By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A birthday trip did not go as planned for some Twin Cities couples who booked a house on VRBO.

As WCCO-TV found, their experience has them sending a warning to other travelers before using the wildly-popular rental website.

The pictures from their time in Portland’s wine country only show the best moments from Scott Erlanson’s 50th birthday in September — and not the change of plans they were forced to make.

“Nothing was guaranteed, and we were stranded,” Denise Erlanson said.

The Erlansons booked on VRBO months before their trip. The four couples settled on a four-bedroom, four-bath wine country estate and paid the $3,400 for the three-night stay.

But, they got quite a surprise when they arrived to check in.

“Turns out another group was in the house,” Scott said.

vrbo ‘We Were Stranded’: Minn. Couple Gives VRBO Warning

(credit: CBS)

“We were told, ‘The house was triple booked.’ I said, ‘Triple booked?’” Denise said.

For hours, they scrambled to find a new place during peak wine season. They ended up splitting their time between two different hotels nearly an hour away.

“It wasn’t ideal, but at least we had a place to stay,” Scott said.

In addition to the full refund for the house, they say a VRBO rep told them they would be reimbursed for their new lodging cost of $3,900.

“Got an email address to submit our receipts to. It was going to all be taken care of,” Scott said.

For the last six weeks, it seemed that vow from VRBO changed.

“Their first offer to reimburse us was $126,” Scott said.

The Erlansons estimate they have spent dozens of hours trying to get their money back.

“Each round takes four days and a couple of hours of being on the phone, emails,” he said.

However, a full refund was again on the table once WCCO-TV got involved. Christina Song from HomeAway gave us the following statement: “The property owner promptly issued a full refund to the Erlansons. Additionally, VRBO offered them full reimbursement for their hotel stay. We are evaluating this property to ensure this does not happen again. “

Still, the Erlansons are sending a warning before anyone else prematurely unpacks.

“I want people to know that you need a backup plan,” Denise said.

VRBO called what happened in this case very rare, and a marketplace violation by the property manager.

The Erlansons also wanted to post a review on the property, but the VRBO’s website would not allow it because they never actually stayed there.

Liz Collin

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