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Just not sure what to do! I have three guests that arrived last night and one called and said she was disappointed with my rental. There is not enough closet space. She also complained that there is no closet. I have described the space on my website with pictures. She is also saying that I have misled them.
I have a small Cottage that can sleep up to four (4) people. Two upstairs on the first level. One or two downstairs in the kitchen area, using an Air Mattress (supplied). She said that she was misled because she thought there was a second bedroom. My ad clearly states that this is a one bedroom Cottage, with space for one or two additional people downstairs, sleeping on an air mattress. Her other complaint is that there is only one bathroom and if someone is sleeping downstairs, that person has to climb one flight of stairs and disturb the other people sleeping, in order to get to the bathroom. Again, it is clearly stated that there is only one bathroom. She is demanding a full refund.
I am on vacation and will not return for another four days. I offered to have her or someone from her party to stay in my house in the Guest bedroom. She said, she just didn't know and ended the conversation. Unfortnately...these people signed up to stay for fourteen (14) nights. I have never dealt with anyhing like this before, in the three years I have been renting.
If I refund their money, it would be difficult to re-book the vacancy at this stage in the game. Yet, I don't want to be stuck with an unhappy tenant for fourteen (14) days. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
You can probably do three things: 1. Nothing - it sounds as though the property was advertised properly and they just didn't read carefully enough. 2. Ask them to leave and give them a pro-rated refund. (I wouldn't give them the full refund - they do have some involvement in this misunderstanding, after all!), or 3. negotiate for a discounted rate in some fashion. In any case, you have unhappy guests. It's just not worth the worry on your part, or the potential negative PR they could unleash upon you.... I'd let them have their choice and see what they want to do. I guess in the future you emphasize and re-emphasize the limitations (that's not a criticism...) of your property and make sure your guests are well aware prior to taking possession. Good luck to you!
THANK YOU so much. I just found your note in my SPAM folder. I fixed that! Your advice is very good and I appreciate it. In the interim, I went to Bed Bath & Beyond and purchased a portable clothing rack and placed it downstairs in the laundry room area. They have their own washer and dryer and laundry room and they are going to complain about closet space? Ridiculous! Anyway, I haven't seen them yet and my stomach is churning at the thought of dealing with her, but I will. My plan is to keep an even tone and offer your suggestions. I just don't want this kind of bad energy around me. This have NEVER happened before, so it completely caught me off guard. Also, I was away at the Beach when she called and it ruined my remaining 4 days at the Beach. Could not let it go. I just hate to disappoint people, especially when I have all these glowing write-ups, etc. But, as we know...some people try to find the smallest thing and squeeze a discount.
I'm with Marym on all options, at this point in time.
Here's what I do, for future reference. When I get an inquiry that appears to be serious I talk with them, and also send an email (so I have a record) stating EXACTLY the sleeping arraignments, where my 2 baths are located, etc. ( I have a Word doucment I can cut and paste to the email-- make sure to cc yourself _).I also ask if they have rented a vaction home through VRBO before.
Recently, it seems I've had some pretty ditzy renters ( they don't read the contract they sign, forget check in procedures, etc.). I don'y know if this is because they are new to renting vacation homes, or there's an outbreak of "dumb" .
If your contract references your VRBO or Homeaway listing number, then they are taking responsibility for having read the contract before they signed it. If they don't , well, then it's their fault. Mine has a clause that says they have read the contract and understand that, by signing it they agree to all aspects of the agreement, or they forfeit all monies paid- even if they choose to leave- or are evicted.
Good luck- hope it works out! I'd love to hear how this story ends!
I cannot speak from the perspective of a home owner, but can from the renter-side. The person you are dealing with is an "energy sucker"! Just remember that you cannot please 100% of the people 100%of the time!
It is to bad that this person runined your own vacation.
One other thing I would suggest is that you request her advise as to how you could have made it more clear about the sleeping arrangements (have a print out of your listing to look at). This will provide you with a positive way to re-gain some relationship with her, without making her "wrong," and she will feel (hopefully) a part of the "solution."
THANK YOU so much. I really appreciate your response and I totally agree with you...this person is an 'energy sucker.' I am angry at myself for allowing this to ruin my last 4 days at the Beach. But, I am learning from this experience. All the good responses that were sent have been VERY helpful and will help me in the future.
I just returned from the Beach today and I am mentally and physically exhausted. I really don't want to deal with her tonight. After a good night's sleep, I will knock on the door in the a.m. and attempt to work this out. I will keep everyone posted.
Also, knowing her, she will write a negative review. I will deal with that...'if and when' the time comes. One thing at a time.
I wanted to update you on how this all turned out. It all turned out well, thankfully! Had to jump through a few hoops, but it was worth it. Here are the steps I took:
1) After cutting my vacation at the Beach short, by four days, I returned home and immediately fixed the toilet. It took five minutes. The inside plastic handle that connects the chain to the part that lifts the flapper, was broken. I replaced that part with a METAL handle.
2) I re-opened her last week (she has 14 nights). I received 3 offers to rent that time, so I spoke with her and said that I did not want her to be unhappy and I was willing to fully REFUND her remaining week to her, on the spot. Her response: 'Well, you have a lovely place and it is well maintained and I don't think we can find anything at this late in the game. I appreciate all that you have done (see below). I was hoping she would GO!!!
2) Went to Bed Bath & Beyond and purchased a portable Clothes Hanging Unit and placed it inside their Laundry Room area, along with additional hangers.
3) Purchased from Bed Bath & Beyond, a Twin size Air Mattress to replace the Queen-sized Air Mattress, tenant was complaining that it took up too much room. I sitll don't get that one! Everyone loved the size of the Queen size Mattress. I look at it this way, I can now offer a choice...Twin or Queen...whatever!
4) Went to Trader Joe's and bought some stuff and made a gift basket and left it for them.
Long story short, she has called me several times to THANK me. With guests like this, it sucks the energy right out of you and she will probably still leave a negative review. I hope this information helps everyone out there and...THANK YOU so much to all who gave me their tips. The support felt good and at that moment, I really needed it. THANK YOU!
I'm so glad it all worked out so well. I know when I get a call from a guest, I just get all in a tizz and panic sets in. Over the past 7 years, I've learned that it'll all work out - it always does, and what originally seems like a catastrophy is usually just a little bump in the road. I think as owners we want things to go well and for our guests to enjoy themselves and our homes. I, too, appreciate all the good ideas I've picked up here, not to mention the moral support. It's nice to know we're not out there alone!
Sunday, July 17, 2011 (2:12 P.M.)
Thought everyone would find this even more interesting...this same woman, who has been doing the complaining, called me and asked me if I could extend their checkout time. My normal checkout time is 10:00 a.m., which gives my cleaning staff plenty of time to clean and I can make any touch-ups to paint, etc., necessary. I told her that I could not extend her time, because the incoming tenant was going to arrive a little early. She sighed and then said, can't you call her and have her arrive a little late. I instantly said...NO! Then, she asked if I would hold their luggage until 2:00 p.m. Being the nice guy that I am, I did. Mind you, she was traveling with two other women, who were actually pleasant. It was just this 'one' miserable person in the group, causing the problems. Anyway, the miserable person called me a half an hour before they were due to arrive to pickup their luggage and said...we are at the Metro, can you come and pick us up. Again, I said NO! They arrive shortly, pick up their luggage and the other two ladies, graciously thanked me for storing their luggage and said that my place was beautiful and THANKS for everything. The miserable woman...glared at me, turned her back and did not even thanked me for storing their luggage. One of the women snapped at her and told her to get into the taxi. Strange, strange, strange. I hope this was my first and only case of the MISERABLE PERSON!
Happy ending? They are GONE!
I just ready all the treds, i am happy it turned out semi-ok. As for me, when i get an inquiry for our property i give them a call and ask questions just to get and idea of the type of renters and what exactly they are looking for, our vacation rental has 5 queens,2 sets of bunk beds,a nursery, a gameroom, a 550sq feet theater room and lots more, i make sure to advise them on my security deposit, but as of lately i have been using VRBO damage protection,I dont have to refund the deposit and it has been working out for me..
With regards to the Rental agreement, i make sure that they initial each page, so that they will be forced to read the contract before signing. However using VRBO reservation manager that option of initials on each page is not possible.I hope i never have to deal with anyone like this.
And I thought I had a problem.
I would not refund a cent. Politely stick to the contract. Don't be afraid of bad reviews. Just say - sorry, my lawyer and I feel we had not misrepresented teh property to you (yeah, try us in court!)
Last guests advised me they had to spend last 3 nights of their 10 night stay elsewhere after leaving because of being unhappy (had spent one night at other hotel already). There was maintenance construction noise all day, elevator was down (we're on 1st floor, they're in their 20's), ants all over (they arrived on day 2 or 3 after they purcharsed too much food).Neither of my support staff nor myself were notified before departure of my condo. I was not aware of maintenance or elevator being down. I checked with cleaning lady and she had "fumigated" unit prior to arrival (had found one cockroach, no ants). Guests accused me of subjecting them to fumigating substance and insisted on knowing ingredients, etc (Borax was used; non toxic). Guest requested refund for last three nights even though on receipt it indicated all rental amounts were non refundable and went on to insult my pricing (which is way less than the hotel charges for an unrenovated smaller room), laying on the guilt trip by telling me I ruined their vacation by not notifying of problems re maintenance, construction, bugs (seriously it's the tropics; any food left out,not cleaned up, not stored will attract them). My rental info sheet clearly explained that cleaning and putting food away was extremely important, or you'd get bugs. Guest had received a significant discount (25%) for this rental, being referred by a friend (who had loved the place).I am so selective to who I rent to, most potential guests are turned away.These people never communicated with me by phone prior to booking, before or during their stay (I have a phone in my condo), I gave them tips for an enjoyable stay, asked them to call me if they had any questions. I do not want to pay anything back, when guests rent, they block out that period and make this condo unit unavailable to anyone else. If they decide to leave earlier, that is their problem. I am considering joining the hotel rental pool, I guess the guests would be happy guests, having checked out the place first (I have a video of the entire building and premises/my condo). Any suggestions? I feel like these individuals will leave negative feedback right after I refund the deposit.
Yes! Never give a refund without a refund agreement! I clearly state in my rental agreements that there are no refunds for any reason and highly suggest they get Homeaway's rental insurance. But still you have people who don't read the contract or who don't care what the contract says, they are unhappy about something and are demanding a refund. Under those circumstances, which are rare thank God!, I have them sign a refund agreement before I give them any money. Basically the refund agreement states that they are releasing you from all further liability and that they will not retaliate in any form including negative reviews or legal actions. I can email one I recently used when there was a plumbing issue, which the guest caused, and they claimed it ruined their vacation even though I had it solved within hours. There will always be a guest that complains and wants a refund about something, so it is best to give them something back and have them sign an agreement so it doesn't ruin your stellar reviews. Just reply back to me if you would like a copy of my refund agreement.
I would really appreciate it if you would email me a copy of the refund agreement. We have been renting just 3 years so i'm fairly new at this. When this rental arrived home he emailed me and listed 18 complaints which some were legit but most were very very petty, like a leaky faucet...i've had no other complaints from renters most of our rentals have commented on how much they enjoyed our cottage.
I'm with kiwi. But we handle things a bit differently now after participating in these Forums. I've tried to be proactive by tweaking our contract. I've never had anyone refuse to sign it. Once signed, it's pretty clear the guest acknowledges they'll have no claim, if they go home and want $$ refunded.
Our Contract has a very clear Cancellation Refund Policy clause that the renter must sign.
Our Hold Harmless Clause also clearly states that no refunds will be given for A,B,C, .... (things that we can't control like construction, area power outages,etc) AND states that the Responsible Party must contact us immediately upon discovery of an issue and give us a reasonable amount of time to remedy the situation ( business hours, etc.) If they do not do so there will be no refund given. They must sign each clause ( pages are numbered).
I know it's a bit loose (reasonable amount of time), but it puts them on notice that they MUST notify us of any problems UPON DISCOVERY and give us time to remedy such. If a toilet plugs up at 2am It's going to be hard to find a plumber at that hour.
I'm practicing along the same lines about "early departures" vs refunds....especially with reference to anything that we can not control, e.g. weather that can go wrong in Hawai...or local construction. And...I make it very clear that we must be contacted about any problem with the house UPON DISCOVERY (I use same expression you use, coincidentally) to give us a chance to help.
Putting it plain and visible in the agreement as a rental term / rental condition really works for us. The overwhelming majority of our guests have been good about telling us when-if anything needs attention....the people with common sense...and the where-with-all to seek help when they need it.
Sometimes, someone still comes along who is too "reserved...actually aloof"...and they do not want to speak to anyone --- so they are not good about contacting us for whatever reason...usually something minor....but even so it was because they didn't follow an instruction ----- they touched switches that we clearly labeled not to touch, or something like that.