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Frustrated with some of the house rental websites

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I think this is the most active forum, so I thought I'd post here hoping to get some insights from others.

For years we have happily and successfully used sites like VRBO, Homeaway and Owners Direct for rentals throughout the world. With one exception that wasn't too horrible an experience, we have always been happy with what we've rented through these sites. And, we've left our rentals in the same clean condition we found them so I know owners have not had any problems with us as renters.

Last spring for a trip to Italy I gave AirB&B a try. I was absolutely fed up with all of the hoops and hassles involved with AirB&B (and all of the intensely personal information asked for before even being allowed to use the site) and fed up with the fact that I couldn't talk to an owner directly by phone prior to renting. So, I've written off AirB&B.

Now, for a rental (in the US) I am trying to use Flipkey for the first time. And, I am finding the same issues. I want to talk to the owner to clarify some things because I believe that personal contact is the very best way for a renter and the owner to make sure they are a match. But, this site too won't allow people to have a phone conversation (or to have direct personal e-mail contact) unless a payment has been made. The house seems to be exactly what I am looking for as far as a rental, but the website the owner has chosen to work with is really putting me off.

Have others of you felt the same frustrations when using these two sites? Or, am I alone?And, if you are an owner who lists their property through AirB&B or Flipkey I am wondering why you chose these sites rather than others.

Thanks for the thoughts.

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