On your side: Vacation rental condo booking disasters

If you're thinking of renting a vacation condo online instead of going with a chain hotel, there are a couple of things you should look out for.

Summer break is here but before you plan your next vacation pay close attention before reserving. 

Cozy vacation condos can make for a more homey getaway but customer service won't likely mirror the on-site staff at a chain hotel. 

Complaining Florida vacationers leave hundreds bad reviews on Yelp, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Facebook claiming their condo came with unexpected problems. 

Despite booking in advance some encountered dirty rooms, non-working utilities and last minute cancellations by the management company. 

Matt Cobey of Atlanta said his family spent hours locked out of his St. Augustine rental because he had been provided the wrong code, and no one answered the off-site office line. 

After finally obtaining the right code, he says he entered a room still dirty from previous guests.

"People are coming to vacation to enjoy a week away and not be bothered with inconveniences," said Cobey. "I feel a company can take advantage of people being from out of town and not knowing who to complain to."

One property management company explained their 16-page contract includes an "unforeseen circumstances" clause that covers them in most situations. The same contract also did not reference a turn around time for when maintenance concerns would be addressed. 

  1. Before booking, ask the management company how often units are inspected for problems in between occupants.
  2. Follow up several times before the travel date to ensure there has not been a cancellation on the owner's end.
  3. Contact customer service a week in advance during the same time of day you plan to arrive. You'll want to know if you can reach someone if you encounter a problem, many management companies do not have 24-hour office hours.
  4. Check online reviews and sites like the BBB as part of your research.
  5. Read the fine print in any agreement, especially cancelation, maintenance, and refund policies. 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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