GARDEN CITY, SC (WMBF) - A family booked one week condo at Whispering Sands through the online site VRBO for $700, but soon after walking through the door, they knew they could not stay.
The listing's pictures on VRBO.com, an acronym for Vacation Rentals By Owner, show granite counter tops, new cabinets, and a clean living room with captions like "completely remodeled" "brand new tile floors" and "brand new appliances."
But that is not what Kelly Blankenship and her family say they walked into.
Instead, they were greeted by stained mattresses, dirty tables, and collected dirt and dust around the AC unit. At first she was going to try to make it through the night, because it was so late by the time they had arrived.
"I took the mattress cover off the bed, thinking I could take two sheets and put them together or what have you, just to make do, and when I took the mattress cover off it was filled with holes and stains!" Blankenship said.
Neighbors say many people own condos at the Whispering Sands and rent them out, but the conditions vary by owner. Through VRBO you can see the listings, pictures, rates, and contact information.
Another family using VRBO this week sees it as a hit or miss because you never quite know what you are going to get, and the process can be scary, but her husband pointed out they should at least have an agreement.
"Yeah he definitely wanted an agreement, which I didn't even think about that. I was like she wants my card number! I'm giving her my card number! A random private person!" explains Sarah Swisher.
The family says the owner said he would refund their money in the beginning, but after multiple conversations it was clear he was not going to.
Blankenship called VRBO and even though they guarantee their properties and provide insurance, she says VRBO told her she had to go through the owner and they would get back to her.
"Things aren't portrayed as they are on websites, whether it's a hotel website or it's on VRBO, they only show the best," Kelli Blankenship says.
Blankenship has used VRBO in the past, but she never had an experience quite like this.
She says she is now wishing she looked deeper into the reviews. She says although not everyone has the best experience, she believes the reviews are your best bet to really know what you are getting.
The other family using VRBO says although they did not share the same traumatic experience, they spent a 12-hour car ride thinking "what if."
"You read the reviews and they all say it's a nightmare...the process is scary."
Blankenship is still waiting on VRBO to get back to her. A VRBO spokesperson says they are looking into the matter.