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Lovely looking chalet, not on Tripadvisor. Would you book?

(25 Posts)
Muchtoomuchtodo Fri 12-May-17 11:27:32

I posted on chalets direct looking for a chalet this summer and had a few replies. One in particular looks perfect. I've looked at the website and spoken on the phone to the owner. As an independent operator they're not registered with ABTA or anything similar. We do of course have travel insurance.

One thing that I usually look for when booking anywhere new is their Trip Advisor reviews to get a general feel for peoples' opinions. This particular chalet isn't featured on there at all. Would this put you off?

kath6144 Fri 12-May-17 12:23:10

Who would you be paying the money to? Direct to owner, or through a website with some guarantee? Can you pay by credit card to get protection. Can you see the chalet on google maps?

Where is the chalet, would you be able to find back up accommodation if it didnt exist or was double booked?

I have rented a house through owners direct before, in Ireland, paying the owner a sterling cheque as deposit BUT we were going to see my uncle and auntie, so I sent the cheque to them, they went and checked the house out etc.

We were going to book airbnb as first place to stay in an upcoming USA trip, but I was nervous in case the booking got cancelled nearer the time, for whatever reason, didn't want to have to find somewhere to stay in a busy city at last minute. We went with a hotel in the end, even though airbnb would have given us more space etc.

I think you can only weigh up the risks, look at paying in a way to get protection etc. Can you ask the owner if you can contact some of their previous renters?

Muchtoomuchtodo Fri 12-May-17 12:47:16

It would be an online transfer of money direct to the owner.

I can't find it on google maps but I'm not the best as this kind of stuff so will get DH to look later.

Thanks for your thoughts.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 12-May-17 16:46:56

Re your comment:-
"It would be an online transfer of money direct to the owner"

No, never pay off platform i.e. the website.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. I would look for another chalet in any event or at the very least book with a company that is actually ABTA registered.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 12-May-17 16:53:50

I would do a reverse image search as well of the chalet. It may be that this is actually a fake listing. There are plenty of scammers out there who also target ski and other types of chalets.

Aquiver Fri 12-May-17 18:26:37

Please, please be careful if paying the chalet owner directly.

A colleague of mine found a holiday let via Air BnB recently (or similar) for hers and 3 other families' group holiday and paid "off platform" directly to the owner's bank account for all of them - was all a scam and she is now £5k out of pocket with absolutely no recourse - and absolutely devastated sad

Nocarbsorsugar Fri 12-May-17 20:39:45

There must be a way of looking up the owner to make sure they own the property. If you could get proof of that I would book.
The scams are because most people don't feel the need to check the owners as they are listed on secondary sites like Airbnb or Owners Direct.
Many owners request the money directly - why wouldn't they. They have no idea if they can trust you either But you do need to some proof who you are dealing with. Check local area listings too are they advertising there?

Muchtoomuchtodo Fri 12-May-17 20:58:40

They've got a UK based account which is where any payments we make should go.

I don't want to piss them off because we'd love to go there (if it exists).

What type of questions can I ask to quash my fears?

SunshineDeLaSoul Fri 12-May-17 21:01:57

Definitely not.

JoWithABow Fri 12-May-17 21:06:59

How do you know they own the property though? They could have just pinched the photos off another site (like rightmove equivalent or something). This is the risk you are running by booking something like this, and if it goes wrong there's no recourse.

mummymummums Fri 12-May-17 21:09:13

A friend of mine found a holiday cottage through a reputable website but had to pay owner direct. Shortly before holiday a relative made contact and said they had to cancel as owner was now living in the cottage. Website didn't want to know as they were just an advertising type site and friend out of pocket. Owner ignored all communications. They did eventually get money back but only because by chance they found her son and he plainly didn't like idea if litigation

Muchtoomuchtodo Fri 12-May-17 21:10:04

I know, and this is why I'm trying to find out that it's all above board before parting with any money.

What I need to know now is the best way of doing this.

mummymummums Fri 12-May-17 21:15:53

Is it England? If it was you could do land registry search to check ownership. If not, with no reviews and nothing on google maps I'd be suspicious.

Muchtoomuchtodo Fri 12-May-17 21:51:16

The chalet is in France, the bank account for any payments is a UK account.

I know the hosts names (and parents) and have googled them. They definitely exist. The company has a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Both have been inactive for a couple of years which fits with what I've been told.

AttilaTheMeerkat Sat 13-May-17 08:24:51

Have you reverse google searched the listing?.

I would contact the mayor's office standards to see if there have been complaints made in that area re the listing.

Still would not touch this listing with a long pole as the chalet is in France but with a UK bank account to make payments into. An online transfer is a sure fire way of never getting any money back either.

Parents and relatives existing mean nothing either re veracity; their details could have been easily taken off the net.

Re this comment:-
"The scams are because most people don't feel the need to check the owners as they are listed on secondary sites like Airbnb or Owners Direct. Many owners request the money directly - why wouldn't they".

Examples of common scams include:-
Advance Fee Scam: A type of scam in which an individual offers money or another reward in exchange for you transferring money through various payment services outside of Airbnb.
Phishing Scam: A type of scam in which someone will send an email or link that is made to look like it's from Airbnb or another trusted site. These messages are designed to trick you into providing confidential information such as passwords or other email addresses and may contain malware, which is malicious software that gains access to your computer to gather your personal information, including passwords.
Travel Scam: A type of scam in which someone will encourage you to secure your too good to be true listing by sending payment via wire transfer or with an advanced deposit in order to collect the money without providing the advertised accommodation.
Overpayment Scam: A type of scam in which someone will offer more than what your listing may be worth, and ask you to repay them in cash

Airbnb and the like always encourage clients to pay direct via the platform i.e. the site.

kath6144 Sat 13-May-17 15:09:57

If there is nothing AT ALL on the web with the name/place of the chalet, I would be suspicious.

Surely previous renters would put a comment on Tripadvisor if it was such a good place/deal? Can you ask them why there have never been any reviews of the chalet?

kath6144 Sat 13-May-17 15:14:08

What reason have they given for their Facebook page being inactive?

Even if they weren't renting it out for those 2years, are there not any earlier reviews on the website?

Can you email someone in the location it is in (town hall or such - use google translate if you cant speak French). It would at least give you an idea if it exists as a rental property.

turtletum Sat 13-May-17 17:12:16

I'd be cautious. Could you contact local tourist office for the resort and see if registered with them? My understanding is all holiday let's must charge tourist tax per person per night so should be registered. I had a similar experience with an Austrian chalet but did some hunting online. I went on snowheads forum too and asked those with local knowledge. Turns out my chalet did exist and I paid via credit card, had to pay extra fee but felt piece of mine was worth it. All was fine but only after extensive checking. They weren't on trip advisor. I've heard of lots of scams when asked to pay direct to owners bank. If in doubt, don't book.

jenpetronus Sun 14-May-17 10:10:58

I own and rent out accommodation in France and have a UK bank account where guests directly transfer money for their holidays. I also have a website, a FB page for the gite, and an Instagram account. I also encourage all new guests to phone me, or I offer to call them to answer any questions and generally sory things out - hopefully that alone reassures them. I would be very, very careful. If it feels wrong it probably is. As above, they will have to pay tourist tax with the local authorities, but imo it should be them trying to reassure you, not you having to chase round trying to find this out. Good luck, I hope it works out for you.

Muchtoomuchtodo Sun 14-May-17 22:40:44

Atilla what's a reverse Google search?

I have spoken to the owner and explained my concerns - she claims to completely understand. She has asked some previous guests to get in touch with me; I have had an email supposedly from someone who has stayed with them several times but even this might not be real.

The reason for their lapse in bookings is because they've had a difficult family time. I've found some pretty personal stuff while I've been digging on the internet which back this story up.

I've asked if I can pay via credit card or Paypal for peace of mind.

My French is far from being conversational level but I think I'm going to try phoning the local tourist office tomorrow.

AttilaTheMeerkat Mon 15-May-17 07:16:44

The above could help you re the reverse image search.

I would actually find another chalet and site to deal with.

For all you know she herself or a friend of hers could have written that e-mail to you. You have no idea at all whether this listing is actually genuine or not. If in doubt do not book this.

If its too good to be true it often is.
Please do not ever pay for such a service with Paypal!.

Muchtoomuchtodo Mon 15-May-17 13:11:59

Update: her credit card facility has lapsed because of the time out that they have taken from running the business. She is going to reinstate it today.

I've had another email from 'previous guests' and internet stalked them; the reports all add up.

The owners are on LinkedIn and the content on there backs up everything else.

Trying to pluck up courage to phone the local tourist office!

Muchtoomuchtodo Mon 15-May-17 13:26:10

I've chickened out of phoning them and have used google trailer to compose an email. I could have read this out to them but would probably struggle to understand the reply - the answer is too important to second guess what they're saying.

jenpetronus Mon 15-May-17 13:45:47

The toursist office will almost certainly speak excellent English!

Muchtoomuchtodo Mon 15-May-17 21:41:46

The tourist office have replied - they know the owners but the chalet is not registered with them. The address does exist.

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