I found Ben's Cabin on Madeline Island lodging on the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce website.They have since then removed the link to his site. I called to inquire about lodging for my honeymoon in mid-August. After all, the Chamber is vouching for them and I wasn't concerned about having money stolen and check fraud.
On the call Ben told me rates, but also informed me if I sent a check prior to check in I would receive a discount. I sent a check for $525 and he cashed it soon after. As our trip to Bayfield and Madeline Island approached, I called Ben (repeatedly) and left voicemails to confirm the check in time; no answer. I texted; no reply.
We drove from Duluth, MN out to Madeline Island and once on the island began asking around. People knew who he was, but not where. We went to the Chamber of Commerce and told them we had reservations at Madeline Island Lodging (AKA Ben's Cabin). The lady helping us gasped and said we had not been the first, there were 3 other couples this had happened to.
The police came to the Chamber to take our statement while the Chamber found us a more expensive place to stay (albeit much better).
The next day I decided to find Ben's Cabin and hopefully, find the mysterious Ben Ryder himself. When I arrived at the cabin, I found another couple staying in the cabin.
After speaking with the couple I found that he had rented them the cabin the very same day we were supposed to check in. The couple informed me they had met Ben in passing as they were camping nearby and Ben said they could stay at the cabin for half price. They also told me that Ben's dad, Jim Ryder had been there that day working on the other unfinished cabin.
I decided to come back later to confront Jim. He was there when I returned and I asked him to help me get my money back. At the time Jim Ryder was understanding and at the same time blamed Ben's actions on a learning disability, to which I told him, if the guy has a learning disability that bad, he shouldn't be managing a business.
Jim said he did not have a checkbook on Madeline Island and would go to Bayfield to the next day and drop off a check at the place we were staying at next. He did in fact drop off a check. I called the bank to confirm it had funds but it did not.
The police are currently putting the case together to send to the district attorney. An officer also informed me that soon after we had left, Ben did it to another couple. This couple traveled from North Dakota for a vacation on Madeline Island.
I also found out at the police station that Jim Ryder screwed many others over the years. How can he still be in business?
Buyer beware and rent at your own risk. Ben Ryder and Jim Ryder are crooks and will only steal your money, give you bad checks and promise to give you free stays at their lodging for their "booking mistake."