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Is it worth it to go to small claims court?

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We paid $2164 for a VRBO rental in Chicago, IL for a business trip meant to be 12 nights. The first day we discovered the place was in poor condition, and that night discovered the bed bugs. The next morning we had to leave; the place was uninhabitable. The owner was completely uncooperative; she even refused the presence of bed bugs despite our photo evidence.
VRBO took three months of contemplation to eventually decide to give us only $147 dollars of it, which was the portion we paid to them. They said that's all they could do. They also would not give me any more information about the property owner to facilitate taking her to court.
Therefore, the only way to serve her a subpoena would be at the address of the rental property, because that is the only address I have for her. I'm not even sure if I have her real name. Friends have urged me to take her to small claims court for Cook County, but I'm worried about spending money on that when I don't know what chances I have here of getting my 2000 back.
I found the property on there but there was only her full name. Slightly helpful, but without a home address I'm not sure how she can served the papers, you know?


Senior Member
Try the Property Tax website. Might be a billing address:


On the chance she owns multiple units, try:


See if she is registered with the IL Dept of Revenue:


Courts will often allow service by publication but you usually have to spend some money on a private investigator to exhaust all possibilities before you can get permission to do that. Unfortunately, that just gets you a default judgment.

Did you pay by credit card? Did you try disputing the charge and getting a chargeback? Try that if it's not too late.


Senior Member
What is her obligation to show up if they do manage to serve her?
A summons is a court order to appear. If she does not appear in court as ordered, she can lose the legal action by default. You would then have a judgment that you could try to enforce.
I appreciate your advice. I have one other question. When I file for the small claims court, I have to put it under a claim category. The best I could find was breach of contract but I'm not sure if that qualifies. Do you know what category it should be?


Senior Member
The category is breach of contract. The burden would be on you to show that you had a contract that required the place to be in good condition or show that it was advertised that way.

That you paid in advance without inspecting might work against you. I know, you couldn't inspect before paying. That's the risk you take for paying for anything sight unseen.

You missed a good bet by not going to a credit card dispute at the beginning.
I did do credit card dispute a couple of months ago, but I didn't hold out a lot of hope and still haven't gotten a response so I was going to the next step. The terms of "contract" with this type of business are very grey, after all it is a very new type of business.
Anyway, thank you for your responses. Very helpful.


Senior Member, Non-Attorney
I did do credit card dispute a couple of months ago, but I didn't hold out a lot of hope and still haven't gotten a response ...
That's not how disputes work. You need to follow up with the credit card about this matter.

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