DO NOT use Ownersdirect. I booked a flat through this company - also known as HomeAway.co.uk but it has many international names, in Edinburgh for the Festival.
The flat looked OK on the advert, but it turned out the flat advertised was nothing like the real address, not available and the person letting defrauded me of my rent. However the problem is that Owners direct/HomeAway had done nothing to verify this address or screen the advert. The simplest basic search would have stopped them advertising this. And what's more, they refuse to let me have their claim form to make a claim for payment of my losses incurred, despite calls, letters and email. If you search on line, you will see this is a company that has a track record of poor customer care. If it goes well, fine, but don't rely on them in relation to the advertised flat or if anything goes wrong.
Maybe you were just unlucky but no reason to tell others not to us the site just because of one bad experience.
Which claim form are you wanting. Owners Direct isn't part of the contract and doesn't deal with any sort of mediation. You would have to contact the owner of the property about getting your money back.
Usually when enquiring about accommodation you will be put into direct contact with the owner, so you can ask lots of questions, and gauge whether you think everything is as advertised. We have used Holiday-Rentals to hire accommodation and also HolidayLettings. So far,(touch wood) we have had good experiences, but it is a risk you take when you book via any of these websites. They are merely acting as a 'middle-man'. Maybe paying by credit card would give you some protection. I also don't think you can be justified in warning people not to use this website, this could have happened to you using any one of a huge number of websites.
However, my advice is to perform your own due diligence. Ideally, try to contact (and speak to) someone who has stayed there before. Many of the sites have reviews and checking these out is also worthwhile.
Also, try to find properties that have been listed for at least a couple of years: most of the scam artists are "hit and run" merchants.
For the same reason, avoid sites like Craigslist, which allow scam artists to post advertisement and disappear quickly.
For those of you who are Pro-Owners Direct I would warn you against the owner we just used. OD Listing ID: Gr623 (please note the date this was posted as the listing could change)
When searching on the site - we looked for properties with heated pools as we were going to be on holiday in early April. When we booked for 5 days there was a surcharge of £150 since we were booking under 7 days. To us this wasn't unusual so we went ahead. Once we arrived at the property - there were no instructions about the property, nearest amenities in town, etc. So we just started to settle in and went into town. The next morning we woke up and didn't have any hot water. We called the property manager because we also realised the pool heating wasn't on. His response was 'here is how you turn on the hot water, as for the pool it wasn't mentioned to us that it would need to be turned on and you'll need to talk directly to the owner about that since it takes 3-4 days to heat up and we don't have it running all the time as it is really expensive.'
While I appreciate that it is expensive to heat the pool - that to me seemed as something that should have been factored into the price and was similarly priced to other heated pool properties. We contacted the owner and it took her two days to get back to us and stated 'everyone asks specifically for that to be turned on. For it to be turned on will be £550 on top of the rental costs. I can turn it on however, it does take 3-4 days to heat up.' From a renters perspective, it is false advertising. No where on the profile or with emails with the owner was the extra charge called out, or was it asked if we would want to have the pool heated. The ad said that there was heating so we assumed it would be there.
I want to warn others against this owner since OD doesn't have a feedback system that shows what the actual users are saying. I wish I'd found this out prior to our booking as we weren't able to enjoy the feature that we'd paid a higher price rental charge for the 5 day holiday to enjoy some sun.
We currently haven't heard back from the owner as we've mentioned that we believe she has violated Consumer Protection Law and the local Trading Standard. As we haven't heard back I'm just trying to warn others as I know this owners has at least 4 other properties in Crete and wouldn't want anyone else to miss out on a great holiday experience.
Found a lovely villa on a complex I am familiar with, first hing I have come accross is that the owners keep specifying payment by debit card not credit card, this is a hire worth £1250 a week and because they won't allow credit cards if I book I have no way to protect this money at all. If this goes went wrong the first thing I would be asked was did you book by credit card.
I can understand why people still pay through the nose through larger company's. The owners gstate that they are UK based but don't disclose their address so if the place is appalling and nothing like the photos you have no way of taking them to the small claims court to sue if the property and services are not as advertised.
Private rental seems to be a one way street with no protection for the renter and stacked in favour of the owners.
I can't see anyway of verifying if the references from 'satisfied customers' are true they could be a complete work of fiction. Can't see how you could call them. It seems impossible to do your own due diligence checks to me, but if anyone has any tips on how to do so, maybe something I am missing, I would be grateful.
Think I will investigate that further as might address some if my concerns, but still doesn't help if you get there and find the place is not as advertised, or they have used ancient photographs to advertise with.
I had to sign up just to make comments relevant to this post. This is from the perspective of a property renter using various rental sites.
We currently own several apartments on the same complex for rent at Sami, Kefalonia. We are primarily sales people so renting was new to us, but i thought hey lets try it. So we furnished two of our apartments and started looking for advertising the middle of May this year. The first 'buzz word' we were hearing from friends was 'Owners Direct', you have to use Owners Direct. I will clarify the following points, based on real experience, of Owners Direct versus Holiday Lettings:
These were the first two 'major sites' lets say that we started advertising with, Owners Direct was an annual payment, but Holiday Lettings offered us a commission based option, which tbh we took because it took the headache initially out of receiving credit card payments, handling deposits etc, we were fully aware that on a nett nett basis this would cost us more, but we just wanted things as smooth as possible for our first experience and season.
Owners Direct doesnt offer this service, so from the start your pretty much at the mercy of handling rental invoices, deposit invoices etc. Granted this doesnt sound like much, but like many people in our position we are incredibly busy people and just wanted things as smooth as possible for the first season, and were more than willing to take a little on the chin, So at this stage, +1 to holiday lettings.
Second point, the actual 'setup' and display of ones properties. If like us you have more than property to rent, Owners Direct sucks, because it effectively just 'lumps' everything into one big profile, which is confusing to the customer amongst many other issues. For comparison, holiday lettings allows completely segregated profile options for each property, and is light years ahead in terms of customer clarity. +1 to holiday lettings.
Thirdly, actual technical setup of said properties, well Owners Direct, i dont know where to start, i've been using the internet a long time, 20 odd years, and am IT qualified, but the owners direct setup options and display resembles something from the 90's. Dont get me wrong, you can find your way around it, but tbh my 14 year old son could make something more visually efficient and effective, i have no idea who decided 'we'll go with something from yester-year, make our clients second guess every options and entry, and generally just stress them out and piss them off'. For comparison, holidaylettings is beautifully and efficiently layed out, a 5 year old could use it. +1 again to holiday lettings.
Finally, actual results, we've been advertising approximately 6 weeks with both, we have received 7 confirmed and paid for bookings with holiday lettings, and have yet to receive a confirmed booking with owners direct. Also the traffic, views etc are also with an extreme majority with holiday lettings.
Bottom Line - Owners Direct is well over hyped from a renters perspective, the site is pants, period. If you want to rent your properties, go with holidaylettings any day of the week. For reference, we currently use 10 difference websites, including flipkey and a few other smaller private sites, but holiday lettings is seriously miles ahead of everything else.
my 2 pence
Would any property manager or home owner, give out information on obtaining a key to a property, before the guest has disclosed their own address, which after 6 requests, they still refused to do? And why refuse to disclose the name of the other guest?
Our Terms and Conditions and Booking Requirements are very clear and to date, we have never had anyone dispute them. If a person has no intention of abiding thereby, why proceed with and pay for the reservation?
Your reservation was cancelled due to the aggressive and threatening emails sent and your refusal to comply with our Terms and Conditions and Booking Requirements. This is the first booking I have ever personally cancelled after more than 30 years in the hospitality industry.
Your malicious and vindictive campaign to smear me as an individual, and Algarve Getaways as a company and your claiming that we failed to refund you despite being repeatedly requested to confirm your bank details, is clearly indicative of your simplistic, biased and untrue version of events.
For the record, your refund was deposited into your bank account that we had details in respect of, despite your failure to confirm this as being the correct account. I first asked on Friday, whilst you 'campaigned' all weekend and the money was in your account on Monday morning!
I make no apologies for screening our guests and for requesting necessary personal details primarily for security reasons and do not subscribe to veiled threats, abuse or intimidatory tactics.
Anyone who Googles or searches TripAdvisor for 'Algarve Getaways', will see that the company has an excellent track record and a reputation to be proud of. We take great care to ensure that all our apartments and villas are of the very highest standard and that our guests will have the very best holiday experience and we follow up each and every one afterwards with a feedback request, to continuously improve our high standard of service and excellence.
Traveller9 wrote:I wish I had read this thread earlier!
I booked a holiday let through HomeAway with owner Algarve Getaways. They cancelled my holiday letting a month before the booking. This followed my difficulty in getting information on accessing the let. I had paid in full (by bank transfer) and they still would not even give me the full address of the resort. I still have not had a refund. Algarve Getaways insisted I provide flight numbers and arrival / departure times, names of other guests etc. I didnâ€™t have all of this information as I hadnâ€™t firmed up plans. They already had my full name, UK mobile, my e-mail address, my bank account details.
When I told Algarve Holidays I did not yet have the information they still required, the member of staff warned me that if she herself was travelling when I did send her the information she demanded, then she still wouldnâ€™t be able to get back to me with information about the key. I complained that I found dealing with them difficult and Algarve Getaways then cancelled my visit. I still havenâ€™t received the refund for my stay. I'm going with ABTA members from now on!
Since it seems travel industry folk use this site, would anyone be able to tell me if it is reasonable that I am not given details about the apartment address and getting keys if I didn't have the abovementioned info Algarve Holidays asked for? If I don't get a refund, does anyone have any ideas on how I might be able to put pressure on them to get it?
Any views / advice appreciated!
I tend to book with James Villas and they not only require my full name and address as lead booker, but they also require the names and details of all others who will be staying in the villa at the point I book.
This applys to villa only bookings, not just bookings where a flight is included.
It is not an unreasonable request for an agent to want to know who and how many quests will be staying prior to letting you know details of key collection arrangements.
I don't think you will find it any different with ABTA members I you will find they are more strick on this rather then less strick as I have also booked Villas with Cosmos Holidays and they had the same requirements.
I am a user (as a customer) and a supplier (an owner) on owners direct.
The key as to whom you are dealing with is in the website name.. you are dealing DIRECTLY with the OWNER.
Just because you are dealing directly with an individual, it does not negate the need for due diligence.
Every customer and supplier should have a contract between them.
I issue a 2 page A4 contract with each booking that states what the client is getting and how much they are paying for what they are getting. If a client pays by cheque or bank transfer after both parties have signed the contract there is full auditabilitry and traceability.
Clearly, getting your money back from an owner for dissatisfaction MAY be more tricky than it is from a company.. you are reliant upon goodwill for both (unless you can prove breach of contract)
I have many very happy clients, but I have had the odd complaint (it was too hot .. it was too remote), both of which could have been easily validated in advance by the client had they bothered to check the weather in Tuscany in August, or looked at the map I supplied and the detailed notes I wrote.
The golden rule is do your research and dont work to a standard that is less than you'd accept working with a small company.
Kopwllheli wrote:We booked a villa with Owners direct with RT in January this year, who was supposed to be the owner according to Owners Direct. We couldn't pay by credit or debit card, couldn't get a receipt and when pushed for one, the "lady" stopped answering phone calls, emails and Owners Direct removed her listing. When we contacted Owners Direct they advised they were aware of the problem with this lady but as they couldnt get hold of her, they weren't able to help. They have admitted that they knew she was not the owner and we are over £2,300 out of pocket and have to book another villa at a cost of another £2,000. What a mess!!!
We have contacted Action ***** and made an online statement regarding RT and Owners direct, they will take more notice if there are several claimants, I recommend that other people do the same thing. They are on the web.
If the person that put up the false listing is domiciled in the UK, and you have their name and address there is nothing to stop you from sueing them. There is a solicitor who deals with travel related cases listed at the top of this board called Simpson Millar, who others have used succesfully. You could also try the small claims court.
I don't think you will get anywhere with Owners Direct as they are just a listings site and will claim you should have done checks yourself to see if the listing was genuine. Although it is shabby of them to state they knew there was problems with this Lady, but they were still putting through bookings of £2300 - very poor on their part.
Unfortunately If this person isn't domiciled in the UK then it's a lot harded to deal with the legal system in another Country and you might have to right the 2.3k off.
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