Perils of Booking a villa direct with owners - Fri 04th March 2011

Sunday Times exposes perils of booking direct with owners through DIY portals

Did you see Found the Perfect Villa? in the Sunday Times Travel section on 20 February? (Visit the Times website to subscribe and view the article in full).

Unsuspecting holidaymakers booked villas only to discover that the accommodation simply did not exist. Scrolling down these websites to the small print will give precious little comfort, with companies such as Holiday Home Rentals stating that it is:

‘unable to give any confirmation or guarantees regarding any of the properties advertised on its website'.

Equally chilling is the statement by HomeAway Holiday-Rentals, which denies any responsibility for:

‘the quality, safety or legality of the properties advertised, the truth or accuracy of the listings'.

HomeAway Holiday-Rentals goes on to clarify that in the event of fraud, compensation is restricted to 50 per cent of the rental, up to a maximum of £700. It's a high price to pay for being misled.

Booking with ABTA-registered agents

The article goes on to suggest that it is safer to book with ABTA-registered agents. But is this true? If you read around, you'll discover that the days of cast-iron protection from ABTA are over.

Check out what ABTA itself says in The Guardian's End of Travel Protection, The Times' Travellers ABTA Protection Under Threat and ABTA Puts One Wheel Back on a Wheel-less Car

Not only that, but ABTA had its code of conduct withdrawn by the Office of Fair Trading . Or find out what travel industry bible Travel Weekly had to say about it in ABTA Criticised for Code of Conduct Violation

And there are certainly plenty of disenchanted holidaymakers out there. Hear what some of them have to say on the forums on:

Holiday Truths

Holiday Watchdog

Holiday Watchdog Forum

Suggesting that consumers should rely on ABTA-registered firms is confusing and flawed. Quite frankly, comments made by ABTA, and the above reports, are scary. The message is clear. In these uncertain times, any company can go into liquidation and any individual can go bankrupt. So, how do you protect your well-earned holiday?

The only answer is to pay by credit card, such as Visa or MasterCard (not a debit or charge card like Amex or Diners Club). In the event that something goes wrong, you should receive a 100 per cent refund, as advised by Which consumer magazine here

How to find hand-picked villas in Spain

Piece of mind is important when booking villas in Spain or anywhere. That's why VillaSpain does not apply a credit card surcharge when you use your personal credit card to book any of our villa Spain options. It's also why you can quiz us on each and every villa in our exclusive collection.

We offer hand-picked luxury rental villas in Spain. We inspect and rate them regularly and believe that our customers deserve expert advice they can trust.

Thinking of booking a break? Call us on 01273 623723 and put us to the test!

Let us have your views on booking villas in Spain. Leave your comments here.

Posted by Bruce Gibson

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