14 Replies Latest reply: Dec 4, 2019 6:36 PM by bobbie32 RSS

    Power outage, what do I tell guests

    hickmanhideaway Contributor

      Long rant. Soooo, I have 8 guests at my cabin south of Flagstaff, AZ. A couple of issues. All guys up there to hunt Elk. Snowed in, no roads plowed and highways closed. I told them in the email I send out a week before their stay about the blizzard that was expected. I also made it clear that they were not to park in the circular driveway as it was steep. We have a pull out parking at street level that holds 3-4 cars. I also called and explained this to them before their stay. And then I sent a text message last evening that they needed to move those trucks from the lower level. We have a camera so saw that they parked there. They left 4 cars parked in the lower parking and 2 cars above. Rained yesterday, 5-6" snow today. Did I say that I also told them that the lower drive was newly paved with pavers and trying to get out of it on ice and snow might damage the drive? Anyway, they managed to get 2 of the cars out.

       

      And now the power is out. Power company said it might be 10-11 tonight before power is back on.

       

      Do I call them to give them the update on the power outage? We have a wood stove, but have told them to only burn manufactured logs in it. If it gets cold they most likely will burn real wood, but I don't know what their plans will be as they haven't listened to rules yet.

       

      There is no place for them to go so they need to just stay in the cabin and keep warm. And my camera isn't working because no power.

       

      What do you suggest we do about letting them know about the length of the outage?

       

      ALSO, we have a statement in the rental agreement that there are no refunds for weather, or weather related issues. If they decide to request a refund, how do I make sure VRBO does not do so?

       

      Thanks.

        • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
          vrdoctor Senior Contributor

          Whenever we have power outages we email and text our guests with the power company ETA.  Even though the internet is down they can likely receive a text and will appreciate knowing when power is scheduled to come back online. 

          • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
            wildiris Active Contributor

            I think that you should contact them and give them the utility company's best estimate of when power will be restored.  Your cabin sounds rather remote.  Is it on a well?  If so, you also need to remind them that the well pump doesn't work when the power is out.  Explain that when the water in the pressure tank is depleted, they will not have water and will not be able to flush the toilet.  They may want to bring snow into the cabin in a big pot, let it melt, and put that water in the toilet tank.

             

            As far as I know, Vrbo will check with you before issuing a refund, but I'm not positive about this.

            • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
              green_mango Active Contributor

              I'd definitely give them a call with the ETA for having power restored.  As a guest, I would appreciate any communication. 

               

              Just curious - why can't firewood be burned in the wood stove?  That rule isn't intuitive to me, and I would definitely let it slide in light of power being out so that guests don't freeze. 

               

              My area in CA gets power outages - I am actually fairly flexible and plan to refund if I can't provide accommodations with electricity - it's a basic necessity.  Any credit card provider would likely agree in case of chargeback anyway, so I may as well putt myself in their shoes.  I understand you don't have control over it, but neither does the guest & at the end of the day if an owner can't provide a home with electricity I think it's fair to compensate an appropriate amount.

               

              Hopefully power is back on soon & all will go well. 

                • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                  ohst8er Premier Contributor

                  I think I'd have to beg to disagree on this one.  We own a place on the coast.  If I tell a guest that a tropical storm is coming, wind, rain, possible downed trees, and they choose to come anyway, they should plan on the potential for power outages.  Same with this situation.  Owner notified them that a blizzard was coming.  They chose to come anyway.  I don't think the owner owes them anything for the loss of electricity.   Bad weather means you better be prepared for the worst.  They should have either a)not come at all, b)reached out to the owner and asked them what the situation was in the case where they might get snowed in and lose power, or c)consider the possibility that they may be roughing it and plan accordingly by bringing flashlights and lanterns, wood for the stove, extra blankets, shovels to dig themselves out, etc. 

                  • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                    scowol Active Contributor

                    I can see all the perspectives.  It's likely just how the owner/host wants to run their business.

                     

                    • For me, as an owner, I would not allow a guest to occupy my property if there was an expected long-term power outage, or other calamity (e.g., hurricane, blizzard that results in being snowed-in, trapped, etc.) that would certainly result in an interruption to a service at the house (electricity, water, sewer, etc.).  In such an event, I would advise the guest to cancel (or cancel myself, refund in full, and request a cancellation waiver).
                    • If there was an unexpected event that resulted in an interruption to the service(s) at the house, I would credit them a reasonable amount for the inconvenience.  If the duration of the outage lasted longer than a day/night with no end in sight, I would offer to cancel the rest of the stay and refund them for the unused nights.

                     

                    In either case, I see myself as a host that needs to be accountable and be responsible for the well-being of my guests.  Anytime I allow my guests to stay at the house, they deserve to get what they paid for.  I would never allow a guest to stay at my property knowing that there would be a major event that would result in a power outage and snowed-in conditions.  To me, that is just dangerous, risky and asking for a guest to have an unpleasant (1-star) stay.

                      • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                        hickmanhideaway Contributor

                        We are in a community that gets snow in the winter. People come up hoping to be in the snow. Mother Nature does not give us a schedule of where she plans to knock down trees to cause power outages. Guests are advised to have 4-wheel drive or chains on their tires. They are advised about the possibility of power outages in the winter and icy roads. When you are at 6,700 ft above sea level you get snow, or at least hope to.

                         

                             •  We have not had an outage like this in 4 years, so are we to block out one of our seasons in case it snows so much the power goes out? My guests knew there was a blizzard forecasted for Thanksgiving weekend. The outage was from 11am to the next morning at 1am. The temperature inside dropped to 50 degrees, there were plenty of flashlights, a bbq grill that could be used to cook and lots of blankets.

                         

                             •  In addition, these are hunters, they have all of their winter hunting gear. Are we also then expected to refund them if the snow is so deep, or still snowing and they can't get out to hunt? We had fake logs for the fireplace, not a lot of warmth, and I also texted them about where they could find firewood on our property.

                         

                             •  I have not had a single reply to any of my texts or voice mails or emails to them to discuss the fact that they parked where they were NOT to park in the winter or when I sent them messages about the power outages. We have a camera outside and can see all that they do outside. They know about the camera and have waved to us on it.

                         

                             *  If owners did not allow a guest to stay at their property during certain times of the year, with possible seasonal storms, how do those in ski areas, or places like Florida, rent in seasons when adverse conditions are possible?

                          • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                            scowol Active Contributor

                            Again, I can appreciate different perspectives.

                             

                            Again, if a cataclysmic weather event (e.g., blizzard with road closures and "snow-in" conditions) was predicted a week in advance, I'd cancel the reservation.


                            That aside, for the unpredictable outages, and if my property were in an area were power interruptions were typical, I'd invest in a power generator.

                            • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                              green_mango Active Contributor

                              I'm in the Sierra Nevada mountains @ 5000ft elevation, so we tend to get good snow and lose power occasionally.  We have a built-in generator because I don't want to lose the bookings, and I want my guests to be safe and comfortable. I also have a cpap machine so when I travel there, I don't have to worry about an outage overnight & that perspective gives me extra empathy to guests who might have similar needs.  Our RA is very clear that we do not refund for winter storms, as it's a part of life in the Sierras, and we have a no refund policy - but I'm erring on the strict side and then use my best judgement about what I'd expect as a guest.

                               

                              Just yesterday, a few days after a storm passed through, I got a PGE alert that the power was out - looked on camera and saw the guests were packing up their car as it was about 20 minutes before check out time.  Thankfully the generator kicked on and they didn't have to manually open the garage door to make their way home.

                        • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                          hickmanhideaway Contributor

                          It seems everyone is so concerned with the power outage and not with the guests following instructions regarding parking, etc. The guest did get their trucks out of the parking area without any visible damage. But it was 5 days of worry.

                           

                          Regarding the power outage. We get a 2-3 hour outage once or twice a year. It has been 4 years since we had an outage that lasted more than 8 hours. Twice in 4 years is not an occasional outage that causes problems. Spending $9,000 to put in an online generator for a twice in 4 year occurrence is not a good use of funds. There are so many other things we have done and are doing that have a positive impact on our guests every day.

                           

                          I reached out to the guest no less than 15 times, via voice mail, text message, email and also to the guest's daughter, who booked the stay. Only once, before the stay, did someone reply. I couldn't even have offered them their money back if they left, as I got no response to my messages. In addition, these were hunters. They were only worried about getting out to hunt. And I know this because my hunting son-in-law was snowed in in another area of Arizona the same weekend.

                            • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                              ohst8er Premier Contributor

                              Bottom line is, none of this matters.  You said in your 1st post "What do you suggest we do about letting them know about the length of the outage?"




                              You said in your last post, "I reached out to the guest no less than 15 times, via voice mail, text message, email and also to the guest's daughter, who booked the stay. Only once, before the stay, did someone reply. I couldn't even have offered them their money back if they left, as I got no response to my messages. "


                              I guess the final answer is, do nothing.  Maybe a bunch of grown men on a hunting trip were perfectly content and didn't CARE that there was no power, (you don't need electricity to keep beer cold when there's snow on the ground, after all).


                              Not unlike me sending my son to the annual 6th grade camp experience and finding that his shampoo, soap and more than half of his clean underwear were still in their sealed pouches. 

                                • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                                  hickmanhideaway Contributor

                                  Is your son Ryan? Daughter went to YMCA Camp as a Jr Conselor and they were going camping in Yellowstone for a week. Ryan thought it was an overnight. So had no clean clothes, toothbrush, anything. Earned him the name Dirty. But, ya, sometimes the experience together is all people are after.

                                    • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                                      ohst8er Premier Contributor

                                      ha!  nope, not Ryan.     He shared with me that there were two community "bath houses" one with heat and one without (it was November.)  Guess who got the heated one? 

                                       

                                      My guess is, they've learned over the years that  boys look at camping as a "bathing optional" event, so why waste a heated room on them?

                                • Re: Power outage, what do I tell guests
                                  bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                  Similar experience...  Our ranch is located near Yosemite in the Sierra Foothills. 

                                   

                                  In 2013 a lovely couple got stuck atop our mountain due to heavy snow/ice in early December.  They had booked 3 nights, but could not get their brand new BMW off the mountaintop for 7 days, despite the use of chains. And yes, we had lost power so we provided what food we could for the couple in case they ran out.  We also provided a ton of wood for the fireplaces so they did stay warm and our generator kept the refrigerator working. On the fourth day, they hired a car to take them back to San Francisco for jobs and hiked down the half-mile steep (500 ft. elevation gain) driveway to meet the driver.  At the 7 day point, one of them took a train to a nearby city (2 hour round-trip drive for us) where we picked her up and drove her back to the ranch so that she could retrieve the car. Unfortunately a rock had hit the side of the car (probably dislodged by a deer) while it was parked at one of the turn-outs off our steep driveway.  There was damage, but it was clearly an act of nature. 

                                   

                                  For compensation, we gave them 50% back and they were pleased. They were nicest people and had a great time despite the inconvenience.  But we now require 4WD with mud and snow tires, plus carrying chains during the winter months - no exceptions.  And we also note that we will cancel a reservation (with full refund) if the weather would make access nearly impossible. 

                                   

                                  We are now in the process of selling the ranch and hope to move to Prescott, AZ, so we will soon be neighbors!