6 Replies Latest reply: Aug 22, 2019 8:39 AM by linky17 RSS

    Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache

    linky17 Active Contributor

      Background ~ Inquiry lands late this past Saturday/late night.  I answer questions.  Guest requests to book on Sunday for a stay to commence the next day.  Also on Sunday, I send relevant info + schedule a phone call, as they are due to arrive Monday/yesterday.  Meet them at the house, 'happily' answer even more questions.  It is clear that the Primary Contact has not read a thing that I've sent to her.


      Show them (a group of four, un-related adults, all 70-ish) how to operate the thermostat to regulate central A/C.  Explain that I have two units on the 3rd floor to augment the A/C.  These are not window units; rather, they are self-standing -- and -- any (lucid) user can regulate the actual cooling temperature.  No one is paying attention.


      I make it clear that I am available 24/7.  "Please, call or text if you need anything," I implore.


      Dilemma ~ Get a call this AM from the Primary Contact that they couldn't sleep last night because of oppressive heat.  I apologize profusely, and ask what settings have been activated?  PC doesn't know.  I tell her that I will personally check, and that routine maintenance was just performed on all (not even three weeks ago) by my HVAC contractor.  I also emphasize that I don't want them to be uncomfortable > how does she want to proceed?


      (Side Note: Mine is a 3-story, circa 1860s townhome, that was fully restored + upgraded with new everything 11 years ago.  Central air system was replaced two years ago.  Routine maintenance is performed 2X annually; filters are replaced monthly.  Local temps are mid-80s - mid 60s.)


      PC informs me (via text) that they have opted to stay at a hotel for the duration of their stay, which was to conclude on Thursday.  They don't want to risk another night of discomfort.  She asks that I credit her cc as she now needs to pay for a hotel.


      Questions ~ While I have a "no refunds" policy, I DO want to make this right. (And, frankly, be rid of this group.  All lovely people, but ...)  1) How do I refund/credit for a payment that I've not yet rec'd from Vrbo/Yapstone?  Cash flow is not the issue.  (And this would not be an issue were I still able to utilize PayPal.)  2) Should I refund for the entirety of their stay?


      Any thoughts appreciated!  Never before have I had a 'dissatisfied' Guest.  Nor such a 'sudden' one.


      Meanwhile, I'm going to the house to make sure that everything is fully-operational.  They are at an all-day sporting event; returning later to fetch their things.

        • Re: Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache
          bonesxxx Active Contributor

          You are a pro at this Linky ;-)


          I'd set all the thermostats to a level a 70 year old would recognize as comfortable while they are at the sporting event and greet them upon return.  Say, "Now, isn't this just fine?"  "All I did is turn on the AC which is working just fine".


          Then see if they want to stay.


          If not, you will have proven that your home/AC was not defective in any way and it's their CHOICE to leave.


          From there, it's up to you what you refund (once the money hits your bank account).  You can ding them for one night and the cleaning fee or just the cleaning fee. You'll have to feel them out and also extract a promise from them that, if you do all that, they will not flame you with a negative review.

          • Re: Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache
            scottr Active Contributor

            I just went through a similar issue, except they were in their 20's and we don't have AC  (AC is uncommon in my area).   They checked out after two nights and wanted a refund for 2 unused nights.   I explained that the house was exactly as represented and that no refund was due.   If your home was as represented, and the AC didn't function due to operator error, I wouldn't refund.  I knew I was risking a bad review, but the review was a 3, when I feared it would be a 1. First review that wasn't a 5, after 55 reviews, so I'm fine with that. She said she didn't look for an AC property just like she didn't look for one with a toilet.

              • Re: Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache
                scowol Active Contributor

                Me personally, if you verify that the system is functioning properly,  I would not refund for incompetence.  That aside, I understand you want to refund.  Since the amenities you advertise were available and functioning, I would not give out free night(s) at your property by refunding for the used nights.


                Keep in mind that even if you refund, you still risk the guest leaving a nasty review.  These guests feel entitled; hence the reason for asking for a refund, and feel that they need to warn everyone else that your place is an oven (when it's not).


                So if you elect to refund for the unused nights, I'd make an agreement with the guest that they submit a review that is non disparaging. Once the review posts, hold up your end of the bargain and refund.


                P.S.  If you don't want a "sudden" guest, consider adjusting the minimum lead time that a guest can book your property in the calendar settings.

              • Re: Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache
                wildiris Active Contributor

                I think bonesxxx has given you great advice.  These people have most likely already made hotel reservations which may or may not be cancellable.  (I've noticed recently that a lot of hotels now have a 48-hour cancellation notice requirement instead of the "cancel by 6:00 pm on the day of arrival.")  I'd suggest one additional step:  Go to the rental as soon as possible and find out what the situation is.  Check and set the air conditioning and then text the primary contact and tell her what you discovered, i.e., the system had been turned off or the settings had been increased to 80 degrees, or whatever.  Then tell her that everything is on and working well, the settings are at 72 degrees (or whatever they are) and the house will be nice and cool upon their return and that you will be happy to meet them at the rental to show them how the thermostats work.  Tell them if they still want to cancel, you will be happy to refund the nights that they didn't stay, but due to how the HomeAway Payments system operates, they will most likely not receive the refund for 7-10 days.


                If their hotel reservation can be cancelled, they may decide to remain at your rental.  If it cannot be cancelled, they will leave.

                • Re: Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache
                  bonesxxx Active Contributor

                  Any update?  What happened?

                  • Re: Last Minute Booking Yields Present Headache
                    linky17 Active Contributor

                    I did opt to completely refund.  It just felt right, even though I was able to determine 'user-error' when (recall) I was able to go to the house to check the CA thermostat + the self-standing units (x2) settings, and to properly program all.  Simple!


                    They DID leave, and left nary a crumb, nor a thing out of place.  I chose not to offer to meet them there.  Crazy, but they bumped the CA up to 74d, and turned the 3rd floor supplemental units OFF altogether.


                    In the time intervening my plea to you < here > for guidance -- and -- their departure: the PC (Primary Contact) did convey two text messages.  I'll simply say that both were contrite (a "difficult" travel companion), and complimentary to my home + and to me.


                    Then, the PC sent a "thank you" note after she returned home.  Go figure.


                    scowol ~  As it happens, the default setting of '1 day' was in-effect on my calendar.  Good call!


                    What a difference a week makes, what with this current Yapstone/Vrbo in-house payment debacle.  That Guests can (apparently) now attempt to undertake to gouge us for refunds -- in spite of the policies set forth in Rental Agreements, and after check-in/= before we're even paid -- is the stuff of nightmares.  As I suggested in the OP: I miss PayPal.


                    Thank you all for your excellent and timely feedback!  Much appreciated.