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Hi Everyone!iStock_000015355968XSmall.jpg

 

Hope you are doing well.  So I have had a “first” happen to me recently so let me set the scene and explain what exactly happened. 

 

When I take bookings for my vacation rental properties, I firmly require money down upon booking in order to solidify the reservation.  But after the down payment I am extremely flexible with my rental guests regarding the remaining balance as long as they are paid in full thirty days prior to their arrival date.  So this means, my guests pay $200, $300, or $500 down (depending on the property) and then we schedule a payment plan for the balance (but we do pre-determine it and stick to it).  For the subsequent payments, I automatically charge the guest’s credit card on the agreed upon date then immediately email them an updated invoice reflecting the payment.  The process of emailing them is just as much for my records as it is for theirs.  This way I have a clear “paper trail” if you will of all charges to their account.  It might sound like a lot of work but the process works for me and my guests appreciate the flexibility with the payment plan.   

 

Anyhow, for one particular renter, he paid the down payment upon booking.  For the remaining balance he wanted it broken up into two more payments.  I charged the down payment and first payment according to the schedule with no problems.  Yesterday I charged the final payment and per protocol, I sent him the updated invoice.  This morning I got an email from the guest and he said that there was a problem.  The fraud department of his credit card bank called him yesterday morning (shortly after I charged his payment) to verify the charges.  It caught him off guard and he never put 2+2 together that the charge was for the rental.  Only after he checked his email and saw the invoice did he realize that the charge was for the rental.

 

So I contacted my merchant account provider and found out that if he does NOT call his bank and reverse the denial immediately then it will indeed get processed as a chargeback and I get charged a fee of $25. Furthermore, it can hurt my credit standing with my merchant account provider.

 

So I guess I will need to add yet another thing to my rental agreements reminding the guests that their credit card company might call to verify the charges.  If they mistakenly deny the charged they can get assessed a fee of $50. 

 

Happy Renting!

 

Christine 

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President and Mrs Carter and Christine Karpinski.jpgHi  Everyone,

 

It’s been a little while since  I have blogged.  I have been on the road a lot in the past month doing seminars  and I managed to squeeze in a little weekend getaway too!

 

I had the pleasure of going on  the Carter Center Winter Weekend trip.  Aside from spending five days with  President and Mrs. Carter, I learned a lot about the work that the Carter Center  has been involved in.  One talk that was of specific interest to me was with Dr. Jay Hakes, Director of  Policy and Research for the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil  Spill and Offshore Drilling.  He talked about the things that went wrong (from  both BP’s perspective and the government response).  He also talked about  policies and procedures the government is putting in place to assure this type  of disaster never happens again.  I’m going to invite Dr. Hakes as a guest on my  podcast.  Stay tuned….

 

So onto my rental life… It was  a slower start to the booking year.  It seems that the renters are booking  closer and closer to their rental dates than ever before.  But in the end my  inquiries and bookings seem to be on par with last year.  Keeping our fingers  crossed that booking will continue to roll in. 

 

Living 1000 miles away from my  closest vacation rental has never seemed to be too much of a problem except for  one silly issue.  The internet!  All of my properties have wi-fi connection  because quite frankly the renters demand it.   A couple weeks ago I had a router  go out in one of my properties.  You would think this would be an easy problem  to solve, but NO!  The stores around didn’t have any routers so had to buy a one  online and have it shipped.  But once it arrived, my housekeeper figure out how  to install it.  And though I could walk her through which wire to hook up where,  she needed to get onto a computer and set the passwords.  In the end, I had to  ask my renter to hook it up. Though not optimal, it worked. 

 

That brings me to another  story.   I had a really funny call with a renter the other day.  Here’s how it  went:

 

Renter: “I cannot get connected to the  internet.”

 

Me: “Go to the start menu, press control panel, press  network and internet…”

 

Renter: “Wait, my mouse is not working”

 

Me: “Are you at the desk in the  bedroom?”

 

Renter: “Yes”

 

Me: “Okay, your mouse is not working because the desk is a  glass top, the optical mouse has to have something underneath  it.”

 

Renter: “I’ll use the touchpad on my  laptop”

 

Me: “Okay, now type in the network  password.”

 

Renter: “<frustrated> ugh, this touchpad is not good; I am  having trouble typing because I keep hitting the touchpad. Let me put the phone  on speaker so I can do this with two hands.”

 

Renter: “Okay, it’s on speaker, can you hear me  now?”

 

Me: “It’s a little garbled but we can make due.  Now type  the password into the box.”

 

Renter: “<even more frustrated> geeze I cannot use this  dog-gone touchpad.”

 

Me: “<assertively> Sir, go get a piece of paper and  put it under your mouse.”

 

Renter: “Okay wait a minute. ” Renter comes back and says, “Can  you hear me better now?”

 

Me: “Yes, I can hear you. Now type that password  in.”

 

Renter: “<now just down-right mad> I cannot work this  touchpad!”

 

Me: <Hu?  Why isn’t he using his mouse?  OMG the light  bulb goes off!> “Sir I said put the piece of paper under your mouse,  not under your mouth!”

 

Renter: “<laughing> Oh wow my mouse works now! Okay I just  typed in the password and the internet works.  Thanks!”

 

Problem solved!  The silly  things vacation rental owners have to endure.

 

I am still laughing about the  conversation! 

 

Happy  Renting!

 

Christine