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16810 Views 45 Replies Latest reply: Sep 7, 2012 6:34 PM by magman RSS
New Member 12 posts since
Aug 13, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 13, 2011 12:34 PM

Extortion By Renters

We recently had a renter threaten to place a fraudulent review if we didn't give them money. We asked how much and they would not commit, but we started at $50 which they refused and ended at $300 which they still refused. They were smart enough to not give an amount but we finally refused. their request was completely unwarranted. So they posted the review (I mean nothing in it was true) and then sent an email saying they would not remove it without compensation. I sent all this info to VRBO and they refused to remove it. We have a dozen 5 out of 5 reviews and no bad reviews but this. But the inquiries have stopped and we recieved two cancellations. VRBO won't help. My fear is this extortion will catch on soon and we owners will all be in similar boats if VRBO doesn't change their policy. What do you think? What can we do?

  • jamaicavilla Contributor 70 posts since
    Jul 1, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 13, 2011 1:49 PM (in response to magman)
    Extortion By Renters

    I had a similar issue with vacationrentals.com, I removed my listing once they told me that they would not remove the misleading reviews.  Some guests want to have a vacation, but not pay for it. I guess we are paying to lose business.

  • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
    Feb 10, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 13, 2011 1:54 PM (in response to magman)
    Extortion By Renters

    Do you mean you had concrete proof that they were threatening a negative review in exchange for cash, you made  VRBO aware and they still did nothing?  This may be my last year...that's just not right!

  • New Member 8 posts since
    Jul 26, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 13, 2011 2:26 PM (in response to magman)
    Extortion By Renters

    I would tell them their names will be submitted to guestchecker, badrenter.com, and any other website you can find.  At least then they might realize they can't do "their scam" anymore.

  • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,358 posts since
    May 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 13, 2011 2:35 PM (in response to magman)
    Extortion By Renters

    VRBO did NOTHING with proof of extortion? Doesn't that make them a party to it?

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,556 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 13, 2011 2:39 PM (in response to magman)
    Extortion By Renters

    Do you have a full written record of the all that was said by the extortionists...the actual threats?  I you do, I am wondering why VRBO will not help? It just seems strange that a paying customer [you] is not being given more support. Isn't  extortion a crime punishable by law in the USA?  I find it hard to believe that VRBO management ignores their *paying* client's plea for help --- *if  you have full details in writing of what was said by those people to you...a verbal threat is hard to prove...unless they left a voice mail threat.  Is there a lawyer in the "Community" that can shed some light on how this can be possible?

    • anja Senior Contributor 1,556 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 13, 2011 4:52 PM (in response to anja)
      Extortion By Renters

      Have you checked the VRBO  guidelines?  I did and read through their "Traveler Review Guidelines" a few minutes ago. You can find the text yourself, under Reviews/Traveler Review Guidelines, in the FAQ section. Here is an extract of the exact text, in the last section at the bottom of the {long} list of guidelines set out by VRBO.....{I underlined the two lines I want to draw your attention to}:

       

      Content Guidelines - No user of this website may contribute any content (including, but not limited to property listings, reviews and responses) which violate the following guidelines:

       

      Content may not be posted for the purpose of trying to force a particular response or action from another person in an unlawful, abusive or otherwise inappropriate manner. For example, a traveler may not post a negative review for the purpose of trying to make a property owner return a deposit.

       

      When extortion for money is specifically mentioned in their own "traveler review guidelines", I am wondering why, VRBO management is not offering you more support {you are their paying client} regarding the extortion that you informed them about?  I think extortion is a crime punishable by law, if you can prove it. Surely, the owner management of VRBO, i.e. CEO of HomeAway,  would not want to disregard blatant extortion against one of its clients [you] ---.....again, if you can prove the extortion.

       

      Is there a lawyer in this Community that could offer a comment on this matter? 

      • marym Active Contributor 463 posts since
        Feb 10, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 13, 2011 7:32 PM (in response to anja)
        Re: Extortion By Renters

        My goodness - if that's what it says, and the circumstances are as magman has stated, why wouldn't VRBO support it's owner as opposed to a renter???  I don't get their policy at all!!   VRBO/HA - if you're observing (you usually are...)  do you have an official comment about this?

        • anja Senior Contributor 1,556 posts since
          Aug 9, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 13, 2011 11:33 PM (in response to marym)
          Re: Extortion By Renters

          I want to believe that VRBO is monitoring this thread....because I also want to believe that VRBO staff are aware that something illegal has happened, i.e. extortion...in this particular case. And,perhaps in other cases. Any good company wants to be on good footing with their paying clients!  They have us, the paying clients, between a rock and a hard place. It is not a solution, by VRBO, to handle this by offering "damage insurance"...which profits them, more.   But, I have to reiterate that I am waiting to hear more from magman who should inform [us all] if "all the infomation"  sent to VRBO"  was actually WRITTEN evidence from the extortionist ...or was it a verbal threat made over the phone? Magman, please tell [us]....and  please let us know if you are pursuing this matter further with VRBO. You stated that you have been a victim of extortion. Please clarify....because it seems that we can all find ourselves in the same situation, at some point, if our "investments in advertising" are not serviced differently by VRBO...and/or with more protections for the paying clients [us].  There seems to be something 'not correct' about a business model which takes advertising money from clients...and then leaves the clients open to extortion, theft, slander, in public next to the advertisement what the client paid for.

           

          Magman, please tell us exactly what evidence of extortion you gave to VRBO.

           

          P.S. any lawyers out there that can offer a comment, please do.         

  • travis HomeAway Employee 325 posts since
    May 2, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2011 2:35 PM (in response to magman)
    Re: Extortion By Renters

    Hi magman,

    I see a member of our Review Team has helped you resolve this issue. If you have further questions, please feel free to let me know.

    Kind regards,

    Travis

    HomeAway Social and Multimedia Specialist

  • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,358 posts since
    May 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 17, 2011 3:05 PM (in response to magman)
    Re: Extortion By Renters

    I surely want to hear the outcome of this and how the REVIEW TEAM resolved this matter.

    Deb

    • Active Contributor 343 posts since
      Nov 18, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 19, 2011 10:04 AM (in response to magman)
      Extortion By Renters

      Hi Magman,

       

      VRBO did remove this review for you. It sounds as if it's still appearing because it's stored in your web browser's cache. Try hitting F5 on your keyboard to refresh the page.

       

      My view of your listing is that you have 6 reviews - all of which are 5/5 stars.

       

      Please let us know if you have further questions...

       

      All the best,

      Laura

        • Active Contributor 343 posts since
          Nov 18, 2010
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 23, 2011 11:13 AM (in response to magman)
          Re: Extortion By Renters

          Thanks for the follow up, Magman.

           

          Also, I'll convey your feedback regarding FlipKey's Review policy to our Review Team.

           

          We constantly strive to improve customer experience, and in that regard, your feedback is invaluable!

           

          Thank you again.

           

          Kind Regards,

          Laura

  • Contributor 32 posts since
    Jul 12, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 23, 2011 11:16 AM (in response to magman)
    Re: Extortion By Renters

    I was reading this thread in horror! My heart was racing and I could not understand  why VRBO would refuse to remove the negative post.

     

    So happy to hear that all is well and that VRBO does care about property owners.

     

    Secondly, if I were in your particular situation I would consult an attorney (sister In law works for a firm) so I would talk to them and see what action can be take, if any..

     

    People who do things like this to affect others ( financially) should be made to compensate losses.

    If there action were of a malicious nature.

    • bend2011 Contributor 163 posts since
      Apr 28, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Oct 1, 2011 3:46 PM (in response to csdircks)
      Extortion By Renters

      I would just site your states specific law regarding extortion, slander, theft of services and let them know that you are entitled to 3x(or whatever it is) the amount that they initially paid.  Their pay checks will be garnished to pay this debt and they will pay all court costs including your "attourney".  

       

      Folks will back down.  People who pull this kind of stuff are weak willed and trying to pull a fast one.  Unfortunately, it has probably worked on someone else in the past, hence why they think that they can get away with it.

       

      They don't want confrontation, they are just hopping that you submit.

       

      They will cave to confrontation especially if you do it right.  You should only have to send one letter.

       

      Never show emotion, stick to the facts and don't be redundant.  Ask a friend to edit as well as it's easy to get emotional about our own property.  I know that's my weakness.

  • Contributor 26 posts since
    Nov 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 1, 2011 3:45 PM (in response to magman)
    Re: Extortion By Renters

    We have had similar experiences on several occasions and it is infuriating.  We have had to change our policy to not charge for damages at all.  This has cost us thousands of dollars but the loss of business one negative review costs is MUCH higher. 

     

    We are developing a website to allow Owners to review guests.  If you are interested, please sign up.

     

    We hope to have it going by the first of the year.  www.DoNotRentList.com

     


    • anja Senior Contributor 1,556 posts since
      Aug 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Dec 1, 2011 9:59 PM (in response to magman)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      I am surprised, as a small business woman that no response has ever been made...and the poor Moderators are reading all these posts but have not got the power to do more than pass on the message....but I think they long stopped doing that...not one ever "chimes" in, these days....but I don't blame them.  The Corporate folks need to stop ignoring their "advertisers"...that's us, Owners.  It's NOT just about the Traveler...and they are making a hugh mistake with their misguided policy.  It will not change just because we all vent here.  It took one disgruntled Traveler and blogger unhappy with a VRBO Owner... who knew one Journalist... who wrote one critical article about HA which seemed to have influenced The Corporation to "turn on" the review policy in VRBO. This is according to Mendelson's Muse (Google it) and Forbes which are taking "credit" for the public pressure they put on HA about "Traveler Reviews".  Now, after one year of the Owners; and Travelers' dissatisfactions,  with no resolve...with no response even,  I guess it could perhaps take one disgruntled Owner who knows one Journalist to get "the story out" about what the Owner and Traveler *both* experience.  I am just a humble Owner...not a blogger...and not a Journalist.

    • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
      Nov 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Feb 19, 2012 9:05 AM (in response to magman)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      We photograph my homes before and after each tenant. This way we are able to document damage as the photos are dated. My tenants are aware that this is done so there is no question as to who did what.

       

      One complaint that we have had is well the stove was five years old and that is why the door fell off. They never mentioned the huge heave pot they placed on the door which broke off a small piece connecting the door. Even after this happened, they continued abused the stove and eventually the total door broke off. Thankfully the repair was only $100 in parts and $50 labor which my tenant finally agreed to pay. Got  letter from our repairman stating that the stove still had another 5 years of life left and that this should not have happened under ordinary use.

       

      Another instance was that two cantilever umbrellas were broken due to a wind storm. Tenants left the umbrellas open k owing there was due to be a wind storm. Tenant claimed they were not responsible for broken umbrellas. My next door neighbor noticed the open umbrellas, saw my guests outside bringing in their personal possessions into the house. My neighbor assumed tenants would close the umbrellas, otherwise they would have. I related this to my tenants and they offered to pay for one of them in full. Umbrellas were a year old and so I agreed. Umbrellas were $300 each and tenant agreed to this amount.

       

      These are the reasonal ones. Unfortunately we have had the ugly situations as well. We end up eating the danGe so as not to get a bad review which would costs us much more in the long run.

  • Contributor 38 posts since
    Sep 23, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jan 23, 2012 12:33 PM (in response to magman)
    Re: Extortion By Renters

    We have a previous guest that booked on our cabins and paid half of the total to reserve it.  29 days before their arrival they call to cancel because they couldn't make it.  If it is within 30 days of check-in we can't refund them anything but I was nice and decided to give them a 25% refund which I told them was about $100, no problem they said.  The guest wanted to take the 25% as credit for a future stay so I told them to call me or email when they decide on their dates and I would send them a quote with the 25% credit included. 

     

    When I sent their quote they were furious because they decided to take 25% of the total amount instead of what they already paid then use the cancellation policy guidelines on our faqs page to try and shake me down for more money.  They felt that their refund should have been closer to $300 because that was 25% of their total.   At this point I thought you know what I am going to refund your money and be done with it.  Then the calls began and the emails.  Unfortunately the emails have no threats what so ever but the phone calls..I don't even pick up anymore.  

     

    We've already been hit with one bad review because a guest broke our TV so we kept the $100 deposit, the guests then wrote a horrible review in retaliation, this guest even went so far as to say in an email: ...[return my deposit] or I will take matters into my own hands.  After providing VRBO/HA aka Nadia with all of our correspondence she concluded that the guest just wants their deposit back and since the words "I will right a bad review if your don't pay" weren't evident, there was nothing VRBO could do, the review stayed.

     

    I decided to take a preemptive strike, I emailed VRBO to let them know what was happening. I got a long canned response back telling me that I'm basically SOL unless this person in an email states “I will write a bad review if you don't pay me”. So I decided to share my knowledge with the community encase this happened to anyone else.

    • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
      Nov 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 26, 2012 8:14 PM (in response to squirrelly)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      Unfortunately, bad renters have learned that they can get away with extortion and that  VRBO will side not with the homeowner.  A few times tenants have threatened to leave a bad review and I say go ahead. I have 15 great reviews from tenants who loved and respected my homes, and I cannot believe one bad review will lose a lot of rentals. If we continue to give in, they will continue to extort.

  • This reply has been hidden. This can happen if the message has been hidden by a moderator, or has been reported as abusive.
    • New Member 1 posts since
      Aug 29, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 29, 2012 11:56 PM (in response to squirrelly)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      You are right.  Thanks for the info.  I use to be extremly honest with my reviews.  I only copied and pasted in comments from REAL and true happy tenants until VRBO adopted their one-sided review policy.  Since they don't care if reviews are true and honest, then why should I continue to be true and honest.  I just got my first bad review from a disgruntled tenant who lost a whopping $38 from their $550 security deposit.  I withheld that because they lost two of the pool table balls and they left the kitchen a huge mess to clean up so the cleaners charged $20 more.  So the totally slammed me on VRBO and there is nothing that I can do about it.  So lets take all my hard work, all my money and time, and sock me with a bad review that is totally false.  I'm going to try flipkey and other places and see how they work.  If I get the same results, I'm out of VRBO because their review policy is terrible.  If they are going to nail us with review from renters, who are notorious liers, then then we should be able to review the travelers just like on Ebay where you can rate the sellers AND buyers.  That way if they want to smear the property owner, we can smear them so that future VRBO owners don't rent to these dishonest indecent people.

      • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
        Nov 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 30, 2012 10:14 AM (in response to aperoll)
        Re: Extortion By Renters

        At the last Homeaway Summit Conference, there was a break out session dealing with setting up a review section for owners to review travelers. After the meeting never hear anything further about this.

         

        Marilyn

        www.hamptonhouseproperties.info

    • skiandglee Active Contributor 509 posts since
      Apr 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 31, 2012 7:57 AM (in response to magman)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      I am confused by what owners that bring up the fact that a renter can leave a bad review even if it's unwarranted, would like to see happen?  Is the solution to allow the owner to delete any review he doesn't like and thereby all reviews are 5 star and provide no real user consensus?  Imagine if Amazon did that to the reviews on their products.  We have the ability to leave an owner response to provide the other side of the story already. 

       

      They are already considering and may have inroads into the implementation of a Traveller review system which I fully endorse.  i.e. They have to register to leave a review of your property and thus we can then leave a review on them ala eBay.  They would need to use credit card verification to establish the traveller's identity.  If they weren't the person on the contract, the owner could request to have the review removed.  This would prevent them from using the review system as a weapon knowing that their ability to rent in the future may be hampered by vacation owners checking them out.

       

      Rick

      www.vacationrentalhelper.com

      • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
        Nov 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 2, 2012 6:34 AM (in response to skiandglee)
        Re: Extortion By Renters

        There were discussions at the last summit conference in Austin about a renter/traveler profile that home owners could access before agreeing to a rental. Not sure what ever happened with this, but would certainly be a huge benefit to all owners. Could give us a heads up on problem tenants.

  • New Member 3 posts since
    Aug 31, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 31, 2012 12:32 AM (in response to magman)
    Re: Extortion By Renters

    I think I'm being set up for an extortion attempt.  After 8 years of rentals to more than 100 renters, I have had 3 complaints.  All 3 were related to what I would call "deep cleaning" issues...i.e. things that only get cleaned once or twice a year (i.e. dust on ceiling fan blades).  However, the most recent renter complaints (just left on Wednesday) really gave me pause.  They left a 4 page document listing nitpicky things "wrong" with the place (example: their daugter found a condom and some lube in the nightstand...obviously left by a prior tenant...and somehow this is a major defect in my property).  Some things were not nitpikcy (i.e. they claimed the floors were not cleaned) but are impossible to verify once they've occupied the place. Note that I (perhaps naively) let renters have an option to clean the unit themselves to save the $100 in cleanng fees.  This is one reason why I get a lot of bookings...people appreicate the pricing. I got the distinct impression that these last folks are looking to be compensated, in fact their 4 page letter pretty much states as much.

       So my question is, do I comp them or not? I feel like their claims are largely unjustfied, and those that are true are very minor. They seem to be looking for a free vaca (I get the feeling they have done this before).  I worry that if I comp them then I am feeding this scam (and yes, I think it is a scam).  The lease does not require me to give them anything, none of the complaints were things that make the unit uninhabitable or constitute false advertising. I do worry they will write a bad review.   Since we have a short rental season, even losing 2 or 3 weeks is the difference between breaking even and losing money, 

      Advice?  Give in to terrorists or hold the line?  I have thought about pulling the listing as well.

    • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 878 posts since
      Sep 3, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 31, 2012 5:05 AM (in response to cwestmark)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      I don't think a child finding a condom is nitpicky. I think asking people to clean unit themselves is a terrible idea. They at least deserve $100 refund, which you state is what they saved for not having professional cleaning.

    • stjvilla Active Contributor 626 posts since
      May 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 31, 2012 7:48 AM (in response to cwestmark)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      You may want to rethink your cleaning policies to avoid problems like this.  Are we to assume that before these guests checked in, the previous guests did the check-out cleaning?  If so, how can you control how clean the house is and look for items left behind?  $100 per week for cleaning doesn't seem that much of a pricing advantage for renters when you consider the possibility your house won't be clean enough.

       

      So, our advice: Go with a professional cleaning between guests.

      • New Member 3 posts since
        Aug 31, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 31, 2012 10:34 AM (in response to stjvilla)
        Re: Extortion By Renters

        A few other things I did not mention or make clear.    First, I immediately offered to call in a cleaner to clean the unit, but told them (being honest) that it might be a day or two before I could get anyone over there, because the cleaning services are all booked solid in advance on weekends due to turnovers.  I then offered to comp them $100 for the cleaning.  They weren't satisfied with that, and they left without cleaning and didn't tell me that they were planning to do so.  So that's why I think they are trying for a free vaca.

         

        Re" cleaning.  A couple of years ago, based on discussions with another owner in the local market,  I started letting guests have the option to clean the unit themselves, and I actually found that I got no complaints (compared to the several complaints I got with teh cleaning services).  I hold a deposit to insure compliance with cleaning.   I do build in cleaning service into the rent when it is a week or more, but for short stays, it inflates the price to a level that is non-competitive.  They could stay at a fancy hotel or B&B for the same price, and I am not offering that level of service (i.e. maid on call, fresh towels when you want them, etc.)

         

        When I began offering short stays, I almost doubled my rents because my bookings skyrocketed.  Because of the extreme seasonality of the local rental market, I have found that I cannot break even without offering this option,because people want to do long weekends during the shoulder season and do not want to stay a whole week.  Plus my price point is always among the lowest.  Yes, that is because people have the option of waiving the cleaning fee.  But my customers really appreciate this.

         

        I am going to rethink the cleaning and minimum stay policy.  It worked for a while, but when it doesn't work, it really doesn't work.

         

        PS-  the condom was in a wrapper, not used.  This is Provincetown.  If your kid is going to be offended by a condom in a wrapper, god forbid they should see what goes on on Commercial Street.    Not really a kid friendly environment unless that doesn't offend your sense of morals.   And, I have never had housekeeping service that looked thru the drawers to see if people left things, so not sure I could prevent that.  They clean surfaces and leave.  And you are lucky if they even do that.

        • harborfields Contributor 207 posts since
          Jul 12, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 31, 2012 11:25 AM (in response to cwestmark)
          Re: Extortion By Renters

          "I do build in cleaning service into the rent when it is a week or more, but for short stays, it inflates the price to a level that is non-competitive.  They could stay at a fancy hotel or B&B for the same price, and I am not offering that level of service (i.e. maid on call, fresh towels when you want them, etc.)"

           

          No, you are not offering the same service as a hotel or B&B, you are (likely) offering MORE!

           

          Things like privacy, extra space, ability to prepare your own food, etc... are all the hallmarks of a self-catering vacation rental for which people might expect to pay a premium.

           

          Are you really competing directly with hotels and B&B's?

        • carol Senior Contributor 2,152 posts since
          Dec 10, 2010
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 31, 2012 9:46 PM (in response to cwestmark)
          Re: Extortion By Renters

          I would never find anything like that left in a drawer -- neither my cleaning crew nor I have time to check every drawer in the house during our quick turnover.   Clearly, that is not a valid complaint.  You, of course, can apologize for it, but don't assume responsibility.  ("I'm so sorry that the prior guest did not clean up")

           

          But I do agree with the others about the importance of a cleaning service.  I would not let guests clean up themselves unless I could do a walk-through myself after they leave. Is that your practice?   Did the place appear clean when you inspected before they checked in?

           

          I don't even like guests doing their own laundry any more -- they stuff too much in the washer to properly clean and they don't run the dryer long enough to dry the thick towels. 

    • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
      Nov 9, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 2, 2012 6:58 AM (in response to cwestmark)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      I have seen many guests come and go and be nit picky. I had one guest insist that we vacuum the outdoor mat before a guest checks in.  I guess some people just expect everything to be super perfect when they rent a home. However, that is not realistic. There are always little things here and there that might bother a guest. The fact that you offered to correct the problem should have shown your guest that you do care about your home and them. The fact that you offered to refund or comp the $100 cleaning fee should have been enough.

       

      My cleaning service absolutely does not have the time to check every drawer. We do try to check the nightstand top drawers to see if people have left anything behind. We check the washer/dryer as well. Have an entire wardrobe of cloths in six different sizes LOL.

       

      We used to offer the clean yourself option. I always found that guests did not launder the sheets and put dirty sheets back on the beds. Found our super fluffy towels the dyed (well at least they now match every color decor). Found trash in the trash cans etc, etc, etc.  Found gummy bears under the beds and so on. We no longer offer this option. We tell our guests this is a vacation and why should you clean at the conclusion of your vacation.

       

      Besides the wrapped condom, there must have been several other issues they complained about to fill four pages? Otherwise, why would a guest take time out from their vacation to write a four page letter. That seems a bit excessive.

      • New Member 3 posts since
        Aug 31, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Sep 2, 2012 9:01 AM (in response to marilyn)
        Re: Extortion By Renters

        Marilyn,

         

        Yes there were other issues mentioned but when I arrived after they had left and investigated myself I found them all to be without merit, very minor and/or outside my scope of control, or not something that gets done more than twice a year (i.e. deep cleaning).  For the sake of not boring everyone on this BB to tears, I did not list them all, but if you are interested...here  are the complaints:

        -  "Looks like the unit was never cleaned...dirt on floors, a glass in the sink, food left in the refrigerator":  When I arrived, there was dirt/sand on the floors.  However, since the complaining renters did not clean before they left, it's impossible for me to establish "whose dirt it was".  My overall impression was that apart from needing to be swept the unit seemed to be quite clean given that they said they didn't clean it. So I felt that these are probably people who require a higher standard of cleaning.  Regarding dishes, there is a dishwahser, so a single glass left in the sink does not seem like a big deal to me, but I think they took it as a sign that no cleaning had happened.  I asked them what kind of food was in the fridge because I do allow people to leave condiments and non-perishable items like soda, water, or beer when they leave (people fly here and don't want to bring stuff back or waste it).  Most people appreciate not having to spend a lot of money stocking up on ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and the like.  They did not respond to my question and I noticed that teh fridge was devoid of condiments, so that must have bothered them and they must have thrown them away.

        -  Glass in the parking lot:  First, this is condo property (not deeded to my unit) and I have no control over it other than thru the condo trustees.  Had I known it was a problem when it happened, I could have called the VP to correct the problem.  Spoke to the VP (who lives in his condo).  He said that he had not noticed any glass in the lot (he is pretty observant).  I looked very carefully in the lot near my unit and found 4 small pieces (about 1/4 inch) of broken plastic, two of which were metallized plastic.  Looks like someone broke a taillight at some point and missed a few pieces when they cleaned it up.  HOnestly never noticed it and never had anyone point it out to me.

        -  The unit was hot and never got below 81 degrees, the window a/c unit did not work/could not cool the unit:  The window a/c is in teh bedroom and was on full blast when I got in (they turned it down to 65 F and left it on in spite of instructions to turn it off when they left, so the emplty condo was a/c'ed for three days after they left and before I arrived).  The place felt like a meat locker.  I checked the weather history for the week of their stay.  Outside air temps never exceeded 79 F, my unit is north facing and gets little direct radiation from the sun.  I do advterise that the a/c is a window unit in the bedroom, and depending on whether you shut doors, what you do with the fans, etc. the living room/kicthen may not get cooled by the a/c, but the bedroom is certainly cooled by the a/c unit.  However, this is Provincetown, I've stayed here when temps are in the 90's during the day, and have never felt like I couldn't get comfy, and I am spoiled with central a/c at home.  IN fact, many if not most rentals in PTown do not have a/c at all because many people feel it is unnecessary.

        -  Dehumidfier filled up repeatedly and needed to be empty:  I tell people to keep the dehumidfier running and empty it when it fills.  This keeps the humidity manageable (we are near the ocean and it gets humid) and keeps the unit from smelling musty when it is shut up for a few days. 

        -  Dehumdifier water collection tank is moldy: This is a deep cleaning issue.  I wiped it out with some bleach because it had accumulated a scummy film over the course of the summer.  Any helpful hints from Heloise on how to easily mitigate this buildup would be appreciated.

        -  Neighbors upsatirs were moving furniture around on the weekend and the noise disturbed them:  again, had I known this was an issue, I could have called down to see if I could get them to be less noisy, but the other owners have a right to live in their units, which sometimes involves moving furniture.

        -  Courtyard patio did not have chairs and the table was rusty:  This is common area for the condo asscoaiton (clearly stated in my ad).  I don't have full control over the furnshings (they belong to another owner) but I do try to esnure that there is a table and chairs out there.  Some other owner had obviously removed the chairs, so this was a valid complaint, but also very easily remedied.  I would have been happy to comp them for plastic resin chairs that are sold at a hardware store that is 100 yards away from my condo.

        -  TV did not work:  I investigated this and found out that Comcast had switched the area to digital 2 weeks ago without notifying owners.  The whole town was in an uproar and owners and property managers were going nuts trying to get ****** off renters their cable TV.  I was unaware of the issue for two weeks because frankly, almost nobody watches TV when they are here (which is why I have only basic cable).  I told the renters they could go to the Comcast place (0.5 miles from condo) to pick up the converter (free) or I would comp them $25 (enough to pay for 2.5 months of cable service).  They said they didn't want to interrupt their vaca to get the converter.  Fair enough. 

         

        So...I decided to comp them $125, sent a refund to their credit card, and told them I was sorry they were dissatisfied.  I did not call them and get into a negotiation nor discuss the particulars of what I found because I felt there was no way that discussion was not going to disintegrate into an argument and I didn't want them pressuring me for more money than what I feel is fair. If they choose to write a bad review, then so be it.  I'm done worrying about it.

    • kjm New Member 12 posts since
      Sep 6, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 6, 2012 9:17 AM (in response to magman)
      Re: Extortion By Renters

      We have never received a bad review (touch wood) on our vacation homes. We have been using VRBO for over 10 years

      However I am most disapointed  that VRBO and HomeAway have taken away the owners option to accept or deny a review. It used to be the reviews were sent to the owners and we had the choice of accepting. We are getting more and more concerned about how much owner control is being taken over by the Web site administrators and we are not happy. We agree the web sites have added many features over the past few years and many are good but VRBO used to work just fine 10 years ago when it really was a service to the HOMEOWNERS. We dont get any more renters now than we did then despite all the new bells and whistles on the sites. We are filled back to back throughout the winter and summer seasons with a good smackering in the fall so nothing really to improve on. We know how to handle a vaction rental and dont need to be led by the nose. We simply want a place to list our second homes

      Having all the bells and whistles have cost us a lot more in fees and have continually taken more and more control away from us, the homewoner and paying customer base for VRBO and HOmeAway

      Anyone else feeling that these sites have forgotten about us - their customers and have taken more and more control away. We would love to hear from other homeowners who feel the same way

      K

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