The perception of Barbados as all fun and sun in paradise has certainly changed for Canadian visitors Jan and Cyndi Oster, who claimed they had been cheated of $2,500, used as security deposit for their accommodation here.
The retired couple, who vowed never to return to Barbados, urged prospective visitors to do their due diligence on accommodation advertised online, before parting with their hard-earned cash.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY Tuesday morning, Jan said they had planned a yearlong Barbadian adventure, but were forced to cut it short because of the way matters relating to their accommodation unfolded.
He revealed having conducted an online search for long-term accommodation, they settled on a condominium at Sunset Crest, St James, which was managed by agent Rival Enterprises.
After paying the security deposit of $2,500 via credit card, they arrived in October last year, and a few days after settling in they were startled one morning when the property owner attempted to gain access to the apartment.
Jan said the owner advised them he was unaware that the property was being rented.
“On October 12th the owner came to check on his apartment and was surprised to see it had renters. He spoke to [the agent] and then came back to tell us to continue to pay rent to [the agent] and we are welcome to stay, and asked us how long we would be staying. At this point he indicated [that the agent] had not informed him of the booking and he had not received any money from our rent or deposits,” Jan said.
The couple was later informed by the owner that the condominium was under new management and that Rival Enterprises was no longer overseeing any transactions on his behalf.
They also learnt that the property was up for sale and a hastened departure would be welcomed. However, they were given no indication as to how they would recoup their deposit, as the owner and new agent expressed an unwillingness to honour the previous agreement.
“We sent [the owner] emails asking him for assistance in getting our damage deposit back. He never responded to any of the emails. We copied Rival Enterprises on these emails. We were told by [the new agent] to leave [the owner] out of all correspondence as she is our only contact from now on,” the frustrated husband explained.
“We spoke to the previous agent about returning the damage deposit and was told ‘get it from owner’ and walked away. The transfer between property management should be seamless to us and not affect us. We paid our rent and deposit out of good faith,” he protested.
Jan said the agent also informed the couple the owner would do nothing to ensure they received their deposit since “the contract was between Rival Enterprises and us and [the owner] had nothing to do with our moving in” because he knew nothing about the arrangement.
The visitors claimed they suggested that the deposit could go towards rent. However, they said this was met with a hostile threat to throw them out of the apartment.
“We came to Barbados to enjoy the country and be tourists here, but the situation that we found ourselves in now means that we don’t want to come back to a situation where we feel like we are being scammed or there is fraudulent activities going on here,” Jan said, although he indicated the couple would consider returning if the matter were resolved satisfactorily.
“If this is happening to us, we have to wonder who else it is happening to. So that is why we are bringing it to the forefront. This is horrible. We planned to stay a year but we are leaving because we really can’t take it anymore,” an emotional Cyndi Oster added.
Barbados TODAY made several attempts to reach the manager of Rival Enterprises and left several messages but up to the time of publication there had been no acknowledgement.