AMEX/Kensington Park Apts. Nightmare!

Oct 23rd, 2003, 05:48 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
AMEX/Kensington Park Apts. Nightmare!

Well, you asked for it and here is the update on our nightmare experience with Kensington Park Apartment "vacation rentals". As you know from my previous post, we arrived at above mentioned apartment for the second leg of our London holiday. Upon arrival, we found the apartment to be completely unlike the one advertised on their website and not at all described in their e-mails to us. We signed an emailed contract beliving that we were getting an apartment as represented on the website. $930 for a five night stay. The apartment was filthy beyond description. Luckily I took photos. We rejected the apartment, never spent one single night in it and ended up at the Holiday Inn on Cromwell Ave. in Kensington for the week.

Long boring story short, we took the matter up with AMEX. After sending them a detailed description of our ordeal as well as photos - three months later they have finally replied. Since Basil of Kensington Park Apartments refuses to waive our rental fee, AMEX has decided to discount us $300. We are still liable for the $630 plus finance charges for the past three months. They stated that while they were sorry that we had such an awful experience, there was nothing more they could do for us since we signed that contract. BUYER BEWARE OF INTERNET APARTMENT RENTALS! I do not care one bit if this is PC or not. We were promised one thing and were purposefully ripped off my a crooked scammer. Months of emails and communication went on between us prior to signing this contract. Careful consideration was given based on false information. We now must pay $630 plus finance charges for this? OUTRAGEOUS! UNACCEPTABLE! My only hope is that absolutely nobody else will fall VICTIM to this SCAM!
Calamari is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 06:51 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,857
Calamari: Why must you pay the $630? I would dispute it with AMEX, which I have found is very good with regard to these sorts of disputes, and just hold off, forever, if necessary, on paying.

I know it's a different scenario, but recently, on a trip to France, my rental car was useless for two days out of the four I rented it for. I just got an e-mail from AutoEurope this evening saying they would refund two days worth of my car rental. That's half the price I paid, and I'm grateful for the refund.
StCirq is online now  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 06:59 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
St Cirq.

That was my feeling, but I hate to damage my credit by not paying. Frankly, I find it outrageous that I have to pay ANYTHING. Especially since several AMEX employees (no I did not get all of their names) assured me that based on my letter and the photograghic eveidence that I would not have to pay one red dime! It was the live operators that pointed out the fact that I signed a contract based on false and misleading information provided on the web. I posted here right after opening their coorespondence and look forward to speaking with their customer service in the a.m. Could be an earthquake in CA tomorrow.

Happy to hear that you were given the rental car credit. You are very fortunate as it very likely could not have gone in your favour.
Calamari is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 07:08 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
Calamari,
Now is a very good time to write a nice long letter to the Omnbudsman at Conde Nast Travler Magazine. They do wonders with getting peoples money back and the added satisfaction of publishing the shoddy treatment not to mention digs that they were trying to charge you for.
I am so sorry this happened, it can really ruin a holiday when things like this happen.
Now start writing!
Good Luck, Scarlett
Scarlett is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 07:08 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 28,925
just a thought....why not make it really difficult for the apartment....try to recruit some london tabloid or the tourist authority to intervene or do an expose???

IN THE UK THEY ARE VERY CONSCIENCE OF BUSINESS PRACTICES AND ABUSES AND LOVE TO CREATE A FURROR--JUST BE CAREFUL OF SLANDER...

did you get them from some internet source other than their own site? if so i would bug that source for assistance..

two years ago i arranged for my in-laws car to be transported from florida to boston because of sudden illness.... there were several weeks of lead time..it wa not last minute...i found the hauler on a car movement web-site....i paid in full with the reservation via credit card (not amex)...they did not show up on the appointed day or for 7 days thereafter when i cancelled....i flew to ft myers and drove the car home myself...ugh...

no one would help...the company refused my telephone calls...the president did not return my calls....the better business bureau was of no help and were worthless in my opinion (miami area)...the attorney general of florida assigned my case to a subordinate, who i heard from once and then never again...i rote to the attorney general again with no reply....
i started bugging the web-site person, who was very nice....after several months he finally arranged for a full refund for me (about $500 as i remember)....he was the only one who would listen or help and follow through...i did have to keep after him too....

GIVE 'EM HELL AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS....
rhkkmk is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 07:21 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
Miss Scarlett,
Please pardon my ignorance, but what or who is Omnbudsman? I love the magazine and relish the idea of sending them a copy of my AMEX letter and the photos.

Rhkmk,
Thanks for that insightful tale. What an ordeal! I almost feel fortunate now. Sadly, it is tough to fight a battle across the Atlantic. My best revenge is to WARN WARN WARN fellow travelers of this place. I am amazed that AMEX even has a sellers contract with them. My goal will be to have them pull it. You mentioned slander. Now what do you think that would be? Insulting this man's arabic nationality, the smell of his establishment, his lack of integrity? It would be difficult not to slander such a theif!
Calamari is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 07:32 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 34,738
Inside the Consumer Help section is Conde Nast Traveler's Ombudsman, a consumer advocate for people seeking free advice and feedback on travel-related consumer disputes.

Grab any old magazine and get the address, they probably have a web address and send them a good letter.
Good luck, honey~
Scarlett is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 07:59 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
Scarlett
You are a gem! I am sending off a copy of my letter as we speak!
Merci!
Calamari is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:34 PM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
Where or where is Janis when you NEED her???
Calamari is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 10:44 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
Calamari:

You are making extremely serious charges about a London business. Charges which could lead to libel suits being brought against Fodors by the business (even if your claims of "scam" are true, Fodors aren't necessarily protected under English law)

But you seem not to have looked into the more obvious remedies you have. Have you reported your allegations to Kensington/Chelsea or Westminster Trading Standards Office? Try www.tradingstandards.gov.uk for starters.

You're in effect claiming the apartment company are criminals (because your claim is that they took money for something they had no intention of selling you): have you reported them to the police?

Have you reported them to the DTI? A good place to start would HMG's basic site on company complaints: www2.dti.gov.uk/cld/faq.htm.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:00 PM
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
flanerruk.

Excellent suggestions. Frankly, I had not considered any of your suggestions before. What is DTI and HMG though? Thanks for taking the time and sharing your views.
Calamari is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:36 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,144
HMG is the TLA many Brits use to describe the UK Government in contexts where just "The Government" could be confused with other governments. Acronym (for the moment) for "Her Majesty's Government"

The DTI is the Department of Trade and Industry. As practically all law is administered nationally rather than locally, the DTI is responsible both for the stuff the US Dept of Commerce does and for controlling company registration etc in England. In particular, it manages most of the processes concerned with compulsory winding-up of companies, and prosecution of directors for wrongful trading.

Incidentally, the URL I gave you for them seems not to work this morning. Try www.dti.gov.uk/cld/complaints_form.doc, then press the link to Frequently Asked Questions.

UK law requires rather more information to be publicly available about companies than is usual in the US. The Companies House website will give you, for about 5 gbp, the relevant company's trading history and a fair amount about home addresses etc of its directors.

BTW:if you want to get back at these people, don't throw allegations about them around in public that can easily put you in breach of some of Britain's more draconian laws about what you can say, and could even risk undermining a possible prosecution.
flanneruk is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2003, 11:52 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
flanneruk. Once again, above and beyond the call of duty! I sure know who I would want on my side. Good tips. Shall be taken seriously under consideration. BTW what does flanneruk stand for? Is is Scandinavian? Thanks again.
Calamari is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 08:34 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,873
Just saw your posts. flanneruk has given you VERY good advice. Libel laws in the UK are REALLY different than in the USA You are probably safe - but the apartments could easily haul you into court just for the nuisance factor.

The DTI is there to help in conflicts like this - flanner (and possibly sheila if she sees your thread) would be able to give you good suggestions.
janis is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 08:43 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,937
We, too, stayed in an apartment (in Rome), not at all like the description and website "photos". Ours was livable, and the location was excellent so we managed. BUT, I would never again rent thru website without some personal recommendation. If the renters will not give me US person to ask, I would never do it. Still, one never knows the relationship and standards of the stranger who is giving the recommendation. Very sorry for your experience.
Elainee is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 08:47 AM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
Janis
Thank you so much for replying. The manager of the apartment is the person who gave me the idea to aire my dissatisfaction on the web in the first place. He told me the "all the Americans" always go home and post negative comments about KPA. Frankly, I think this is the perfect place to voice an opinion since the topic is travel rants and raves.

I absolutely appreciate your response and will take your advice. Any further suggestions on how to remedy this situation with AMEX?
Calamari is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 09:02 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 3
AMEX isn't the company it once was although, with photo documentation, I'm suspicious why they wouldn't stand 100% behind a dissatisfied customer. This is where a Gold or Platinum Visa or MC with your private bank can come in handy. There must be more to this story. ALWAYS write down the name of every person you deal with in any negotiation.

The apartment-rental-for-vacation business is often not regulated. You must always seek very good advice when venturing into this kind of travel adventure. Many of these apartment owners don't pay taxes on the income earned and many aspects of this business are transacted in the shade. Many agencies who handle these apartments, particularly in Paris, will never reveal the true owner of their agency. Most people enjoy a lovely experience but when something goes terribly wrong, complaining often falls on deaf ears. When you tire of the fight, chalk it up to a learning experience and mention the loss to your accountant at tax time. Maybe there's a way to claim the loss.
MDnyc50 is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 01:55 PM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,321
MDnyc.

I think you summed it up when you said that AMEX is not the company it used to be. I too was very surprised that even with photographic documentation, I did not get further and in the end they based their decission solely on a signed contract. It is not over yet however. AMEX did offer $300 "to make good of the situation" - odd verbage for such a professional corp. The apt. contract states that cancellations made within a seven day period prior to occupancy including the day of check in would be charged for three days stay. They charged me the entire five day stay.

I learned a costly and stress ridden lesson. My sincere hope is that someone can learn from my mistake. I thank you for your valuable input.
Calamari is offline  
Oct 24th, 2003, 03:12 PM
  #20  
lyb
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,142
Let me play Devil's Advocate for a moment and admit upfront that I have kept quiet about this because my sister and I have vacation rentals and I can see the other side very well.

Let me give you an example:

We have 25 vacation rentals in Hawaii, right on the beach. They are rented approximately 85% of the time, we get countless repeat customers and referrals and emails praising the condos and the location, however, once in a while we get people, probably 2 - 3 a year who decide that the units are filthy, they are not the same as what we have on our website (which is totally untrue), etc, etc.... It is always fascinating to me that condos that are loved by 98% of the people are all of sudden so disgusting to a couple of people. Being vacation rentals, we do have people sign contracts because we do not get walk-ins. When that one person decides that the place is filthy, often "after" they have spent 2 weeks there and go back home, we are suspicious of their reasoning.

Now, with regards to credit cards, I have to say that I admire American Express for not just taking the word of the customer and ignoring that there are two sides to every story, well sometimes, just 1 1/2 sides.

A couple of times, though the customer was totally fabricating the stories, (hey, one customer said the ocean was too loud. Duh..you're on the beach!), Visa went ahead and refunded their entire rental fees even though we could prove that they had made up the story. Therefore, I am glad to hear that American Express doesn't automatically take the customer's side.

Having said all that, I do realize that there are times that some vacation rentals are dirty and others don't live up to the expectations that the vacationer had. That's why I am always very careful when renting a vacation rental, because I do know that once I've paid my money, it is paid.

CALAMARI, unfortunately, I think you may be paying the price for all of the vacationers who pull scams by staying at a place and upon their return decide that it was inadequate and want their money back. I hope everything works out for you.
lyb is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:08 AM.