According to a complaint filed Wednesday in US District Court, Meredith Lodging, a family-owned business, has been targeted by VACASA in what Meredith says is a smear campaign. The complaint details homeowners being contacted and given false information, including misleading statements about Meredith. Lawyers for Meredith are asking the court to put a stop to the practice and claim VACASA is undermining the reputation Meredith has spent years developing.
The complaint states VACASA sales representatives systematically contacted homeowners who VACASA knows are under exclusive contract with Meredith, and made disparaging and false statements, including saying Meredith “suffers from a lack of cleanliness, “has problems with its housekeeping crews” and “does not have a manager to manage negative reviews online.”
Meredith officials have said this is a “David vs. Goliath situation,” where Meredith Lodging manages around 700 homes exclusively in Oregon, VACASA oversees about 25,000 properties in 17 countries. Meredith says they needed to stand up or else VACASA could put them out of business with these tactics as referrals make up a good portion of their business.
From the complaint:
While these allegations would harm a business in any industry, they are uniquely harmful to businesses in the hospitality industry, like Meredith Lodging. And more importantly, Vacasa’s statements are false. Unless the Court puts a stop to this misconduct, Vacasa appears poised to continue its strategy of undermining the reputation and goodwill Meredith Lodging has spent years developing.
Homeowners of both vacation rental companies contract them to manage virtually every aspect of renting and the two are competitors in Oregon.
Meredith’s complaint alleges the “unfair campaign to poach” homeowners started in January of this year and the examples given of false statements include not having anyone managing reviews. Meredith says these statements are false as they have multiple managers working on negative reviews.
One example cited in the complaint surrounds a property in Lincoln City which is marketed under the name “Just Beachy.” A California resident, who owns the home, received a call on his personal cell phone from a VACASA representative who tried to persuade him to switch the management over to VACASA. During that phone call, the homeowner “heard lots of complaints about Meredith and their housekeeping teams.” The homeowner’s cell phone was not publicly available.
Six additional examples of VACASA trying to get homeowners to switch from Meredith are listed in the complaint.
Meredith is suing for false advertising under 43(a) of the Lanham Act saying VACASA has falsely disparaged Meredith’s goods and services. Meredith is also suing for defamation, saying the false statements made by VACASA harmed their reputation and deterred homeowners from dealing with the company.
Meredith’s lawyers, Sally W. Harmeling, of Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, and Kenneth R. Davis II, said VACASA acted with malice with the intention to injure Meredith’s business.
Meredith is seeking damages suffered in an amount to be proven at trial.
No court date has been set as VACASA still needs to respond to the suit.
VACASA has not responded to Homepage emails concerning the suit at the time this article was published. Additionally, no media contacts for VACASA could be reached.