Who’s Damn Tired of “Internet Security” and Being “Protected?” (Attention VRBO and HomeAway)

It’s getting so over the top. Every time I turn around I have to change a password, answer security questions, look at some pic-icon, or, worst of all, get a text or a phone call to “verify” I’m not the retard they’re treating me like.

Here’s a good way to know all the silly people in your life. First, have them take you to dinner (gotta figure that part out by yourself). Just as the tab arrives, strike up a conversation about Internet security and providing CC numbers online. Listen to their blather while you watch them physically hand their CC over to a minimum-wage employee to take to a back room.

VRBO / Home Away just cost me a minimum of $2,250, and potentially up to $4,000 “protecting me” from getting bookings people were ready to pay for. They locked down my vacation rental listings, so I didn’t get the message from this guy, for just one example, which basically turned out to be a technical glitch on their end they spoofed into a major security breach. I won’t even get into how transparently ridiculous it was, talking with the VRBO “security department” guy on the other end, like I’ve never run a business, along with its call center. Completely fraudulent.

Richard,

Sorry for the delay. If the place is still available and you resend the link this afternoon I will pay. We will be going the same dates as originally discussed.

Thanks!

Doug

Trying to revive it now, but that message was sent a week ago and I just got it this morning. There are two other similar deals. Now, OK, so what if you say ‘well, you get what you pay for’? Well, no, this in not my AirBNB or Flipkey free listings (they take a small cut of actual booking fees and ABNB now rivals the hugely expensive VRBO/HomeAway listing in performance). I pay over $2,000 for three listings annually with these people and have for years, and I don’t even get a phone call or email alerting me to their perceived problem (which was complete cover-ass bullshit, once I began digging). For another example, once I had the issue resolved, an inquiry from a month ago magically appeared in my inbox that I had never seen.

But that’s not even the half of it. Way back when, in 2011, when we turned the Arnold Cabin into a vacation rental, I got VRBO’s top listing level, paying the most you can pay and as you can see, mine is second to the top, out of 134 rentals. To say it went great is a crazy understatement. Perhaps the best investment ever. I hooked up with a 3rd party vacation rental service, Owner Reservations, and everything was unbelievably easy. Inquiries came via email, OR parsed them, I could send out a quote from an iPhone with a couple of clicks: BAM, booked, and everything was seamless, templated, automatic, etc. Like they said, “vacation rental software designed by vacation rental owners.”

Then VRBO really began messing it all up, just continually, a gradual slide downward. Basically, they did thing after thing to hamper my relationship with OR with the clear aim of trying to get me to use them to manage reservations (and the CC charges they get a cut of), rather than just inquiries. I don’t know exactly why, but I suspect it was competition from AirBNB and Flipkey. Here’s the inquiry graph over last year (all the data available).

Screen Shot 2015 09 14 at 1 11 30 PM
 

It used to be way more than that, all the time, and what’s more, it was last December when I finally said “OK, you win.” I’ll just use OR to manage my two Cabo listings (which for irrelevant reasons, I can’t use VRBO for CC processing). Well, look at the inquiry trend once I switched.

So, basically, I see it as the VRBO / HomeAway model going bye bye and the ABNB and FK model going full Uber! And VRBO / HA instead of changing to a more competitive model, are really messing with their property owner customers.

And part of that is instituting hyper-security measures in order to make owners think there’s bands of scammers out there just ready to pounce on their properties, list them, book them…give guests the access codes to the keyless lock…attend to their issues now & then, and when it’s all done, get it cleaned and welcome new guests…all while you aren’t looking. Or something.

The bottom line is that there’s basically two principle ways to hack financial data:

1) Go for the companies that store it, breach their security. Get it all in one juicy database.

2) Send out a lot of clever phishing emails and that will Always work, no matter what the companies do, because there are 267 fools born every minute on planet Earth.

Sorry folks. Unless you’re Bill Gates or some other Billionaire, nobody is going to spend countless processing resources “hacking” your puny internet password[s], and especially since it’s so easy to have millions of people just give their passwords to them with a thank you.

The hopeless defenses against number 2 is jumping the shark, because phishing gets to be as sophisticated as it needs to be, even 419-Nigerian-esque.

I am already making mental notes over this and over time hope to be able to stop doing business with companies who do anything beyond a simple login to “protect you” (but guard their own systems fiercely).

That’s right: I want the same 6-character password on all my accounts for life, everywhere; and I don’t want to be forced to change it or add special characters ever, and I don’t want to answer security questions ever, and I don’t want to have to verify via a phone call ever.

I’ll take my chances. Thank you for your concern.

What some smart companies need to do is have an ironclad agreement that says: “If you get phished, we hope they wipe out your account, and you agree that we’ll laugh at you and that you have no recourse and that you deserve it and nod and bow anytime the name of Darwin is mentioned.”

…I want phishing to get more sophisticated, and steal even more millions and billions. The Nigerian scammer thieves are a wonderful value to the evolution of the human mind. See, I can easily see the bright side.

I like evolution, and if someone can fool you into stealing everything from you, and you just give it to them through foolish stupidity, then someone is going to learn a lesson, even if it’s not you.

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9 Comments

  1. Todd on September 14, 2015 at 15:13

    Don’t forget about when it’s time to change your password 6 months later, and they’re sending you emails every week for a month about your imminent d00m if you don’t apply, that you can’t use the password you used a year ago.

    I end up forgetting my damn passwords because of all the goofy shit they make you come up with.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 14, 2015 at 15:25

      It’s a fucking mess, Todd.

      Told the guy this morning: “I’ve been on the Internet for 25 years, never hacked.”

      “PHISHING!,” the guy says. Yea, I know all about it. I ask, do you know how many times I’ve had to explain to people that you don’t click on a login page link from a pretty email?

      Then he proceeds to ask me a bunch or completely irrelevant questions about my email accounts and why I’m not receiving their reset emails in either inbox or SPAM (the story was that the people who took over my account has also taken over my email to “filter” out their emails, yet I still get all their marketing ones and a hundred others). It was ridiculous. My email is fine and every account I’ve had for 25 years is fine.

      It was almost embarrassing not just going off on all the stupid shit i was hearing, designed for people who would say “oh, thank you for protecting me.”

  2. Amy on September 14, 2015 at 16:09

    what about the spammers, phishers, hackers and ‘tards who make the racket of internet security so easy to sell?

    Dipping them in honey and staking them to fire ant mounds seems like a good deterrent.

  3. tatertot on September 14, 2015 at 16:23

    lol, right after I read this, I checked email. Should I answer this one and give lots of personal info?

    Dear Member:

    We have attempted to contact you regarding the loan associated with your vacation ownership. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach you.

    Our records show that you are currently in arrears with your monthly loan payment, so it is especially important that we get in touch with you to discuss your account. As always, you may conveniently review your account information by logging into http://www.resortcom.com.

    Please contact us via telephone at your earliest convenience at 1-866-306-9073 (US and Mexico). If you are calling from Canada, you can reach us at 1-866-507-1269. If you are calling from outside the United States, Mexico or Canada, you can reach us at 001-619-683-7440.

    We would like to assist you, and we may have payment options available.

    Thank you,
    Resort Com International

  4. Thanks on September 15, 2015 at 14:04

    I wouldn’t worry about $4,000. The Paleo War probably cost more I would think.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2015 at 16:59

      Yea, that’s what you think. In fact, that’s back when I actually put some time & effort into getting this operation to actually produce income.

      As I recall, back then I’d get about $80-120 or so monthly from Amazon, and between the Lijit and Google ads, maybe another $100. It cost minimum about $700 to host the blog. Do the math. Yea, walked away from a gold mine, there.

      And I’ll bet you didn’t see this post:

      https://freetheanimal.com/2014/10/taking-accounting-loosing-favor.html

      Ought to do your research before exposing your ignorance, miss “sissies@gmail.com”

    • Thanks on September 15, 2015 at 18:50

      I’m not as ignorant as you might think. I have read nearly all your posts since about 2006.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 15, 2015 at 19:03

      So then what’s the issue?

      I’ve been writing this blog for three years more than that and never required a single person to spend a single penny.

      4,0000+ posts, and you’re going to give me lip about being pissed off over losing $4k from a company I pay for opportunities to make money, not lose it for me?

      I still have not revived that one booking, by the way.

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