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If the owner canceled my VRBO rental, can I get a refund?

Q. I saw your recent article about getting your money back after a VRBO owner canceled a vacation stay during the pandemic. I’m facing the same situation. We were supposed to stay in London in April, but the owners of our rental canceled our reservation. They are refusing to refund our money.

VRBO has been giving us the runaround for months. I would appreciate your assistance in helping us get our refund.

CHRISTINE YOUNG, Mississauga, Canada

A. I agree, you deserve a full refund. After all, you didn’t cancel your stay — the owner did. But VRBO’s pandemic cancellation rules allow an owner to cancel your stay and keep your money. True, its refund policy “asks” owners to offer credits for canceled stays and “strongly” encourages them to offer “at least a partial refund” if you won’t accept a credit. But VRBO doesn’t require its owners to give guests like you refunds.

It looks as if your owner offered you a full credit, which you didn’t want. And that’s understandable. As I write this, there’s a 14-day quarantine for the UK. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to use that credit any time soon.


Your case is a little more complicated. I checked with VRBO, and its records indicate that you contacted the apartment owner on March 20, but then submitted a retraction of your initial request to cancel.

“We were not made aware of the retraction at the time of, and there was no indication of it through our messaging,” a VRBO representative said.

That would explain why VRBO was giving you the “runaround.” Its records suggest that everything was fine. The company assumed you had contacted the owner and negotiated a stay at a future date.

Still, something seems wrong about your case. It looks as if the apartment owner wasn’t following the published refund policy on his site. And the messages from VRBO’s internal systems that you shared with me showed the owner was indifferent to your problem. I don’t think it’s right for the owner to keep your money, regardless of VRBO’s policy. If the owner canceled, then you deserve all of your money back.


You could have reached out to an executive at VRBO. I list the names, numbers, and e-mails of VRBO’s managers on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site,

After I contacted VRBO, it agreed to refund its fees but left the remaining refund to the homeowner. I think your next step is to dispute this charge on your credit card. You paid for something that VRBO couldn’t deliver, and you deserve a full refund.

Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer of Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps consumers resolve their problems. Contact him at or