Like the poster above I booked a villa in Vilamoura through Ownersdirect with RT who Ownersdirect advertised as the owner. Having contacted her to confirm a few details and check availability I sent £1350 as a deposit to the Millenium Bank in Vilamoura in December 2012 then sent the other £1350 in May this year. 2 weeks before I travelled Ownersdirect sent me an e-mail stating there was a problem and not to give her any more money (too late unfortunately). I managed to find another Villa and whilst in Vilamoura visited the Millenium Bank who knew all about her and were actively trying to locate her but could`nt help, I then reported it to the local police in Vilamoura who once again knew all about her before I had even mentioned her name. They took my statement and copies of any correspondance I had and seemed very keen to locate her and prosecute her. I have also reported it to Action Fraud.
I have spoken to Ownersdirect "Trust and Security Team" and they have been a disgrace - Having had to chase them up for the 5th time they informed me their investigation was complete and there was no fraud involved even though they had`nt contacted RT and did`nt know her company enjoysummerholidays.com had shut down and the shop is empty. They did`nt even know the same villa they had taken off their site was still being advertised for rent on their parent site Homeaway.com!!
Glynis can you pass on my e-mail address as well please
It's the owner of the villa that you have the contract with, not Owners Direct. You booked direct with the owner, and they are the ones responsible, not Owners Direct.
Another problem is that a number of people contacted Owners Direct before they paid the balance because they felt there may be a something wrong but were informed by them to go ahead even though they knew there was a problem. The Millenium Bank and the Police in Vilamoura have been looking for her for nearly 3 months, I was informed by e-mail on 16th August 2 weeks before I travelled that there may be a problem but they were investigating and would get back to me ( I had to ring them 9 days later to be told they have concluded their investigation and there was no f***d involved!!!), some people were told 2 days before they travelled. Ruth Tonge also double booked the week I had booked.
Long story short, we got to the villa.....no booking!
We immediately rung owners direct who put us through to their security team who told me the usual about validating the owner.....we did all that! They hack the email address and take over the owners owners direct account! Email them, ring them....you get a person, just not the owner! I registered this fraud when I returned with the police and uk on line fraud bureau who tell me that actually this is common and although owners direct claim its not their fault, the owners account was hacked....they say they are to blame as owners are targeted through owners direct as the security is so poor so it's easy to then take over owners accounts and defraud people.
Anyway, how much help did we receive from owners direct? None! Stuck in Menorca in peek season, 3 children 6,3 and 2 you would think they might try and help me get alternative accommodation or home....no! They didn't even call to check we were ok! I had to request their help with a couple of extra calls and got none!
Further more, you are covered under their basic guarantee.......I completed the forms 6 weeks ago and they won't even acknowledge my mails, confirm they have received anything.....nothing!
They are disgraceful. They don't care and you may think oh well I won't get hit this way, I am to clever, I have used owners direct plenty without issue..........as did I! Lets see how satisfied you are when someone hacks an owners account you book through! Happened to rather a lot of people this last 12 months! It's made the press, it's a common fraud! Sadly owners direct have done nothing to improve security or validation.....in fact they explained to me when we were stuck in Menorca that they represent lots of properties, they can't be expected to check them all! Well then! Oh and as I say, don't expect resolution back in the uk if it goes wrong! They won't even acknowledge you! If anyone knows if I can progress a case against owners direct outside the owners direct security team I would love to hear from you! Nice thing is the press love this so I have a few interviews lined up!
We've advertised with them on and off for about 12 years and for 11 of those years the service has been brilliant. However, lately their service level is shocking.
We have 3 properties advertised with them currently and we had one of our adverts hacked (in a similar way to the last post's experience) in February. We picked up on this only when a holidaymaker called me to challenge the full payment we'd asked to be sent to a spanish bank account, which clearly we hadn't. Long story short...both we and the holidaymaker reported this incident to the police and managed to resolve the issue. This should have been where the problem ended but is actually where my problems began.
I then notified OD Trust and Securities department of the incident. Firstly they took the moral high ground and told me that our then two adverts were being suspended. I then had to create two new email addresses before they'd let me re-instate the accounts, as they insist that each property has a different email address. When I did so and asked for the account to be re-instated it was still refused on the grounds that I used our main business email address as a catch all (to save me logging into different email addresses every day). This was despite me following their guidelines to the letter and setting up a 2 level login process with my emails, as they insisted the security breach had to be at my end. When I refused to do this I was told they would not re-instate my adverts. I decided to cut my losses and close my accounts.
I was called a few days later and persuaded to give them another go, which I stupidly did based on years of good service. Only for it all to go wrong again this week. This time we had three adverts, meaning 4 different email addresses and all of which had 2 step login security. I was getting SMS messages but no emails were arriving. When I then contacted the 'charmless' American person in Trust and Securities his first response was 'we need to suspend your accounts'. I challenged this and did then speak to another far nicer guy in the same department and thought it had been left with them doing some checks at their end and with me doing the same at mine, both regarding potential hacks. I was away at the time but cut short my break to get home on Friday to try to resolve the problem. I checked all my email addresses and there was no security breach from my end (as there had been previously). So I went to log into my accounts only to find they'd suspended all our accounts without telling me.
I then called them and as this was Good Friday, I was told there was no-one who could help me until Tuesday!!! I was so angry I asked for a managers contact name and email address but was told I had to fill in an online form and no names could be given to me. I'm not some random person but a longstanding customer of theirs and still they won't give me a name and direct email to lodge a complaint with.
I agree with other posters in OD defense that they can't police every advert but when things go wrong they used to get on the case immediately and treat all their customers with respect and care. Now they appear to have forgotten how to look after us all on both sides of the fence.
It was also interesting to read that it's generally common knowledge that their site is insecure, so hacks could easily be at their end. Yet they don't recognise this and continue to treat us owners as if we're the guilty party.
I've posted my views on their Facebook page and suggest others who are having the same shoddy treatment should do the same.
Being fully aware that ‘Owners Direct’ is just a vehicle for owners to advertise their properties, I contacted the apartment owner, with a list of problems. Rather than address the problems, she accused me of being “offensive & rude”, and she later went on to threaten me with the police!!!
So I wrote a review to the ‘Owners Direct’ website, which was accepted and published……… Only to be removed later. Another review had been published, praising the apartment, and the local manager, but going by the wording, it appeared to be a ‘put up job’.
I contacted ‘Owners Direct’, asking why my review had been removed, and about the subsequent, possibly fictitious, review. I was told they couldn’t comment on the second review, they had to accept it as genuine!!! And my review had been removed because; I’d mentioned the owner, not by name, only her attitude, which I thought was something potential renters, should know about. Anyway, I sent another review, not mentioning the owner at all; just a brief outline of the apartments faults....... This review was rejected within minutes.
It seems that I’ve been black listed; after all, it
isthe owners that pay ‘Owners Direct’, not the renters!!!
I did consider using them and sent off 8 enquiries, only received 4 replies (how rude of the others not to even reply if they were booked).
One of the replies was that they were available but were trying to sell and couldn't guarantee new owners would want to let the property, so at least they were honest about it and another the price info was wrong, my dates covered two price periods and detail implied I would get two days at a high rate and five at a low rate, but then they decided it was all 7 at the high rate. Many of the availability calendars were not updated, most wanted payment by bank transfer or cheque so impossible to get protection with a Credit Card under Section 75 or the Debit Card Chargeback scheme.
In the end I decided I did not actually want to deal direct with owners as it was too stressful and easier to deal with Villa Company's that are ABTA and ATOL bonded and take cards, even if it costs a bit more.
I have an upcoming booking and the communications with the owner have been great , I have paid by bank transfer and have no problem with that , I have a UK address for them where I sent the booking form , they actually charged me the June rate even though only 2 days of the weeks holiday are in June , they have let me have a late checkout on the last day from 10am to 3pm ( when I want to leave to catch my flight ) for only £30 extra .
I do spend a long time looking and viewing and I'm quite fussy about details , if something doesn't feel right from the initial enquiry and communications then I will not follow on and do business , I'm fair , polite and pay on time , I expect a reciprocal service .
I have really enjoyed the places I've stayed at , because they are personally owned and used by the owners they have many personal touches and high standard of furnishings , fabrics and utensils .
So far there has been no reason for me not to use them , I don't do reviews , I just send an email to the owner on our return .
For the 1st time this year, they have had serious breaches of security in their system, out of 30 requests for rental, 27 at least were obviously fake demands attempting to "phish" and capture our emails settings.
Furthermore, several emails purportedly sent by Ownersdirect were in fact fraudulent messages re-directing me on a fake page asking for passwords and credit card details.
Their duty as an agent in the rental of our house is allegedly to screen the requests before sending them on to owners.
Their system fails again and again to do so.
When confronted (several times) with the issue, they take the vue that phishing and fraud on the net are unavoidable and occur with most websites.
I have used Amazon, Google, Ebay, Air B&B, Gumtree and countless sites to buy, sell or otherwise book a service and never had a problem.
The truth is that Ownersdirect is poorly equipped in defence systems and is in denial about it.
Whether you are an owner listed with them, or a user trying to rent, you are not protected, and you may well end up paying a fake owner or getting a client who does not exists.
The problem with these independent advertising sites is that the owners of the properties can put what they want in the advert and the properties are never checked at any point by the advertising company to make sure it is genuine.
I did put a negative review of the property on the Owners Direct website and mine was the first review of the property and amazingly within six weeks six more reviews were added all of which gave them perfect or near perfect reviews. I could not believe it.
The people who own this property also own two similar properties in the same area both of which I have heard bad reviews of.
Never again would I book a property through one of these Independent Advertising sites unless it specifically states that they have been inspected and verified by them.
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