A Quincy woman says her summer vacation rental was nothing like it appeared to be in the online listing.
Judi Marcus called our NBC10 Boston Responds team for help getting her money back after her online review of a ruined vacation was blocked.
"Every curtain was filthy and needed to be washed," said Marcus. "It was neglected, it was dirty, and it was so obvious even on the initial walkthrough."
Marcus has a laundry list of complaints about the house she rented in Maine for a week in July, and plenty of pictures.
"Coffee mugs that had either dirt or black mold in the bottom of them … there was an electric outlet hanging out of the wall, and I'm there with my 3-year-old granddaughter," she said. "In my bedroom, the wallpaper was all peeling off … We found dirty underwear underneath the bed. Somebody else's dirty underwear. That kind of really gave me the shivers."
Marcus says the property and the furniture were not as they were represented in the Vrbo listing.
"The dining room showed a really pretty oak table with oak chairs and that didn't exist," she said. "There was an old crappy table there with eight chairs, and three of them were broken."
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Marcus says the number she had for the property owner, who is a Vrbo Premier Host, was disconnected, but she eventually tracked him down.
"He said the house is rustic. I said, 'I know what rustic is. Rustic is mismatched plates and exposed wood. This isn't rustic, this is rundown, and nobody cares. This place needs a contractor to come in here, you have exposed wiring, you have mold in your bathrooms, this is not rustic,'" she recalled.
And she says she spent hours on the phone over the next few days with Vrbo trying get the situation resolved.
"We're on day four of my seven-day vacation, and we're still in limbo here," said Marcus. "I'm still in a house that I don't want to be in, that doesn't look like I agreed to, and nobody wants to talk to me."
Vrbo returned Marcus' traveler service fee, and she says they promised to rebook her, but they never did. So she and her family found and paid for another place to stay and left the rental.
She says she called NBC10 Boston Responds when her negative reviews of the property were rejected by Vrbo.
"It really made me mad to think that they could edit my review so that I didn't even have the power to write a negative review," she said.
Vrbo tells NBC10 Boston it determined that Marcus' booking was not eligible for rebooking or lodging assistance under their "Book With Confidence Guarantee" because the property "did not meet the criteria for significant misrepresentation."
After we asked why she was initially told she was eligible for rebooking, the company refunded her $2,089.81.
Asked about the reviews Marcus submitted, Vrbo said in a statement, "We encourage all travelers to leave an honest review after their stay. A review will only be rejected for violating the Content Guidelines, and will never be rejected simply for being negative. Vrbo has a strict reviews policy to ensure we operate a fair review platform for all parties involved."
Marcus is glad to have her money back, but she says she won't book through Vrbo again.
"I'll never use them again," she said. "Even though they are giving me my money back, it doesn't make up for the hours that we spent on the phone while on vacation."
Vrbo's Book with Confidence Guarantee has a lot of terms and conditions. It does not cover you on the grounds of the cleanliness of the rental property or for temporary issues such as failure of the air conditioning or internet service. Renter reviews are your best bet for information on what to expect, so read them carefully.
If you have a consumer problem you need help with, reach out to us here or call 1-888-521-NEWS.