WARNING TO ALL HOLIDAY-MAKERS ABOUT BOOKING THROUGH OWNERS DIRECT...
With immediate effect, I have today removed our listings for both Corner Cottage and Mayfield from the Owners Direct / Homeaway platform.
Having advertised with them for just short of two years, I have consistently been disappointed and enraged by the fact that this enormous company's policies keep changing and with each change, the company ends up richer and both the owner and the guest end up paying them more money, jumping through more hoops and suffering inconvenience after inconvenience.
The final straw came today with a situation which arose yesterday...
A would-be guest tried to book Mayfield. Unbeknownst to him at the time of booking, the price shown was completely incorrect, so I contacted Owners Direct to let them know that their system had (for the 3rd time this year) once again changed all of my prices - without my permission and without in any way notifying me so I had no way of knowing until the booking came through with totally incorrect pricing.
Owners Direct's representative on the telephone accepted that this was their technical error and apologised for the inconvenience and tried to offer me various sweeteners by way of apology.
The guest and I spoke on the phone and he completely understood what had happened but said that he felt that as it was Owner's Direct's error they should be held liable. He spoke to them and their advice to him today (having sympathised with me and apologised for their error yesterday) was that he should raise a formal complaint against me. Against me! Not against them! When they had accepted it was their fault the pricing was wrong!!
Well. Enough's enough.
They charge both guests and owners ludicrously high fees, change terms and conditions, hold on to payments until after the guests arrive, change prices without consultation and then refuse to accept responsibility for their own actions.
I understand that for some guests, booking through a big website provides peace of mind, but this peace of mind can be achieved (along with a considerably cheaper holiday) if you book directly with the owner and opt to pay by credit card and / or take out travel insurance.
I am aware that there are some scams out there with dishonest people advertising properties that do not belong to them, but do your research, and if - like ours - a property appears on several websites, has a Facebook page, has its own website, has the same contact information on every internet presence... it's a pretty safe bet that you will be able to get the property you wanted at a better price, whilst also supporting small businesses rather than huge businesses who exist off the back of exorbitant fees charged to both the guest and the owner.
Please folks. Book Direct. And please share this advice with your friends and family too and hopefully, eventually, these huge booking sites will start to play fair.
Hi! I'm Sam :-)