CHICAGO (CBS) — If you rent a vacation home, you figure you’re just dealing with an online giant and the property owner, but a south suburban woman learned there can also be a property manager to further gum things up.
Francine Christano has been fighting for a promised refund for nearly a year.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas is sorting through the mess for her, and this cautionary tale for everyone.
San Antonio, Texas, is a beautiful a vacation destination, but when Christiano arrived with her husband and friends in February 2020, they realized their Vrbo booking wasn’t overflowing with southern hospitality.
“The house was filthy,” Christiano said. “There was mold in the refrigerator.”
“We were appalled, because we have not had an experience like this before,” she added.
So before hitting the town, the group called to complain. Eventually the owner came out, and he didn’t like what he saw either, and he understood when the friends said they wanted to stay somewhere else.
“He agreed that evening to fully refund our $1,617,” Christiano said.
It turned out the refund would have to flow through a property management company he’d hired–Plushy Host. The owner said they’re the ones with Christiano’s money.
The owner sent Christiano an email in May stating, “Each time I have inquired about the status of your refund, they state that they are ‘checking on it.’”
Christiano received similar replies when she’s reached out to Plushy Host, but no refund.
How does that make her feel?
“Oh, like money was actually stolen from my purse,” she said.
The property owner said Plushy Host hasn’t even paid him anything from the transaction. If they had, he said he’d just pay Christiano back himself.
He’s so fed up, he stopped working with Plushy Host.
By the way, that’s the same company that was supposed to clean the place. They have an F rating with the BBB because they failed to respond to other complaints from people frustrated with the service.
“For us as the consumer, we know that the next time we rent a home, first of all, we’re going to make sure we look at who the property manager is. And I don’t know that will never go with anything that says Plushy Host,” Christiano said.
A lot’s happened since that San Antonio trip. For one, Christiano said she’s out of work due to the pandemic, making the $1,600 refund she’s been seeking all the more important.
A Vrbo representative said it would need a couple more days to look into the matter. We never heard back from Plushy Host at all.
Meanwhile, Christiano even tried disputing the charge with her credit card company, Capital One. She lost the dispute, and we are still waiting for an answer from Capital One about why.
We will keep you posted.