Rachel Gatlin and her family from Bonnie Lake, Wash. reserved RVs for a memorial trip honoring her grandfather.
Gatlin's grandfather went with Rachel and other family members in the summer of 2013. Gatlin said he loved the vacation. He died a week after his return.
To honor his memory, the family decided to go on a memorial trip this summer.
That's when Rachel and her family members booked RVs from B&B Rentals in Anchorage. Gatlin said the family booked back in December, and that she and her family members paid up front. Three weeks before the vacation, she and her relative received an e-mail from B&B saying your motorhome was vandalized.
"That's all it said!," Gatlin said.
Gatlin said she called dozens of times in an attempt to get a refund. Gatlin said her calls went unanswered until she used a different phone number. Gatlin told the person answering the phone her vehicle had been vandalized.
"She said, 'Oh yes, we had one of our rentals vandalized.' I said but there's 3 different people in my party got the same letter." Gatlinsaid.
She and her family had to make some last minute changes which ended up driving up the costs of their trip.
"Something that should have been an affordable family vacation that we paid for, at the last minute we were scrambling trying to find another motor home," Gatlin said.
Gatlin and other customers filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau about B&B where they rented their RV. After numerous complaints that weren't addressed,the BBB said the ratings agency gave the company an "F" rating for its service. The BBB sent out a press release relating some of the experiences of customers.
B&B declined to comment on camera, but in a phone interview someone from the company said they have many happy customers and a few unhappy customers were making a bad name for the business. He also pointed out B&B is not the only "F" rated RV company in Anchorage.
Clippership also received an "F" for its service and accusations of false advertising. The BBB said the RV company wasn't giving refunds, misled customers online, and sent tourists out in damaged and unsafe Rvs. Clippership didn't return calls or e-mail requests for interviews.
Cruise America is a national company, and also has an "F" rating with complaints from outside of Alaska.
Local BBB regional manager, Michelle Tabler said the F rating is not common.
"It's not very usual," Tabler said. "It means they're not willing to work with us, they're not willing to work with consumers to deal with complaints."
Great Alaskan Holidays has an A+ rating from the BBB. That company sometimes takes customers who have had a negative experience with another rental agency in town.
Chief Operating Officer, Corbin Sawyer said it's always good to get more customers, but a negative experience is bad for everyone in the tourism industry.
"They feel that they were cheated," Corbin said of customers who leave the low rated rental agencies. "Somebody never wants to make that same mistake again and unfortunately that equates it with the RV rental businesses and especially in Alaska so I think that affects all the RV businesses."
Sawyer also says it's important to note the power of a few unsatisfied customers online.
"It seems to me today one mad person or one thing wrong seems to get blown out of proportion," Sawyer said."It's good you can get attention to it so you can change it, but the level it gets to sometimes seems out of proportion in my mind."
Unsatisfied customers say though their experience was frustrating, they still enjoyed visiting the state. James Langan of Oregon filed a complaint that his RV was unsafe for travel. After he returned the vehicle, he was charged on his credit card for a windshield Langan said he didn't break. Langan says in the future, he plans on researching before a big trip.
"Do your homework absolutely make sure to look at all the options out there, not just the cheapest ones," Langan said.
Editor's note: Customers of Alaska businesses who have similar complaints can voice their concern with the Consumer Protections Unit with the State of Alaska by visiting their website or calling them at (907) 269-5100.