Dear Travel Troubleshooter: I recently rented a condo in Florida through Homes & Villas by Marriott. I made a reservation using Marriott Bonvoy points.
When I arrived I found the unit uninhabitable.The condo smelled musty and the furniture was shabby and filthy. It became difficult to breathe.
I had to leave immediately upon arrival and go to the hotel for the night. I tried to contact the vacation rental company multiple times before I left and after I checked out. I also asked Marriott for help, but he never heard back from the rental company.
I want my points back. But Marriott has left it to another company that manages vacation rentals and won’t give me my points.
— Chris Skaggs, Canton, Michigan
answer: Marriott’s vacation rental site promises its homes are “professionally cleaned and inspected,” but some areas of the condo seem to be overlooked. I wish I didn’t have to stay there.
Your right to a refund is governed by your rental agreement with that third party, not Marriott’s Terms and Conditions. Most rental agreements allow you to get a refund if there is a health or safety issue with the unit. Molds and construction are definitely qualified, but you’ll need to work with a rental company.
You gave the rental company and Homes & Villas by Marriott a chance to fix the problem, but they didn’t. I think Marriott was right in directing me back to the car rental company, except in the case of a refund. Only Marriott can redeem Bonvoy points.
I reviewed your paper trail. During my discussions with Marriott or the vacation rental agency, I did not mention a rental agreement. However, you provided a photo of the tattered furniture.
When you find yourself in a situation like this, hopefully it never happens again, but you should document everything. Keep contracts and emails and take lots of pictures. Take photos of not only the worn-out furniture, but also the mold and unsafe conditions that prove the rental is uninhabitable.
Ultimately, I think Marriott bears some of the blame for this rental. After all, it gave your rental its name and allowed you to use points. I have posted the names, phone numbers and email addresses of Marriott executives on my consumer advocacy site www.elliott.org/company-contacts/marriott-contact-details/. I hope that a brief and polite email might have helped resolve this.
I have contacted Marriott on your behalf. They refunded the points without providing any further explanation.
Christopher Elliott is Chief Advocacy Officer for Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps solve consumer problems. Elliott’s latest book is “How to Become the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National His Geographic). Contact him at elliott.org/help or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c) 2022 Christopher Elliott
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