31 Replies Latest reply: Nov 10, 2012 3:54 PM by stellaval RSS

    How do you handle a bad review?

    New Member

      Our last guests of the 2010 summer season wrote our first bad review.  They felt that they didn't have the privacy they expected and that they felt that we were keeping tabs on them.  We stay in our 40 ft. motor home 2 properties away.    We saw a 'different' car parked in their driveway.  When we went over, they introduced us to 2 relatives who were going to stay 1 night.  They felt that it would be ok because 2 of their relatives left the day before.  We let them know that this was breaking the lease agreement, but we graciously gave in, and let them stay.

      I contacted Home Away and explained the situation.  I requested that they remove the review. They answered that they could not do that. So I read the tips on how to write an owners response, and it stated that you should be professional, and not write the response while you were emotional.  So I wrote my response in a positive way, and did not mention that these guests felt the way they did because they were 'caught' violating the lease.

      It's truly bothering me to have that one bad review.  I know that I have 10 other wonderful reviews to 'compensate'  for this negative one.  So..... how else could I have handled this?    Should I have stated the reason why these guests felt that we were keeping tabs on them??

        • How do you handle a bad review?
          Active Contributor

          I would totally write a review telling your side of the story. Out of 69 reviews on our site (Homeaway #210258) we had ONE that was a 4 rather than a 5 like all the rest. For nearly two years, THAT review stayed at the TOP of our review page. (I don't really know why....)

          I posted a response that stated that while we try to make our guests as happy and comfortable as possible, it rains occasionally and gets a tad chilly even in San Diego. She had said she couldn't get the house warm. Of course, she didn't turn the thermostat up, and never called us (or read her renters info sheet) so that she could get out a couple of space heaters to make the cottage warmer. (by the way...the temps she thought were so cold were in the mid to high 60's and the house reaches 80 in about 10 minutes if you turn the thermostat up) So I just stated that we would have been happy to tell her where there were extra blankets, and space heaters if she would have just let us know.

          I've actually had other potential guests mention that my response was great and they figured "they were just grouches looking to complain about something" and were happy to see what the real deal was.

          It remains our only review out of 69 that is not a 5 out of 5.

          • How do you handle a bad review?
            amyg Active Contributor

            Stellaval, did these guests know before arriving that you lived right near the rental?  If they were not aware of this, I feel they have a valid beef.  When I rent a VR, I expect privacy unless I know in advance that where we are staying has on-site management.  I would not want the owners walking up the driveway to question us about something. You might have meant well and felt this was something you needed to address, but all you did was upset these people...embarrassed them for getting caught with extra guests...and made them feel like they were being monitored.  

             

            I feel you really need to disclose that you live nearby in your communications with potential guests, if you aren't already.  If they are aware of your proximity, maybe that will keep them honest ;0)   I would suggest that you present your living nearby as a plus...that if they need anything, you are a phone call away to help them and that if they would like to meet you during their stay, you can stop by at their invitation to say hello.

             

            I read your guest's review and it was 3 of 5 stars and certainly not as negative as I had expected.  The reviewer complimented your house, the lake view, and the hot tub in a nice manner.  I felt they could have written something much worse, if they were wanting to lash back for their perceived invasion of privacy.  Some people get downright nasty and this person did not.  She just said that this arrangement made them uncomfortable and they wouldn't be back.  No serious harm done.  I'm sure you'll have more 5 star reviews in the coming months and this one will eventually slip down the list. 

            • How do you handle a bad review?
              Active Contributor

              I got a 4 out of 5 from someone because there was no microwave in the cottage... I smarted about this & still do as we are on site, they had mixed with us , even an evening pizza's & beer... they knew we'd just had a huge do for WW2 veterans a week or so before they came - I had moved the microwave into the outside kitchen that everyone has access to and forgot to move it back into the cottage... we find it's so rare for anyone to use a microwave anyway here as everyone is buying local fresh produce, it never crossed my mind that they had bought half of Tesco's ready prepared meals for 2 with them from the UK... so I'm still running a 4.9 score! 98118

                • How do you handle a bad review?
                  amyg Active Contributor

                  Tansy, I got a 4 out of 5 from a lady who was irked that our cabin wasn't secluded (when I never said it was).  She said she got out of the hot tub and "locked eyes" with a man who was fishing at the pond across the street.  Oh well, you can't please 'em all.  She seemed pleased with everything else so it wasn't like she trashed us in her review.  I replied back that I would put up privacy blinds on the screened porch so that future hot tub users wouldn't have any surprises and thanked her for her input. 

                   

                  Come to think of it, 4 out of 5 is like a B, right?  So in the real world, is a B all that bad?  I think sometimes we owners want perfection in our review scores when in reality nothing is perfect.  We have virtually all 5 star ratings between our 4 cabins, so it almost devalues the system when everybody gives you an A.  Don't get me wrong, I love getting A's like in high school...but maybe we're being a little unrealistic expecting them all the time when a guest posts a review.  Just my humble and rambling thoughts

                • How do you handle a bad review?
                  New Member

                  I am stilll trying to figure out the answer to this question.  In our  ten years of renting this was the only unfavorable review we have  received. We wrote a detailed response and also contacted VRBO and  Homeaway because, in our minds the review was totally unfair. VRBO and  Homeaway would not remove the review.  We have definitely lost rentals  as a result and now that all reviews will be posted without regard to  their validity and owners will have no ability to hide reviews, I am  beginning to wonder about the usefullness of the site.  Any other  comments?

                    • How do you handle a bad review?
                      Contributor

                      One thing I would add -- if you have a web site for your rental property, for example RentMyHouseInPortland.com (or whatever it might be) -- you can collect all of your positive reviews / etc. there ...and link to that from your VRBO site.

                       

                      I think an independant web site, linked from VRBO, does a number of positive things, from a renters' perspective:

                      • It shows you're serious enough to put together more organized information (don't get me wrong, VRBO it great, but sometimes it can feel like cliff notes, or a long never-ending single-page-ad!)
                      • It builds rapport & trust with potential renters -- by giving them the "full story" ... You can include a lot more information in smaller, digestable chunks, or even put a floor-plan like this guy: http://dudden.com/ (not the best web site, but a descent start)
                      • You can include guest feedback / rave reviews, and control what goes up (never a bad thing!)
                      • You can use the web to store documents, like rental agreements (that renters can download, print & send back to you), information on what to do in the neighboring area etc.  You can of course also password protect that stuff so that they don't get access until you've received a confirmed / paid rental agreement
                      • You could also setup a public calendar (think google calendar) that you control, where people can see what dates are booked (confirmed), which ones are tenatively gone, and which ones are open

                       

                      I am a photographer (since '91) who got into building web sites (in '94).  I have built a number of web sites on top of WordPress (as a CMS = content management system) which allows people to update the web site themselves, without any programming knowledge.

                       

                      The technology out there is pretty slick, and makes this stuff easier & easier all of the time.  If you have questions feel free to drop me a line!... I've helped a lot of people outside my immediate vicinity.

                       

                      Cheers,
                      Jeff

                      Jeff Freeman Photography, Portland OR

                    • How do you handle a bad review?
                      Contributor

                      1 bad review amongst several good ones isn't the end of the world. Holidaymakers can read between the lines. It's important that you put your points across but don't rant. Write your reply then sleep on it, then re-do it if necessary.

                       

                      Never reply when angry.

                      • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                        Active Contributor

                        There are some fantastic replies in this thread! I just wanted to chime in by saying that from a HomeAway perspective, some of the best responses to bad reviews are those that stay focused on the specifics of the review. In most cases, even the most negative review can be turned to the owner's favor by posting a measured, appropriate, and respectful response.

                        For more on why a bad review could be good for you, check out this article.

                        Hope this is helpful...and happy renting to all,

                        Laura

                         

                        HomeAway Community Manager

                          • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                            sophie Senior Contributor

                            "for more on why a bad review could be good for you" (Above post)

                             

                            I don't know why companies that offer only buyers reviews (ebay, vrbo, amazon, homeaway) thinks that we should be glad when we get a bad review.  Everyone gives the excuse that we then get to tell our story. It is totally unfair in every business that doesn't allow the owner/seller to have a voice.....ESPECIALLY when we are paying for a service.

                          • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                            Contributor

                            Hi there:

                             

                              I can certainly relate to that awful feeling of the unfairness of an unwarranted "smear" being left upon your good name.  or so it might seem, anyway..

                             

                            The fact is, some people might genuinely believe that they are miserable because they stayed at your place, when in reality they arrived that way, and are headed for their next rendezvous wiht the same set of closed-in beliefs and dingy expectations..

                             

                              If the negative review is so strong you actually fear losing business over it, it must be something EXTREMELY out of the ordianry, becuase as our colleagues have pointed out, most reviews (no matter how inane, carping, "out of left field," or whatever) are taken in stride by a consumer base that understands some people are Hell-bent on destructiveness.  They approach negativity as an art form, in which they seem to find dark delight in euqual proportion to the misery they are inflicting upon others who have had the misfortune to cross their paths..

                             

                              The more harsh a review and the more agressive its tone, especially if it stands alone among a number of positive ones, the more likely it "impeaches its own credibility."

                             

                              But it's almost always the best course not to "engage."  Firstgreen's suggestion is very wise: writing a response that will never see another's eyes.  Breaking things is also therapeutic, but a less recommended option. 

                             

                               In terms of your reply, and I do believe there should be one, you can both specifically deal wiht the distortions or mistatements made, but in the end sincerely offer an apology, to the effect of "IWe are so sorry you didn't have the experience of your highest expectations," etc., which is a generous and kind response. 

                             

                               Bettter than saying "Jeez, who ****** on YOUR cereal this morning?"

                            (Please, PLEASE pardon my inexcusable vulgarity.  But one of you laughed, I felt it!)

                             

                            Other possibilities include: "Frank, remember that restraining order?", or   "Ellen, need I remind you that the Court said NO to any further harassiment, after the divorce?" Alternatively, "Oh my, you've stoppped taking your medication again, haven't you, Bill?"   (Just kidding.)

                             

                                But seriously folks, it is well to remember, from a spiritual perspective, that despite their grumblings, this person might have needed all of the good intention, thoughtfulness, and care that you put into making your place special.  The good rain falls from the Heavens upon the serene and the troubled alike, etc.  Even a negative review, after all, is contact.  So you made some kind of impression. 

                             

                                So, even thouhg they may indeed be on to their next train-wreck, you may neverthelss have helped them.. As is said, "those most in need of a smile are those who have none left to give."  It may be so that you have bestiwed upon this person a blessing, whether acknowledged (or even appreciated) or not.  I can see that you are a sensitive, dedicated person, so were you my friend, I'd simply remind you gently: "Hey: this stuff happens. It's all for a reason."

                               "Just know what you know, and carry on!"

                             

                                I am sure you offer a wonderful experience to your guests, and this I surmise from your passion and your "balancing" partnership with yor husband.

                             

                               Hang in there!  Hope this is helpful--

                            • How do you handle a bad review?
                              New Member

                              Hi there,

                                I have 60 acres with 2 guest houses in the rear which are not visible from my house in the front. Most of my guests are  very cool and appreciate the fact that I'm nearby, I've had 3 stinkers in the last seven years. No bad reviews, once I had a 4 star, but no reason stated (bugged me a little). If I see a guest doing something that is not kosher, it's usually minor and not worth the fall out with confrontation. I just eat the cost. The one guest that did get an email from me destroyed the house (filthy), damaged the furniture and crushed the corner bead on the wall (one person over 2 weeks time!). She did not write a bad review, but did write back in a very defensive manner. I did not respond to this except to state the facts (I was tempted though). I charged her credit card 300.00 for the damage and clean up which she challenged, She ended up paying 150.00. Because of this I changed my contract. I guess that's how you learn as you go along. I actually agree with amyg in that maybe you should have let it go. It doesn't seem to have been worth the heart ache for you. The really bad stinkers are not allowed back, the others I can live with. 97% leave my houses very tidy....I hope this helps...

                              • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                Contributor

                                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.

                                • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                  Contributor

                                  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.

                                  • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                    Contributor

                                    I just got an email from VRBO for a guest comment. It was a pretty bad review which somewhat expected. However, we did everything to fix the situation and offered free massage and/or dinner. But they decided to go home so we gave them a full refund. The guests had problems on how it was cleaned which we never had an issue except one other time. The other time, I completely agree. However, this time, I drove the 90 miles up the following day to see what the guest was referencing. The cabin didn't have any of the issue she was talking about. Maybe we could have provided more dish towels and other supplies. But these are things we easily could have had our cleaning staff fix that same day.

                                     

                                    Honestly sometimes there are guests you can not please. So we wrote a long response on every point they referenced.

                                    • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                      Contributor

                                      call the tenant and make it right.  I had 1 bad review - and talked the tenant into removing.  wasnt that hard, they just wanted some attention

                                        • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                          Contributor

                                          Not sure if a comment can be removed in VRBO. Was your bad review in VRBO? If it can, let me know and I will pursue that.

                                            • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                              Contributor

                                              yes, VRBO removed the review.  BUT, the client had to email vrbo support with their email address, and request the review be removed.  It worked well for us, since this was our first bad review, and we didnt even know the client had a complaint until it hit VRBO.  we called her, apologized, and asked her to send the email to support.  she did thankfully.

                                              • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                Contributor

                                                We have had similar trouble in the past.  The only way to get the review removed is if the guest who wrote the review submits a request to VRBO to have the quote removed.  Or if you can prove this guest wrote the bad review in an attempt at blackmail VRBO is supposed to remove it, they rarely do but those are the options.  We have only gotten 1 bad review to date, from a rival cabin company I think.  But unfortunetly their blackmailing attempts were only done via phone and in their meail they were vague writing things like "or else", "I will take matters into my own hands" but this wasnt enough to get the review removed.  If you can pay them off I say pay them off.  VRBO puts all the power in the hands of the guest and I think they are trying to push for us to remove deposits and buy into their insurance. 

                                            • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                              New Member

                                              Like you said a bad review isn't the end of the world. However, isn't our goal to have as much positive feedback about our property as possible. Isn't there always someone not happy with a perfect property because they are a complainer in general. Shouldn't we have the option to control our feedback, what are your thoughts? I have used other websites than VRBO like http://www.FVRA.com Airbnb and Flipkey and they manage feedback different than VRBO. I think bad feedback can be left but the property owner deserves the right to appeal it to the website management and if their reasoning has substance the feedback should be removed.

                                                • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                  carol Premier Contributor

                                                  TPowell:  Why is it you find a way to mention "http://www.FVRA.com" in every one of the posts you made today?  I checked out that web site on whois.com and found that (surprise!!) YOU are the owner of that domain name.  Come on, be honest with us.  If you want us to look at your site and consider using it, say so.  DON"T pretend to be just a user of the site.

                                                    • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                      New Member

                                                      Carol, I have used VRBO for years and I've taken a year of other property owner feedback to create this website. I tried to answer the post with as much value as possible while also promoting the website, no harm done but I'll do my best I make additional posts differently.

                                                       

                                                      Sent from my iPhone

                                                        • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                          carol Premier Contributor

                                                          Under the terms and conditions we all agreed to, it says:

                                                           

                                                           

                                                          "Vendors further agree to:

                                                          a. Clearly identify themselves as a vendor when participating in User Activities;..."

                                                           

                                                           

                                                          You have not done this.

                                                           


                                                            • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                              anja Senior Contributor

                                                              Bravo Carol !

                                                               

                                                              With good intention, everyone is welcome to post here, but let's be open about our intention, please. If a property owner has achieved good results with a product  or a service they either use  or they created or provide, I'm certain that owners would want to know about it.. just share the information but do it openly and sans the marketing spin. It's not necessary to post multiple times, after just signing up, to prompt traffic to a new website, or  other service. A simple personal introduction with purpose instead of lacing multiple threads with messages that are  purely intended to create "traffic" to a website would work just fine. Just be prepared that savvy property owners will query your recommendations.....ask for evidence even....that's what this forum is for...to communicate owner  to owner --- we are not here to sell to each other. Sharing goods and services, openly, always gets a good response.  No need to work so hard in  multiple threads for what eventually could become sounding like just insincere pitches.  There are Community Guidelines for users, which Carol pointed out (bravo ...I could'nt locate the item before she did).

                                                               

                                                              HA has also provided all vendors a section of their own here, as well, where they do not have to "spin" their services/products.....it's a place where vendors can upload their promotional ads where they will remain,  indefinitely.  From the top of the page, under "Resources" the drop-down box reveals the "Vendor Showroom".

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                                                              • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                                New Member

                                                                Profile changed to vendor just for you

                                                                 

                                                                Sent from my iPhone

                                                                  • Re: How do you handle a bad review?
                                                                    New Member

                                                                    Don't care if you are a vendor.  I totally agree with your thoughts and the point you made. I went back and noticed that I started this thread a yr. and a half ago.  That negative review that bothered me then still bothers me now. A prospective renter called me June 2012, and wanted to talk to me about that review.  She didn't rent.  BUT, a couple weeks after that, a prospective renter called and said that they liked the idea of us living closeby, so we could help  and/or answer questions.  They were fantastic guests (three ladies).  They rented a boat from nearby marina, and hired me to drive them around the lake. This week they rented another week this summer 2013. And they invited me to join their gin rummy tournamnet. I ramble on, but I guess 1 bad review isn't the end of the world.  BUT.. we should have some control