Beware of Misrepresentation

Old Nov 15th, 2000, 09:57 AM
jeff holmes
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Beware of Misrepresentation

Having traveled to Tuscany and stayed in a wonderful villa for one week two years ago, I simply became complacent.

Recently, I contacted an Agent/Owner who had advertised on a rental property page. The place look nice and was described as having 3 brs and 2 bthrms, etc..

I dealt ONLY via email with the owner, never received any "contract" style documentation, but was so excited to go, I let my guard down by paying in advance via Bank to Bank transfer...the woman lives in Casablanca, Morocco.

You guessed it, upon arrival, the six of us could not believe the total misrepresentation of the property---total disrepair and only two bedrooms and one bath. We did not/could not stay.

Upon my return (the vacation turned out fine, otherwise), I emailed the owner asking for a full refund for a host of reasons---yeah, right! I contacted the web hosting company, who, of course, disclaim any responsibility (I am not done with them, yet) and have contacted many other agencies and quasi-legal-consumer type groups---this will all be in vain, but it assuages my conscience and my anger, somewhat.

DON"T BE A DUMMY. Always use credit cards to pay. Always check references. Never believe the price is too good to be true---because it proably isn't!

Beware of one Christine Berl ([email protected])---if you see her name, spam her for me!
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 12:03 PM
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Jeff, why don't you post your experience on the front page of Fodor's, where one of the featured questions asks about sending cash deposits to overseas hotels. Maybe your story will give the original poster some additional food for thought.
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 12:10 PM
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will do...
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 01:00 PM
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I wonder if she does live in Morrocco or if the adress there is a redirect back to Italy. Do try searching Italian directories for that name.
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 01:06 PM
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I have not given up, mind you, but this is almost impossible to tackle without shelling out a lot more to a lawyer, than I lost in this case.

Her bank is in Casablanca, so I suspect she actually does live in Morocco.

Banks do not provide such info. on their patrons, unfortunately, but I am still working to locate her.
Old Nov 15th, 2000, 01:09 PM
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I'm sorry you had such a bad experience.
In fairness to some of the family-owned
b&bs and small hotels that do request
deposits by personal check, travelers checks, or money orders, many of them are completly reliable but are too
much on the margin of profitability to be able to pay commissions to credit card companies. However, those places
have generally been vetted on this forum or elsewhere.
Old Nov 16th, 2000, 05:40 AM
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Well, vet this one: "Seventeenth Century Hilltop Stone House" near Pontremoli, offered-owned by Christine Berl (I think she is the author of several Austrian pastry cook books, bless her heart!)--not sure if she has it on some other property hosting page, but it is gone from the hosting site where I found it.
Old Nov 16th, 2000, 09:47 AM
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Wonder if this is the same Christina who posts here to advertise her tours and accommodations in Italy and criticizes everyone in six languages. If so, that might explain how the ad disappeared so quickly, because she's trolling for business here on Fodor's all the time.

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