We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

Which Paris hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
Boston...
3 posts
Save Topic
A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

Like you, we have read many positive reviews of A La Carte Paris. Our story runs entirely contrary to these.

In April 2010 we were so looking forward to traveling to Paris again as a family of five from Boston during our children's only one-week break from school. We thought nothing of A La Carte's demand of paying the entire rental upfront, and we used our debit card (lower foreign exchange fee at that time than a credit card) to pay.

As the world came to learn, a "force majeure" occured with the awful Volcano eruption from Iceland, forcing a complete halt to air travel. Our plane trips were canceled twice during that time and a point reached when finally we could not go to Paris. We tried very hard, rescheduling after hours of being on the phone with airlines, calling restaurants, and rearranging meetings. But it was not to be.

Every company graciously either refunded our deposit or provided us with a credit for the future - EXCEPT A La Carte Paris. Even the 58 Tour Eiffel returned our deposit! A lovely chateau in Brittany has given us, without our request, a credit toward an identical stay next year. (It was a Relais-Chateau hotel, where we will direct all future business.) The airlines returned (returned!) our money in full. This was, after all, out of our hands. We only wanted them to provide us a credit, like each other merchant, not a refund. One of our parents, whom we were to meet there, actually went to the A La Carte office on our behalf that week, in person, to plead our case, politely reasoning in their native tongue. But they were as unforgiving as the volcano itself. No refund or credit of any amount was provided. If we had changed our minds at the last minute, if we missed a flight due to sleeping late - we would not argue.

Now we are out $3500. This is more than the cost of traveling to Paris. We are only writing this now as our last appeal was finally exhausted this month (September). One could argue that we should have purchased travel insurance (which 99% of the time is a waste). We cannot argue that A La Carte has broken any law, international or otherwise. But they have, in our own opinion, violated the sacred trust of merchant and customer, of traveler and vendor, of lovers of Paris.

With regrets and deep disappointment,

Ann & Justin Bullion, Boston, MA

Victoria, Canada
Level Contributor
21,479 posts
84 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

I am sorry this happened to you. It is as you say, legal but not nice. Everytime I read similar stories( which over the years you do ) about apartment rental I bless my choice to never stay in one. I hate the paying all the cash up front and not getting any back,, the cancelllation policies are very tough for most apartment rentals,, simply because, unlike a hotel, they cannot usually hope to re-rent the unit to walk in or last minute traffic like a hotel may be able to ..

At least most other places did the right thing,, but I wonder,, did they collect rent for the apartment for anyone who may have been stuck in it due to eruption, when you were supposed to be there, , or was it a case that YOU could not get over there within a reasonable time( you mention meetings etc)

New Hampshire
Destination Expert
for Paris
Level Contributor
20,957 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

When booking a vacation rental apartment, you do agree to the terms and conditions.

The rental is a business arrangement, not "a sacred trust of merchant and customer, of traveler and vendor, of lovers of Paris."

As with many agents/owners, A La Carte Paris does recommend travel insurance, and you would have been covered under a plan they recommend under "event of nature".

The cost of the insurance is 5% of the rental rate.

You say that 99% of the time travel insurance is a waste?

Israel
Level Contributor
5,069 posts
36 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

As much as I sympathize with your great disappointment and your loss of that sizeable sum of money, I have to agree with djkbooks. Giving you a credit for future use would mean loss of income for the rental company, and that wouldn't be fair either.

Once again, I'm very sorry that your trip got canceled, and I know that I would have been devastated if the volcano had affected my May trip. I guess we all have something to learn from your unfortunate experience.

Andrésy, France
Level Contributor
5,608 posts
89 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

You declined the insurance so as the French would say, "You only have your eyes to cry with". Sorry to sound so unsympathetic, but that's what insurance is for - that 1% when things do go wrong.

West Sussex, England
Level Contributor
2,342 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

But would the insurance have covered them against this particular incident even if they had had it?

I remember reading on some insurance companies' websites that 'as a goodwill gesture' they were allowing claims for people who had been unable to reach their holiday destinations because of the volcano...the clear implication being that they were NOT legally obliged to do so.

Sunshine Coast...
Level Contributor
2,650 posts
27 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

I"m very sorry that this happened to you.

However it is very important to understand the terms and conditions when you book an apartment. Every apartment I have booked has clearly detailed their cancellation policy - the majority are non refundable if you cancel within either a month or a week of your stay. All have strongly recommended travel insurance.

Once you realise (prior to booking the apartment) what could happen if you need to cancel you have a number of choices.

1. You can take out travel insurance that will refund most of your money if you need to cancel due to circumstances outside your control.

2. To can choose to gamble that you won't have to cancel but at least you know that you will lose your money if you do.

3. Like joan you can choose not to stay in an apartment and you can stay in a hotel with a cancellation policy that you are more comfortable with.

Again I am sorry you lost so much money but thankyou for posting your experience. Hopefully your story can help others make the correct decisions before they book their holiday.

Edited: 29 September 2010, 08:49
Versailles
Level Contributor
169 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

Instead of what some of you think, it is not absolutely sure that this company acted on a legal way !

When the Volcano issue happened last spring, I had a diner with lawyers. We talked about the consequences for tourism business. I was almost certain that hotels, owner (etc) can save some money by keeping deposit or charging their clients for no-show. But all of them told me that if it is legal to charge a fee for the administrative task of a cancellation and for the holded nights until you inform that you cancel your booking, it is NOT LEGAL to charge someone for a services not rendered. If you go to the court, you will for sure win against them ! I know it is difficult to handle it from the other side of the Ocean. But again, they can not hold the entire rental fee, even if their rental terms are different from the law !

PS : Sorry if my english is not as good as I hope :-)

New Hampshire
Destination Expert
for Paris
Level Contributor
20,957 posts
25 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

The cancellation policy would hold whether the booking was for a hotel room or an apartment. There is nothing not legal about requiring prepayment or refusing a cancellation refund outside the agreed upon terms and conditions.

The travel insurance recommended on the A La Carte Paris website does cover "event of nature". Not all travel insurance covers such things, but this one does specifically.

Nothing was charged for services not rendered. The apartment was available as promised. It's up to the guest to get themselves there.

The OP chose not to purchase the recommended travel insurance, which would have covered the rental rate paid, and at a very nominal cost. So, why should A la Carte Paris even consider waiving their cancellation policy and paying a refund?

Saving $175 cost the OP $3500.

Paris, France
Level Contributor
25,245 posts
32 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

Cancellation insurance would not be offered if there were no risks involved for cancellations. I am surprised that anybody finds the situation unfair.

It was totally normal for airlines to refund everything, because they were not offering a service anymore. However, the apartment was sitting there ready and waiting.

Nice
Level Contributor
12,655 posts
52 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: A La Carte Paris Apartment Rental Review - A Bad Experience

One problem may be that there are two types of contract for renting seasonal apartments in france and the money given up front is translated as 'deposit' for each one, even though the legal definitiuon is very different.

In one "arrhes" is given up front and is not returnable but the full payment is not required to be paid if the contract is cancelled -. this being more like a deposit that folk think of in the UK and US . i'm guessing.

with the other , an "acompte" -you have legally entered into a downpayment agreement and the total balance is due regardless of cancellation.[and possibly other fees and expenses[

Edited: 29 September 2010, 10:39