My wife and I enjoy spending the warm and wonderful weather of Antigua Guatemala for the winter months. Guatemala offers just stunning warm weather in the late fall and early spring months. Each year we like to stay in a different part of Guatemala over the last few years Livingston Guatemala and Lake Atitlan were a few of our choices. This year we decided back to Antigua our choice was late in the season and many friends in Guatemala that owned homes had already rented them for part of the season. So in line we went shopping for along term vacation rental.
After a month of e-mail and phone calls we landed with this property on HomeAway.com
This was the headline or featured introduction to this property on Homeaway.com
Located 5 minutes from Antigua’s Central Park. This beautiful property is encrusted in one of the many mountains that surround Antigua Guatemala. The property has awesome green gardens and an incomparable calm that will force you to rest and leave stress behind. This is a new house, some of the rooms have never been used before and the decoration has been made with dedication and good taste. Get time for your self to read, watch great movies in the TV room or play the piano. This house is great as a romantic escapade or for a family and friends gathering. You can grill, cook and have a great time while enjoying the weather that has made Guatemala famous.
We talked via e-mail and phone with the owner in Miami about this vacation rental property in Antigua Guatemala. We have found over the years if you don’t know the people ask all the basic questions about renting a vacation property. I felt like we had found the perfect home and asked for a discount from the owner from the $3,000 a month asking price to $2,200 a month. On September I sent a $2,200 deposit to hold the property using paypal and having funds come through my Visa card. This is wise advise for first time renters that have not seen or have direct access to a property to review what the owners claims are.
Paypal does have a process for dealing with issues around payments made and then when the goods are not as described. It is a process to go through however Paypal makes all attempts to protect ones interests. If you pay cash and PayPal cannot resolve the problem well you are out the money. Paying via a credit card through Paypal gives you double protection. If Paypal cannot resolve and issue you can go back to the credit card company and have them reverse the payment.
With great excitement my wife and I left Canada for our warm and pleasant time in Antigua Guatemala. Upon our arrival at Guatemala City our driver could not figure out the directions to the home. We called the home owners mother who lives in Guatemala City she gave our driver directions. Almost there one more phone call and we arrive at the entrance to the home. Our hearts dropped we were told this was a gated community. Well not quite. A big steel gate and a monster of a hill to climb past a number of never finished homes that were in ruin.
We arrived to a home that must have been closed up for along time and with the rain of late in Guatemala the smell of mold and stale air greeted these two exhausted travelers. A long flight tired we were greeted by the owners daughter who said if we need anything call her and she would be at our beck and call. Now my wife is a champ this house pushed my loves champion mood to an end. Beds were not made up as the picture show.
No TV, no library and on and on we went to bed and froze that night in this damp home.
In the morning we looked out at nothing the house has no views in a country that has spectacular views. We called the owners mother, the daughter nothing. No one was to be found. Okay lets have a shower and try and find Antigua Guatemala. NO WATER. We decided even with a Guatemala Telephone no one could understand our location well in fact we are lost. We walked to Antigua, luckily along the way a very nice man stopped and picked us up. If this home was 5 minutes from Antigua Guatemala it took 15 minutes in a car to reach Antigua.
We checked into a hotel grabbed a taxi returned to the home and captured our luggage and left. Again no one was around no guard and no one answered their phones.
Back in Antigua we e-mailed the owner and politely stated this was not going to work. We told the owner we wanted our $4,200 returned less $500 dollar they could keep.
The owner promise to return our money. 5 days later nothing but excuses. See e-mails form the owner.
On Thu, 20 Oct 2011 13:27:29 -0400, Juan P. Riley wrote: I’m, sorry to hear that, I don’t know where the misunderstanding is I even sent you the Google maps croakier. I wanted to talk to you to know if you wanted the washer dryer or if you wanted to have your laundry taken care of. Also the house smells like mold because it has been raining a lot and because we didn’t rent the house to nobody to save it for you guys. In relation to the water I don’t know what could happen there is plenty of water all day. However I understand what you are saying and I will send your money back to you. I really don’t know how to do that, I think it would be easier if you can give me your banking information and I make you a transfer. Regards. Juan Pablo Riley
#2 I sent the money to Guatemala, I just reversed the transaction and I will have the money available to transfer it tomorrow.
#3 Can I give the money in cash to you in Antigua?
#4 Ok I will send it to your credit card, please note that today there are no banks in Guatemala and that may delay one day the refund, that is why I was proposing to give it to you in cash. But don’t worry I will send your money back as soon as possible. Juan Pablo Riley
#5 Jim/Lis: I understand that you are mad and disappointed with the house but I told you that I was going to send the money back to you.
I think there is no need to open a dispute in paypal. Please reconsider this, as I told you I am sending the money back. J Riley
Nothing happened we opened just e-mails and no money. We case with PayPal, contacted our Lawyer and plan to have Visa reverse the payments. HomeAway.com does not offer a way to deal with disputes you can only write a review which they will approve or not.
So $4,400 less we started again to find another home for our long term vacation rental plans.