Q: I rented an apartment in London through HomeAway. When we checked in, there was no hot water. I called the property management company. A representative promised to send a plumber, but no one showed up at the scheduled time.

I called the management company again and a representative said the boiler was broken and needed a part. But how could they have known? No one had come by to look at the problem yet. This went on for three days. I was in an apartment with a 7-year-old, a 9-year-old and no hot water.

Finally, HomeAway’s rebooking team approved a hotel for the rest of our stay. After we submitted our receipts, HomeAway paid for only two of the nights. It’s been months. I just want to get my money back. But I’m also concerned. I believe HomeAway and the owner had ample time to redirect us to another property before we arrived. Why didn’t they?

A: If HomeAway (now Vrbo) promised to refund you for three nights in a hotel, you should have received a refund for staying in a hotel room for three nights. And you had that promise in writing. Nice work keeping a paper trail, by the way!

But perhaps more troubling, it sounds as if the owner knew the boiler in your apartment was on the blink. I’d like to give the owner the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the boiler was working intermittently and the owner intended to replace it after your stay. Sometimes, vacation rental owners or their management companies will schedule maintenance when there are no guests in the unit, to avoid disruptions.

But the moment the water ran cold in your flat, the owner should have jumped to it. Instead of offering quick help, they strung you along for three days while you probably endured cold showers. So much for your vacation.

You’re covered under Vrbo’s Book With Confidence Guarantee, which helps customers when a property is “significantly not as described.” No hot water is a deal-breaker. Vrbo promises to rebook you in another property, which it did. But it appears to have fallen short on covering your expenses, for no apparent reason.

You followed all of the steps to a successful resolution. You contacted Vrbo quickly (you must within the first 12 hours of the event). You kept a paper trail, and all of your requests to Vrbo were cordial. This should have been resolved quickly.

I contacted Vrbo on your behalf. It turns out that for some reason, it hadn’t received your claim forms. Vrbo refunded your last night’s stay.

 

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit consumer organization. Contact him at elliott.org/help or chris@elliott.org.