Charlotte woman books cabin for Boone via Airbnb, property manager disappears after large deposit
BOONE, NC (WBTV) – A woman from Charlotte turned to the WBTV Investigates team after her attempts to get a refund from Airbnb got her nowhere.
The property she leased was managed by a company that is under investigation by the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, and despite ample evidence, Airbnb was slow to resolve the issue.
Susan Tondreau used Airbnb to book a mountain cabin near Boone with her friends from college for mid-November.
Like many homes on the platform, the rental of the property was managed by a company, this one called High Country Vacation Homes.
But just over a month before his trip, Tondreau got a call from the owner of the house.
“The owner told me that High Country Vacation Homes are under investigation for a great many complaints,” Tondreau said.
WBTV Investigates has contacted the North Carolina Real Estate Commission and confirmed that High Country Vacation Homes is under investigation by the commission.
A registration application revealed 15 separate complaints against the company from landowners saying High Country had not paid them rental income for months.
WBTV tried to call the owner of High Country Vacation Homes and even came by the office location but never got a response.
Despite known issues with the property management company, Trondeau said she received little help from Airbnb.
“My reservation is made through Airbnb, hosted by High Country Vacation Homes. So I asked Airbnb to get involved to help me verify the host, ”Tondreau said.
Tondreau was going to try to rent the house directly through the owner but had already given AirBnB a deposit of $ 1,200, and the remainder was due on November 1.
“If I cancel, I get less than $ 200,” Tondreau said.
But Tondreau said Airbnb’s customer service is sorely lacking as she begins to receive an apology from AirBnB on their messaging portal.
“We have a large number of requests. I pass your request on to a member of our team who can better help you. My shift is about to end, I will get back to you in two days and there is still no one who has, ”Tondreau said of the apology she received.
Asher Fergusson, a travel blogger who has written extensively on Airbnb issues, told WBTV that the issues Tondreau faces are common.
“It’s almost like a black hole and it was our personal experience trying to get refunds for our Parisian nightmare and it’s almost like they want to wear you out,” Fergusson said. “People are looking to Twitter or Facebook or the media to try to bring it into the public domain, trying to pressure the public for the reimbursement.”
The pressure from WBTV appeared to help Tondreau.
After WBTV Investigates contacted Airbnb, Tondreau received a full refund and High Country Vacation Homes was suspended and is under investigation.
Tondreau also received a $ 450 coupon for his next stay.
“We canceled Ms. Tondreau’s reservation and refunded it in full, and we sincerely apologize for the delay. We have suspended this ad and this host as we investigate further, ”an Airbnb spokesperson wrote in an email.
However, Trondeau said the experience will stick with her.
“I am appalled at the service I got,” Tondreau said. “It’s sad to say that, you know, when my reservation comes and goes, will someone else end up in the same place as me?” “
Fergusson gave some advice for people looking to book their next vacation:
– Always use a credit card when booking.
– Book with a reputable company, preferably with customer service on site.
– If you booked through Airbnb and you have a problem, be persistent and continually search Airbnb for a resolution.
– Never book accommodation without a review on Airbnb and only book accommodation with an average rating of 4.85 stars or higher.
– Use the search box and look for keywords that you might have a problem with, like bugs or mold.
– Only stay with guests who have verified official ID.
– Try to avoid professional Airbnb owners who have dozens or even hundreds of properties.
– Document everything wrong with photo and video evidence
More blogs on Airbnb by Asher Fergusson:
If you have a tip or complaint that you would like WBTV to investigate, email our team at [email protected].
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