I had just had a really bad experience with Airbnb (an issue mainly due to lack of cleanliness) so I decided to try Vrbo for the very first time. I finally found a space that was a new listing, but had one 5-star review so I figured I would be ok trying it out. I arrived 3 hours earlier than my check in time just to see the location of the house. I wasn’t happy with the location, since it felt unsafe for me as a woman on her own, to drive at night. However, after the bad experience at Airbnb, I really didn’t want to make a big deal of things or create any kind of conflict. I arrived and saw one woman, who I later found out was the owner of the house, cleaning. I stayed outside of the property for 15 minutes while I made a phone call, then decided to leave since I had arrived too early. I did notice that throughout my whole texting conversation with the owner she kept mentioning that she had a cleaning & repair crew that would go replace the washer (and that’s why I had to wait to check in until 4pm). I noticed the whole time I was there that I only saw her, one person, and thought it was odd that she had felt that it was necessary for her to lie about having a “cleaning crew”, but again, I didn’t want to create any conflict. I just needed a clean, safe space to spend 2 weeks in quarantine before heading home to my grandparents. When I finally checked in, the owner was still in the garage. I immediately felt uncomfortable that she was there at the property because I had been very specific about going out of my way to isolate before heading home to my 80-year old grandparents. Again, I didn’t make a big deal out of it. I also noticed that there was a washer and a large amount of trash right by the entrance. Not a good view, it immediately felt like a very lack-of-class move and like she didn’t’ even actually bother making the place look nice for her guest. Again, I didn’t say a word. The driveway and entryway were full of dead leaves, grass was overgrown, it just felt cheap and like the owner had not even made a small effort to make the place look decent for me. I walked inside and took a quick tour of the place just to check if I saw anything crazy. 1. Kitchen zinc still had a piece of cilantro on the side. (Not a big deal, but big warning flag that maybe she had not cleaned the space as well as she promised). 2. One of the toilets still had brown spots all over. I immediately took a picture, since I’m assuming that was feces that she didn’t bother to clean. I went to the other bathroom and even though it wasn’t super clean, I didn’t see any feces so I decided to just use that one. I didn’t want to create conflict and I brought my own cleaning supplies so I figured I could clean myself. I went back outside and started unpacking. She was still there for another 2 hours in the garage, which she said she used as storage. Again, I didn’t make a big deal about it. But it did bother me that I felt that she was invading my space. I know that it is her property, but I had paid a lot of money just to have privacy and it felt like she wasn’t respecting my space. It felt intrusive.
Since day 1 I wasn’t able to sleep well because there was a very loud noise coming from outside or the walls right by the bedroom. Eventually I got up and searched for an animal outside or in between the plants but I wasn’t able to find anything. The noise kept on going and I was just so tired that I passed out and didn’t find out what it was. Next morning, I woke up and tried to watch the TV. It wasn’t working. I texted the owner and she was nice enough to come take a look. I asked her to please stay outside since I was quarantining. She did stay outside for 30 minutes but since she wasn’t able to fix the TV, she eventually came in. Again, I didn’t feel comfortable having her come inside, but I wanted to have a TV, so I allowed her to come in and stayed in my car for a little over an hour until she fixed it. I thanked her for helping me solve it and for wearing a mask like I had requested, but I did feel disappointed that she had not had the TV and space fully ready before my arrival and that I had to allow her into the home, when the whole purpose of me renting that space was to be able to avoid any kind of human contact. That night, I couldn’t sleep again with the animal noises, but she had been annoying the last time she was there, and I didn’t want to unintentionally open another window for her to come back in again, so I didn’t text her about it. About 2 days after this, there was a tornado warning and the alarms were ringing. I had not experienced this before and I immediately texted her since I didn’t know where to seek shelter or what to do. She only responded after the alarms and alerts were over. I understand that she doesn’t control the weather. However, I was disappointed that as a Vrbo Host, she didn’t have a safety manual or some kind of guideline letting people who didn’t grow up in the area know what to do in case of a tornado. Apparently, it was tornado season in Irving, TX so she would have been aware that a tornado was likely to happen.
Up to this point, it’s all issues that bothered me but since I don’t like to create conflict, I simply let them go. However, the real horror story starts on Sunday, Nov. 29. I was very cold that day and decided to turn up the heater. I pressed the heater about 6 times but the temperature wouldn’t stay at 76, so I decided to text the owner very politely and ask her if the thermostat was working. Long story short, she went completely crazy after this. She started sending me screenshots of the current temperature of the home; that’s when I realized that she could see and control the temperature of the home from her phone. It’s not that the thermostat wasn’t working, but every time I tried to put the temperature above 70 (this is in late November), she would immediately turn it off. Then she started texting me non stop for hours, like a completely crazy person. She texted that she would come to the home next day and fix the thermostat because it was broken. It wasn’t broken, she just wanted to set it up so that I wouldn’t be able to set up the temperature at any point higher than 70. I was freezing and upset that I had paid so much money and this crazy lady didn’t even let me turn on the heater. In addition, she started sending me nonstop screenshots all evening and night letting me know that she was monitoring the temperature. She started sending me condescending texts saying that if I didn’t take care of the energy there wouldn’t be anything left for our children. I was in shock and immediately called Vrbo at least 20 times throughout the night because I kept on getting transferred and/or disconnected every single time. At one point I was even considering calling the cops because I honestly got so freaked out by her constant texts. At one point I begged her twice to stop texting/sending messages through the app. because I had to wake up early next day to work and she was still texting me screenshots of the temperature after midnight. She also kept on saying that she was going to show up next morning to “fix” the thermostat even though I very politely asked her to please not come during the day since I was busy working from home and in meetings and that I was also trying to quarantine. That’s when she proceeded to threaten me and tell me that she was going to just cancel my reservation and not issue a refund if I couldn’t keep the temperature under 70 degrees. She also said that I was lying and not quarantining because SHE HAD FOOTAGE of my boyfriend coming to visit me one night. I was creeped out, I felt like my privacy was being disrespected, the way she stated it as “having footage” really made me feel like I was being watched and it was such a disrespectful and condescending way to address a guest. I was shocked! I don’t know why I proceeded to politely explain that he was also quarantining, when it was none of her business. She was so offensive and I honestly felt a little threatened that if I said the wrong thing she would just show up. Her constant texts at that time of day and her previous behaviors the few times I had observed her in person made me feel like she wasn’t very balanced psychologically and I just didn’t’ want to risk it. I called Vrbo and let them know about the situation. One of their representatives even suggested I call the cops when I released access to the conversation that (thank God) was mostly texted through the app. However, with my plan to quarantine and how uncomfortable I was staying there and thinking about not wanting to trigger a psychologically unbalanced person, I let Vrbo know at 3 am Monday morning, November 30 that I was in the process of packing and I was going to leave first thing in the morning. I explained the situation, gave them access to the conversation, told them if she texted me one more time I would file a police report, and demanded a refund ONLY for the nights that I wouldn’t be staying there. I got one hour of sleep that night and at 6am packed everything into my car and left the property. While I was on the road driving for 10 hours, she started texting me. When I got a chance to stop at a gas station I simply blocked her number. This has honestly been the worst experience of my life. One could argue that I overreacted but as a woman alone (my boyfriend lives in another city 2 hours away from Irving, TX) a woman of color, a foreigner in Texas, I really didn’t want to risk it with the current social and political climate with someone clearly psychologically unbalanced. I consider writing reviews or complaints a waste of time. However, I am taking the time to write this because I’m in shock and I truly believe this situation was completely unfair and unethical. I felt threatened and Verbo not only was completely useless, but they’re still refusing to issue a refund for the transaction. This has been the worst experience of my life and no one that crazy and disrespectful should be allowed to rent/manage their property on any of these platforms and, most importantly, Vrbo shouldn’t be allowed to simply get away with horrible hosts, terrible bad customer service, and just keep my money without a fight when it’s simply unfair. I’m not even being unreasonable in spite of all the issues and requesting a full refund. I’m requesting the bare minimum, which is a refund for the 7 nights that I didn’t get to stay in the property because the owner made me feel threatened and a refund for the cleaning fee since she didn’t even bother cleaning the feces from one of the toilets. I’m still in shock and it’s unbelievable that businesses allow these situations to happen. Hopefully by submitting this to the Better Business Bureau, Vrbo will conduct an investigation and stop allowing her to rent or at least manage the property herself because she’s not equipped to do so with her disrespectful, controlling, condescending and threatening ways. Vrbo should also be investigated for not reacting properly, proving absolutely terrible customer service (I counted at least 30 phone calls within a 24 hour period and they were completely unable to help me in any way. I also kept on getting (perhaps intentionally?) disconnected and placed on hold at least 20 times) and for not accepting to issue a refund in a situation like this. Most importantly, I hope other consumers learn from my experience and decide to use a hotel instead of Vrbo. I will never use their services again and have already told my coworkers, family members and friends about this terrible experience. Unfair business practices should not be allowed and at least I wanted to fulfill my civic duty and report this owner/host, this company and share my terrible experience. Thank you for your time!