Chloé and her friends rent a 6000 euros villa for vacations in Croatia on Booking.com, when arriving on site, they discovered a vacant lot.
They thought they would spend 10 dream days on the island of Hvar in Croatia. But their plans were turned upside down by a scam.
“There was a kind of field. It was empty!” Sunday, Chloé Melin and her friends land on the island of Hvar in Croatia hoping to spend a dream vacation in a villa by the sea. But, surprise! The very luxurious building pictures put on the Internet rented 6240 euros for two weeks does not exist.
“From there, we went to see the neighbours and the shopkeepers to understand that we had the wrong address,” says the 22-year-old Parisian. The group of twelve people, from Paris suburbs and Orléans (Loiret), learnt that other tourists experienced similar disillusionment in July. A scam, as there are many on the Internet. “We felt very humiliated to find ourselves on the street, we do not wish that to happen to anyone,” she sighs.
Scam vacations in Croatia: “The villa was a wasteland”
The ad on Booking.com deleted
In the meantime, the person who is supposed to be the owner of the premises no longer answers the telephone. “It became an unassigned number, although we were answered without problems before,” says Chloé. And the Booking.com site, through which the reservation was made is not of a big help. “We had trouble talking to them, we never spoke to the same person each time. They all told us “We’ll discuss this with our manager”. After, either the communication cut, or they hung up on us. We don’t really know… “
Finally, the group manages to talk with a manager of the rental platform that offers a refund within 10 working days. “She acknowledged their responsibility to have kept the fraudulent advertisement up despite the reports,” says the girl.
Contacted by French newspaper, Booking.com says it is “sincerely sorry” and ensures to have “refunded the totality of the initial reservation”. “[We] also took over the booking of a new accommodation and offered them financial compensation.” The amount of additional compensation amounts to 5000 euros according to the platform. And after being temporarily unavailable for rent, the advertisement for “Villa Felipa” on the island of Hvar has been removed from the website.
Without Twitter, “it would never have progressed”
“The refund is currently being processed,” confirms Chloé. But according to the young woman, “it would never have progressed” if she and her friend Julie had not shared their story. From Sunday, they both told their story on Twitter.
Their messages, along with photos and videos, have been shared thousands of times. So much so that “Croatia” found itself at the top of the keywords most relayed Tuesday morning on the social network. “We were hoping for visibility and Booking to react because we did not get much from them,” says Chloé. It made a lot of noise, we were not expecting it. “
Among the responses of Internet users, messages of support, advice, but also many jokes and sarcasm about the price of the villa which, according to some, had to challenge the group. “We began to have doubts a little after the first payment (note: July 24), slips Chloé. A week before our arrival, the owner was no longer answering my messages. Before, she answered all the time.”
More than 1000 euros paid per person
Without accommodation on Sunday, the group wandered all day trying to find solutions. After paying a hotel night the first night, they decide to rent a new villa, thanks to word of mouth. “The agency and the owners have been very accommodating with the terms of payment,” said Chloe, relieved.
Nevertheless, the addition of all these expenses was too sudden. “Two of our friends had to return to France urgently because financially it was not possible for them to advance money again,” regrets Chloé. She herself has already spent almost 1000 euros on airline tickets and renting the fake villa, where she was supposed to stay until 31 August.
Shortened vacations in Croatia by the scam?
Today, the group which counts only ten people, does not know if it will be able to stay so long. “We all arrived with an extra budget for outings, shopping and restaurants, but that did not include the budget for a new rental,” says Chloé.
Something to spoil the beautiful vacation planned. “We like to go out and party and we chose the island of Hvar for that,” she continues. We were in the center of everything, near the sea and the beach. Right now, we can not afford to go out as planned…”
But the young woman, who will begin training as a care aide in September, remains optimistic. “We have good group cohesion, we get on well.” She and her friends want to enjoy the few days they can finally spend on the island without thinking of this sad mishap. There is no question of going to the police station. “The days were pretty tough like that. “
If you want to read a more happy travel story than these vacations in Croatia, check the odyssey of Guirec and Monique!