Mar 15, 2012 3:05 PM
I marked this as a question as I would love feedback, and it is going to read more as a narrative.
This week we had "the perfect storm" at our rental. We have an unusual, off grid house with more possiblities of things going wrong than a house that is all hooked up to city services. The trade off is of course a unique "eco-experience". 99% of our guests are looking forward to the unusual and adventurous aspects and take it all in stride. Plus we put a lot of effort into making certain there are not issues for our guests through daily hands on maintenance.
The weather had been particularly wet and stormy. Changing out the propane tanks was more challenging than usual, and both our caretakers unknowingly opted to crank over the valve and put off changing the tanks, thinking the back up would kick in. Second time of course there was no back up.
The guest arrived hours after check in time, to find no heat. Outside temperature was about 65 F. The hot tub was steamy hot and upstairs the bed was cozy.
I was on a rare out of town trip, heading back the next morning, in a time zone three hours different. It was 1:30 am for me. I was asleep with the ringer off. All the backup people were similarly out of reach of their phones. So it was after the persistent buzzing of my phone awakened me about 45 minutes after the first call from the guests that I awakened and listened to the messages.
The guest was outraged. Hopping mad. He had managed to change out the propane tank himself but could not figure out how to light the pilot of the heater. I could understand on many levels, and set about to remedy the situation. I was too asleep to talk him through it adequately, and too disturbed by the phone rage he was presenting to feel entirely competent. My husband who was in the right time zone called him immediately and within a minute there was heat in the place.
Meantime I had texted our help letting them know the situation, and the person who had made the blunder wanted to do something to make it up to the guests. She made a special pastry and took it tover inthe morning, along with some flowers.
I called the guests right back and made an offer to knock $100 off the cost of their stay and then suffered through a long monologue of how horrible the experience had been. The guest is about 24 years old, a young man. His girlfriend had called and left an apology earlier for his surly attitude. I was still clinging to the vestiges of sleep. I offered to refund his entire deposit, and make the stay cost free for him. That was not what he wanted. After carrying on a bit more he told me he wanted to pay half price and so get a portion of his deposit returned. It was a one night stay that I had previously discounted 10% at his request. I agreed. I would have agreed to anything except paying him to stay there by that point.
When he left, so did the plush bathrobes, the oversize spa towels, and the house key. He had already received his refund. And the personal apology. And the goodies.
We have had vacation rentals for about ten years. This is the very first time we have ever had an experience even somewhat like this. I feel bad the guest had an unpleasant experience, and worse that he felt compelled to change the propane tank out himself. He should not have encountered that problem at our house, and the 45 minute delay was unpleasant. Our helpers will never make this mistake again, but mistakes do happen. And my cell phone does go to vibrate sometimes. I am grateful that I refrained from offereing him a discount to use on his next stay with us, as I customarily do when something goes awry during a guest stay. I think I have already made up my made to disengage fully and be glad he must board a plane to get to my house. However, I would happily receive feedback. Would you charge for the missing items? And if so, how would you go about it?
much thanks in advance... I needed to put this somewhere, and maybe hear back from people who have been there before.