Saturday, 8 November 2014

Owners Direct and Watchdog

Posted by Rosie

Back in late summer several British national newspapers ran stories saying how holiday makers were being scammed out of their money when booking holiday.  Fraudsters were hacking into the email accounts of holiday home owners via advertising agencies, then pretending to be the owner and accepting holiday payments for a holiday that of course was not going to happen.  I blogged about this here and wrote about how members of the public could ensure they were not getting scammed.

As with many press stories they do not lie down forever and this week this same story resurfaced on the BBC programme Watchdog.  I have not seen the episode but have spoken to people who have and apparently the advertising agency in question, Owners Direct, did not some across particularly well.  Afterwards there was a flurry of activity on the Owners Direct Facebook page.  Many people said they would never book through Owners Direct again, whilst some were very supportive, saying they had booked holidays without any problems.  There were also a lot of owners who advertise on the site, ourselves included, who wanted to bring to the attention of everyone that this type of story hits us the hardest of all.  We have seen a fall in the number of people looking at our advert on Owners Direct and have had fewer booking enquiries than a year ago.  Owners Direct is part of the large American Company, HomeAway, and as such is probably able financially to weather a storm such as this.  Small individual home owners like us here at Eco-Gites of Lenault do not have such a safety net.

We have spoken to Owners Direct at length about this issue.  They assure us that they are working hard to address the hacking issue.  At some point soon they will be introducing the ability for guests to pay for their holiday by credit card via the company for greater protection.  However that will only be possible for those owners who already accept credit cards and we don't as it is just too expensive for us.  They have also placed information on their website about how guests can protect themselves including a large notice on each advert advising that potential guests ring the owner to confirm the booking.

We would like to inform everyone that as owners we also work hard to ensure that our advert is not compromised.  Sadly, as hackers become more slick we are all too aware that we could fall victim. If you are reading this and want to book a holiday with us then please do give us a ring if you have any doubts.  (Tel 00 33 231 09 27 51).  We are happy to ring you back to a landline to save you the cost of the call.  You will also find our phone number on our website, on our Facebook page and on some of the adverts we have with advertising agencies.  We do respectfully ask though that you ring between 9am and 8pm French time (GMT +1).


4 comments :

  1. Oh that is awful and such a shame they haven't got on top of it - have you considered using paypal, that way both you and the client are covered. They also do card machines for £50 too

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    1. We do offer Paypal as an option but have to charge 3% on top to cover fees. It is probably still not worth our while going down the credit card line as yet and hope that potential guests will follow the simple suggestions we have made, namely phoning us if they are at all worried.

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  2. Now their website is also broken. Look at the home page. Search does not work, top tool bar missing, and black text overlaid on half the countries near the bottom. The only way to search is to go in to advanced search. This now been going on for 2 weeks and complaints on various forums including their FB Page. That Company does not care about its customers one bit. It has made the situation even worse.... Go check it out.

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    1. Apparently it is an issue of you try to use the search from an ipad. It's fine from my old fashioned computer but of course that is not what many people use now. We are still with Owners Direct but come the time for renewal we will have to think long and hard about whether we renew or not. It is so sad as a once very reputable business has gone very much downhill and we the paying property owners are the ones who suffer because of it.

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