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.
Maybe I will get in trouble for this maybe they will just remove the post but I will like to show you all how easy it is to alter an email without anyone knowing. An email is basically just a document, if you drag it on to your desktop (or save it on to your desktop) then right click it and choose Open with..then choose a text editor (ie wordpad, ms word, wordperfect) any is fine. When it opens scroll down, the giberish at the top are the headers, this is what VRBO/HA aka Nadia takes as an “authentic” email. As long as that stuff is there, they will consider it “real”. Anyway, scroll down past the headers (giberish) and eventually you will find the meat of the message, where you can change anything, add, delete, whatever you want. When your done, all you have to do is hit file (or round button at the top for ms office) Save As...then make sure at the end of the email title, it says .eml. Word may try to change it to .doc or .txt, but you can remove that make sure the end is .eml. Once you saved it, open an email to VRBO/HA aka Nadia, attach the .eml you just saved and done. You can do this to any email and I would be happy to help anyone with troubleshooting or better instructions.
Also VRBO/HA doesn't seem to care if reviews are real so why not just start making some up. VRBO/HA can't know it's you posting your reviews. So make an email address, go to Mcdonalds wifi and post away. Of course I would never do this, wink wink, nudge nudge, but if I did, I would know that the only thing VRBO/HA could see if my IP address, which is basically like your “street” address online. The only thing they know is which IP address a review is coming from so as long as your noting submitting a ton of reviews from the same Internet connect (ip address) VRBO can never know. So head down to wifi hotspots or wherever you can, you can also look into Proxy serviers which are so easy to use once you start. They basically “hide” your real address by routing you through another. So if you wanted to use a proxy server you can do this from the comfort of your own home and VRBO/HA aka Nadia will never know. VRBO/HA definetly sides with the guest no matter what so we need to protect our businesses, I'm happy to answer any questions or help anyone out.
I feel your pain as something similar happened to me on one of my listings. About six months into one of my HomeAway listings a guest wrote a very unfair review and my inquires came to a screeching halt. I posted all the positive comments from our guest book and we even had two positive 5 star reviews written about us but this did not help to overcome that one bad review. It was a totally vindictive review and many of things they stated were not true. What is worse is it has become a time sync in having to explain all the nonsense that was written and I just could not turn inquires into bookings on this one listing. Whereas my Flipkey and VRBO listings were doing fine. As a last ditch effort I tried the last month of the listing period to move up from basic to Gold to see if this would help and absolutely nothing.
It was time to renew this listing last week….I almost did out of pure impulse but HA customer service made it so difficult to move back to basic from gold that it gave me time to think about it. I said to myself…do you have a screw loose…why on earth are you renewing a listing with a bad review ? So this listing is going into the dead file…If I do decide to renew I will have to start all over again with a brand new listing…but for now I figured I can just do without HomeAway.
I appreciated your informative email below. Would you mind sending me your private email address as I do have some questions regarding your email and would prefer to email you directly. Thanks...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes the same exact situation happened to me and yes "Nadia" the deliberator of the alleged revenge did the same thing to me. The renter did quite a bid of damage to my condo. I took photos and sent the renter the actual paid bills for the repairs that were deducted from his security deposit. He sent email after email demanding that i refund the monies for the repairs otherwise he will do "what he has to do" and that I learned was to post a false negative review. The review was so outrageously false that I had to cancel my VRBO contract to protect my business. When I spoke to Nadia and shared the false emails with her she also used the lame excuse that if the threats did not have the exact wording....."if you do not refund the entire security deposit I will post a negative review" she would not consider taking down the review. I even went as far as speaking with Carl Shepherd the CFO for VRBO/HA and he stated that if there is a threat of ANY KIND that he would take down the false negative review. I then emailed him the emails from my renter reflecting the threats and he too refused to take down the false review as promised. Hyperbole all the way with no substance. The gatekeepers at VRBO/HA are clearly in bad faith and do not mean what they say. Furthermore Mr. Shepherd alleged that the Wall Street tycoons that are going to fund his IPO have insisted that if all reviews are not posted that the IPO would not fly.....so there it is....follow the money ....and truth and integrity go out the window.
You should not renew your listing with these people. They are in bad faith and have a terrible business model. We must all ban together and find new travel websites that are reputable to redirect our business to. Please email me your personal email address for future reference as I am collecting as many email addresses from disgruntled owners as possible and if we have enough harmed owners we might be able to pursue legal action. I will also notify all owners of new websites that might work for them. I would suggest that you repost your ad to Flip Key or VRBO but it is unclear if VRBO shares their data base with HA and if your false review will post under VRBO. I have heard conflicting stories about this possibility. Please email me your email address to email@example.com so that we can add your name and email to our list.
Thanks for your comments.
Since Carl Shepherd is the CFO for both companies HA and VRBO.....you all might want to write to him directly at the following email address and voice your concerns about their erroneous policies:
Carl Shepherd <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Not that it will make a difference but why not try? Please share his response with the rest of us if you get one.
I am mad as hell too.
A guest is most inclined to write a good review before they’ve checked out. Even vrbo suggests that hosts requests reviews before guests check out for this reason. Why doesn’t vrbo have a setting that hosts can set for vrbo to automatically send out review request day before check out? The other big guys in the industry do that and it works.
Vrbo should re-integrate owner posted reviews with guest posted reviews. There system was set up that way originally and then they decided to separate owner posted reviews and put them in a way nobody notices them or they are hard to view. They basically dumped all my hard work off the warf. Guests sent me tons of positive reviews in personal emails which I posted with the message headers in owner posted reviews for authenticity. Vrbo threw the baby out with the bath water. They could simply have color coded guest reviews vs owner posted reviews but not buried the owner posted reviews.
Vrbo should limit guest reviews to 7 days after check out. That way hosts will have time to return deposits within legal limits AFTER the guest has posted their review. In Hawaii owners must process deposit refunds within 14 days. The kinds of guests that trash your place are the same kind that write trash reviews to hurt hosts. Give that type of guest that leverage to harm and they will. I got a trash review a year after a guest checked out because I fairly charged them for the standard cleaning. They were probably getting ready to book their next vacation when they thought they'd send me a love note.
Add a guest review feature so hosts can avoid renting to guests that trash other hosts homes.
Or, get rid of the vrbo review system altogether since it is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.
If VRBO want's to review the rubbish and damage some of us have to deal with I'd be happy to copy them on the before and after photos with date time and geo-code stamped high resolution photos of dirt and damage that is clearly not ordinary wear and tear, clearly not customary -- whenever I have to deduct for cleaning or damage according to the rental agreement.
I love renting my place out. I'm a top 3% producing real estate broker on Oahu. I wish VRBO would get their act together. I understand how important disclosures, contracts, customs and procedures are. It's a 2 way street. As big as vrbo is, it's amazing they still don't understand these underlying principles of good rental management, customer satisfaction fairness to landlords and how to engineer their service to support and facilitate HONEST ONLINE REPUTATIONS that are good for the type of business environment we have today.
I had to laugh when I read your first line, as many of us are fighting to keep VRBO/HA from requesting the review prior to check out. I don't want my guests bothered during their vacation time. They also send multiple requests, which are in addition to the one I send.
If someone writes a bad review and it is false, you definitely need to dispute that with VRBO/HA. OR; be honest in your response. Why are so many owners afraid of "truth" when it comes to bad guests.
I have to say that I had a guest through another venue, they wrote a very brief good review, to which I responded that while there were very nice to speak to, they showed up early, left late and performed NONE of the required check out procedures. Hopefully, that will help others when renting to them. We don't have to disparage someone, just state the facts. Personally, I think it could serve as a reminder to other guests that there are requirements to be followed.
I guess you missed the part where I suggested it be an optional feature.
"Why doesn’t vrbo have a setting that hosts can set for vrbo to automatically send out review request day before check out?"
That would accommodate your approach and mine.
Who said anything about being afraid? I always use negative reviews as an opportunity to disclose and clarify to future guests. However, human nature is such that no matter how articulate a host is responding to a negative review, it turns many prospects away. It's about professionalism, not fear.
Who said anything about disparaging guests? Reviews are at best mutual and truthful. When they aren't mutual (both host and guest) they become an exclusive tool for disgruntled guests to inflict injury on hosts.
Also, you can laugh all you want but Airbnb is worth $10B and they automatically send review requests to hosts and guests prior to guest check out. HomeAway is worth $3.2B and they don't. Market value isn't everything but it can mean something in terms the results of policies and procedures.
I have disputed bad reviews with vrbo but vrbo ignores virtually every suggestion or request I've posted for the past 6 years, inlcuding request to take down obviously badly written guest reviews. It took 4 fully documented requests over a 5 year period for them to remove copy righted photos other vrbo members had taken from my page without my permission. They've never supported Hiragana characters and Japanese are a huge market. I could go on and on about the failing policies of vrbo vs other industries and withing the sharing economy industries.
Sorry, I don't have any studies to cite only my experience, the experience of others and what I might call, some logic. Together that's a type of study, perhaps not done by J D Powers but relevant, from a gorilla marketing point of view.
If we iterate through it we may or may not recognize the following reasons:
1) The further after a guest checks out the less likely they are to do a review -- eventually they won't even remember the host or that they even took the vacation!
2) When guests return home they have to un-pack, decompress and get back to work. Things vacation get turned off.
3) When a guest is in the midst of having a great time on vacation, they are inclined to vocalize it and write it with enthusiasm
Perhaps silly, but those are the basic notions that seem to explain why out of 600 guests I've hosted
a) The best reviews were done before the guest checked out
b) Second best was the week after the guest checked out
c) The worst reviews were written after the guest was presented with a cleaning or damage charge. This reaction isn't rocket science, it's human nature, right? (My solution to c. is give the guest only up to say 7 days after check out to write their review. If there is a cleaning or damage charge that should not color their review. And the host has another 7 days by law to process the deposit refund. Of course this is not an issue with a lot of guests that don't leave the place dirty or damage anything.
my response was not directed at "you" personally. I was just stating my view and opinion. I probably will never use AirBNB again, but I haven't completely decided that yet. There are many features they have that take away the ability of the owner to conduct business the way we want. So, really it doesn't matter what venue we choose to use, we are at their mercy as to how we use them. Your statement about the size of a company (for me) has no bearing on whether I will use them or not. In fact, most of the time the larger the company the less controls the owner has over their VR.