Editor’s note: This is long…but worth reading if you ever use vacation rental websites…
Ever since our son and his fiance announced their intention of being married on Martha’s Vineyard (YAY!!) I have been on the hunt for a rental property to house my family for the week of the event. Renting a home for a large group, as opposed to booking individual hotel rooms, makes sense economically. With a group, the per night cost is much less, plus you can cook many of your own meals as opposed to eating out. And, you get to hang out together, which is always fun when you have family coming in from other parts of the country. We have rented many homes on Martha’s Vineyard with family and friends in the olden days, before the internet was invented (yup, I am THAT old). Back then, you got the Boston Sunday Globe-in paper form-grabbed the rentals section and sat circling tiny 1 inch ads of properties on the island while sipping your Sunday morning coffee. Like this:
Fast forward to the information super highway with anything you want or need, literally at your fingertips! Nowadays, I use several different vacation rental websites to find and procure our vacation homes, mostly with great success. Until this recent search, I thought the biggest issue was that there are just so many rentals online to peruse with thousands of pictures, that it becomes just a bit overwhelming! But, this time around has proven to be a different story. The first rental I chose, through HomeAway.com was a gorgeous estate in very close proximity to the venue. Perfect for our family-even had a pool! I had been in touch with the property owner several times to discuss the dates available, etc. So I booked the home online, confident that my search was over. Imagine my dismay when I received a phone call from the owner the following day stating that she was very sorry, but she had been busy traveling all summer and hadn’t had a chance to update her listing. Now the price, instead of being $5000 for 5 days, was now $10,000 for the same time frame : 0 Needless to say, I canceled that reservation, not only because the price was WAY more than I wanted to spend, but because I was furious that I wasted all that time and energy with some chick that has this giant mansion as her income property playtoy. Fortunately, she refunded my deposit immediately and I was back on the vacation home hunt once again. This past week, I found a second home, this time on VRBO.com (a sister site to HomeAway) an old B&B that is now a private rental. 10 bedrooms, each with its own bath, right near downtown Oak Bluffs, within walking distance to everything. Again, I contacted the agent through the website portal and awaited a response. To my delight, she emailed me the next morning stating that the property was available for my rental dates. AND, instead of the $5000, it would only be $3000 AND if I paid it all up front, she would also give me an additional 15% off! Looks legit, right? I mean, it has the HomeAway logo on it. But look at the email address:
Now, if you have rented on the Vineyard before, you know that 1. The price is NEVER cheaper than advertised and 2. An extra discount for booking early is rare-you HAVE to book early-prime properties go fast, especially during the “wedding season” on the island. So I emailed her back and said yes, but all the while, knowing in my gut, something was not quite right. She emailed requesting my information (now, I’m not an English teacher but I can spot a run-on sentence when I see one…)
The fake company and foreign bank listed on the rental agreement were the confirmation I needed. Good thing they have a Carefree Rental Guarantee!While I was in the process of investigating further (and preparing to contact the website company to report my suspicions) but well BEFORE I sent my $2850 to England, I received a phone call, this time from the real listing agent. After a short conversation, we realized that following my initial inquiry, the hacker had been intercepting both my incoming and the rental agent’s outgoing emails and had used my information to create the false invoice! Suffice to say, we were both a little freaked out-she, because this is her livelihood and the hacker was able to steal her listing to create a fraudulent one and me, because I was would have been out a LOT of money had I not been paying attention! I forwarded her the email correspondence from the hacker and she, in turn, reported it to VRBO. Within 20 minutes, I received an urgent warning message from VRBO stating that there was fraudulent action on the listing (Ya THINK!?). Which was cool that they were right on top of it. But not cool that the hacker was able to do this in the first place on a secure website. On the other hand, I suppose if they can shut down airports and banks, a little rental agency on the Vineyard would be a day at the beach for a hacker…literally. So there you go. A word of warning to all of you would-be renters out there. Do your homework and follow the instructions on the rental websites: always talk to the listing person, be aware of things like poor grammar and false emails and remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it
probably, definitely is. Have a great weekend everyone-I hope Joaquin doesn’t make a visit to your part of the Americas! Susan
It is been three months (and a day) since my last blog post on June 25th. During these past few months of summer, we sold my mom’s condo and moved her into a sunny new two bedroom apartment, which she loves. Obviously, this is the before…”afters” coming shortly!
and Coach and I spent the weekends at the Barn at Todd Farm selling our “junk-tiques”.
and finally finished both the Hall of Shame (LOVING the new herringbone carpet-so soft!)
During this time, I kept thinking that perhaps it was time to say goodbye to this blog because frankly, I really didn’t think I had anything left to say. Every time I was working on a new DIY project for the wedding (or the barn) I would start to take photographs…but then I would get distracted and forget until the project was completed.
Whoops. Or I would see something very similar to my project on Pinterest or on another blog and think “It’s all been done before. How many ways can you decorate a mason jar (turns out there are millions…)?
Why would anyone want to read what I have to say?” The pressure of just thinking about writing, never mind actually doing the writing had me teetering near the edge. But now, after being idle (for a quarter of a year!!) I realize that my walking away was just the stress talking…I just couldn’t handle ONE MORE THING. Now that the summer has ended and our lives have settled back into some sort of normalcy (until we start gearing up for wedding #2 in 2016 with our son Chris and his beautiful bride-to-be, Ashley),
it occurs to me that perhaps I have a little blog left in me. And I am hoping that you still have a little blog reading left in you? I’m not promising much, just a few snippets of our lives here and there and any interesting DIY projects-if I remember to take the photos along the way! I am staying true to my country design roots, but adding some fresh new country style decorating ideas for your reading pleasure. Oh, and one final piece of business. My current gmail email@example.com been repeatedly hacked and I’m sick of getting spam emails-FROM ME-selling Viagra and promising me millions of inherited $$$ from a king in a foreign land. Thanks, google. So I’m in the process of shutting it down entirely. My new email is changing to firstname.lastname@example.org, so if you’re trying to reach me (other than within the comments section of this blog) that’s where I’ll be. Thanks for being a patient and faithful follower…we’ll talk again soon, OK? Susanread more
As you may (or may not) have noticed, I have not been doing a lot of blogging recently. Life is a bit crazy right now, with the upcoming wedding taking full priority in our lives. Along with the ongoing wedding decor projects and prepping our home and yard for out-of-town guests that will be staying here, as well as keeping the shop stocked in the Barn at Todd Farm, well…I just haven’t had a lot of time for anything resembling writing. I am doing lots of DIY projects at a fast pace, but just don’t have the time to stop and photograph them, as well as write the DIY info out for the blog. Add to that, the fact that I STILL don’t have a dress for the wedding (YIKES!) and you can see that my stress levels are starting to climb just a wee bit. AND, to top it all off, my emails are being hacked continuously; I change the password frequently, and no sooner is it done then I receive more email spam from ME!! So, I am pulling all of my gmail emails from this time forward. If you receive any from email@example.com with promises of anything from free money to all kinds of “ahem” enhancers, they are not from me- please just delete them! So I am closing down that account and changing all of my accounts over to a new hosted email. Which will take awhile in between all of my other daily craziness. So, my plan is to take a break and focus on the tasks at hand and return after the wedding fun is done. I promise I will take lots of pics for future blog posts! Once my new email is in place, you will receive them from firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, have a great summer everyone and if you want to check in with me, head up to the Barn at Todd Farm any Sunday…
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