Sunday, September 20, 2009

Accommodations Anyone? Do your homework.

For those of you who may be in the same boat I was, looking for a place to stay in Vancouver during the Olympics and having a tough time, I wanted to make you aware of some things you should check before booking any rental accommodation.
Once I was pretty sure Mode Suites was going to be my choice for renting a condo, I had to convince myself that who I was dealing with was reputable. After all, I had found them online and they could have been anybody.
I started by asking if they were registered with a local Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau. It was a good sign when the person I had been dealing with encouraged my due diligence and happily provided me with the information they were registered with a Chamber of Commerce. The next step was to ask that Chamber of Commerce to verify this company did indeed have a membership with them, which in fact was confirmed. That office was also able to provide me with the Business License number of Mode Suites. They suggested that I contact Vancouver City Hall to see if the Business License was registered with them. It was.
From there I felt pretty good about proceeding with the booking. A couple of things here, make sure you read the contract-twice at least. If you have any questions, ask them. Do not assume anything. Make sure there is a contract that spells out payment schedules, how damage deposits will work and is very clear about what is included in the condo/house you are renting. A contract is a legal document. Do not sign it if there is something you do not understand.
If you are paying with a credit card, the company should also send you a credit card authorization form which states you give them permission to charge your card for the agreed upon fees. If there is no contract, no credit card authorization (which you do not need if you are using a different form of payment) and the company does not issue you a receipt, be leery as to what you are getting into.
The Olympics is a great event and there are a lot of legitimate companies you can deal with, but there are others who may not be. It is our responsibility as consumers to check things out. If the person you are dealing with discourages you from verifying their business, that would be reason enough for me to walk away. Any business that has nothing to hide will give you the information you need to check them out.
A special thank you to the West Vancouver Chamber of Commerce and Vancouver City Hall. Both organizations were very pleasant and helpful to me with all my requests.
Good luck in your search. I can't wait to see everyone in Vancouver. Its approaching fast!

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