July 20, 2024
The vacation rental Carol Wilson books for her group through Vacasa is infested with rats and insects. Vacasa offers to refund one night, but can they get all of their money back?

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I planned a trip for a group from a small rural town in Kansas. I booked a vacation rental in Galveston, Texas, through Vacasa. From the start, the stay was truly horrible. The house had not been cleaned. As the days went by, things only deteriorated. We found rats, cockroaches and bedbugs. The air conditioner went out, and the owners didn’t repair it.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

I have kept a record of all calls, texts and emails to Vacasa, but have received very little back in terms of responses. Vacasa staff members promise to get back to us, but don’t.

Vacasa has offered to refund one night of our stay. We want a full refund. Can you help us get our $6,292 back?

— Carol Wilson, Wichita, Kansas

ANSWER: Your vacation rental was a dump. According to your notes, the house hadn’t been cleaned when you arrived. There was trash in the house, and the outside garbage bins were overflowing. The toilets hadn’t been cleaned. The beds weren’t made. And that was before you discovered rodents and insects.

If you ever check into a rental like that again, here’s my advice: Leave immediately!

Obviously, no one had serviced the home, and it wasn’t ready for you. Does Vacasa guarantee that your home will be clean? In fact, Vacasa promises that its homes will be squeaky clean — or, in its words, premium clean. “Our professional team is committed to providing clean and safe homes for our guests and owners each and every stay,” they state.

It appears Vacasa fell far short, at least in your case. I see a lot of back and forth with Vacasa in your paper trail. At some point, it might have been more useful to appeal your case to someone higher up. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Vacasa customer service managers on my consumer advocacy website, Elliott.org.

At the risk of repeating myself, I don’t think you should have ever accepted this rental. But you did, and that complicates things. Your group not only stayed in this inferior rental, but you also cleaned the property and purchased trash bags, new pillows and blankets, and laundry detergent. You were trying to be accommodating, but your willingness to stay in the rental and be good renters really made things more difficult for you.

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Because your group stayed in the property, Vacasa assumed you found the accommodations acceptable. Like all vacation rental companies, it has a policy for offering refunds when something goes wrong. Staying in the rental means you have accepted the accommodations, and that makes a full refund all but impossible.

Unless, of course, you call me. I asked Vacasa to take another look at your group’s experience. I also forwarded some of the photos of the property. Vacasa contacted you and raised its offer to $3,200, or about a 50% refund. Your group is happy with that resolution.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at elliottadvocacy.org/help/.
(c) 2023 Christopher Elliott
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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