When things go wrong in Amsterdam

The above photographs show the area of Amsterdam where we were supposed to stay. Pretty nice looking right? When we started planning our trip to Holland it was always with the intent of renting an apartment, as our son and daughter-in-law from California would be hanging out with us. Months before we left, I sat in front of my computer for hours looking for just the right spot on VRBO.com. The one I eventually rented was in the Joordan neighborhood, with 2 bedroom, 2 baths, laundry facilities and kitchen. We envisioned the trendy neighborhood known for specialty shopping, cafes, restaurants and art galleries. It would be perfect!

A week before arriving in Amsterdam there was a flurry of emails back and forth between me and the apartment owner. Final arrangements! Then two days before the dude asked if I wanted to check-in early, for a fee of 50 euros to cover the early housekeeping fee, as his renters would be leaving the night before. After a little hesitation … I knew he was gouging me … but I said yes anyway. The upside was it would give us all an opportunity to perhaps nap and adjust a little to the time change before meeting my cousin and her husband for lunch. My last two emails with the owner before I turned off my computer and left for the airport was … we would meet between 9 and 9:30 am at the apartment to get the key.

Many, many flight hours later, Hubby and I arrived at 9:15 am and knocked on the apartment door. We rang the bell. No answer. We didn’t panic. The dude still had a little time to arrive with the key. Pretty soon it was 9:45 and still no dude … and it was starting to rain. We found a bench two doors down and covered slightly with scaffolding. When 9:15 turned into 10:30 and still no guy with the key, we started to worry. Ricky and Kate showed up and a hug-fest ensued. I guess they could tell by the steam pouring from my ears that I was a teapot about to blow. We had the owner’s phone number but our phones were not cooperating. When a nice lady that lived on the block offered to help call the owner for us, we were hopeful. After several tries and leaving messages, we were finally able to chat with our missing-in-action owner.

“Oh so sorry, but I’m an hour away. I’ll give you the key code and you can let yourself in,” he said.

Hubby pushed some numbers on the key pad and opened a little door that was to hold the key. Only there was no key. Suddenly, from behind the door to our apartment, the blinds lifted. There was a scary-looking lady in the window. After a short conversation, she confided she was locked in by her apartment mates, who had left for a few hours, and besides, they were not set to leave until the next day.

“This has never happened in the three years I’ve owned the apartment,” said the owner when we got him back on the phone.

His offer was for us to stay at one of his properties in another part of Amsterdam … for a night … then move back to the Joordan apartment tomorrow afternoon. Geez, we were already going to lose one day of our vacation because of this guy … why not go for two? Did we take him up on his offer … nope!

My son, our travel logistics expert, found us a couple of hotel rooms on Hotels.com before the taxi pulled up a few minutes later. The Room Mate Hotel was located in the UDock section of Amsterdam. The location was not ideal, the hotel was built on a new artificial island, but it was only a 10 minute walk to the train station and we made it work.

Why am I telling your this story? Because if you are going to rent an apartment, be sure and charge it to a credit card. We were able to dispute the charge. The credit card people do an investigation, and basically, if the apartment dude is deemed an idiot, the “temporary credit” becomes permanent.

The rest of the trip was awesome!

5 thoughts on “When things go wrong in Amsterdam

  1. Pingback: When things go RIGHT regarding Amsterdam | Life's Loose Threads

  2. Some of this tale sounds familiar Dixie. In our travels, whenever possible, we rent apartments. In fact, we’ve rented two in Germany in the past few weeks. Luckily, in all our renting around the world, we’ve never had one go south like your rental. And I can relate to how infuriating and inconvenient it is. Our biggest hassle has been owners who either don’t show on time, or sometimes don’t show at all . We’ve always managed to get into the apartment, but sometimes hours later. And for this reason, whenever possible, we try to rent from a company that handles numerous rentals, rather than individuals. We can’t always manage this, but if we have two options and one is a company vs. an individual, we always go with the company. There’s always a risk with apartment rentals, but when they work out, they are sooooo much better than hotels. It sounds like you and your husband were on top of it, and I’m glad it worked out. ~James

  3. Love your comments James! It was an interesting journey and I’m glad that we were able to get our money back. Initially, when I booked the apartment, the dude requested I wire the money into his bank account. I didn’t feel good about that and requested using a credit card even though there was a fee involved. So glad I did. The website for the apartment was a bit deceptive also. There were 5 units (most larger) to choose from. It came out when we finally got him on the phone when we were trying to take possession that he mentioned he owned only one of the five. I was dealing with a small fry … that hopefully learned a very valuable lesson. – Dixie

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