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Francois, I am sorry that this happened to you.
I have posted on this discussion several times...not because this has happened to me but because I could see it becoming an issue in the future....have felt that it was just a matter of time...and wanted to be prepared. Obviously there is no way to be prepared as HA/VRBO seems to take an ambivilant attitude about reviews. The Community posts lots of articles about how important reviews are to owners and then doesn't do much to support us.
They tell us that as long as the review falls into their accepted parameters, then they will allow it. I think their parameters are too lax and should be changed if this is happening to so many owners. They also seem to ignore the fact that we are PAYING advertisers. We are the reason that they are in business.
The other part of the review issue is that HA/VRBO has now made it difficult to obtain reviews by requiring a previous guest to sign up for a Travelers Account. It is difficult enough to get renters to take the time out of their busy lives (especially since they have already stayed at the rental and vacation mode is over) to fill out a review.....they don't want to be required to sign-up to do an owner the favor of posting a review. This makes it even harder to get good reviews. It will be the persistant previous renters (like yours) that will not be concerned about the requirement of signing up....after all posting a review to get back at you will be their initiative.
Also, maybe you might want to do a later follow up to your post....I hope it doesn't happen to you but.... so many owners have claimed that their business has greatly fallen off after a malicious review.
Thank you for your comments. I agree with it and it is how I feel about this issue. I do not understand HA/VRBO's procedure, attitude and reasoning regarding this issue. They want the owner to prove something that didn't happen or incorrect information but do not require the renter to prove something they say did happen. HA/VRBO's response always seems to be..... that the review is an opinion and the renter is entitled to it (and the owner can always post a response to negate the review) and that if the review falls into their parameters, then it is allowed. The issue is that their parameters are not very broad......obvious lies and maliciousness, bad language, etc.
I am baffled as to why HA/VRBO would think that it will be ok with owners to pay for a listing company that allows this to happen. That just doesn't make common sense and it certainly doesn't make good business sense. I get the feeling from HA's responses regarding this issue that they think .....yes there will be owners that this will upset and we may even lose a few but we are a big company and the over all affect will not be an issue.
We had a guest do over $ 4000.00 damage to our home. She inquired for occupancy of 2, signed a contract for occupancy of 2, was given a night free - then tried to intimidate me into giving her another night free by saying that I had their stay dated incorrect. It was clear that she intended fraud from the get go. She backed into a brick wall and knocked it down. She failed to report a water leak until the ceiling actually fell downstairs for fear of us discovering how many occupants she acutally had.
I called VRBO/HA immediately when my cleaner called me to report the damage and state of the house and told me that the guest had left a note threatening to post a negative review if not only her deposit was not returned but her ENTIRE rental amount. She did post the review and also filed a complaint with VRBO/HA. The review was posted even though I sent the review department a copy of the letter she left. The reply that I got from Nadia in reviews, was that it was not proovable that the guest actually wrote the letter even though her email address was on the letter and VRBO/HA could have verified the authenticity. Nadia even blocked my owners response and when I filed a complaint emailed me and stated that it was a mistake and should not have been blocked. I am in the process of having my attorney bring action in this case.
In case you are not aware Google owns VRBO/HA/Vacation rentals and by virtue of money and monolopy can muscle their policies and PRICES to us - THE PAYING CUSTOMER. Guests are now finding that VRBO/HA etc do not enforce their own policies so they can violate the contract, damage our houses, threaten to post a bad review if their deposit is not returned and we get absolutely no protection from VRBO/HA.
I am not sure who this company thinks they actually work for but it is not for us who pays the bills. The last time I checked, travellers actually pay them nothing. There are more and more of us that are figuring this out and are choosing a different advertising strategy. I just do not think it is good business to PAY for negative advertising.
I am reading all of this with great interest and am dismayed by the idea that several owners suspect that ANY time a place happens to have all positive reviews, or all 5 of 5 reviews, the owners of that property have "written the reviews themselves or paid someone else to review them that way". And yet there are some who say it's not good for owners to paint all renters with the broad brush that they are all bad. It's not sensible to make assumptions about EVERYONE in ANY group. You know what they say about ASSUME.....it's makes an Ass out of U and Me.
I guess there are those who pay others to post positive reviews. I don't. I guess there are those who write their own reviews; I do not. I happen to have all 5 of 5 reviews because even when there IS a problem, I correct it and the renters end up happy and they love our setting, the care we take to make sure they have a good time, etc. The house and grounds are spotless. IF I get a bad review that is based in lies, however, you'd better believe I will come after that renter with my teeth bared and will do whatever possible to remove lies about our property. I've heard people say "you're only as good as your last review".....I don't believe that to be totally true, but I will not be bullied by nit pickers, or those who are looking for a discount. Half the reason our society gets away with all the crap they do is that many of us allow it. We don't want to make a scene, we can't be bothered, we don't have time, etc. We had one set of renters who "loved everything and had a most wonderful visit" till they LEFT, and realized that because they didn't do the dishes, they left the house filthy, the bedding wasn't put in the washer, they smashed our wildflower meadow by leaving their boat parked on it, and they left us with a ton of stinking, filthy garbage in the garage....there was a good chance they wouldn't get their deposit back. She said "we'd happily give you a great review....oh....and are we getting our deposit back?" I said "we don't need your review, and no....you are not getting the deposit back, but I was nice enough not to send you a bill for the additional hours of time it took to clean up the mess you left. Let's call it good at this point because you will lose if you choose to persue this with me". I never heard a word from her again.
I think rather than throwing blanket statements around like "I will never rent to retirees again" or "looks like someone has taken creative writing classes" etc, we need to remember that each case is individual and every guest is different from every other guest. My husband is a retiree and there is NO WAY on EARTH he would do what the retirees in France, mentioned above, did. There are jerks in every walk of life, rich and poor, retired and working, young and old.
I currently have "guests" in one of my rental homes that have violated my rental agreement twice since their arrival several days ago. I spoke with them on both occasions reminding them of the rules. I am not yet aware of any damage they may have caused until they check out on Saturday. Based on my conversations with them, I can tell that they will likely leave a negative review. I am considering having a conversation with them after I see the condition of my home and would like your input on my idea. I would like to "turn the table" by telling them that I will refund their security deposit if and when they write a positive review. Your thoughts?
Please explain why its akin to blackmail if renters threaten a bad review to get their deposit back, yet it's perfectly okay for an owner to threaten withholding a security deposit unless renters post a positive review?
And why, if you are not aware of any damage, you are already talking about withholding their security deposit?
Sounds to me like you should take someone with you to the checkout who has good people skills (a spouse, a friend, etc.) and work out an arrangement on the spot.
Exactly! I am so fed up with all the renters' attempts to blackmail owners, that I thought it might be time for owners to "turn the table" since HA/VRBO won't assist us. Since the renters have violated my contract twice, their deposit is automatically withheld irregardless of any damage they may have caused. I do have great people skills by the way. How about yours?
What rules have they broken? A damage deposit is fairly specific....damage, extra cleaning required. Have these broken rules cost you anything? In order to withhold any or all of the deposit, you'll need to show receipts for the expenses they have caused.
Okay, I get it. Two wrongs DO make a right.
My security deposit covers any violations of the rental agreement (occupancy, # cars, etc.) so the deposit is automatically withheld in that case. I was considering refunding it if they agreed to write the review. It's not that I am an unethical person by any means, but please read my post above as a way to counteract the negative review process. I'm just fed up with this issue!
Do you work for HomeAway? Just wondering why your past posts do not show up in your history and WHY you are so interested in the rental commuinity when you are NOT an owner or property manager ~ Just Sayin'
Nope, as my name states, I've injecting a renter's opinion.
I've just rented from them and really like their set-up. They are my #1 go-to place for renting for a vacation.
I have no idea why past posts don't show up, I don't know anything about how this particular forum operats. But if you read this entire thread this is the only one I've ever commented on, so you can see how I came to comment on this particular issue.
P.S. You really didn't need to bold and italic your entire post to get attention.
Renters-opinion....Why would you assume that dmeyer does not have good people skills...that was rather harsh.
As with dmeyer....our "damage" dposit is a "security deposit" and also covers (and is stated in the contract) any rules that the guest violates and any that they do not folow (like our Departure instructions).
dmeyer...while I have not yet had any of the issues with negative reviews that some owners have had....I understand your frustration and being "fed up" and that you would want to find a way to head this particular one off a head of time. My feeling on retuning this guests deposit (whether it ia all or a portion of deposit) is that,....I absolutely would not do it.
I will not let a guest try to "blackmail" me for whatever the reason even if it is the imposed threat of a negative review. We have spent a lot of time writting our contract (to protect ourselves AND the guest) and have implemented our rules and procedures for specific reasons.
Again...while I understand your frustation and your trying to find a way to counteract a negative....I would not "pay" a troublesome guest to write a good review or to not write a negative review. Also, how do you know that once you have returned their deposit, that they will not go back and "edit" their review at a later date.
While I do not think there is anything wrong with owners enticing their guests to write a reveiw by offering incentives...it should be for just that alone.....write a review....not an enticement to write a review slanted one way or the other.
I feel that by returning the guests deposit to counteract a negative....that this is what you would be doing..."paying" them to write a positive review by returning the deposit so they won't write a negative review.
Also, I feel that a positive review by these guests would not be a truthful reviiew. While what they say may be the truth..."we had a great time...the lake was beautiful"....the reason behind that review is not the truth. Just as you would feel if they posted a negative review...."the owner was a pain to deal with", or something like that. That might be their perception/opinion because they might not like something you said or how you handle the deposit issue. To the guest...that is the truth (their opinion).
I assumed dmeyer was too emotionally close to the situation because he was asking the forum's opinion about bascially blackmailing renters into filing a positive review.
Linda...regarding your comment. It is rather a sweeping comment and doesn't necessarily apply.
"What rules have they broken? A damage deposit is fairly specific....damage, extra cleaning required. Have these broken rules cost you anything? In order to withhold any or all of the deposit, you'll need to show receipts for the expenses they have caused. Linda
You are correct in what you said but not in your intention...a damage deposit is fairly specific...specific to an owner and their property. If one of my guest breaks rules/procedures (that I have explicitly put in my contract and again in the information/arrival folder I provide for my guests) and I feel that if this item or items warrents withholding some of the deposit...there are not receipts to show.
To try to keep from there being any confusion regarding this deposit...we call it a security/damage deposit. If a guest does not follow some of our rules, the potential for issues or damage could cost me as much as actual damage done by a guest.