24 Replies Latest reply: Aug 9, 2013 5:16 AM by swlinphx RSS

    Advice on responding to a negative review

    New Member

      Past guests just submitted the following review:

       

      "The listing was accurate and the fenced backyard was a bonus as we had our sons dog along with ours confirmed for our stay of one month. The property was clean but in need of remodel..i.e. floors and furniture were completely without varnish. Furniture was shabby, thriftstore chic! West Seattle has a great vibe and wonderful restaurants...the bridge and traffic to Seattle get's exhausting due to the traffic.Easy Easy ferry ride to go and explore Vashon Island... also Alki beach area. We did have a contract for 3 dogs and paid in full for one month.. The owner did not listen to my voicemail and came into the house to do her weekly change of sheets...my dog bolted out the front door. Happy to say my dog came back but we were given a 48 hour eviction notice and threatened that she would have the police come to escort us out as trespassers.Of course it is not legal but a long term renter should be aware. Getting over the bridge to Seattle brings you right into the heart of Seattle, highlights of the Aquarium, Pikes Place etc...just don't make a wrong turn as there is so much bridge construction."

       

      My side of the story:  We asked these guests to leave, in a polite and professional way, when we found during a regularly scheduled cleaning that their 3 young, rambunctious dogs were being left unattended in the house and were clawing and chewing holes in the furnishings.  We made it clear that we would give them a full refund for the cancelled part of their stay, and asked them to make alternate arrangements and leave within two days.  They refused to leave.  They insisted that we had to go to court to evict them, threatened to sue us for "damages," and became otherwise rude and insulting.  I had a lawyer review our rental agreement and was advised to call the police and have them removed as trespassers.  Neither my husband or I were entirely comfortable with that option (although we did visit our local precint and talk to some officers about how they would handle the situation).  We ended up allowing them to stay several more days, and giving them their refund in cash when they were ready to check out.  We didn't even keep their damage deposit, because we just wanted them to leave without causing us further grief!  Not only did we come up short on rental income for the month, but we also ate the cost of PayPal fees, lodging tax (since the stay ended up being less than 30 days and we are now required to pay it), a new loveseat, and lots of wear and tear on the other furniture.  Needless to say, I spent hours and hours of extra cleaning time as well.

       

      I want to keep my response to their review short, sweet, and positive.  I do not feel the need to respond to their comments about the quality of the furnishings (we advertise as a comfortable family home and include lots of pictures, we have not had trouble with the house not meeting guest expectations), or the traffic (I don't think most guests expect us to have control over this).  I would just like advice on how to respond fairly to their comments about being asked to leave, so that future guests aren't scared off by thinking we are totally nuts and impossible to deal with.

       

      Thanks!

        • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
          sophie Senior Contributor

          How many stars were on the review? The reason I ask is that I think the response will be different depending on if it's a 1 star or a 4 star but with negative comments.

            • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
              New Member

              The rating was 2 out of 5 stars.

                • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                  sophie Senior Contributor

                  I think you are correct in saying, short, sweet and positive. I would just point out that they violated the terms per the contract, were asked to leave politely, they refused, etc. and you refunded their money out of the goodness of your heart because you felt bad....Feel free to pm me if you want to run the response by someone!

                    • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                      kiawahcottage Community All-Star

                      Is this review published yet?  It's possible that it violates the review guidelines.  You should ask about that before you respond.

                       

                      Paul

                        • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                          anja Senior Contributor

                          I agree with 'kiawahcottage' (Paul), the review may not be accepted as written. There are details about traffic around Seattle ["exhausting"] which is outside your home and beyond anyone's control. I'm sure that your rental agreement did not offer them a "traffic-free" experience in Seattle.  If this review goes live, either edited or as is...you must respond to defend your position. Set the record straight:

                           

                          To "seattleowner"  Here is one suggestion for response. Revise it, shorten or reword it, if you like... but this is one example you can consider. Wait to hear from other on this Forum, too. Perhaps there will be better examples...or a few that you can cobble together.

                           

                          The traveler misrepresents the facts. As owners, we are always flexible, and our rental is indeed pet-friendly. But, we regrettfully had to ask these guests to leave due to circumstances and their temperment when we tried to speak to them. They were in breach of our contract.  We approached the issue politely and in a professional manner and we offered a refund for the cancelled part of the stay. The reason: their 3 dogs were left unattended in our home and they clawed and chewed holes in our furnishings. The guests refused to leave. Instead, we were threatend with a court action to sue -us- for "damages"; they were rude and insulting towards my husband and I. We are easy to work with under all circumstances but their temperment towards us was unacceptable, and we could not stand by and permit their 3 dogs to destroy our interior. Although we had full legal recourse to evict them on the spot, we were sorry to have to ask them to leave so we permitted them to stay several more days to prepare to move, and we gave them refund in cash. We didn't even keep their damage deposit! We regret this experience. But, we simply could not accept the damages caused, their unconcern, and their belligent behaviour towards us. That was the ultimate deal breaker.

                            • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                              carol Premier Contributor

                              Great reply, anja, this is perfect.

                                • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                  anja Senior Contributor

                                  Thank you Carol.  I actually agreed with sophie's take on it....and then I just tried to flesh out one example of what a reponse could be, covering  those points raised.

                                   

                                  Fortunately, I'm not experienced with having such bad guests [knock on wood].

                                   

                                  As Owners, we should always present our side. We have to bring to light what the real issue was...and be brief... and explain how we handled it...with calm....and what our resolve was and why.  But, no mud-slinging, name calling, no accusations...just state facts briefly --- explain the position we {Owner} was confronted with and the manner in which we approached it. This demos how we tackle problems if they arise..... so prospects and future guests can get an idea of what type of an Owner we are [fair & serious]. We should always express our regret for what happened, as well.  But, stand firm.

                      • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                        beachdigs New Member

                        Dear Owners - I strongly protest the requirement that Owners must accept reviews for the advertising for which the Owner pays.  I have been fortunate, so far, on this site to receive postive reviews, although I do not solicit reviews at all.  I have received over 250 positive comments in the Guest Book that I leave at my home, so I feel comfortable that our renters are having a good experience.  However, I did receive a highly erroneous review on another site more than nine months ago because my new neighbor decided to remodel her house and I offered only a partial refund when I found out I had a new neighbor.  (Offering a refund for my neighbor's actions is above and beyond my responsibility, as far as I am concerned, but I was trying to disarm this renter's sense of entitlement.)  I simply cannot understand why an advertising site accepts a review that is clearly detrimental to the Owner.  Trying to explain my position or trying to justify my neighbor's actions simply gives credence to a debate that should not even be allowed.  Placing the burden on the Owner to solicit reviews to counteract the negative is unwarranted.  Any conscientious Owner knows that it takes a great deal of time to market and to prepare a property.  We don't need any additional burdens.  I like working on my home.  I don't like asking my guests to work.  My one negative review was multiplied twice by family members of the same group, one of which I don't believe even stayed at the home.  My response to the subsequent reviews was:  "I am sorry you feel that way.  We have done everything we can to make you happy, but you simply want too much."  Unfortunately, the advertising sites are incorrect in thinking that these negative reviews are "honest".  They are not.  I am still suffering repercussions of this review, long after these negative people wrote it.  We all have to face the fact that there are negative people in the world, but it seems to me that we advertisers should have some control over the content of our ads, which includes reviews.  Sadly, it appears that the negative review is read by everyone.  The positive reviews are merely skimmed.

                        • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                          kerry9 New Member

                          I recently saw a renter request had a PROFILE of the renter that, when tagged, showed the renters past history of reviews.
                          It may be the only recourse we as rentors have to identify serial review abusers, and be informed before hand if a renter is a pain and is unfairly posting negative reviews.

                          We certainly need to have a level playing field!

                          Could someone explain if I am understanding this process to me please?

                            • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                              carol Premier Contributor

                              On which website did you find this?  Not Homeaway or VRBO, for sure.

                                • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                  kerry9 New Member

                                  On a request for quote through VRBO, and I think it is a GREAT idea.
                                  Owners should have the right to know if a renter is being unfair in their opinions, just as renters should be able to see reviews about the property.

                                  In fact, as the ones paying the tab for advertisment, renter profiles should be a requirment!

                                  • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                    retirementrenter Contributor

                                    Carol,

                                    Yes it was on vrbo. I had an inquiry yesterday. Under the person's name in blue had the word "profile" if you click on link it opens up any information that person listed about themselves AND any reviews they have posted on vrbo (and I guess homeaway, I'm not a subscriber to that). It was very helpful to see what kind of renter they are (expectations, wants/needs and past rental history, etc).

                                    Robin

                                    An Incredible View

                                    VRBO #409342

                                      • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                        carol Premier Contributor

                                        Ok, I remember now; this is a new feature introduced a while ago, allowing travelers to create "profiles" that would be shared with owners.  I don't think many travelers use them, since I've never seen them on an inquiry.   Here's the FAQ on traveler profiles:

                                         

                                        FAQs

                                        Why should I create a profile?
                                        Profiles are a great way to share information about yourself, including your hometown, alma mater, favorite travel destinations and hobbies. Profiles are the foundation for us to be able to build the best tools and services for you when looking for a vacation rental and to help other travelers learn about your travel interests.

                                        Where will my profile be viewable?
                                        Owners and property managers are able to link to your profile in the emails you send to inquire on a property.  They are also linked from any property reviews you have submitted. You can access your profile by logging in to HomeAway.com and clicking on “Edit Profile” beneath your name in the top navigation.

                                        How does VRBO plan to use the information in my profile?
                                        VRBO has no plans to market your personal information. This information will not be shared publicly with anybody other than as described here.

                                          • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                            bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                            If posting a profile on VRBO became a requirement in order to send an inquiry, I would be a supporter of that.  I have received a few inquires with a link to a profile attached.  But very few travelers are willing to post a profile. 

                                             

                                            It might make someone think twice about posting a untruthful negative review just to get money back.  I for one would probably not rent to someone that only posted negative reviews. 

                                              • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                bobbie32 Community All-Star

                                                Actually, it should be a requirement for only those that want to leave reviews but not a requirement for someone that just wants to send an inquiry.  Just my take...  It might make someone think twice about posting that negative review as it would be on their record, so to say. 

                                                  • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                    kerry9 New Member

                                                    Agreed. It should be the responsibility of VRBO to create a profile for anyone giving a review, just as it is for owners to live with reviews on their property.

                                                    Every owner should have this information available to them even if the renter does not create a profile, it should be created for them.

                                                    Anyone with VRBO listening?

                                        • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                          joe098765 New Member

                                          I find that  you will do good to just return the money

                                          one site that will work with you and remove it is http://www.rentmyvacationhome.com/ try it may have 115 websites.

                                          • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                            salexand New Member

                                            AirBnB has a profile on renters.  I received a request for a rental for someone for 6 months and I was a bit concerned.  I looked at her Profile and she had rave reviews from two of the Home Owners.  That would be awesome if Homeaway or VRBO would incorporate that into their website.  Other than googling the prospective renters name I don't know how you would do a check on someone.

                                            • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                              retirementrenter Contributor

                                              bobbie32,

                                              Totally agree, if a guest leaves a review on a property it should then be on their "Profile". Why should it just stick to the property owner. If the guest wrote it to share, they shouldn't be ashamed for it to follow them as well. Finally a way to make the renter responsible in this transaction for something, other than it always befalling the owner.

                                              Robin

                                              An Incredible View

                                                • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                  mmchan6 New Member

                                                  I completely agee.  How do we get VRBO to make this change?

                                                  • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                    swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                    I second (...or third, fourth) this proposal.  Travelers should have to have a profile (automatically, not manually, created) and it can be blank unless they leave a review.  At the very least each of their past reviews should be documented on their profile.  That would be very fair and more likely to be implemented than having owners/managers actually leave reviews of the travelers themselves.

                                                     

                                                    After all, on many sites where people interact, from forums like this to eBay and others, there are ratings, points, rankings or feedback on individuals to build trust and lend to credibility on such an often anonymous medium that the Internet can be.

                                                     

                                                    Excellent idea!

                                                  • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                    Community All-Star

                                                    I will dissent on this issue.  Since HA/VRBO implemented the new policy that a guest must set up an account with HA/VRBO before they can leave a review, it has become much more difficult for owners to have guests post a review.  Forcing a guest to create a public profile (or have one created for him automatically) will just have a further chilling effect.  I believe that it would be extremely difficult (if not almost impossible) for owners to have guests leave reviews.  I do not believe that this is a good idea.

                                                      • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                        sage Community All-Star

                                                        I agree with mlbmaine's dissent.  Although I very much appreciate it when I receive an inquiry from a traveler who has a profile that shows past reviews, there still are people who value their privacy and would be loathe to register any place they absolutely did not have to.  I do not want to lose the business, nor reviews, of those people even if it makes the vetting process a bit more difficult.

                                                          • Re: Advice on responding to a negative review
                                                            swlinphx Premier Contributor

                                                            But think about it.  Even subscription services, comments on news organization stories, Amazon.com, forums like this, etc. require some sort of accounts.  If you are conducting legitimate business where money changes hands then there should be no problem to build your reputation or show some sort of good faith that you are experienced, stand by your word and build your credibility and stature.  How is it a violation if they do not have to publish any public info that identifies them (such as real name, home address, phone number, e-mail address, employer, etc.)?

                                                             

                                                            How is a screen name or first name followed by a string of their reviews (just like each of us here has to have a profile to post comments, and then anyone else here can click on anyone's profile to see their past comments and posts) a violation of privacy?  Sure, it shows where they have stayed, but who cares where "GolfPro353" or "FunnyLadyinTX" has stayed if they are anonymous screen names?  Anyone who is serious about finding and doing business in the real world shouldn't want to hide any trace of their existence (and if they did I wouldn't trust them to do business with).  This is not a business where you are selling a product to someone (like a DVD, vacuum cleaner or concert tickets) for a moment then never seeing them or hearing from them again.  These are people staying in your home that you have to be able to trust and do business with and converse with regularly both before, during and after their stay.  We are evaluating them as much as they are us (and our rentals).