I booked a villa in Florida on October 16 2013 for traveling in April 2014. I paid half of the amount ($2650) through paypal (to exports4u).
I was about to pay the other half when I read two recent horrible reviews on the property. You can read the last two reviews here:
(please scroll down to read the reviews AND see the PICTURES of the stained mattresses and pillows, unusable cookware etc.).
You can also see that the last review before these recent two is for a stay in 2012, Meaning that there was no way of knowing the current condition of the house when we booked it.
Naturally I contacted the owner right away. I wanted to know what was the current condition of the house. He emailed me back with a story of how the guests that wrote the reviews were trying to extort him for money and because he didn't give in, the guests wrote nasty reviews (now I know, btw, that these guests only wanted a refund for the stay in this poor maintenance house and never received it) . But there are pictures attached for the reviews, you can see that the mattresses and pillows do have stains and the kitchen cookware look rustic and not fitted to use. So the owner said that the house was abused by a former guests that had stayed there before. Fine, it may be the case, HOWEVER, I still expect the house to be in the condition described by the owner. This property costs us over $5300. For this amount of money that house needs to be in a top shape, clean and luxurious. I emailed the owner again and asked for the current state of the house. The owner avoided a straight answer: he said that he has a maintenance crew and he is sure they had fixed everything needed fixing. But here is the thing- most of the things were not in a "need to fix" condition, but in a "must replace" condition! The owner said that he is on vacation and cannot check the house for himself. I told him that all he needed to do was to call his maintenance crew and ask them if they bought new mattresses, pillows, cookware etc., and since then he has been ignoring my emails. Btw., if you read the reviews, you will see that the owner was "on vacation" when the other guests had complaints as well (and this was just last months..) In fact, it feels like the owner is "on vacation" every time he needs to confronts a guest!! Then the owner offered me another house instead of this one, but the house we booked had 5 bedrooms and the replacements has only 4, which simply cannot work for us + plus I read some bad reviews on the owner and maintenance on his other properties which makes me not wanting to deal with this owner anyway.
I asked the owner to cancel my reservation and refund my down payment but as said, he never replied back.
I emailed him again and again, and FINALLY he got back to me and said the terms and conditions do not allow a refund and that I didn't actually stay in the house. But here is the thing - I don't really need to stay in a place that has stains on the mattresses and pillows, have holes in the walls, exposed wires in the pool!! and so on, to know that I don't like the place. Moreover, anywhere during our correspondence (when the owner actually took the time to reply to my emails- most of the time he just ignored them)- did the owner state that they replaced everything. The fact that he continued giving me vague answers and avoided the specific ones, just goes to show that the house is in the same condition described by the other guests.