Friday, February 11, 2022

Short Takes: Asset Allocation and Mackenzie All-In-One ETFs

The saga of trying to get a refund out of VRBO has finally come to an end.  After more than a month and about two dozen phone calls to three companies, we got about 98% of our money back.  In the end, we disputed a charge with Mastercard before the matter was resolved, although it wasn’t clear whether Mastercard’s involvement affected the outcome.

I’ve used VRBO before to rent vacation homes, and I always believed that VRBO held my money back from the homeowner until at least the second day of the rental to give me time to alert VRBO to any serious problems.  However, this time it was a property management company called Exclusive Villas Florida that charged the bulk of the rental cost to our credit card.

Although we had entered into a rental agreement with VRBO, we were left to fight with a property manager to get our money back.  At one point, VRBO demonstrated their inability to control this property manager by suggesting that we dispute the charge with Mastercard.  This experience has completely undermined our confidence that our money is safe with VRBO.  What are we getting for the fees we pay to VRBO if they are doing so little to protect our money?

At one point, we thought we’d only get back about 92% of our money, because Mastercard applied their fees to the currency exchange rates on both the initial charge in U.S. dollars and the returned amount in U.S. dollars.  Fortunately, they quickly agreed to just wash out the initial charge and its reversal.  

In the end, we only lost a deposit amount that the property manager writes into their agreements.  We entered into an agreement with VRBO stating that we would get a full refund if we canceled by Jan. 2, but the property manager used a document of theirs to justify keeping about 2% of our money.  We got tired of fighting and gave up on this amount.

Going forward, we will be using a U.S.-dollar credit card, and we plan to look at other ways to book properties.  We’ve learned that there are websites devoted to certain communities that appear to be well run.

Here is my review of a useful book on rental real estate:

Getting Started as a Small Scale Landlord

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Andrew Hallam has an amusing ghost story to explain why you might not want your portfolio to be too risky.

Justin Bender reviews new asset allocation ETFs from Mackenzie and contrasts them with those of Vanguard, BMO, and iShares.

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