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13207 Views 36 Replies Latest reply: Mar 4, 2013 6:19 PM by serenade RSS
New Member 3 posts since
Apr 16, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 3, 2011 3:29 PM

Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

We have personally been through some very traumatic circumstances from the result of guest reviews. This is a recent experience since running what is our second vacation rental property to a more aggressive NY clientele.

 

We are constantly told by the guests, HomeAway, and VRBO - “you have so many good reviews, one little negative one is not going to hurt you.” Actually - we have had a guest cancel an active invoice because of a bad review - so for the record - not true!

 

With the advent of “reviews” being so trendy at present - it seems that it is very clear everyone has their right to make a comment and the guests out there are exercising this right in what I see as a one sided attempt to permanently damage a properties reputation based on expectations, moods, or monetary concerns (feeling they paid too much for what they expected).

 

Here is what I find to be the problem. Guests have not read the descriptions clearly and have false expectations, guests have needs that are outside our capability of tending to, and guests lie and embellish. I had one guest write that my property is not safe for children when in fact he did not have any children (a very damaging speculation and false claim.)

 

I know that HomeAway loves their review system. That they feel very strongly that a reply to a review will settle the score, and that writing a response is good business practice. But really - seriously - I find myself perplexed at how to respond to blatant lies, speculation, and false claims. It honestly takes me hours and days to work on a strategy to handle these outlandish comments in a professional manner. It’s exhausting!

 

Then I realized why this system doesn’t work well. These guests have no accountability for any review they write. They remain anonymous - they have the freedom to write whatever they please - with no repercussions to the fact that they are ruining a small business with their false claims. I understand that HomeAway cannot chase claims back and forth - that is impossible. However, they cannot let these people crush the very businesses they helped build - HomeAway - you have to see what is happening here. I feel that if indeed we are building a community - then the community that needs to be built is one where (much like Air BnB - who I might add are just now learning how to “listen” to their clients) there is a community not only of renters, but of tenants too. I think John Doe will be a little less likely to make a damaging false claim if he held accountable and his “friends” or other renters on HomeAway see his behavior and have a chance to decline him as a guest by seeing this track record. These people just go on to rent to the next house in the area and frankly I wish I could warn my renting neighbors to watch out for the occasional sour (vindictive) grape we get.

 

I hope HomeAway hears us out and develops a new strategy.

In addition, I would love to hear how other hosts are handling these problems and any suggestions we can present to HomeAway as a group.

  • swiss-house Contributor 260 posts since
    Jul 6, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 3, 2011 8:47 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    You're right on the money avl.

     

    I want to quote one of your observations, because it is the crux of the issue:

     

    "But really - seriously - I find myself perplexed at how to respond to blatant lies, speculation, and false claims."

     

    If HA/VRBO wants the respect and continued business of the Vacation Home Owner market, they must put in some clearly documented process to flag questionable claims in reviews and solicit a homeowner response BEFORE the review is published - specifically claims stated as fact or implied as more than just an opinon.  And in circumstances where the reviewer and homeowner stories don't line up, HA/VRBO must be willing to reconfirm the reviewer's claims with the reviewer.  If the reviewer fails to reply, or cannot provide proof of their claim, the review doesn't get posted. 

     

    For me it's mostly an ethical issue. The stakes are high. Do what's right - make sure you've got your story straight before it's published.

     

    But I sincerely believe that the current approach and its lack of accountability will eventually land HA/VRBO in hot water with a hotshot lawyer-homeowner some day.  It doesn't matter whether his claims of HA publishing libel are sustainable in court or not - the cost and bad publicity will be damaging to both the company and its investors.  What a strange irony that would be for HA to have to defend itself in a public arena against weak / false claims!

     

    All it takes to keep all of us happy on this is the development of a false/damaging claims vetting policy and publishing it so your customers (the Homeowners who pay fees for listing) can reference it when necessary.

    • New Member 2 posts since
      Aug 3, 2011

      As a new rental owner from June 2011, I understand the frustration of avl.  We are so new and don't have many review yet.  It isn't so easy to get the happy people to write one.  We only have 6 reviews so far. The first 2 posted initially from us from "happy emails". 3 good ones and 1 bad (3 of 5 star), but it read like a 1 star.  The husband made the reservation (said to us "sorry for the misunderstanding") and his wife was unhappy with just about everything.  She wanted to go to Vegas and a cabin in the woods hiking was not it and nothing was going to make her happy in fact her title was "manage your expectations".  She took all allowed 2500 key strokes to complain.  My husband and I fretted for days.  We wrote a nice response to everything, but was limited to the same 2500 count.  It was almost impossible.  If they say it was dirty and there was a spider on the nightstand. You drive thru a flash flood posting at the river crossing and it takes 20 min to drive 10 miles.  We should be allowed to give explanations and the word count will exceed the word count to complain. It's easy to make false statements and give misinformation.  It takes longer to clarify.  We called customer service about it (the initial complaint and the 2500 word limit).  The only thing they would or could do was make a "feature" review the first placement.  I really think we had a 2 week cancellation based on that review because the last 2 positive ones posted after the cancellation.  We gave all money and full deposit back to the cancellation.  We gave $100 refund to the unhappy wife.  We try so hard to be responsive and give the best service and place, but we feel this process is not fair and can kill a starting out struggling rental and even kill an established one.  It took hours and days to work out a good response.  I researched out the reviews and another rental in our area was given 2 negative review in a row.  I felt sorry for them.  There was no AC (not advertised) or expected in our area.  We didn't either, but had record temps and did install a portable AC.  She didn't and boy was she blasted!  Our compainer had the AC installed the day before her stay and she said there wasn't operational instructions, but it was left right beside it.  She was upset we didn't have VUDU for free, but we never promised it and disclaimer was in guest guide book.  We did have free netflix online streaming and pandora music and blue ray DVD's.  Can't make everyone happy and VRBO/ Home AWAY should evaluate not just post anything if the customer "stayed there".  Yes, she stayed there, but look at what she was saying?  We don't know if we will stay with VRBO/Home Away especially if they don't make the review process an equal and fair service.

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2011 7:03 AM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    As a rental owner, I feel it is my job to know what my competiton is in my area. I know almost every rental on VRBO and HomeAway in my area as it really is not that big, although the range of prices varies greatly, so I try to concetrate on the ones that are in the range that mine is in, price, bedrooms, baths, ammenites. When I look at some of the homes that have all good reviews, or bad reviews for that matter, it suprises me. There is one rental in perticular that stands out, it has 26 great reviews, although I was in that house when a family friend rented it because they wanted to rent while we were staying at our house, my friend called it a dump, and had to clean it before she could move in, the blankets were so filthy she sent her husband to K-mart to buy new ones, and the kitchen was falling apart so badly it was a hazard. I decided to read the reviews more closely, and discovered that they were all written by large "party" groups, post prom, highschool and college graduation groups and the like. Most were written in May and June when these groups rent. Not one was written by a family that enjoyed the beautiful location or could call it a "beautiful, updated, clean house with wonderful ammenities." My neighbor on the other hand, who has a wonderful, spotlessly clean, always updated home has had a bad review over a problem with the other neighbor, something that he had no control over.  So I take what the reviews say with a grain of salt and do not solicit my renters to write reviews. I just wish the renters themselves knew what we know.

    • stjvilla Active Contributor 624 posts since
      May 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 16, 2011 7:56 AM (in response to terirusso)
      Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

      I'm curious -- did your friend write a more honest review?

      • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
        Mar 30, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 16, 2011 9:08 AM (in response to stjvilla)
        Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

        No she did not. She complained to the owner, who sent gift certificates to a local restaurant. She just would not ever recommend the house to anyone, and would never stay there again. She is a person who rents every year and usually re rented another house year after year. But the house was sold. She just thought that because she didn't see the house before she rented it, that it was her fault. But most of my renters rent sight unseen, and are even more pleasently suprised when they get there. I am also to the point that 3/4 of my renters are repeat for at least 3 years  or more now. I think that says alot in it's self. She just won't go back.

  • New Member 19 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2011 8:00 AM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    Avl is absolutely right.   I am very concerned about the review situation and as an owner feel very strongly that we should have the opportunity to 'vet' the review before it appears!   We are the clients after all, who are paying to advertise our properties.   I worries me that an unfairly peeved renter can just post a negative review without the owner being able to dispute or defend it.   My recent experience with a renter who decided after she had stayed that she should not pay the tax or cleaning charge has brought this to my attention.   I have contacted VacationRentals, with whom I advertise, and am awaiting a reply.   It really is a serious problem which must be addressed by the companies involved.  I intend to pursue it and hope others will too.

    • New Member 19 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 16, 2011 10:43 AM (in response to avl)
      Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

      I agree that we need to stay on this.   We all know its impossible to please all the people all the time.   We also all know that people just don't read the ads carefully and in detail.   I frequently have questions which prove that!   I just do not feel it is right that owners have no control over reviews and that renters can just post whatever they like without any reference to the owner.   Sorry to repeat myself but we're paying for the ad!   We are the customer!   I think it is becoming obvious that reviews are playing too big a role in the rental process and any bad review is damaging.   I intend to write again to VacationRentals on this subject and request others to do the same.   Maybe I'll ask if we can have a 'Renter Review' section?   See how that goes down!

  • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,353 posts since
    May 25, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2011 1:07 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    I no longer solicit reviews ( I'm on VRBO only). I'm not clear if VRBO does this "for me". I hope not. This whole review stuff is just too odd.

     

    I used to enjoy sending an exit interview type of email to my renters after my home had been inspected. Then I'd decide if the renter seemed willing to write a review. If they seemed agreeable then I would send a request for a review.

     

    Now I just send them an email thanking them for their patronage and letting them know that their damage depiosit is being refunded. 

     

    It's too bad that VRBO's practices have gotten so muddled.

  • Contributor 145 posts since
    May 12, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 16, 2011 5:01 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    Avl...we are all singing from the same song sheet.  It is a useless effort to try and get the VRBO/HA empire to change their position on allowing us to Opt out of reviews or to do a better job in asking for copies of rental agreements to verify what is being said about us.  I have experienced the same problem as you described to where one of my listing that had great inquiry traffic is now pitiful.  Agree that some hot shot lawyer could have a field day with this .  Ok... enough said on what HA has done to damage our business this year.   What is important is from this day forward start protecting your listings from being tarnished. Just because you do not have a bad review does not mean you are in a safe harbor. I have said before renting our homes is a bit like playing Russian Roulette.  The way I fixed this problem is about three months ago we incorporated a Non-Disparagement Clause into our rental agreement.  The clause basically says that the renter agrees that the transaction is to be kept private between the two parties (no review posting period by the renter good or bad).  I can honestly vouch for the fact that this clause works and was the best thing we ever did...I only wish we had thought to do this a year ago. 

     

    When an inquiry comes in and someone asks why we do not have any current reviews I tell them we have elected to Opted Out of Reviews and explain the clause.  I give them an example of why we have elected not to participate. For example how would you like it if the shoe was on the other foot and I was to post a bunch of negative information that was not true about you and then you could not remove it.

     

    Below is what we are using…the more of us that start using this clause the more educated the renter will be about why reviews have stopped being posted.

     

    Non-Disparagement: Certain websites allow reviews that are unchecked with regard to reasonable sentiment and even minor unreasonable negative sentiment can unjustly cause damages to owners reputation and future business. We do not participate in reviews from websites that are not owned or controlled by homeowner or agent and believe the business transaction between all parties should remain private. Therefore, renter acknowledges and accepts that all communications related to this transaction shall remain private. Specifically, renter and invited guests agree not to criticize, make any statement which disparages or post any review on any website unless requested in writing by the homeowner or agent. If any review is posted by Renter or invitee thereof, and found to contain unreasonable negative sentiment in the sole opinion of the homeowner and is not removed within 72 hours (the Review), renter agrees that a copy of the rental agreement shall serve as renters full authorization to request and oblige the third party or website hosting site displaying the Review to remove it promptly upon request by homeowner or owners agent. Failure to remove the review will be considered a breach of this Agreement, and homeowner will consider this act to have irreparably harmed by loss of business and goodwill due to violation of this provision and will seek damages from Renter and additional legal fees necessary to enforce demand should renter not comply.

    • New Member 19 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 17, 2011 1:49 PM (in response to vacationlady)
      Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

      I am still having an ongoing discourse with Vacation Rentals about  the vexed question of reviews.   My main concern is that they decide on whether the review appears without any reference to the owner.   This is totally unfair - we are the paying customers!   There has to be some way to get round this which will work for everyone but at the moment VR are insisting that they know best and although they acknowledge that owners are finding it hard to accept (they actually said that in writing!) they are not willing to budge.   I have asked them to consider the whole review situation - we'll see.

       

      So we have to stay on the case!

  • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
    Mar 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 20, 2011 6:52 AM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    Although I have been pretty lucky with most of my renters, I did have someone threaten to write a bad review on VRBO. I have a book in my home that I ask people to write about their vacation in. Almost all of my renters write in it and I can put them on as an owner submitted review if I want, but I think that people think that you just made those up. The funny thing is that the person who threatened to write the bad review because I kept $80 of her security for a broken patio umbrella that was left open in a wind storm, and the house was so dirty it took the cleaning crew extra time, also wrote in the book about what a great vacation she had and how much she loved my house. When I told her that I could write a rebuttal and would scan and attach her wonderful comments in my book at my house, she backed off. BTW, she rented the house under false pretences. It was a last minute rental after a cancellation, so I did not have time to check out a lot of details before she sent me her deopsit and saw her drivers license that she was only 21, my minimum is 25 just like car rental, and even then only couples at that age. She assured me that her mother was comming, and it was a gift for her mothers birthday. I allowed it againt my better judgement. Yes her mother was there, but just for the first weekend. I think she came incase I gave her a hard time upon check in.Cleaning people called me immediately because they were late checking out, and told me that the house was a mess and it would take them longer than usual to get the house ready incase the next people showed up early or even on time. The cleaning people told her that she would be charged for the ubrella before she even left the house.  Later found out from neighbors that it was party central after mom left. I did ask the neighbors why they didn't call me sooner, and they said they weren't sure what they were supposed to do as they were 21 and not breaking the law. After a meeting with my neighbors, they are now happy to be my eyes and ears, as we have a very quiet shore neighborhood. I just found out about a website called Guestchecker.com from another HomeAway community person.A black list of sorts for "problem guests".  I wll be adding her name to the list, not because the house was a mess, 21 year olds do that, but because her mother helped her lie to me, and then threatened to tarnish my name, when he knew I adjusted my rules for them.

  • Contributor 26 posts since
    Nov 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Dec 7, 2011 1:24 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    I say WAKE UP  Mr. Sharples.  You are loosing customers as fast as you are buying up new one as you aquire new websites.  Your investors are going to get wise to this ponzi scheme.

     

    If Mr. Sharples had actully built a business, he would understand that it costs a lot more to gain one customer than it does to treat your existing ones fairly and try to retain them.

     

    I, for one, just had a group of 12 women arrive at one of our most Pristine "NON-SMOKING" homes.  From the moment they arrived, they all smelled like they had smoked 20 packs of cigarettes in a very small space.  I reminded them that this was a Non-smoking property and that the owners had sever allergies.  They  promised they would not smoke on the grounds.

     

    Well, of course, upon departure the entire home wreaked of smoke and there were hundred of cigarette buts all over the property.  (Even stuffed into the patio furniture). 

     

    DO I DARE KEEP THEIR DEPOSIT AND RISK A BAD REVIEW?  Heck no!  Even though it cost me a fortune to clean up their mess,  launder draperies and linens and steam clean furniture to eliminate the smell.

     

    IS THIS FAIR?  ~ I THINK NOT

     

    Wake up MR. SHARPLES ~ Listen to your paying customers!

    • terirusso Contributor 101 posts since
      Mar 30, 2011

      Everyone is SO concerned about a bad review to the point that they will give back security when the house is damaged.  Honestly, I have been threatened with bad reviews before And yes it is always by the nighmare renter. The one that damaged the house or left it so dirty that I got charged extra by the cleaning people. I always keep the emails and tell them that I will write a rebuttle and include the threatening email in it. Renters know if they see 10 good reviews and 1 bad one, that the one bad one is someone that wouldn't be happy no matter what. And VRBO does not allow a bad review unless the person sends the appropriate documentation including rental agreement and proof of payment. So what is the purpose of security then.Like I have said before, this is a business and we need to treat it that way. If we don't the renters think that this is just a hobby, and that is when they pull this nonsense.

  • rocky New Member 1 posts since
    Jun 24, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 24, 2012 3:09 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    I agree that Homeaway & VRBO should be on the side of the people who pay their bills. We have been in the vacation rental business for 14 years now. After we withheld a deposit for damages to our home this person wrote a bad review. When we contacted Homeaway, they told us that this is a good thing? Really? I was told that by my responding, it shows that we are attentive to our home. So we are supposed to let a renter come into our homes, damage the house and when we keep their deposits they post a bad review for spite.

     

    WE ARE THE  ONES PAYING THE BILLS AT HOMEAWAY AND VRBO AS THE HOMEOWNERS. WE NEED TO START A PETITION AND HAVE EVERYONE SIGN THAT THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO POST BAD REVIEWS WITHOUT OUR CONSENT. INSTEAD WHAT THEY SAY IS BASICALLY, "IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT, TAKE YOUR LISTING OFF THE SITE" AND BTW- YOU DON'T GET A DIME BACK FROM THE MONEY THAT YOU PUT UP. THIS IS VERY UNFAIR TO GOOD PROPERTY OWNERS AS ABOUT 98% OF US ON THIS SITE ARE. WE PAY GOOD MONEY TO ADVERTISE OUR HOMES AND EXPECT TO BE TREATED WITH RESPECT.

     

    REMEMBER THEY WORK FOR US!!!! NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!!! A VERY DISAPPOINTED OWNER

    • carol Senior Contributor 2,142 posts since
      Dec 10, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jun 24, 2012 5:47 PM (in response to rocky)
      Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

      I disagaree.

       

      If we are allowed to reject reviews for any reason, every property will have nothing but 5 star reviews, and travelers will not believe the reviews.

       

      Frustrating as it is to get a bad review, we have the ability to get it taken down when

      - the person did not stay

      - the person is trying to extort us to get the full deposit back

       

      From what I read on the Traveler section of this community, HA/VRBO is requiring travelers writing negative reviews to provide significant proof that they stayed -- a contract, pictures in the house, that sort of thing. 

       

      The second reason is, admittedly, difficult to prove, and what I'd like to see is HA/VRBO giving the owners more credence here than they give renters any time the owner asserts that a less than full deposit was refunded.

       

      I am not sure what the policy is towards more than one guest per stay writing a review.   I think I'd like to see an option where an owner can select one review when multiple reviews are entered for the same stay.  If the owner wants to keep them all up, fine, but if one is a bad review and the other is a good review, let the owner choose.

  • New Member 11 posts since
    Jun 20, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 28, 2012 5:06 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    Once this review system has been in operation for a while I would think the odd negative review would prove harmless.  The problem is in transitioning from an all-positive advertising format to the more critical, pro-renter format, when negativity first begins to appear so spoiling the pristine scenery heretofore depicted by owners in their listing.  Those owners who receive criticism first are harmed by it because those who are only later touched appear better by comparison in the meantime.  But, inevitably, all listings will start to receive criticism which will cancel out these distinctions among owners that harm business.

     

    My advice (I'm new at this VRBO / HA stuff, so you can take it for what it's worth):  Reply to all reviews, pro and con, and maintain a dialogue with your renters, and you should be all right.  Concerning what to say -- just keep it short and sweet.  Cheers!

  • New Member 16 posts since
    Dec 17, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jul 30, 2012 4:27 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    I hate the review process.  It is not a system of accountability it is system of extortion that costs me money.  We overlook so many issues because  we fear a bad review.  We figure that we are money ahead in overlooking legitimate reasons to withhold a deposit, rather than risk a negative review that will result in the loss of even one booking.  So far, we have had all postitive reviews, but with many guests I find that we are overlooking things when we shouldn't. I have no confidence in the review process by HA, who says they verify that I guess had stayed.  They don't.

    • twobitrentals Community All-Star 1,338 posts since
      Aug 5, 2011

      I have held a few deposits and even asked someone to leave early without refunding the balance because they were not keeping with their end of the contract. I thought for sure that I would get bad reviews. I think that they knew that they could not possible justify what they had done and then post a bad review. I don't think that you should be afraid to hold deposits if it is justified, if they write a bad review, you address the reason that they had a deposit withheld.

       

      I know that the first bad review I get will be quite upsetting, but I think that if we realize that not everyone is going to be happy and address it as such, then we might not be so inclined to worry as much.

       

      I have 41 "5 star reviews" and so I think that speaks volumns. I think those looking at the reviews would wonder why 41 travelers had no problem etc. if there was one negative. I know that I would definitely consider the whole picture when deciding where to vacation and not one isolated comment.

      • New Member 16 posts since
        Dec 17, 2011

        I may change my opinion over time.  Currently we have only 7 reviews (all 5 stars), and have had about 30 guests over the past year.  We had a recent guest mention that he read all the reviews and focused on the most recent.  He did leave a very thorough and positive review.  One bad review at this point could hurt future rentals.  I don't like the leverage the guests have and I don't like the position that HA takes when owners complain.

        • New Member 19 posts since
          Jul 27, 2011

          I couldn't agree more ..... as I have said several times here and direct to HA companies WE ARE THE PAYING CUSTOMERS.   Not to have any say in whether a Review appears, let alone whether its fair, is just not good policy.   BUT I have to say I recently had an experience on VacationRentals where I was notified of a Customer Review and given 7 days to respond to it before it was published.   I wrote direct to VR and said although the review was in my personal favor, the customer had a couple of complaints about other visitors at the resort.   To me it was totally unacceptable to print such small minded 'stuff' - totally mundane and pointless.   And they agreed!!!! and the review wasn't posted as VR decided it did not meet their criteria.   Good sense prevailed.   So it can be done but only if they decide!

    • New Member 19 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011

      It is a ridiculous situation and you're quite right that as an owner I find I let things slide so as not to risk an unfavorable review.   Its quite unacceptable that HA companies have put us in this unsatisfactory position.   But ... they are just not willing to listen to their customers.

      • osidebeachhouse New Member 2 posts since
        Feb 9, 2013
        Currently Being Moderated
        Feb 9, 2013 10:41 PM (in response to suephil)
        Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

        I agree with you completly! I have one bad review from a guy that thrashed my house and had more people stay at the house than our contract allowed. I was very upset but I still refunded his total security deposit, so as not to get a bad review, haha on me! I have 17 good reviews and that one ridiculous review still bugs me. In fact I am thinking about taking down my listing and starting fresh, I believe that is the only way to get rid of the bad review.

        • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
          May 21, 2011

          From what I understand if you take down your site and wait awhile and set up a new account, you will not eliminate the bad reviews.  They follow the address of the owner or location of the rental - one of the two and I don't know which one.  Anybody know if this is true???

           

          If I ever get a bad review, I will also likely try the same, even though I would lose my seniority. In the meantime, I do charge a security deposit, but never keep a single penny even if someone trashes the place. They just get put on my do-not-rent-to-again list.   

          • sage Community All-Star 965 posts since
            Jul 4, 2012
            Currently Being Moderated
            Feb 10, 2013 1:44 PM (in response to bobbie32)
            Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

            A new listing for the same owner at the same address inherits the reviews of the old listing.  But it can be simple to change ownership of the rental.  For example, Owner Bob creates an LLC, say, O.B. LLC, of which Owner Bob is the sole member.  Owner Bob leases the property to O.B. LLC.  O.B. LLC then operates the property as a VR.  As a VR operated by a different legal entity the previous reviews should not follow.

             

            But if there truly is one harmful review, so long as there is anything false in the review I suspect a court order for removal of the review could be obtained at not too great a cost.  If a lawsuit was filed that requests an order to remove the review, I expect that in most cases one would obtain a default judgement, especially if no monetary damages were sought.  If there is a legitimate claim for damages from the renter one might negotiate a resolution of a lawsuit that includes the renter voluntarily withdrawing the review. 

             

            Too often I think owners just give up and cry about bad reviews when an attorney may be able to resolve the problem.  Often I think a simple letter from an attorney to the renter saying 'withdraw the review voluntarily or owner will sue you' would get the desired result.

  • osidebeachhouse New Member 2 posts since
    Feb 9, 2013
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 9, 2013 10:46 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    I think we need to be able to put their full name and address in our response to the review. That way other local owners have a chance to be made aware of these people and we can chose not to rent to them. They get to blast our businesses with impunity and that is not fair. We need a renter review forum where we can post good and bad renters for referral purposes.

    • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
      May 21, 2011

      You know...I tried to get our fiercest competitor to agree to share names of bad renters, after I saw a horrible review on his listing. BUT, he said NO to that.  He said the reason was based on privacy concerns - say what?  I was giving him an opportunity to learn from me who our bad renters were and wanted to know his bad renters in return. Okay I guess I could have used that info against him and that is too bad that he thought that.  In any case, he now has several bad reviews on TA that are frankly doing him in - very few bookings. 

       

      It is sad that owners cannot come together in a cooperative effort to stop bad renters from being able to book anywhere they please after they have ruined someone's business.  But unfortunately with the way our legal system works, it just ain't going to happen.  

      • sage Community All-Star 965 posts since
        Jul 4, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Mar 4, 2013 3:12 PM (in response to bobbie32)
        Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

        Bobbie - I would be with your competitor regarding the privacy issues.  I have a privacy policy and give prospective guests the link to it at the time I request their names and contact information.  If we are to ask travelers to disclose personal data, I think we owe it to them to keep that data private, even if the traveler proves to be a problem.  My policy says the following regading disclosing information:

         

        We may share your personal information with other companies or individuals in the following limited circumstances:

        • You give your consent.
        • We have a good faith belief that access, use, preservation or disclosure of such information is reasonably necessary to (a) satisfy any applicable law, regulation, legal process or enforceable governmental request, (b) detect, prevent, or otherwise address fraud, security or technical issues, or (c) protect against harm to the rights, property or safety of any person. In the event we feel compelled under this provision to disclose your personal information we will notify you as soon as lawfully and practically possible; if possible, we will notify you prior to the disclosure of the information so that you might take steps to protect your interests if you so desire.
        • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,353 posts since
          May 25, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 4, 2013 3:41 PM (in response to sage)
          Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

          Sage, I see where you are coming from. However, if I have a guest who violates the terms of our rental agreement that they have signed then I have no problem sharing (giving a heads up) to a few  other VR owners in my VR's area that are friends of mine.

           

          I do this privately via phone conversations. But then I'm lucky to know these owners personally. We've saved ourselves some headaches this way. 

          debj

        • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
          May 21, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 4, 2013 4:27 PM (in response to sage)
          Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

          Yes, I hear what you are saying.  I may not agree with it, but I hear you.  I would love to live in another country, where people can discuss openly many subjects that cannot not be discussed in this country :-)  Problem is - what country would that be ???

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 862 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Feb 10, 2013 5:39 AM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    Unfortunately I do not think this will ever change and while it has been pushed for in the past deaf ears was the result. 

  • serenade Community All-Star 202 posts since
    Aug 19, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 4, 2013 6:19 PM (in response to avl)
    Re: Reviews: Why we need a system of accountability

    I have really become a big fan of AirBnB ever since I posted with them. I love their system which is much more superior than HA/VRBO or Flipkey. They are very user friendly with their reservations, but most importantly, very fair with their review system.

    Both Hosts and Guests have the opportunity of reviewing each other. This is made possible because both Hosts and Guests are required to have a profile on their site and they actually call you to verify if you really who you are.

    Anyway, if you have a bad guest who gives you bad review, you can do the same to the guest, basically warning homeowners not to rent to that guest.

     

    And when it comes to disputes, they are very fair and professional. In fact I had my first one this past week. Reservation was made by a third party because the guests claimed that he couldn't access AirBnB site. Since it was for working assignment, both the the reservationist and myself didn't think much of it. We both figured, those guys are coming out for work, as business people. Turned out, they were my first bad guests. Smoked cigarettes in the unit everyday, complained about other guests, and later on got totally drunk at 3am and started disturbing other guests in the building. They didnt' leave past 4pm while my checkout time is 11.00am. Luckily I dind't have guests arriving that day. Anyway, I reported them to AirBnB, who assigned a person (with a name and all) to contact me a few hours later, asking for whathever evidence I had. The person then contacted the reservationist and got back to me and resolved the problem on the same day. The next day they released the damage deposit to me.

     

    So all in all, I really think as a company, AirBnB thinks this things thru and improve their system and support really well and works well for both the hosts and the guests.

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