Guidance for booking a private caravan
You may have seen on the TV or heard about “scams” involving fictitious caravan rentals; people have paid for their holiday only to arrive at the park to find that the caravan and the “owner” simply didn’t exist.
Some individuals use genuine photographs from owners’ websites and facebook pages to create a fake business. Unfortunately it is very difficult to protect photos and details when advertising online. These people are making a profit from innocent people and giving genuine caravan owners a bad press.
HOWEVER, there is a solid community of genuine owners who all look out for each other and try to identify the scammers and get them deleted from places like facebook, but they keep popping back up under different IDs. Most of these people will take deposits or even full payment and then disappear.
We would urge you NEVER to book a private caravan with ANYONE without following the basic checks first.
Take a look at the availability. If there are lots of available dates, ask yourself why. A bogus “owner” will sell any date, over and over again (because their caravan does not exist).
If you are asked for any money up front without any paperwork – WALK AWAY. Genuine owners will provide you with booking forms before any money exchanges hands, even if it is a late booking. This will contain their full contact details.
If the price quoted seems very cheap – CHECK IT OUT. Especially peak dates – check the caravan park’s own website and other owners on the same site, and get an idea of what they charge. Private rents ARE usually cheaper than site rentals, but not by £1000s!
A usual deposit is between £50 and £100 per booking. We personally charge 20% of the hire fee. Genuine owners will not ask for more.
If the paperwork you receive looks unprofessional and cobbled together – it probably is!
Make sure you are issued with a receipt for every payment you make and make sure you are given the owner’s home address and contact number.
Genuine owners will reserve dates on the required deposit and will give you a payment due date, by which the balance must be paid. If you are asked to pay the entire cost in one payment – DON’T (unless it is a “late deal” and even in this case a genuine owner will still provide paperwork BEFORE you pay anything).
Make sure you are familiar with the Terms and Conditions of Hire and are happy with them. If you are not given any, ASK WHY.
If you are unhappy or uneasy with anything at all – ASK QUESTIONS. A genuine owner will answer them.
If you want to check ownership, ask the advertiser for the site office number and relevant details to quote – so the site can confirm the person you are dealing with IS the genuine owner. If these details are refused – WALK AWAY!
Most genuine owners will be able to put you in contact with a previous client if necessary (after gaining permission obviously) so you can find out more from someone who has actually stayed at the van. Check for feedback either on the owner’s facebook page or website (i.e. guestbook pages).
ASK OTHER OWNERS if you are unsure. There is a solid community of owners at Butlins Minehead and most owners are known to each other. I am personally always happy for anyone to contact another Butlins owner to “check out” my validity and I, in turn, will do the same for others.