Over the past few years I have become increasingly dissatisfied with vacation rental sites. These are sites that owners advertise on to rent out their homes or apartments for short vacations. Initially my experience was always good but in the past couple of years, not so much and I think it's because the sites do everything they can to ensure a constant flow of revenue from their customers who are not the renters but the owners.
After using 3 different sites on a European vacation 2 years ago, I left reviews for 4 different establishments-2 were great, 1 was OK and the last was negative. To make a long story short, I sent him an email asking for part of my deposit back he withheld but he refused saying that something I complained about was not his problem. When I left a negative review on the website, he claimed I had threatened him with a negative review if the money wasn't returned. That didn't happen but he made the company think it happened by adding words to my email to him and sending it to the company. I was unaware of this until the company told me what I had allegedly done and when I asked for a copy of the email I saw the bogus addition. When I pointed it out to them and showed them my initial email they accused me of doctoring it ie: they called me the cheat, not the owner. So the review was deleted but even worse, there were other reviews on the site that the owner had obviously somehow had submitted as they addressed my review directly. I haven't mentioned names here because they company made it obvious to me that if I wanted to pursue this that lawyers would get involved.
This is the tiny balcony with the rusty BBQ and decrepit patio furniture that was actually there and described as "large bbq and patio table and chairs on the large balcony" 2 people were hard pressed to fit, the chairs and table had splinters and the bbq didn't work.
Another incident happened when I reserved a condo, paid a deposit and then just before we arrived, the owner said that it had been leased out for a year but not to worry. Then he tried to rent us something else which we said we wanted to see first but the day before we were supposed to see it, it was no longer available. We got our deposit back but were left scrambling at the last minute. The company refused to print a review because we never stayed in the unit so this guy can continue to jack people around with no consequences.
This method of travel certainly has its benefits but remember to do as much due diligence as possible and if you see nothing but excellent reviews with nothing negative on it, it may be too good to be true.