I became really disapointed with TripAdvisor/FlipKey for several reasons, that I would like to state in here:
1) Homeowners that advertise on TripAdvisor website are allowed to change the contract at their doors when we arrive at their property leaving we, customers that paid in full the original quote, with no option at all other than agree and re-do the deal otherwise we cant get intothe property.
What can you do when you are traveling to an area that you are not familiar in a Holidays season, when the hotels and vacation homes are basically sold out and you are informed that the original contract will not be honored?
Our story: on Nov 5, 2015 we booked this vacation home on the hills of a jungle in Costa Rica for Dec 16 to Jan 15 2016, paid the quote in full. Upon our arrival at night, the owner told us – at the gate – that we have to pay 1000 USA dollars in CASH as security deposit. Note that as long we dont mind paying secure deposit, it was not listed or cited in the original quote. So we paid and sign this new contract.
When we asked for a receipt, she told us that the contract we just signed would be the receipt and that she would give us a copy next day. What she never did even thought we were asking for it almost everyday. She always had an excuse for not doing so. The day to leave the property arrived, and we were informed that in order to refund our deposit, she would check the property to see if there was any damage… We left her home and went to a property we have in Costa Rica 3 hours from this house we rented. Few days laters she sent an email saying that the house was ok, no damages.
That was already early February and we start making arrangements to get our money back. After a lot of troubles, we made an appt to meet her in the cited property. She did not show up, sent her “husband” instead. He asked for the receipt of the deposit, and we said that Tina never gave it to us. He started screeming and told us to Fuc* off and go to court if we want see that money again.
About the place we rented, she advertises it as a studio, but it is a basement in one of the 6 houses she rent there. There is no fence, no guards – only the gardener that works there during the day, but sleeps at night, no cameras, no security at all. Did I mention, it is in a mountain in the jungle? So we were kind of affraid to confront them about the contract during our stay and have them to harm us during the night since we were the only 2 people there most of the time. Until today, we could not get a copy of the contract we have signed on Dec 16, 2015.
2) About TripAdvisor REVIEW system: I had the opportunity to write a review about the problems with had during our stay in her property. SHE SIMPLY COULD DESACTIVATE THE AD AND REPLACE IT WITH 5 NEWER ADS WITHOUT MY REVIEW WITH TRIPADVISOR CONSENT.
That is what really upsets me, because I would guess that those reviews published on TripAdvisor webstie are not so worth, since homeowners can hide ads with real reviews and publish new ads with suspicious reviews as her new ads have few reviews (all good, seems to be writen by the same person)
The fact that TripAdvisor also let homeowners to change the original and paid quotes upon customers arrival at the property also upsets me. TripAdvisor business templates and rules should not let it happpen, since it is a breach of contracts that can let to scams as this one that I was a victim.
3) TripAdvisor handle of these complaints: so far they have granted her all the rights to keep scamming customers. They just dont care that she has changed the original quote/contract and that she has found a away to hide reviews. It is waste of time and energy to talke to them what I have been trying to do since February 2016.
Their help is just an illusion that the matter will be checked and it is very sad because I know, now, for sure that if you get scammed when you book a vacation on TripAdvisor you will be left in the cold to try to solve the problem. And, for secure reasons you may not be able to do so; like in my case. Now that I have know that people better (they were very nice during our stay) I feel glas that I did not confront them about the paperwork we signed They have threaten us, calling us on our Costa Rica phone with all sort of insults.
We will be back in Costa Rica next month and we will go to the Costa Rica court to demand our contract, we are building our case as we think that is the right thing to do.
My final words: would be advisable for TripAdvisor:
- to have a more robust template for business transactions that would lay down all the finances involved in the contract when we book a vacation in its platform; The homeowners should be obligated to abide by them.
- a more robust plataform and rules that would not allow homeowners to disable ads with real reviews and replace it with 5 new brand ads as this cited owner is allowed to do. So that TripAdvisor reviews would be a real tool for travelers.