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Call Kurtis: Dream Hawaii Rental Turns Into Ultimate Vacation Nightmare

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FORESTHILL (CBS13) — A trio from Foresthill say they had a horrible trip to Hawaii.  After driving around for two days looking for their vacation rental, they found it abandoned.  When Expedia didn’t resolve their complaint, they called Kurtis.

The family says the trip was the ultimate vacation nightmare.  They couldn’t even find the place for two days.  When they finally did, it didn’t look anything like the pictures, and they couldn’t stay there even if they wanted to.

“The waterfall is beautiful, the swimming pool is beautiful,” said Ed Williams, while looking at the vacation rental he and his family booked for February.

It was also the ocean view and the secluded 25 acre property that lured Williams to the rental on the big island of Hawaii.  His niece, Ila helped him book the trip on Expedia.

Williams was traveling with his wife, Shonelle and brother-in-law John Ford.  They used Expedia a few years ago with no problems.

“We had a great time through Expedia, we really did.  Booked us a beautiful hotel, everything, so we thought we did it again,” said Shonelle.

But this time, problems popped up almost immediately.  After getting to the island, they drove around for hours, looking for the vacation rental on unmarked streets.  Calls for directions from the property owner went unanswered.

“And I kept telling these guys, ‘Even if we found the place, how are we going to get in?'” recalls Shonelle.

So they called Expedia.

“‘We can’t do anything until you find the place.’ That’s what they told us,” said Ed.

Ila was doing all she could from the mainland to help them find the place.

“I felt horrible because I booked it,” said Ila.

They gave up after a full day of searching and bought their own hotel room.  After nearly a second full day of driving around, they finally found it.

“I saw the sign “VR” and I go, ‘VR, you guys, VR, vacation rental.’ I go, ‘Follow those signs, follow those signs!'” said Shonelle.

But the excitement was short-lived.

“It was just a dump, it was a dump!” said Shonelle.

The pool was dirty and dark, not sparkly and clean.  And the ocean view was barely visible, with the overgrown grass and weeds.  What about the waterfall?  The Williams say it was nowhere to be found and locals told them it had been backfilled a while ago.  The house itself was locked up.

“I was ready to cry. I was like this is not what we came here for,” said Shonelle.

The group ended up getting another hotel room on their own dime the second night before expedia booked them one room in a two-star hotel for the rest of the vacation.

“If we could have come home the second night, we would have come home.  If we could have got on a plane to come home.  Because it just set the tempo for the rest of the time,” said Ed.

“They took the vacation of these three passengers and they ruined it,” said travel attorney Al Anolik.

Anolik thinks Expedia owes the travelers a refund and then some for being negligent about the condition of the vacation rental.

“The pictures were so grossly misrepresented that expedia had an obligation to know that this place was basically shut down for a while and it was dilapidated and they shouldn’t have been renting it,” said Anolik.

CBS13 contacted Expedia, which told us:

Thank you again for contacting Expedia on behalf of the Williams’ and the Ford family.  I’m happy to inform you that the first two nights of the reservation in the amount of $218.52 have been refunded. In addition, Expedia has provided the customer with $25.00 as relocation compensation and a $100 Expedia Travel Coupon due to the inconvenience. Expedia’s findings are below.

Expedia’s records show an Expedia Vacation Package was purchased on November 12, 2013 for travelers Edward and Shonnelle Williams and John and Judith Ford. The roundtrip flights departed on February 6, 2013 on Delta Airlines arriving in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii and departing on Alaska Airlines on February 12, 2013. A car rental through Alamo Rent-a-Car was also purchased.

A reservation for the Hamakua Vacation Rental was for six days, checking-in on February 6, 2013 and checking-out on February 12, 2013. According to the Special Check-in Instructions provided during the booking process and on the itinerary, it states the following information –

There is no front desk on site. Guests are required to call the property, using the number on the reservation confirmation received after booking, to provide their contact information (preferably a cell phone number) and to receive key code information and driving directions

Expedia’s records indicate upon arrival in Kailua-Kona, they were contacted to request driving instructions to the vacation rental. On February 7, 2013, after locating the vacation rental, the customers reached out to the Expedia Customer Service Department due to the property being unattended and were unable to gain access to the property to contact the property managers. An Expedia agent was also unable to contact the property and Expedia representatives assisted in relocating the customers to the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort hotel. The customers were provided a refund for the first two nights of their reservation in the amount of $218.52 and provided $25.00 as relocation compensation. A $100.00 Expedia Travel Coupon was also added to their account for the less-than-satisfactory experience.

When a property closes, they must notify Expedia directly. Expedia will then work with the relocation team to arrange new accommodations for any possible customers. At the time of the booking, the Hamakua Vacation Rental was still open. According to Expedia’s records, the relocation team opened a file on this hotel on February 7, after the travelers were unable to check in at the property. The request to close this hotel did not reach Expedia’s relocation team until the day after the guests arrived.

 As such, Expedia has gone over their normal policy to refund multiple nights in addition to the relocation compensation and travel voucher. Expedia agents relocated the customers to a comparable property according to price point and star rating (2-star).”

Ed and Shonelle say Expedia’s resolution is not good enough.  And when it comes time to go on another trip?

“We won’t go through Expedia, that’s for sure,” said Ed.

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