• Report: #371851

Complaint Review: Homeaway.com

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  • Submitted: Thu, September 11, 2008
  • Updated: Mon, August 08, 2011

  • Reported By:London Other
Homeaway.com
3801S Capital Of Texas Hway2 S 150 Austin, Texas U.S.A.

Homeaway.com permits renters to post libels Austin Texas

*Consumer Comment: Homeaway.com & vbro.com refuse to publish negative reviews

*General Comment: Libelous comments by renters

*Author of original report: Government determines that Homeaway response is UNFAIR

*Author of original report: Trey Herschap refuses a refund from Holiday-rentals.com and sends an agreement for an invalid jurisdiction

*Author of original report: Conflicting responses from Trey Herschap corporate counsel Austin, Texas and Support

*Author of original report: Homeaway Response

*Author of original report: Reply from Trey Herschap Homeaway Corporate lawyer in Austin, Texas.

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Holiday-Rentals.com is one of the smaller players in the UK market for websites which advertise property to let. It considers that Cape Verde is in Africa, which clearly limits its effectiveness as a sales tool. UK management of holiday-rentals.com permits visitors, who are not even holiday-rental.com customers, to post comments that are clearly libellous. For example that the facilities offerred at the resort are "a fiction". This suggests that the Owners, Holiday-Rentals.com's advertisers and chief source of revenue are deliberately misleading renters in the advertising. As such, unless the renter can prove that the statement is true, this defames and damages the credibility of the Owner and the holiday-rentals.com site. Under the law of England this is a libel and both the Renter and holiday-rentals.com could be subjected to damages by an English court.

The management of the holiday-rentals.com company in England will do nothing to assist in this situation. In fact when you phone to explain they rudely terminate the call.

Holiday-rentals.com is owned by Homeaway Inc of Austin, Texas which owns similar holiday property websites in the US, France and Germany. Homeaway's chief investor and chief executive Brian Sharples. a Stanford MBA and former management consultant is fortunately more attuned to customer relations. He can be contacted on bsharples@homeaway.com and homeaway.com management team can assure the removal of libels placed by renters who are using defamatory posts as a way of trying to extort money from owners. Homeaway.com but not holiday-rentals.com will remove the offending post and the advertisement. It remains to be seen whether home-away.com also ensures a refund, of the substantial fees for placing advertisements on this site. Holiday-rentals.com ignores this requirement of mitigation under English law.
_________________

Cape verde jetaway
London
United Kingdom

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 09/11/2008 01:08 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Homeawaycom/Austin-Texas-TX78704/Homeawaycom-permits-renters-to-post-libels-Austin-Texas-371851. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 7Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 Consumer Comment

Homeaway.com & vbro.com refuse to publish negative reviews

AUTHOR: Chavah - (United States of America)

I totally disagree with you!  I had a horrible experience at a condo in Gualala, CA owned by GARY AMADO and Homeaway.com made me jump through sooooo many hoops that I didn't think I would ever get my review published.  I cited Free Speech issues and false advertising so they finally published a VERY watered down version of my negative review and then the owner, GARY AMADO, published a rebuttal so filled with LIES it made me sick!  So - I'm afraid I do NOT believe a word you are saying regarding Homeaway publishing libel against an OWNER!  The only ones Homeaway CARES about are owners! 
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#2 General Comment

Libelous comments by renters

AUTHOR: Tiger in CT, USA - (United States of America)

I am sorry you were the target of an unscrupulous renter.  I, on the other hand, was the victim of an unscrupulous advertiser.  He posted pictures of a very nice rental that suited my tastes and needs. 

After recieving my rental fee down payment of $400 in October of 2009 he sent me an email at the beginning of this year to say he had made some "improvements" to the property and invited me to view them and included the link to the property vrbo.com/267719. 

When I went there I was puzzled as it did not look like the home I remembered seeing.  When I located the photos I had originally printed out in October they were not the same house!  When I sent an email to this advertiser telling him the property was unsuitable he said he would refund my deposit.  I sent an email back saying that would be great. 

 For a week I heard nothing from him and I smelled a rat.  So, I contacted someone named Melissa who said she would look into it.  I did some investigating and found that this man had 3 other properties listed on this site and when I looked at the photos posted for each site I found the original photos for the kitchen and eating area on one site for one property and the bedroom and jacuzzi in the advertisement for a different property, etc. 

 None of the photos now on the site for property #267719 resemble any that were there in October.  The property as now represented is far inferior to the one shown, then.  I am a victim.  I have no intention of sueing this man for lying to me. I simply want my deposit back. 

Needless to say, I will NEVER rent from this site or any site associated with homeaway.com in the future.  It is unscrupulous advertisers like this man that ruin it for you honest owners.  Please don't lump us all together. 

I am not a libelous person.  I believe in the truth. And the truth is, I, too, was ripped off but by the advertiser and so far homeaway does not want to rectify this situation.

 

 

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#3 Author of original report

Government determines that Homeaway response is UNFAIR

AUTHOR: Cape Verde Info - (United Kingdom)

The Trading Standards Authority last week ordered Homeaway Inc of Austin Texas to withdraw its confidentiality agreement terming it as UNFAIR. That is because it seeks to remove all consumer rights from advertisers and place them at the mercy of its lawyers, including full responsibility for paying any and all legal expense. This agreement was drawn up by Trey Herschap, corporate counsel of Homeaway Inc in Austin Texas. Failure to desist in sending this UNFAIR agreement could result in a prosecution for breach of trading standards and a possible jail term.

Since law in the US and UK stem from a shared background, it is probable that any US Court in any state would also rule that this agreement is UNFAIR.

Brian Sharples, chief executive and chief investor in Homeaway Inc has confirmed that he has noted my emails, but claims that he is not sufficiently educated to respond and must leave it to staffers. As a former management consultant with Bain & Company of Boston, he was paid thousands of dollars a day for advice. So I am going to give him some free advice. "Brian wake up from your torpor: your websites are in a mess and your staffers are seriosuly damaging your business propects with their bullying and intransigence"
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#4 Author of original report

Trey Herschap refuses a refund from Holiday-rentals.com and sends an agreement for an invalid jurisdiction

AUTHOR: Cape Verde Info - (United Kingdom)

Trey Herschap, corporate counsel of Homeaway, Austin, Texas has refused to meet the requirements of the law in England.

"No refund will be forthcoming from Holiday-Rentals. Holiday-Rentals removed your advertisement from the site at your request and thus, you are not entitled to a refund."

Of course this is quite untrue. But Holiday-Rentals did insist on posting a libel, which potentially could give rise to much more than a refund under the law in England. The company refused to remove it. Brian Sharples ceo of Homeaway was the only person capable of achieving this.

So there you have it . Subscribe $800 for an advertisement with Homeaway for your vacation home. It will permit anonymous people, who are trying to extort money from you, to post malign and defamatory comments. And then it will refuse a refund by telling you that you yourself have cancelled the advertisement.

Trey Herschap's confidentiality agreement is now under perusal by Trading Standards authorities in London, England to determine whether it breaches English company law. The company possibly employs an equally cavalier approach at its websites in France and Germany. If so he will have a lot of work to do. He appears to think that the law in Austin, Texas covers England. Now he has suggested altering this to the law of the United Kingdom. But no such law exists. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each has its own law which can differ in material respects just as Texas does from New York or Canada. So this would be like making an agreement under the law of North America.

Meanwhile Brian Sharples remains as ever mute.
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#5 Author of original report

Conflicting responses from Trey Herschap corporate counsel Austin, Texas and Support

AUTHOR: Cape Verde Info - (United Kingdom)

Trey Herschap corporate Counsel of Homeaway.com in Austin, Texas has sent me a three page confidentiality agreement registered under the laws of Texas. If I sign this I will not be permitted to state whether or not they have refunded my advertising fee of around $800. The agreement would remove all my consumer rights in England where a website publishing a libel can be held responsible by a Court of law. He says accept our good faith but have I seen any sign of good faith?

Trey Herchap has replied. We have no intention of reposting your listing or the review of your property. Reject our offer and receive nothing in that we believe that your listing was removed at your request.

Almost simultaneously Customer Support has replied We can make your listing live again if you would like, however the review will stay.

Catch 22 you get your advertisement back but along with the libel. Does this sound like a company under management control?

Meanwhile Brian Sharples the ceo and the only person who was prepared to remove the libel stays completely mute. This is bizarre as I know that he reads emails within minutes. Does he not consider that policy regarding defamation of customers who have paid to advertise on Homeaway websites is a matter for the chief executive officer? Tray Herschap Homeaway legal officer again insists that I should make no contact with Brian Sharples. He is not empowered to deal with these issues. Does this sound like a company under management control?

Is it likely that any advertiser would request an advertisement to be removed without getting a refund? Nobody is going to believe that apart it seems from Trey Herschap. Actually when I did make a telephone call to complain about the libel being posted by an anonymous poster who was trying to extort money from me, my call was brusquely terminated. So I never had a chance to discuss either continuing or cancelling the advertising. Since then nobody in the company has returned my call. It is now nearly four weeks.

Homeaway's site has produced a negligible return on advertising spend, as the website believes that Cape Verde is in Africa. Formerly it believed it was in Portugal. The French site has it in the Atlantic Ocean. Does that sound like a company under management control?
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#6 Author of original report

Homeaway Response

AUTHOR: Cape Verde Info - (United Kingdom)

After three weeks Brian Sharples ceo and founder of Homeaway, Austin, Texas has made no response. However customer services has explained Homeaways' policy as follows. "Thanks for your email. We do not offer refunds for listings which renters asked to be removed from Holiday-Rentals.co.uk due to negative reviews."

So there you have it. You pay a considerable sum to advertise your vacation property on Homeaway's site. Somebody who is trying to extort money from you puts up a posting which is a libel and intended to be personally damaging. Homeaway permits this and refuses to remove the libel. Then when Brian Sharples intervenes the advertisement is removed as well but no refund is offerred.

Brian Sharples is a former management consultant from Bain & Co, which specialises in turning around companies that are in trouble, for vast fees. So I am going to offer some free advice. It is not a winning strategy to permit your customers to be libelled on your websites and then refuse to refund their subscriptions. This encourages dishonest people to place malicious postings on your sites and will scare away potential customers, who realize that they are paying for negative amnd distorted comments.
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#7 Author of original report

Reply from Trey Herschap Homeaway Corporate lawyer in Austin, Texas.

AUTHOR: Cape Verde Info - (United Kingdom)

After 10 days Trey Herschap, corporate counsel to Homeaway in Austin, Texas has replied. Prior to this I have had no response from the company apart from an inquiry from the Helpdesk asking if I still needed help. He asks me not to contact Brian Sharples. But it is only Brian Sharples who was willing to remove the libel. I find it bizarre that a website accepts advertising commission for an owner's holiday home and then encourages posts which are being used by renters in an effort to extort money from owners.

This is not a succesful Business Model and both advertisers and investors should take note. NBo compensation for the cancelled ad has been promised.
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