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B.C. couple concerned vacation rental’s refund policies create pressure to travel

Public health restrictions to not travel between health regions has prompted many British Columbians to cancel travel plans.

And in some cases it is leading to conflicts over cancellation policies and refunds, especially with short-term rentals.

“We exchanged emails back and forth with the owner and they were very firm that they had a cancelation policy and you’re cancelling,” said Nathan Schumacher, a Vancouver resident.

The Schumachers booked their stay in Penticton back in January.

They wanted to check out the area as they’re thinking of moving to the Okanagan.

Read more:
B.C. government says fines of $575 will be issued to anyone found in contravention of new travel ban

But when travel restrictions came down this week, they realized their reason for coming would not be deemed essential.

“We first reached out to VRBO and they said there is nothing they can do and it’s up to the owner’s discretion,” said Schumacher.

Roham Pahlavan, the vacation rental owner, says he has a very strict cancelation policy and is operating within all of rental website VRBO’s policies as well.

“My policy is: you get 100 per cent refund if you cancel within 60 days, they booked four months ago, you get 50 per cent refund if you cancel within 30 days, they want to cancel their booking which is in nine days, I offered them yesterday a 40 per cent refund if they cancel within 24 hours,” said Pahlavan.

Read more:
COVID-19: Questions grow over enforcement of British Columbia’s new travel restrictions

The government is advising tourism operators to cancel out of area guests but are also keeping mum on refund policies.

“I think that there are people in our situation and they want to do the right thing but they are going to lose thousands of dollars if they do the right thing, and there might be people out there that will take the risk and do it anyway,” said Sasha Schumacher.

The Schumachers did end up cancelling and taking the 40 per cent refund that was offered to them.

Click to play video: BC’s travel ban: questions on enforcement remain

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