I was on ITV Anglia on the 20th April talking about a bad experience someone had with using an online holiday letting website and how you can protect yourself. So thought a post providing more information would be useful.With the increase in sites such as AirBNB, HomeAway.co.uk and HolidayCottages.co.uk more and more people are letting their homes and holidaymakers are taking advantage of the additional competition and range of places to stay. However, with an increase of availability comes of course an increase in problems.
I’ve been hearing a growing number of complaints from people who have booked through these type of sites. So how can you protect yourself when looking for somewhere to stay?
- Only book through a third party site which has a clear refund policy and which takes secure payments by credit card. Don’t book directly if the owner tries to get you to do this, as you will have less protection. Airbnb, for example, will ban a host who tries to get a guest to book directly.
- You wouldn’t buy a high-priced item from an unknown shop or person without reservations or putting some checks in place, so be careful of doing it online.
- The site should display a valid postal address, a working customer service email address and phone number and have a good “About us” page.
- Check out reviews about the property on the booking and on other sites. Google the place to get a good feel of what is being said about it. If there are not many reviews, ignore the very best and the very worst. There are such things as fake reviews, both from competitors and friends and family of the property owners!
- When you arrive, if there are any problems, take pictures or film with running commentary, ensuring that they are all dated and timed. This will make for good evidence should you need to complain.
- If possible, ask the landlord to be present at time of you taking over the property to makes notes of any damage or breakages and sign a document to this effect.
- Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to services that are carried out with reasonable skill and care. The property and its facilities must also be as described. So, if the property does not match the description, you’ve been misled or the site or owner has provided you with services not carried out with reasonable skill and care then you can use this law to gain redress. This may be a partial or full refund, for example.
To complain effectively see Top 20 Tips.
How to complain when booking a service based in the EU – covers two stories one of them for Rip Off Britain) I dealt with regarding Booking.com where EU law was used to gain redress.
What to do when ripped off by a hotel – more information regarding complaining about hotels
All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights – links to various posts regarding stories, advice, tips and your rights for various aspects of booking and taking your holiday/flights.
GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! for more information, tips, advice, consumer rights, stories and template letters for complaining about most issues in most sectors!