Vacation Booking Site Complaints, False Rental Listing Warning

A customer experiences surprise charges after booking her vacation online. What can you do if this happens to you? Additionally, we have a warning about fake vacation rental ads on all common websites.

Help with problems when booking a vacation trip

As you’ve been thinking about booking your summer trip, you’ve probably noticed that there are plenty of third-party booking websites you can use. We told you about Dayna Hickman, mom from Mont Belvieu, who was frustrated when she was charged an unexpected fee after booking a vacation on Vrbo. She ended up canceling the trip and getting a refund.

If you are having trouble with an online travel booking site, According to the Texas Attorney General’s Office before filing a complaint and doing these things:

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  • Climb the chain of command with the company

If the customer service representative isn’t helping you, ask to speak to the manager. Sometimes contacting head office is your best bet. Businesses thrive on public notices, so they’ll usually want to fix the problem for you.

  • File a complaint (or three!)

When the company does not help you file a complaint and do not stop at just one. You can complain to the Federal Trade Commission, Texas Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau. The BBB will contact the company on your behalf to try to resolve the issue.

  • Last resort: Small Claims Court

Consumer attorney Ryan Marquez tells us you could also take the company to small claims court if they don’t return your money. To do this you need to send a warning letter and sometimes that is enough. (In this previous story, Amy explains how to take a business to Small Claims Court.)

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What to do if you have been misled by a fake vacation rental ad?

the The Texas Attorney General’s website also warns to be scammed by fake holiday booking advertisements on the Internet. If you found the rental ad fraudulent online or have been scammed online, report it to the website where the ad was posted. Also, report it using the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center.

The Texas AG website has helpful tips on how to spot common rental scams.


  • Look at photos of the rental property and maps of the area before renting the property.

  • Make sure the property is located near the sights and attractions you want to visit.

  • Make sure the person renting the house or property to you is the true owner. If not, make sure they have been authorized to rent the property by the landlord.

  • Find out if there have been any complaints about the landlord or listing agent. To do this, contact the national consumer protection office.

  • Contact the real estate licensing agency where the holiday home is located to find out your rental rights.

  • Make sure payment and refund policies are written in your contract. Pay with a credit card so you can dispute the rental amount if something goes wrong.

  • If you book accommodation through an online rental platform, beware if the host asks you to pay or communicate outside of the rental platform.


  • Do not pay cash, cashiers check or wire transfer until you are sure the rental is legitimate. Money sent by bank transfer or bank transfer cannot be refunded.

  • Remember to carefully review the photos of your potential rental. Look for signs of tampering or modification to make the rental more appealing. You can also reverse the image search on an image if it looks suspicious.

  • Don’t answer strange questions about yourself or your family. Your answers could make it easier for scammers to get your personal information.

  • Do not hesitate to ask for opinions, references or certifications from the owner or management company.

  • Don’t skip reading the rental agreement before making a deposit.

Help with planning summer trips: Here are some things you can do to save money when booking travel online.

We get more questions from you and we love it! If you have a question for Amy and the team, email us at [email protected] and we’ll work to find an answer for you.

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