Vrbo hosts report problems with payment from Austin-based vacation rental company

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hosts with an Austin-based vacation rental company have reported delays in getting paid, in some cases for weeks.

Amit Gupta has listed his Tulum, Mexico home on sites like Vrbo and Airbnb for several years.

He says it’s usually pretty simple: list the house, book guests, and get paid. In fact, the site promises payment within roughly 24 hours of guest check-in.

This month, however, Gupta told KXAN he didn’t receive payment. When several days went by, he got worried.

“I incur about $2,000 dollars a month, for every month of stay, in electricity costs because I have six air conditioners,” Gupta said, also citing the daily cost of providing other amenities at his property that sleeps 16 people.

If he wasn’t paid on time, he feared he would not being able to keep the space up and running for his guests.

“Every time I called it was a different support rep,” Gupta said. “One support rep told me, ‘There are thousands of cases ahead of you.

However, a Vrbo spokesperson said, “Months ago, we migrated to a new payments platform which may be why you’re hearing from some homeowners. We’re happy to look into specific cases… but we’re not aware of problems with payments being received.”

Gupta pointed to dozens comments from other Vrbo and HomeAway hosts on online forums expressing similar concerns.

“Now, what you are going to have are more problems with people like me canceling our listing. I will not take guests from them anymore,” Gupta said. He decided to only list his home on a competitor site, Airbnb.

“These are signs of internal cash problems,” Gupta said, explaining he thinks there might be bigger problems at the company.

This week, Vrbo’s parent company Expedia announced it would be cutting thousands of jobs.

Their statement said: Expedia Group announced our intent to simplify how we do business. This includes stopping certain projects and activities, reducing use of vendors and contractors and eliminating approximately 12 percent of our direct workforce. Of course, this estimate is subject to consultation in countries where that would apply.

It’s been reported that leaders within the company have called 2019 “disappointing.”

Gupta said he felt like it was too coincidental that he was finally paid right around the time of the company’s Feb. 13 earnings call.

“Oh, so you are trying to inflate your earnings by holding back money from thousands of hosts?” he said.

However, Vrbo said the changes at Expedia and the questions concerning payments were “unrelated.”

Gupta said, whatever the issue was, “When you have to chase payments, that is not acceptable.”

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