recourse since I did book it as a nonrefundable, but I appreciate your advice think both you and Flatbush Flyer are on the right track, as I have never had this kind of anxiety booking at a hotel.

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Friends had a NIGHTMARE experience in NYC with an AirBnB type of accommodation.  (It included trying to get a cab in a less-than-great area at 10 pm, to go to the "other" place the "host" offered, and once at the other place, discovering that the shower was non-functional and there was no bedding.... it took them a while but they got their money back through AirBnB.  It seems you have to really work at it, be persistent, and [sometimes] take it to the media.  They didn't have to go to the media, but it took them a couple of months to get their refund.)  So try the booking agency first, and if you get pushback there, try the cc company.

 

 

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And the reason I prefer to book hotels !!

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I agree with VennDiagram. Unfortunately it may take some effort but you are NOT getting what you paid for which is an assurance that you will have a place to stay. Do what you can to document the issues you mention and escalate where you have to.

 

(I will also just add that I tend to agree with FF about the Air BnB thing. In addition to the odd changes they are bringing about in certain urban areas, I also feel that many of them do NOT meet safety standards that regulated hotels and the like must meet.

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Book a airport hotel for your first night late arrival. Then on day two you can sort out all your arrangements after a good nights sleep. . 

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6 hours ago, TessieTravels said:

Cruising Friends, I need some advice from some experienced travelers and I’m not quite sure where to post this question, so I’m starting here.  So, here's my story...I booked a "vacation rental" in Dublin pre-cruise for a place that was new to a vacation rental website and had no reviews. I thought to myself that the homeowner would likely be very conscientious being a new rental and wishing to get good reviews. Six months pass and the reviews are HORRIBLE, dirty, lack of communication, rental amenities not as described, etc.  So, I canceled the booking, come to find out, it was a nonrefundable.  I talk it over with DH and we decided reach out and ask the vacation rental agency if we can reinstate the booking so we don't lose the nonrefundable payment.  I'm told they would have to check with homeowner to see if he would be agreeable.  They contact me a day later and state that the homeowner is agreeable and that no extra charges would be added.  I was advised to reach out to the homeowner to give our arrival time.  I email the homeowner.  Two months later, no response.  I check the website that I booked the vacation rental and it shows that the rental is available during the time of our reservation, so I click on the button on the webpage to "ask (the owner) a question" and inform him that I attempted to communicate with him via email to confirm our reservation.  He responds within 6 hours stating he never received an email or payment with our names or the dates in question.  I reach out to the booking agency with our concerns.  They respond that they will look into it and a few days later, the website shows that the vacation rental in question is booked and I receive an email that the owner gave them a verbal agreement that he is indeed honoring our reservation, they are waiting for something in writing and to communicate with him of our arrival time.  So I send a message the same way I had the second time since it was more successful in getting his attention. Well, it has been a month now and the homeowner has not responded.  What would you do? I am inclined to just book another vacation rental and consider this as an expensive learning opportunity, especially since the reviews are not great.  DH is inclined to wait until we get to Dublin and see what happens (he's the spontaneous one, me...not so much), especially since we don't land in Dublin until 5:30 pm.  Would you book another (more reliable, better reviews) accommodation and double your accommodation cost or wait until you arrive to see if indeed the homeowner will be meeting us at his vacation rental and confirm that the accommodations are not as promised and then decided whether to stay or note at 7-7:30 in the evening after traveling 21+ hours (yes, I am aware I making the latter sound terrible so that you will advise the way I hope you will).  Since we are traveling with my mom, we didn't want to book a hotel and thought a vacation rental would be a better option and about the same cost as one (vs. two) hotel room.  I guess my quandary is that the homeowner is telling the booking agency that he is honoring the reservation (yet nothing in writing, just a verbal), but he is not responding to my queries.  What would you do? Please be kind in your judgments, as I have now learned to read the fine print and won’t be making that mistake again (or admitting it).  We leave in a few weeks and I am having a bit of anxiety.  Thank you in advance and I promise to let you all know what was decided and/or what happened when we arrived in beautiful Dublin (so excited)...

 

Might I suggest that you use paragraphs to make your post easier to read.

 

DON

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If it were me, I'd escalate to the management of the booking agency to try to get a refund, since this has been a mess for quite a while, and consider disputing the charge with your credit card company.


At the same time, I'd at least book one night in a hotel, just in case everything went pear-shaped on arrival. I'd probably look for a hotel where I can book the entire stay but only the first night is non-refundable if I cancel, so I'm covered either way. I know accommodation in Dublin can get tight over the summer, so I'd want to know I wouldn't be sleeping under a bridge -- although, if you add enough Whisky to the mix, maybe it'd be an authentically Irish experience? Walking in the shoes of the Pogues and some of the less-respectable Irish authors?

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Great advice so far.  Fully agree with pursuing recourse first from the booking agency.  It is a fact that you do NOT have confirmation of accommodation, so their non-refundable policy seems weak at best and perhaps legally unenforceable.   Without confirmation you really have not paid for anything, and even as for the original cancellation / reinstatement, I would lean back on those bad reviews as evidence of product offered not being delivered and therefore unreasonable to keep the entire booking cost.

 

You might even choose to negotiate forfeiting a part of your original cost as a good faith settlement of the dispute, anywhere from say, $100 to one night's rental, if it seems worth getting rid of the problem.

 

After you go as far as you can with that, if not resolved, the credit card company is next, and it's about disputing that the product is as offered.

 

If in the end you decide to hope for the best and keep the rental, I think booking a room in a hotel that first night makes a lot of sense, and get your mom set up there for the night either way.  You and your husband can go off and find the rental and hopefully the keys or whatever else is needed to get in there.  If that works out you can stay overnight to check the place out while mom is in her room and decide if you can live with it for the rest of the trip.

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Posted (edited)

If you are going to book on a vacation rental site, make sure to check the reviews of the host thoroughly. We recently stayed at a wonderful property in Rome with a superhost on Air Bnb who had many fantastic five star reviews. We would not have considered booking through other, lesser known sites as Air Bnb seems to have a good compensation system, and were only looking at Superhost accommodations. While I understand the challenges that Air Bnb can bring to local economies, at the same time, booking an Air Bnb saved us hundreds of Euros, and for such significant savings, it was simply not worth it for us to stay at a hotel. Moreover, the location was fantastic, and at the price point of living in that area, was not likely to have been occupied by low-income residents anyways. The host was lovely, great to communicate with, and we felt happy to be supporting him and his family as the rental was his main source of income as a retiree. 

 

However, with all the issues with the homeowner in question, I would not stay with them and continue to ask the booking company for a refund. Going off of the reviews, it does not seem like you will have a good experience with them even if they offer you accommodation. Keep the documentation from all your exchanges with the homeowner, because you definitely are not getting what you paid for. Part of the risk of staying with vacation rentals is that they can be much harder to deal with than staying with a hotel, especially in situations like this. Staying in a hotel, particularly one owned by an international chain, can help alleviate these concerns. However, I can't say that staying in vacation rentals is a bad option either, as our last vacation rental was a fantastic experience. It all comes down to personal preference and what you're willing to pay.   

Edited by simplyrubies

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Posted (edited)

We usually travel twice a year for two months at a time.  SE Asia/Australia or Central America in the winter, Greece, Italy, etc. in the fall.    It is primarily all spontaneous travel.  This allows to grab a last minute cruise when one that we like pops up.  

 

Have never done airbnb.  But we do stay at lots of different places-six stars to no stars.   We will pay in advance if we know the hotel/chain and are getting a good discount.   Often we see hotels on booking sites that require payment.  Then we contact the hotels directly and do not have to pay in advance.

 

We always check the accommodation before paying or presenting our credit card.  More than once we have walked (without paying) because the accommodation was not as advertised or not as promised.

You get to the point where you can discern fake reviews on tripadvisor from real ones.  Even down to which reviews from people from specific countries that we pay attention to.

 

I think the trick is to be flexible and not have a problem changing your plans on a dime so to speak.  If you do not like the accommodation or even the area then move on.   Two winters ago we planned a few weeks in the Philippines  We did not like it so we simply flew back to Thailand and spent the rest of our time there.

Edited by iancal

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I'm on the fence on AirBnB, VRBO and the like.  To me, it totally depends on where the place is located.  In my little town, it is getting close to impossible for service workers and seasonal employees to find housing because so many condo owners are getting out of the local rentals and putting their places up on AirBnB for vacationers.   But, I have a friend who spends part time (Summer) here in town then does Winters down where she grew up in Florida.  It's a beach vacation town.  She puts her beach cottage up on AirBnB for the summer.  Since she's retired, this is how she makes some extra income.  She's a Superhost.  Her place isn't for everyone - it is a rustic 1960s beach cottage across the street from the beach and a 5 minute walk to some of the best restaurants and bars in the area.  I LOVE it.  I stayed there last November and going again next month.   She's honest with her photos and descriptions so no surprises.  I wouldn't do a rental in a residential area - I understand the traffic issue. 

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On 4/20/2019 at 6:04 PM, TessieTravels said:

DH is inclined to wait until we get to Dublin and see what happens (he's the spontaneous one, me...not so much), especially since we don't land in Dublin until 5:30 pm.

An OK option if you don't mind sleeping on the street or in a fleabag hotel!

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At this point, these irresponsible people don’t sound like anyone whose place I’d want to stay in.  I would try to get out of this — you really aren’t even “in” it without the confirmation.  And even if you decide to go forward with this place, I would absolutely not turn up in Dublin without having booked a hotel room. 

 

Good luck! 

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The headline for this post made me think of dancing in the street, flash crowds, and the like.......but to answer the OP's question, my preference is to always have sound arrangements with hospitality hosts, which means reputable hotels. 

 

Temporary living quarters are such an integral part of our travels, and can make or break a trip.  That's why we like specific type cabins on certain decks in certain areas of a ship.  

 

Our land arrangements deserve the same type of scrutiny.

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Posted (edited)

If you are thinking of going ahead with spontaneous travel then simply make a decision on this.  Others cannot make it for you.

 

Walk or give it a try.   Your past payment is a sunk cost.  Choose one.  Lesson learned, move forward.  This is a simple problem, certainly not the end of the free world as we know it. 

 

This is not worth all the worry and agonizing over it.  

Edited by iancal

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As a backup, book a hotel with a refundable rate.  If everything turns out OK, you get your money back from the hotel.  If things go sideways, you've got the hotel.   

My trip to Europe with my best friend and her husband a few years ago is an example of "what can go wrong, but ends up OK."   We were going to stay at her ceramics teacher's apartment in Pisa to start.  A family emergency came up and she had to have family stay there instead.  She found us a wonderful agroturismo to stay at for the same price we were paying here.   At the end of the trip, we were in Paris.  The apartment we booked (they had stayed there before) through VRBO had a water pipe burst the day before we arrived.  The apartment owner found us another apartment to rent for the same price we had paid her (she gave the money to the new apartment owner).   As this was going on and they were dealing with the apartment owners, I was online with my company, seeing if there were any hotels with availability in case we needed it.  Then, my friend's husband had to leave a day early to get to London for a flight to Nairobi due to a last-second flight change.  I got him a last-minute reservation through my company and we got him on the train from Paris to London.   Always be prepared for the unexpected!!

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Posted (edited)

If you are arriving at 5:30PM there is not point in booking a refundable hotel since most have a 5 or 6PM drop dead time.

 

You should have no problem finding alternate accommodation at the last minute IF you prepare for it.  Do some on line work, pick a few places. Do some trial bookings the day that you leave to check pricing and availability.  Might not be for your entire stay but you will easily find a place for the night.

 

Make a list, note location (better if it is closer to the accommodation that you have already booked),  phone, and email. If you booked accommodation does not pan out on day 1 or 2, then move on and don't look back. 

 

When we travel, we invariable have it down to two or three places. Even after booking we keep the contact data/location for the other two handy.   Failing something like a long weekend, etc. you should have no problem in Dublin.  We did not.  Lots of good hotels and B&B's.    You should have no problem whatsoever if you are prepared.

Edited by iancal

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Maybe things have changed, but 10 years ago we spent two weeks in Ireland on a road vacation.  We had no problem finding bed and breakfasts whenever we felt like stopping for the night.  The homes woukd have signs in front advertising.  We stayed in dublin, right on McConnel st. About 3 miles from the tourust part of town.  Bus line right in front.  

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This was our experience as well.  In Dublin, and in other areas over the week.

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