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Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

Sycamore, Illinois
2 posts
2 reviews
Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

Our traveling group had booked the home Sol y Sombra for an 8 day stay in the Spring of 2018 through the management company the home's owner had hired. This was to be our first trip to VG. They (SmithsGore) were pleasant to work with during the booking. After the storm, we had concerns about the state of the home(given arial pics) and island as a whole. Bernadette from SmithsGore assured us the damage to the home was minimal and repairs would be complete by our arrival. After discussions, we decided to ask for a refund and attempt a later trip to make sure we could enjoy the ENTIRE island once recovered. We were informed that we would receive a full refund with little discussion.

After a week, Bernadette notified us that she would NOT be returning our deposit but rather she would keep the 20% due to our decision to cancel the trip. After further discussion (over 50 emails), she agreed to apply the 20% deposit for a future trip to Sol y Sombra. We thought this reasonable so we picked a future date that she agreed upon and documents would be on their way. Upon receiving documents, she had raised the price of the rental by $5334.00!!! Her reasoning, "they would have raised the rates at least once or twice" before our new trip dates.

At this point, our options are to pay the additional $5334 or forfeit our 20% deposit. It is very obvious that the management company will stand to make money with either option. I get the feeling the management company would prefer us to cancel the trip and forfeit the 20% so they can turn around a re-book the same week to make yet another 20%. No skin off of their back (keeping in mind that I'm sure the management companies are likely struggling at this time with minimal bookings). I question whether owners of homes on VG are aware of how the management companies are treating potential renters in the wake of this tragedy.

I have been following this forum for over a year in anticipation of our trip. The contributing owners on this site have been a valuable resource of information for a first time traveler and I appreciate their input. I ask the readers (owners and travelers) of this forum for their honest opinion on whether this is "business as usual" or are we right in feeling as though we have everything to lose in this situation.

Your input is greatly appreciated.

11 replies to this topic
Virgin Gorda
Level Contributor
344 posts
31 reviews
1. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

I own the South Sound Villa on Virgin Gorda.That is not the way I would have handled this. I have had several rental groups cancel a rental and returned their funds in full.

Edited: 02 December 2017, 22:48
New Paltz, New York
Level Contributor
963 posts
13 reviews
2. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

I can't speak to any experience other than my own. We had a villa booked with BestOfBVI for this coming March. Our villa would probably have been ready for us as it seemed to have sustained minimal damage. We decided it was best to put our trip on hold. We already had our 2019 villa reserved as well. We had absolutely no issue if we wanted to cancel outright. All options were presented and we would not have lost any of the 20%. We decided to have a partial refund for this year and then apply the rest to our 2019 reservation as a kind of forced payment.

Personally, I cringe when I read your post. It doesn't sound fair to me based on the exceptional customer service I have always gotten. So sorry you are dealing with this and do hope villa owners are made aware this is how it was handled.

Boston
Level Contributor
6,900 posts
38 reviews
3. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

I am not sure if it is possible, but if there is any way to contact the owner, I would try to do so. This home is listed with multiple agents and perhaps the owner does not know that this is occurring with this rental. From what I read regarding other luxury rentals, people were given better options that you were.

If that is not possible, the way they are handling this on other forums, specifically STJ which has a lot of the same readership is to highlight how various owners - and in this case management companies - handled this with a plan to give future business to those who acted in more honorable way like the two listed above and those who did not. In short, they are shaming the bad owners and management companies and making a list for future renters. Good luck.

Edited: 03 December 2017, 15:02
Dallas, Texas
Level Contributor
288 posts
1,027 reviews
4. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

Wow, smyork...I am so sorry that you are experiencing this on your first Virgin Gorda Trip. This is truly one of the best islands in the Caribbean. I have been going there off and onfor 35 years and spend a month in a villa this summer before the hurricanes. Please try and contact the owners directly.

Houston, Texas
Level Contributor
289 posts
5. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

if you paid by credit card, check your rental agreement

it will tell you the cancellation policy

if its not in there dispute it, they just cant add something after the fact

if its in the rental agreement then there is nothing you can do

good luck

Level Contributor
286 posts
6. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

You know when something goes down hill at the beginning, things never get better , they just get worse. For 5500.00 you can charter a crewed yacht for a couple of weeks.

Deal directly with the owner Protest with the credit car company, and get it all resolved.

If that does not resolve it, please dont chase bad money after the deposit. And let the planet know on yelp and on these boards and on the reviews of the webiste, and none of that shot over the bow stuff, blow em out of the water. Be factual and accurate, just like your post here.

We have been sailing the BVI, and traveling most of the known world , and NEVER HAD A PROBLEM, ever.

But, we work with refferals, and a lot of investigation, before making any reservations for anything.

New Paltz, New York
Level Contributor
963 posts
13 reviews
7. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

"For 5500.00 you can charter a crewed yacht for a couple of weeks"

Denny...are you missing a zero in there? If not, PLEASE share which company will charter for this price for a few weeks. I have been wanting to book a crewed charter sometime and prices even for one week are way beyond my budget.

Sycamore, Illinois
2 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

UPDATE:

We've received our deposit back after getting a hold of upper management at SmithsGore (management company for home Sol y Sombra), We sent a blast email to every contact at the management company hoping to get the attention of someone other than our initial contact. We would have rather pushed our trip back under the same rates but the owner was not willing to do so. The owner is adding another bedroom as a result of the storm repairs that would likely increase the base rates once completed. They were not willing to honor our initial rate in the future due to improvements.

After lengthy discussions, we are happy at this time to get our deposit back and move on.

We hope to visit VG in the near future (unfortunately, Sol y Sombra will not be part of our plans).

Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
294 posts
143 reviews
9. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

So very sorry that you have experienced this poor customer service - we have offered full refunds to all our guests who were booked from September to April. I also know that most of the management companies have offered full refunds as well. Several of our guests asked to use their deposits for the same period in 2019 and we have booked the dates for them at 2017 prices.

L
Level Contributor
31 posts
14 reviews
10. Re: Home Management Company Taking Advantage After Storm

We have rented several villas in the past from Smith Gore and only received exceptional customer service from Bernadette. They refunded our deposit without hesitation for our trip booked for 2018 and in fact we have indeed rebooked with them for 2019. We are still heading down to the Island next year to help out as I am sure the Island need the income and we are renting a boat, first time ever, so we are super excited! Please remember that you are only hearing one side of the story here, so please do not be too quick to judge.

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